3 Distribution and Ordering

3 Distribution and Ordering

3.1 Understanding the National Distribution Process

Since the resource was launched, there have been a number of different distributions of the various elements, as follows:  

  • Big book packs - an initial distribution of the ‘big books’ to be used in educational establishments was undertaken in the 2010/11 academic year, to accompany the launch of the resource. All primary schools and nursery classes should have received the books. A second launch took place to registered childminders in May 2012, in collaboration with the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) who distributed them directly to their registered minders. More recently, big book packs have been made available on an ad hoc basis to any community setting where parents/carers attend with their young children and big book packs can be ordered directly from Road Safety Scotland.
  • Little books for home - order forms are sent to all early years establishments across Scotland, which are included in the Education Scotland database, in August and February each year (with 3 books available to order in Autumn and 2 in Spring). Road Safety Scotland also add to that distribution list the contact details for playgroups and other community based groups where children in their early years may attend. This is important since it seeks to make the books available to children who may not have contact with any other formal pre-schooling (e.g. nurseries), and so would not be exposed to the books that way. The form allows copies to be ordered in English and Gaelic for both ante-pre-school and pre-school children. Establishments are also encouraged to order enough books to allow copies for new children who may join the establishment at a later date in any given year.  

Whilst additional copies of both the big and small books can be sent on request at any other time in the year, this is relatively ad hoc and Education Scotland distribution staff reported that there is little demand outwith the main order timetable.

Distribution staff consulted as part of the evaluation confirmed that the current process runs smoothly with few problems. Only a small number of books are returned each year, and this is usually due to buildings that house nurseries/playgroups being temporarily closed for business at the time that delivery is attempted (for example, church halls that house toddler groups). Establishments that have been permanently closed are removed from  the database as this becomes known. 

The only book not to be distributed in this way is the sixth book in the series - ‘Ziggy and Maggie Start School’ - which has been distributed for the last two years, in most local authorities, via the Scottish Book Trust’s Bookbug Family Pack. This has been gifted at the start of the school year, typically as part of Book Week Scotland, and usually directly by schools, and contains other books and resources appropriate for children in this age range. Moving forward, this mechanism will no longer be used and this final book will be distributed in the same way as the other titles. 

3.2 Uptake of the Resources Over Time

Distribution data held by Education Scotland’s distribution centre provides the main source of information on levels of uptake of the books both nationally and between local authority areas.  

Data was provided for the evaluation on the numbers of order forms despatched and the numbers returned for both 2013/14 and 2014/15 (including both the Autumn and spring despatches). Partial data for 2012/13 was also provided, covering one distribution only. Table 1 below shows that the return rate has remained steady for all distributions, at around 47%. Further analysis of the data showed that this percentage remained reasonably steady for both the Autumn and Spring distributions in all years.

Table 1: Number and Percentage of Order Forms Despatched and Returned, 2012/13 to 2014/15[24]
School Year Despatched Returned %
2012/13 3,420* 1,581 46%
2013/14 6,557 3,085 47%
2014/15 6,406 2,985 47%

*Covers one distribution only

Across the two full years (2013/14 and 2014/15), a total of 355,684 books were ordered (175,838 in 2013/14 and 179,846 in 2014/15). The number of Gaelic texts ordered in both years was low (2,192 in 2013/14 and 2,825 in 2014/15). This represents just over 1% of all books ordered. Interestingly, the 2011 Scottish Census found that around 1.1% of the population spoke Gaelic[25] and so this level of ordering seems proportionate.  

Figure 2 below shows the numbers of each of the resources that were issued to early years establishments for the previous two years, based on the orders placed. It shows that, across both years, there were greater numbers of the two pre-school books (i.e. Ziggy’s Halloween Wish and Ziggy Goes Zab-a-Ding-a-Wheeeee) issued compared to the ante-pre-school books.  

Figure 2: Numbers of each book ordered, 2013/14 and 2014/15

Figure 2

As part of the survey, early years practitioners were also asked which of the small books for home they had previously ordered. Twelve respondents did not indicate which of the small books, if any, they had previously ordered. Among the 267 who did provide a response, the book that had been ordered the most was Ziggy and the Lollipop followed by Ziggy’s Halloween Wish and Ziggy Visits Granny (shown in Table 2 below). Each of these are made available via the August order form, and the reported uptake of these three books was higher overall than the two books made available in the spring session.  

