Welcome to Literacy

Supporting the literacy strategy of Falkirk Children's Services

March 30, 2021
by Y. McBlain

Literacy News Update – March 2021

This blog post shares recent developments regarding literacy and English in our authority and within our Forth Valley and West Lothian Regional Collaborative. It then lists the professional learning opportunities which will be available April to June 2021.


Our literacy network met on 2nd February 2021 and discussed:

  • how to build on the very successful staff development day professional learning session about writing.
  • how we could support teacher judgement and confidence in assessing literacy during the remote-face-to-face transition phase
  • how we might support and co-ordinate moderation across clusters and the authority using existing or new portals with professional learning
  • the grammar and other online sessions provided by Dr Kylie Bradfield – what we gained from these and how the recordings could be shared more effectively (Click here to view an example)
  • what the gaps in pupil literacy learning might be upon return to school-based learning and what we could do to help

We used Google Jamboard (image above) to capture what was going well at that stage in remote literacy learning.

Our Learning Resource Service Teacher book clubs are going from strength to strength enabling teachers to recommend texts for each other and for specific pupil needs and interests. Click here to read more about this in our LRS blog.

Our wonderful LRS also created and promoted a brilliant Falkirk response to World Book day. We hope you like our team photos and thank you to all who made such effective use of Twitter at the time too.



Our Literacy Strategy Refresh:

The literacy team have developed our professional learning menu in response to the initial Literacy Blether sessions we held with various groups at the start of this session. By combining this intelligence from practitioners and senior leaders with other data,  focus areas emerged to inform a visual refresh of our Falkirk Literacy Strategy. Our literacy network colleagues will naturally help to shape this strategy, but contact yvonne.mcblain@falkirk.gov.uk if you want to be involved. This document will update and complement our existing Sway Strategy by indicating key messages and processes.

Our professional learning menu below indicates some of these focus areas, and also shares sessions designed with Malcolm Wilson to explore how digital tools and approaches can support teaching and learning and help unlock the literacy potential of all pupils. In March 2021, Malcolm and Yvonne co-presented a Top Tips for Teams Feedback and Assessment in literacy then a session which homed in on how to combine Sway and Microsoft Forms for literacy teaching, learning and assessment. Sessions LIT 10, 13 & 14 below all explore how specific digital tools can support practitioners as they adapt their practice during the return to classroom-based teaching. You may also want to click here to visit the Education Scotland Digilearnscot Literacy Support video library.

West OS Literacy support videos 

William Brown, development officer for West OS gave a short presentation at the most recent FVWL RIC literacy meeting. He highlighted how this collection of 10 minute micro lessons could be used independently by pupils, or as learning/teaching tools by practitioners. These teaching and learning resources are being developed as a long term national support tool and have a wide range of teacher-produced, quality-assured literacy videos from early level up through the broad, general education. Once logged into Glow and West OS via ClickView, click here to view an example of a video for early learners designed to develop reading visualisation skills. William explained that these materials provide standalone learning activities in or out of the classroom and have proven valuable for many learners including those in self-isolation, with English as an additional language or hearing impaired children and young people (most videos also have closed captions). Although there is a very wide library of videos, William would be glad to hear from practitioners who would like to create/submit their own micro-lessons (arrangements for payment for this work are in progress). Contact inwbrown001@glowmail.org.uk for further information.

Professional Learning Opportunities:


LIT 10-2021 – 26.4.21 – Let’s talk about unlocking pupil potential – creating texts across the curriculum using digital tools (speech to text & read aloud) This is an opportunity to explore how tools such as Immersive Reader can support pupil progression and attainment in literacy – particularly creating written texts. 4-5.30 pm.

LIT 11-2021 – 6.5.21 –  Let’s talk about reading – resources. This is a staff development day session for primary and secondary support for learning assistants. 9.15 – 12 noon

LIT 12-2021 – 7.5.21 – Let’s talk about reading – challenges and support. This is a staff development day session for primary and secondary support for learning assistants which explores reading difficulties, shares approaches for supporting readers through adult/pupil paired reading strategies, and provides a forum for sharing, discussing and asking questions about reading. 9.15-12 noon.

