Mackie Hill Primary School future discussed by councillors

The future of a Wakefield primary school, which is facing the prospect of being taken over by a sixth form provider against the wishes of parents, has been discussed at a town hall meeting.

Wednesday, 6th February 2019, 3:57 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:02 pm
Uncertainty still surrounds the future of Mackie Hill Primary School, in Crigglestone.

The government has insisted that Mackie Hill Primary School be taken out of the hands of council-run Kettlethorpe High and be placed under the stewardship of the academy trust which runs Pontefract New College.

The move has been strongly opposed by those with children at the school, teaching unions and local politicians.

Many hope that the decision could still be overturned if Ofsted decide to take the school out of the special measures it was placed in back in December 2017, before it was then merged with Kettlethorpe.

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Parents were left furious by the government's decision to force the school to become an academy.

The issue was raised by Labour councillor Kevin Swift at a children and young people scrutiny meeting on Wednesday.

Although no new developments have been reported, parents' strength of feeling was acknowledged.

Asked by Coun Swift if the authority was trying to keep the school under its own control, the council's new service director for education and inclusion, Andy Lancashire, said: "I have to be careful what I say here, but there is a process where Ofsted, we think, will return and reinspect the school before the end of ther academic year.

"That's not a definite. But it's likely.

"Because it’s in special measures the Secretary of State (for Education) is entitled to issue an academy order.

"At the moment the preferred sponsor is the New Collaborative Learning Trust, which is based around New College.

"That’s an ongoing process. That’s probably as much as I can say. What we won’t have is a change of uniform or signage at the school until such a time as the school is moved across to be part of the trust."

The New Collaborative Learning Trust is still yet to publicly comment on their own plans for Mackie Hill, and parents say they've had no communication from them either.

Committee chairman David Jones described the case as a "sensitive issue".

He said: "We’ve got to be aware of the high profile campaign from local people and parents who are very concerned.

"They wish for the school to remain in the control of the local authority rather than being transferred to a provider, whose focus is shall we say, on further education."