Last summer, seven Ark teachers spent part of their summer holidays in Uganda and India working with some of our global partners as part of the Ark Fellows programme. Ark Fellows gives teachers the opportunity to share their expertise in a particular area of school leadership - previous Fellows have worked across areas such as curriculum development, teacher training and school culture.
The programme offers a truly unique professional development experience, and in many cases, a truly life changing experience.
Claire Hickling, a science teacher from Ark Academy in Wembley, Fionnuala O’Connor, a History and ICT teacher from Ark St Alban’s Academy in Birmingham, and Mervin Kissoon, Head of Design and Technology at Ark Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton, spent two weeks in Uganda, sharing their expertise with one of Ark’s partners, PEAS (Promoting Equality in African Schools).
The Fellows were working with PEAS to create and run teacher training workshops. “The education specialists at PEAS were determined to introduce an improved culture of sharing and learning in their schools,” said Claire, “In Uganda, we focussed our observations on training and improving, rather than just testing and monitoring teachers. This supportive approach had a huge impact in making the experience a positive one - providing motivation, rather than criticism, for teachers and school leaders.”
One thing that struck Fionnuala was how little difference there actually was between her experiences in Birmingham and Uganda. “Whilst there were obvious differences in the way things looked, the conversations we had, and the vision we shared was the same; regardless of whatever cultural differences there may have been on the surface, what drove people and motivated them was the exact same.
“The whole experience was inspirational and the biggest thing I left with was a sense of being re-motivated. There is so much we can learn from colleagues and students around the world- it was energising to see such positivity towards developing practice.”
Primary teachers Aoife O’Donnell, from Ark John Keats Academy in Enfield, Stephanie Lester and Ffion Evans, from Ark Atwood Primary Academy in Westminster, and Deborah Texeira, Deputy Headteacher at Ark Tindal Primary Academy in Birmingham, all spent two weeks delivering training at the newly opened Ark Lajpat Nagar Primary School in New Delhi.
“Seeing strategies and training that we had introduced actually working was amazing,” said Deborah. “The difference in just a few days was unbelievable which shows how much these young children and bright teachers can take on in a short space of time.
“We take for granted all the resources we have in our UK schools so faced with extremely limited supplies we found it challenging to create a new afternoon curriculum to inspire the reception children. However it wasn’t impossible and the children loved all the new experiences.”
“Getting to know the teachers and introducing training and strategies that would benefit their classroom was an absolute joy,” said Ffion. “Seeing their love and dedication in wanting to make a difference to the children’s lives was inspiring. I have never met a group of such selfless teachers who want to learn and want to know so much, not to make a difference for themselves but for the children in their classrooms. If I could take just a small amount of this back to the UK the teaching profession would be a better place.”
“I went to India with the assumption that our work at Ark Lajpat Nagar would make a difference to the teachers we worked with, yet I hadn’t realised just how much I myself would gain from being with them,” said Aoife.
“If you are considering applying to the Ark Fellows Programme, without a shadow of a doubt, do it! It has honestly been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life” said Ffion.
Ark Fellows 2016
This year, the Ark Fellows programme will offer placements for primary teachers, in particular those with early years training, in our India school and for primary and secondary teachers to work with our school operating partners in Africa. We are looking for great teachers with some leadership experience but applicants only need to have worked for Ark since September 2015 in order to apply.
Applications for placements in India are now open. Please click here to read the Terms of Reference. In order to apply, please send your CV and covering letter explaining why you would make a great candidate to email@example.com. The deadline for applications for India is 24 March 2016.
Applications for our Africa placements will open soon. If you would like to express an interest before then, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org