SCOTTISH Borders Council has played down claims this week that police were set to return to Hawick High School to thwart continuing anti-social behaviour by pupils.

Officers, extra support staff and youth workers were all brought into the school late last year in a bid to crack down on unruly pupils. The move was part of a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to an escalating problem at the Buccleuch Road facility.

And it followed claims that anti-social behaviour had spiralled out of control and had left staff and pupils feeling unsafe.

A claim that one pupil who was removed from the school following an incident two weeks ago and was taken horse riding the next again day wasn’t refuted by council education bosses this week.

The Border Telegraph spoke to one school staff member last week who told us that there has been no improvement and that the redeployment of police officers was being considered.

The staff member said: “Not a day goes by in this school where a staff member is reduced to tears because of what is nothing less than an out of control hooligan element.

“There is a certain number of kids in this school who are totally and utterly unmanageable and the stress levels amongst staff are growing all the time. There was a meeting this week and I was told that the police could well be on the premises again.”

The employee further claimed that there is little support in place for beleaguered teachers and ancillary staff and that many are considering packing their jobs in.

The employee added: “It’s no wonder the council can’t fill the jobs advertised at Hawick High School. Why would anyone want to come and teach here? It’s a demanding enough job without having the additional stress that being in this school brings.”

There has been a crisis of leadership at Hawick High School following the suspension of head teacher Kevin McClory in 2016.

He was eventually replaced by Vicky Porteous in August 2017.

A council spokesperson told the Border Telegraph: “We are continuing to work with pupils, parents and other partners on the action plans that have been put in place to support Hawick High School.

"These are resulting in an ongoing improvement in pupil behaviour and out thanks go to pupils and staff for their commitment and support.

“Police supported the school prior to Christmas but there has been a significant improvement in pupil behaviour so there is no longer a need for their daily support.”

And the statement continued: “A number of interventions are being trialled to support the situation.

"One of these is the provision of alternative education packages for pupils who have been previously having difficulties with mainstream education and failing to attend school.

"And example which is proving particularly successful is the work experience programme being provided for those pupils who may be having difficulty with their transition from school to the workplace and achieving a positive destination. Pupils are reported to be engaging well and having an improved learning experience which we will continue to support when they return to the classroom.

“We were also pleased with the turnout and the feedback from the meeting of the Parent Council held in January at which we provided more information about the approach being taken in both the short and longer term.”

The spokesperson concluded that any parents with concerns should contact the school and to raise any issues with the headteacher.