Pirniehall Primary enrols every pupil at local library

P3 pupils Gary Stewart and Laila Wright carry their library cards with pride. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
P3 pupils Gary Stewart and Laila Wright carry their library cards with pride. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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A PRIMARY school in the Capital is thought to have become the first in Scotland to enrol all of its pupils at the local library as part of a bid to boost literacy.

Every child attending Pirniehall Primary has been taken to Muirhouse Library and given a membership card, with teams of youngsters participating in induction sessions over two months.

The kids genuinely seem to be quite proud of having a library card and are looking forward to using it.

Mary Ryan-Gillespie

The project, which involved 286 pupils, has been completed as part of a Scottish Government-supported drive to encourage as many children as possible to read regularly.

Ministers have provided £80,000 in funding to help local authorities trial methods of providing automatic library membership.

Pirniehall staff said enrolment for all pupils was about creating a “culture of reading” at the school.

Headteacher Mary Ryan-Gillespie said: “I think that, because we have made such an event of it all, there’s a really positive buzz about the local library, which is not something you have there as a matter of course.

“The kids genuinely seem to be quite proud of having a library card and are looking forward to using it. The teachers are feeling very positive about it.

“We want to create a reading culture at Pirniehall – thinking about books, authors and story-telling.”

City bosses have hailed the success of teachers and library staff.

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “This is a fantastic initiative, which I hope can be replicated across the city.

“The latest literacy results are really encouraging and I am delighted we are starting to see real improvements in what pupils are achieving.

“Encouraging children to read, and more importantly to enjoy, books from a young age is vital, and it’s great to see our schools and libraries working closer together to achieve that aim.”

He added: “Literacy is a key element of Curriculum for Excellence, and it’s important for all of our young people to have a love of reading, which I hope will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

Cllr Richard Lewis, culture leader, said: “Community libraries such as Muirhouse are wonderful community hubs, with great facilities and knowledgeable, friendly staff. I’d love to see this pilot roll out to other schools in the Capital.”

As part of the Scottish Government library initiative, projects are being developed in every council area to enrol children during their early years. Children will be given library cards either at birth, age three or four, or in P1.

Nicola Sturgeon said: “Our libraries are often the hub of a local community – providing vital access to information and resources that people would otherwise not have. Libraries can empower communities – often in our most deprived areas where we know young people can have lower levels of literacy and numeracy.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com