Laurie Bidwell 0

Refurbish Harris Academy

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During 2008/9 the Education Department of Dundee City Council prepared a feasibility study which examined options for improving or replacing the Harris Academy buildings: Dundee City Council Education Department; Harris Academy Feasibility Study: A School 'Fit for Purpose' in Dundee's Cultural Heart; Dundee City Council, March 2009 This was shared with members of the Harris Academy Parent Council and West End Councillors in Spring 2009. The study conceded that there was an urgent need to improve or replace the Harris Academy Buildings to bring them up to modern standards to meet the ideals of a 21st century school. Compared with the gleaming new St Paul’s Academy and the soon to be completed Grove Academy in the city, Harris Academy has major deficiencies more particularly: - The existing classroom dimensions, particularly in the 1930s block, are below an accepted minimum for modern teaching practices; - The building falls well short in meeting the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) legislative requirements and is inadequate in satisfying the accessibility needs for pupils and staff with disabilities; - There is currently no facility to allow expressive arts to be fully and satisfactorily integrated into the school curriculum; - There are inappropriate and inadequate pupil social areas within the building and dining areas are insufficient; - The location, distribution and condition of pupil toilets are not conducive to providing a safe, secure pupil environment, and are difficult for staff to supervise; - Traffic and pupil movement around the school, and entering and exiting the school, creates hazards posing significant safety concerns particularly at the start and end of the school day and - The Harris Academy campus presents significant challenges for fire safety. In the absence of a suitable alternative site within the catchment of the school, the feasibility study concluded that the most practicable option was to comprehensively refurbish the existing school buildings at a cost close to £20M. The urgency of Harris Academy’s case is primarily educational, but if the refurbishment is tackled sooner rather than later, the spiralling cost of maintaining the existing buildings would be avoided. Following the opening of St Paul’s RC Academy on Tuesday 15 September and the completion of the rebuild of Grove Academy in November as part of the PPP school building programme in the city, Harris needs to be upgraded to avoid the conclusion that there is a two tier set of secondary school buildings in Dundee. A comprehensively refurbished Harris Academy will build on the valued traditions of the school and provide enhanced opportunities for teaching and learning. On Wednesday 17 June 2009, the The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning in the Scottish Government (Fiona Hyslop MSP) announced in the Scottish Parliament a programme of capital investment in schools through the Scottish Futures Trust. This amounted to £800 million from the Scottish Government in the form of 75% funding towards 55 new schools throughout Scotland's 32 local authorities. Which schools have been selected has yet to be announced. Please sign the petition to urge Fiona Hyslop MSP and the Education Convener of the City Council, SNP Councillor Liz Fordyce to prioritise the funding for the comprehensive refurbishment of Harris Academy.


This petition is co-sponsored by: Councillor Richard McCready, West End; Dundee West MP, Jim McGovern; Marlyn Glen MSP and Councillor Laurie Bidwell, Labour Education Spokesperson on Dundee City Council


Councillor Richard McCready, West End Jim McGovern MP Dundee West Dundee Based MSP Marlyn Glen Councillor Laurie Bidwell
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