In 2021 £200,000 was distributed to Scottish school library projects through the School Library Improvement Fund.
The Fund supports innovative library projects throughout Scotland and is open to all state run nurseries, primary school and secondary schools in Scotland with an established library.
This year priority was given to projects which focused on race equality, anti-racism education and the role school libraries can play in demonstrating and promoting good practice. The projects supported in 2021 included Erika's Suitcase - a joint project between Harlaw Academy and Cults Academy in Aberdeen - which promotes race equality, social justice and inclusion, and Read it Racism where pupils at Breadalbane Academy in Perth & Kinross will produce a podcast exploring themes of racism in literature.
More details on individual SLIF Awards 2021 can be found below. You can find out more about the School Library Improvement Fund - including how to apply - by visiting our School Library Improvement Fund page. Our SLIF FAQ page can also help with any questions you may have about the Fund.
Harlaw Academy & Cults Academy with Holocaust Educational Trust
Local schools Harlaw Academy and Cults Academy will work with the Holocaust Education Trust to run both Continuing Personal Development training events for staff and educational sessions for pupils on the real story of the Kindertransport rescue effort and how to teach it.
Pupils and staff will read and review non-fiction and fictional texts about refugees and share their feedback within and between schools. They will then vote for their favourite books by category and choose an overall winner. Pupils will learn about present day issues that refugees face from organisations working closely with them in the UK and Scotland. They will also have the opportunity to talk to a refugee.
This project focuses on immersing S1 of Berwickshire High in ghost and horror type fiction through the use of print, videos and expert author workshops on how stories are developed. Pupils will then create and present a short film based on their learning, developing their communication skills.
Students will use key texts with a distinct emphasis on recent work by racially diverse writers, filmmakers and playwrights to raise student awareness of story structure and how they work when seen from an anti-racist and ethnically diverse perspective. Drama will be used to build up an understanding of tension, mood and atmosphere to engage audiences.
Bell Baxter Cluster
Through this project 250 pupils across 18 cluster primary schools will experience a high-quality transition programme focusing on racial equality through the text ‘When Stars are Scattered’ by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed.
A comprehensive programme will raise the profile of race equality through a cross-curricular Global Citizenship theme covering aspects of literacy, health and wellbeing, expressive arts, social subjects and religious and moral education.
Children will come together during their visit days to Bell Baxter High School and will engage in tasks linked to the text and showcase work that has been created in their primary settings.
Using the text and pupils’ work as a stimulus will provide a springboard for high quality dialogue between staff and pupils.
St Albert's Primary School & Barrowland Ballet
We Can Be Heroes aims to ensure St Albert's Primary delivers an exclusive environment for all - providing an example that challenges systematic racism in the arts and literature.
Almost all the children who attend St Albert's Primary are from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) heritage with around 80% bilingual. The School will work with Barrowland Ballet to create stories where pupils see themselves in the central characters which often doesn't happen.
This project in collaboration with Strathclyde University carries on the work of the original SLIF Keep The Heid Project from 2020. Young learners are fast understanding that reading is for all and as well as being a life skill, can open up a world of culture and diversity.
Central to the ethos of the existing project is the belief that there is a book for everyone, even for those described as reluctant readers, if sufficient time and effort is devoted to working with young people to explore possibilities.
The project will also provide opportunities for one-to-one dialogue and small group discussions surrounding attitudes to reading, barriers and challenges.
Staff and senior pupils will take part in diversity training before working together to select a suitable range of level appropriate texts covering a wide variety of contemporary themes around the issues of diversity and racial equality.
The Academy plans to train senior pupils in storytelling techniques before putting their newfound skills to use as Book Buddies with S1 & S2 Additional Support Needs pupils.
The project aims to share knowledge regarding issues surrounding diversity and racial awareness in our society today, leading to greater empathy, understanding and social skills.
Arbroath Academy & partners
The OPEN project aims to challenge negative views of 'others'. Although a wide range of books featuring racially diverse characters are already available to pupils, they are overlooked because pupils can’t immediately see their relevance to themselves.
OPEN tackles this inadvertent racism by allowing a safe space for pupils to explore a range of literature covering topics on difference and diversity - supporting the aim of celebrating different cultures, experiences and viewpoints.
They can then discuss issues and present their responses, giving pupils agency in their own learning and starting a wider conversation around how difference and diversity affects, and unites, us all.
Using the power of literature Eyemouth High plans to explore the theme of social diversity throughout various school departments including English, Personal and Social Education (PSE) and Religious, Moral and Philosophical studies (RMPS).
Visits from Scottish writers are planned as are Drama Workshops to help deliver key messages around inclusion and diversity while strengthening pupils’ writing skills.
North West Community Campus
The North West Community Campus plans to set up a new NWCC Book Club with reading material to address diversity, racial equality and equity.
Monthly meetings will be held using books and graphic novels to educate, generate positive discussions, reduce discrimination, and promote open-mindedness, literacy, empathy and activism within the school and ultimately, pupils' careers and the wider community. Discussions will also be shared on the school's social media channels.
The Digital Storybag project intends to increase the range of resources available to pupils who learn English as an Additional Language (EAL). It aims to encourage their participation in reading and creative writing which will promote cultural diversity and encourage inclusion, enabling them to learn in an equitable environment.
