Anger over job losses among school's staff


A STORM of protest has greeted news that support staff employed at Newcastleton primary school are losing their jobs.

Scottish Borders Council says the posts are not being made redundant and cover will be supplied by employees based elsewhere.

Nearly 60 people voiced their anger at a meeting in the hall, hosted by the community council.

The employees affected include the janitor, administration, cleaner and support worker.

Parents complained that Jason McDonald, the council officer attending the meeting, had insufficient knowledge of the school to be able to answer their questions and allay their concerns.

He was also unaware that the affected employees had received their notices and they would leave the council on August 13 before the new term started.

They were annoyed that this news had broken just before the school holiday and parents would worry about what situation they would find when their children returned for the new academic year.

Diane Adamson, chairwoman of the Newcastleton School Partnership, said: "We're extremely concerned about the level of cuts happening at our school and the lack of communication from the school and council to parents about these cutbacks.

"The cleaning service is to be significantly cut and we would like to know how the council will ensure the school and children's environment is kept clean and healthy.

"Who will administer the infection control policy and clean up any incidents in the school? Will this now be down to the teachers?

"With fewer local staff with local knowledge, who will help with decision-making such as in adverse weather, who will let in tradespeople and who will respond to emergencies such as flooding, fire and vandalism?"

Mrs Adamson said the janitor used to maintain the school and grounds and kept up standards, for which the school had been praised.

She said: "He helped with playground duties but now the 60 plus children can no longer have a playtime and enjoy games.

"He was also the only person able to drive the minibus which now sits off the road in a council yard.

"Red tape has made it impossible for other community members to take on this role and this has had an impact on the children being able to travel to places."

Lyndsay Patterson, NSP treasurer, asked who would send letters, group emails to parents and organise for the children to attend inter-school competitions?

Who would parents notify to report absences and who would call parents if a child fell ill in school?

One mother told the meeting that her daughter needed daily medication and she was worried about whether she would be able to attend school come August.

Barbara Elborn, the community council's acting secretary, said the school was the core of the village and it was unsurprising that feelings were running high.

Mr McDonald said they had a process to follow when it came to temporary posts, which these were. Administration hours would not be cut.

But the parents said there was a difference between having someone from the village working at the school and someone coming from Hawick or Jedburgh, particularly in the winter when the roads were sometimes impassable.

After the meeting Scottish Borders Council met community council councillors.

Its spokesman said: “We have now met representatives of the community council to discuss a number of concerns which were raised at the meeting last Tuesday.

“We would like to thank them for bringing these to our attention and to have had the opportunity to speak about them in more detail.

“We will be responding to the community council in the near future and will be in attendance at the next meeting to keep them updated.”

Thursday, June 22, 2017 at 5:47PM
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