THERE has been bewilderment over news that the much-touted phase six of refurbishment work planned for Jedburgh Grammar School does not exist.
At this week’s meeting of Scottish Borders Council executive, Councillor Jim Brown (SNP, Jedburgh & District) said he was pleased to hear news of the bid for government cash for a replacement Kelso High School. But when he asked when refurbishment work would finally be finished on Jedburgh Grammar, helping to stop the haemorraghing of local pupils preferring to attend the new secondary at Earlston, and possibly any new Kelso High School, he was stunned to learn the answer was “never”.
Council leader David Parker told him: “There are no plans to do anything as regards a phase six of work at Jedburgh Grammar. The next place after Kelso would be Galashiels.”
Councillor Parker said there was a priority ranking system for school projects and Jedburgh Grammar was not on it.
“I don’t think Jedburgh will be on there for decades, given the primary school issues we are facing elsewhere,” he said.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Brown said he was very disappointed: “It now appears phase six of the work at Jedburgh Grammar was just a figment of our imagination in that it was never going to happen at all.
“I will be calling for a review of the situation. People in Jedburgh will be shocked by this – it is the first time it’s been spelled out quite as clearly,” said Mr Brown who cited the lack of a big enough assembly hall and poor state of the dining area as two of the issues.
Fellow Jedburgh councillor Sandy Scott (Con) told TheSouthern the issue of phase six was an on-going saga.
“Phase six of the Jed Grammar School was apparently not completed because the education department felt it had more pressing priorities, i.e. other schools were deemed to be in a more desperate state of disrepair,” he told us.
“This was backed up by the capital management group on the council – mainly elected members. Looking at the 10- year capital programme, Jed Grammar School is still not included, which I find very frustrating, and, sadly, there is not a great deal one can do about it, short of the school falling down.
“I constantly remind the director of education about phase six of the Grammar School and hopefully this will bear fruit eventually.”
Jedburgh Community Council chairman Richard Gordon was also disappointed, but was not surprised.
“Phase six was dropped from the capital programme a long time ago. To be honest, I think many people in the town have probably forgotten there ever was a ‘phase six’ planned and the time to fight strongly for it was probably when dropping it was first mooted,” he told us.
“Getting something back in, once it is removed, is always more of a challenge. Of course, if the original plans for Jedburgh back in the ‘90s had gone ahead, we would have had a new secondary school on a greenfield site a long time ago.
“Instead we got a phased upgrade which, no matter how well done, is never as effective as a new-build project.”