H is for Harry is a coming of age documentary about Harry, a charismatic 11-year old boy, who arrives at secondary school in suburban London unable to read or write. With the help of Sophie, his extremely dedicated teacher, she tries to help him overcome the illiteracy ingrained across generations of his family. Against the backdrop of a Britain riven with debates around class, identity and social mobility, the film follows Harry over two years as he fights not only to improve academically but also to believe in a different future for himself.

Harry’s story is a film for our times. As a white working class boy, the segment of society which statistically does the least well at school, Harry’s story is emblematic of many children and communities that feel left behind. Whilst there are multiple statistics surrounding these issues, seldom do we actually see or hear from the children themselves.

The filmmakers were present through the highs and lows of the school year – capturing the small details that reveal an enormous amount: the facial expressions of children who have rarely been told that they are important and can succeed. What is clear is that the worst, most debilitating effect of poverty on young people is the poverty of aspiration: the lack of confidence and headspace to imagine that life could be different.

What Harry’s story reveals is a highly complex, systemic issue and the need to help children as early as possible in their lives to read and write. We live in a country where children from the poorest backgrounds arrive at school many months behind their peers and rarely catch up, where 1 in 5 children leave primary school unable to read properly and where, unsurprisingly, social mobility has stalled. These sad facts are in evidence up and down the country. The film calls for a nuanced debate about the issues without resorting to blame. It shows Harry’s devoted father willing his son to do better than him, unable to help himself due to his own illiteracy. And it asks for deep thinking about why the system is having these tragic outcomes.

Most importantly, H is for Harry is being used as a tool to strengthen and grow an existing community of support, activism, education and outreach. The film is partnering with a number of charities like Coram Beanstalk to maximise its impact.

You can get involved by:

  • Volunteering and working with organisations striving to help the situation for children like Harry, organisations such as Coram Beanstalk
  • Hosting your own screening in your organisation, at your local theatre, community centre, school, church, library, university, teacher training course, and government institution and help raise awareness. Simply write to us: [email protected]. You can also set your own screening up on Simply choose a venue, a date and time, and start inviting your network! Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news and reviews.

H is for Harry releases in selected cinema’s from World Book Day March 7th. For tickets check out our screenings page: www.hisforharry.com/watch