Lessons Learned: putting experience to work

Lessons Learned: Putting experience to work
A joint report from Ark and King's College London

2 July 2015
Editor: Alex Bigham

PDF Format: PDF iconDownload the Lessons Learned report.pdf

We commissioned this report just over a decade after our establishment as a schools operator.  The objective was to better understand what had worked and what hadn’t both in Ark and the wider education community. The intention was to provoke a debate on the key issues that will face schools over the coming ten years.

We developed a partnership with King’s College London who provided valuable research and policy expertise to ensure that the report is premised on sound research evidence and arguments.

We believe that a good education can radically alter the life chances of any child and that, in turn, will provide huge social and economic benefits. 

As well as giving real choice to pupils in our schools, we want to help contribute to system-wide improvement. Ultimately, we believe that the only way we can meet the many challenges facing us in education is by first examining, openly and frankly, the issues and possible solutions which promise to improve academic achievement for all children.

While building the best educational provision possible is a complex mission, one that requires balancing a whole range of solutions and priorities, we have focused on three major themes:

  • How educational disadvantage of all kinds can be effectively tackled
  • How to maximise teacher capacity, giving them the pedagogic tools and time needed to teach effectively
  • How best to allocate resources – including funding – for maximum results

There are no silver bullets in education. Instead it is more helpful to think of the journey to transform schools as analogous to how Dave Brailsford and his team made British cycling into world beaters. Small changes – around behaviour, transitions or teacher practice on their own may not be effective. But taken together, the aggregation of marginal gains can have an impact that is greater than the sum of minor improvements. 

Covering subjects from early years to post-16 education, and with chapters on mastery, teacher coaching, digital technology and closing the attainment gap, we hope this report provides some suggestions of how to secure those gains and unlock every child’s potential.