COUNCILLORS are pushing ahead with plans to close one of the remaining four Catholic schools in the region.

Over the past 20 years the school roll at St Margaret's in Hawick has dropped from 56 pupils to just 14.

And it is expected to continue falling with no primary one pupils arriving this summer.

Education director Donna Manson, told members of the local authority's executive: “We are making this recommendation based on the evidence gathered as part of our reviews which raised a number of issues that we would like to address so that the full range of educational and social benefits that we aspire to for all our children and young people can be available for these pupils.

“While we have already held initial discussions with parents, staff and the Roman Catholic Church to brief them on the proposal, setting out our reasons for making this recommendation, the implications that it will have for everyone involved and the support that will be available, we are asking Executive members for agreement to engage with them on a formal basis.”

Closure of the Hawick primary will leave three Catholic schools in the region - St Joseph's in Selkirk, St Margaret's in Galashiels and Halyrude in Peebles.

The consultation process will allow education officials to offer existing pupils at the Hawick school places at their local catchment primary. Discussions will also be held with parents and the Roman Catholic Church over arrangements for denominational instruction to continue to be provided.

Councillor Carol Hamilton added: “While the decision to consult on the closure of a school is always a difficult one, there has been a significant amount of work undertaken to reach this point with strong evidence available to support the proposal.

"Discussions will continue with parents and staff throughout the consultation as it will be important to hear their thoughts and support them through the process.

"However, I am confident that whatever is decided, it will be because it is in the best interests of these fourteen pupils, particularly if a move to a new school within the town of Hawick provides them with all the social and learning opportunities that being in a larger setting with children of their own age could give them.”