Three Borders primary schools shut for 14 years between them will never reopen, council confirms

The old Hobkirk primary school.
The old Hobkirk primary school.

Council chiefs have confirmed that three Borders primary schools shut for between three and seven years will never reopen.

Councillors today, August 29, rubber-stamped plans to close the village schools at Ettrick, west of Selkirk, and Hobkirk, south of Bonchester Bridge, along with Eccles/Leitholm Primary, midway between Kelso and Coldstream.

That agreement came after they heard that all three would require significant capital investment to be fit to reopen as their buildings are not suitable for use at present.

A report, presented to today’s full meeting of Scottish Borders Council at the authority’s Newtown headquarters by its interim director for children and young people, Stuart Easingwood, advised that reopening Hobkirk, Eccles/Leitholm and Ettrick would cost around £229,000, £107,000 and £38,000 respectively. 

His report reads: “Hobkirk Primary School was mothballed in 2015 following a sustained fall in its roll after a substantial increase in placement requests. 

“The catchment area was temporarily re-zoned to Denholm Primary School at the time of mothballing. 

“There have been no enquiries received about the school since mothballing, and 88% of Hobkirk catchment children are currently attending Denholm Primary School.

“Eccles/Leitholm Primary School was mothballed in 2016 following a sustained fall in its roll after a substantial increase in placement requests. 

“The catchment area was temporarily re-zoned to Coldstream Primary School at the time of mothballing.

“Since mothballing, the council has not received any enquiries regarding the school.

“Ettrick Primary School was mothballed in July 2012 following a sustained fall in its roll.

“Since mothballing, all primary-aged pupils have been transported to Kirkhope Primary School. 

“The number of primary-aged children has remained consistently low since mothballing and the council has not received any enquiries regarding the school in that period.”

East Berwickshire councillor Carol Hamilton, the authority’s executive member for children and young people, said: “I’d like to make it clear that this is not a decision that is undertaken lightly, and I’d like to thank officers for their diligence and understanding in this process.

“The council officers have taken note of pupils and parents’ views and have listened to the communities. 

“Looking at the declining school rolls, the council has a duty to look at providing the best education possible for people in rural areas.”