A massive shake-up of education provision in Dundee has been unveiled by council leader John Alexander .
The far-reaching proposals brought forward by Mr Alexander and his administration would see:
- A merger of Craigie High and Braeview Academy.
- Pupils from Invergowrie Primary no longer being eligible for Harris Academy, instead having to travel to Perth for secondary education.
- The new Western Gateway primary school put on the back-burner.
Subject to consultation, a new £60 million superschool, merging pupils from Braeview and Craigie, could be built at the former St Saviour’s High with a projected opening of 2024.
Braeview was ravaged by fire in September 2018. The blaze was described in council reports as “catastrophic” with “around 50% of teaching rooms significantly damaged”.
Mr Alexander said: “There is a real need for improvement in the east of the city.
“We have spent £60m since 2009 and invested in new schools and that is not including the £36m spent on existing schools.
“But we cannot afford to build two brand new schools.
“The plan, if we get agreement for a full consultation, is to merge Craigie and Braeview Academy.
“We are looking at what happened in Fife after a fire when there was a merger with a college. We see this as the way and Dundee and Angus College would be involved in taking this forward, with enhanced provision.
“Both these schools are grade C in terms of quality and both need upgrading but looking at the financial elements we cannot afford it.
“The priority is in the east and we cannot have Braeview Academy people sitting in portable cabins.”
Mr Alexander, a former pupil of St Saviour’s High School, outlined how “vocational partnerships” between Braeview and Michelin would be continued at the new campus at Drumgeith Road.
He added that a joint project between Dundee City Council and Dundee and Angus College would be launched to accommodate people with additional support needs.
Mr Alexander said: “I spoke with three executives from Michelin and we are really focused on making things work.
“The consultation, if approved by committee on Monday, would start on February 10 and run until the end of March. We have to be honest with the public and we want the feedback from parents.
“This is the very start of the process. And as a parent your focus is absolutely on what is in the best interests of your children.
“Part of the consultation process will be looking at proposals for Craigiebarns to be part of the catchment area for Grove. That would take effect from August 2024, so again there is a lead in time to give people the time to give feedback.”
He told how boundaries are to be changed to help accommodate the uneven mix of schools which are under capacity and those which are over capacity both in primary and secondary.
Turning his attention to the over side of the city, Mr Alexander said: “The re-alignment catchment areas for Harris Academy would remove Invergowrie and they would go to school in Perth.”
Meanwhile, the future of a much-vaunted new primary is also hanging in the balance — at least in the short-term.
The council leader hinted that he understood that was likely to be a controversial decision.
“We have also had a very detailed analysis of how many pupils in the area of Western Gateway and which schools they go to,” Mr Alexander continued.
“There are 58 pupils on site , but we need to address the other issues with the priority being at the east end of the city, so Western Gateway is not a priority. This is not the time to do it and we cannot construct a primary school on the basis of 58 pupils.
“We are not saying no to the school, but it is just not the right time now. We understand there is an expectation.”