FIRST Minister Humza Yousaf has backed the next chapter of a reading scheme which is having a “transformative effect” in Scotland’s schools.

The Scottish Government-funded Reading Schools programme has been developed from the First Minister’s Reading Challenge, which was set up by Yousaf’s predecessor Nicola Sturgeon.

So far, a total of 371 schools across the country have become accredited as "reading schools", with a further 511 having joined the project.

Ministers hope every school in Scotland will become part of the scheme in the next three to five years. 

Yousaf said he hoped the development of the scheme meant more youngsters could benefit.

The National: The First Minister greets children during a visit to Claypotts Castle Primary School in DundeeThe First Minister greets children during a visit to Claypotts Castle Primary School in Dundee (Image: Jane Barlow)

He is also working with the Scottish Book Trust – which delivers the Reading Schools programme – to develop a refreshed version of the Read Write Count initiative, with the plans for the new Read Write Count with the First Minister programme, to provide books and other materials to children from this autumn.

The First Minister said: “I am pleased that the hugely successful First Minister’s Reading Challenge has now evolved into a reading support programme that will benefit even more pupils, and involves the whole school community.

“We know that reading can support improved attainment across the curriculum and that embedding a reading culture in schools can open the door to a lifelong love of books.”

Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth, who joined the First Minister on a visit to Claypotts Castle Primary School in Dundee, encouraged all schools to sign up for the Reading Schools programme.

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Gilruth added: “Evaluation has shown the clear benefits of Reading Schools to pupils and school staff and I look forward to seeing the impact of this next phase in our work with the Scottish Book Trust.”

Marc Lambert, chief executive of the Scottish Book Trust, said the project was “already having a transformative effect in schools, both on young people and learning professionals, as well as the wider school community”.

He praised Yousaf and the government for “their commitment to literacy and numeracy, benefitting pupils across all ages and stages of their education”.

Meanwhile, Claypotts Castle Primary School headteacher Nicky Murray said the Reading Schools initiative had helped them to “drive forward a culture of reading in our school”.

The headteacher said: “We have already awarded over 250 certificates to children this year to celebrate their reading achievements and the feedback from families has been overwhelmingly positive.”