Kindness top of the agenda in Glasgow classrooms

Encouraging children to share stories of small acts of kindness will help Glasgow become a 'nurturing city', says education director

Julia Belgutay

kindness children primary education politics

Almost 2,000 books to record acts of kindness between children have been handed to Glasgow’s primary headteachers – one for every class in the city. This makes the city the first “Kindness City”.

The Kindness Book was launched last November, and has since found its way into hundreds of schools. It has also been translated into a number of other languages.

Aimed at children aged 7-12, the book invites pupils to write down a moment of kindness with a friend, who they then pass the book on to. The friend then writes down their memory of a moment of kindness with another friend who becomes the next recipient of the book, and so on.

More on this: Primary pupils encouraged to spread kindness

Insight: 'Children surprise us with kindness every day'

Other news: What pupils want from teachers: kindness and humour

Small acts of kindness

The book is the first initiative of the Kindness Movement, an initiative founded by brothers Jason Holt and Stuart Acker Holt, together with business leader Debra Charles to honour the life of Robert Acker Holt. The founder of jewellers Holts Gems, Mr Holt died in 2018, aged 94. Having fled the Nazis as a Jewish refugee, aged 16, his sons said he never forgot the small acts of kindness shown to him during this time.

Inviting children to draw and write about moments of kindness with each other and thereby helping them recall these moments, the book aims to help them realise how small acts of kindness are carried through their school and throughout society.

Glasgow City Council’s education director Maureen McKenna said Glasgow had the aspiration to be a “nurturing city”, and “this fits in just so well”. “So as soon as we were approached, it was such an easy decision to make”.

'Kindness is a core skill'

She said building resilience in young children was an important focus of teachers’ work, and “kindness was such a core part of it”. Ms McKenna said the book design was beautiful in its simplicity. “You can see by the reaction of the headteachers and by how quickly the books disappeared that it hits a nerve. It is also no nice to have the narrative alongside it. Kindness is such a core skill for all of our children.”

Handing out the books to every school was not the end of the story, either, stressed Ms McKenna. “What we will do is we will create a little space online and we will start to stories shared”.

Jason Holt said Glasgow’s decision to bring the book into every primary classroom “shows a vision for a value that so many others might nod to, but not champion or see through in this way”.

“What I see here is real leadership showing people want to make a change, and that is actually translating into action.”

“From a sentimental point of view, I can’t help feeling immense pride. I felt like my father was next to me with his hand on my arm, saying how proud he is, making something from his life.”

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Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay is head of FE at Tes

Find me on Twitter @JBelgutay

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