Can the lessons learned in turning around schools in the UK have implications for education in other countries? The global education network Teach for All believes they can. They visited ARK Globe Academy alongside social entrepreneurs from Africa in order to learn more about the ethos behind the school's success.
Matt Jones, Principal of ARK Globe Academy, met with social entrepreneurs from Uganda and Nigeria to talk about the impact strong vision can have upon a school.
"It’s important to have a mission statement that is more than a set of targets for exam results," he said. "What we're doing is preparing our students for university, so they can go if they wish. Ultimately, I want the leading institutions in our country to reflect the interests of all our communities."
Teach For All partners with social entrepreneurs around the world who are committed to adapting Teach First style programmes in their own countries. By recruiting high calibre graduates and training them to become teachers in low-income community schools, their partner organisations aim to produce leaders who will go on to make systemic change in education.
Intelligence is about hard work
"Before we became an ARK school, only 50% of primary students achieved benchmarks in reading and maths," explained Mr Jones. "Now that’s 100%, and our primary school is in the top 2% of schools in the country. It shows what can be done when you really get people with high aspirations, high expectations and a belief system that says intelligence is about effort and hard work."
"This visit has confirmed what I want to do in establishing a successful teaching intervention programme," said one of the social entrepreneurs, who is considering adapting the Teach for All model in Uganda. What really stood out for me was the importance of setting high expectations for both teachers and students.
"It's about changing mindsets. It's really incredible in terms of creating change, so more than anything it's about people believing that it is possible."