Hear from our teachers
Ms Drayton is the Head of Religious Education at Ark Kings. She’s also the school’s Coordinator for Initial Teacher Training and Newly Qualified Teachers. She joined Ark Kings in 2013, as an NQT.
Today Ark Kings is the most improved academy in the country and it is rapidly improving. Ark Kings prides itself not just on the opportunities that are there for students, but for staff as well. Expectations are high, but there is lots of support.
“This was a transition academy in 2012, when it joined the Ark network. The progress is incredible – it’s a different school. Teaching and learning are really important.”
Ark Kings places particular importance on CPD for its staff. There are weekly CPD sessions, a tailored CPD programme and twice as many training days as standard. Because the school is part of the Ark family, teachers can take advantage of the training available at Ark’s Head Office in London.
“CPD is not just about teachers. It’s about improving learning for students. On Monday, we had a CPD session and immediately teachers were putting this in their classes. It was exciting to see that and think about the eventual progress of the students."
Ark Kings offers its staff fantastic opportunities for career progression. ED was the Head of Religious Education during her NQT year, and at the end of that she was appointed Initial Teacher Training Coordinator.
The school has high expectations and students are pitched a grade above where they are. Teachers are working hard to give their pupils the same life chances as children from wealthier backgrounds.
“They’ve started to really see the purpose of why we have such high expectations of them. Before, they and their parents had lower expectations whereas we have relentless expectations. We hear students talking more and more about what A-levels they might take, and what university they might go to.
We look at lots of trips to make this seem more real, including a visit to Google HQ. I was so proud – my pupils sat in a room full of CEOs and they expressed themselves really articulately. They were proud to wear their uniform and to represent their school.”
There is also a rigorous behaviour system, which means that teachers can focus on teaching and getting the best outcomes for their pupils.
“We get fantastic training – for example, from educationalist Doug Lemov. We’ve been given the tools in class to non-invasively intervene in poor behaviour. That’s been really useful.”
Staff are rewarded for good performance. Each Friday there are ‘shout outs’ for teachers that have helped their colleagues that week. There are also weekly line management meetings, where teachers discuss their subjects and responsibilities.
“We’re a small school so the relationships we have with senior management are different than what they might be in a larger school. There's an open door policy for all 250 students and 30 teachers. Management care – they are always willing to listen and step up when you need something. I’d never be afraid to speak to them. Every day you feel you’re making a difference to a student who may have been forgotten about, who may have thought about leaving school and staying on their estate.”
“It’s amazing to feel that we’re making a difference and that slowly but surely, we’ll be an outstanding school one day.”