BBC Radio 4's The Educators went to meet the two new headteachers of one of Ark's secondary schools in Birmingham for a special programme on t
Ark students from across Birmingham, Hastings, London and Portsmouth have been celebrating their GCSE results.
Matt Jones is the head teacher of Ark’s Globe Academy. 56% of pupils at the school are on free school meals and 38% speak English as an additional language, both well above the national average.
Lee is 16 years old, and has just passed 11 GCSEs, including 2 As and 4 Bs at Charter Academy in Portsmouth. In September he is going to South Downs College to do a musical theatre course. After that he wants to go to drama school and become an actor.
“I want to do something I enjoy and because of how passionate I am about drama I really want to carry that on further. The school has helped me realise that and they’ve convinced me the higher grades I get the more likely I am to get into either a good drama school or a good university where I could carry on that drama further.
Before when it was St Luke’s there were a lot of fights in the school and people would get away with near enough anything. Whereas this school this school has really knuckled down on everything and I think that’s helped a lot of people as well, because as the years have gone on the results have gotten better and better, which is really good.
Charter Academy will make sure you get everything you need to get to have a good career in the future, a good life and they’ll get you the best results to go to the best colleges, the best universities or anywhere you’d like to go.
St Luke’s would never have gotten the change to perform in London at places like RADA, whereas we have thanks to Ark. They do the Ark Shakespeare School Festivals, which is where we perform in London. We did Macbeth in London at RADA and last year in November we did Romeo and Juliet, at a theatre, I think it’s in Euston. We also do the Ark spelling bees now. Thanks to Ark we’ve gotten those opportunities. "
Suravi , aged 16, from Helenswood Academy in Hastings has passed 11 GCSEs with 1 A*, 6 As 2 Bs and 2 Ds and wants to continue her education at sixth form.
“I feel very supported at Helenswood and the teachers are good. I think that’s one of the reasons I want to stay here, because I like a lot of the teachers. I wasn’t very good at history but Miss Warburton, my history teacher, was really good at encouraging me and using different techniques if one didn’t work.
I take it quite seriously. I want to do well for personal satisfaction but also because you need good grades to get into a good college and then university.”
Arash, aged 16, from ARK William Parker Academy passed 13 GCSEs getting 4 A*s, 6 As, 2 Bs and a C including A*s in Science and History.
“The teachers were a massive help in the GCSEs because of the revision sessions they offered. ARK has been quite helpful too. They’ve completely regenerated parts of the school, and the library has been a massive help. There are so many books and good resources, and it’s a really calm space that you can study in. It was the best thing they could do because it meant that we could be independent – they helped us to help ourselves.
When you get in there and when you open that envelope, you’re just praying for the highest grade you can get. It’s an important moment in your life. It dictates your future. To study what you want to study at a further level, like A-levels or at university, you need those primary GCSEs and that understanding from your GCSEs. "
Vanessa from Evelyn Grace Academy passed 12 GCSEs. She got 4 As, 3 Bs, 3 Cs and a D, including As in English, geography, performing arts and RE.
“I want to be a forensic psychologist. I think it’s so interesting. I want to help victims get through.”
Her ambition is to study at Columbia University in New York. She is now planning to take her A levels at Evelyn Grace’s new sixth form.
“Evelyn Grace is a good school. They have great teachers and I like it here.”
She would be the first in her family to go to university. Her family moved from Trinidad to England when she was eight years old.
Holly, a student at Charter Academy in Portsmouth received an amazing set of GCSE results, despite not learning to read or write until she was 10. She passed 10 GCSEs with 2 A*s, 3 As, 2 Bs and 2 Cs, including an A* in English Literature and an A in English Language. She plans to stay at Charter Academy to study for her A-levels. She wants to go to Cambridge University and become a film director. Recently, she embarked on a five-week summer school residential to Phillips Exeter Academy, an award-winning school in New Hampshire, United States.
"I didn’t learn to read and write until I was about nine, 10 years old, but that had been because I’d moved around a lot, I hadn’t really got a lot of schooling in. It wasn’t until I came to this school that I was actually diagnosed with dyslexia and that’s when they took action and I had an intervention class about once or twice every week and we built up my confidence in reading.
Before each exam, we went through pretty intensive revision which was really, really great because I definitely needed that. Personally I’m quite heavily dyslexic and yet my favourite subject is English. The only way I could get round it was through the extracurricular help that I was given. I kind of have the theory that if you want something then you go and get it."