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 historically do not have the opportunities afforded to young people in more affluent areas of Manchester.


Telling the story

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 release opportunities for all children growing up in MCA.

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

Community Network UK

Sharing practice, joining together

Placed based approaches are being established through the creation of Hubs or Zones across the world; working collaboratively for the benefit of families living in these communities.

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 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.

Forest School

North Manchester is an area of the UK you wouldn’t 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 together developed nine 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 throughout each year.


We believe outdoor learning for children and families can transform lives

  We have prioritised five objectives to support the learning and development of the Forest School programme.

  • Improve children’s speech & language across all Forest Schools

  • Improve children’s social skills such as teamwork and cooperation

  • Evidence greater resilience in all the children taking part

  • Improve children’s physical health

  • Engage families in the Forest School Campus Programme


Each site has been developed with its own unique qualities, taking in the natural environment.  The sites are in use during the school day where the children get to experience the outdoors; learning about nature, the environment as well safe use of tools, and how to build shelters or camp fires.  The sites also provide an excellent alternative setting for and subject areas from art to science to geography.

Happily Ever After

What if, parents could get together with school staff for no other reason than to have coffee and cake? What if they did so to get to know each other and make friends with other parents?

Happily Ever After gives parents and staff from MCA and Family Zone schools the opportunity to do this. Then we simply see how the group develops.

Here & Now

Much of Government policy tackles poverty through employment initiatives and welfare advice and guidance.  However there are families in the Family Zone of schools who do not have access to employment or public funding.  In addition some families who do have access, do not have the necessary skills or qualifications.  Becoming employable and then employed can take a long time for many individuals and meanwhile their children are damaged by poverty and fall behind their own potential.  Therefore Here and Now, as the name suggests, seeks to provide immediate alleviation of those circumstances, assisting the whole family.  It enables the student to function equally with their peers who are in better circumstances.


Project objectives are:

  • To identify the Family Zone children who do not have access to food, clothing, safe  accommodation and basic equipment

  • Develop a ‘menu’ of short/medium term solutions to poverty in the here and now

  • Establish sustainable funding

  • Document the learning from the Here and Now project

  • Raise awareness of the situation and the Here and Now project politically


Our priority has been to provide basic essentials and have developed a food store within MCA & MCPA which provides weekly food parcels for those who need this additional support.  We have  developed partnerships with both His Church and Audacious Church which have enabled us to offer this out on an emergency basis with one off food parcels for families attending other Family Zone schools.

A further partnership with St Joseph’s project has enabled us to support some families with the   purchase of furniture such as a bed or fridge.

We also offer weekly Apply Online drop-in sessions, which provide a lap top and internet access for those who need it to apply for benefits, jobs or housing.  One to one support and information is also on hand at these sessions.

Pastoral Tracker

Working from the assumption that area and personal disadvantage will impact upon student    performance and progress, the Family Zone schools will have to create a universal offer which will be enough to mitigate this impact.  In some cases additional intervention and support may be needed.  The earlier we can intervene, the more effective this will be.  In order to provide a pipeline effect of support, no matter where the child is educated, an area wide tracker system is being piloted across 10 schools.

Three tipping points have been identified for health, attendance and behaviour and if a child tips on any of these and this is shown to be impacting upon their progress in maths and English, then we   invite parents, carers and anyone who has responsibility for the child to a family meeting where we will work together to support the child back on track.  We have access to a whole menu of support which can be offered not just for the child but for the whole family.   In doing this we are not just placing a sticking plaster on by addressing the presenting issue of attendance or bahaviour, we find out what is really going on and work with the whole family to ensure the child is supported to achieve their potential.


Objectives are as follows:

  • Consistent Zone-wide tipping points are agreed and established

  • Consistent Zone-wide monitoring and application of systems are agreed and implemented

  • Early identification of tipping points is established to ensure more effective intervention

  • All FZ children tipping on health/attendance/behaviour indicators and below expected progress in Maths or English will be supported back on track.  



In piloting a consistent area wide approach, Family Zone schools are able to support one another.  An area wide menu of interventions and support has been established which has highlighted some fantastic work being done but also the gaps that are present.

As a group we are now exploring the potential of jointly commissioning some of our own services, which will allow us to pool resources in order to get best value for money and ensure timely access to essential services.

Urban Crew

The Urban Crew is a project which introduces the concept of citizenship to Y5/6 students in North Manchester Primary Schools.  The project is run in collaboration with Northwards Housing. The Urban Crew links the children’s home and school lives, 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 real academic currency prior to entering secondary school, building confidence and raising aspirations of their own academic achievement.


The objectives of the Urban Crew are:

  • All participants achieve ASDAN level 3 award

  • Students grow in confidence and have a heightened sense of place and their responsibility to their locality


As part of the programme children will be responsible for certain things at their school relating to being a good citizen, health &    safety and the environment and they will do duties at break and lunchtimes.  The children will also visit a retirement home to spend time with residents, they will deliver a whole school assembly on a subject of their choice as well as attending workshops at MCA including an enterprise event where they get to run their own business for a day. 

The Arts

Although Manchester City Centre is just over a  mile down the road, with a wealth  of    cultural opportunities on offer, the cost of accessing these events often make it  inaccessible for many of the families within the Family Zone.


We have been developing relationships with local organisations to offer free or affordable access to cultural events.  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.   Last year we also put on a Christmas carol concert under a huge marquee in Collyhurst Park which was attended by over 100 local residents.


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.  This Christmas we were also offered tickets to two pantomimes, one at HOME and another was put on by our partners Audacious Church.


Altogether we have been able to distribute over 400 tickets in the past twelve months, enabling local families the same access to cultural performances as those from more affluent parts of the city.

Learning Exchange

Throughout the Family Zone schools there is an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience in all subject areas.  The teaching and learning project allows for an exchange of knowledge and will support teachers from all schools to come together for CPD opportunities.

We will also create opportunities for teaching staff to take particular areas of specialism into other schools, allowing new experiences for students whether in their own school setting or on visits to MCA.


The objectives to this element are:

  • Shared learning opportunities are created for teaching staff

  • New opportunities for learning are offered to students of all 17 schools

  • Students become more prepared for secondary school


This element of the programme is continually growing and presently we have been able to offer   Digital Schoolhouse, an established programme which provides CPD for teachers and practical session delivery with the students with sessions such as coding and artificial intelligence; working with the Science Learning Partnership we have secured funding for STEM CPD sessions; English teachers from MCA have been out with Y10 students to Family Zone primary groups to support them with their reading and our Community Archaeologist has delivered workshops at each of the schools looking at map regression.  Through communication with the Family Zone schools, this will continue to develop in line with the needs and requirements of each school.

Manchester Communication Academy Community

Silchester Drive, Harpurhey, Manchester, M40 8nt.

0161 202 0161

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