First Minister’s national reading award win for two Angus Schools

Published Monday 21 June 2021

Pupils at Grange Primary School have won a national reading award in the First Minister’s 2021 Reading Challenge. Young people at Forfar Academy also scooped highly commended in the Reading Inspiration category.

Winners were announced online by Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell, author of the How to Train Your Dragon series.

Grange Primary School won the School Reading Journey Award for their innovative reading projects and culture of reading for pleasure. Judges were impressed with fun ideas to encourage reading for pleasure in school and at home.

Grange Primary School Teacher, Mrs Fiona Anderson, who led the challenge and submission said: “This award means a lot because we’ve had such a difficult year and it’s something to lift our spirits. We worked on it together – the pupils and the staff- so it is something we can all be proud of.

“Staff and the pupil Reading Council worked hard to promote book talk, virtual reading recommendations and to engage pupils in fun reading challenges.

“We organised a wide range of live and pre-recorded virtual author, poet, and storyteller events throughout the session to inspire our young readers. Our Reading Café at home encouraged families to read together with a cuppa. 

“The children’s passion for reading continued during lockdown with fun ideas like guess the book cover, recommend a story in your window and The Masked Reader.”

Announcing Grange Primary School as winners of the Reading Journey award, Cressida Cowell said: “The Judges loved this entry for its diversity. They commented that it was full of joy and fun and innovative ideas. The impact on pupils and families was clear. They support staff’s dedication was also highlighted by the judges.”

Reading inspiration award highly commended award to Forfar Academy. Judges praised their innovative ways in encouraging a reading culture.

Forfar Academy were highly commended for the Reading Inspiration award in this year’s First Minister’s Reading Challenge. Open to secondary schools, the Reading Inspiration award recognises the work that schools have done to build a reading culture and inspire pupils to read for pleasure. S1 classes began the year by making exciting plans together as a class of ways to share their reading and encourage each other to read more.

Kas Mohamed, Head Teacher at Forfar Academy said: "Some classes created displays of their recommended books in the school library, while others created paper aeroplanes to share their book reviews! Classes also played a variety of games together to highlight new reading choices. We were lucky enough to experience a virtual visit from Robin Stevens, the author of the Murder Most Unladylike series of books where we could pose questions to her.

"Lockdown curtailed some of our plans, but didn’t stop our reading and we took the book discussion on to Teams instead, including setting up a virtual book group. Pupils also enjoyed some activities on World Book Day, including a ‘Masked Reader’ quiz where they had to identify the disguised member of staff who was reading a book’s blurb, as well as taking up the chance to have a free brand new book delivered to them at home for them to enjoy.

"When surveyed at the end of their reading journey, 46% of S1 pupils stated that they read more than they had at the same point the year before."

Convener of Children and Young People, Councillor Derek Wann said: “A huge congratulations to all of the entries from Angus. It’s wonderful to see schools across Angus who are reading for pleasure and building strong life-long reading cultures in the classroom as well as at home.

“I’m delighted to see Grange Primary School winning the Reading Journey award and Forfar Academy being highly commended in the Reading Inspiration Award.  

“These awards reflect the work that has been done by teachers, staff and parents to nurture a positive culture of reading as well as the enthusiasm of our young people to sustain good reading habits. The recognition from the Scottish Book Trust points to our nurturing environment and our commitment to reading as a key priority on our Annual Education plan.”

Launched in 2016, the First Minister’s Reading Challenge is open to all schools in Scotland, and is delivered on behalf of Scottish Government by Scottish Book Trust.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Reading is something that always brings me joy, and no matter how I am feeling there’s something to match my mood. During the pandemic, it has been a lifeline, and I know it has been for countless others.

“The reading challenge was launched to inspire as many young people as possible to discover a joy of reading, and I have been so impressed with all the innovative work schools and communities have been doing this year, rising to the challenge of doing this during these extraordinary times, and doing so with great ingenuity.

“Huge congratulations to the winners, as well as everyone who submitted incredible entries.”