Scottish Borders Council has announced it will start a wide-ranging review of its school provision across the region, against a background of “ongoing financial challenges.”
The review comes as the Council’s budget has been slashed by £8.9m by the SNP Government in the past year alone.
As part of the process, the Council will consider the sustainability of all 14 schools with fewer than 50 pupils.
Local MSP John Lamont has warned against using the review as an excuse to close rural schools, pointing out that many are the lifeblood of smaller communities across the Borders.
John Lamont MSP said: “While it is right that Scottish Borders Council looks at whether the current school provision in the Borders is fit for purpose, parents will be rightly concerned that this review may be an excuse for school closures. The council must focus on the needs and wishes of local communities and any consultation must put these views at the forefront.
“The loss of a local school is a big blow for any rural community, as well as a huge disruption for pupils. Schools in rural areas can be the lifeblood of villages and communities, providing an opportunity for children to learn near to where they live but also providing a focal point for rural life. Having visited these schools, I know how beneficial it is for children to be educated locally.”
John added: “The reality is that Scottish Borders Council is being forced to look closely at whether it can keep smaller schools open because its budget keeps getting cut by the SNP Government. These cuts have already meant we’ve lost over 60 primary school teachers and now it seems schools closures are being considered.”