THE new local leader of the Catholic church says the loss of the town’s only denominational school would signal a “tragedy”.
Father Kevin Douglas, of Ss Mary and David’s Church, shares local concern for the future of St Margaret’s RC Primary School.
With a role of 18, the school remains below the threshold of 25 pupils, and the council currently plans to remove one of the two teachers there by the October holiday.
The prospect of the Buccleuch Terrace school being seen as a single-teacher institution with a dwindling rolL is a source of concern for those linked to the school and the Catholic church.
Fr Douglas said: “St Margaret’s has served Hawick for generations and has made a real contribution to the richness of Hawick’s civil rights.
“It would be a real tragedy for the town if that were ever to be discontinued. The school has a distinguished history, and a number of generations who have made a real contribution to Hawick have gone through it.
“It offers an education that is underpinned by Christian values.”
John Tait, co-chair of the school’s parent council, says the Catholic church has an important role to play in the future success of the school and that he and fellow parents could resort to door-knocking to promote awareness of the open-to-all education there.
He said: “Some people don’t even know where the Catholic school is. We have a huge Polish influence there, but, at the same time, there is a lot of the Polish community who don’t know it’s there.
“Kids can be stigmatised through going to Catholic school. It’s the reason some parents may choose to send their own children to, say, Drumlanrig and other schools.”
Mr Tait feels “annoyed and let down” by the council’s education chief Glenn Rodger, to whom he wrote several weeks ago to request a meeting with parents.
“We want to know that if we could get seven pupils to the school, will it still go down to one teacher,” said Mr Tait. “We are concerned about where it’s going, and time is a huge issue.”
Mr Rodger responded via an enquiry by the Hawick News, saying, “I regret that Mr Tait has not received a reply as yet.
“I am working with the Education Management Team to agree dates across all four Roman Catholic primary schools with staff and parents as part of the RC Strategic Review.
“This has had to wait until the outcome of the Education Executive meeting next Tuesday (18 September). However Mr Tait will receive a reply to the specific queries he’s raised by early next week.”