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West Lothian schools invited to join

West Lothian schools are being encouraged to sign up for The First Minister’s Reading Challenge as it opens for registrations for the new school term.

Now in its sixth and final year, the programme is run by national charity Scottish Book Trust with support from Education Scotland and funded by Scottish Government.

The challenge is open to all primary and secondary schools as well as community groups and libraries in Scotland and aims to build positive reading cultures and improve literacy for young people.

The new challenge comes as schools after schools across West Lothian recently received accreditations.

In the core category, Stoneyburn Primary School, Kirkhill Primary School, Falla Hill Primary School, Dedridge Primary School, Winchburgh Primary School, Meldrum Primary School and Kirknewton Primary School were accredited.

While in the silver category, Armadale Academy and Eastertoun Primary were recognised.

Created to support learning professionals and pupils, the challenge helps schools and community groups to establish regular reading routines and activities as young people return to education.

One hundred per cent of learning professionals said the Reading Challenge helped them encourage pupils to read for pleasure and 83 per cent also said that the Reading Challenge helped them enthuse pupils impacted by lockdown.

Furthermore, it was found that 93 per cent of pupils read for pleasure more after taking part in the Reading Challenge.

This academic year (2021-2022) will be the final year of the First Minister’s Reading Challenge, and Reading Schools will roll out nationally across Scotland from August 2022, allowing every school to sign up to the accreditation programme and be rewarded for their efforts.

The Reading Schools programme was instigated by the First Minister’s Reading Challenge Advisory Group, following the Blake Stevenson report in 2018, and comes after successful pilot programmes in Forth Valley & West Lothian and Tayside.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “When I first established the First Minister’s Reading Challenge in 2016, I wanted to encourage reading as a source of pleasure and fun for our children and young people.

“Since then, I’ve witnessed first-hand the positive impact the Reading Challenge has had on school pupils and been amazed by the creativity and dedication of the schools who have submitted their work each year.

“Reading brings major benefits to educational attainment and mental health, and I’m confident that the Reading Schools programme will build on the legacy of the Reading Challenge with an inclusive, whole-school approach which aims to get more children – of all ages, and at all stages – to read more.”

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said: “The First Minister’s Reading Challenge has successfully promoted reading for pleasure across schools, libraries and community groups in Scotland. Our Reading Schools accreditation programme will follow in its footsteps, building on the legacy of the Reading Challenge with a framework that will be able to recognise a broader range of schools.”

Marion Cochrane, Forth Valley and West Lothian RIC Literacy Lead (West Lothian), said: “Reading Schools has had a huge impact on the young people and staff across our authority. It has created a real excitement for reading and has followed on and developed the work we were already doing with the First Minister’s Reading Challenge.

“I think that this is a sustainable, long-term approach to reading across Scotland and everyone involved with it sees it as beneficial and supportive.”

For more information, registration and funding, visit www.readingchallenge.scot.

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