All of our schools have their own ethos, uniform and character. But they all share the same mission: to make sure that every pupil can go to university or into the career of their choice.
To achieve our mission, our schools follow the same set of underlying principles. We call these the Six Pillars:
1. Excellent teaching
A teacher affects a pupil's achievement more than any other factor. We work side-by-side with teaching staff, supporting them with training and development so that they can deliver excellent teaching. To make sure that no pupil is left behind, we've developed data management tools which help teachers to monitor progress - this shows when pupils, or indeed teaching staff, need extra support.
2. High expectations
We believe that every child can achieve great things. So we set exceptionally high expectations for all our pupils, and we do whatever it takes to meet them. Our aspirations are no lower for our most vulnerable pupils.
3. Exemplary behaviour
Our schools are characterised by a respectful and orderly environment, where teachers can focus on teaching and pupils can focus on learning. We teach, recognise and reinforce good behaviour, and we don't tolerate poor behaviour. We don't accept any excuses, and we don't make any either.
4. Knowing every child
We organise our schools so that every child knows, and is known well by, every adult in the school.
We also recognise that children do best when families and schools work together. We keep parents well informed about children's targets, and we involve families in all aspects of school life.
5. Depth before breadth
When children build firm foundations in English and maths, they find it easier to do well in other subjects too. That's why we prioritise depth in these subjects, giving our pupils the best chance of success.
We've developed Mathematics Mastery, which aims to improve attainment, enjoyment and confidence in maths. This approach is based on tried and tested methods from around the world, and is also endorsed by Ofsted. As well as working in partnership with all our primary schools, Mathematics Mastery also partners with over 250 schools outside Ark.
To nurture a love of reading and develop fluent communication skills, we also dedicate more time to literacy and English. We work with Drive for Literacy to make sure that all of our teachers recognise the barriers that children face in building literacy skills, and we offer tools and expertise to enable teachers to best support students who need more help.
6. More time for learning
To make sure children have enough time both for core subjects and for extra-curricular activities, many of our schools run a longer school day. Others are open at weekends and during school holidays, offering masterclasses and revision sessions. Many Ark schools offer residential stays, day trips and summer schools. In every school, no time is wasted - every hour of every day is devoted to children learning.