PEEBLES has been pushed to the back of the line in the race for a new secondary school.

Over the past few months education bosses have carried out detailed assessments at Peebles High, Galashiels Academy, Selkirk High, and Hawick High to decide which should be next for a new learning campus.

And at Thursday’s full council meeting, elected members rubber-stamped a finalised report which says Galashiels and Hawick should take priority.

During the assessment period, the schools were scored on their need for a new building. The current Galashiels Academy and Hawick High were both given a grade C suitability rating (poor) as they are “showing major problems and/or not operating optimally”.

Selkirk and Peebles received a B rating (satisfactory). Consultation events were also held to get the public’s views.

And although most Peebles residents recognised the town needed a new secondary school, many were opposed to building work at the site.

A report written by Donna Manson, SBC’s service director for children and young people, states: “While over 90 per cent of respondents indicated that they considered that a new school is required to (1) accommodate the projected growth in school roll; (2) provide both the learning opportunities and experiences required in 21st century; and (3) deal with the safety and security and accessibility issues, it was clear that some respondents, in particular the parent council, are wary of replacing a school with a new build which might not meet their expectations or match some of the facilities that they have now.

“Opposition has already been expressed by local residents to any form of development within the site and this challenge will need to be carefully considered and progressed. 

“Given this juxtaposition, it is proposed that further consultation within the cluster is carried out to discuss all these concerns and to help design a concept that will deliver the best outcome for the children and community of the Peebles cluster.”

The public consultation events were held at the four schools last month.
In Peebles, a total of 370 pupils took part with 234 members of the public/staff.

And 288 residents from the town submitted their view using the online form.

Ms Manson stated: “The Workshops did stimulate a high level of engagement and debate. It was a particularly effective method for the pupils to share their views and comments about the present and the future.

“The pupils have to be commended upon their contribution and positive engagement. The quality of their engagement, their ideas and the sensitivity displayed throughout was impressive across all school communities and is to be commended.”

  •  At a recent meeting of Peebles Community Council, Tweeddale East Councillor Robin Tatler (Ind) criticised the consultation in the town.

He said the overall tone of the consultation was very negative regarding the size of the classrooms and the position of where the new school might be located.
But Councillor Heather Anderson (SNP) said there were issues behind why they were being negative that would need to be addressed.

Cllr Tatler replied: “Yes, but we are in competition with three other schools. There are other towns in the Borders who are really positive about wanting a new school, we have a consultation exercise and there were negative comments.”

Cllr Anderson replied: “It’s not meant to be a competition, there should be a fair assesment of the condition of the school and some criteria as to why a school is selected.”