Peterborough Headteacher hails success of unique enrichment-led curriculum 18 months on from school opening and looks ahead to increased community outreach

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Manor Drive opened its doors to its first pupils in 2022.

Manor Drive Secondary Academy Headteacher Jo Sludds has insisted that she could not be happier with the school’s progress 18 months on from its opening.

The school- which is part of the Four Cs Academy Trust- opened its doors in the summer of 2022 to a cohort of 120 Year 7 pupils and has since taken in a second year of primary school leavers to double its pupil numbers.

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A new cohort will join the school each academic year with the school set to have a full cohort of Year 7 to 11 students by 2026.

Jo Sludds, Headteacher at Manor Drive Academy  with head of English Mandy Pantling and children who entered at book week competition dressing potatoes.Jo Sludds, Headteacher at Manor Drive Academy  with head of English Mandy Pantling and children who entered at book week competition dressing potatoes.
Jo Sludds, Headteacher at Manor Drive Academy with head of English Mandy Pantling and children who entered at book week competition dressing potatoes.
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The school is unique in Peterborough in that the Manor Drive Primary and Secondary academies share a building, although they are run as entirely separate schools. Interim Head Emma Marks is currently leading the Primary Academy, which opened at the same time.

The Secondary Academy is also leading the way in its curriculum with enrichment built in to the make up of its school day. School runs from 8:30am to 3:35pm Monday to Thursday with pupils finishing at 2pm on Fridays.

The school day starts with 30 minutes of children attending their form groups where they get registered and prepared for the day and ends with half an hour of enrichment.

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Jo Sludds, Headteacher at Manor Drive Academy with one of the projects at school to build an electric racing car.Jo Sludds, Headteacher at Manor Drive Academy with one of the projects at school to build an electric racing car.
Jo Sludds, Headteacher at Manor Drive Academy with one of the projects at school to build an electric racing car.

Monday is reading, where teachers read to pupils from a range of carefully chosen texts which reflect different cultures and experiences to improve their fluency and boost understanding. On the following three days, children enjoy activities designed to benefit their mind, body and to achieve a goal.

Tuesday’s mindful sessions can include, colouring or photoshop sessions, embroidery and creative writing; Wednesday’s body can include drama games, cheerleading or traditional sports while Thursday’s sessions gives pupils a chance to challenge themselves.

For example, a group are in the process of building an electric racing car to take on schools from across the country in July, while others in Enterprise are engaging their business brains to see how much profit they can make from £20.

On Fridays, the school day ends with either a celebration assembly or the school’s inter-house competitions, which see opportunities to win a wide range of activities including choir, Mastermind, Bake off, photography, sport and art competitions.

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Manor Drive Secondary Academy.Manor Drive Secondary Academy.
Manor Drive Secondary Academy.

Once the school has Year 10 and Year 11 students, these sessions are envisaged to be used to provide important support such as careers advice, PSHE and targeted intervention for academic subjects.

Headteacher Mrs Sludds, who joined the project back in 2018 after spending a number of years as Head of Sixth Form and Assistant Headteacher at Arthur Mellows Village College, said: “We are different. We are very much about knowing our cohort and interested in the child as a whole. Like many schools in the city we have a varied demographic. We want all our children to experience a broad and enriched curriculum so that everyone gets an opportunity to achieve.

"As we started with just Year 7, we have been able to keep that culture of involvement and competition. We are so much about reward and positivity where every child matters. The children are happy and they are working very hard.

“We want to create well rounded individuals. We want them to achieve the best academic results they can but also develop essential skills for life. I am a big believer in not setting children up to fail and finding a way for every child to get what they need from school to move on and achieve success in life.

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“We have four core values, Knowledge, Strength, Respect and Ambition. If we can instil all of those values into our children they can be anything they want to be. I want to create resilient learners; I often talk in assemblies about the mistakes I have made and how I have overcome them. Mistakes are not a problem if you learn from them.”

The next step of the school’s development plan is to increase links with the nearby community.

The school already runs zumba classes, children’s dance lessons, basketball sessions and has plans to work with the Youth Dreams Project to provide free sports sessions for members of the community on a monthly basis.

Further plans include exciting events such as an international food market, a Ground Force day to plant 240 more trees that the school was recently gifted from The Woodlands Trust.

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They are also keen to host IT lessons where pupils teach the local community the technology the use.

Mrs Sludds added “The next stage is strengthening links with the community and providing further opportunities to those who live in the local area. I am focused on what we can do to give back to the community that we serve.”

Further information about the school can be found at https://www.manordrivesecondary.org.uk/.