LIT 13-2021 -18.5.21 – Let’s talk about unlocking pupil potential – supporting independent reading for research across the curriculum using digital tools (Immersive reader – converting texts, screen reader, simplified layout, Office Lens) This is an opportunity to explore how these tools can support pupil progression in reading for information and understanding. 4-5.30 pm

LIT 14-2021 – 27.5.21 – Let’s talk about unlocking pupil potential – supporting pupils to be clear, expressive and confident when communicating & presenting using digital tools ( Power Point Live & Presentation Coach) This professional learning is for practitioners working in primary, secondary and ASN settings. 4-5.30 pm.

LIT 15-2021 – 1.6.21 – Let’s talk about how our schools are using Reciprocal Reading strategies. This professional learning is  for practitioners and senior leaders who have attended training in Reciprocal Reading and/or have been using/developing this reading comprehension approach in their setting. It is designed as an opportunity to promote sharing of useful practice and reflection upon the impact of the approach so far. It also offers a chance for colleagues from different schools to begin to form useful networks around this and other reading approaches and strategies. 4-5.15 pm.

Forth Valley & West Lothian RIC:

RIC LIT 15 – 20.4.21 – Collaborative Literacy in Early Years Session 2

RIC LIT 14 – 21.4.21 – Helicopter Stories for early years and primary practitioners

RIC LIT 20 – an introduction to Reciprocal Reading strategies (this is a repeat of previous opportunities as requested by our schools)

RIC LIT 18 – 28.4.21 – Greg Bottrill session on his message centre approach to early writing

RIC LIT 21 – 13.5.21 – Reciprocal Reading session 2 – part of the extended training in Reciprocal Reading offered by Dr Janet Adam. This session will focus on the importance and role of Think Alouds and pupil meta-cognition when modelling and teaching these reading strategies. It will be co-presented by Dr Kylie Bradfield of Stirling University.

RIC LIT 22 – 25.5.21 Reciprocal Reading session 3 – the final part of the extended training in Reciprocal Reading offered by Dr Janet Adam. This session will focus on exploring approaches and good practice in the use of this approach to reading comprehension.

RIC LIT 23 – 27.4.21 – Writing Bubbles Webinar 3.15-4.15 pm

RIC LIT 24 – 4.5.21 – Collaborative Literacy in Early years session 3

RIC LIT 25 – 11.5.21 & 25.5.21 – Collaborative Literacy – Literacy through Play (Colleagues from Airth PS will co-deliver these sessions) 4-5 pm.

Click here to view the Sway March 2021 update from our FVWL RIC – it contains further detail in the Literacy section about the events and developments listed here.


January 22, 2021
by Y. McBlain

Applying Literacy Skills in a Celebration of Burns and Scottish Heritage – Some Support Materials

Scottish Flags Clipart | Free Images at Clker.com - vector clip art online, royalty free & public domain

Literacy Team colleagues from our Falkirk Service and School Improvement Team have created a learning grid of literacy-led activities which can be used by school colleagues to support their remote learning planning and teaching in January 2021. Judith Davies and Louise Amos created the grid and sourced the many useful links and engaging learning activities it offers. Click on the image above to open the grid and click here to view the activity sheets.

The Scottish Book Trust also have resources linked to Scotland/Burns click here to view the resources Tweeted @Bookbug_SBT – Learn about Rabbie’s life as a boy, colour in a wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie and discover the meaning of some braw #Scots words in this activity pack from @VisitScotland


East Ayrshire Council also shared a Google Robert Burns Birthplace Virtual Classroom link available here.

January 7, 2021
by Y. McBlain

Literacy Remote Teaching Support Source Summary – January 2021

Falkirk Children’s Services Literacy Team would like to wish all colleagues a Happy New Year and heart-felt good wishes for 2021. This succinct post collates sources of support for remote literacy teaching and learning from local, regional collaborative and national sources. Please contact us using the email details at the end of this post for further support or to share other valuable sources with Falkirk colleagues.

Falkirk Children’s Services:

This blog is the main source of Falkirk literacy news and support – we use it alongside the Children’s Services Comminucations which are regularly emailed to all settings.

