South Scotland

Scottish Borders school overhaul set to start

Langlee Primary design Image copyright Scottish Borders Council

Scottish Borders Council is set to start the first phase of a wide-ranging overhaul of its schools provision across the region.

A report to its executive committee seeks approval to get the process under way during this school year.

The local authority is carrying out the review against a background of "ongoing financial challenges".

However, it stressed that it was not simply about making savings but also delivering benefits.

But what are some of the key issues to be addressed?

School closures

Image copyright Google

Councillors are being recommended to start statutory consultation on the closure of three schools in the region.

Eccles/Leitholm Primary, Ettrick Primary and Hobkirk Primary have already been mothballed.

A full report on their position is likely to be delivered later this year.

Catholic provision

Image copyright Walter Baxter

The viability and provision of the existing four Roman Catholic schools in the Borders has been a "considerable challenge for the council over a number of years".

In 2012, one head teacher was put in place for all of them.

Now the authority hopes to carry out further informal consultation on the best way forward.

It would consider school leadership structures, the continuation of provision in four locations, staff recruitment and the quality of education.

Smallest sites

The council is proposing to engage with all its rural schools with less than 50 pupils over the sustainability of those numbers.

Staff will attend parent council meetings at the schools involved.

Rural schools with under 50 pupils in the Borders
School Number of pupils
Ancrum Primary 32
Channelkirk Primary 42
Cockburnspath Primary 35
Eddleston Primary 47
Ednam Primary 44
Fountainhall Primary 15
Greenlaw Primary 49
Heriot Primary 33
Kirkhope Primary 17
Sprouston Primary 33
Walkerburn Primary 27
Westruther Primary 38
Yarrow Primary 18
Yetholm Primary 49

Town talks

Image copyright Google

Discussion on the future of education provision in the towns of Jedburgh, Eyemouth, Hawick and Galashiels is also planned.

Phase one of the review would also see a Selkirk schools catchment review involving Yarrow, Kirkhope, Philiphaugh and Knowepark Primaries.

The second phase, to start in the following school year, would look at the Berwickshire, Earlston, Kelso and Peebles school clusters.

A review of school transport policy has also been promised before the end of 2017/18.

Why are they doing it?

Councillor Sandy Aitchison said: "The principle of the school estate review is to look at our buildings and locations with a view to increasing educational opportunities, improving outcomes for children and young people and ensuring that our school estate is sustainable, affordable and suitable for the future.

"The pre-consultation with parents, pupils and communities has given us a 'warts and all' assessment of our schools from these key stakeholders.

"Going forward, these views will be taken into account in the next stage of our discussions and in the formal proposals we will take out to public consultation.

"The school estate review as a whole, and the actions identified following the specific consultations to take place, are not going to be an overnight process and we are committed to fully engaging with parents, pupils, staff and wider community as we progress with the review over the coming months and years."

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