Pupils join the community to save Mackie Hill School

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Pupils from Mackie Hill School put pen to paper to help save it from becoming an academy to show officials what their school means to them.

It is almost 150 years since the first school was created in Crigglestone by local magistrate and businessman John Mackie.

Now, the area is fighting back to save his legacy and stop Mackie Hill from becoming an academy.

It comes after the Department of Education announced last month that it is moving forward with plans to academise Crigglestone Mackie Hill primary school, under an organisation specialising in post-16 education 18 miles away, ending its year-long partnership with Kettlethorpe High School.

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Children from Mackie Hill brought their project, “What Mackie Means to Me”, to this week’s city Artwalk to share their heartfelt poems with the wider community to rally support for their school.

More than 20 pieces of work have been created by the children expressing their “pride and privilege” at being part of the school.

Ten-year-old Grace Ward said: “We love our school just the way it is and we don’t want it to become an academy. I love my school and the friends I have made and I’m proud to go there. We have learnt about how it was set up by John Mackie and I don’t think he’d want it to change. We are happy with the way it is. We’ve written our poems about what it means to us.”

The Forgotten Women of Wakefield project has carried out research on the Mackie family and is presently fundraising for a blue plaque for Edith Mackie.

As part of the Artwalk the group held a performance on the Mackie family to show the community the legacy they left for Wakefield.

Founder Sarah Cobham, Director of Dreamtime Creative added: “We visited the school to talk to the youngsters about its history and invited them to the Artwalk to share What Mackie Means to Them. The poems were wonderful and I know the Mackie family would be incredibly proud of each of them.”

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The parents and children have so far gathered 1,500 names on their petition to stop the enforced academisation in the summer.

The school’s only hope now is for the Dfe to do a u-turn on its decision.

Mary Creagh MP is supporting the campaign to stop the school from becoming an academy.

She said:“Wakefield is rightly recognised for our cultural heritage, and it was wonderful to see the next generation take part in showcasing the artistic life of our city.

“I visited Mackie Hill recently and saw their creative skills at work. I’m glad their talents were shared with a wider audience.

“Mackie Hill’s participation in Artwalk is a reminder of the school’s strong sense of community. I am supporting parents, pupils, and teachers in fighting the Government’s proposal to academise Mackie Hill.”

It comes as Ofsted issued a report, which followed a two-day focused inspection last month, which backed the overwhelming view of parents that the school has made substantial progress.

Chair of the PTA, Catherine Holmes said she was very proud of the efforts the children are going to.

“The poems they have created are fantastic,” she said.

“We are a community school and we don’t want to become an academy with a group which has never dealt with a primary school.

“We want Ofsted to come back and give us a glowing inspection so we can prove to the Dfe that the school is fantastic on its own and doesn’t need to become an academy.

“Mackie Hill was created for the community for the common good and we don’t want it to lose its identify by being forced into becoming an academy.”

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Last week the Government’s Public Accounts Committee said the Government’s academy system is failing.

PAC Chair Meg Hillier MP said: “When things go wrong in schools, pupils can be badly affected. We have seen the troubling consequences of poor governance and oversight of academy trusts. Government must raise its game to ensure the failures of the past are not repeated.”

If you want to support the school’s campaign the petition can be signed here:

Mr Mackie, the brother of Wakefield’s MP Robert Bowness Mackie, and his wife Mary announced they would build and maintain a school in the area in 1874 after learning 110 children, many belonging to their employees, were without education.

Two years later, 142 years ago this month it finally opened, known as the British Schools at Crigglestone.

In his will he bequeathed money for the school to be maintained to ensure it continued to thrive.