PRIORSFORD Primary School in Peebles has become the first school in Scottish Borders to receive the Scottish Book Trust’s Reading Schools Silver Award.

The school held a tea party to celebrate, with Liam McCallum from the Scottish Book Trust attending to present the award.

Also in attendance were many people who had helped the school gain this award including the Parent Council and PTA chairs, Peebles Librarian Alison Tait, Dr Sandra Percy who has supported staff training on developing reading; Trudi Palmer, class teacher and librarian, as well as SBC Chief Education Officer, Justin Sinclair.

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This award reflects the positive culture of reading developed at Priorsford over several years.

And it provides external validation to recognise the impact of the work that the children, staff, families and local community have been doing in partnership to embed reading for pleasure.

As a rights-respecting school, Priorsford place high importance on pupil voice and empowering the children to take on active leadership roles.

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The pupil Reading Ambassadors and Junior Librarians regularly consult with their classes to seek out children’s suggestions for new titles for the library.

They are great role models for encouraging reading – organising and running outdoor reading sheds, leading bear hunts, teddy bear picnics and making their own book displays in the library.

The school encourage and foster partnerships in all areas of school improvement, with the welcome and active involvement of parents, families and members of the local community enhancing the learning experiences of the children.

Several parents volunteer every week to enable every class to have a session of book exchanges and reading in our library.

A Priorsford Book Festival is held every two years and parents support this by offering their time to come in as role models, sharing their favourite books and broadening the children’s experience of different genres.

The PTA supports the school financially with additional funding to top up Live Literature funding, which enables invites to well-known authors, who always do a wonderful job in motivating and inspiring the children to read widely as well as give ideas on how to improve their own classroom writing.

Sponsored read-a-thons and Book Fair commissions also allows the school to replenish and regularly add new books to their library so that children can enjoy a wide range of reading material.

Local librarian, Alison Tait, from Peebles Library, offers advice to both staff and children on new authors and books available and the school has ensured that every child has visited the local library and received a membership card and can make use of this valuable community resource.

School therapy dog, Peggy, comes in to school every week and the children, regardless of their reading confidence and ability, enjoy reading to her in the peaceful surroundings of the library.

Key to the success of the culture of reading is supply teacher and school librarian, Mrs Trudi Palmer, who works tirelessly, creating fantastic library displays; making games and activities and managing the library system and volunteers.

Her commitment and enthusiasm for reading rubs off on all, with children, staff and parents all being inspired to pick up a new book and read.

Her passion for reading has been absolutely fundamental to fostering a life-long love of reading in the whole school community and also in the successful Reading Schools accreditation.

Watch out for details of a Community Book Trail taking place in local shops over the summer holidays in conjunction with Peebles Library and Whittie’s Bookshop, Peebles, aiming to encourage children to read during the school summer holidays.