Dalry Primary School: From pen to published

chopping board

Grant Gillies, headteacher of Dalry Primary in Edinburgh, has pledged to give every pupil at school the chance to see their writing published. He tells us about one such publishing project which was developed to support the many children at Dalry for whom English is an additional language.

Dalry is a unique school. 74 percent of our children have English as an Additional Language and we have children from all over the world. Our teachers, children and parents are creative, supportive and have a widely diverse range of experiences to bring colour to our magical school.

Last year we decided to publish a book to give to all new pupils at our school that would help them understand the routines and hopefully not worry about coming to school. Our Primary 6 pupils worked with our P1 pupils to look at good picture books and get lots of ideas. It was amazing what they came up with!

We applied for Live Literature Funding and worked with Mary Turner Thomson who has helped many schools with the process of publishing. She was amazing.

We applied for Live Literature Funding and worked with Mary Turner Thomson who has helped many schools with the process of publishing. She was amazing. When we needed reassured, she was there. When we wanted to run with some crazy ideas, she was up for it. She brought structure and a series of workshops. Scottish Book Trust also give lots of advice online and a great source of both inspiration and practical ideas.

In February of last year we all went to our first book launch at George VI Library and there were lots of press and even a TV camera who came to find out more about the book. It was really exciting and the children were so proud to see the big moment when they saw an actual book. A real book! A book that they had seen from draft to final copy. One that was sold in the shop at the Library. A book that was stored in the ancient vaults below, along with other literary giants.

And I guess that's the point: for children to feel a book in their hand. A moment in time. Something that is given to all new children at our school. Every new Primary 1 for years to come. Success.

It sold 500 copies and was featured in four national newspapers!

From there we wanted to keep the momentum going and applied for Live Literature Funding for a multi-cultural recipe book. Keeping the format the same, one older class working with a younger class to develop a book that brought in the wider community and reflected the diversity of Dalry.

The recipe book drew together recipes from all over the world, from Macaroni Cheese to Saag, and we had great fun testing and tasting the recipes. Again Mary worked her magic and guided us through the process which had many similarities but was significantly different. The P6 and P2/1 class teachers were amazing too. They really enjoyed the learning curve, from planning and writing the book to marketing, it was a terrific journey and one which the teachers and parents enjoyed as much as the children.

Next? We have three publishing projects next term.

  • Blogging with our Big Thinkers
  • A literary calendar
  • A collection of football stories and poems called Hearts and Minds

After that?

The world...


Find our more about how to apply for Live Literature Funding on our LLF pages.

Grant Gillies

Grant Gillies is the headteacher at Dalry Primary School in Edinburgh.