Hawick schoolchildren’s switch to new unit in Earlston now confirmed

What a new special needs unit proposed at Earlston will look like.
What a new special needs unit proposed at Earlston will look like.

Ten Hawick schoolchildren with complex educational needs are to be transferred to a new school 24 miles away in spring of next year, it has been confirmed.

Pupils in the spectrum class at Wilton Primary School will move to the specialist facility at Earlston in April.

The Wilton Primary children are currently taught in a portable cabin in the Wellfield Road school’s grounds.

Scottish Borders Council last week agreed the formal discontinuation of the spectrum classes at both Wilton Primary and St Ronan’s Primary in Innerleithan.

The preferred option for the name of the new facility – Leader Valley School – will be discussed next month.

Galashiels councillor Sandy Aitchison, the authority’s executive member for education, said: “I am delighted that we now have full agreement to these proposals and can progress with our plans to provide children and young people in the Borders who have complex needs with a high-quality learning environment that has been specifically designed to meet their needs.

“There has been extensive consultation and public engagement throughout the process as it was important to make sure that pupils, family members, carers and staff were fully aware of the proposals.

“All their feedback was taken into account, and we can now look forward to working together to make this vision a reality.”

The Scottish Government has been informed of the decision, and there is to be a further eight-week period of consideration.

As part of the plans there is also a pledge to maintain current door-to-door transport provision for pupils making the 48-mile round trip to the new school.

A report presented to last week’s meeting said that Hawick school staff were positive about the new school, with many having visiting the building site already.

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

Mid Berwickshire councillor Frances Renton, the council’s executive member for social work and housing, said: “It is indeed good news that we now have full agreement for the new school in Earlston and to hear that the building is nearing completion.

“It is certainly an asset to the region and will mean that we will be able to provide a comprehensive service for children with complex needs here in the Borders and can minimise the need for them to travel out of the area for their education.”