Invergowrie parents have welcomed a proposal which could see their children avoid an hour-long round trip to school.
And as Perth and Kinross councillors voted on Wednesday to offer in the region of £4 million to Dundee City Council (DCC) to expand Harris Academy, we made the journey pupils currently make and what they could face if the deal falls through.
In return for the cash, the at-capacity Dundee school could continue to educate children moving up from Invergowrie who otherwise could have to travel to Perth High School from August 2023.
DCC’s children and family services committee is expected to decide whether to accept the funding to expand Harris at a meeting later this month.
Left: Journey from Harris Academy to Invergowrie (7 mins)
Right: Journey from Invergowrie to Perth High (25 mins)
Invergowrie mum Courtney McGregor, who has a child in primary seven at Invergowrie Primary School and two older children at Harris, welcomed the new proposals approved by Perth and Kinross Council and said her children had benefited from attending the Dundee secondary.
She said: “I’ve got a child in primary seven who is due to go up to Harris next year and for me, I would like her to have the same educational experience as her brother and sister.
“My eldest child is in sixth year and she is a prefect and a house captain, so she has done exceedingly well throughout her time at Harris Academy.
“Her younger sister will hear stories about the teachers and the extra curricular activities and she has been saying that she can’t wait till she’s older and can go.”
Ms McGregor also explained how many families in Invergowrie may have chosen the area as place to live precisely because of the option for their children to attend Harris.
Harris Academy is within walking distance of Invergowrie and just over five minutes by car but the journey to Perth High School takes around 26 minutes by road.
She said: “A lot of parents who live in Invergowrie work in Dundee, and if you’ve got children who are at a school in Dundee and another in Perth, it would be ridiculous to have to do a balancing act.
“And a lot of people, when they start a family, pick areas to live specifically for the schools their children could go to.
“It’s not as if Invergowrie hasn’t always been with Harris, that’s always been our school and it seems ridiculous to remove it.”
Pandemic slows situation down
Ms McGregor welcomed the cooperation shown by the two local authorities to reach an agreement to allow Invergowrie to remain in the Harris catchment – with entitlement to attend Harris originally planned to end next August.
She added: “Originally it felt like it was a rushed job, and I know this sounds a ridiculous thing to say but I think the pandemic helped the situation.
“I don’t know if the proposals would’ve been pushed quicker if everything had been rolling along as normal.
“Things have slowed down because of the pandemic and it’s given us to chance to get more opposition and feedback from other areas and make the councillors listen.”
Perth and Kinross Council determined that helping finance an expansion to Harris Academy would be cheaper than the cost of bussing pupils from Invergowrie to Perth.
Councillors heard that the cost of transporting pupils to Perth High School is estimated at £120,000 per year.
Over a period of 50 years, this is estimated to be £13.7 million. This compares to borrowing of £8.3 million of the extension over the same time period.