DCSIMG

Call for public meeting in town rejected by SBC

Selkirkshire councillors Michelle Ballantyne and Vicky Davidson

Selkirkshire councillors Michelle Ballantyne and Vicky Davidson

A local councillor has criticised the lack of a meeting in Selkirk on the impact of a Borders-wide move to a four-and-a-half day school week.

At the council’s education committee on Tuesday Vicky Davidson question why meetings were being held in Peebles, Jedburgh, Duns, Galashiels, Earlston and Hawick, but not Selkirk.

Councillor Davidson said: “If you live 20 miles west of Selkirk you are going to seriously think about driving to Earlston for the meeting. I think you could justify having a meeting in Selkirk.”

However, director of education Glenn Rodger said that staff were already stretched in attending the public consultation meetings on the asymmetric week proposals, in addition to holding meetings with parent council leaders and other stakeholder groups.

He added that a public meeting was being held in each of the region’s ‘learning communities’.

But, Selkirkshire councillor Michelle Ballantyne said that very few people outwith the council would understand the geography of the ‘learning communities’, which has the high school catchments of Selkirk and Earlston in together.

At Tuesday’s meeting Mr Rodger said that a move to a four-and-a-half day school week for all primary and secondary schools would have a widespread impact.

“This impacts on so many facets of Borders life, including businesses,” he said, before adding: “My professional judgement is that it is something we absolutely have to embrace.”

However Councillor Ballantyne commented: “We do need to be really clear on what we are consulting on here.

“When you cut to the chase we are saying there is a very strong business case for moving to an asymmetric week, and are we really going to step away from it if a lot of people say they are against it?”

Committee chairman, Councillor Sandy Aitchison, said: “We need everybody to say what they think, yes or no, otherwise it is an unbalanced consultation, but at the end of the day it is a political decision.”

The consultation meeting in Earlston will be held at the primary school at 6.30pm on Tuesday, February 4.

Comments from all the meetings will be collated and presented to councillors at their March meeting, when a decision will be taken on the matter.

Individuals can also comment on the proposals by going to www.scotborders.gov.uk/schoolweek

 

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