Principal’s Blog

Posted by editor on July 13, 2010 under Education and health

Since January 2009, Guy Hutchence, Principal-Designate of East Manchester Academy has been keeping readers updated on the progress of the new school on Grey Mare Lane. With the Academy now due to open in September with nearly 200 Year 7 ‘pioneers’ eager to take their places, Mr Hutchence concludes his monthly Principal’s Blog.

It’s a delight showing visitors around our new academy as everyone is amazed how light and spacious the building is and how colourful too. All the internal paintwork is now complete and the classrooms are fitted out, ready to go.

The external spaces have all now been cleared of building material and landscaped and so the playground, amphitheatre and the plaza adjacent to Grey Mare Lane all look stunning.

The all-weather pitch has been christened with a series of football challenges that could have matched anything we’ve seen from South Africa recently! The Academy contractors, Balfour Beatty took on staff from New East Manchester, the architects Walker Simpson and sponsors, Laing O’Rourke and Bovis Lend Lease in a series of hard-fought games in aid of charity. Everyone was delighted with the playing surface, if not with their own team’s performance! I have no doubt this pitch will be well used not only by our own pupils but by sports enthusiasts throughout east Manchester.

The end of the summer term is traditionally when the transition programme starts: preparing Year 6 primary school pupils for the move to ‘big school’. Of course, we’re unable to do this on site this year so we’ve been having our ‘new intake days’ at nearby Sportcity. Our pupils have been making new friends as well as being put through their paces by sports coaches over an intense series of exercises. Everyone’s had great fun! In the evenings of each of the two days, parents and carers have come along to hear about everything from the school uniform to timetables, and from school dinners to library opening hours. I thank everyone who attended for their support and enthusiasm.

As we come to the summer break for pupils this will be the last of my blogs which started way back in January 2009. They have followed the building of the Academy and all the behind-the-scenes preparations that are involved in opening a brand new school. Come back in September when East will be featuring photographs from our opening week at the East Manchester Academy and Beswick Library.

See the East Manchester Academy website here

Grow It. Cook It. Eat It.

Posted by editor on June 22, 2010 under Community, Education and health, Environment

Well known for their recycling, east Manchester’s EMERGE is progressively launching new local initiatives that encourage sustainable living. Here Len Grant meets newest recruit, Ben Lear, their Growing Foods Project Leader.

Ben Lear: "Growing and cooking our own food... these are skills we could lose."

Ben’s new job seems easy enough: encourage local people to start growing their own food. On a sunny day in June with the first pea pods appearing in the EMERGE teaching garden, it is surely an idyllic task.

But, even with the increasing popularity of growing your own, the odds are stacked against him. On the main road opposite the newly created garden the construction of two new fast food outlets highlights our preference for instant, unhealthy food. Many of the lorries driving into the New Smithfield Market – where EMERGE are based – bring more fruit and vegetables from around the world and, says Ben, serve as a constant reminder of the importance of locally grown food.

Food containers, tyres... you can grow food in anything

Since arriving in April Ben has coordinated the construction of EMERGE’s teaching garden. There are now raised vegetable plots with courgettes, squash, leeks, spinach and lettuce all making a tentative appearance. Discarded tyres act as pots for potatoes; specially bred worms munch their way through food waste to make ‘the very best compost’, and a large ‘poly tunnel’ has been built as a classroom for Ben’s new project.

“We’re starting a four week course here on July 8th,” he says. “It’s aimed specifically at beginners to give people the confidence to start growing their own food. We’ll start by talking about soils; how to plant things and how to water them; which containers to use. Maybe later we’ll talk a little about garden design and crop rotation but we’ll see how we get on.”

Ben has already set up a Saturday gardening drop-in club down at the wholesale market. “There’s lots to do here and I’m hopeful local people will just pop along and get involved. We’ve built some beds but need more and there’s always lots of maintenance needed at this time of year.”

Keen to take his project out to the community, Ben has already forged linked with some local groups. “With the African Francophone Integration Project in Beswick we are creating a community garden and we might even try and grow some native African vegetables. But I’d like to hear from other groups or individuals who have a plot, however small, that they’d like to cultivate.”

Ben’s job at EMERGE – the social enterprise that spearheaded recycling in Manchester long before it become mainstream – is funded by the Manchester Carbon Innovation Fund. Manchester City Council has invested £1 million in local projects that tackle climate change.

Trucks bringing fruit and veg from around the world are a constant reminder

There are beehives in urban allotments, ‘green roofs’ on community buildings and, in the Northern Quarter, the first ‘smart energy business district’ where offices and homes can monitor and reduce their energy use.

“Following the Growing Foods Project we hoping to open a cookery centre here,” says Ben, “it’s the logical next step after you’ve grown your own local, nutritious food. My granddad is a great gardener and my grandma is a great cook and it’s those skills that we are in danger of losing.”

