Major victory for Mackie Hill as academy takeover collapses

Mackie Hill Junior and Infant School in Crigglestone was due to be transferred into the hands of New Collaborative Learning Trust. Picture: Lee Ward
Mackie Hill Junior and Infant School in Crigglestone was due to be transferred into the hands of New Collaborative Learning Trust. Picture: Lee Ward

Parents fighting to keep their children’s primary school out of the hands of an academy chain are hailing a major victory, after the proposed takeover by a sixth form provider collapsed.

Mackie Hill Junior and Infant School in Crigglestone was due to be transferred into the hands of New Collaborative Learning Trust, which runs New College in Pontefract.

Mackie Hill Junior and Infant School in Crigglestone was due to be transferred into the hands of New Collaborative Learning Trust. Picture: Lee Ward

Mackie Hill Junior and Infant School in Crigglestone was due to be transferred into the hands of New Collaborative Learning Trust. Picture: Lee Ward

But now, after tireless opposition to the move from parents, the trust has pulled out of the deal, which had been proposed by the Department of Education.

Those connected with Mackie Hill want the primary to stay in partnership with nearby Kettlethorpe High School, which is run by the council.

Parents credit this arrangement, which has been in place for around 18 months, with turning standards at the once failing primary around.

Although the government is still seeking a new sponsor to turn Mackie Hill into an academy, this development is being seen as a serious blow to the plans.

Catherine Holmes, the chair of the Mackie Hill Parent Teacher Association (PTA), said: “The news is amazing. It’s the best we could have hoped for.

“The New Collaborative Learning Trust was going to use my two children and all the rest of the children at Mackie Hill as guinea pigs to broaden their own horizons.

They have no experience of educating children under the age of 16, and they were going to use us as an experiment.

“We weren’t going to stand for it and I don’t think they could hack it in the end.”

Parents are now hopeful that Ofsted inspectors will return to the school promptly and upgrade it to a ‘good’ rating - a scenario that may force the government to abandon its academy proposals altogether.

Mrs Holmes added: “If Ofsted went into the school tomorrow, I think they’d see how good it is now.

“The head teacher, Mrs (Jayne) Elliott, is the best thing that could have happened to the school. The teaching is better and she’s approachable.

“The school’s been through enough change. Why force an academisation on us and cause more disruption to the pupils? It’s just a very happy place now.”

The New Collaborative Learning Trust has been contacted for comment.