Table 2: Which, if any, of the following small books have you ordered before? (n=267)
Response Number of Respondents % of Respondents
Ziggy and the Lollipop 184 69%
Ziggy’s Halloween Wish 179 67%
Ziggy Visits Granny 159 60%
Ziggy’s Sunny Holiday 134 50%
Ziggy Goes Zab-a-Ding-a-Wheeeee 122 46%
Don’t know/not sure 56 21%
None of the above 13 5%

This provides a slight contrast to the Education Scotland order data which shows that, in the previous two years, there were greater numbers of the two pre-school books issued compared to the ante-pre-school books, although Ziggy’s Halloween Wish features in both sets of figures. The discrepancy is likely to result from the nature of the sample who replied to the survey, compared to those who returned book order forms. It should be noted that the survey was carried out in the Autumn, and so findings may also be influenced by respondents recall of only the most recently ordered books. Together, however, the two data sources do perhaps indicate that Ziggy’s Halloween Wish is one of the most popular books in the series, and this was also borne out in the telephone interviews with staff, discussions with parents and during the workshops (discussed below). Indeed, perhaps the main message that seems to be being retained from across the series of books is to dress brightly and be seen - one of the messages from Halloween book. Again, however, this may be because this was the most recent book that respondents are likely to have used at the time of the fieldwork, and so may still have been fresh in their memories.

Almost half of those who said that they had previously ordered some of the small books indicated that they had ordered all five of the books available (n=95). Few respondents indicated that they ordered only one of the book titles (n=6). 

Interestingly, one in five survey respondents indicated that they were ‘unsure’ which of the books they had ordered. This may be as a result of the person completing the survey not being directly responsible for ordering the books (64% of those who said that they were not sure also indicated that they had never personally completed an order form). For the remaining respondents, it may indicate misunderstanding about the different titles that are available.  

Of the 13 respondents who indicated that they had not ordered any of the above titles, most said that this was because they were not aware of the resources (n=9).  

At the time of writing, around 200 of the new ‘My Journey with Ziggy’ packs had been issued. Information about the uptake of this resource was not included in the survey since the survey was designed and distributed only weeks after the resource had been fully launched.

3.3 Uptake of the Resources by Area

Uptake data was also provided at the local authority level, to show which individual establishments had ordered books. This does not show the exact numbers of books ordered, but shows those areas where any books were ordered. While the average uptake is around 46/47%, analysis of uptake data for the 2013/14 and 2014/15[26] distributions by local authority shows that uptake ranges from as little as 30% in some places compared to nearly 70% in others.  

Again, it is important to note that uptake alone cannot be assumed to be a measure of how well utilised the books are at the local level, and those areas where uptake is low may, indeed, have greater use of the books by individual establishments. What this data does show, however, is where there may be room for targeted promotion of the resources in the future to encourage uptake among establishments and improve access to the resources among children.

3.4 Links Between Uptake and Deprivation

Based on postcode data that is held as part of the Education Scotland distribution database, it was possible to explore uptake in terms of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) zone in which establishments are based for the two years 2013/14 and 2014/15. The individual SIMD rank was established for each establishment, which were then clustered based on the 2012 SIMD quintiles (1 to 5) where 1 represents those areas with the greatest levels of deprivation (the 20% most deprived communities), and 5 represents the least deprived areas (the 20% least deprived communities).

Table 3 below shows that there is a reasonable spread in the SIMD ranks of establishments on the Education Scotland database. There are more establishments in SIMD quintile 3 compared to all others (25%) with the least in quintiles 5 then 1. Uptake across establishments in different deprivation clusters seems to largely mirror their representation in the database overall (i.e. it is proportionate to the number of establishments in each quintile). Within each quintile, ordering also varies little from the national average of 47% with no real deviations.

Table 3: Uptake of Books by SIMD Cluster Group (2013/14 to 2014/15)
SIMD 2012 Quintile % Establishments on Database Average % Uptake (across database) Average % Uptake (within Quintile)
1 (20% most deprived) 18% 16% 47%
2 18% 19% 50%
3 25% 24% 47%
4 22% 24% 52%
5 (20% least deprived) 17% 17% 46%

As part of the survey, accurate postcode information was also provided from 195 respondents (70%), which allowed their individual SIMD rank to be identified. Responses were again clustered based on the 2012 SIMD quintiles, and the proportionate breakdown of survey respondents in each group is shown in Table 4 below).   