Like to know more about growing your own food?
Contact Ben Lear at EMERGE on 0161 223 8200 or

See EMERGE’s website
Read more about the Manchester Carbon Innovation Fund

Principal’s Blog: May 2010

Posted by editor on June 14, 2010 under Education and health

This month the Principal’s Blog takes a different slant as East editor Len Grant chats to Jane Clewlow, East Manchester Academy’s new Vice Principal for Teaching and Learning.

Jane Clewlow: "I'm looking forward to September."

So which school have you just moved from?
I’ve been at Salford City Academy since 2006 as Vice Principal responsible for the 14-19 curriculum. It’s been my job to set up a new sixth form from scratch. We converted an old shell of a building into a thriving sixth form with, amongst other things, its own hair and beauty salon and construction skills centre.

Before Salford I worked as an Assistant Vice Principal at the newly-created City of London Academy in Bermondsey. It was so new that for the first two years we didn’t even have a school building but taught the children in ‘Portakabins’. It was only when the first intake reached Year 9 that we moved into our brand new school. That was an amazing experience.

What attracted you to the East Manchester Academy?
After London I never thought I’d have the opportunity to start in a brand new school again. But here it is: the chance to influence things right from the start. If you move to an existing school the systems and procedures are already in place, so it takes time to make positive changes. At the East Manchester Academy we can start from scratch and continually look at the Academy from the pupils’ perspective, always asking, ‘What will be best for our pupils?’

The school will start with just one year group. What challenges will that bring?
Unlike established high schools where the Year 7 pupils are the youngest, our Year 7s will be the oldest year group as they progress through the school.  Apart from our sixth form students, they won’t have big year groups above them to look up to, no-one to show them how things are done. They’ll be the ones that set the tone for the rest of the school which will be a challenging responsibility for them.

Won’t it feel a bit empty with only 180 pupils rattling around?
Not at all. The Year 7s will have their own ‘home base’ and certain sections of the school will be off limits. We want to make it feel small, safe and secure for them from day one.

What are you most looking forward to?
Oh, meeting the pupils and getting back into the school routine! Although I’m still going back to Salford once a week to teach my A-level students, I miss having the children around and find it very strange working in an office environment. I can’t wait for September!

When did you know teaching was for you?
My love of English came first. It was my reception teacher, Mrs Warburton, who, when I was just five years old, recognised that I had a particular aptitude for the subject. By the time I was 16 or 17 I had a real passion for English and also loved working with young people so the two came together in teaching. I studied English Literature at Lancaster University and completed my teaching training in Manchester before taking up my first post near Warrington in 2000.

And the satisfaction?
There’s satisfaction every day but now that I’ve been teaching for nearly 10 years it’s also wonderful to hear from ex-pupils. I’m in regular contact with a number who have gone on to achieve successes in a multitude of fields: some run their own businesses whilst others are representing our country in Afghanistan.

One of the pupils from the original intake at The City of London Academy got in touch with me recently; he thanked me for the impact I’d had on his early school career. He told me how he now runs three businesses, is a local politician and is about to go to university to read politics. For him to attribute some of his success to me is incredibly humbling. To know you have inspired a young person to go on to achieve great things is what teaching is all about.

I know that all of the pupils who start with us in September will go on to achieve great success and I’m looking forward to be being part of the team that helps them achieve that.

See the East Manchester Academy website here

Principal’s Blog: April 2010

Posted by editor on May 11, 2010 under Education and health

With only months to go before the new East Manchester Academy opens its doors in September, Principal Designate Guy Hutchence offers another monthly round-up of a work-in-progress.

We have just one more member of the teaching staff to recruit before we have a full complement, all ready for September. Whenever possible our new teachers have been coming together after full days at their current schools to prepare teaching plans for the new academy. They are a dedicated team already!

I’m delighted to announce we now have our second Vice Principal – Jane Clewlow – who is with us for most of each week and we’ve also appointed a Corporate Services Director and Manager. To make sure our catering operation is up and running from day one we’ve already recruited a Catering Manager who will start with us in June… so the team is building week by week.

From September we’ll have 16 teaching staff to cover all of the curriculum areas for our 180 Year 7 pupils and, as we take on more students each year, the staff room will become progressively more full with 60 teachers when we are fully open.

I must thank Sportcity for offering to host our transition days later on this summer term. Normally we’d welcome our new students to the school but, as we haven’t got a completed building yet – and short of issuing 180 hard hats – we have to stage our transition days elsewhere. So, over two days at the City of Manchester Stadium, we’ll be welcoming our pioneering students and, in the evenings, their parents and carers. I’m looking forward to meeting everyone then.

On site, the classrooms are looking good and outside the all-weather pitch is nearly complete. Standing on it now, it really is impressive and I can visualise not only our own PE teachers taking full advantage but also coaches from Manchester City FC who will be our guests from time to time.

Local sports groups have already been enquiring about using the state-of-the-art pitch and of course it will just one of our many facilities – including the indoor sports hall, the dance studio and the lecture theatre – that local groups can hire in the evenings and at weekends. With the library open outside school hours the school building will be in use right through the week and throughout the year. A school right at the heart of our community.

I must say I can’t wait for the school to open as I’m looking forward to running a school again!