Click here to visit our Literacy Glow group and here to visit the Service Support & Improvement Hub where key literacy policies and documents (such as our Literacy and English Progression Pathways) are available to all Falkirk Glow users. Click here to see our Jack and the Beanstalk storyline Family Learning Pack and here for our Dream Holiday storyline Family Learning Pack. Both of these packs were designed to ease the practicalities and challenges of remote learning for all and to bring some fun and togetherness into family learning.

New Family Learning packs are planned and we will make these available asap.

Our December update has a resume of all upcoming professional learning opportunities for literacy – find it here.

Forth Valley and West Lothian Regional Collaborative:

FVWLRIC Blog – Literacy pages – click here

Wakelet of useful sources of support created by Dr Janet Adam – literacy lead officer – click here.

Education Scotland – National Remote Learning support one stop page for all teaching support click here – specific literacy support:

Literacy and English Scotland Learns page for practitioners (all levels) – click here

Literacy and English Scotland Learns page for parents/carers – click here 

This list of useful sources is linked to each of the literacy organisers and was created by Julie Jamieson, development officer for literacy and English Education Scotland.

Click here to visit the wakelet which was shared with the National LIteracy Network by Angela Noble who has responsibility for literacy in North Ayrshire. Angela collaborated with Lindsay Littleson, author of The Titanic Detective Agency to create a unit of work which fits well with remote/family learning and links well with social study of the Titanic and society/the world at that time.

Your Falkirk Literacy Team –

Carol Turnbull, Team Manager, carol.turnbull@falkirk.gov.uk

Yvonne Manning, Principal Librarian, yvonne.manning@falkirk.gov.uk

Yvonne McBlain, Education Support Officer, yvonne.mcblain@falkirk.gov.uk

Louise Amos and Judith Davies, Support Teachers for Specific Learning Differences louise.amos@falkirk.gov.uk judith.davies@falkirk.gov.uk

December 8, 2020
by Y. McBlain

Literacy News Update – December 2020

This blog post shares literacy news and information about Falkirk, Forth Valley and West Lothian Regional Collaborative and Education Scotland developments and professional learning.

Falkirk Happenings:

Click here to view the Talking and Listening and Reading Comprehension Recovery Phase support materials created August 2020 (Scroll down to Literacy – Glow login required)

Click here to read about the Falkirk LIteracy Network meeting for this term – contact yvonne.mcblain@falkirk.gov.uk if you would like to join this network.

Our second Literacy Blether with our support for learning colleagues takes place on 15th December. Our first meeting in September helped us identify and discuss how our learners had progressed over lock down and what support they still needed. Working virtually in Teams gave us a safe but valuable way to share ideas and resources which might support our learners as well as our thoughts about useful professional learning. Judith Davies, Louise Amos and Yvonne McBlain have taken forward the actions identified including collaboration with colleagues in our RIC and at Education Scotland.

Upcoming Professional Learning – shaped by the above meetings plus our analysis of SNSA autumn 2019 data:

LIT 7-2021 Support for learning literacy  Blether 15th December 4-5pm

LIT 5a-2021 Let’s talk about primary 7 SNSA data 10th December 4-5pm and another opportunity LIT 5b-2021 on 26th January 2021 4-5 pm.

LIT 4b-2021 Let’s talk about primary 4 SNSA data 21 st January 2021 4-5pm

LIT 6a-2021 Introducing the new PM Literacy Assessment 19th January 2021  4-5pm and another opportunity LIT 6b-2021 on 4th February 2021 4-5 pm

Watch out for LIT 8-2021  1st February 2021 we hope to offer an information session about Reciprocal Reading for those who want to find out more about the training available via our Regional collaborative literacy team.

Forth Valley and West Lothian Regional Collaborative Happenings:

Falkirk’s literacy team members – Yvonne Manning, Carol Turnbull and Yvonne McBlain attended each FVWLRIC literacy meeting and contributed to the ongoing development of the literacy development plan – click here to read more via the FVWLRIC blog.  Contact yvonne.mcblain@falkirk.gov.uk with any matters you would like to be shared with this forum.

