Sophie Bell, Assistant Principal for Teaching and Learning at Ark John Keats in Enfield never imagined she would become a teacher. However, inspired by her mother, a primary school teacher, Sophie recognised the profound impact educators can have on young lives. Teaching became more than just a job—it became her vocation. Sophie’s story is part of our #ArkPeople series.
My journey with Ark began in 2013 when I joined the first cohort of the new teacher training programme based at Ark Walworth. I was impressed with Ark's comprehensive approach to personal development and leadership, and I saw the network as an ideal fit for my career aspirations. After graduating, I worked in different schools outside the Ark network. My colleagues were impressed by my teaching skills and professionalism, often mistaking me for a seasoned teacher with years of experience.
Eventually, I returned to Ark, recognising the immense value of collaboration, shared resources, and best practices within the network. Life temporarily took me away from Ark when I had a baby and moved to Manchester with my husband. But my dedication and the opportunities offered by Ark led me back to the network, this time at Ark John Keats, and despite the hour-long commute, I find it worthwhile!
At Ark John Keats, most staff have a coach, and time is dedicated to the coaching process, ensuring continuous improvement. Every day brings new experiences for me. My schedule is dynamic and diverse, from welcoming students in the morning to teaching science lessons, conducting learning walks, and engaging in coaching meetings. I relish the opportunity to deliver professional development sessions and witness the growth of my colleagues, knowing that outstanding teaching leads to exceptional outcomes for students.
Ark's focus on teacher development and support enables us to influence student outcomes tremendously. We’re focused on equipping teachers to navigate the challenges of today's society sensitively, acknowledging students' uniqueness, backgrounds, and individual issues.
As the Teaching and Learning Leader, I benefit from robust support, including training from renowned educators like Doug Lemov. The Great Teacher Rubric, a comprehensive measure of teacher development, has been particularly valuable in providing accurate feedback and supporting teachers' progress.
Throughout my journey, I have formed lasting friendships and found unwavering support within the Ark community. Becoming a teacher has revealed my resilience—the ability to show up daily for my students, helping them navigate challenges and achieve their goals. I find immense fulfilment in witnessing students' growth, from their early years to GCSE success, knowing my team and I have played a vital role in their journeys.