Mary Creagh speaks about controversial government ruling on Wakefield primary school

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh has claimed "politics" has been put ahead of children's welfare after the government pulled the plug on a successful merger between two local schools.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 30th November 2018, 4:28 pm
Updated Friday, 30th November 2018, 4:35 pm
Wakefield MP Mary Creagh
Wakefield MP Mary Creagh

Parents and staff have been left outraged after the Department of Education ordered Mackie Hill Junior and Infant School, on Painthorpe Lane, to become an academy.

The school has been under the stewardship of nearby Kettlethorpe High since the start of the year, which parents say has seen it substantially improve since it was rated inadequate by Ofsted in January.

Ms Creagh met with education secretary Damian Hinds on Wednesday to discuss the issue and said she hoped the decision could be overturned.

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Mackie Hill Junior and Infant School is said to have improved substantially since it was taken over by Kettlethorpe High.

Asked why she thought the government had sought to make the order in the face of local opposition, she said: "I think for them it's a political solution, but it's not an education solution.

"I’m very concerned this will cause more disruption for Mackie Hill, the staff and the children there. What we had before was a good system of improvement.

"If the school was given another six months, it could actually, I hope, come out of special measures and get itself on a stable footing."

"This will just produce another round of uncertainty."

Parents have been left angry by the government's ruling.

The New Collaborative Learning Trust, which runs sixth form provider New College Pontefract, has been put forward as the government's preferred choice to sponsor Mackie Hill.

But Ms Creagh added: "New College Pontefract is a very good and very successful sixth form college, but the leaders there have no experience of running a junior school."

It is understood that a headteacher board, made up of school leaders from across West Yorkshire, will meet on December 13 to either rubberstamp or oppose the decision.

Beate Wagner, Wakefield Council's corporate director for children and young people said: "The Secretary of State’s decision means that the regional schools commissioner will proceed to making Mackie Hill into an academy, and sadly not allow us to progress our plans for a through school.

"We are extremely disappointed by this, particularly as the proposals to merge the school with Kettlethorpe High, had such significant support from parents and the local community.

"We are continuing to work with the school to do all we can to help ensure the very best outcomes for all the children."

Parents are invited to a meeting about at Crigglestone Working Men's Club, on Monday December 3, at 6.30pm.