Riverside Primary School has received an award from the First Minister in a nationwide competition to encourage Scottish children to foster a lifelong love of reading.
First Minister,  Riverside Primary National Reading Awards

The school was given the ‘School and Community Partnership Reading Journey – National Winner Award’ by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the ceremony celebrating the first year of the First Minister’s Reading Challenge.

A total of 12 prizes were awarded at the celebration event at the Corn Exchange in Edinburgh earlier today.

Riverside Primary School won the National Award for School and Community Partnership Journey for their initiative. The school already had a good reading culture and so focused on growing and strengthening links with libraries and partners in the wider community.

They organised visits with authors and libraries, ran workshops and instigated book gifting events and book clubs. Riverside used a variety of ways to record and engage with the Challenge, from stories and presentations, to social media and video.

Mrs Kay Robertson, Head Teacher at Riverside Primary commented, "We are absolutely thrilled to receive this Community Partnership Award. We encourage a lifelong love for reading in Riverside for all our children. This reflects our commitment to excellence in education and to children having skills which will enhance their opportunities in their future lives. Our approach has been driven forward by our children, in particular our Reading Ambassadors, who have worked enthusiastically with our Depute Head Teacher, Mrs Chrissie Gemmell, who has been inspirational in her leadership of this initiative."

Primary 6 pupil Rebecca Menzies, age 10, enjoyed taking part in the Challenge. “The First Minister's Reading Challenge has really changed the way everyone views reading at Riverside. It was so much fun and I can't wait to be part of it next year."

Fellow P6 pupil, Emily Collington, age 10 said, “The First Minister's Reading Challenge has really transformed our school - you just have to look at our new library to see what an impact it has had!"

Stirling Council Education Committee Convener, Councillor Susan McGill, said: “A huge congratulations to staff and pupils at Riverside Primary for this fantastic national achievement. When Riverside Primary decided to take part in the First Minster’s Reading Challenge, the school were very much of the mindset that this was to be a partnership initiative, one that would bring about a positive collaboration for all pupils, families and members of the community.  The school is committed to a lifelong love for reading involving parents and community members and fully deserve this prestigious award.”

Speaking after the event, the First Minister said, “The First Minister’s Reading Challenge has been a fantastic success since it was launched last year and it’s wonderful to be able to celebrate a love of reading with so many enthusiastic participants!
“Reading is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and the Reading Challenge is opening up a world of adventure and fun for young people as well as giving them vital literacy and language skills. By working with guest speakers and charities, the Challenge is bringing the community together in a very unique way.
“Developing a love of reading in childhood can have a huge impact on educational attainment and future wellbeing which is why projects like these are so important. I am looking forward to seeing how the Challenge develops in the future.”

Following the success of the initial year, the First Minister's Reading Challenge is being extended to reach an additional 173,000 children across Scotland. The scheme will now be open to children in Primary 1 to Primary 3, as well as the original age group, Primary 4 to Primary 7.

Marc Lambert, Chief Executive of Scottish Book Trust who runs the Challenge, said: "Encouraging reading for pleasure is one of the most important things we can instill in children because we know the benefits are substantial and life-long. This wonderful initiative is an effective way to support schools, teachers and families to make reading for enjoyment a priority and we are delighted to have a part in its success.

“Riverside Primary School used the Challenge to integrate lots of great inclusive work across the school. They showcased their incredible work in a video submission featuring their local librarians, storytellers and films of famous people they contacted. This was a strong example of best practice and Riverside staff and pupils are very worthy winners of this award.”

Photo: Nicola Sturgeon awarding the 'School and Community Partnership Reading Journey' trophy to Riverside Primary pupils earlier today