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We are a pioneering Centre within the Institute of Education at Manchester Metropolitan University.

We work with children, young people and their families, and the professionals concerned with their education and care, in urban contexts, in Greater Manchester, the North West of England, the rest of the UK and internationally.

We are a cross-disciplinary team of specialists from education, research, youth and community development, teaching and training. We draw on our extensive experience in teacher and community education, partnership working with Local Authorities and Higher Education, and management of public sector programmes and projects.

We bring together research, policy and practice to have a direct impact on all those working with children and young people in urban settings.

We specialise in developing and delivering innovative and creative learning programmes that:

  • Raise the aspiration of children, young people, families and communities.

  • Develop professionals and leaders to support the creativity and success of urban learners.

  • Unlock the assets of the urban environment.

  • Support change and innovation in schools and communities.

  • Network and disseminate practice regionally, nationally and internationally.

  • Link research to practice and provide evidence of what works.

  • Foster and develop inter-professional working.

We offer resources for urban learners and professionals, and provide bespoke consultancy and project management services across the UK and internationally.

CUE delivers the Creative Partnerships and Higher Futures 4 U (HF4U) programmes across Greater Manchester, Cheshire East and Warrington, UK.

For our latest news, events and current opportunities please see the News and Events section.

Who we are

We are a cross-disciplinary team of specialists from education, research, youth and community development, teaching and training. We draw on our extensive experience in teacher and community education, partnership working with Local Authorities and Higher Education, and management of public sector programmes and projects.

We bring together research, policy and practice to have a direct impact on all those working with children and young people in urban settings.

CUE Staff Team

Nancy Barrett - Creative Director

image of Nancy Barrett

Nancy leads on Strategic and Business Development for the team, and on our 'Sustainable Cities' strand of projects and professional learning, devising and directing a number of projects that support artists and educators to work together, harnessing the diversity and resources of the urban environment.

She has been Director of the Creative Partnerships programme since its launch as a pilot programme in Manchester & Salford 2002, securing funding for the expansion of the programme over the past 8 years and the transition into the Centre for Urban Education. She previously worked as Arts and Cultural Services Manager for Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council, leading on the development of the council's Commonwealth Games Cultural programmes, Millennium Events and opening of the Imperial War Museum North, and the Sale Waterside Arts Centre. Nancy experienced the impact of learning through the arts and creativity when she worked for seven years as a community arts worker in inner-city Ordsall, and as a lecturer in Performing Arts, English & Media at Salford University. She undertook a Post Graduate Certificate in European Cultural Policy and Planning at Leicester de-Montfort University, sparking her current interest in Cities, Urban policy and practice across Europe. She has presented papers at a number of European Conferences and events; including UNESCO's World Culture & Education Conference in Lisbon, 2006, and Barcelona Creative Cities Conference in 2009. She leads on our 'Sustainable Cities' strand of work, and is currently leading the 'ASPIS' Games Based Learning project to create innovative resources for learning about sustainability in planning for public spaces. Specialist skills and knowledge includes: Organisational and Strategic Development; Devising and Facilitating Study Visit Programmes; Arts Project Development, Brokerage and Management- in Public Art, Digital & Media arts; Network Development and Facilitation; bid writing to grants and trusts; multi- lateral European projects. Nancy believes that creative learning can unlock young people's talents, skills and imaginations and that Greater Manchester is one of the most creative places in the world.

Nancy is interested in longer term projects that explore how education is changing and responding to the challenges of the 21st Century, especially in cities and city-regions. She is able to work across the UK and internationally, and brings knowledge and experience of planning and working with multi-disciplinary teams in international projects.
Contact Nancy on +44 (0)161 921 8081.

Caroline Davies - Research Associate, Centre for Urban Education

image of Caroline Davies

Caroline is currently the Research Associate for the Centre for Urban Education. She has most recently worked on the EPPI centre systematic review on research literature projects. These reviews have focused upon the performance, professional learning and retention of NQTs. Caroline previously worked at the Centre for Enterprise Education, MMU for three years. Here, she focused the research activity of the NW Enterprise project on the requirements of the continued professional development (CPD) of teachers to facilitate enterprise and creativity. Her research has been used to contribute towards journal articles, articles in Times Educational Supplement, a book, Enterprise Education in Action and the forthcoming publication, Enterprise Education in the Curriculum.

