Author: Miss Wallace

Read, Write, Count Coming Soon


Improving literacy and numeracy has an important role to play in improving attainment.

Improving school attainment for all and closing the attainment gap have long been priorities for the Scottish Government, with programmes such as Raising Attainment for All already working well across Scotland since launching in June this year.

In the year ahead, the Scottish Government will go further by bringing a sharper focus to the need for improvement in educational attainment.

This will include the introduction of a Read, Write, Count literacy and numeracy campaign aimed at Primary 1 to 3 children, to build on the success of the Play, Talk, Read campaign already in place.



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Reading Strategies in Action at Nethermains (P4)

nethermainsdCaroline Cane, Probationer teacher at Nethermains is really excited to share this story from her P4 class:

We were developing our understanding of a short text we watched online using our reading strategies.

First, we recorded everything we knew about treasure and put the word treasure into an extended sentence.

nethermainsaHere is an example from one of our pupils:

‘Pirate Pete was on a mission to find the hidden treasure when he arrived on a small island because he found an old treasure map in his ship’.


We then worked as visualisers and drew what we thought the story was going to be about based on the still image that Mrs Cane showed us.

Next we discussed who the character was and why they were looking for treasure. We created our own questions for our shoulder partner to answer.

One of our pupils independently wrote a fantastic summary of the text and used some interesting vocabulary.


Active Literacy at Ladeside Primary School


Here’s what’s going on at Ladeside:

Our Literacy RACI group has been focusing on reading for enjoyment. We have several classes involved in Paired Reading. Older pupils have been trained to buddy younger pupils. P7 been reading with LHS pupils at LHS Library. Calum Smith has been facilitating this. Yvonne Manning trained P6 pupils as storytellers. We have had a huge amount of input from the storytellers from Larbert community library and Falkirk Council’s Learning Resource Centre. We participated in the Scottish Children’s Book Awards by reading the novels and voting.

What do the pupils say about paired reading at Ladeside?

P.6 Big Buddy talking about EAL P.3 pupil:  “I feel that my Little Buddy’s expression and volume has improved since I started reading with him.”

P.6 Big Buddy: “I think that Paired Reading is important for the future because the younger pupils get help to understand reading better and then they will get a good job when they grow up.”

P.6 Big Buddy: “ Paired Reading helps with everyone’s confidence. At the beginning, my Little Buddy didn’t want to read and now she always wants to read by herself.”

P.6 Big Buddy: “The Paired Reading training will help me in the future not just when I read with someone but will help me to be a good learner and mini-teacher too.”

P.3 teacher: “Paired reading has been a great success with my Primary 3 class. The Primary 6 pupils were well organised, confident and excellent role models at reading. The Primary 3 pupils involved really looked forward to the days their Primary 6 buddies were coming. They read a variety of appropriate texts and were able to discuss them with their buddy and answer relevant questions.”

Parent of Big Buddy: “He’s having a really great year. We’ve heard all about the Reading Buddies. He was so happy to have been chosen.”

Raising Attainment – Sharing Good Practice Nationally

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Falkirk Council recently shared their approach to raising attainment in literacy at the National Literacy Network. Our Literacy Strategy was shared, with examples of good practice from each work stream. Colleagues from across sectors and from all over Scotland attended the session and feedback was extremely positive.

St. Bernadette’s pupils stunning rap demonstrating the 6 reading comprehension strategies was shared and was really well received. Colleagues really liked the way the pupils demonstrated their understanding in a very creative way.

Active Literacy work from Bonnybridge Primary School was also shared and colleagues were impressed with the range of active literacy strategies which were shared.

Colleagues were impressed with the work Falkirk is carrying out to support parents and carers. We shared some of our you tube animations for parents/ carers and parental leaflets. We also shared the you tube training videos which are available 24/7 for teachers to access to support the delivery of active literacy in the classroom and outwith.

Our key successes for this year so far have been populating the work streams of our Literacy Strategy, a consistent approach to teaching higher order reading skills and consistency of approach. Our next steps are to take the strategy forward even further to continue to raise attainment and close the gap.

It was a really enjoyable morning sharing good practice and engaging in professional dialogue with colleagues.

We are really excited to take this forward in the future.

Sharing Reading Approaches with Parents and Carers at St. Bernadette’s RCPS

parents 1 st bsParents and carers from St. Bernadette’s RCPS engaged in an active learning reading session on Thursday 26th February. Pupils from across the stages participated in the session sharing their knowledge and understanding of reading skills and strategies with both parents and visitors from St. Ninian’s Primary School in Stirling.

Falkirk Council’s Literacy team delivered the session sharing the good practice embedded in the school and two P6 pupils confidently and competently delivered a short presentation which included a very impressive i-movie and musical rap demonstrating reading skills.

Parents took part in a thinking reader session using the text ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’.  The strategies and key ideas to support children at home were shared and explained.

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The six strategies are:

1) Prior knowledge and understanding

2) Metalinguistics

3) Visualisation

4) Inference

5) Main ideas

6) Summarising.

