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North Manchester Family Zone

Family Zone

We believe children have a right to a happy safe and memorable childhood at home, in school and in their community


To achieve this, we are working with children and families across 17 schools in North Manchester to provide immediate realistic change at every stage of their lives.


Realising opportunity and fostering aspiration for every child is at the heart of our Family Zone.  We do this because young people in North Manchester deserve the opportunities afforded to young people in more affluent areas of Manchester.


North Manchester is brimming with vibrant communities of people rich in culture, creativity and heritage. The disadvantages all too present in North Manchester tell only a small part of the story. Instead we focus on breaking down the barriers to realise opportunities for all children growing up in the Family Zone.

Click here to view the schools included in the Family Zone.

"Ultimately, we need to work together with parents to ensure that their children are happy, safe and successful in school but also experience far reaching opportunities that inspire them to make a vital contribution in the future both within the city and beyond"

Patsy Hodson

Community Network UK

Community placed based approaches similar to the North Manchester Family Zone are being established across the world, inspired not least by the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York.


In 2017 working closely with the University of Manchester we formally launched the Community Network UK Conference, bringing teams together from across the UK.


The Network now includes representation from Feltham, Hackney, Kirklees, Manchester, Glasgow and Walls End, Newcastle amongst others.


Membership continues to grow. If you are working within a similar zone model and would like to get involved in the Community Network UK, please get it touch by clicking here.

Forest School

North Manchester is an area of the UK you would not normally associate with forests, brooks, rivers and valleys. Yet the Family Zone has all of these. What better way to rediscover the excitement of outdoor play and learning by creating a network of Forest Schools?

The Family Zone have developed 9 unique Forest Schools each one linked to a school.

Keeping with our family focussed approach the nine Forest Schools are providing creative and unique outdoor learning opportunities to children and their families. The schools provide an excellent alternative setting for subject areas from art to science to geography.

Happily Ever After

Following the incredibly successful Once Upon a Time project established with MCA back in 2010, we have launched Happily Ever After. Open to parents, the sole purpose is to provide a welcome, forge friendships, make connections, share stories, lives and food. A space for parents and teachers to enjoy each other’s company.


Strong relationships build people, family and community so that they can live happy and fulfilled lives.


The regular group meet once a week, but the parents have built such a fantastic network between each other they are in touch daily, meeting through the week creating one big family.

Here & Now

There is plenty of support available to help people into work or education, but a child who is cold or hungry needs food and warmth today. Professionals have been coming up with their own responses from handing over cash to the child to providing hot meals leftover from the canteen and sending them home for the family.  Most of this was done “under the radar” and it was agreed that this needed a more co-ordinated response. 


The Here and Now programme provides immediate alleviation of poverty in the family.  We seek to ensure all students of the Family Zone schools have suitable food, clothing and living arrangements. We work with many local partners and agencies to provide direct resources and long term support.


It’s about what we can do, not just for the parents of pupils here, but for the local community as a whole.

Pastoral Tracker

The Pastoral programme ensures that Family Zone children will achieve progress in line with or above expected national results - regardless of any personal or area disadvantage.

The programme seeks to bring positive benefit to a greater number of children and families, and to systematize and consistently implement the approach.


We have done this by designing a pastoral tracking system which is attentive to early intervention. Families are integral to the process of designing the effective interventions.


The programme is designed to understand how area and personal disadvantage can present in the lives of the children and their families and practical ways to address the subsequent barriers to learning that the children may face.


Watch Amberlily's story here

"Instead of bringing parents in to say “Your child’s not doing this, not doing that”, we bring them in on a completely different basis. We invite them in to spend a lot of time discussing the child’s personal story, so that we know what personal interventions are available for each pupil here."

Patsy Hodson

Urban Crew

The Urban Crew links the children’s home and school lives with their community by encouraging them to take an active role in looking after the environment and caring for others. 


The programme enables students to achieve an ASDAN accreditation, giving them a head start prior to entering secondary school by increasing confidence and aspiration in their own academic potential.


Supported by Northwards housing and delivered in 13 Family Zone schools, Urban Crew students have made long term connections with community groups and local shared housing schemes.

Family Experiences

Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra showcase a concert each year at MCA.  At the most recent concert, five of our primary schools took part in weekly singing sessions and then performed with the orchestra at a family show where all parents were invited in to watch.  


Royal Northern College of Music regularly offer us tickets to their Young Explorers concerts which we have been able to distribute via the schools to those families who want to attend.  Each year we offer tickets to at least two pantomimes, thanks most recently to HOME Theatre and our partners the Audacious Foundation.

Learning Exchange

Within the Family Zone schools there is an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience in all subject areas. The Learning Exchange has been created to offer opportunities to share learning across the Family Zone for both staff and students.

This element of the programme is continually growing with a focus on offering new experiences to students, including IT, Archaeology and creative learning.  Regular visits of student groups to MCA help the students become more prepared for secondary school. Families Connect also gives parents the opportunity to support their child’s learning in the early years setting.

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