Police patrol Hawick High School to help tackle trouble

Hawick councillor Clair Ramage outside Hawick High School.
Hawick councillor Clair Ramage outside Hawick High School.

Police officers and extra support staff are patrolling the corridors and classrooms of Hawick High School in a bid to stem a recent rise in unruly behaviour.

That move comes after claims that anti-social behaviour at the Buccleuch Road school has spiralled out of control, leaving some staff and pupils feeling unsafe.

Hawick High School.

Hawick High School.

Police have confirmed there will be officers in the school every day until Christmas, and Scottish Borders Council is set to draft in four new youth workers and an extra depute head.

Community police constable John Irvine said: “Local officers have been providing support to the school who are dealing with children within an educational situation.

“The issues have been caused by a small minority of children within the school, and the police, who are mainly dedicated school officers, are assisting with youth intervention.”

The four new youth workers’ posts were discussed at a meeting of parents and town councillors with the council’s service director for children and young people, Donna Manson, on Monday night.

Hawick and Denholm councillor Clair Ramage said: “Donna Manson talked to the group, as did headteacher Vicky Porteous, about how Hawick High School is moving forward.

“There will be a daily presence from the council to overview the school and to make sure that there is a calm environment to allow pupils to study.

“They will be employing three youth workers who will be allocated to each guidance house. They will deal with attendance and contact families. Another youth worker and a teacher will work in the inclusion base.

“We had these initiatives in Hawick many years ago, so it is good to see them reinstated.”

The school’s pupil council will also be reformed in a bid to give youngsters more of a voice.

Ms Ramage says she has been approached by numerous concerned pupils, parents and staff, adding that such unrest is the main reason she left the school five years ago after 34 years as a teacher there.

She said: “These issues are a culmination of 10 years of deteriorating behaviour.

“When I first started teaching in the school, we worked as a team, and it was clear how behavioural issues were handled.

“There was a system within departments, and you were supported by guidance, deputes and the headteacher if issues had to be moved on.

“Since I left the school, many experienced teachers have also left, and, on speaking to them, it was about the continued deteriorating behaviour.

“This loss of experience has also added to the problem.

“I fully support Mrs Porteous as I feel that, at the start of her new headship, she is having to deal with serious issues, and I am pleased that they will also be employing another depute to support her.”

Ms Ramage also claims a lack of investment might be behind the unruly behaviour.

“Hawick High is not fit for purpose as many of our buildings have outlived their supposed life,” she added.

“The raising of the school leaving age found buildings being erected on a temporary basis to house the sudden increase in the pupil population.

“These were to last no more than 20 years, but 40-plus years later they are still standing but leaking and not up to the standard expected of the 21st century.

“Our pupils need to feel valued and to understand right from wrong.”

Last week, Ms Manson attempted to reassure parents by sending out a letter saying the council is making “rapid progress” in tackling the issue.

She wrote: “I am aware that there have been concerns voiced on social media regarding some anti-social behaviour in the school and wish to reassure you that, in close partnership with the police, social workers and youth workers, we are making rapid progress in eliminating this unacceptable behaviour.

“This involves the support of local police, on and off the school campus, and close engagement with families where appropriate.”

Parents are invited to the next meeting of the parent council in the school on Tuesday, January 23, at 6.30pm