Hawick and Innerleithen children set to switch schools next year

What a new special needs unit proposed at Earlston will look like.
What a new special needs unit proposed at Earlston will look like.
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The transfer of 10 pupils with special educational needs from Hawick’s Wilton Primary School to a new specialist facility in Earlston is now expected to take place within months.

A consultation process was carried out over the summer with staff and parents and other interested parties at the Wellfield Road school.

The proposal is to discontinue spectrum support provision at Wilton Primary and St Ronan’s Primary School at Innerleithen and move the pupils concerned to a new building in Earlston by next April.

The Wilton Primary children are currently taught in a portable cabin in the school’s grounds not designed to meet the needs of pupils with complex needs.

It is regarded as a “poor-quality learning environment” in “particularly poor” physical condition.

A consultancy paper on the proposed move says youngsters will “benefit from a significantly better-quality learning and teaching environment that meets the needs of learners in the 21st century”.

There is also a pledge to maintain current “door-to-door” transport provision for the pupils travelling to the new school despite it being a 48-mile round trip from Hawick.

Scottish Borders Council is now looking for feedback on its consultation report about the new additional support needs school in Earlston and the formal discontinuation of spectrum classes at Wilton Primary and St Ronan’s Primary.

A report responding to feedback received so far has already been prepared, and it is due to go before councillors on Thursday, December 15, with a recommendation that the proposals go ahead.

Galashiels councillor Sandy Aitchison, the authority’s executive member for education, said: “I would encourage anyone with an interest in the new additional needs provision in Earlston to take the time to look at the consultation report and provide any additional feedback before it goes before councillors in December.

“This applies not only to parents who already have children at the schools but also families with younger children who are likely to attend these schools in the future.

“The views of these parents are equally valid, and we are keen to hear from them as well.”

Reassurance has been given that existing staff in the Hawick and Innerleithen spectrum support provision teams will be offered jobs at the new complex.

A report to be presented to next month’s meeting says those staff are positive about the new school, with many having visiting the building site as part of the consultation process.

The report says: “The class teachers are looking forward to the opportunity of working with a bigger team.”

In advance of December’s council meeting, interested parties are being invited to consider the consultation report and provide any additional views they might have.

The consultation period will run until 5pm on Wednesday, December 14.

An electronic copy of the report is available at www.scotborders.gov.uk/asnschool.

Paper copies are available at Wilton Primary, St Ronan’s Primary, Earlston Primary and Earlston High School, as well as Hawick, Innerleithen and Earlston’s libraries.

Feedback can be given online at www.scotborders.gov.uk/ asnschool, by emailing schoolestates@scotborders.gov.uk or by calling 01835 825080.

A non-statutory consultation on the naming of the new provision in Earlston was also held. Suggestions made are currently being considered, and more details will be announced in due course.