Plans agreed that could lead to four Borders high schools being replaced

Hawick High School.
Hawick High School.

Members of Scottish Borders Council have agreed to plans that could see secondary schools in Galashiels, Hawick, Peebles and Selkirk replaced.

Those proposals come on the back of assessments of the four schools that found they all have what are described as major defects.

The facilities at each school were graded from A to D, with A signifying that the buildings are performing well and operating effectively and D indicating that the economic life of the facilities has expired and they are at risk of failure.

The overall conditions of Galashiels Academy, Hawick High School and Selkirk High School were given C ratings, while Peebles High School was deemed to have a B, or good, rating.

In her report to today’s full council meeting, Donna Manson, the authority’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.”

Councillors concurred that the school buildings are in need of repair or replacement, but opposition councillors queried why the projects would need capital funding from the Scottish Government.

Former teacher and SNP councillor Clair Ramage said that she knew of temporary buildings at Hawick High School that had been designed to be used for 10 to 15 years, but they are still in use 40 years later.

However, she also queried why Scottish Borders Council must wait for Scottish Government capital funding, with some local authorities opting to finance school building projects themselves.

Speaking after the meeting, East Berwickshire councillor Carol Hamilton, the authority’s executive member for children and young people, said: “We would like to thank everyone from these four communities who contributed to the consultation process. There was significant engagement from each, and it was invaluable to have input at a local level to help us as we move to the next steps in the process.

“Overall, our ambition is that each of these four schools will be replaced within the next 10 to 15 years so that all our secondary school provision is graded highly for condition, suitability and can provide the quality learning opportunities and experiences that will enable our children and young people to achieve their potential.

“Creation of individualised strategic plans will enable us to develop the bespoke solutions that are required for each of these four schools and help us to maximise the funding opportunities potentially available to us through the Scottish Government’s investment programme.

“While these are being developed, I am pleased to note that improvement work will be carried out at the schools, with priority being given to the PE department at Galashiels, the overall condition and use of space at Hawick High, the creation of improved social spaces at Selkirk and accessibility at Peebles.”

A progress report will be brought back to the council’s executive committee in October.