Consultation proposal by Scottish Borders Council
Report by HM Inspectorate of Education addressing educational aspects of the
proposal to discontinue education at Roberton Primary School and close the
school permanently from December 2010.
1.1 Scottish Borders Council has conducted a consultation on the future of
Roberton Primary School. Roberton Primary is a school for children from
primaries 1 to 5. There is no nursery and pre-school children from the Roberton
catchment attend the nursery classes at Drumlanrig St Cuthbert’s Primary School for
primary 6 and 7. Current projections indicate that there will be no children to enrol at
Roberton Primary School in session 2010-2011. In view of these factors, the
proposal paper outlined proposed to:
Discontinue education permanently at Roberton Primary School by closing the
school from December 2010.
Discontinue education at Roberton Primary School by mothballing the school for
1.2 The report from HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) is required under the
terms of the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010. It has been prepared by
HMIE in accordance with the terms of the Act.
1.3 HM Inspectors undertook the following activities in considering the
educational aspects of the proposal:
consideration of all relevant documentation provided by the council in relation
to the proposal, including the original proposal, and the consultation
consideration of written and oral representations including from the public
meeting required by the Act, and the council’s own report on the outcomes of
consideration of further representations made directly to HMIE on relevant
educational aspects of the proposal;
visits to the relevant establishments and meetings and discussions with
children, the headteacher with shared responsibility for both schools, the class
teacher and the chairperson of the Parent Council at Roberton Primary
consideration of further relevant information on all school affected.
1.4 HMIE considered:
the likely effects for children at the school, for any other users of the school
building, for children likely to become pupils, and for pupils of any other
schools in the local authority area;
any other likely effects of the proposal;
how the council intends to minimise or avoid any adverse effects that may
arise from the proposal; and
benefits which the council believes will result from implementation of the
proposal, and the council’s reasons for coming to these beliefs.
1.5 As the proposal will lead to the closure of a rural school as defined in the
Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010, HMIE also took account of the council’s
viable alternatives to the closure of Roberton Primary School;
the likely effect on the local community with regard to sustainability and on the
community’s access to the buildings, grounds and facilities if the school were
to close, and
the likely effect of different travelling arrangements on the environment and on
children and young people and other school users occasioned by the closure.
2. Consultation process
2.1 Scottish Borders Council undertook the initial consultation on its proposals
with reference to the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010. The consultation
included an invitation for written submissions and a public meeting, held in
2.2 Children at Roberton Primary School and Drumlanrig St Cuthbert’s Primary
School were consulted and questionnaires completed. The council received
responses received from children at both schools. Approximately half expressed the
preference that Roberton Primary School be closed permanently. Most children
were happy about Roberton Primary School children coming to Drumlanrig St
Cuthbert’s Primary School. Children currently at Roberton Primary School currently
attend Drumlanrig St Cuthbert’s Primary School for two days a week. In the
consultation, they expressed the view that they would be happy to attend Drumlanrig
St Cuthbert’s Primary School full time because they would have more friends.
2.3 The council received 14 written responses to the statutory consultation from
parents and members of the local community. The majority favoured the option of
mothballing the school, while just over a third supported the option to close the
2.4 In written responses and at the public consultation meeting, a few parents and
members of the community expressed concern about the transport arrangements in
place. In response to these concerns, Scottish Borders Council have undertaken a
review of the current transportation and plans to address these concerns.
2.5 Roberton Primary School has not been used by the community. However, a
few members of the wider community requested that consideration be given to using
the school as a community resource, if the decision was taken to mothball the
school. The Community Development Trust indicated that it was prepared to take on
the management of the building as a community facility.
2.6 Other concerns expressed at the public meeting included the possibility of
there being no school in the immediate Roberton area for families with primary aged
children moving into the village or resulting from longer term plans to build a small
number of new houses in the area.
3. Educational aspects of the proposal
3.1 Roberton Primary School is located in the village of Roberton, approximately
five miles from the town of Hawick. The school role has declined in recent years
from 21 children in session 2002/3, to 11 in 2006/7 and five in 2008/9. the roll in
2009/10 is three children. No children are projected to be on the school roll in
3.2 According to present information there will be no children at Roberton Primary
School in August 2010. Currently there are two pre-three year olds living in the
Roberton catchment area. From August 2010, five children from the Roberton
catchment area will attend Drumlanrig St Cuthbert’s Primary School through parental
choice. Current projections make it clear that it is unlikely the school roll will
increase significantly in the next few years. The council’s papers refer to educational
benefits arising from its proposals. As there will be no children to attend Roberton
Primary School in 2010/11, there can be no educational benefits in keeping the
school open in the immediate short term.
3.3 The accommodation provided at Roberton Primary School does not conform
to the requirements set out in the Disability Discrimination Act 2005. An HMIE
inspection report in 2005 identified important weaknesses in the accommodation in
the school including a lack of suitable space for staff to gather, or for the
headteacher to meet confidentially with parents and professionals. The report noted
that facilities for physical education were limited. Despite a number of improvements
made since this time, if retained as a school the accommodation would require
significant investment to enable it to provide an appropriate environment for learning.
This would potentially be at the expense of investment to improve facilities in other
schools across the council.
3.4 The proposal may lead to the closure of a rural school as defined in the
Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010. Given the longer term roll projections
for the school, the authority is exploring through the consultation process a viable
alternative to the closure of the school by providing the option to mothball the school
for two years. The school building is not currently used by any community groups.
The council has also considered issues relating to transport and plans to amend the
return journey time from Hawick from September onwards to reduce waiting time for
children travelling from Drumlanrig St Cuthbert’s Primary School to the Roberton
catchment area after school.
4.1 Given that no children are due to attend Roberton Primary School in session
2010-11 and further roll projections are low, the council has actively engaged with
children, parents and the community in exploring the long-term viability of Roberton
Primary School. The council plans to amend transport arrangements for children
from the Roberton catchment area who currently attend Drumlanrig St Cuthbert’s
Primary School. If the decision is taken to close Roberton Primary School, the
council should consider extending the delineated catchment area of Drumlanrig St
Cuthbert’s Primary School, to include the community of Roberton and the
surrounding rural area.
HM Inspectorate of Education