Many teachers are reporting that Scots has had significant positive benefits on the literacy development of pupils.
These include improvement in behaviour, attainment, attitude, creativity and self-confidence. Several teachers from Falkirk schools have first-hand experience of enhanced use of Scots in the classroom.
Watch Falkirk teachers talking about Scots and Literacy.
The following instances of improved literacy across a wide range of local authorities were recorded informally over the last five years. They give a snapshot of the results from increased use of Scots in schools.
A class of P7 pupils in West Lothian had been struggling with writing. After a series of Scots lessons, their teacher reported an increase in confidence with writing and an improvement in the quality and quantity of the pupils’ written work. One pupil made the comment, ‘Ah dinna like writing but ah love writing in Scots.’
No stage fright
A group of P6 pupils in Falkirk, previously shy and nervous on stage, astonished a large audience of parents and teachers during a presentation of their recent class work on Scots. The group went on to perform in Scots at the Royal Mail Book Awards ceremony and two national education conferences.
A P7 pupil in Dundee who was seen as a disruptive influence had always refused to read out loud in class. In the course of a lesson which introduced his class to an adventure story in Scots, the boy volunteered to read not just once but twice, reading more than a page each time. The boy was subsequently encouraged to read more stories and poems in Scots and as a result is now an enthusiastic reader of books in both Scots and English.
Top of the class
A P7 pupil in South Lanarkshire had fallen behind the rest of his year group in class work and his behaviour was causing the headteacher some concern. Aware that the boy spoke more Scots than the others, the class began a series of lessons with a focus on the Scots language.
The boy’s response was immediate. He had his hand up to answer every question in class, his behaviour improved during the Scots classes and for other subjects and he did more reading and writing for homework than was required. The headteacher expressed her delight at the improvement in the young lad’s attitude to school work.
They’re ma words!
A P1 pupil in Falkirk who had contributed very little in the first six months of school, remaining consistently quiet during class activities, became extremely animated and enthusiastic when the teacher introduced the group to the Scots songs Katie Bairdie, The Three Craws and Ally Bally. When asked by the teacher why she liked these songs, the girl replied, ‘It’s ma words! They’re ma words!’
We’re bilingual, by the way
Two Glasgow P7 boys had expressed to their teacher that they felt a bit left out in a class in which almost every child was bilingual. Many of the children could speak English and Turkish, English and Urdu or English and Polish. Several of the children were trilingual and one child had six languages.
The two boys who were both Scottish said they could only speak one language, English. The teacher started a topic looking at the Scots language which both of the boys enjoyed and responded well to. When the topic was finished, the teacher reported that the boys were telling the other pupils that they could also speak two languages, English and Scots.
Urdu and Scots thegither
An S6 pupil in North Lanarkshire who speaks English, Urdu and Scots felt that she would be penalised if she wrote creatively in Urdu and Scots. However she believed that both languages were a strong part of her identity and she wanted to find a way to express herself using the Urdu spoken in her family and the Scots used by most of her friends.
With support from her school and inspired by Glasgow writer Suhayl Saadi, she wrote a piece for her Creative Writing Folio which employed a creative interweaving of Urdu and Scots. She was awarded an A pass for Advanced Higher English.