Melrose school parents demand clarity on cuts

BORDERS education director Glenn Rodger has told a packed meeting of concerned parents in Melrose that no decision on the number of teachers at the town’s primary school will be made until the end of this month.

About 70 parents and 10 of the school’s current teaching establishment of 13 attended the meeting, called by the parent council, on Friday night.

“The turnout exceeded our expectations and reflected our anxiety about our children’s education, but even after hearing from Mr Rodger, a great deal of uncertaintly remains,” said Jamie Buchanan, the press spokesman for the parent council.

Mr Buchanan said he had been charged to go public with concerns about spending cuts affecting the 342-pupil primary after reading in TheSouthern last month about the non-replacement of staff taking voluntary severance packages at Hawick High School.

“We received confirmation before Friday’s meeting that there will be reductions to the number of classes, teachers, supply hours, office support and curriculum support staff at Melrose Primary,” Mr Buchanan said.

“Despite constantly being told our devolved school management [DSM] budget would not move and the cuts announced would not affect primary schools, we find it hard to look at these reductions as anything other than cuts.

“We are concerned they will have a detrimental impact on teacher confidence and morale. We are also concerned about the size of classes in early years and potential changes to additional needs support; we fear the new structure will effectively close out new entrants to the school at the end of this session.”

Mr Buchanan said clarity was urgently required, if only to allow parents to prepare to be mobilised to provide resources.

After Friday’s meeting Mr Rodger told us: “As in every school in preparation for the year ahead, we look at the school roll, teacher numbers and make-up of classes. As I explained to the parents at Melrose, the decision on the number of teachers has still to be finalised. This is likely to be concluded by the end of April.

“I must stress that SBC has made no decision to reduce the number of teachers across the Borders and we will continue to match the number of teachers to the number of pupils in any one year. There have been no changes to our supply staff and the only discussion taking place about this is at a national level in relation to salaries.

“Reserved places are being kept in every school for children that come into the catchment area during the school year. That is a statutory requirement.

”We also have no plans and are having no discussions about how we allocate our visiting specialists. Schools will continue to manage and have their own budget for curricular support. There will also be no change to management time in schools.

“Schools are also yet to receive their allocation for additional support needs. The council has taken the decision not to reduce additional needs auxiliaries across the Borders.”