Parents sense victory after 18 month battle over Mackie Hill Primary School after 'good' Ofsted report

Parents connected to a Wakefield primary school are sensing victory after an 18 month-long battle to stop it becoming an academy.

Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 11:39 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 11:55 am

Mackie Hill Primary School has been subject to a controversial order from the government to become part of an academy trust since 2018.

The order has lingered over the school, despite the success of its partnership with nearby Kettlethorpe High, which is run by the local council. That merger is credited with helping turn the school around after it was rated inadequate by Ofsted in December 2017.

Now, Ofsted has given Mackie Hill a 'good' grade after an inspection at the end of last year, in recognition of its progress. The school's management and pupils' parents hope that the academy order will be withdrawn as a result.

The school has been in partnership with Kettlethorpe High School since 2018.

Catherine Holmes, the chair of Mackie Hill's Parent Teacher Association (PTA), said families were "over the moon" with the latest developments.

She said: "We've put a lot of hard work into fighting this over the last couple of years.

"I think a lot of parents now feel it's paid off.

"Jayne Elliott (the school's headteacher) has been fantastic, and I don't think the school has ever been a happier place.

Parents have been praised for their campaign in support of Mackie Hill's current leadership.

"We hope the academy order will be revoked now. There's no point in destroying something that's working and causing loads more disruption to the children's lives."

Wakefield's former MP, Mary Creagh, had criticised the academy order, claiming it was imposed by the government on "ideological" grounds.

The sixth form providers who run Pontefract New College were lined up to take over Mackie Hill at one stage, but baulked after parents strongly criticised the idea.

The Inspire Academy Trust, which runs Gawthorpe Community Academy, was then put forward as a new sponsor in September. They've been contacted for comment about the implications of Ofsted's latest verdict.

Parents and teaching unions have fought against government plans to make the school an academy.

But as the academy order was in keeping with a government policy on schools that were failing, specifically, it's hoped it will be withdrawn imminently.

In a statement, Mrs Elliott said: "I am extremely proud to be the headteacher of this fantastic school.

"The staff have worked extremely hard to raise standards in all areas throughout the school and it really is a pleasure to be working with professionals who are relentless to achieve the very best for the children at Mackie Hill.

"I would like to take this opportunity to give a heartfelt thank you to the children and parents for the overwhelming congratulations we have received this last week and for your continued support over the last two years. We look forward to continuing working at this amazing school and sharing more success with you in the future."

Tudor Griffiths, headteacher at Kettlethorpe High School, said he was "thrilled to bits" with Ofsted's result and called on the government to "keep their word" by scrapping the academy order.

"What the school has done, to go from special measures to 'good' in just two years is really quite rare," he said.

"The school has proved it can run itself now, without a sponsor. "We hope it can carry on moving forwards in that way."

Local Democracy Reporting Service