Where it began
Findochty Primary joined the First Minister’s Reading Challenge in August 2018. Joining the challenge gave us training, resources and a goal to help us on our journey to creating a reading culture within our school.
Our journey went at pace with us establishing a reading culture very quickly within the school. Pupils enjoyed the changes made to our school routines with reading for enjoyment emphasised in class and at home. They were delighted to choose their own reading books for homework tasks and given weekly visits to the school library to access new books.
Once we were successful in establishing a reading culture, we felt that to maintain our passion for reading it had to be child led and introduced our Reading Ambassadors in our second year of the challenge. Our ambassadors created challenges and tasks to encourage pupils to read more and to connect with what they were reading. The Ambassadors were keen to share our love of books with the wider community and came up with the idea of a hidden book scheme. This was a welcomed initiative praised by locals and visitors, which took our school on a new journey. We were extremely proud to be Highly Commended in the School Reading Journey category in 2020. It made us determined to maintain our reading culture and look for new ways to engage reluctant readers as well as keeping existing readers interested in reading for pleasure.
Lockdown had a huge impact on learning across the nation but we did not allow that to dampen our passion for reading. We utilised the new opportunities that had become available to us via online platforms.
Accessing events hosted by Authors Live and The Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour, we created themed learning weeks at home. Pupils in the Hub were able to watch the live events and pupils at home were able to participate by a feed in the Google Classroom. From the North Pole to Outer Space our reading journey has taken our pupils to many depths and has taught our staff how to be more creative in using digital technology to enhance teaching and learning.
Reading is important in our school as it allows pupils the opportunity to get lost in another world, experience different cultures and connect with the wider world. It is also a great way to boost health and wellbeing in our FRED (Findochty Reads Every Day) sessions as children have the chance to relax and enjoy their reading for at least 20 minutes each school day. Our Reading Ambassadors have introduced reading as a break time activity by creating a library on wheels for children to read during lunch. They hope to expand this further by creating a permanent outdoor library in the future.
Reflecting on success
The First Minister’s Reading Challenge has taught us the importance of maintaining a reading culture and we are proud to be leading the way by creating our own school reading and writing awards. We have used the opportunities given to us to host author events to build a friendship with the authors we work with. From this we have created a 100 word story advent calendar written by different authors, an author approved certificate were pupils are given direct feedback from one of our linked authors on their work and author challenges such as 50 or 100 word stories.
Literacy is at the heart of our curriculum and we are now using books as a teaching tool in many curricular areas including maths, IDL and STEAM. Using books as a teaching tool in other areas makes learning more fun and shows our pupils that a book is more than just its cover. Learning has become more accessible and allows pupils to visualise what is taught in other areas.