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Miss Cackle's Academy for Witches

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Miss Cackle's Academy For Witches
Cackles sheild
Cackle's Academy Crest

Motto

"Strive"

Established

1604[1]

Head

Miss Amelia Cackle

Deputy Head

Miss Constance Hardbroom

Chair of Governers

Mr Hallow

Type

All Girls, Boarding, Witch Academy

Enrolment

~60

Qualification

Witches Higher Certificate

Location

Great Britain

Colours

Black and Grey (Black and Orange in the telemovie)

Miss Cackle's Academy for Witches is a British girls' boarding school for witches, located in a stone castle atop a mountain, surrounded by forest. There is a village nearby, though non magical people are generally not aware of the school's existence- they believe the Castle to be the ruins of Overblow Castle.[2] In the 2017 TV Series, the castle is invisible to non-magical people.

Young Witches start at Cackle's at age 12, and finish at age 17.[3] There are 5 years, with 12 pupils in each class, around 60 pupils in total. There are two terms a year, the winter term (September-January) and the summer term (March-July) with a month's holiday between terms.

Location

Cackle's Academy is located in Overblow Castle, believed to be a ruin by the non magical people in the local village; they believe the castle to be uninhabited ruins, and are generally unaware of the witches. The castle is located atop a mountain, surrounded by forest. Nearby locations include Mistletoe Wood, Eel Pond, Lacewing Bridge and Glowworm Copse.[4]

Cackles Castle4

Cackle's Academy in the 1998 TV Series

History

1986 Film

The Film states the Academy was founded in 1604. Miss Cackle talks about her mother, Madlevana Cackle: “There was a time, when I was a girl, when witches were persecuted, reviled, and burned at the stake. (turns to look at a portrait on the wall) It was Madlevana Cackle, my mother, who had the courage to fight for the formal education of witches.”

1998 TV Series

The Castle was built a millennium ago, and belonged to Baron Overblow. The Castle was built by a Saxon warlord, then knocked down by a Norman conquerer, and rebuilt by the evil Baron Overblow, then burnt by serfs (peasants).[5] On Halloween in Mildred’s first year, her class perform the rescue of the persecuted peasants from the clutches of Baron Overblow, by the legendary Lucy Fairweather.

One of the more exciting events in the castle's history was the rebellion against Baron Overblow and his defeat by Lucy Fairweather. Baron Overblow knew he was no match for Lucy Fairweather. In his desperation he hired a cunning sorceress, Harriet Hogweed. Hogweed was defeated by Lucy Fairweather in “the greatest battle this castle has ever seen”.[6]

Another notable event was the The storming of the Castle by Major Ironheart Bearbones in 1644.[7] The Sparrow sisters were the daughters of Sir Cecil Overblow, 12th baron, who defied their father by performing onstage in a musical.[8] Another notable figure was Margolisse, Duchess of Overblow, who, by treachery and false witness, was convicted of high treason and exectuted in the castle dungeons 500 years ago.[9]

The legend of Sir Walter's Wet Week states that centuries ago, Baron Overblow refused to give shelter to Sir Walter one wild and stormy night and left him in the rain to die. As a result, every year it rains for a whole week, and on the last night there is a big storm, during which Sir Walter walks the corridors looking for revenge.[10]

Later, The Castle was used as a meeting place for wizards; Algernon Rowan-Webb got turned into a frog at one of these meetings, and lived in the pond on school grounds until Mildred Hubble rescued him.

The school was established by Miss Amelia Cackle's great great great great great granny Hermione Cackle. It would seem that the school is passed down through the women of the Cackle family, as Agatha Cackle says that Miss Cackle "cheated her out of her inheritance".

Mr Hallow previously owned the Academy, but it was returned to Miss Cackle as of The end of Mildred's Second year.[11] During Mildred's years the Academy has twice been out of Miss Cackle's control, first when Agatha kidnapped Amelia in the middle of the night, tied her up and locked her in the storeroom. Agatha then pretended to be her sister and ran the school as Headmistress, until Mildred realised she was an imposter and rescued Miss Cackle.[12] In Mildred's third year, Miss Cackle was away visiting her ill Aunt Gertrude, with Mistress Broomhead running the Academy; she returns when the other teachers ask for her.[13]

The School Year

There are two terms a year, The winter term (September-January) and the summer term (March-July) with a month's holiday between terms.
Mauds-diary-entry-8

Invitation letter to Cackle's Academy

New students attend selection day six weeks before term begins, where they must pass both a written and practical test to enter the school. The prospective students are also given a tour of the school and meet the staff.[14]

The students arrive at the start of term by flying broomstick, except for the new first years, who walk through walker’s gate as they can’t fly yet. New students are allocated their bedrooms, and special positions such as head of year are announced. The first few weeks of term are devoted to learning to fly on a broomstick, and all first years must pass the Broomstick Aptitude Test, or they must leave.the school, and will not be able to become witches.

Halfway through the first term, the first years are each presented with a black kitten, which they teach to ride the broomstick. The cats weren’t for any practical purpose except to keep tradition going, some schools present owls instead, it’s a matter of taste.

On Halloween, Cackle’s Students and Staff attened Halloween celebrations held near the school. Traditionally Cackle’s will put on a show, such as a play or broomstick flying display. The Students and staff dress in their best robes and hats for Halloween, and all wear their hair out.

In the middle of each term is the Half Term trip, when students and staff get away from the castle for a week, doing activities like camping and birdwatching. At Christmas time, the school sometimes puts on a pantomime such as Cinderella. In the Summer term, the Academy celebrates Miss Cackle’s Birthday, which involves performances and speeches, and is considered the most boring event of the year. Also in the summer term is Founder’s Day, a celebration of “great great great great great great great granny” Hermione Cackle, the School’s founder. The the founder's day feast is held that evening.

At the end of the first year, each pupil receives a copy of The Popular Book of Spells, a three-inch thick volume bound in black leather. This was not really to be used, as they already had paperback editions for the classroom, but like the cats it was another piece of tradition.

In the third year, all students do a research progect on a topic of their choice, known as the Third Year Witch project. At the end of each year, all the students sit exams and then recive their final results for the year. There is also a yearly prize-giving.

In fourth year, students are given additional responsibilities such as First Year Mentor and Lantern Monitor.[15] At the end of the second-last year, the Head Girl and Deputy Head Girl are elected for the following year. At the end of the fifth and final year, students sit the exams for the W.H.C (Witches' Higher Certificate), and most pupils were awarded the certificate. 

After completing their final year, students can go on to further study at a magical university, such as Weirdsister College.

Number of Years

Cackle's has five years, and students start first year at age 12, and finish fifth year at age 17. In the third season of the 1998 TV series, this is changed to four years for some reason; possibly they wanted it to be Mildred's second last year so she could become head girl at the end of the series. It is possible, however, that the fifth year is an elective year, like the British Sixth Form system, and that there was no pupils for the following fifth year - hence why the Head and Deputy Head Girls were selected from the lower year.

Cackle's is a very small school, In the 1998 TV series there are 12 students in Mildred's class, and there is only one class in each year, for a total of 60 pupils from years 1-5. The telemovie has 15 first-year pupils. In The New Worst Witch, The Wishing Well episode has around 40 students in years 1 to 3 , working out to about 13-14 students per year. The 2017 TV series has a similar number of students also, despite having a much larger castle.

School Charter

In addition to the Witches Code, pupils at Cackle's Academy are expected to follow the rules of the school charter. This charter is far larger than the witches code and likely has more rules. There are exactly 99 during Mildred's time at Cackle's, and an 100th is added in the episode Rules, Rules, Rules in the New Worst Witch. See the individual page for a list of rules.

School Song

"Onward, ever striving onward, proudly on our brooms we fly,
Straight and true above the treetops, shadows on the moonlit sky.

Ne´er a day will pass before us when we have not tried our best,
Kept our cauldrons bubbling nicely, cast our spells with zest.

Fearless witches, never flinching through the dark and dismal nights,
Ghouls and ghosts and nightmare monsters run away in fright.

We are the girls with skills in sorcery, when in flight, quite a sight to see!
We´re young witches and we're glad to be learning our craft at Cackle´s Academy."


In the books, the second verse ends with:
“Cast our spells and charms with zest.”

There is a final third verse present only in the books:
"Full of joy we mix our potions, working by each other´s side.
When our days at school are over, let us think of them with pride."

Staff

Unless the staff teach multiple subjects, there may be more staff than listed, such as the teachers who teach Jewelry Design, Myths & Legends etc.

Subjects

In the Books, Cackle's students have Potions, Chanting, Broomstick Flying, P.E. and Art Lessons.

In A Bolt From the Blue, the exams results give the following subjects:

In Just Like Clockwork, the third year timetable can be seen. it has the following subjects:
Cackles timetable2

Third Year Timetable from Just Like Clockwork.

  • Botany
  • Library
  • Chanting
  • Potions
  • Flower Gathering
  • Spells
  • Abacus
  • Witches Code
  • Broomstick Flying
  • Cat Training
  • Fungi
  • Herbs
  • History and Origins
  • Gym
  • Witches Etiquette
  • Plant Identification

In the 2017 TV Series, subjects studied at Cackle's include:

  • Potions
  • Chanting
  • Broomstick Flying
  • P.E.
  • Spell Science
  • Witch History

In both the books and 1998 TV series, third year students do a Major Project (Third-Year Witch Project) on a topic of their choice.

There are six 45 minute lessons a day, with a rather generous 2 hours given for lunch.[16]

Extra-Curricular Activites

  • Cauldron Club
  • Dangerous Old Books Society (DOBS)
  • Drama
  • Music (Choir, Various Instruments)
  • Sports (Basketball, Gymnastics, Running)
  • Various Outdoor Activites run by Miss Drill
  • After school clubs: cooking lessons, night walks, flying lessons, spellbook classes, black cat appreciation club[17]

Textbooks and Equipment

Cackle's Textbooks Include:

  • The Popular Book of Spells- The main spellbook that the students use. It is mentioned in the books and appears in both the 1998 and 2017 TV series. Renamed 'Book of Spells' in the 2017 series.
  • Spell Sessions Two- mentioned in the books.
  • Year Three Spell Sessions- mentioned in the books.
  • The Practical Book of Potions- appears in the 1998 TV series. There appears to be one volume for each year level.
  • The Witches' Code- mentioned in the books and appears in both the 1998 and 2017 TV series.
  • History of Witchcraft- appears in the 2017 TV series.

Equipment Includes:

  • Broomstick
  • School Satchel
  • Cat Carrier
  • Exercise Books
  • Pencil Case

Uniform

Winter uniform, worn in the winter term, consists of a black gymslip, grey shirt, grey and black striped tie, grey socks or black stockings, and black boots. A black cardigan is sometimes worn with both the winter and summer uniform.

Summer uniform, worn in the summer term, is the same as winter but with short sleeves. In the books, Summer uniform consists of a black summer dress (was black-and-grey-checked, it was changed in Mildred's second year).

The Students also have a black cloak, and black pointed hat, which are worn when broomstick flying and for special occasions.

Coloured sashes worn with the uniform indicate year: Year 1 are Purple, Year 2 Green, Year 3 Yellow, Year 4 Red, Year 5 grey. The New Worst Witch shows blue sash as year 1, and red and yellow sashes are also seen. The 1986 film shows three sash colours at the cat presentation assembly, green as year one, then yellow then red. in the books and 2017 TV Series, the sashes indicate houses; Mildred wears a red sash, Maud, Enid and Drusilla wear yellow, Ethel and Esmerelda wear purple, and green sashes are also shown.[18] Also, in the 2017 TV Series, the head student of each year has special embroidery on their sash.

The P.E uniform consists of a blue-grey shirt, black shorts, and black plimsol shoes.

Other Uniform Items:

  • black robe; in the books, a black robe is worn on special occasions (along with the hat and cloak) instead of the normal uniform.
  • When on the camping trip, the students wear black trousers and a black fleece jacket with what could be their PE shirts underneath.
  • black and grey striped swimming costume, introduced in Mildred's second year when the class visit Algernon Rowan-Webb.
  • grey nightdress and/or black and grey striped pyjamas, worn in bed.
  • potions apron, worn during potions class.