Table 4: Responses by SIMD Cluster
SIMD 2012 Quintile Number of Responses % of Responses
1 (20% most deprived) 31 16%
2 28 14%
3 46 24%
4 52 27%
5 (20% least deprived) 38 19%
Total 195 100%

Again, there was a reasonable spread of responses from across the different SIMD zones with the largest proportion (27%) coming from those living in Zone 4 areas and the least from Zone 1 areas. Overall, the distribution of survey responses matched closely the distribution patterns for uptake recorded by Education Scotland. 

This data suggests that there is not necessarily any notable difference in the uptake of books among establishments based on the deprivation zone in which they are based. What it does show is that uptake is perhaps marginally lower at both ends of the deprivation spectrum, rather than being isolated only at the most deprived end. This is encouraging insofar as previous research has indicated that uptake may be lower in areas of poverty. This data suggests that access is more widespread, based on ordering activity from establishments alone. Of course, while the SIMD of an establishment can be used to explore uptake at the establishment level by deprivation, it is recognised that not all children attending any given establishment will live in the same area nor have a home address of the same SIMD rank.  

3.5 Uptake of the Resources by Urban/Rural Classification

Analysis of uptake data by urban/rural classification also shows that uptake across the 2013/14 and 2014/15 distributions was proportionate to the number of establishments in each type of geographical domain. Table 5 below shows that there are substantially more establishments on the Education Scotland database that are based in Large or Other Urban areas compared to other types of areas (making up 58% of all establishments overall). This is perhaps not surprising given that there will likely be larger numbers of children resident in these areas. There are very few ‘small town’ establishments on the database and just under a third are based in accessible rural or remote rural locations. When looking at ordering practices within clusters, the average uptake ranged from 44% in large urban areas to 52% in accessible small towns and accessible rural areas. While this range is quite large, in most cases, there was little variance from the national average uptake of 47%. Indeed, overall, there is nothing in the data to suggest that establishments in any particular type of geographical region are consistently more or less likely to order the books. 

Table 5: Uptake by Urban/Rural Classification (2013/14 to 2014/15)
Classification % on Database Average % Uptake (across database) Average % Uptake  (within cluster)
Large Urban Areas 32% 29% 44%
Other Urban Areas 27% 29% 51%
Accessible Small Town 8% 9% 52%
Remote Small Town 5% 5% 46%
Accessible Rural 16% 17% 52%
Remote Rural 13% 12% 46%
Total 100% 100% -

3.6 Perceptions and Possibilities for the Ordering Process

As part of the online survey, information was sought on who takes responsibility for completing the small book order forms in nurseries and schools. Table 6 below shows that, across the sample, almost half indicated that this was undertaken by the nursery/school Head Teacher or Manager (47%). One in five said that the forms were completed by administrative staff and one in ten said that it was completed by a class teacher. In most cases where someone else was mentioned as being responsible for filling in the book order forms, this was a Deputy Head or other member of the senior management team. 

Table 6: Who in your school or nursery is responsible for completing the book order forms? (n=249)
Response Number of Respondents % of Respondents
Head Teacher/Manager 118 47%
Administrator/Office Staff 49 20%
Class Teacher 30 12%
Other 31 12%
Not sure 21 8%

Ease of Completing the Book Order Forms

Survey respondents provided feedback on how easy/difficult it was to complete the book order form (n=268). While 30% of those who responded had never completed a book order form directly, among those who had (n=188), the majority indicated that the form was very easy (77%) or quite easy (19%) to complete.  

Supported and Preferred Methods of Ordering

Of the 265 respondents who provided an answer, there was little difference in support for either ordering the small books by post compared to online (as shown in Table 7 below). Slightly more respondents indicated that they would support ordering by email compared to either of these two alternative methods. 

