School looks to be out forever as pupils leave

James Rendall, Daisy Buckley, Lilly Nicholson, Jamie Thomson and Abagail Rendall are the last pupils at Eccles and Leitholm Primary school

James Rendall, Daisy Buckley, Lilly Nicholson, Jamie Thomson and Abagail Rendall are the last pupils at Eccles and Leitholm Primary school

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Children have been educated in Eccles since 1874, but the last five children to be taught at the village school left this week.

Two of the youngsters are heading to high school, and with no new pupils due to start after the summer holidays, the parents of the remaining three children reluctantly agreed that it would be better for them to go elsewhere.

Following consultation with parents, villagers and local councillors, Scottish Borders Council has taken the decision to mothball the building because of its falling roll of pupils.

The parents of the three children who would have been left at the school have made individual requests for placements at Coldstream Primary School, Duns Primary School and either Broomlands or Edenside Primary School in Kelso.

New pupils moving into the primary school’s catchment area will be enrolled at Coldstream Primary, run by the same headteacher as Eccles/Leitholm Primary.

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

Donna Manson, the authority’s service director for children and young people, told councillors: “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 current Eccles/Leitholm Primary School building was created in 1981 when Leitholm Primary School closed and amalgamated with Eccles Primary School two miles away.

It faced closure a decade ago, but parents and villagers fought a determined campaign and persuaded the council to keep it open.

At the time, five small Borders primary schools were under threat of closure and Eccles and Roberton primaries near Hawick were the only two to escape the axe.

Roberton Primary was mothballed in 2008 because there were no pupils enrolled, and it was finally closed in 2010, and now Eccles looks to be facing the same destiny.

Prior to that, Eccles Primary School, on the present site, was opened in 1964, and the old Eccles Primary School educated children from Eccles and the surrounding district since 1874.