Additionally, Caroline has evaluated numerous publicly funded educational projects on behalf of organisations such as NWDA, Stoke LEA, Bury LEA and the Greater Manchester Learning and Skills Council.

Marilyn Eccles - Leader of the Centre for Urban Education

image of Marilyn Eccles

Marilyn Eccles is seconded from Manchester City Council as the Leader of the Centre for Urban Education. As Leader of the Centre she works collaboratively with public, private and voluntary sector organisations to develop programmes of activity that support learners and communities in urban contexts. Marilyn believes that children and families in Greater Manchester and the North West deserve the best educational and employment opportunities and is working with colleagues, partners and communities to make that happen. Marilyn contributes to MMU's Initial Teacher Training Programme by lecturing on Education in Urban Contexts at the Institute of Education and has led a unit on Inter-Professional Co-operation as part of the degree course for School Business Managers.

Marilyn believes that the children in Greater Manchester deserve the best education and is working with colleagues and children to make that happen.

David Farrow - Head of Creative Partnerships Programmes

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David has worked in a variety of freelance and employed roles within education and the arts, including management, teaching, training and development. As an artist he has worked with galleries, schools and communities, and coordinated artist studio groups. David has 7 years experience teaching and leading Art and Design, ICT and Citizenship in schools and colleges across Greater Manchester. For the past 6 years he has developed and managed the Creative Partnerships programme with over 200 schools across 12 local authorities, in collaboration with hundreds of arts and cultural partners and practitioners. The role has included managing and quality assuring the planning, delivery and evaluation of the Change Schools and Enquiry Schools programmes; development of CPD and network opportunities; management of associates and practitioners.

David manages the Learners Lead curriculum model and the Creative Co-operatives programme for CUE Creative, and delivers INSET on curriculum development, creative pedagogy and visual literacy. Other areas of interest and development include: pupil-leadership and co-production; global citizenship; social and digital media in education; learning environments; artist/teacher networks.

Specialist skills and experience includes:

  • Facilitation (creative methods, unconference techniques such as Open Space).
  • Ideas generation (project development, brokerage, consultation).
  • Project management (planning, budgeting, quality assurance, evaluation).
  • Training and professional development.
  • Network coordination and event management.
  • Curriculum development.
  • Action Research and Enquiry-based learning.
  • Evaluation and reflective practice.
  • Visual communication (visual minuting, mindmapping, branding).
  • Auditing, self-assessment, change management.
Contact David on +44 (0)161 921 8081 or +44 (0)7876 491 705.

Samantha Howarth - Administrator, Centre for Urban Education

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Samantha is the Centre Administrator for CUE and Personal Assistant to Marilyn Eccles. Previously she worked for the University of Manchester for eleven years in roles such as market research, international events and finance. During this time Samantha studied part-time for her degree in Business Studies with MMU and Professional Diploma in Marketing.

Ana Hurst - Leader and co-ordinator of Higher Futures 4U

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Ana has worked on the Higher Futures 4U project since 2006, becoming leader in 2008. During this time she has also become an Neuro-linguistic programming Practitioner.
Ana has worked within the education sector since 2000, her pervious roles have included Youth offending officer, child protections officer and a councillor. Above all Ana believes that children's awareness of choice is key to their education. Fundamentally no-one can strive for something that they don't know exists. Understanding of choice leads to higher aspirations.

Jen Mellor - Administrator, Higher Futures 4 U

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Jen is the Project Administrator for Higher Futures 4U. Prior to this, she has worked at Nottingham University as a Corporate Account Manager for Blackwell's Bookshops, and as a University administrator for Manchester University. She studied for a BA in English Literature at Durham, and an MA in Victorian Literature at Nottingham. She is thoroughly enjoying working with the Higher Futures 4U project, as it combines her interest in developing creative communication tools, such as the maintenance of the HF4U website and blog, along with designing new organisational and administrative systems.

Claire O'Brien - Operations Manager

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Claire has been Operations Manager for our Creative Partnerships programme since 2004. Previous to her role at CPGM, she undertook a degree in Arts Management at De Montfort University in Leicester. Claire is responsible for events, day to day financial management, liaising with suppliers, maintaining and collating databases. She specialises in Action Learning Facilitation. Claire has sat on various working groups including a Finance working group, Communication working group and Staff Group.

Her main interests lie in events management, communications and operational and organisational development.

Specialist skills and knowledge includes: Accredited Action Learning Facilitator; Event Management including networking days and conferences for up to 200 people in Greater Manchester, UK; and Project Management including senior level administration; budget management; contracting expertise with external consultants and suppliers; customer service and operational support.
Contact Claire on +44 (0)161 921 8081.

Verity Wright - Project worker (Manchester), Higher Futures 4 U

image of Verity Clarke

Verity is the Higher Futures 4U project worker for Skills and Schools; working with a selection of primary schools across the Manchester area. Before beginning this role she graduated from The University of Manchester with a BSc. Degree in Psychology, focusing deeply on the physical and psychological symptoms of coronary heart disease and medically un-explained symptoms. This heightened her knowledge and interest in different mind-sets and the way they can help or hinder anything from learning and development to health and stability.
Her main interests lie in child development, learning styles, behaviour disorders and mental illness.

CUE Associates information

Jude Bird


Jude has been working with CUE and formerly CP Manchester Salford as an associate for 5 years. Initially she developed work in SEN Change schools and the CP SEN Network in the area. Subsequently she has been working as Change School co-ordinator.

Jude's formative years were spent in New Zealand and she came to England to pursue her professional practice.

Her art form is dance/movement in which she has worked in a multiplicity of roles both as a freelancer and employee to include performer, lecturer, facilitator, artistic director, mentor, business and development agent. Her work has taken place in prisons, hospitals, schools and colleges and in community settings on a regional, national and international basis. She is currently studying for a Masters degree in Dance and Somatic practice.

Jude has also worked in commerce as a manager as well as working across the voluntary, public, private and independent sectors basis, regionally, nationally and internationally. She has both served on and chaired a number of boards and committees and been a school governor.

Helen Clare - STEM Associate (Science Technology Engineering and Maths)


Helen leads on our STEM strand of projects and professional learning, devising and directing a number of projects to bring the subjects alive for young people, supporting teachers to develop innovative learning opportunities within the curriculum, and training artists to apply their skills and to explore the subjects.

Helen Clare is a freelance writer and facilitator working on a portfolio of projects in the UK, which involve science, writing, creativity, and learning. They have included a residency at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, Passing Down, to create a piece of word based textile art responding to people's ideas about inheritance; and work on the 'Leonardo Effect', a National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA) funded project to explore teaching science and art synchronously.

Comma press published Helen's poetry collection 'Mollusc' in 1994. Her poems have also appeared in magazines including The North, The Rialto, Ambit and The Manhattan Review and have won prizes in the Arvon and London Writers Competitions.

Specialist skills and knowledge includes: Facilitation, Continuous Professional Development (CPD), Bid Writing, Brokerage of artists, Auditing and Self-Assessment for Creative Learning within STEM subjects.

Helen leads on our STEM strand - Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

She is interested in large and small scale projects within the North West, UK and available for single lesson to two year projects, working with small groups to whole school and Local Authority areas.

Contact Helen on +44 (0)161 921 8081 or +44 (0)7962 153059.

Lesa Dryburgh


Lesa founded Stop The Pigeon in 2002, a Manchester-based communications consultancy working for UK cultural and creative industries with an international reach. She works with Executive teams, Boards and staff to develop business enhancing communication.

Lesa's career spans twenty-five years and her specialist skills include: company identity and strategic communications development, facilitation, training, coaching and mentoring to support personal professional and organisational evolution. She is an Accredited Prince 2 Project Management Practitioner and Relational Dynamics Coach.

Lesa's recent work includes: Communications Consultant with National Theatre Wales and the Centre for Urban Education based at Manchester Metropolitan University; as a Facilitator with the Clore Leadership Programme Short Courses, Leadership Lab in the North West, Sing Up! and Youth Music and as a Personal Coach and Mentor.

Lesa was England's Northwest Fellow on the Clore Leadership Programme 2007 2008. She joined the Board of Band on the Wall, Manchester UK in February 2009. Her preferred mode of travel is her bicycle although she may be the world's slowest cyclist. After concentrating all her efforts on working with clients she is shamefully only just developing her own web presence will be live in late 2010. For now, for further information about recent activities please visit: and

David Eaton


David has a history in the Creative Industries of some 29 years, if we go back to his beginnings as a Furniture Maker!

Over the past 19 years, his work has centred on Photography, Design Technology (New Media) and Education, where he has been a practitioner, consultant, lecturer and project manager.

He also has a personal interest in creative and collaborative networks, having been instrumental in the founding of Redeye, the Photography Network in the late 90s and before that having coordinated New Exposure, Manchester's first Photography Festival.

You can find an extended professional biography for David here.

Mandy Precious


Mandy Precious is a playwright, drama worker, and educator. She has written for the stage across the North West, developing work that enables young people and communities to access professional theatre. She is an applied theatre practitioner, working specifically with hard to reach young people, and developing process drama in school settings. She has an MA in drama and theatre education, and is a PhD student with an interest in Social Class and its impact on Artist's pedagogy and practice. She is currently the Artistic Director of Burnley Youth Theatre

John Robinson - Education Consultant, Centre for Urban Education

image of John Robinson

John is an education consultant for the Centre. His research interests focus on education for sustainable futures and education for social and environmental justice. He is particularly interested in an assets approach to educational provision. He is the author of several journal papers and chapters. He has recently published (2006) Environmental Justice and Global Citizenship, Amsterdam, Rodopi (co-edited with T Shallcross), (2006) Creating Sustainable Environments in Our Schools, Stoke-on-Trent, Trentham (co-edited with T Shallcross, P Pace and A Wals) and (2006) Educational Studies: critical issues and perspectives, London, Open University Press (co-edited with D Kassem and E Mufti)

Noah Rose


Noah Rose is a practicing sculptor, specialising in public art and public realm design. His practice is flexible, adapting to different models of work, techniques and materials, although there are certain common threads running through all his work. These include a commitment to community and public engagement, a research-based approach to developing work that is site specific and informed by its context and location.

In recent years he has been working with the Centre for Urban Education as a Creative Agent, Practitioner and Associate responsible for developing and delivering the Space Shapes Learning programme. This programme of work covers many activities but at its core is concerned with exploring the relationship between innovative design and transforming teaching and learning. Over the last five years this has included working with schools across CUE's network who are interested in exploring creative learning spaces, or are developing new spaces within their school as part of Building Schools for the Future (BSF) or other school rebuild/ redesign opportunities.

Noah has worked directly with schools (students, teachers and senior management teams) as well as with several local authority BSF teams, Architects' practices and other external partners. He also developed the content for and co-facilitated the Space Shapes Learning conference at the Whitworth Art Gallery in 2008 and the CUE study visit to Copenhagen in 2010.

Richard Shotton


Richard Shotton has over 20 years experience of working in education, as a teacher and faculty leader, consultant/advisor, researcher and project manager. He specialises in the fields of intercultural relations, creativity, Citizenship education and the use of new technologies in teaching and learning, and has worked in the UK and a dozen or more other countries (especially in the Near East) for governments, NGOs and the commercial sector, including the delivery of major teacher training and action research projects for the British Council and Microsoft, as well as the production of interactive learning materials for British Airways, the EU and Encyclopedia Britannica. He is currently head of the UK network for the Anna Lindh Foundation for Intercultural Dialogue, and also leads on 'social cohesion' programmes for the Centre for Urban Education at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he soon hopes to complete his PhD.

Our approach

The Centre for Urban Education is committed to improving the aspirations, educational opportunities and attainments of all children, young people and families in urban contexts. Using an assets-based approach, we bring together research, policy and practice to develop programmes that will have a direct impact on all those we work with.

Urban environments are rich in historical, cultural, creative and community diversity. The Centre draws upon the value of these assets to make partnerships and connections, so that its programmes transform the lives of individuals and release the capital of our communities.

We are a multi-disciplinary Centre, working across the Manchester Metropolitan University's faculties and with external partners. Together we combine academic, educational, and creative expertise; enabling shared and multi-professional learning, creating new approaches, and applying knowledge to address the current challenges in urban education.

