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St. James, embarked on a journey to enrich the school’s extracurricular offerings by introducing an after-school cheerleading club.

Vantage Academy Trust is committed to innovation, continuously exploring methods to enrich the educational journey of our students, offer support to their families, and improve our school’s facilities.

Kayleigh Drake, a dedicated Teacher at St. James, embarked on a journey to enrich the school’s extracurricular offerings by introducing an after-school cheerleading club. Despite her limited experience in cheerleading, Kayleigh drew upon her extensive background in dance, honed through years of coaching and training both abroad and locally.

With the enthusiastic backing of the St. James staff, Kayleigh’s vision for the club quickly materialized into reality. Supported by her sister, a seasoned cheerleading coach, they laid the groundwork for what would become a thriving program.

Through her role as a coach at APEX HQ in Denton and her qualification as a UK Cheerleading Association (UKCA) judge, Kayleigh brought a wealth of expertise to the table. She meticulously crafted training sessions catering to a diverse range of ages and skill levels, fostering a supportive and inclusive environment for all participants.

The club’s inaugural year saw modest beginnings, with just 16 eager students attending. However, fuelled by passion and dedication, the club rapidly gained momentum. A fortuitous recommendation from a neighbouring school led to their debut at the UKCA Nationals, where they achieved remarkable success, clinching 2nd place for Cheerleading Level 2 and 1st place for Urban Dance.

Bolstered by their achievements, interest in the club surged, prompting its expansion into two teams in its second year. To meet the growing demand, Kayleigh embarked on additional training to become a qualified coach, recruiting fellow teachers from St. James to lend their support.

Under Kayleigh’s guidance, the club flourished into a Level 1 cheerleading team of 11 and a Level 2 team of 16, complemented by an Urban Dance team. The acquisition of new uniforms and pom-poms, generously funded by St. James, instilled a renewed sense of team spirit and camaraderie.

Their success extended beyond accolades, as the club became a catalyst for positive change within the school community. Participants reported increased self-esteem and confidence, while overall school attendance saw a notable improvement.

Emboldened by their achievements, the teams set their sights on new challenges, expanding their competition repertoire to include the Manchester Cheer Festival. Their stellar performance at the festival, coupled with plans for future competitions, underscored the enduring impact of the club on its members and the broader school community.

As the club continues to evolve and thrive, it serves as a testament to the unwavering dedication and collaborative spirit of the St. James community. Through their collective efforts, they exemplify the strategic pillars of the Trust, Great Schools, Great People and Great Communities. Continued success is anticipated, reflecting the dedication of all involved.

Principal Michael Connolly: “The cheer and dance clubs have become our most popular after-school activity. Investing in them properly has been rewarding, especially seeing the teams perform at Nationals. The children’s spirit and sportsmanship make us proud.

Pupil feedback:

  • Jasmine, Year 4: “Cheerleading showcases our school.”
  • Mirabelle, Year 4: “I’ve made friends across different year groups.”
  • Imogen, Year 6: “Encouragement from Mrs. Drake helped me overcome shyness for Nationals.
  • Qawiyyah, Year 6: “Cheerleading lets me be myself.”
  • Michelle, Year 6: “It makes school more enjoyable.”
  • Olivia, Year 6: “My cheer and dance friends uplift me.”
  • Elevie, Year 5: “Stunt groups helped me make new friends.”