Scottish Borders Council has agreed to close St Margaret’s RC Primary School in Hawick.
At today’s full council meeting, councillors agreed to back a recommendation made by the authority’s service director for children and young people, Donna Manson, that the Buccleuch Terrace primary should be shut down.
The Roman Catholic school has seen a drop in pupil numbers over the last 20 years, from 56 in 1997 to just 14 in the current school year, despite having capacity for 100 children.
Council staff also noted that the majority of its pupils spoke English as a second language, raising concerns among parents and school staff about community inclusion and cohesion.
Speaking at the full council meeting, Ms Manson said: “It is always with sadness that we close a school. I’d like to thank the parents and members who’ve been very understanding throughout this process.
“This process will bring benefits to the community around Hawick and the make-up of education in the area.”
Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson led councillors in thanking the school community for their part in a consultation that preceded the closure recommendation.
He said: “I have to admit, my mother went to this school, and it is sad to see it close, but I’d like to thank the staff and parents of the school for their understanding.”
Galashiels councillor Sandy Aitchison said: “We went to some pretty controversial meetings about this, and it is always sad to see our schools close, but Borders schools are progressing.”
The Scottish Government will be informed of the authority’s decision, and it will now begin an eight-week period of further consideration.
Members of the public are also entitled to make written representations to the Scottish Government about the closure proposal.
Speaking after the meeting, East Berwickshire councillor Carol Hamilton, the council’s executive member for children and young people, said: “The decision to close a school is not one that is taken lightly.
“It only ever follows extensive consultation with pupils, families, staff and the wider community. In the case of St Margaret’s, engagement has also been carried out with the Roman Catholic church and its representatives.
“We would like to thank everyone who gave us their feedback, which was carefully considered both by ourselves and Education Scotland.
“However, agreement has now been given to the proposal to close St Margaret’s from the end of the summer term.
“We have been engaging with pupils and staff throughout the consultation process, appreciating that this has been an unsettling time and doing all we can to reassure and keep them informed as we have gone through each stage.
“A transition plan has been developed, and this will now be put in place to ensure that pupils can be supported with the transfer to their new primary from August. Any pupils who are due to move up to Hawick High will continue with the arrangements already in place.
“The small staff team affected by the change are being supported by our HR colleagues to ensure their future employment.
“We would like to thank them for their commitment to St Margaret’s over the years and particularly for their patience and support over the past few months.”