More than 1600 teachers and educators from Ark schools came together on Friday (4 October) for an afternoon of reflection, learning and collaboration as part of the Ark 2019 Teacher Summit, held at Central Hall Westminster.
The day featured a keynote speech from Julie Jackson, the President of Uncommon Schools in the US, a network of 54 public charter schools serving 20,000 students, which aims to close the achievement gap. Ark has worked with Julie, Doug Lemov and their colleagues at Uncommon Schools for many years. Ms Jackson spoke about how the best teachers view what they do as a calling, rather than a job. “The mission is in you, it’s part of you," she said. "We need to see the kids, see them for who they are and for who they can become and we need to build connections with them and love them. Kids do not learn from people who do not love them. And they know who that is”
Ark holds three network-wide inset days each year, bringing together staff from all 37 of our schools for training, learning and development. The theme of the summit was: 'Ark 15: The journey to excellence,' commemorating 15 years since the founding of Ark Schools, but also giving Ark an opportunity to put a spotlight on and thank the dedicated teachers who are responsible for making a difference in our schools, every day.
There were presentations by Venessa Willms, Ark's Director of Primary, Rebecca Boomer-Clark, Director of Secondary and Ark's Chief Executive, Lucy Heller.
Venessa Willms spoke about values that are embedded into our work; “I am proud to work for an organisation that keeps learning. It highlights the power an individual has on the whole. Who or what an organisation is, is determined by the individuals who make it up. We – our perspectives – shape Ark. As we personally and professionally grow, learn and experience, so too does the organisation we inhabit.”
Rebecca Boomer-Clark talked about the power of teaching in a network; “The quality of the teaching profession and its collective ambition for young people makes a permanent impact on every generation. By choosing to be part of a network, we each sign up to multiply our personal impact and collectively influence the lives of thousands of children we will never meet.”
Lucy Heller gave a presentation on "Ark's Report Card," looking at academic results across the network. She noted that 25 out of 26 'transition' schools (pre-existing schools that joined Ark) are doing better in their national percentile rankings since joining the network. She noted that, “We’re still on a journey, we haven’t reached the destination yet.”
Another highlight of the day was a new animated film, illustrating Ark's journey over the past fifteen years.
The afternoon ended with an award ceremony, honouring teachers and schools throughout the network for their exemplary achievements. The final award of the event was a tribute to Delia Smith OBE, the Principal of Ark Academy in Wembley, marking her 25th year as a headteacher.
Embedded below are some of the highlights, as shared on social media throughout the day of the summit: