/  History


mackay2The school was founded to provide a British education to the children of the many UK citizens who had arrived in Valparaiso throughout the first half of the 19th Century. If the population of Valparaiso around this time was around 80,000, about 35,000 of these were British. Many had come to help build the new railroad from Valparaiso to Santiago. Others had come to work in the development of the major seaport of Valparaiso. Some had come as skilled craftsmen, or artisans. But one thing was clear – the need for a school for the children of this growing expatriate community of English-speakers, where the students could receive an education of the same quality that they would receive in the UK.

On the 5th January, 1857 a meeting of well-known members of the British community was held at the Stock Exchange with the intention of founding a British school in Valparaiso.

The group immediately began their search for a Headmaster in the UK and eventually offered the position to Peter Mackay. Mackay had graduated from Glasgow University in 1852 with a Masters in education and arrived in Chile to assume his new post on the 8th October, 1857. This remains, to this day, the date on which the Mackay Community celebrates their anniversary.

The school was an enormous success from the outset and experienced rapid growth. Within five years they had 140 full time boarding students. This meant that additional help was soon required to support Mr Mackay and, once again, after undertaking a search process in the UK, Mr George Sutherland was awarded to the post. He had studied at the prestigious teacher training college of Edinburgh University and eventually arrived in Chile in 1861.

Another individual who arrived at the school around this time was Mr Thomas Somerscales, a renowned maritime artist, who began working as an Arts and English teacher. He remained at the school for more than 20 years.
By 1871, the school had continued to grow as they began to accept students who did not speak English as their mother tongue.


As a result of religious disagreements with members of the board of governors of the Artisan School, Mr Mackay and Mr Sutherland decided to part ways and founded their own school in 1877 which became known as The Mackay and Sutherland School.

The new school was custom-built and comprised both the boarding school and the Headmaster’s House at Quinta Los Olivos in Cerro Alegre Valparaiso.

Having made the decision to retire, Mr Mackay travelled to Scotland in 1894 in order to recruit someone who could assist Mr Sutherland who would now assume the role of Headmaster. The third of The Mackay´s school´s most important founders, Mr George Robertson, was appointed to the post.

1905 – The present day – THE MACKAY SCHOOL

mackay1By the beginning of the 20th Century, the Mackay school was widely recognised as the leading educational establishment in Valparaiso and was the number one choice for both British and Chilean families due to its educational ethos, outstanding academic reputation and above all, the renowned emphasis on development of character.

Following the death of Peter Mackay in 1905, his successors George Sutherland and George Robertson decided to honour his memory by renaming the school after him and in 1905 the school became known as The Mackay School.

Following George Sutherland´s retirement in 1912, George Robertson became Headmaster of the school. He was especially well known as a teacher of mathematics and for teaching his boys to “fear nothing and to conquer oneself in order to triumph over one´s weaknesses.” He encouraged his students to think for themselves and discover the logical reasoning behind each phenomenon. His approach and persona were perfectly encapsulated by the motto he gifted to the school, “Vincit qui se Vincit” which remains the maxim of the school to this day and what best characterises the Spirit of The Mackay School and its students.

One interesting fact about the school is that it became known as the “cradle of Chilean football”. The game recently began being played around this time and the first two official clubs in Chile, The Valparaiso Football Club and the Victoria Rangers Club, were made up, in the most part from teachers, students and alumni from the school. Further down the line, Rugby became the principal sport of the school.

Following the First World War and the challenging years that followed, the Robertson family made the decision to close the school in 1928 and return to the UK. It wasn´t until 10 years later, on the 1st October, 1939 that a group of alumni from the school met with Mr Robertson and encouraged him to reopen the school. This led to the foundation of The Mackay School Old Boys Association which would provide all necessary financial support for the new venture and in addition, found a partner Sports Club to work with the school for the development of Rugby for students and alumni.

In 1946, the alumni society bought a large piece of land in Avenida Los Castaños, Vina del Mar, with the aim of building a new state of the art school that would be able to house all of the students, many of whom were still boarders. The new school was founded next door to the new Sports Club where Rugby, Tennis, Football and Cricket were played. The two new institutions began to co-exist and form part of a wider Mackayan enterprise.

Within a short space of time the school had acquired a considerable reputation on the rugby field, and at the time of the celebration of the school´s centenary in 1957 they were runners up in the National Rugby Tournament.

When William Kinnear was appointed Headmaster in 1962, he expressed his concerns to the Board that the school facilities had once again become too small to house all of the students. With an extraordinary vision for the future, a large piece of land was purchased in la Quinta de Hamel, Hacienda de Reñaca and the building of the new school took place between 1963 and 1968.

The school briefly began to admit girls and became co-educational for 2 years in 1973, although by 1975 Mackay returned to being an all boys school.

In 1981, the first Cambridge Assessment Exams were introduced to certify the levels of English Language at the school and in 1986 the school joined the International Baccalaureate Diploma programme which allowed students from Mackay to receive international accreditation and apply to study at Universities all over the world.

Once again, by the mid 1990s, buildings with greater capacity were once again required and the new school was built in Reñaca. To give an idea of the growth of the school, it became four times larger from the original size of 5,000 square metres to over 22,000 square metres. In addition, more than 20 hectares of extra land was bought in Mantagua and repurposed as sports facilities where the school now has additional rugby pitches.

The Spirit of Mackay has grown and thrived since 1857 and continues to offer the very best of British education through academic, sporting, spiritual and cultural development for its students.


Av. Vicuña Mackenna 700
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Main: 322386600
Portería: 322386621
Senior School: 322386685
Junior School: 322386627
Unidad de Control: 322386645