Table 7: Which of the following ways of ordering the small books for home would your school/nursery support? (n=265)
Response Number of Respondents % of Respondents
Order by email 197 74%
Order by post 170 64%
Order online 167 63%

When asked which of the following ways of ordering would be their preferred option, there was a clear preference for ordering electronically, with 41% indicating that they would prefer to order by email, and 36% indicating they would prefer to order online. Only 12% of the total sample indicated that post was their preferred choice, while a further 12% indicated no preference. It is worth noting, however, that the survey was administered online and so those who completed the survey may be more disposed generally towards using electronic communications than those who did not. They may also be more likely to have access to the internet/email than those who did not take part and this may be a confounding factor in interpreting these responses.   

3.7 Understanding Local Distribution Processes

As part of the survey and interviews, information was also sought on what happens to the books once received by the schools/early years establishments (i.e. to explore onward distribution to parents carers). Parents and carers were also asked during the focus groups about how (if at all) they had received the books, and their views on the local distribution practices.    

Small Book Distribution to Parents/Carers

Among those who provided a response to this question in the survey, the data shows that, in most cases, the small books are given directly to parents/carers to take home on behalf of their child. Just under half of respondents indicated that they send home the books in children’s bags. Many establishments use a combination of handing out books and putting them in bags, as well as leaving ‘spare’ copies to be picked up at reception. Table 8 below shows the responses relating to how books are distributed. Totals here do not add to 100% as respondents were invited to select multiple different answers, if applicable.

Table 8: How are the small books for home distributed to ensure they reach the children in your establishment and their parents/carers? (n=204)
Response Number of Respondents % of Respondents
Given directly to parents/carers 126 62%
Sent home in children’s bags 90 44%
Other (please specify) 22 11%
Left in the school/nursery for parents/carers to pick up 20 10%
We do not distribute them – we keep them in the school/nursery 3 1%

Other means of distributing the books included books being left in children’s personal boxes or equivalent, being given as part of talking homework or as part of home visits.  

While the distribution processes that are being used at the local level seem to be working well, most practitioners confirmed during interview that they had no direct feedback from parents/carers on what they thought of the books or if/how they were being used at home:

“When we read the 'big books' to the children, quite often we hear "I used to have that book", which makes us wonder why they do not anymore. Are parents not reading them with the children at home....are they being binned?”  [Nursery, Survey]

Some suggestions were made by practitioners and parents alike that posters aimed at parents dropping off/picking up children would help to raise awareness of Ziggy and road safety more generally. Some suggested that letters home to parents, from Road Safety Scotland or the Scottish Government (rather than the school or nursery), might prompt some parents/carers to take more interest in the resources:

“It might be useful to draft a letter which could be used with parents for this purpose outlining the main aims of the particular book and directing them to how they can support their child through the book.” [Nursery, Survey]

Comments were also made in the survey and in interviews that online resources were more likely to be used by parents/carers than the small printed books:

“Is the website mentioned in the small books?  Perhaps some parents/carers would engage with this better.” [School, Survey]

Overall, it was felt that more could be done to promote the online resources with parents/carers either as part of the small books or via separate communications. Although some nurseries indicated that they had included information in their own newsletters, this practice was rare and ad hoc, and it was suggested that a more standardised way of communicating with parents may be needed.

Participants in the focus groups who had received copies of the books from nurseries reported mixed local gifting practices. In most cases, books had simply been sent home in children’s bags with no covering note or explanation - the children were expected to convey the message behind the books being gifted. In other cases, books had been made available for parents/carers to pick up, and often it was a free choice as to which books they chose:

“We [pre-school children] were given a choice….It was Granny or Lollipop.” [Parent, Focus Group 4] 

As with early years practitioners, some suggestions were made that a more personal approach, including a letter to parents explaining the purpose of the books, might ensure better use. At the moment, the ‘loose’ distribution meant that some books were being neglected:

“They should hand books directly to parents, because sometimes [it] can lay in his tray for a few days before I’ve even noticed it, or he [the child] can put it down somewhere. If they handed it to you, that would be easier for me, because I’m struggling with kids and bags and then things get left in the car.” [Parent, Focus Group 2]

There was a relatively even split between those who had and had not previously seen the books. Those with older children at school were more likely to have previously seen the books, as well as those where the child attended a nursery placement (and had received the books there). The most recognisable books seemed to be Ziggy’s Halloween Wish, Ziggy and the Lollipop and Ziggy Visits Granny, and this mirrors the distribution and survey data presented above. Again, it is worth noting that all of these books are gifted during Autumn and so parents were potentially more likely to have seen them in the weeks leading up to the research being carried out.  

