Howdenburn to re-open in April

Howdenburn Primary School, Jedburgh.

Howdenburn Primary School, Jedburgh.

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Scottish Borders Council has sought to allay concerns over the emergency procedures put in place for young children whose school in Jedburgh was forced to close after a wall collapsed.

And the council has also confirmed that 110-pupil Howdenburn Primary, built back in 1970, will re-open later this year, on April 18.

After a full inspection, a firm of structural engineers has reported to the council that there are “no concerns with the integrity of the building”.

Plans for the replacement of walls in the assembly hall have been agreed since the end of last week.

A builder is now being secured in order to organise the rebuild.

“We are confident this will be a quick process and work will begin very soon,” said Michelle Strong, SBC’s chief officer for schools with Scottish Borders Council, this week.

Since the incident, which occurred late last year, 
during storms on the evening of December 9, the 50 Primary 1-4 
pupils at Howdenburn have been relocated to the town’s other primary at Parkside, while the Primary 5-7 
students were relocated to 
Jedburgh Grammar.

But according to one Howdenburn parent who contacted Tweeddale Press, there are a “number of serious concerns” relating to the Parkside 
arrangement that have not been resolved.

The parent, who does not wish to be named, said that condensation in an external cabin classroom at Parkside had resulted in the absence from the school of a number of Howdenburn pupils with respiratory problems.

The parent also claimed that some additional needs/remedial class activities were taking place in the corridors at Parkside and there was “little evidence of collaboration” between the two school communities.

However, the anonymous parent’s main concern related to the safety of Howdenburn pupils who are having to use the busy road crossing at Oxnam Road, near its junction with Blair Avenue.

“We were told an additional road crossing officer would be taken on to support the lollipop lady who is struggling to cope with the sheer number of pupils, but, again, this has not been delivered,” said the parent.

A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council said this week that no reports of condensation at Parkside had been received and that neither had there had been a spike seen in absences.

“Parkside has classroom capacity for 336 pupils, and the combined school roll is 284,” explained the spokesperson.

They went on: “All classes have a classroom and any classes taking place outwith classrooms are not out of necessity, but are the choice of the teacher.

“Combining two school communities at short notice is complex.

“Both schools are working hard to plan meaningful joint activities and are now reporting that pupils are mixing during the second half of lunchtime and at breaktime on Fridays.”

The spokesperson continued, conceding that attempts to recruit an additional 
crossing patrol officer at 
Oxnam Road had drawn a blank.

They went on: “Both the school and Scottish Borders Council have exhausted all possible ideas, but as yet have not found someone to take on this duty.

“Neither support staff nor teaching staff feel able to take this on, given their duties at the beginning and end of the school day.”