Success for Bo’ness Academy
Bo’ness Academy teaching staff have scooped a coveted National award in Canary Wharf, London for the work they have been doing to promote reading for pleasure amongst their pupils. The award is linked to their use of an online Literacy programme that is used in 63,000 schools in over 60 countries worldwide. Bo’ness Academy were judged to have been the overall UK ‘Team of the Year’ 2018 for their innovative and effective approach to using the online reading tool. The team were led by teacher, and reading for pleasure co-ordinator, Sam Phillips. The staff team were recognised for the work they have already done to increase the number of students who are reading for pleasure and for the more focussed work that they have done to support the school’s most reluctant and least able readers. Education Services Manager, Rhona Jay, was delighted with the win and saw the clear connection between this initiative and the Government priority to help raise the literacy standards of all students: “closing the poverty related attainment gap is one of the key messages from the Scottish Government. This award recognises the hard work and effort by the staff and young people of Bo’ness Academy to make sure that this is happening around literacy”.
Representatives of the wider team were invited to attend an exclusive event in London on Friday 30thNovember where it was announced that they were the overall winners of the National award. After it was announced that Bo’ness Academy had won, Headteacher, Steve Dougan, told us that the school were “very excited and absolutely delighted to have received this award; the work that is going on across the school to make reading enjoyable for all ages is fantastic”. Teacher, Miss Phillips, was keen to dedicate the win to the students in her reading programme: “The real achievement is that we are getting our young people reading and talking about books!” Principal Teacher of English and Modern Languages, Jamie Crawford, was similarly proud of the work that has gone into making this such a success: “It has been great to see so many staff and students working collaboratively towards improving literacy and reading skills in such a supportive environment”.
The UK judges were very impressed at the way in which the team at Bo’ness are using this as part of a wider strategy to close the attainment gap and also spoke at length about the results that the team have already observed in what is only their first year using the programme. The initiative has been financed with money from the Scottish Government’s Pupil Equity Fund. This fund is spent at the discretion of teachers and school leaders on targeted, localised initiatives just like this one at Bo’ness Academy. While the results of this initiative were clear to see it was the additional wrap-around work that the Bo’ness team have carried out which has really created a buzz about reading around the school community as Miss Phillips has managed to involve students and staff from across the school as well as parents and members of Bo’ness Academy’s cluster primary schools.
Bo’ness Academy was recently inspected by Education Scotland and the great work that is taking place to improve literacy in the school was noted in their positive final report. Falkirk Director of Children’s Services, Robert Naylor was quick to congratulate the school: “This is not only a great achievement for Bo’ness Academy but for the whole of Falkirk Council Children’s Services. It is so important to make sure all of our young people enjoy their reading and this is clearly very evident from the work going on within their school”. Head of Education, David MacKay was also keen to celebrate the school’s accomplishment pointing out that “this award has highlighted success to others, not just within Scotland but across all of the United Kingdom. This is a great achievement for the school”.
Since returning from the summer holidays, as a collective, pupils have read 345 books and 8,801,201 words and the team have many inspiring new initiatives to build on these solid foundations. Bo’ness Academy is an exciting place to be at the moment and we are sure there will be many more reasons to celebrate with them in the near future. #Bethebestyoucanbe