Overall, parents reported that they liked the idea of the books being provided for free, and would always take the books offered by school or nursery. They were especially likely to take the Ziggy books because they were recognisable as part of a series of books:

“We know they like them, we know they are already familiar with them so it is adding to an existing collection.” [Child Minder, Focus Group 3]

Several parents also commented that receiving the books as a ‘gift’ from nursery made then seem more important and so the children took greater care and ownership of the books:

“If it comes from nursery it is special, anything that comes from nursery is special…  It makes it feel more valuable because her teacher has given her it to look after.”  [Parent, Focus Group 2]

On the whole, parents were enthusiastic about receiving the books through nurseries, but some proposed that it would be better to get all of the resources in one pack, to ensure that everyone got all of the books.

The one issue that did emerge from parents and carers was how long they keep the books. Given that the books were free, there were suggestions that the longevity of keeping the books at home was perhaps limited:

“Everyone likes a free book…but, if I’m being honest, if I’m cleaning out my bookshelf, things like this are the first to go.” [Parent, Focus Group 2]

Several parents also reported that they had received multiple copies for different children, and sometimes copies via different outlets for the same child (e.g. via a playgroup and nursery). In these cases, spare copies were usually binned meaning that each household usually had only a single copy, rather than one copy per child.

P1 Family Pack Distribution

As discussed above, for the previous two years, the ‘Ziggy and Maggie Start School’ book has been distributed via the Scottish Book Trust’s Bookbug P1 Family Pack (although, at the time of writing, this arrangement was about to end). Among the 116 establishments[27] that responded to the survey, the P1 packs were typically sent home in children’s bags (see Table 9 below). This is presumably because of the lower levels of direct parental contact with primary children compared to nursery children, who are likely to be physically signed in and out of nursery.     

Table 9: How do you distribute the Primary 1 Family Pack in your school? (n=116)
Response Number of Respondents % of Respondents
Sent home in children’s bags 92 79%
Other (please specify) 19 16%
Given directly to parents/carers 16 14%
Left in the school/nursery for parents/carers to pick up 1 <1%
We do not distribute them – we keep them in the school/nursery 1 <1%

Other means of distribution included books being handed out during a special assembly and being gifted by the local library Bookbug co-ordinator. Two respondents indicated that the books were gifted as part of wider Book Week Scotland celebrations.

A small number of respondents indicated as part of the survey that they did not receive the P1 family packs or P1 Ziggy book, and that they were unaware of this resource (despite teaching Primary 1 aged children). As one survey respondent noted:  

“You probably should do something to improve the publicity about the distribution. I have been aware of the Go Safe with Ziggy resources for several years and remember handing out the little books some years ago. However, I was not aware that they are still available for P1 children. The information in this survey was my first indication that Ziggy books were included in the Scottish Book Trust's Bookbug packs. I am quite familiar with these packs but have NOT been aware of the Ziggy books being included.” [School, Survey]

This was also evidenced in some of the telephone interviews, where staff who had worked between nursery and school were unaware that there was a P1 stage book in the Ziggy series. Some comments were also made in the survey, and in the telephone interviews that the P1 book might be better to hand out before children leave nursery, to assist in the transition period to school:

“The starting school book would be great as a transitional aid for pre-school children within the nursery rather than once they have started primary school.”  [Nursery, Interview]

A separate evaluation of the whole P1 family pack commissioned by Scottish Book Trust in 2014[28] also reported that, 97% of teachers surveyed said that they had read “all/some of the books” from the pack in class, and 31% said that they had specifically used the Ziggy and Maggie Start School book. Qualitative feedback from children involved in the evaluation also suggested that they were already familiar with the Ziggy character before the book had been gifted. This suggests that some pre-school exposure must have taken place, through use of the big books in pre-school establishments and/or small books for home.

3.8 Other Feedback on Distribution and Ordering

While no further specific questions were asked regarding ordering and distribution in the online survey, the telephone interviews and workshops revealed some misunderstandings regarding the small book ordering process. Several front-line staff were unaware of how the books reached the establishment, or how they could order more. Some comments were also made that it would be helpful to have contact, even if by email, throughout the year to remind and prompt staff to order and use the books. 

