Eccles/Leitholm Primary mothballed

Eccles/Leitholm Primary School
Eccles/Leitholm Primary School

Eccles/Leitholm Primary School is to be mothballed for a year because only three pupils are enrolled for the 2016/17 school session which starts in August.

Scottish Borders Council’s executive agreed to mothball the school from Thursday, June 30, and review its future in 12 months time.

In the meantime any new pupils moving into the primary school’s catchment area will be enrolled at Coldstream Primary School which shares the same head teacher as Eccles/Leitholm.

Pupil numbers have fallen steadily over the last three years from 29 in August 2013, to 14 in 2014, and eight in 2015 which fell to five in April 2016.

A report to SBC’s executive, written by Donna Manson service director children and young people, read: “Parents recognised a number of issues relating to the size of Eccles/Leitholm and the effects on their children’s education.

“There was also an acceptance from parents that their children were not able to participate fully in the Curriculum for Excellence due to the requirement for collaboration and peer working.”

The parents of the three children still at the school until the summer holidays have made individual requests for placements at Coldstream Primary School, Duns Primary School and either Broomlands or Edenside Primary School in Kelso.

Mid Berwickshire councillor Frances Renton said: “The pupil numbers were falling year on year at the school and parents had concerns when we consulted with them.

“The department also consulted with the community council and the three ward councillors and I think the decision we took to mothball the school was the sensible decision to take and we can review it again in 12 months.”

Fellow Mid Berwickshire councillor John Greenwell added: “It is very disappointing that Eccles Primary School has had to close and will be mothballed. Many children have enjoyed a pleasant educational experience at Eccles over many years but falling numbers and the prospect of no primary school children in the near future attending the school have forced this decision onto the council.

“The main concern has to be that the education of the remaining pupils must not fall below that of other children at surrounding primary schools; that is why parents were consulted at a very early stage in the process and their children allowed to attend schools of their parents’ choice, I am sure that the schools of their choice will provide the children with a learning experience only available in the Borders.”

Eccles/Leitholm primary was facing closure just over a decade ago, but parents and villagers fought a determined campaign and persuaded Scottish Borders Council to keep it open.

Five small Borders schools were facing closure in 2004 (Eccles/Leitholm, Hutton, Burnmouth, Glen Douglas and Roberton) and when the final decision about their future was taken two of them were saved - Eccles/Leitholm and Roberton.

SBC leader David Parker said at the time: “We have listened to the parents and communities and understand clearly what they said. It’s perfectly clear here that parents have made a strong and proper case.”

By 2008, however, Roberton had no pupils on its school roll and was finally closed in 2010, and now eight years later Eccles/Leitholm looks to be heading for the same fate in the near future.