Category Archives: Literacy

Scots in Shawlands

By Adam Black


“We at Shawlands decided that it would be nice for our Primary Two classes to learn a little about Scots language. On discussing this with the children they seemed very upbeat and interested. We decided to start off our learning process by teaching some classic Scottish songs (Skyscraper Wean/Cannae Shove yer Grannie Aff a Bus etc) and by reading ‘The Gruffalo’ in Scots. This worked well and the children were hooked!

We decided to create Scots language dictionaries where the children copy down a Scots word and write what they think it means before writing down the true translation. This created lots of hilarity in the class.

We then thought it would be good to seek a talk form a professional. The children love receiving visitors and when I contacted the Education Scotland Scots language team they were prompt and pleasant in their reply. We very quickly set up a date for Bruce Eunson to come in and speak to the children. Bruce had a lovely manner with the children and they were captivated from start to finish. They really enjoyed his use of Scots and the game he played with the red balls was one they adored (I also liked it and will steal it for my own literacy work!).

Bruce also introduced us to the NLS Oor Wullie Scots website. This is a fantastic resource which we wouldn’t have found ourselves. It has interesting activities which are easy to use. It has also captured the children’s imagination as several children have come into school with Oor Wullie annuals.

Overall we are delighted that we chose to look at Scots. The children are really benefiting from learning a little about their cultural history and are enjoying throwing the occasional Scots word into lessons. They loved meeting Bruce and practising with Oor Wullie. A enjoyable experience for all and one we will use with our classes for years to come!”


Making connections: Numeracy & Mathematics and the world of work

The following materials will be of interest to anyone who would like to explore connections between numeracy/mathematics and the world of work. It includes an interactive financial education resource, Money Talks, an article on how mathematics is used in the workplace from the Mathematics Association of America and Citizen Maths, a site for people who want to become more confident in using maths at work and in life.     There are also links to the National Numeracy and Mathematics Hub, a virtual learning environment for all practitioners and a copy of the latest Numeracy and Mathematics Resource Guide.


Learning Families – Intergenerational Approaches to Literacy Teaching and Learning

“All of the programmes featured in this publication by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning  share valuable experiences and lessons. They reflect a view of effective learning families whereby each child is a member of a family, and within a learning family every member is a lifelong learner. Among disadvantaged families and communities in particular, a family literacy and learning approach is more likely to break the intergenerational cycle of low education and literacy skills..” (Elfert and Hanermann 2014)

Family Learning Research

This report presents findings from a study of family literacy programmes in England carried out by the National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy (NRDC) at UCL Institute of Education (IOE) between July 2013 and May 2015. This mixed-methods study was funded by the Nuffield Foundation and explored: 1) the impact of school-based family literacy programmes on young children’s progress in reading and writing; and 2) how parents translate and implement what they learn in these classes into the home literacy environment. This study provides evidence that after attending family literacy sessions children improve their literacy skills and there are positive changes in the home literacy environment.

Literacy Across Learning – Reading for Achievement in your classroom – the story so far…

On 26th March 2016, Education Scotland ran the literacy event ‘Reading for achievement in your classroom’.  And what a day it was! The event engaged with 70 delegates from secondary schools across Scotland but we didn’t want this just to be for those who could make it. One of the aims for the day was to keep the learning going after the event and as a result our literacy community has really heated up.

Delegates were asked to sign up in pairs comprising of one literacy specialist and one non-specialist in order to discuss literacy across learning in all subject areas and we were thrilled that so many schools were able to give staff the chance to attend the event in pairs.

The importance of literacy across learning and why it is the responsibility of all was addressed in the presentations given by Helen Fairlie and Madelaine Baker. The group shared their thoughts and ideas enthusiastically and we really had a chance to consider our own roles in improving literacy – and how that role can help change life chances and address the attainment gap.

Workshops offered further professional dialogue around Tracking, HGIOS 4, Literacy and the library and Focus on reading. There was lively debate and groups worked together to improve their understanding and to develop ideas to take back to school.

Readachieve groupwork

As the day developed, so did our SWAY – don’t know what a SWAY is?  You can see a preview of this at the bottom of this blog . It can be viewed in full by logging into GLOW and accessing the Readachieve page. Don’t forget to check out the carousel slides on the literacy blether which give you a direct link to all our resources!


We added  videos of all of the presentations  from the literacy team as well as the 5 minute shout out videos from secondary school practitioners from across Scotland.  Materials including power point slides are also available.

In the afternoon, delegates made  a pledge to develop literacy across learning in their own schools. The pledges were uploaded and you can see them on the #readachieve page.

We will be following up the pledges with our delegates in spring/summer term to see how they are getting on.

If you want to join in the conversation and get the chance to follow the #readachieve story, make your own pledge or share work that you are doing in your own school, join the community at Readachieve or follow our twitter feed @lal_edscot.

You can also engage in professional learning and find helpful advice and support on literacy across learning at Literacy Across Learning.

You can get a sneak preview of the day’s events below. More will become available if you sign up to the literacy blether. Use #readachieve when you sign up and I will advise you how to get involved.






