Memorandum submitted by ARK Schools
About ARK Schools
ARK Schools runs a network of academies in London and has plans to open schools in Birmingham and Redbridge over the next few years. ARK Schools was created in 2004 to work with the DCSF, local authorities and others to set up new schools and replace existing schools through the Academies Programme.
ARK Schools' aim is to ensure that its students complete school with real options: to move into higher education or pursue the career of their choice. ARK Schools has no religious affiliation and is committed to comprehensive education. ARK Schools is part of the charity ARK (Absolute Return for Kids) which runs a range of health, welfare and education projects in South Africa and Eastern Europe.
The ARK Schools Network
ARK Schools currently has a network of nine academies open or under development:
· Burlington Danes Academy in Hammersmith and Fulham, replaced the existing Burlington Danes Church of England School in September 2006. This is a six-form entry secondary academy with a sixth form due to open in 2010.
· King Solomon Academy in Westminster, a new two-form entry reception through to sixth form school, opened in September 2007 with its first reception classes.
· Walworth Academy in Southwark also opened in September 2007, replacing the previous Walworth School. This is a six-form entry secondary academy with a sixth form due to open in 2010.
· Globe Academy in Southwark will open in September 2008. It will offer nursery through to sixth form, combining the existing Geoffrey Chaucer Technology College and Joseph Lancaster Primary School near Elephant and Castle.
· Evelyn Grace Academy, a new academy in Brixton for 11 - 18 year olds, will open in temporary space in 2008, and move to its permanent site in 2009.
· Wembley Park Academy in Brent will open to reception pupils in September 2008 subject the Secretary of State's approval of the funding agreement and planning permission. It will admit its first year 7 pupils in September 2009 when it opens fully as an all-through academy for 3 - 18 year olds.
· St Albans Academy, in Birmingham, is due to open in 2009, succeeding St Albans Secondary School.
· Harborne Academy, also in Birmingham, will replace Harboune Hill School in 2009.
· A brand new Academy in Redbridge, London, will open in 2012, serving 11-18 year olds.
The ARK Schools ethos
Academic achievement - no excuses
ARK Schools has high expectations for its pupils. We believe every child can realise their potential given the right encouragement, teaching and support. We want every pupil at our academies to leave with the academic qualifications and skills they need to have real choice at 18, whether that's to continue their education or to pursue a career. We do everything possible to ensure that every child achieves year level expectations, every year. We won't accept excuses and we won't make any either.
Culture - personal responsibility and mutual respect
Our academies aim to maintain a respectful and orderly environment so that pupils can focus on learning and teachers on teaching. We believe that a successful education includes developing and nurturing the personal qualities of every pupil.
We expect all pupils, parents, teachers and support staff to sign a home-school agreement before school starts, so that everyone is committed to putting in the effort to ensure that each child succeeds.
Large schools can be intimidating. Ark academies are organised into a set of 'small schools', so that every pupil knows and is known by every teacher within their small school. This structure helps teachers deal with learning and behavioural issues, as well as to challenge and stretch their pupils appropriately.
Where the local structure allows we would aim to establish "all through" schools, providing classes for children from nursery right through to sixth forms. We believe that this benefits pupils throughout the school. Primary school children have access to specialist facilities normally exclusive to secondary schools and teacher expertise can be deployed flexibly across key stage 2 and key stage 3.
The all-through structure means that children have stability and continuity through their important and often disruptive transition period from primary to secondary school, ensuring that young people continue to make expected progress at 11 +.
The core curriculum: depth before breadth
English and mathematics are the foundation for all other subjects and are critical to success at school and in life. Our academies aim to develop strong readers and communicators who love to use their skills and children who are confident working with numbers in everyday life. Our curriculum is designed and structured to ensure that all children master essential knowledge in these core subjects. In our infant schools, pupils have four literacy classes (phonics, guided reading, guided writing, and handwriting) and three numeracy classes each day.
All of our academies have specialist school status in mathematics. We believe it is vitally important to provide our pupils with the tools necessary to become numerically confident adults. All ARK schools specialise in maths, and ARK invests a great deal in the resources needed to attract and train the best maths teachers. We will ensure that all our pupils become competent mathematicians, at ease with both its theoretical and practical uses.