At the end of October, Janet Adam, literacy lead officer, FVWLRIC, co-delivered LIT 3-2021 Let’s talk about reading – in Falkirk and within our regional collaborative with Yvonne McBlain.  As a result of this course and previous literacy updates, Janet is now working directly with a number of Falkirk primary schools to support their use of Reciprocal Reading (click here to read more).

Janet and Helen Fairlie, senior development officer for Literacy and English Education Scotland, have established a  FVWLRIC principal teacher of English network to promote collaboration and support across the secondary sector.

Upcoming FVWLRIC Professional Learning:

Dr. Kylie Bradfield (Stirling University) will deliver further Reciprocal Reading sessions for primary practitioners. These will focus on “Teaching Grammar in Context” and take place: Monday 11th – word level, 18th – sentence level & 25th January 2021 – 5-5.40 pm – text level. These are free to all via Zoom https://t.co/egNYBYupAl?amp=1  Meeting ID: 814 7023 2439 Passcode: 8KH99h further info available from FVWLRIC blog post  and from Twitter here .  The sessions will be recorded and will be available on You Tube afterwards.

Janet has prepared a Winter themed wakelet collection of teaching resources for those adopting Reciprocal Reading approaches – click here to view and watch out for further professional learning information sessions about Reciprocal Reading.

Introduction to disciplinary literacy webinar 28th January 2021 for secondary practitioners 4-5 pm for more information click here

Education Scotland Literacy Happenings:

Helen Fairlie is our FVWLRIC Education Scotland literacy team member and we are grateful for her support with a number of the developments above. Posts in this blog will keep you updated on what was shared by Helen and her Education Scotland literacy team colleagues at National LIteracy Network meetings. Both Yvonne(s) and Carol attend these meetings and the more informal drop in opportunities which Helen and Janet jointly chair. 

Click here to access recently published SQA  support resources – audio presentations and an updated “Common Questions” document.

Click here to access a list of online support sources for blended learning in literacy. These were collated by Julie Jamieson, literacy development officer.

Upcoming Professional Learning highlighted or organised by Education Scotland:

Recording of the recent webinar from Glasgow University School of Critical Studies on Understanding English Grammar click here to view. The access passcode is: IEeV2&s^ and the webinar begins from around 9 min 30 sec:

Click here to view the Literacy in the Outdoors webinar which took place in November.

Click here to visit the Education Scotland professional learning blog where the latest opportunities are promoted.

September 14, 2020
by Y. McBlain

2020-21 Falkirk Literacy Network Meeting 1 Summary

The Falkirk Children’s Services Literacy Network began four years ago and continues to evolve and respond to current events. Consequently, our first meeting of this new school session took place via Microsoft Teams on 3rd September 2020. The agenda for the meeting and a brief summary of the discussion which took place is provided below:


  1. Catch up about how literacy is happening during recovery phase – what is working well or proving challenging in schools/settings?
  2. Share and discuss new literacy support materials, RIC and national literacy news
  3. Discuss Recovery Phase literacy support required
  4. Identify 2020-21 literacy priorities for our network
  5. Agree meeting frequency, purpose and dates

Item 1 – Pupils and staff have had a very positive return to school and to learning with a focus on Health and Wellbeing and relationship building. In all sectors practitioners are establishing where their pupils’ learning is and identifying resources and strategies to support ongoing progression. These include Read, Write Inc, Accelerated Reader and ongoing development of a reading culture and reading for enjoyment. Borrowbox  is being extensively and effectively used and our Learning Resource Service and school librarians and secondary colleagues have implemented creative solutions to the practical challenges of accessing texts which Covid presents.

In response to these challenges, changes to curriculum, learning spaces and processes/methodology are evolving in line with the specific needs of each establishment. These include enabling pupils to connect learning and apply their skills across learning in Carrongrange High School, virtual storytelling opportunities in Grangemouth and Braes HS, and establishing a shared pupil and staff understanding of online communication via the creation of “Codes of Conduct” for working online at Braes HS.

