Last week Caol Primary School (Highland Council) won the ‘School and Community Partnership Reading Journey’ award at the First Minister’s Reading Challenge award ceremony. The young people and staff at Caol have shared how they’ve developed ‘Reading is so Caol’ in their community.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meets with pupils from Caol Primary School, from the Highlands, at a celebration event for the First Minister’s Reading Challenge at The Hub, Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 20, 2018. Photo credit: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

This year we have had the pleasure of taking part in the First Minister’s Reading Challenge (FMRC). This year in our school we entered the School and Community Partnership Challenge with our ‘Reading is so Caol’ campaign. This campaign was led by our P2/3 teacher Kerry Lamont who worked tirelessly all year to produce fun and engaging events that involved the whole school community.

Mrs Lamont shared, “One of the priorities in our School Improvement Plan this session was to increase family engagement and broaden the family learning opportunities we offered as a school. The Reading is so Caol campaign helped enormously with this. Our various reading events and open afternoons were very well attended and our whole community has been fantastic in getting behind our campaign. Our slogan is ‘Reading is so Caol’ so we’ve tried to make it just that, with pupils, staff, families and community members all getting involved!”

Our Reading is so Caol campaign started with pupils sending in photos of themselves reading in unusual places. We also had lots of merchandise such as banners, t-shirts and caps printed with our slogan. We have since sold lots of the caps and our pupils can wear them during reading lessons and ERIC time. There have been lots of authors visiting including Mairi Hedderwick and Barry Hutchison as well as messages of support from many more. We enjoyed a variety of theme days like ‘Harry Potter Day’, a Book Week that every pupil participated in, reading parties and open afternoons which included various mascots. The children also ran whole school reading and writing competitions and we also wrote songs about reading to sing at assembly. There is a monthly Caol Reader trophy. We were visited by two mischievous reading elves called Fred and George at Christmas time and we ran a weekly book club which carried out a whole school favourite book and author Bookbug style vote!

It was great to be invited to the FMRC celebration day in Edinburgh where we were able to share our work with Nicola Sturgeon, The Scottish book Trust and the other schools invited to the event. We are delighted to receive this award. It has been such a joy to see so many of our pupils so engaged with reading and it’s been lovely to see many developing a new love for reading during our First Ministers Reading Challenge campaign. We’ve all had so much fun along the way with lots of different reading initiatives and events. We are lucky to have such brilliant support from our pupils, staff, families and wider community who have been excellent in supporting our Reading is so Caol campaign all year!

Josie, P7

“Reading is so Caol because fiction books are appreciated more and people shared their opinions on characters and plots. I also really enjoyed Harry Potter day because I got to see other people enjoy the Harry Potter books too. I loved that reading became more than just a lesson in school. It became something that we all do because it’s fun!”

Kayla, P4

“I have loved taking part in the First Minister’s Reading Challenge because our school started a Reading is so Caol campaign which has encouraged everyone to read more. We all enjoyed having famous authors visit the school because it inspired everyone to read. We got the chance to go to Edinburgh and meet the First Minister. I loved looking at other schools’ tables and getting some ideas for ‘Reading is so Caol’ next year. It was really cool when one the schools that was there said that they look on our social media pages and that we inspire them.”

Lucy, P7

“Our campaign has been so much fun! I enjoyed running a whole school competition with Josie where we encouraged pupils to write a story and also raise awareness of endangered animals. We all liked creating our own songs, Harry Potter day and getting some new books! It’s been amazing seeing children who didn’t like reading finding books they enjoy and reading more than they did before. Reading is so Caol! When we went to Edinburgh I loved seeing other schools and their achievements because everyone has worked so hard for the FMRC.”

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