In the run up to Burns Night 2023 Nil by Mouth brought together a collection of artists, poets, writers and singers to help bring the story of ‘Neeps & Tatties’ to life in schools across Scotland.
The book has once again proved hugely popular in schools with more than 500 registering to take part and to receive their own copies of the story and the special resource packs created by the charity to aid discussion in the classroom. Thanks to support from the Hugh Stenhouse Foundation, Endrick Trust, Barratt Foundation and Scottish Book Trust the charity was able to fund a range of activities to schools linking the creative arts with a celebration of diversity in Scotland.
Laura Green entertains the class at Rosebank Primary School
Schools in Angus, Dundee, Renfrewshire, Stirling and West Lothian benefited from the programme which kicked off with a visit from artist Anna York to Cowie to meet pupils from Cowie and St Margaret’s Primaries. The children were taught how to carve into linoleum to create images of things which symbolised joy for them, before creating their own prints to display in class. Pupils from Bargarran and St John Bosco Primaries in Erskine also worked with Anna to create prints celebrating their town.
In the Borders P1 pupils from Burgh Primary in Galashiels enjoyed a special Scots Bookbug session with Laura Green from the Scots Language Centre, reading ‘Neeps & Tatties’ and learning new songs linked to the book. Laura also brought her blend of fun and learning to Rosebank and Our Lady’s Primaries in Dundee as part of their ‘Scots Week’ activities. Singer Iona Fyfe provided pupils at Toronto Primary School in Livingston with a special treat when she visited to read them the story and help rehearse for a special Assembly where they would recite Scots poetry and songs.
Some of the artwork created by pupils at Seaview Primary
On Burns Night itself poet Thomas Clarke joined Angus Council Children and Learning Convener Lynne Devine at Seaview Primary in Monifeith for a special reading of the book, followed up by a session exploring its themes. The event allowed ‘Neeps & Tatties’ author Carey Morning to enjoy the artwork produced by each class in the school as her book had been used for a whole school topic in the run up to Burns Night.
More than 400 pupils took part in these events and thousands more read the book and used the resource packs in class during January and planning for next year’s event has got underway with the Scotmid Cooperative making a donation to make books available in Glasgow schools.
Anna York shows pupils in Cowie how to create their own prints
Nil by Mouth Director Dave Scott said:
‘Since its launch in 2020 the ‘Neeps & Tatties’ project just keeps getting bigger and this is due to the support we have received from funders, businesses and artists. The stories we tell our children help shape how they see the world and make sense of the differences that exist around them and we hope ‘Neeps & Tatties’ helps them better understand the things that make us a diverse society.
It was really good fun to bring Cllr Lynne Devine into Seaview Primary School to read the story. The kids loved it and staff were very proud to show Carey the artwork every class in the school had produced linked to the book. We worked with Laura Green from the Scots Language Centre and the poet Thomas Clarke to run special workshops which saw the children not only explore Scots but consider the central message of the story: that young people can build new bridges over old walls. Anna York taught pupils new skills and helped them produce artwork for their class celebrating community and Iona inspired a hall full of children to celebrate language and believe in themselves.
So much of our work challenging bigotry deals with how words can be used to hurt or belittle others. That’s why its brilliant to be able to celebrate language and the different ways we express ourselves. We are hugely grateful all to supporters who donated to the project and are delighted to receive our first donation toward next year’s programme.’