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News4th October 2022

Two of Ark’s Global Schools Forum Fellows report on their experience in Zambia

Two teachers from Ark Schools travelled to Zambia over the summer for their placement on the Global Schools Forum (GSF) Fellowship Programme.

Connor McElwaine from North London’s Ark Pioneer Academy and Sarah Al-Hanoush from Birmingham’s Ark Boulton were successful in getting a place on the Fellowship programme.

Connor’s and Sarah’s project involved supporting teachers from the school network PEAS (Promoting Equality in African Schools) to master effective teaching practices, through a rigorous review of their resources and teacher training.

Connor McElwaine, Vice Principal at Ark Pioneer Academy, shared his experience of the Fellowship and working with PEAS on the ground.

“After a 24-hour journey involving three planes and multiple stopovers, we finally arrived at our destination in Ndola, regional capital of the Copperbelt in northern Zambia. As the smooth tarmac of the airport road ended and we joined the local roads through the town to our accommodation, we felt our Fellowship begin.

“As Ark Fellows, we would be working with PEAS for the month to assess the impact of the ‘Top Ten’ programme, a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) program in their Zambian schools focusing on improving teacher effectiveness. The Top Ten is strategically important to PEAS as they seek government recognition and approval of their teaching and learning approach, enabling them to extend impact beyond the current schools and staff body.

“In our first week, we enjoyed understanding local Zambian customs and practices as we met locals at our accommodation, in everyday interactions with people, and in the local environment. We were delighted to take up an invitation from PEAS to attend their School Leadership Conference in Kasama too.”

Connor and Sarah had the opportunity to join the School Leadership Conference to engage with school leaders, through which they were able to collect feedback that informed their input into the Top Ten program. Talking about the opportunities this presented, Sarah Al-Hanoush, Ark Boulton Academy, said:

“In joining the School Leadership Conference, we were inspired to hear about the work being done across the PEAS network in Zambia. As leaders getting together to review common problems and thinking strategically about the next steps and further development opportunities, there is profound power in hearing the commitment everyone has to the overall mission to provide high quality education to pupils who would otherwise struggle to go to school.

“As part of the conference, we had the opportunity to visit Kabuta Secondary School near Kasama. Leaders there have united the staff body, pupils, and community to build a strong sustainable enterprise programme, consisting of various farming projects including pigs and chickens to pineapples, maize, soybeans and coffee. The income generated from these activities is then reinvested into resourcing the education of pupils. The school has also achieved examination results above the national and PEAS network averages.

“We have been engaging with school leaders and collecting their feedback on the Top Ten strategies as part of our Fellowship programme and will take this evidence away from the conference when we return to Ndola to write our report. We led a session with school leaders reflecting on the strengths and strategic areas for development as well as launching a survey and interviews to gather leaders’ input.

“The culmination of our work will be a report reviewing the implementation of the Top Ten and identifying some next steps in helping to shape the work of PEAS in this area.”

The Fellowship Programme has been designed to foster peer learning between Ark staff and staff in GSF’s member organisations and their schools, situated in 51 countries around the world.

We will share another Fellows’ update soon, from Khaleda Qureshi (Ark St Alban’s Academy) and Hannah Bridges (Ark Conway Primary Academy),who visited Kenya to improve education outcomes in Nairobi, in partnership with Dignitas.