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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-04882: Tavish Scott (Shetland Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 21 November 2016

To ask the Scottish Government what (a) financial and (b) other type of resources have been provided to the schools that (i) are and (ii) are not participating in the First Minister’s Reading Challenge.

Answered by: John Swinney 30 November 2016

The First Minister’s Reading Challenge is designed to complement and support the investment already going into schools. This means that schools participating in the Challenge do not receive dedicated Reading Challenge funding. Those schools who sign up to the Challenge receive a free teachers pack which includes copies of the “100 places to start your reading journey” booklet. They can also order “Reading Passports” for their classes via the Reading Challenge website, which are also provided free of charge to the school. To date, a total of 190,560 Reading Passport” have been ordered, as well as 2,032 Gaelic Medium Education Reading Passports.

Within the Challenge, there is also a project called ‘Inspiring Classrooms’. This allows registered schools to apply to secure a small grant to pay for an author to visit their school and to buy books for the children taking part.

Librarians who register for the Reading Challenge are supplied with promotion materials and literature. To date, a total of 183 librarians have registered via the website. Librarians are encouraged to make links with their local schools, with the aim to further widen access to books. This complements a range of wider investment and support provided to public libraries alongside the Reading Challenge initiative. This includes the Public Library Improvement Fund (£450,000 in 2016-17). It also includes the partnership between the Scottish Government’s Read, Write, Count campaign and public libraries. In February 2016 300 Scottish libraries shared an allocation of £90,000 to pay for new book P1-P3 stock and to supplement existing displays. A further £108,000 was invested to provide Read, Write, Count book packs and stands to libraries in more deprived areas.

Scottish Book Trust provide free resources, outreach and advice to all schools on reading for pleasure. This includes support to those schools who are not signed up to the Challenge. General advice and support, as well as various materials on reading for pleasure and parental engagement, are available to schools through the Scottish Book Trust and Education Scotland websites.

The Scottish Government is allocating £750 million during the course of this Parliament, through the Attainment Scotland Fund, to tackle the attainment gap. This funding, provided to schools signed up to the FM Reading Challenge as well as schools yet to sign up, target resources at the children, schools and communities most in need.