Parents band together over education review

A parents group set up to protest planned cuts to education services is already more than 100 members strong after just a few days.

And a Facebook page set up by the campaigners on Monday had attracted 111 members in less than 24 hours.

Online petitions have also been organised by the group, calling itself simply, Scottish Borders Parents Regarding School Cuts.

The petition is in response to proposals by Scottish Borders Council to shave £11million off its education budget over the next five years.

Hundreds of school staff across the Borders were briefed last month about the start of the first Education and Lifelong Learning and Integrated Children’s Services Transformation Programme.

There are currently no specific proposals for budget or service reductions, but seven key areas are being reviewed.

However, the parents group is “deeply concerned” over what it sees as a lack of communication from the council.

Speaking from a statement drawn up by all the parents involved, group spokesman Craig McBeth said everyone was well aware of the tough financial challenges facing the council.

“However, it is deeply concerning the lack of communication, let alone consultation, that has taken place with parents, and indeed future parents, within the Borders,” said Mr 
McBeth. “The changes proposed are generational, and will impact on current and future school children in the Borders, disadvantaging them relative to other local authority areas in the country at present.

“The changes proposed include a reduction in teaching hours by 2.5 hours – this is different to other local authority areas.

“This is a fundamental change in the importance we place upon the education of our children.”

Mr McBeth said there were also worries about already stretched workloads being increased, with the added concern that this could see children with problems slipping through the cracks.

He continued: “We all accept cuts are happening, but some things should be sacred and that includes the length, breadth, depth and quality of education and the protection of those who need it most.

“Politics aside, this represents a generational change that would be set to impact the current and future parents and children of the Scottish Borders, one that we can assume will not be reversed once in place.”

Councillor Sandy Aitchison, executive member for education, pleaded for the council to be given time to carry out the reviews.

“There will be an engagement process so that any proposals will be fully put to parents - we’re not hiding anything,” he said.

“But we need to be allowed to look at these reviews and their implications. We could rightly be accused if we just turned up at parents meetings without all the necessary information.”