Our work is based on real life practice, and the processes, impacts and outcomes are evidenced, so that others can share successful approaches and solutions.

We engage young people as co-constructors of learning, so that they are actively involved in leading and shaping our programmes; and able to develop life-long learning skills to support them in their future work and life.

What we do

We offer opportunities in partnership with a number of other organisations, including Local Authorities, Businesses and Government funded bodies and with our wide network of local and international partner schools, colleges and universities.

We also offer resources for urban learners and professionals and provide bespoke consultancy and project management services.

Creative and Cultural Learning
Further Information

Consultancy, Project Management and Advisory Services
Further Information

Young People as Participants and Partners
Further Information

Professional Learning
Further Information

Research, Evaluation and Consultation
Further Information


The Centre for Urban Education has a mixture of resources which are available to download, purchase or available as a training aid to the programmes that we deliver. This area has been split into 4 sections: Primary, Secondary, Research and Case Studies. Click on a link below to see the respective resources. If you would like to request one of the resources or require further information please complete the proforma, available here, and send to


Difference Engine CD Rom and Playing Cards

The CD-Rom shares details of six projects developed as part of the Creative Partnerships Enquiry School Programme and inspired by 'The Difference Engine...a steampunk adventure' from Walk the Plank and Thingumajig Theatre. We've included the background and thinking behind these projects, which we hope will support and inspire you in running similar projects in school. You'll also find a film of the performance of 'The Difference Engine...a steampunk adventure', as performed at Manchester Town Hall for the Manchester International Festival 2009.

If you would like a copy of the Difference Engine CD-Rom and a pack of educational playing cards, please complete the proforma above.


'I wonder...': A 'creative science springboard' resource for science teachers at key stage 3. Creative thinking is vital in science, yet the way it is taught can leave little room for creativity. This pack provides a range of starting points, hints and examples.

If you would like a copy of the i-Wonder pack please complete the proforma above.

Community Champions Resource DVD

A resource designed to support children's understanding of community and neighbourhood.

The resources have been developed in partnership with Greater Manchester Police, Lancashire Constabulary and Places for People. The materials have been piloted in primary schools across Greater Manchester and Lancashire and are designed to support children's understanding of community and neighbourhood. We hope that you will find the resources useful in supporting your curriculum planning.

Price: 9.99 (free delivery)

To order, please complete the proforma form above and email to


Children's Workforce Development Effective Inter-Professional Working

An Information and Training Pack for education, health and social care staff. (CD-Rom)

This CD-Rom contains a training and information pack that has been developed for all members of the Children's Workforce to help professionals and practitioners understand the rationale behind the Every Child Matters agenda and how working together inter-professionally is the best way to achieve the desired outcomes for the children and young people.

Section One gives you a background on the development of inter-professional working and why it is important.

Section Two has a series of interactive exercises that can be carried out with a trainer or individually to help foster the relationships to encourage inter-professional working.

For an example of one of the activities, please click here.

9.99 including free delivery.

Please complete the proforma and email it to


Information to be uploaded soon.

Case Studies 

Please find below downloadable case studies that can be used as examples of work that could be undertaken in your educational setting.

1. 'Oldham is for Everybody': Exploring identity and community cohesion through creativity. Oldham, Greater Manchester, UK
Creative practitioners use drama-based processes and techniques and photography to support young people from three schools to explore their individual and collective sense of identity and community. A values-based enquiry of public spaces in the local urban environment. Click here to view case study.

2. Integration's What You Need - Innovative Curriculum Design and Pupil Voice at Cravenwood Community Primary School, Manchester, UK.
How can Learner Voice help embed an integrated curriculum? An innovative curriculum design and pupil voice programme involving 288 primary school children, developing participation and enjoyment for children and listening skills and confidence for teachers. Click here to view case study.

Contact CUE

All enquiries should be addressed to the main office:

Centre for Urban Education
Birley Building
Manchester Metropolitan University
Bonsall Street
Manchester M15 6GX

T: +44 (0) 161 247 2406
F: +44 (0) 161 247 6917

How to find CUE

CUE has two satellite offices, one in the Department Store on Oak Street and the other in Minshull House.

Directions to the Department Store

Directions to Minshull House