Last night I attended a parent council meeting at the high school. For the last four years since I started attending these meetings one of the main points on the agenda has been efficiency savings/cuts in the education budget. The head teacher has managed these as best he could. However, there is now no fat left to be trimmed and the cuts are impacting directly on the numbers of teaching staff. I appreciate that ‘belt tightening’ is going on everywhere but I cannot stand back and allow these cuts to affect my, and indeed your, children/grandchildren’s education without passing comment. It is affecting pupils now.
In 2006, Hawick High had 82 teachers. By the end of 2011 this figure will have fallen to 72. In the same time the school roll has reduced by the equivalent of one teacher. A shortfall of nine teachers. This will impact on the education our children receive. In the core subjects of maths and English, class sizes in the first two years are held at 20, this will no longer be possible and they are set to increase to 26/27. Subjects on the fringes of the curriculum such as Spanish will simply not be available, and Advanced Higher subjects will be limited. These are only a few of the many problems that will arise.
We pride ourselves on being a first world country, so how can we stand back and let our state education system be eroded in this way? The parent council at the high school is perceived by SBC as being militant. Perhaps we are simply the biggest and therefore the most vocal, because these cuts are affecting all schools in the Borders: Galashiels, Berwick, Peebles, Jedburgh, Selkirk, Kelso and Earlston. All are facing cuts, and these are now on the front line. Smaller schools will lose the ability to provide the Higher curriculum in a number of subjects. Indeed Selkirk and Jedburgh are being offered video conferencing links with Hawick. How will this work when the IT network breaks down as it did for a full two weeks after the summer holidays?
After our meeting in December, a letter regarding the cuts was sent from Hawick High to Councillor Calvert. He responded by saying he hadn’t noticed any problems with morale among teaching staff. Fifteen of the signatories were teachers.
When mill workers face redundancies, does it not affect their morale? Teachers are no different, but they have the added ‘bonus’ of knowing that a shortfall in education will impact directly on their pupils’ future. Children will fail to achieve their potential. We cannot let this happen unchallenged. Please print this letter, it affects us all.
There has been much talk recently on the street and in your letters columns about the vital matter of how to bring jobs to the town. The Teviot and LIddesdale Area Committee has put this on its agenda for its next meeting, at 6.30pm in the Tower Mill (second floor) on Tuesday (March 15) when there will be an open discussion, which will be led by Councillor Vicky Davidson, poftfolio holder for economic development.
There are plenty of people in the town with good ideas on this topic and all are invited to come and contribute to the discussion.
I do hope the two members of the public who wrote to your newspaper (under the byline ‘Name and address withheld’) to criticise the Hawick Area Development Sub-Committee will come along and speak up, anonymously of course!
On the subject of the return of the Waverley Line I have a very worrying thought that no-one else as yet has raised. To progress the rail from Tweedbank to Hawick there will need to be an area in our town for a train station.
And with the Kit Campbell independent report saying Teviotdale Leisure Centre is the most heavily subsidised swimming pool in the Borders, and Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker’s obsession with the Waverley Line’s reinstatement, does anyone think he would encourage his fellow councillors, as he has done since 2002, to close the leisure centre, raze it to the ground, thus leaving a vacant area of ground for the return of the rail station in Hawick? Do we want the leisure centre closed, opening land up for a train station again?