Council urged to ‘do the right thing’ over library services at Borders’ schools

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Eyemouth High’s parent council has added its voice to objections over the removal of librarians from Borders secondary schools.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) launched a pilot project intended to cut the cost of running school libraries.

Concerns have been raised about the impact of removing librarians from Galashiels Academy, including noise levels, disruption and the risks involved in children being left to police their own peers.

Wendy Brocker-Penalver, chair of Eyemouth High School parent council, said: “We are horrified at the reports coming from other schools regarding the damage being done to library services.

“While we at Eyemouth High School currently retain our amazing librarian, we are well aware that Scottish Borders Council appears to be ignoring any lessons learnt from the so-called ‘pilot’ and to be attempting to use results from a recent consultation – which did not mention any threat to librarians – to justify this cost-cutting exercise.”

The parent council has written to Councillor Carol Hamilton, the local authority’s executive member for children and young people across the whole of the Borders, to highlight the work of the school’s librarian, and to call on her to stand up for the region’s young people.

Wendy continued: “Providing a library service needs qualified and specialist librarians, and we commend SNP councillors Andy Anderson and Clair Ramage for the work they have been doing to support our schools and help other councillors and officers at SBC to understand this.

“We now call upon Carol Hamilton, along with council leader Shona Haslam and all of their Conservative and Independent colleagues, to recognise that the pilot sites have shown that their experiment has not worked, and to do the right thing in ensuring our pupils get the support they need to prepare for their futures.

Councillor Hamilton, who represents East Berwickshire ward, replied: “The pilot in three high schools started in October 2018.

“An interim evaluation took place in December, with minor changes being implemented in January to address some minor issues.

“A more detailed evaluation was conducted in April 2019, which provided useful feedback from students, staff and parents from all nine high schools.

“The vast majority of respondents highlighted the importance of having access to a library for reading, digital, research and study.

“The feedback has been analysed and options for realising the decision of the previous council to identify savings are ongoing.”