THE region's rookie teachers have taken their first steps into their new classrooms.

And Scottish Borders Council has given all 32 of the probationers a warm welcome for the 2019-20 academic year.

The 17 primary and 22 secondary new teachers, along with seven student-inductees, started at their base school on August 19.

They also attended an induction day last week in Galashiels where they had an opportunity to meet with staff from the local authority's Children and Young People’s Services.

Among the new teachers are Gavin Harkness from Peebles High and Selkirk High's Lynn McRobert, who have both benefited from distance learning opportunities currently available to graduates looking to enter the profession at secondary level.

Gavin is following the Dundee Partnership Induction Model, having spent the first six months of the 18-month programme at Earlston High before moving onto Peebles teaching chemistry.

He told us: “I went into industry when I left school but I was always keen to be doing something that was more people oriented and kept teaching at the back of my mind.

"The Dundee option is ideal for people like myself who are changing career or have a family to support as you are paid a salary.

"It certainly made the move possible for me and I’m very grateful for the opportunity.

"I think my industry experience will help me bring added value to the role and I’m just really looking forward to getting started.”

Maths teacher Lynn underwent training being delivered by Scottish Borders Council in partnership with the University of Highlands and Islands.

She said: “It’s been a significant commitment at many levels, but everyone has been so supportive and helpful that I have no regrets.

"Selkirk High is such a lovely school with a real community feel to it and I already feel part of the team.

"It is the perfect place to start my career from and I am really looking forward to the challenge and what the next year will bring.”

Jill Fleming has taken up a place at Coldstream Primary, having done her training with Moray House in Edinburgh.

She said: “I have always wanted to be a teacher and should have gone to do my training upon leaving school.

"Instead I worked in the food industry for five years and then became a childminder for the next ten.

"But once my own children had grown up it finally felt like the right time to do something for me. It has been a huge change and a lot of hard work but I absolutely have no regrets.

"I did a placement at Coldstream and am delighted to be back there. It’s such a welcoming school and I’m really excited for the year ahead.”

All of the new teachers were welcomed by chief education officer for the region, Michelle Strong.

As well as sharing with them the local authority’s vision for Borders children and young people, they were provided with an overview of the programme of professional learning they will be undertaking over the coming year.

Councillor Carol Hamilton, spokesperson for education, added her congratulations to the group.

She said: “This is an extremely exciting time for education in the Borders and I am delighted that our 32 new teachers are now in their respective schools and are being given the chance to put all their hard work and learning into practice.

"They are each to be commended for their achievement and I wish them well as they begin their new careers.

“They are joining us as we begin the roll out of our ambitious Inspire Learning Programme which will see a world-class digital environment available in all our schools and the transformation of the way in which learning and teaching is delivered across the Borders.

"We are also committed to investing millions of pounds in new and improved schools including the completion of a new intergenerational campus in Jedburgh, funding toward a new Galashiels Academy, acceleration of a replacement campus for Hawick High and replacement primary schools for both the Eyemouth and Earlston communities."

Anyone interested the partnership programmes available through Scottish Borders Council should contact the Quality Improvement Officer for Professional Learning on 01835 825080.

Recruitment for the 2020 cohort of both primary and secondary PDGE students will start later in September.