During discussion, opportunities for literacy/STEM learning through books were shared, as was the wonderful “Lost Words” book and outdoor learning resources created by the John Muir Trust – click here to access.

Item 2 -.The literacy resources created by our Falkirk Literacy Team to support reading comprehension (click here) and for listening and talking (click here) were signposted and discussed (sign up for Professional Learning session LIT 220-21 [6.10.20 4-5 pm] in CPD Manager to discuss these booklets). These include the Recovery Reading list compiled by Yvonne Manning and Maggie Burns. Yvonne Manning highlighted the national Reading Accreditation pilot project – a small number of Falkirk establishments are signed up to participate already and other schools can contact yvonne.manning@falkirk.gov.uk  to get involved. Carol Turnbull explained that the current Forth Valley Regional Collaborative Literacy Plan will carry forward subject to national developments currently under discussion. We are looking forward to working with Dr Janet Adam who is our FVRIC literacy lead, and with Helen Fairlie, senior development officer for literacy, Education Scotland. Janet and Helen can be contacted by schools or clusters regarding specific professional learning/support – email Janet CLjadam@glow.sch.uk (please copy to yvonne.mcblain@falkirk.gov.uk to  keep us informed). Yvonne McBlain explained how the literacy team have collated all national and regional support materials within this blog (click to view) for convenience and to avoid colleagues feeling swamped by the range of online tools available – national support wakelet here, practitioner newsletter with literacy support linked to the Thriving plan here, and RIC blog with updates here.

Louise Amos and Jude Davies have been working with support for learning teachers in the primary and secondary sectors and will host our first SfLT Falkirk Literacy Catch up on 23rd September with Yvonne McBlain via Teams. By co-ordinating more closely with SfL teachers, we hope to extend our understanding of the literacy learning which is working well and how we can meet ongoing challenges to progression in literacy for all children and young people.

We are also analysing the autumm 2019 primary 4 and 7 SNSA data provided by Kimberly Robinson, Data Coach, Falkirk Children’s Services. We will collate our findings in a digital format which can be accessed and used by our establishments. The findings will also inform the literacy priorities identified during this valuable first meeting as well as shaping our professional learning menu.

Items 3 and 4 When we discussed the literacy support required at this time, it became clear that there is a need to allow time for everyone to settle back in to school life and learning, and that the confidence of children and young people needs to build. One or two schools are finding that some children need a gradual acceleration of the pace of learning whereas others require more challenge.

5.The network agreed to meet via Teams once per term over this session – next meeting will therefore be mid-November and anyone wishing to join the Literacy Network should contact yvonne.mcblain@falkirk.gov.uk


July 17, 2020
by Y. McBlain

Talking and listening skills – developing and applying through HWB during our recovery phase





All Falkirk Council education establishments will be supporting the physical, emotional, social and mental health and well being of their learners as we respond to and recover from the disruptions of the coronavirus. This blog post pulls together resources and ideas for ways in which teaching and learning of talking and listening skills (oracy) could combine with the Health and Well being focus which will be a priority for all Falkirk education staff.

The links, lessons and ideas below develop, consolidate or apply talking and listening skills through the context of supporting effective relationship (re-)building and development of social skills and relationships.

This blog post therefore captures effective interdisciplinary links between literacy and health and well being. The teaching and learning it supports will also contribute to the life and ethos of your school or centre as part of your recovery plan. Depending on which activities and ideas you select, combining the essential skills of talking and listening with a focus on relationship building and socialisation may offer your pupils opportunities for wider achievement which support their future learning. life and work.

Education Scotland guidance and support materials for group discussionclick here to access

This resource has professional learning and support materials including exemplar videos where pupils (first, second and third level) model two key skills in group discussion:

  • exploring ideas and developing knowledge
  • analysing and evaluating – click here to see first level pupil council discussion developing building on others contributions and responding to others’ viewpoints

These videos use a range of curricular contexts but the skills and techniques demonstrated can easily be translated into HWB contexts or lessons. Click here to download group discussion sentence stems which support specific discussion skills and here to access the poster/diagram overview of group discussion skills provided.

