Championing Pupil Voices

Schools across Scotland are working to inspire pupils to read for pleasure as part of the First Minister’s Reading Challenge. But many schools are also working to champion students' own ideas, and create more opportunities for pupil leadership. You can combine these priorities, creating a vibrant reading culture which places pupils at its heart.

Through the First Minister’s Reading Challenge, we’ve seen some fantastic examples of primary and secondary pupils taking ownership of their reading culture. Pupils have worked together to plan events, create new initiatives, contribute to school decision making and much more. This blog highlights just a handful of the amazing examples from last year’s Challenge.


Planning Events and Recommending Books

Schools pupils in a reading den
St Andrew & St Bride’s High School in South Lanarkshire were one of our pilot secondary schools for the First Minister’s Reading Challenge. They formed a Literacy Leaders group of interested pupils who helped to plan Book Week Scotland and World Book Day events, ensuring that the content of these events was of interest to pupils across the school. They also identified a gap in the school’s current practice: there was no place for them to share book recommendations with their peers. They worked together to create SASBBookLife, and Instagram account dedicated to pupil book reviews, allowing conversation about books to become part of their day to day interactions on social media.


Informing School Decision Making

Students in the school library
After attending the First Minister’s Reading Challenge Celebration Event, Grace and Klaudia from Letham Primary in West Lothian met with their head teacher to share the ideas they had picked up from other schools. In response, the girls became the school’s official Reading Ambassadors, and worked with the staff to design displays in the school library, suggest new books to buy and plan an author visit. 


Making Space for Reading

Although Sgoil Lionacleit in Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has a community library on campus, this wasn’t always open during school hours. Students decided to create a reading room as part of the First Minister's Reading Challenge. The reading room was designed by the school’s Reading Ambassadors, who selected a Harry Potter theme for the space. The room has a noticeboard for recommendations, and also acts as the home of the new pupil-run book café.


Sharing Reading with the Community

Book Fairies poster with books
The Reading Reps at Newtongrange Primary in Midlothian set up an innovative Book Fairies project. The pupils designed posters and bookmarks, and then hid books around their local community – everywhere from the park, to the local shops and in the school itself. This helped the whole community get excited about reading for pleasure, and gave the Reading Reps an exciting secret that made reading seem even more of an adventure!


If you want to give your pupils a leading role in promoting reading for pleasure in your school, register now for this year's First Minister’s Reading Challenge at via the Reading Challenge website

The First Minister’s Reading Challenge is a national initiative open to primary schools, secondary schools, public libraries and community groups to promote reading for pleasure. When you register to take part, you gain access to all of our free learning resources, can order reading passports for your pupils, get the chance to apply for Inspiring Classrooms or Creative Workshops funding and much more.

Sarah Mallon

Sarah Mallon works for the Scottish Book Trust as School Communities Outreach Co-Ordinator