The visitors were then treated to a marketplace style tour of pupil work from across the stages.

Feedback included:

  • This was enjoyable, fun, great insight into children’s learning. It’s amazing to have the evidence exhibited in children…. Amazing
  • Good to show how the kids learn and the wide variety of text. Learned how important the kids understanding the text is and understanding of words.
  • Very informative so impressed by the work of the pupils. Fab!
  • The session was very helpful. Helps me understand more about how reading is taught and delivered in school! Will use at home.
  • Very useful allowed insight into strategies employed within school (would be helpful having “bullet point” newsletter on this.
  • I really enjoyed this session. I find it incredible and inspiring to realise the skills the children are managing to acquire at such a young age.
  • Reading is a wonderful life skill so anything that encourages it is a great idea.
  • I found the session helpful in relation to encouraging reading skills to my grandson. Maybe an information night for grandparents/carers would be beneficial.
  • Really good to see such creative children that seem to really enjoy what they are doing.


Closing the Gap

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Falkirk Council: Closing the Gap

A number of Falkirk Council schools are in the first phase of a Partnership Project that is funded by Education Scotland’s School Improvement Partnership Programmes (SIPP).

The SIPP is a collaborative school improvement strategy that promotes new ways of working across classroom, school and local authorities. Data and collaborative enquiry are used to innovate, test and refine new approaches to tackle the attainment gap.

Falkirk Council is currently one of 7 local authorities funded to work with the Robert Owen Centre, University of Glasgow. Projects across authorities are wide ranging and are very different but the main focus of each is to use collaboration and enquiry to tackle educational inequity and ‘Close the Gap’ for pupils.

Falkirk Council’s identified task is to pilot a staged intervention approach to low attainment in literacy in the upper primary, involving the building of family capacity in areas of relative deprivation.

This is an exciting joint initiative between Schools and Community Learning and Development. Seven primary schools within Falkirk and Grangemouth clusters have signed up for the project. These schools are using a systematic literacy intervention programme called High Five (Family Fischer trust) with small groups of pupils in P7 who have attained lower literacy scores. Alongside this, the Community Learning and Development team are providing additional opportunities for the pupils and their families to encourage motivation and ambition. Opportunities for enhanced transition to High School are also being explored.

The literacy intervention programme will run for a minimum of 20 weeks. Some parents have engaged with the process and have signed up for additional CLD activities.

Robust quantitative and qualitative data is being gathered and will be presented to SIPP, and pupil progress will be tracked from P7-S2.

So far, pupils are enjoying their experiences using age appropriate strategies and structured reading materials.

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Active Literacy – A Probationer’s Story

farmer duckAlix Thomson, a P3 Probationer teacher at Victoria Primary is delighted to share her experiences implementing active reading in her class. Here is Alix’s story:

This term my P3 class, at Victoria Primary, have been working on developing their comprehension skills, with a particular focus on summarising. The lessons have been successful and the pupils have really developed their skills, so I thought that I would share them with you as you said to send on anything that was working well.

The class began developing their summarising skills by focussing on key words. They used key words in lots of different ways.

  • Picking out key words in reading books: choosing the most important word on each page and explaining why; covering up words to see if they were essential for understanding the sentence.
  • Using different forms of text to further our understanding of the importance of key words: using shop catalogues as their text, pupils had to pick key words to describe an item to a partner without using the name of the product – could their partner work out what they had chosen?; watching or listening to news stories and noting down the key words.
  • The class also started including key words in our Busy Starts: key words from a well known story or film were displayed on the smartboard and pupils had to work out which book or film it was; this then progressed into pupils setting challenges for classmates – what film were their key words describing?

Then pupils developed their understanding by using key words to help them to summarise texts.

  • Note taking: whilst watching a short video clip of our class book (Farmer Duck), we took notes on a whiteboard, trying only to note down key words; these notes helped us to create storyboards summarising the story.
  • One sentence summaries: pupils had to write a sentence to describe their reading book; this skill was then used throughout all curricular areas with pupils using one sentence summaries to describe any of our lessons, or to recap on learning during a lesson.

Literacy Strategy Celebration of Success

Monday 12th January saw over 100 people attending a celebration of Falkirk Council’s Literacy Strategy event at Camelon Education Centre. Representatives from all of the 8 work streams including parents, pupils from Bonnybridge Primary and Grangemouth High School, teachers, Education Scotland, Library Resource Services,  businesses, partners, Falkirk Herald, Forth Valley College, the author Stuart Reid, librarians, development officers from neighbouring authorities, Scottish Book Trust, Employment and Training Unit, Moneywise Project, Entrepreneur Me and Renella.

Key note speakers Helen Fairlie, Literacy Development Officer, Education Scotland and Anne Pearson, Acting Director of Education started the celebration event off with positive news about how Falkirk Council are raising attainment in literacy.

After hearing the key note speakers, participants broke off into work stream groups to engage in professional dialogue and share their contributions to the literacy strategy to date. They then examined next steps and further ways forward to support ‘zero tolerance to illiteracy’.

Here are a few samples of photographs from the event:

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