The new Education Scotland “Compassionate and Connected Classroom” curriculum support materials have many activities which help structure a recovery phase for pupils in upper primary – some of these would work very well with the group discussion techniques outlined above. Click here to view.

BBC Newsround clips may also be useful for listening activities and/or analysing and evaluating how others ask and answer questions (click to view this example of a government minister responding to children’s questions about the virus). The wealth of video clips of famous people taking part in online conversations is rich for children’s study of particular elements of talking – the organisers and statements in our Falkirk Literacy and English Progression Pathways will support planning of specific learning intentions using video clips – see extract below and click here to view the pathway documents (Glow login required)


The National Literacy Trust has produced “Happy News” materials for primary 7 pupils which also use news and media reports to help pupils process their feelings as they transition back to school – click here to visit this resource page and here to see their learning guide.

These BBC Bitesize HWB videos for early level children include exploration of how to communicate emotion using facial expression and other non-verbal methods. These also relate to our early level progression pathway and will link well with resources in HWB resource packs commonly found in schools. Talking and listening about feelings and emotions is often done through art and drama or music and dance activities where children “do” first, then begin to verbalise which emotions they and others are modelling. The Golden Rules of Participation pack available here is a valuable visual communication tool designed to develop children’s capacity to be heard and to be independent and empowered during interactions with others.

Education Scotland Newsletter talking and listening activities:

  • Activities to support staying in touch with friends and family here for primary stage
  • and secondary stage young people version here
  • Talking and listening activities which support examination of friendship for primary children here
  • Click here to view The Journey which is a power point narrative designed to help 13-15 year old young people understand and cope with the impact of changes caused by the coronavirus. This resource includes an age appropriate “Resilience Alphabet” tool which might be helpful to young people – this activity may offer useful context for using the resilience alphabet. A version for primary aged children can be found by clicking here.
  • A whole page of activity suggestions linking to change, co-operating, developing independence, etc is available here
  • This page of suggested learning activities is for primary and secondary stage pupils and focuses on communicating safely online and face to face

Education Scotland have created an overview of learning activities to support planning of blended learning if this is needed – click here to view. The literacy and health and well being plans for August to October have been copied into Word format here for your convenience. Some of the suggested learning activities may be useful as part of your Health and Well being planning and also offer contexts for talking and listening.

June 5, 2020
by Y. McBlain

Family Literacy Learning Pack 2 – Our Dream Holiday

This blog post shares the second family literacy learning pack created by Falkirk Children’s Services Literacy Team during school closures caused by coronavirus. We hope it gives Falkirk families a fun way to learn together while dreaming of better times when we can go anywhere we like! 🙂

Are you ready to pretend that you’ve won a dream holiday, have a large budget to spend and can go to any 3 cities in the world?

Click here to download a print copy of the plan – this takes the form of a work book which you and your children can use at your own pace (it has 50 pages so you might want to pick and choose the ones you need, or ask your child’s school to make you a print copy). The whole family can work together at the same time, or children can work independently – you will know what is right for you.

Look at the plan with your child(ren), check they understand the order of the little task bubbles and questions at the beginning of each section, then get started. The plan suggests things to do and ways to do them, but you might have even better ideas. Enjoy doing as much or as little as your child(ren) want to each day and remember that this learning shouldn’t replace or be in addition to what your children are being asked to do by their teacher or school. Don’t do too much.

Useful Links to use with this plan Click on the links below when you are ready for them (they are roughly in the order you will need them as you work through the plan).

What is a holiday? Click here for a simple definition. We hope you enjoy remembering and talking about your own holidays and days out.

Click here to watch a BBC Bitesize video about the world, the continents, atlases and maps you might want to spend a bit of time refreshing your knowledge of the world by doing the activities there too.

Click here to view our brochure with information about some of the major cities of the world – you can research to find out more information or find your own cities instead if you want to. Click here to view a useful presentation created for Falkirk pupils by the digital learning team at Encyclopeadia Britannica. This brilliant resource will help you research cities of the world. You can click here to visit their schools website

Google Street Map is a great tool for taking a virtual tour or walk in your city, use this link to help you.

When your children/your family are on their pretend holiday, you might want to make/keep a creative holiday diary – click here to see a couple of examples from the internet.

