Class revamp criticised

Howdenburn Primary School, Jedburgh.
Howdenburn Primary School, Jedburgh.

The impending move to create a composite class of primary four, five and six pupils at a Jedburgh school has been criticised by parents.

Lisa Cowan, a member of the Howdenburn Primary’s parent council, has written to MSP Paul Wheelhouse, claiming the council has failed to support the headteacher.

Mrs Cowan said: “In 2012 we were appointed a new head, Mrs Norman. Her main duty was to raise the profile of the school and get the roll up.

“She has worked very hard on this and has done a great job. She has done all that she can, despite no backing or support from SBC.”

She added that a teacher left before the summer term but has not been replaced, and that the enrolment of three pupils after the October break will lead to major class changes, something already done before the start of the current term.

Mrs Cowan told us: “The children have only just got settled in to the changes made after the summer, and now they are moving them again.”

She added: “This, in our eyes, is a disgrace which will surely have an impact on our children’s education.”

She added that a number of parents of P7 pupils in particular had raised concerns about such changes at an important point in their child’s schooling, but that they backed the headteacher’s ongoing efforts to try to get more staff and increase the school roll.

Speaking to The Southern, Mr Wheelhouse said he has written to the director of education at the council, Glenn Rodger, regarding the parents’ concerns.

Mr Wheelhouse said he was sympathetic to the challenges facing the council with the school, which had seen pupil numbers drop dramatically in the past.

However, he said the council was predicting a good recovery in terms of pupil numbers, but maybe needed to ‘speculate to accumulate’ and make the move to employ a new teacher.

He added: “It would give a fillip to the school and parent council in terms of the council showing a commitment to the school.

“If the council has any space within their resources to do that it would be welcomed in Jedburgh and would really help support this school in progressing back to single stream, which is the optimal model.”

Executive member for education, Councillor Sandy Aitchison, said he had discussed the concerns of a number of parents with senior education officials.

He added: “What we have to do is help within the processes and procedures of the council and we spoke long and seriously about this on Monday, and I am hoping that these concerns can be addressed.”