The Castle

The grounds of Cackle's Academy include a courtyard, used for broom flying lessons, PE lessons, and on breaks; the walker's gate, through which first year students enter before learning to fly; the broomshed, where brooms are stored; and the greenhouse, where herbs and vegtables are grown by Mr Blossom.

Cackles map

Ground floor plan of Cackle's Academy, from Just Like Clockwork.

Locations inside the Castle include:

  • Classrooms, Including Miss Cackle's classroom where she teaches spells class, and *Miss Bat's classroom where chanting is taught, and which is Sybil's class's homeroom.
  • Potions Lab, where Miss Hardbroom teaches potions, and which is Mildred's class's homeroom.
  • Library, full of old spellbooks, and with the DOBS den hidden underneath.
  • Great Hall, used for assemblies, special functions, performances, and mealtimes.
  • Storeroom, connected to the Great Hall, Mildred and Enid got trapped in here once.
  • Staff Room, where the teachers spend time when not teaching classes, they eat their meals here too.
  • Headmistress' Office, Miss Cackle's Office
  • Teachers' Offices', each teacher has an office of their own.
  • Teachers' Rooms, the teacher's bedrooms are on the upper floors of the castle.
  • Students' Bedrooms, each student has their own bedroom, with a window with no glass, only shutters. Bats roost in some of the bedrooms. Each pupil has the same type of room: very simple, with a wardrobe, iron bedstead, table and chair. There is a picture rail along the bare walls from which hangs a sampler embroiderd with a quotation from the book of spells. In Mildred's fourth year, glass is fitted in the windows, with bat-flaps so that the bats can get in and out. The bedrooms are located above the main floor of the castle, but below the upper floors where the teacher's rooms are.
  • Kitchens, located in the dungeons
  • Dungeons, located below the main level of the castle

Trivia

  • The castle used for the exterior shots of Cackle's Academy in the 1998 TV Series is Castell Coch, near Cardiff, Wales. The 2017 TV Series used the Burg Hohenzollern in Germany.[19]
  • There is an inconsistency with the exact age of Cackle's Academy. Supposedly Algernon and Helibore had been there when the castle was used as a meeting place for wizards, yet Hermione Cackle, the founder, was Miss Cackle's great great great great great grandmother, making the Academy likely 300 years old, or more. This is only in the TV series; the books never state how old Cackle's is. Possibly Cackle's started somewhere else and then moved to the castle later, or maybe the the wizards used it during school holidays.
    • The telemovie gives the year of the school's founding as 1604.
  • In the books, Cackle’s is shown as a castle on the top of a hill, Surrounded by a forest. The 1986 feature did not stick to that, but used an established school, one with an elderly building, a low hill with few trees. The 1998 TV series tried to be closer. The New Worst Witch sometimes looks like the 1998 TV series and sometimes more an ancient castle converted to stately home in a woodland setting.
  • The colours of the sashes worn with the uniform correspond to covers of the first four Worst Witch Books: The Worst Witch (Purple), The Worst Witch Strikes Again (Yellow), A Bad Spell For The Worst Witch (Red) and The Worst Witch All At Sea (Green).

Notes and references

  1. The Worst Witch (1986 Telemovie)
  2. Let Them Eat Cake
  3. Never definitively stated, but a number of sources imply that they start at age 12, and the actors in the TV adaptions were 12-13 when playing their characters in first year. Maud's diary on the BBC site (http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/joinin/mauds-diary) states that Maud is 11 a few months before starting Cackles.
  4. Miss Cackle's Birthday Surprise (Miss Drill mentions some nearby locations when describing the running course.)
  5. The Millennium Bug
  6. Which Witch Is Which?
  7. The Millennium Bug
  8. The Millennium Bug
  9. The Millennium Bug
  10. When We Feast at the Midnight Hour
  11. The Millennium Bug
  12. A Bolt from the Blue
  13. Just Like Clockwork
  14. Selection Day
  15. The Worst Witch and the Wishing Star
  16. Just Like Clockwork
  17. [[1]]
  18. The Worst Witch (Book) (40th Anniversary colour edition), The Worst Witch (2017 TV Series)
  19. [[2]]

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