Some highlighted that the timing of the current distribution was not ideal and suggested that it would be better to have a more flexible ordering process:

“It would be easier if the books were sent to nursery as a pack and we could distribute them to the children at a seasonally appropriate time. For example, some of our ante-pre-school children don't start until January so it isn't valuable or relevant to give them the Hallowe'en book until the following October in their pre-school year. However, if the books were distributed by number [on the spine of each book] this wouldn't happen.” [Nursery, Survey]

“Make resources available at the start of the academic year and allow us to choose when to teach it. We use child-led responsive planning and have already covered road safety when then children were interested in it, long before the books came out.” [Nursery, Survey]

As a result, some respondents said that they preferred to use the online resources, which could be used at any time, and they also preferred the immediacy of the online resources (i.e. not having to wait for books to arrive).

Finally, several respondents in the survey and who took part in a telephone interviews and workshops indicated that they would like to be able to order new ‘big book’ packs as part of the annual ordering process, since their old books had become worn. 

3.9 Distribution and Ordering Going Forward

The research seems to indicate that the ordering and distribution processes are, at present, relatively straightforward, but that there may be room for minor improvements to maximise uptake of the books.  

Database improvements

The current database held by Education Scotland is in Excel format and requires to be manually updated and refreshed as new intelligence is received regarding the opening or closure of establishments. Given that the current distribution of order forms is by post, there is also no way of knowing if order forms that are not returned are due to lack of interest or closure of schools/nurseries.  

This research exercise alone identified that there were numerous establishments listed on the Education Scotland database that were different from those listed on the Care Inspectorate database, suggesting gaps in some establishments who could potentially be eligible to receive the order forms (and books) who are not being reached.  

The research also identified that some of the establishments listed on the Education Scotland database had moved, changed name or had closed. Several of the early years establishments listed had the same addresses as schools where the two were co-located (1186). There were also a number of duplicate entries (63 in total). This means that any analysis of uptake figures (such as that carried out above) is likely to be skewed or distorted since the true number of individual establishments who are invited to order the  books each year cannot be accurately ascertained.   

As a first step to improving distribution, and also better understanding which establishments in each area are ordering or failing to order books on a regular basis, an upgrade or remodelling of the distribution database could be considered that incorporates a means of regularly and consistently recording uptake by individual establishments over time. While there would be a resource implication for this practice, in terms of staff time required to manually upload and update information on a continuous basis, it is suggested that this would provide perhaps the most cost effective means of identifying priority areas for targeted promotion activity to improve ordering and uptake going forward. As the database is not overseen by Road Safety Scotland, however, the value of this commitment would need to be realised by Education Scotland too.

Online or Electronic Ordering

Given the apparent preference for electronic modes of ordering revealed in the survey, it may also be worthwhile exploring a move from paper based ordering systems to electronic systems to allow quicker and more efficient distribution of forms and books. This could include order forms sent by email and/or online ordering, both of which may allow less scope for order forms to be lost. Moving to such an approach would require an initial one-off exercise to establish the email addresses of all those establishments currently listed, and ongoing updating and refreshing over time (e.g. annually) to ensure that the list remains current. Again, although this would be resource intensive up front, in the longer term, it seems that it would be a more cost effective way of ensuring that the database is current. School addresses (which make up a large proportion of those listed on the database) are unlikely to change often over time, and so following up nurseries and community based groups is likely to be the biggest challenge.        

Other suggestions were made for a single stage ordering process at the start of each year, instead of twice each year, to reduce the administrative burden on schools/nurseries. While suggestions were also made for an ‘open’ and ‘ongoing’ ordering facility, this seems less attractive since the research revealed that receipt of the order forms sometimes acts as a reminder or prompt to staff to re-engage with the books and schedule some road safety education into their timetables. This could perhaps be overcome if an electronic system was adapted wherein email reminders could be sent at low cost around the themes/times for which books are appropriate (e.g. Halloween, Summer Holidays, and so on).    

