The Napier MSc Publishing course certainly doesn’t ease its students in slowly – as we enter Week Three of the University Calendar we are already finishing up our first assignment: the Books for Schools initiative. Divided into groups on our first day, each group was provided with an area of Edinburgh. We were tasked organising the donation of some of Merchiston Publishing’s books to an institution of our choice in that area.

Our group (the Blue group) was assigned Gracemount and Burdiehouse. Lu discovered that nearby Burdiehouse Primary School is scheduled to close in the next year, meaning that the two Gracemount schools will experience an influx of new students. We then opted for the Primary as the books we had available were more suitable for that age group. Organising our task was tricky as the members of our group were not all following on the same timetable, and all of us have part-time jobs. Mercedes’ knowledge of the area made her the ideal choice to initiate contact with the school. Our choice proved to be fortuitous as the headmaster of Gracemount Primary, Mr Dimeck, turned out to have taught her when she was at school herself. This existing rapport smoothed out the whole process and Mr Dimeck was thrilled to accept our offer of a library set consisting of four titles. However, at the last minute we were contacted by the teacher of the class who were to receive the books requesting a teaching set of thirty copies. We chose The Kelpie’s Pearls in response to the increased interest in Scottish heritage in the wake of the referendum.

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Bus selfie!

By Monday 22nd of September we had prepared a letter, written by James and edited by Mercedes and Jules. We headed out to Gracemount Primary with Lu leading the way and Nick carrying the books though unfortunately, after all her hard work, Mercedes was unable to accompany us.

Mr Dimeck greeted us enthusiastically and led us directly through to meet the Primary Seven class who were to be the recipients of our books. We were greeted warmly by both the students and their teacher, who promptly selected a few pupils to follow us outside for a quick photo-shoot. After being assured by Mr Dimeck that being included in a picture with the pupils was allowable so long as he was taking the photograph (as we had been made starkly aware that we were not permitted to take pictures of the children ourselves) we all happily posed with copies of The Kelpie’s Pearls. The pupils were eager to enjoy their new books – one girl began to read the copy she had posed with as soon as the picture was taken!

Working on the Books for Schools initiative brought us together as a team and made very clear both the advantages and disadvantages of working in a group. We drew on each member’s individual talents to maximise our efficiency, however the difficulties with scheduling meant that every leg of the task took longer than we had initially expected. All in all we found this assignment challenging but consider it to have been a valuable learning experience and a positive beginning to our studies.

James, Nick, Jules and Lu pose with Gracemount Primary pupils.