Our founding story

Catriona Maclay founded The Hackney Pirates in 2010. Catriona was a teacher in North London, and realised that some of her pupils needed more support than she and her colleagues could offer during the school day.

Living locally, she knew that Hackney is filled with wonderful people who would be able to help. So in 2010, along with fellow conspirators, and supported by local charity Bootstrap Company, she ran a pilot project.

Catriona was determined to build a programme that focused on supporting schools, helping children catch-up, and made use of local people and resources.

Our founder Catriona Maclay

The programme focused on reading and writing, while also working to increase children’s self esteem as learners, and their ability to keep on going when things get tough with their school work. Local children, parents, teachers and volunteers agreed that there was space for some pirate-style learning in Hackney, and The Hackney Pirates was born.

In January 2014 we moved into our dedicated learning centre (Ship) in Dalston and in January 2019 we launched our second Ship in Tottenham, Haringey.

When the Covid pandemic hit, we realised we need to keep on teaching, so we built our virtual ship in two weeks, and offered weekly activities during lockdown. Since Sept 2020 we have delivered live lessons online, through our Virtual Ship. We are now on an adventure to reach even more children with our fantastical programme.

Our vision

Children who are falling behind in their literacy and have fewer opportunities in their lives, become fully rounded learners, able to achieve at school and beyond.

Our values

We believe in the exceptional potential of every child.
We believe in the power of positivity and fun.
We believe in hard work and putting in the effort.

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