EAL pupils with the most acute needs will work either individually or in small groups with iPads equipped with multilingual readers, parallel text applications and audiobooks.
The school also plans to create a new lunch club to promote both the library and the resources to all EAL pupils within Musselburgh Grammar.
This complements the existing school curriculum and gives EAL pupils an opportunity to increase their confidence and develop their English language in an enjoyable manner. It will also raise their awareness of libraries and literacy within their community.
Letham Mains Primary School with EL Council
The Borrowers Bus project offers pupils with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) access to quiet and engaging space during breaks and lunchtimes.
It will also celebrate diversity through enriched and multi-cultural reading resources, allow pupils to engage in stories in their own language and supporting English as an Additional Language pupils. This will allow the schools to curate a more diverse range of resources to support their growing number of EAL pupils.
The project title aims to encourage a sense of inclusion for all pupils and families. Central to this will be the refurbishment of the school library to create a purposeful environment for the enjoyment & discussion of books and resources which reflect and celebrate the diversity of the whole school community.
Through the provision of an inclusive library space and resources, the school aims to improve representation starting from the early years. This will be achieved through resources such as picture books which will allow teachers to encourage conversations about race and create an environment where questions are valued, and respectful debate welcomed.
As pupils mature throughout the school, this healthy environment where pupils experience discussions about race and racial injustice will be maintained.
Fife Carleton Primary School
The aim of this project is to support The Same Page - the school Covid Recovery Plan - by re-engaging families though fostering a love of reading while supporting diversity and equality within the curriculum.
The library space will become the Hub of the school with weekly after-school session for families. These sessions will be to used to share books together for pleasure, use books to explore diversity or support homework activities so parents can take a more active role in their child’s learning, academic progress, and wider achievement in school.
Additionally, there is a need to encourage responsibility in older learners through hosting younger children in the library supported by P6 Buddies thereby raising attainment and achievement.
Barmulloch Primary & Additional Learning Needs Provision
The Learning Hub will provide resources for pupils and staff to enable children to learn and share their cultural histories and traditions, enhancing Barmulloch Primary's multi-cultural environment whilst enabling them to find their own identity growing up in Scotland. It will help children to recognise themselves in books and be able to identify with the experiences that the characters are having.
The library will meet the needs of all pupils by providing a full sensory experience where children and families can relax and enjoy reading.
The Lourdes Secondary Bibliotherapy Groups will explore diverse storytelling forms to make the groups accessible to all students, including those who struggle with mainstream storytelling media.
Students will be able to access storytelling-themed games, arts and crafts, and visual forms of storytelling, to enable them to express themselves and their mental and emotional health concerns. They will learn how to use different forms of stories, including conversation, tabletop games, digital platforms, and creative arts to express their own thoughts and feelings, with the aim of positively affecting their mental and emotional health, while supporting diversity and racial equality.
The project will create an inclusive community, built around storytelling and bibliotherapy book groups. It will use protected characteristics enshrined in law as the basis for activities, book selection, and developing resources to further establish school libraries as spaces that welcome diverse groups
Forres Academy pupils will develop a library hub which will include materials to support and reflect on different beliefs, cultures, gender issues, mental and general health and other barriers to equality identified within the school.
Assembly talks, parents evening information displays and drop-in information days are also planned.
The hub is a joint project between school staff, the UN Rights Respecting Schools youth steering group and school mental health pupil ambassadors. This will help to forge a new ethos of fairness, acceptance, equality, and a sense of belonging for each pupil within the school.
Breadalbane Community Library/ Breadalbane Academy
As part of this project S2 of Breadalbane Academy will read two books that explore the theme of racism: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
Workshop sessions on each book will be carried out with library staff to help pupil's consolidate their learning and the underlying themes of racism. Working in groups pupils will then work on questions to ask author Angie Thomas as part of an online interview session.
Prestwick Academy Library & Ayr Academy Library (in association with 9 primary school libraries)
Following on from the success of Read Woke Secondaries, this project will produce resources to help Read Woke Primaries embed themes of equality, diversity, social justice and human rights throughout their curriculum from P1 to p7/S1 transition levels.
Read Woke Primaries will significantly widen the range and diversity of books available to students. Each participating school will receive a carefully curated set of books to help normalise diversity within their library collection.
Additionally, the use of class sets of contemporary fiction - written by, and about, people from minority groups – will challenge harmful stereotypes and empower students to develop understanding of their own values and cultures as well as those of others. It will go beyond simply raising awareness and promote true understanding of real-world issues and build empathy towards others.
St Andrew's and St Bride's
The Equal Voices project will provide resources and staff training for two groups running in tandem. The work will then be disseminated throughout the school via a series of other linked initiatives.
A School Equality Group will see pupils and staff come together to encourage awareness of equality issues and create an inclusive environment that promotes fairness, diversity and respect to all.
It will serve as a working group of both staff and pupils who are passionate about promoting equality, diversity and inclusion.
The Support Hub aims to embrace the diverse culture within the small rural village of Leadhills.
Activities will include paired reading activities, reading for pleasure amongst Additional Support Needs (ASN) students and support students mental health issues. Monthly lending library sessions are also planned in the local village hall which will provide 'Story Sacks' for members with younger families and books to those who do not have access.