ARK Fellows is a new professional exchange programme that gives up to 12 high-calibre employees from across the ARK education family, including ARK Schools, the chance to work in ARK's international education programmes.
Our first ARK Fellows returned from their two-week trips abroad this summer, where they’ve been working with teachers from our programmes in India and Zambia. ARK has been working in India since 2010 helping disadvantaged families claim their children’s right to free primary education and using phonics to drive children’s English proficiency. ARK also supports a network of secondary schools in Uganda with our partner PEAS, who run a similar programme in Zambia.
Teachers Lizzie Williams and Joanna O’Byrne from King Solomon Academy in London gave a presentation to ARK staff about the time they’d spent coaching and observing teachers in India, while Deputy Principal Angelina Adams from Evelyn Grace Academy in south London spoke about the time she’d spent with PEAS in Zambia. They all explained how, during their projects, they helped teachers to make the most of great teaching methods, and share these methods with colleagues.
All three said that great relationships will be the key to successful ARK Fellows projects – building them beforehand, nurturing them throughout, and maintaining them afterwards. They also said that, while they had expected their projects to make a difference to the teachers they worked with, they hadn’t realised just how much they themselves would gain from taking part.
Miss Williams said: “I wish I’d gone out with higher expectations. It surprised me how much we’re bringing back, and how much of a two-way process it was. The biggest surprise was how familiar and similar it was – it was all recognisable. That’s really comforting. And it’s a good starting point for us.”
Miss Adams said that the projects made her think about her own pupils: “What I’m bringing back, from a personal and a professional point of view, is the way in which the children there value the education they’re getting, and how important it is. We need to keep urging our children to recognise the difference that their learning can have to their lives, their futures, and to the lives of their communities.”
Miss O'Byrne had some advice for anyone thinking about becoming an ARK Fellow: “I’d say: go. And no matter how much you help them, you’ll always gain more than you can give. You just need an awareness of different cultures, the ability to be honest with the people you go to - and a sense of adventure.”
You can visit their blog if you would like to read more about their experiences in India.