UNISON Scottish Borders Public Services branch is asking concerned members of the community to ‘Please do not be quiet’ and instead get behind their campaign to save Scottish Borders school libraries in their current form.

The Council are currently running a pilot scheme at Galashiels Academy, Peebles High and Kelso High which has seen qualified staff replaced by pupils, volunteers and self-service scanners. UNISON Scottish Borders Public Services Branch, the biggest trade union in the Borders, will be out campaigning against this council plan across Borders schools this coming week.

Kaymarie Hughes of UNISON Scottish Borders Public Services branch said: “19th – 25th November is Book Week Scotland and the theme is Rebel. UNISON will be ‘rebelling’ and campaigning throughout this week across the schools to raise awareness of the detrimental impact this staffing loss could have on our children. We would encourage all parents, pupils and school staff to come and speak with us and support our campaign.”

“School Librarians are a critical part of any school’s staff. Scottish Borders Council is currently downgrading the library service in schools in Peebles, Galashiels and Kelso through a cost cutting measure which will see volunteers and student labour cover duties previously done by paid Library staff.”

“A recently produced Scottish Government strategy report for school libraries states that ‘school libraries are a hub of activity, with library staff supporting a range of creative approaches to learning, addressing issues related to health and wellbeing, and facilitating connections between pupils across the school community. But despite this strategy and the views of hundreds of parents who have already signed our online petition, the council are continuing with a cost cutting scheme which will see librarian guidance become a thing of the past,” added Kaymarie Hughes.

UNISON Scotland Local Organiser, Greig Kelbie said: “We are calling on the Council to rethink their proposals as this is nothing more than dressing up cuts as “leadership training”. We are all for getting pupils involved in the libraries to learn new skills, but not at the expense of properly qualified staff. We are already hearing reports that without the presence and guidance of staff within the library, they are becoming chaotic common rooms that happen to have books in them.

Concerned parents and members of the community are clearly opposed to these proposals. Please do not be quiet! We urge anyone concerned to write to their local councillor or  sign one of our campaign postcards addressed to Council Leader, Shona Haslam. UNISON will continue to campaign against council cuts in education and support our members.”