Council defends decision to merge schools

Mackie Hill Junior and Infant School.
Mackie Hill Junior and Infant School.

School leaders have insisted that the merging of a troubled primary school with a successful nearby secondary will improve life for its pupils.

Wakefield Council are set to press ahead with the closure of Mackie Hill Junior and Infant School during the summer break.

From September the school will become part of Kettlethorpe Secondary School.

The decision was taken in March after Mackie Hill was rated inadequate by Ofsted, with teachers from Kettlethorpe having since been drafted in to the help run the primary.

Now the council has defended the move after a letter of objection raised several concerns.

The author of the letter has not been identified, but their letter cited fears that the leadership at Kettlethorpe could be “distracted” by the merger and that the secondary school teachers “lacked experience” to deal with primary children.

In their response, written into Cabinet agenda papers the council said: “The headteacher at Kettlethorpe High School has been taking the lead on supporting Mackie Hill J&I School to make rapid improvement in a number of areas across the school, following the Ofsted ‘Inadequate’ rating.

“He has a number of primary trained staff from Kettlethorpe High, who he has been able to timetable and deploy to support the developments around teaching and learning.”

It added: “Kettlethorpe High School is a vibrant and successful school with well-established teachers and leaders.

“School leaders are fully aware of the work and commitment required to

further improve and develop Mackie Hill and have built in additional

capacity in order to ensure both schools are led well and are able to secure

sustained and improved outcomes for all groups of learners.

“The actual size of the school is immaterial here with the key issue being the quality of staff, both teaching and leadership.”

Under the proposal, pupils from Mackie Hill would be taught at the same site, away from secondary school students.

The matter will be discussed by Cabinet members next week. Although one option available to the council is to abandon the merger and seek a sponsor to make Mackie Hill an academy, this is unlikely to take place.

Note: In an earlier version of this story it was incorrectly stated that students from Mackie Hill would be taught at Kettlethorpe. We apologise for this error, which has now been amended.