Improving Communications

An emerging finding from the qualitative components of the research was that communications regarding the books are, at present, lacking a ‘personal’ approach. Order forms are issued without covering letters and are also not sent to a designated person within establishments. This means that there is scope for them to be opened by unintended recipients or otherwise misplaced.

Suggestions were made for order forms to be issued directly by Road Safety Scotland, or with a covering note reminding staff of the importance of road safety education and the full range and remit of the Go Safe with Ziggy resources. Similarly, reminders from known local authority staff (e.g. Directors of Education or Road Safety Officers) who are familiar to schools/nurseries may improve uptake, it was felt. The clear challenge with this is that some local authorities no longer have dedicated RSOs and others have very limited resources/time to dedicate to early years road safety education.

Suggestions were also made for a ‘guide for the gifter’ which would include notes for schools/nurseries on the background and rationale of the free books, and the best ways to ensure onward distribution and use. A similar approach is used by Scottish Book Trust in the distribution of their Bookbug Family packs and may provide a model to explore going forward. 

Localised Distribution

Several participants at the workshops indicated that localised distribution of resources may be more effective than centralised distribution going forward, although the cost implications of this approach were also recognised. Overall, it was suggested that local authority staff, including local Road Safety Officers (RSOs) had a better awareness and understanding of local establishments, and could also monitor the opening of new establishments (or closing of old establishments) more easily. This would also allow them to monitor poor uptake in particular communities, and to carry out targeted promotional work in those areas. 

An alternative may be to retain centralised control, but to introduce a mechanism whereby local authorities can be notified of poor uptake in their area where appropriate, as a prompt for localised promotion activity or reminders (e.g. by annual email). At present, it was suggested, local authority staff, including RSOs had only limited awareness of uptake of the resources in their own areas, due to the centralised nature of the ordering and distribution processes. This makes it difficult for them to challenge and address non-use. While RSOs are currently invited to contact Road Safety Scotland to enquire about uptake in local establishments, this is not a widespread practice and so the introduction of a regular, centrally initiated ‘non-uptake’ monitoring mechanism may be useful in improving uptake in the future.

Alternative Distribution Routes

Common to all stakeholders involved in the research was the suggestion that alternative, complementary distribution methods should also be considered in the future. Most commonly, this included using libraries to make books available and to raise awareness of the resources, especially for parents and carers whose children did not attend pre-school care. 

An alternative suggestion was for Health Visitors to be involved in distributing or raising awareness of the resources with several parents indicating that they had used their visits to Health Visitors in the early years as a source of information about health, wellbeing and education themed resources.

Finally, there was considerable support for the continued use of outlets such as the Bookbug bags to be used for the distribution of books. Bookbug had a strong and positive image as an early years resource provider among parents and practitioners and most felt that this was probably the best way of ensuring that parents whose children did not attend pre-school or nursery would access the books. Bookbug resources were popular, it was suggested, and always used. The limitation of this approach is that control over such ‘third party’ distributions is not within the control of Road Safety Scotland and so there is a danger that consistency in approach over time might be lost. One example of this is the decision by Scottish Book Trust (SBT) to remove the P1 Ziggy book from their family pack from 2016 (having included it in the bag for the previous two years). 

Administrative Changes

The order forms, at present, are clearly branded, provide a link for further information about the resources and contact details which can be used by recipients to find out more about the resources. While the forms do not appear to require any substantial amendments, some suggestions for minor changes include:

  • feedback from distribution staff suggests that there might be some confusion among those completing the form and that sometimes large numbers of Gaelic copies are ordered, when establishments intended to order English versions of the books. Adjusting the layout of the form might overcome this problem, although it should be stressed that is not something that happens with significant frequency;
  • including on the order form some indication that copies of the big book pack can also be ordered. This would be particularly useful as a prompt for those establishments who have lost or misplaced their original copies to access the full resource and start using the class based books again. This may, of course, result in numerous additional requests for big book packs, and so the cost implications would need to be carefully considered; and
  • redesigning the form to make it even more explicit which books are intended for which age of child since feedback suggests that confusion still occurs in this regard. Indeed, some practitioners queried whether there was a necessary divide between the two years and if it would be better to allow schools and nurseries to order all of the books and decide locally how to distribute them, especially given that the books are not designed to be incrementally challenging to read as children developed. This is discussed in more detail in the following chapters.