New lease of life for mothballed study centre
A mothballed Perthshire research facility is set to be given a new lease of life as a residential school for girls.
Concerns were raised about the future of Kindrogan Field Studies Centre near Enochdhu last summer after it was confirmed it would no longer be used for scientific purposes and was put on “strategic hold”.
But the Field Studies Council, which owns the facility, has said an agreement is in the process of being finalised with community interest company (CIC) Somerville Enterprises which will see it turned into what was described in a statement as a “therapeutic residential school for girls”.
The document details the mooted future establishment as providing “a forever home for Scottish teenagers in permanent care”, as well as using a curriculum with “a strong focus on the arts, the natural world, the outdoors, real life skills, gardening, and organic vegetable growing”.
In addition, Gaelic language provision is set for a boost as the educational offering will also focus on “Scottish history, culture and traditional skills, together with Scottish music, singing and teaching Gaelic”.
Field Studies Council (FSC) CEO Mark Castle said: “I am particularly pleased that the centre will continue to have education as its core purpose and that the buildings and grounds will be put to really good use.
“Kindrogan is a wonderful place and clearly has a special place in the lives of the many people who have studied there over the last few decades.”
Kerri Ramsaidh is an executive director with Somerville Enterprises CIC, which was set up in 2012 to address “negative outcomes for care experienced children within the care system”.
She explained six girls would be living on site at first while a total of 22 members of staff would initially be employed.
However, the project includes scope for growth in the future and could accommodate as many as 20 pupils depending on its success. In addition, it is hoped outreach opportunities could be offered to nonresidential youngsters given the size of the site which is situated on land between Kirkmichael and Pitlochry.
Ms Ramsaidh expects the lease to be signed this week and said: “We are so pleased to be building upon the Field Studies Council’s work, values and heritage that resonate so well with our own.
“We are looking forward to rolling up our sleeves, investing in and rejuvenating the beautiful buildings and grounds.”
“We intend to forge strong and enduring links with local people and organisations through our work and service for this community we hope to be joining in the near future.”
Blairgowrie and Glens councillor Bob Brawn said the new development would be situated in an ideal location.
The Conservative elected member said: “The building and its grounds lend themselves perfectly to the proposed use as a residential school for girls in permanent care.
“You couldn’t pick a better place to support the curriculum that is offered to the teenagers who will be there and will hopefully gain a better understanding of the natural world that surrounds them.”
Perthshire North SNP MSP John Swinney said he was looking forward to paying the school a visit once it was up and running and it was safe to do so.
The Scottish Government’s education minister said: “This is hugely positive news that will safeguard the future of the centre, while providing life-changing support for pupils.”
Once registered with the relevant authorities – such as the Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland – it is hoped the school will be up and running by the end of February next year.
An online crowdfunding campaign has been launched to help fund start-up costs.
For more information, see the website www.crowdfunder.co.uk/healing-hurtminds