Castle Manor Academy

Letter to parents – 11th March 2024

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Students from Castle Manor Academy were given a hard-hitting anti-crime talk as part of an annual Keep Safe week.

Paul Hannaford visited the school to talk powerfully about his life as a former drug addict. 

Vanessa Whitcombe, headteacher at Castle Manor Academy, said: “We were pleased to invite Paul Hannaford into the school to speak to students about his life.

“The Keep Safe week held last year was a huge success and given the importance of the topic, we decided to make this an annual event.

“At Castle Manor, we focused on understanding consent in different situations and looking at personal safety with resources and activities chosen to support age-appropriate learning.”

The visit was part of Unity Schools Partnership’s Keep Safe week which saw all schools in the trust encouraged to take part in events, online sessions and classroom activities around the theme ‘No, Means No’.

The week started with a meeting of the trust’s School Council, with two members from each school invited to join and work together with peers at Thomas Gainsborough School in Great Cornard.

We were delighted to recently welcome students from Notre Dame College in Haverhill’s twin town of Pont-Saint-Esprit.

The visit saw the students spend a morning sharing lessons with Year 10 students as part of a visit to Haverhill.

Vanessa Whitcombe, Headteacher at Castle Manor Academy, said: “We were delighted to welcome the students and give them an insight into our education system.

“For our students, it gave them a valuable opportunity to ask questions and integrate with students from another country.

“It was mutually beneficial and hopefully something we can do more of in the future.”

Click here to read a full report on the visit courtesy of the Haverhill Echo.

An ambitious commitment to sixth form education will see four schools join forces and provide free iPads to all post-16 students.

Under the ‘Unity Sixth’ umbrella, more than 500 sixth form students at Haverhill Community Sixth Form, St Edward’s Academy in Romford, Thomas Gainsborough School in Great Cornard and Felixstowe School will benefit from a shared curriculum including presentation and lectures given by renowned speakers from business, politics and the arts.

The post-16 arm of Unity Schools Partnership will also offer all sixth form students and teachers an iPad from September 2024, for use at both school and home.

Vanessa Whitcombe, headteacher at Castle Manor Academy, said: “This is an exciting development for Haverhill Community Sixth Form and our students.

“The opportunities to learn better by learning together are enormous and we are very excited about the future for our students.”

Stephen Astley, executive director of education at Unity, said: “We are hugely excited to launch Unity Sixth and its supra curriculum from September 2024.

“By the quartet of sixth forms joining forces, we believe we can offer an enhanced and enriched experience for our students as well as the very best of shared resources, teaching skills and assessment models to drive outcomes.”

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Sousa, has enthusiastically committed to help launch these lectures.

Reacting to the partnership, Andy Hunter, headteacher at Samuel Ward Academy, said: “We have had a record number of applications to the sixth form this year and we are still interviewing prospective students this week.

“We have never had so much interest from students at other schools and we are delighted that they will be benefitting from a shared curriculum and resources as part of Unity Sixth.”

Students at a Haverhill secondary school could soon be benefitting from state-of-the-art facilities, under exciting plans revealed this week.

An ambitious revamp of facilities at Castle Manor Academy is planned, which includes extensive refurbishment and upgrades to the school buildings and current facilities and the refurbishment of a new teaching block.

A new all-weather sports pitch, for both school and community use, is also proposed.

The plans for the Eastern Avenue site would be dependent on the sale of the former Parkway Middle School site, currently the head office of Unity Schools Partnership.

The trust said that all money raised from the sale would be invested into Castle Manor with work starting at the school in 2025.

Tim Coulson, chief executive of Unity Schools Partnership, said: “We are proud to have the school within our trust and of the education the school provides. But we have long identified the need to improve and modernise existing facilities and the sale of Park Road would allow us to push ahead with these plans.”

Vanessa Whitcombe, headteacher at Castle Manor Academy, added: “We pride ourselves on providing quality education within the heart of our community for both current and future generations of students. Having wanted them for so long, we are delighted that these exciting plans could now see the light of day.”

A consultation into the proposed disposal and development of the Park Road site was launched this week.

It will run for six weeks and will include a public meeting at Castle Manor Academy on Wednesday 12th January at 6pm.

Feedback from the consultation will be provided to the Department for Education for a decision on whether the scheme will go ahead.

Unity Schools Partnership, which will begin the process of finding a new head office, has also begun consulting with local organisations and groups that currently use Park Road – but a spokesperson insisted it would be at least a year until the plans became more definite.

A Haverhill school is celebrating after its “outstanding, caring environment” was recognised with a top award.

Castle Manor Academy has been awarded the Inclusion Quality Mark Centre of Excellence after high expectations at the school made a “huge impact” on progress, attitudes, behaviour and wellbeing.

Headteacher Vanessa Whitcombe said: “We are delighted to be recognised as an IQM Centre of Excellence – and to read the lovely report written following our accreditation visit.

“We firmly believe in inclusion and celebrating all of our students’ skills, talents and differences and look forward to working with the Centre of Excellence network.”

The award followed a two-day assessment earlier this year which saw assessors speak to members of the Student Parliament as well as witness older students supporting the school’s Sandcastles Nursery with their sports day.

They also spent time in the school’s Specialist Cognition and Learning Unit, The Arch, and spoke with parents and governors.

As part of their report, the assessment described Castle Manor as being a “small family school at the heart of the community”.

A Haverhill secondary school is calling on the community to help name it’s new school house.

The growth of Castle Manor Academy has led to the formation of a fifth, as yet unnamed, student house.

The community is now being asked to help name the new house – following in the footsteps of the school’s four Haverhill-inspired titles.

Headteacher Vanessa Whitcombe explained: “The school has increased by about 150 students in the last five years and we now think it is the right time to add a fifth house.

“We currently have Chantry, Hamlet, Helions and Wilsey and we are asking the public to help us name the fifth house along a similar theme.

“For students, being part of a house is a badge of honour. They can earn rewards for their house by taking part in weekly events, as a reward for good behaviour and sports day.

“Castle Manor is proud to play a special part in our local community and we look forward to hearing what the public think our fifth house should be called.”

Alongside the community engagement, students will be asked for their ideas before a decision is made after the February half term.