Ark is not only a network of 37 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 our previous blog we focussed on people who have moved roles from Ark to Ark Ventures. In this post, we hear from three Ark staff members who have moved from roles in the central office to careers based in schools within the network.
James Evelyn was the Network Lead for Primary Maths at Ark. His role took him across all four regions of the Ark network – from one primary school to another on a daily basis.
“I can proudly say that in my old role I visited every Ark primary school. This slightly nomadic existence removes you from the day-to-day life of working in one school and I was always careful to remember that maths, whilst important, was only one part of the large jigsaw that is a school.”
However, it was always his intention to work in the school environment. James is now the Principal of one of Ark’s primaries in west London – Ark Atwood Primary Academy.
“I am a teacher first and foremost. Whilst I loved my previous Network Lead role, I always knew I would eventually return to a full-time school-based role. Now I am immersed in the daily life of a school and really value the day-to-day relationships and experiences that come with this. The scope of my current role is huge and whilst it is unquestionably challenging, it is also refreshing to be thinking about more than just maths.”
“Having worked for Ark before joining Ark Atwood gave me an enormous advantage. I knew Ark Atwood quite well before I started working here, and have the support from the Ark network. The power of the network for providing opportunities cannot be underestimated.”
Rebecca Curtis had a similar journey to James. She was Ark’s Director of Secondary Support, before becoming Principal of Ark Elvin Academy in Wembley.
“In many ways, my previous role at Ark was the perfect preparation for being a principal. I was fortunate enough to work with principals and schools across the network at various different stages in their school improvement process. I learnt so much from each one. It certainly gave me a great training ground and so much more confidence when I took on my first headship.”
Like James, Rebecca had a very mobile role, working from a different Ark school every day, but she eventually decided that she wanted to make a difference by rooting herself as part of one school community.
“In my old role, I might have been in a different school each day in a week, but I have to say I love having my own school now. I always knew that my heart really belonged to a school, and that I wanted to get back to a school-based role. When my current role at Ark Elvin came up, it felt like the perfect opportunity.”
“Ark is a constantly evolving organisation. I feel I have been able to learn so much and continue to develop as a leader throughout the past 12 years I have worked for Ark.”
Sal Palekar first joined Ark as a Primary Music Associate based in Ark’s central office.
“Entering the world of education was a new experience. My earliest memory of joining the Ark central office was seeing the passion and drive across departments, specifically within the Music team, which I became a part of. Their exciting curriculum ambitions have become a tried and tested rich music curriculum for students from EYFS through to GCSE, playing an active part of developing the network’s students as independent and creative young musicians.”
Sal’s heart has always been with teaching. He had applied to various PGCE courses in the past, but he didn’t find a programme that he felt suited him until he heard about the Ark Teacher Training programme (ATT). He is now at the end of his training year, working as a Music Teacher at Ark All Saints Academy.
“I have always been focused on music education and had previously navigated my career between roles which did not rely on having Qualified Teacher Status. The Ark Teacher Training programme helped me secure a position within the network. This past year I have explored teaching and pedagogy in real depth through training sessions delivered by phenomenal mentors and tutors. I can wholeheartedly say that the year has provided rigorous training and has convinced me to develop my role as a teacher further. I would thoroughly recommend the ATT programme to anyone who wants a solid kick start to their career in teaching.”