We Can Be Heroes: Learners diversifying their own school library

An innovative approach to diversifying the curriculum is being highlighted today with the launch of a set of books co-created by primary school pupils and professional writers.

Last year, 18 pupils from St. Albert's Primary in Glasgow worked with 3 professional writers to create stories with characters that represent the school community.

“We can be Heroes” is a collection of stories written by BAME pupils and authors. 100% of the stories feature BAME* characters. In 2018, it was found that only 1% of children’s books had a main character who was Black, Asian or minority ethnic. UK-wide, over 1/3 of primary school children belong to these ethnic groups. At St. Albert’s, over 90% of pupils are BAME. As the school’s information promoting the launch states, “They couldn’t identify with the characters in the books available to them. So we decided to write our own.”

The pupils were in P5 and P6 at the time and are now in P6 and P7. The 18 stories have been published as 3 books of 6 stories and are for sale for £5 each as part of the school’s social enterprise work. This project won the Glasgow Social Enterprise Academy's Dragon's Den in the spring of 2021 and went on to be awarded a National Social Enterprise Champion Award.

St. Albert’s have secured £11,000 from the Scottish Libraries and Information Council's School Libraries Improvement Fund to continue the work in partnership with Barrowland Ballet. In Phase 2, parents will collaborate with their children and authors to create new books and with the creative team at Barrowland Ballet to create an interpretive performance of those stories.

Participants in today’s in-person launch event will meet and hear from the authors who wrote these stories with the pupils. This event coincides with Scottish Book Week and is the culmination of over a year's work by a large number of staff, pupils and stakeholders.

St. Albert’s Primary’s wider approach to diversifying learning has been of much interest to the education sector locally and nationally, across Scotland. They have also helped CRER to connect our own work on education and anti-racism into the realities of practice within schools, helpfully providing comments on our publication Introduction to Anti-Racist Curriculum Development.

* This is the school’s preferred term, and so differs slightly from the terms CRER uses itself.