Click on the country below to learn more about the culture, the traditions and the language spoken in your holiday cities – these power points have audio files which you can use to practise using words and phrases you might need.

France    Spain    Italy   Germany

Enjoy your pretend dream holiday!


When you come back, please tell us all about it by leaving a comment below. We would be grateful for your feedback about how valuable you find this plan.





May 5, 2020
by Y. McBlain

Falkirk Children’s Services – Family Literacy Learning Pack 1 – Jack and the Beanstalk

This blog post shares a digital family learning pack created by the literacy team working for Falkirk Children’s Services. This is our first pack produced during the closure of our schools and centres as a result of the corona virus and it uses the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. We hope it helps parents and carers across our authority to support their children’s learning and to enjoy learning together.  To use this pack with your children you should:

  1. Read over the plan – click here to view (save to a new file in your device?)
  2. Listen to the story of Jack and the Beanstalk by clicking here OR click here for another version. You might prefer to watch this modern cartoon version or click here to read the story as a text.
  3. Explain the plan to your younger children and let older children read it themselves – you can talk about whether you all want to use it to learn together or with only one child (your child’s school may have given you advice about how it fits with the other work your children have been sent)
  4. Tell your child(ren) that working on this plan will help them practise and get better at talking, listening, reading, writing, being creative and developing technology skills. You might want to talk about the little curriculum pie chart (see picture below right) which shows the school subjects this plan links together – literacy, expressive arts and technologies. 
  5. Simply start with episode one and work your way through to episode 5 – remember to only do as much as you are able to at any time and to take breaks when your child(ren) need these.
  6. You can stick really closely to the questions and activities suggested by the  plan, but it can be just as valuable to change these depending on how your children answer, and what they like/want/are able to do.
  7. At any suitable point during your Jack and the Beanstalk learning, let your child(ren) search through the extra activity ideas listed below and choose any that they want to do.
  8. When you are finished, we would love to hear how it has gone. Please leave a comment on this blog post below, and/or  Tweet tagging your child’s school  and our #LiteracyAtHome.

This way of learning is called Storyline and has been used in Scottish schools and nurseries for over 40 years. Click here to learn more about the Storyline approach.

Extra Ideas for your Jack and the Beanstalk Storyline work:

  • Activities for nursery and primary 1 children – click here.
  • BBC Radio Music resource – learn how to sing the story of Jack and the Beanstalk – click here
  • Click here to explore Jack and the Beanstalk drama ideas from the Scottish Book Trust
  • Click here to view copyright free pictures and resources

April 30, 2020
by Y. McBlain

Falkirk Children’s Services Literacy Materials for Family Learning

The literacy team members from Falkirk Children’s Services central support team are creating a suite of family learning materials for use by parents and carers across our local authority. These materials are written specifically for a parental audience and are designed to provide a series of fun learning tasks which families can do together at a time and in a way which suits them best. They are designed to be part of or to add to the learning grids and curriculum tasks which practitioners and schools provide for learners and their families. The materials (digital and paper-based) guide and support parents and carers through a structured learning process while leaving lots of room for children and their families to adapt the learning tasks to suit their home situation and the materials they have to hand.

The learning plan in each kit uses elements of the Storyline approach – key questions help children surface and extend their knowledge  and suggested activities help progress literacy and other skills across learning. These skills are made explicit in the plan and opportunities for children and parents to evaluate or assess their work are planned in to the learning.

The five themes identified aim for increased engagement with learning by providing a loosely structured opportunity for families to learn together. The themes and plans will also aim to complement and address other challenges resulting from current school closures: feelings of isolation; building relationships; practising social skills; communication; developing personal interests within boundaries, etc. The plans are tailored to current restrictions, but offer productive, creative and safe ways for families to learn together indoors and out. The team hope that these are a valuable addition to the inspiring family learning experiences being developed and shared by settings across our authority. The themes identified so far are:

  1. Jack and the Beanstalk (this plan is developed from an early-first level storyline – see below for family learning pack files)
  2. Our Dream Holiday (Let’s take an imaginary family tour – developed from a second level Capital Tours storyline)
  3. Friendships and Relationships
  4. Getting in touch with nature and outdoors
  5. Let’s get sporty!

