5 More Ways to Use Scots in Schools

Image of coloured pencils in pot by alegri/alegriphotos.com

To read this blog in Scots, click here.

Scots is creating lots of excitement at the moment: in schools and beyond. Education Scotland’s team of Scots Language Co-ordinators has been working with local authorities to raise the status of the language. There is a complete programme of training for practitioners in progress. The Scots Language Ambassadors are working with partner schools and Creative Scotland recently launched their Scots Language Policy. Using Scots as part of learning and teaching literacy and language skills is becoming more interesting to an increasing number of people. Here are some more ideas for the teacher who wants to use Scots in the classroom…


Sponsor a word in the Scots Language Dictionaries. You could begin with every learner nominating their favourite word – as a whole school activity if you choose. Or begin by providing learners with a selection of words. Once you have four ‘candidates’ you can hold a vote to find the most popular. Hold shadow elections, using the single transferrable vote or whichever method you choose. On payment of £20 you will be sent the entire entry from the dictionary and a certificate for the wall. Learners will certainly have the opportunity to consider words as well as democracy.

Speaking and Listening

Super Spheres: You might want to call these ‘thought grenades’ or an alternative name. The idea came from Lisa Jane Ashes at the National Literacy Network meeting in 2014. Take plastic balls from a ball pool and cut a small hole about the size of a five pence piece in each. You can now put conversation starters into the balls: questions, statements, words to use – whatever you wish. Starters can be found on The Scots Blether.


There is more to Scots than poems. The Scots Blether has topic lists of texts in Scots. If you cannot find what you are looking for, just ask on the conversation thread. A number of School Library Services are now aiming to put these books into topic boxes, if you are lucky enough to have such a service in your area. Perhaps you could use a Scots text with every topic you plan? Make Scots part of your ongoing work instead of an add-on in January.


Putting pen to paper can be difficult and tiresome for some learners at the best of times. Scots might make it a little more difficult. A word mat of vocabulary would be useful. You can find examples on The Scots Blether. Once learners realise that there is no standard spelling, it can free them up. Phonetic spelling is fine if they can be consistent and argue for their choice. Having to consider spelling the way they say words can be of great benefit to some learners. And do remember the Dictionary of the Scots Language Scots Dictionary for Schools App – it is very useful too.

Inter-disciplinary Learning

A super chance to use Scots in an IDL and/or Enterprise Project can be found in Tae and Toast and a Blether in Scots. You can raise money for Poppy Scotland at the same time. Invite guests. Provide tea and toast and entertainment –a formal performance, a display of work or a group of learners willing to chat. Charge an entry fee or ask for donations and you will make money for a good cause while you are at it. See how one school approached this: Kirktonholme's Tae and Toast. More information can be found on The Scots Blether.

If you are a teacher in Scotland you will have access to The Blether on GLOW. If you have difficulties, email Diane.Anderson@educationscotland.gsi.gov.uk

For more great ideas, check out all of our blogs on using Scots in schools. Upper primary and secondary teachers may also be interested in writer Matthew Fitt's guide to writing in Scots!

Image credit: modified image by alegri/alegriphotos.com under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

Diane Anderson

Diane Anderson is a Scots Language Co-ordinator at Education Scotland.