AT Morrison’s Academy in Highland Perthshire the corridors are alive with chatter and excited pupils as the school, established in 1860, focuses on the current term and beyond with life both inside the classroom and out serving up a smorgasbord of activity designed to nurture pupils and equip them with the confidence, resilience and skills that enable them to flourish in their present and their future.

The only independent all-through day school in Highland Perthshire, Rector Andrew McGarva and his team put the emphasis on family life and developing the lifelong attributes that will help pupils progress through life.

The Scottish Farmer: School life at Morrisons Academy School life at Morrisons Academy

Known for its family focus. Morrison’s Academy attracts pupils from near and far and as Mr McGarva explains, the school’s ethos means that everything revolves around family life to provide an exceptional education and experience in a location – Crieff – that is surrounded by Munros, lochs, and stunning landscapes.

The environment at Morrison’s, he says, is one that nurtures and encourages all pupils to be the very best they can be. “We definitely benefit from our location and our size,” adds Mr McGarva. “We’re not too big – between 500-600 pupils – and are in a rural town that lends itself well to the type of outdoor activities that help build character, resilience, confidence, and empathy.

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“Our approach is personalised to each pupil, parents, as well as staff, are involved, so this allows us to guide them on their journey to being confident and well-rounded individuals who can integrate well with people from all walks of life and different situations.”

Mr. McGarva describes the school’s development in recent years as “evolution, not revolution”.

It’s a strategy that works as Morrison’s Academy saw its Senior pupils record an excellent set of results in the 2023 SQA examinations. The outstanding results, says Mr McGarva, are a testament to the commitment, hard work, and ability of pupils, the support of their families, and the high-quality teaching and learning environment that Morrison’s offers.

“The national average went down and ours went up so it’s a great achievement,” he adds. “Parents expect good results so this signals that we are getting things right and we should shout about it – but at the same time we must remember that exam results only reflect a small part of a pupil’s journey.”

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Educational endeavor, he points out, is a key focus for Morrison’s. “Yes, exam results are important but we also celebrate the many personal successes along the way that help to build a pupil’s personal sense of pride, character, and confidence. These are the things that will stay with our young people as they go out into the world.

“The environment at Morrison’s is one that nurtures and encourages each and every pupil to be the best they can be – in the classroom, in sport or music or art, and in our local community where the school is heavily involved with many varied initiatives,” he explains.

With a traditional Scottish curriculum at its core, Morrison’s weaves its “Golden Threads” strategy – art, music, sport, enterprise, outdoor adventure and activities, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths), and Learning for Life – throughout the school, designed to encourage resilience, problem-solving, teamwork, perseverance, and creativity along with many other attributes. All pupils, from Nursery through to S6, enjoy these subjects.

The Scottish Farmer: Pupils at Morrisons AcademyPupils at Morrisons Academy

Earlier this year, Morrison’s held a STEM Festival in partnership with charity SmartSTEMs which strives to inspire the next generation about STEM subjects through collaboration between industry and education. This will be repeated in 2024.

“Our STEM work is developing really well and running through Nursery all the way up to Secondary,” says Mr McGarva.

All pupils benefit from residential trips and a range of activities. In April, the school’s Pipe Band travelled to New York to perform in Tartan Week, including the annual Tartan Day Parade along with other performance opportunities. “We met former pupils who now live and work there,” says Mr McGarva. “We performed in Central Park and made unforgettable memories in the parade when we marched down 6th Avenue.”

Outdoors, the school organised the inaugural Scottish Schools Mountain Bike Championship with Comrie Croft MTB Centre and Scottish Cycling. This took place earlier this month and was a fully affiliated Scottish Cycling event, attracting over 300 competitors from 40 schools across Scotland.

Ongoing investment has also seen Morrison’s develop its Primary playground while new Astro tennis courts and hockey pitches have been installed.

“We are here for everyone,” says Mr McGarva. “We have increased our bursaries; we are an inclusive school and our numbers are growing. If you would like to find out more about Morrison’s Academy, please get in touch to book a tour.”