Executive head teacher to take charge of four Berwickshire primary schools

Scottish Borders Council has assured parents that plans to have one head teacher in charge of four Berwickshire schools will not have a detrimental impact on education.

Friday, 22nd May 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Saturday, 23rd May 2020, 10:18 am
Coldstream Primary, where Mr Reid is currently head teacher. He will also take charge of Coldingham, Cockburnspath and Ayton primaries from August.

And the council has denied any suggestion that the move is a cost-cutting measure.

A number of parents contacted the Berwickshire News after receiving a letter regarding the leadership of Coldingham, Cockburnspath, Ayton and Coldstream primary schools.

The letter explained that Mrs Liz Wharton, joint head teacher of Coldingham and Cockburnspath primaries, was due to retire shortly.

However, due to the current Covid019 crisis, the council was unable to recruit to head teacher posts in the normal way, and had therefore decided to take a different approach.

So from August 2020, the four schools will sit under the headship of Mr Chris Reid, currently head teacher at Coldstream Primary.

The letter to parents and carers, from quality improvement manager Christian Robertson, continues: “As executive head teacher, Mr Reid will be supported by an enhanced leadership team which will consist of a depute head teacher and three principal teachers.

“This leadership model, used successfully in a number of local authorities, will be reviewed within an appropriate timeframe.

“We have every confidence in Mr Reid’s ability to take on this exciting role, and we will work with him to ensure all four schools receive the best possible support going forward.”

Some parents have expressed concern over the new leadership arrangements, with one telling the News: “This leaves parents and children with lots of questions and uncertainty, something that is not welcome, especially now.

“It would be interesting to know how many other parents feel the same way.”

Another parent questioned whether the move was simply a cost-cutting measure.

However, Scottish Borders Council insisted this was not the case, stating it was “absolutely not a cost-cutting measure”.

The council has also confirmed that the arrangement will be reviewed after being in place for a number of months.

A Scottish Borders Council spokesperson said: “Joint headship arrangements are commonplace and a number of these operate very successfully across a number of schools in the region.

“The arrangement for these schools will see one head teacher take on overall responsibility, supported by an enhanced depute leadership team and we are absolutely confident that the operation of all the schools and the learning of pupils will be enhanced.”

As explained to parents and carers in the letter, the decision allows both departing head teachers – Mrs Liz Wharton at Coldingham and Cockburnspath, and Mrs Liz Donkin at Ayton – to start working immediately with Mr Reid to ensure the best possible transition for children and families.

The letter continues: “The council and Mr Reid recognise the need for the four schools to retain their uniqueness while continuing to work collaboratively as they progress on their improvement journey.”