Midlothian-based author Simon Puttock, who lives in Newtongrange won the Bookbug Reader’s (3-7 yrs) category for his picture book Mouse’s First Night at Moonlight School, illustrated by Ali Pye. Published by Nosy Crow, the book follows Mouse on her first day at Miss Moon’s Moonlight School for all the small creatures of the night, but she is very shy, too shy to even say hello. Luckily, with help from Miss Moon and her new friends Bat, Cat and Owl, a game of hide-and-seek makes Mouse feel right at home.

Simon Puttock

Simon is no stranger to the Scottish Children’s Book Awards, having won a 2006 Award for Little Lost Cowboy, and appearing on both the 2008 and 2010 shortlists. Born in New Zealand, he travelled all over the world with his family as a child. He wanted to be a vet when he was little, but grew up to become a bookseller. He was particularly interested in children’s books and was chosen to be a Children’s Whitbread judge. He has since become a full-time writer, creating over 30 children’s books.

Commenting on his win, Simon said:

“What does it mean to me to win the award? Apart from it meaning me being enormously (but happily) surprised, it means being able to take huge pleasure in the fact that Ali’s and my book is out there, having an unpredictable but entirely satisfactory life of its own. What more could we wish for?”

SBT logo

Have you read the story to children? What interests them in the story? How do you make the story come alive? Tell via Twitter or share your ideas via Glow Early Learn

Scottish Book Trust: Every Toddler in Scotland to Receive Free Song and Rhyme CD

SBT logo

Bookbug, Scotland’s national book gifting programme, has today (24 February 2016) unveiled a brand new music CD which will be given out free to every toddler in Scotland.


Featuring a collection of traditional and contemporary songs and rhymes, including a special bonus track from Dolly Parton’s “I Believe in You” Imagination Library album, the CD will be gifted by health visitors directly to parents in the Bookbug Toddler Bag.

The collection of music was put together by a variety of talented musicians and singers and young children. Working in partnership with Live Music Now Scotland and with funding from Creative Scotland’s Youth Music Initiative, Scottish Book Trust invited musician, Marianne Fraser to undertake a music residency at the Fort Early Years Centre in Leith. The findings of this residency were then used to inform the development of the new CD.

Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children and Young People said:
“Improving literacy in our children and young people is a key priority for this Government and we know that learning begins long before school. That’s why we are investing in initiatives like Bookbug which encourages parents to play a part in their child’s learning through fun activities like reading and singing. This helps a child’s development and can give them the skills and abilities that will make it easier for them to keep learning as they grow. These new CDs are a fantastic addition to the Bookbug pack and will be enjoyed by children and families across the country.”


57,500 copies of the Bookbug Toddler CD have been produced to include in the Bookbug Toddler Bag which will be gifted to every toddler in Scotland in March 2016.

For more information go to the Scottish Booktrust website

Reading for Achievement in your classroom – Professional Learning Event (secondary)

Capture 2

Reading for achievement in your classroom


A professional learning opportunity for all secondary teachers




Date:              Wednesday 16th March 2016

Venue:           Stirling Court Hotel, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4AE


Focus: Literacy as the responsibility of all secondary teachers.

You will have the opportunity to engage with leaders of learning from all subject areas in order to explore how to improve the learning and teaching of literacy skills in all subject classrooms and learning contexts.


Buddy up!  Registration is open to pairs of secondary teachers.  We’re looking to work with teachers from across all subject areas so a maximum of one English teacher per pair, please!


Commitment: By participating you will undertake a minimum of 6 hours of CLPL, which will include up to 2 hours of online activity before the event.


Before Preparation using online community 1-2 hours (approx.)
During Presentations and workshops on the day 4 hours
After Collaborative work with colleagues back at school 1 hour +


Programme Aims

  • Engage in professional dialogue about literacy with colleagues from across schools and subject areas
  • Improve knowledge and understanding of teaching reading across the school
  • Build capacity for leadership of literacy across learning
  • Plan for impact in your school by planning professional learning activities
  • Build an online professional learning community focused on improving literacy across learning


5 minute shout outs  Trying out a bright idea for improving classroom practice for literacy across learning in your school?  Maybe it’s well established in your school?  Maybe it’s something that you’re piloting?  We’d love to hear about it in one of our five minute slots.


Follow us: Literacy Blether

Follow us on twitter : @lal_edscot


Ceitidh Computer Voice

Ceitidh is now available from CALL Scotland’s Scottish voice website alongside “Heather” and “Stuart”, the two Scottish computer voices. Heather and Stuart are also licenced for the entire Scottish Public Sector.

The new Gaelic computer voice is licensed for the Scottish public sector, so it can be used by students in schools, colleges and universities, NHS patients, and employees in the public sector. CALL also has permission to distribute the voice to charities.

The Gaelic voice works on Windows and Macintosh computers and can be used to:

  • read Gaelic web sites, ebooks, textbooks, SQA exam papers and other curriculum resources;
  • check writing, emails, and social media posts – proofreading by listening can improve spelling and grammar;

The voice will be particularly helpful for Gaelic speakers with dyslexia, reading difficulties and visual impairment, but it should also be useful for anyone learning or working in Gaelic.

Newsletter: Gaelic Medium Education

Comann nam Pàrant, the national organisation that advises and supports parents/carers of those in Gaelic Medium Education (GME), has recently published a newsletter

The newsletter includes information on

  • Education (Scotland) Bill
  • Children and young people’s achievements in Gaelic Medium Education
  • Useful information to help parents/carers support their child’s learning.

Please continue to read