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Manchester Confidential backs Manchester Academy

Lynda Moyo on the young entrepreneurs who’ve helped one of Britain’s worst schools recover

Written by . Published on May 10th 2007.

Manchester Confidential backs Manchester Academy

Manchester Academy student Yahui Zhang, age 16, doesn’t need a briefcase and a blazer to make her more ballsy than many a middle aged professional. What makes this more extraordinary is that this driven young woman and her team aren’t old enough to vote never mind create a business that would easily rival that of TV shows such as The Apprentice.

Yahui along with her Cathay Craftz team took part in the 'Make Your Mark With A Tenner' competition for schools and have made over £900 making and selling origami as well as paying their staff and directors a decent wage. All good work for a student who arrived here three years ago unable to speak a word of English and joined a school which up until 2003 was described as ‘totally dysfunctional’.

Sponsored by the United Learning Trust along with public funding, the school formerly known as Moss Side’s Ducie High School has come a long way.

Principal, Kathy August said: “Teaching was described in 2002 as unsatisfactory, and that doesn’t mean that there weren’t good teachers because there were. We’ve got some still here with us thank goodness. However, in order to try and teach in those conditions you’d have to be a miracle worker. All the attempts failed because help was coming from outside in and needed to be from inside out. There was only one sponsor willing to take on the challenge and that was the United Learning Trust.”

The deficit of Ducie High School was over £1million when it closed in 2002. Other Manchester schools lost money in order to pay it off. The impact of such a large deficit meant lack of teachers and inability to teach all parts of the curriculum. In 2001 there were three desks for every one pupil at the school due to attendance levels reaching an all time low. The attendance level is now 92% across all year groups.

Kathy said: “We’re here to give the most disadvantaged youngsters a chance. By that I mean disadvantaged in terms of postcode. We aim to give the youngsters an understanding of their responsibilities as well as rights and of the contribution each needs to make to society and the common good.”

The Cathay Craftz team are now waiting to hear if they will receive a prize for their business success. Click here to visit Manchester Academy School’s website.

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Old GeezerMay 10th 2007.

This school is a credit to the all the team, pupils and teaching staff alike, not forgetting the back room staff. I feel proud when i see them all on their way in at 8 in the morning in those blue uniforms, polite, well behaved and happy. Keep up the good work.

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