Ark is not only a network of 38 schools in the UK. It also – through Ark Ventures – incubates 11 separate ventures, working in fields as diverse as social work, curriculum development and school data. Ark Ventures also works internationally, through the Education Partnerships Group and Global Schools Forum.
It’s a complex structure and a very busy organisation, with a lot of different threads. But one of the advantages of working for Ark is that there are many opportunities to change jobs and stay within the Ark family, working on the same mission: to provide young people with a great education leading to real choices in life.
In this blog post - the first in a series - we hear from three Ark staff members who have moved from one post to another within Ark, sharing with us the details of their journey and the difference it has made to their careers. In future posts, we’ll profile people who have moved from Ark and Ventures to work in our schools, as well as other career journeys.
Jonathan Molver was the primary school Principal at Ark King Solomon Academy in London for six years – one of the country’s highest achieving schools, before moving to Ark’s Education Partnerships Group (EPG). At first, Jonathan drew on his educational experience to consult on international projects. But soon he found more and more opportunities to get further involved.
“When I first learned in 2013 that Ark was involved in international projects, and in particular in South Africa, I was of course very interested as I’m South African! Initially, I contributed to that work in a very small way, by hosting a number of South African government officials and funders in visits to my school. This helped move the work EPG was doing in the Western Cape forward, and selfishly (in hindsight) that helped me to develop the relationships and credibility in the Western Cape that I rely on for my work today.”
Jonathan is now South Africa Education Director for EPG.
“As a South African I’d always hoped to move back in order to give something back to a struggling developing country nowhere near fulfilling its true potential. This dream only grew as we achieved things at Ark and King Solomon Academy that I hadn’t known were possible earlier in my career – I really wanted to find an opportunity to bring back all that I’d learned from Ark to the country I grew up in.”
Matea Marcinko was a teacher at Ark Burlington Danes Academy in west London. She has also made the transition to working for an Ark Venture - twice, having joined English Mastery and more recently Ambition Institute – a new graduate school for teachers and school leaders.
“Ark works to address educational disadvantage - this is what drew me to working at Ark Burlington Danes in the first place. I grew up near the school and I wanted to be part of helping to make a difference in my own community.”
“I wanted to spend time thinking about teaching and pedagogy more deeply and that's what drew me to English Mastery. A real privilege of that role has been seeing teachers up and down the country teaching students in different contexts. I have learnt so much about teaching by being an observer. If/when I go back into the classroom myself, I will be a far better teacher for this experience. If you're a teacher thinking about taking some time outside of the classroom, it is definitely worth considering an educational venture. Great teachers need to stay in education if possible! Sometimes a new dynamic can be the respite you need to be ready for a new challenge in a school.”
Opportunities to move around within the Ark family aren’t just reserved for educators. Libby Dangoor joined Ark three years ago as a Venture Partner, project managing and doing consulting work for a number of Ark Ventures. Last year, she was appointed as Director of Operations for Now Teach, a venture working to recruit career changers into teaching.
“Joining an organisation that supports and encourages moves internally was a real draw for me, as I wanted to find a leadership position within a growing organisation but I didn’t have an exact role in mind. Being a Venture Partner meant that I could develop a greater understanding of the opportunities available whilst still working with amazing teams making a difference in education. It helped me to see where I could best use my skill set and which team would be a good fit for me.
"It is great to be part of a family that has an aligned social mission. Remaining part of a larger organisation that provides support and infrastructure to grow is a real asset. As a wide network, working within Ark means that you always have someone you can ask for support, who is happy to share their experience.
“Everywhere within Ark and Ark Ventures, there is a deep commitment to system impact and transforming the lives of children.”