INVENTIVE pupils are being asked to help design an exciting new community to grow around their school.
Primary and secondary school pupils from Perth will unleash their creativity on the project, as part of the innovative MOBIE (Ministry of Building Innovation and Education) scheme, which is the brainchild of popular TV architect George Clarke.
It will aim to forge strong and positive links between the new Bertha Park High School and the state-of-the-art Capability Scotland residential development which is being planned nearby.
The project will kick off with a series of workshops on June 20, including pupils from Bertha Park High and its eight feeder primaries –with children from two schools run by Capability Scotland.
Stephen Oswald, Capability Scotland’s Project Lead, said: “This will be brilliant because one thing we know for sure is that young people have amazing ideas about everything – quite simply their imaginations are unfettered.
“From 2026 we plan to be neighbours with the school and we want to make sure we have the best possible relations and are part of a flourishing, inclusive and positive community. We are incredibly excited to see what the young people come up with.”
Capability Scotland currently operates the Upper Springland campus in Perth, but plans to replace it with a new, purpose-built facility at Bertha Park. The new £25 million development will push boundaries to create a nationwide exemplar of what is possible in providing housing and care for people with complex needs.
The respected charity wants to ensure its new venture is a vibrant part of the community that is emerging at Bertha Park, so has called in help from MOBIE and Perth and Kinross Education and Children’s Services. MOBIE is aware that young people are vital in shaping the future of our homes and communities.
Stephen Oswald added: “MOBIE will be challenging the pupils to come up with ways to define what makes a community. For some that might be about being good neighbours, enjoying shared spaces, or creating new and positive opportunities.
“Whatever it is, we can be assured there are going to be some colourful and creative ideas and no doubt lots of concepts that we can bring to life. Ultimately this is about making sure that our new development and the wider community are well connected.”
The workshops at the school will also be attended by existing supported people of Upper Springland, who will outline what they hope to see and benefit from at the new Bertha Park campus. Capability Scotland also runs two schools for children with complex needs. They are at Corseford in Renfrewshire and Stanmore in Lanark. Pupils from both schools will also take part.
Crucial to the process is the involvement of local primary school pupils. When the Capability Scotland site is opened – aiming for 2026 – those pupils will be at Bertha Park High School.
While MOBIE aims to introduce young people to the value of careers in design, engineering and construction, Stephen hopes the process will also inspire pupils about the varied and rewarding career opportunities in the care sector.
Bertha Park High School is the first completely new school built in Scotland for 25 years and has capacity for 1100 pupils, including 35 with additional support needs. It is one of 17 schools globally selected as a Microsoft Flagship School using advanced technology to enhance student learning.
The pupils in Perth will be getting a head start at the design project, as MOBIE will invite colleges and Universities across Scotland to submit their own ideas around “community” later this year.
Gerry Ruffles, MOBIE’s Head of Education, said: “We need the younger generations to define how they want to live, learn, work and play now and in the future. Young people are vital to the future of housing and designing communities in which we will live and shape our future built environment.
“MOBIE challenges are a launch pad for student creativity. This innovative project at Bertha Park provides a unique opportunity for our future designers and planners to share ideas and create a special, inclusive living and learning community.”
Capability Scotland’s Upper Springland campus on Isla Road has three registered services and offers residential and respite care to 59 adults with physical and learning disabilities. There is also a day service, as well as a hydrotherapy pool, theatre and walled gardens.
However, while the quality of care is outstanding, the site is now more than 40 years old and becoming more difficult to maintain. Climate change also means it faces an increasing flood risk from the River Tay – and the charity wants to create state of the art new flagship services.