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Press release: First Minister’s Reading Challenge opens for registration

Reading Schools accredits 18 more schools

First Minister's Reading Challenge 2021 trophies

The First Minister’s Reading Challenge has opened for registrations(this will open in a new window) 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.

Created to support learning professionals and pupils, the Challenge assists schools and community groups to establish regular reading routines and activities as young people return to education. 100% of learning professionals said the Reading Challenge helped them encourage pupils to read for pleasure and 83% also said that the Reading Challenge helped them enthuse pupils impacted by lockdown. Furthermore, it was found that 93% of pupils read for pleasure more after taking part in the Reading Challenge.¹

This year, alongside the First Minister’s Reading Challenge, Reading Schools will be rolled out to all schools in more than half of Scotland’s local authorities.² Reading Schools is an accreditation framework that recognises and rewards schools for building and sustaining a whole-school reading culture. Recently, 18 schools were accredited, with two receiving gold, three receiving silver and 13 achieving core status.³

100% of participants found that Reading Schools had a positive impact on attainment, and also found that the accreditation programme fit in well with their existing priorities and processes. 86% also said that taking part in Reading Schools had helped them to support reading in ways they hadn’t considered before.⁴

Reading Schools continues and develops all the great work of the First Minister’s Reading Challenge and matches it to a curriculum-based framework allowing every school to be accredited for their achievements, providing they meet the agreed criteria. Activities that schools have completed for the Reading Challenge will be eligible to support their Reading Schools journey. Schools in eligible local authorities are encouraged to participate in both programmes simultaneously.

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. Backed by educators, Reading Schools supports learners’ attainment and reinforces reading for pleasure.'

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.'

Primary schools, secondary schools, libraries and community groups that register for the First Minister’s Reading Challenge will be able to apply for funding(this will open in a new window) to work with an author, illustrator, poet or storyteller as well as being entered into a prize draw to win books to help build their reading culture. This may be an in person or remote event, a personalised resource or other partnership. Groups need to be registered by 1 October to be entered into the prize draw and the deadline for applying to the workshop fund is Thursday 18 November. Applicants will have until the end of the school year to use the funds. Funds can cover the author fee, travel where necessary and accompanying materials such as books, art supplies etc to help them make the most of the event and support their reading culture.

For more information, registration and funding, visit www.readingchallenge.scot(this will open in a new window).

For more information on Reading Schools, visit https://www.readingschools.scot(this will open in a new window).

Notes to Editors

1) First Minister’s Reading Challenge Evaluation 2019-20

2) Forth Valley & West Lothian, Tayside and West Partnership Regional Improvement Collaboratives includes: Angus, Clackmannanshire, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Falkirk, Glasgow City, Inverclyde, North Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross, Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire and West Lothian

3) Recently Accredited Schools:


Hallglen Primary School, Falkirk

Denny High School, Falkirk

Fossoway Primary School, Perth and Kinross

Bertha Park High School, Perth and Kinross

Stoneyburn Primary School, West Lothian

Kirkhill Primary School, West Lothian

Falla Hill Primary School, West Lothian

Dedridge Primary School, West Lothian

Arbroath High School, Angus

Maddiston Primary School, Falkirk

Winchburgh Primary School, West Lothian

Meldrum Primary School, West Lothian

Kirknewton Primary School, West Lothian


Armadale Academy, West Lothian

Tealing Primary School, Angus

Eastertoun Primary School, West Lothian


Bridge Of Allan Primary, Stirling

Beachcross Primary School, Falkirk

Previously accredited schools can be found here:

https://www.scottishbooktrust.com/about/press-releases/34-scottish-schools-achieve-reading-schools-accreditation(this will open in a new window)

4) Reading Schools Evaluation 2020-21

For all press and media queries, contact PR & Marketing Manager Keara Donnachie by email at keara.donnachie@scottishbooktrust.com(this will open in a new window) or call 07956 773749.

Scottish Book Trust

Scottish Book Trust is a national charity changing lives through reading and writing. We inspire and support the people of Scotland to read and write for pleasure through programmes and outreach work that include:

In addition to the funding we receive from the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland, we need the constant support of trusts and foundations, corporate sponsors and individual donors.

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Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery.

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