Each hub school will be provided with paper versions of each pack for families unable to access the digital link to the files. The regular Comms updates from Rhona Jay will provide the link to the digital and paper-based files so that schools can pass this link on or provide physical copies as desired. The pack will include guidance for parents, a copy of the stories and texts required and we hope to put together additional physical resources for families to use during their storyline experience. The practitioner version of the Jack in the Beanstalk storyline plan is also available for early years officers and teachers who want to use it as it is, or who may want to blend both plans to create a collaborative school/family learning experience. Click here to view the practitioner version of the plan.

These blog posts will have all of the files and links required for family use of each theme to enable parents to access the kits digitally – we hope this will reduce workload for practitioners and senior leaders – one link can be emailed to families, added to your school learning grid, or printed off as required.

Family Learning Pack 1 – Jack and the Beanstalk Files and Links:

Click here for the digital version of the plan – send this link to parents/pupils through your chosen communication method.

The print version of the plan – click here for the Introductory pack document with story, and click here for the plan file. A resources document will follow.

Please leave comments and feedback below or contact yvonne.mcblain@falkirk.gov.uk – your suggestions are always welcome.

Stay home and stay safe – best wishes from

Carol Turnbull, Yvonne Manning, Yvonne McBlain, Jude Davies, Louise Amos

April 3, 2020
by Y. McBlain

Literacy Support for Falkirk Practitioners Professional Learning During COVID 19

This post collates sources of professional learning for Literacy and English and was compiled by Yvonne McBlain, curriculum support officer with central team colleagues from Falkirk Children’s services. We hope these offer valuable support in these challenging times, but please email yvonne.mcblain@falkirk.gov.uk with comments or additional ideas.

This blog is our main Falkirk source of information about literacy and English in our establishments – you can browse examples of Falkirk practice as well as local and national updates. Our Falkirk Literacy and English Glow group  (login required) also stores hundreds of documents and ideas which we can’t share on this public platform.

Click on the text/images below to browse each site.

Education Scotland colleagues have collated a  links to online sources of materials for literacy in their Professional Learning Wakelet

These include sources such as BBC Bitesize, Scottish Booktrust, Education Scotland sites, etc.

This is a quick link to the early years Wakelet

This one takes you to the primary Wakelet

Secondary 1-S3 BGE is here and Senior Phase is available by clicking this link.

Our Forth Valley & West Lothian Regional Collaborative Literacy group have also created a blog which is full of sources and materials to extend professional knowledge and support the adaptations to practice currently required of us. These materials were designed to support all practitioners – whether teaching from home, or working in our hubs.

Yvonne Manning, principal librarian, Falkirk Children’s Services and her wonderful team have moved our Library Resource Service to its new home at our Bothkennar Hub. Click here to visit the Learning Resource Service blog and stay updated on developments including Borrowbox, reading for enjoyment and developing a reading culture.

Louise Amos and Jude Davies, Support Teachers for Specific Learning Differences can be contacted louise.amos@falkirk.gov.uk & judith.davies@falkirk.gov.uk  and have provided the following documents, materials and links to support your professional learning around specific literacy or language difficulties.

CLPL incorporating the Scottish context –

  • Click here to explore online course materials – An Introduction to Inclusive Education
  • Click here to explore Three Dyslexia online learning modules
  • Click here to explore Education Scotland professional learning

Other useful information, links and resources can be found in the Addressing Dyslexia website here.


Ursula Busch and Ann McPhilemy from our English as an Additional Language service has also provided the following links:

  • Click here to visit NALDIC – National subject association for EAL
  • Click here for British Council support and advice
  • This link leads to essential reading: Learning in 2+ languages – Guidance which promotes inclusion of bilingual pupils and identifies good practice in supporting bilingual pupils
  • This link leads to and Education Scotland professional learning tool – Supporting bilingualism and English as an additional language
  • Further links and information have been collated here in this document by Ursula – thanks to colleagues in Stirling and Glasgow Councils for the information shared.
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