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Lanark Lands The Title

The work of two South Lanarkshire Primary Schools to challenge sectarianism and bring children from different backgrounds together has been recognised with a national award from a leading equalities charity.


Lanark and St Mary’s Primaries were awarded Nil by Mouth’sChampions for Change’ award for 2023 which recognises best practice in tackling sectarianism and celebrating community in schools across Scotland.


Primary 7 pupils from both schools received the joint award after working together across the school year on a range of sporting, education and artistic activities helping them explore how identity and religion shape our society. In addition to participating in a range of Nil by Mouth workshops pupils worked alongside leading football writer Daniel Gray on a creative writing project and enjoyed visits from the Strathclyde Sirens Netball Team with a focus on teamwork across school lines.

Launched in 2011 the ‘Champions for Change’programme has helped build connections and friendships between pupils across schools and increase pupils understanding of the different faiths, cultures and traditions which exist in their community. Since then more than 50,000 pupils have participated from more than 250 schools across Scotland. It brings pupils from denominational and non-denominational schools together to explore identity and examine what can be done to tackle sectarianism and encourages a strong focus on what unites young people in the face of divisions. Previous award winners have included Duncanrig High School in East Kilbride, Cairns & St Cadocs Cambuslang and Holy Family & Mossend Primarty Schools in Bellshill. 

The project has been supported by the Scottish Government as part of its national Tackling Sectarianism Programme and will continue to run across the new school year from August.


Nil by Mouth Director Dave Scott said:

‘The Lanark project has been an absolute joy to be involved in from start to finish and the pupils got so much out of the special guests we were able to bring along. We always like our programmes to be as much about fun as learning and the staff at both schools have told us just what a buzz the programme has given the children. We have been keen throughout to stress this is all about celebrating community and increasing understanding of the different cultures, faiths and traditions which exist in the town. It’s not about telling children what to think but to help them ask questions and find the answers for themselves.


We have worked in almost 100 schools over the past 12 months but the buy-in from Lanark and St Mary’s has been fantastic, we had staff come in on their day off to help and it was striking how both Headteachers went out of their way to welcome pupils personally from the neighbouring school when they would visit. Nearly 4,000 pupils took part in the project this year and we already have a raft of bookings for August, including other schools in Lanark who have seen what has been achieved so far. Amid the noise and anger that often seems to be engulfing our society it’s heartening to see such strong interest in a project which encourages sharing and listening, seeking to build new bridges over old walls.’


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