Four Borders high schools need replacing or major repairs within next 15 years, report reveals

Four high schools in the Borders need to replaced or undergo major repairs within the next decade and a half, a new report reveals.

Tuesday, 24th April 2018, 3:25 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th April 2018, 3:29 pm
Hawick High School is one of four secondary schools in the region in line to be replaced within the next 15 years.

Scottish Borders Council has carried out a review of the condition, capacity and suitability for learning of Galashiels Academy, Hawick High School, Selkirk High and Peebles High, and all have been found wanting.

The Galashiels, Hawick and Selkirk schools were given below-par C grades for their physical condition, meaning they are deemed to be showing major defects and signs of age.

Only Peebles High was assessed as being in good condition. Awarded a B grade, it is said to have experienced only minor deterioration.

Peebles High School.

It is in the frame for replacement or major repairs too, though, as only a grade A is deemed good enough.

The report, to be presented to members of the full council today, also considers the capacity of all four schools.

Galashiels, Hawick and Selkirk’s schools are currently well below capacity – with 825, 852 and 385 pupils respectively – but Peebles High’s 1,240-strong roll of pupils is the highest it has seen for over the last 20 years.

That puts the four schools at 68%, 64%, 53% and 86% of their capacities respectively.

Peebles High School.

In a report to councillors, Donna Manson, the council’s director of children’s and young people’s services, said: “It is our ambition that all four of these secondary-school learning environments are replaced or substantially improved at the earliest possible opportunity.

“Ideally, this timeframe would not stretch beyond 15 years.

“This aim is to ensure that the secondary school provision across the region is not only graded A for condition and suitability but will also provide the learning opportunities and experience that young people require to reach their full potential in the Scottish Borders.”

The report does accept that the proposed works would require significant additional funding from the Scottish Government, but it also notes that ministers are picking up the bill for two-thirds of the capital costs for the replacement of Kelso High School and the development of Jedburgh’s new intergenerational campus.

It adds: “The Scottish Government has not yet announced the latest education investment plan, which will include future funding for the Schools for the Future programme.

“In February, John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister, advised that a detailed plan would be announced later this year.

“In order to ensure that Scottish Borders Council is in a position to respond to this announcement, the service directors are maintaining regular dialogue with Scottish Government officers.

“In seeking to progress an individualised strategic plan for each of the secondary schools, the council aims to be in a position to bid for investment funding when the government announcements are made.”

A progress report on plans for the four schools is to be brought back before the council in October.

Nationally, the condition of 83% of secondary schools in Scotland is rated as either A or B, with just 59, including three of the four Borders schools, receiving a C rating.

Today’s meeting, to be held at the council’s Newtown headquarters, starts at 10am.