Open events at Ark Soane Academy

The school open event season is upon us, and year 6 parents and pupils everywhere are gearing up for the whirl of school tours and information evenings. Choosing the right secondary school for your child can feel hugely daunting. How can you make the right choice?

First of all, decide on what you want for your child. What are the most important things to you and your family? When you get to an open event, it can be easy to be blown away by surface features, like impressive buildings, jazzy displays or flashy facilities. But perhaps you are especially interested in sport, art or music for your child? If so, those will need to be explored carefully and specific questions asked.

It can be tempting to let your child make the final decision on their secondary school. I know my Mum let me make this choice when I was eleven. Although I loved my school dearly, at age ten I actually chose it because it had an indoor pool – something hugely novel in 1990s Suffolk! I certainly didn’t make the choice based on academic performance, pastoral systems or educational priorities. Your child will also be more likely than you to be swayed by where their friends are going to school. While the friends they have now can feel like the most important consideration, I would advise parents to dissuade year 6s of choosing a school based on peer preferences.

When you attend one of our open events for Ark Soane, you will hear me talk about our vision: what we want for your child. Broadly, this is based on a few core concepts:

  1. Excellent student behaviour
  2. A curriculum rich in cultural capital
  3. Sky-high expectations for what young people can achieve
  4. An approach to children grounded in care

I will also talk about the logistics of signing up to a brand new school – there are challenges, that is undeniable, but also a huge opportunity to be part of something incredibly special.

How do you know Soane is the right choice for your son or daughter? Although I can’t show you the finished product – seven year groups, including a sixth form, enjoying two state of the art buildings, offering a range of academic subjects, creative subjects and enrichment opportunities – I can show you the journey we can take together. Our first cohort of 180 children will pave the way for outstanding academic results in Acton, growing the successful Ark family with your support.  Please come along to our events – I always stay after for as long as I need to to make sure I’ve answered any and all questions you might have. See you there!

 

Dates and locations of the next open events:

25th September 9am to 10.30am      St Mary's Church (W3 9NW)

25th September 5pm to 6.30pm        Ark Priory (Acton Ln, Acton, London W3 8NR)

28th September 9:30am to 11am       Ark Acton (Gunnersbury Ln, Acton, London W3 8EY)

3rd October 5pm to 6.30pm  St Mary's Church (W3 9NW)

9th October 9am to 10.30am Ark Priory (Acton Ln, Acton, London W3 8NR)

9th October 5:30pm to 7pm  Ark Byron (The Vale, Acton, London W3 7JT)

 

Please note, if you cannot attend any of these events, send an email to projects@arkonline.org and we can set up a phone call to discuss the school and whether it is the right choice for your son or daughter.

Ark Soane Academy: Our Vision

The opportunity to found a school from scratch is an incredible one. To do it within the expertise and support of a large network with whom you align is a dream beyond belief. Today, I’m going to share my vision for Ark Soane Academy and what I hope for when we open in September 2020 and beyond.

 

Three central beliefs will underpin every decision we make at the school:

1.          Impeccable student behaviour is possible and desirable.

2.         A challenging curriculum full of powerful knowledge changes lives.

3.         There are no limits to student achievement.

 

1. Impeccable behaviour

I’ve worked in schools where behaviour is impeccable. I’ve seen and experienced what it is like to work in an environment like that: to be able to teach your subject with the passion, joy, energy and humour you dream of. It means you come to your classroom every day, energised to work hard for the children.

But it also means a huge amount of time has to be invested in building positive relationships with students and building a cast-iron system. The systems have to be robust enough to support all teachers, so everyone’s classroom displays impeccable behaviour.

Some children find living up to high standards challenging. This is still a school for them. In fact, those children need high standards the most. We cannot ignore or push out those for whom education and self-regulation are harder. By investing in a strong pastoral system of support, by knowing all children individually, and by working closely with families, we can help all children live up to the highest of standards.

 

2. A curriculum full of challenge

All children have the right to access the best that has been thought and said. It is simply not right to deprive some children of a canon of thought that has shaped the Western world, just because they happen to have struggled academically. An appropriately timetabled school day is the way to ensure all children enjoy a curriculum we would want our own children to learn.

In “Mission Possible”, Eva Moskowitz, the founder of the Success Academies – which are primary schools in challenging neighbourhoods in New York City – talks about their belief that children are ‘short, not stupid.’ She passionately argues that if we think they can’t, then our expectations are too low. If we know all children individually and work with them and their families closely, I am confident all children can catch up and achieve academically.

 

3. Limitless potential

I’ll never forget being given a bottom set year 10 towards the start of my career and being told: ‘we don’t expect them to get Cs so don’t worry too much about what you do with them.’ I don’t believe that. In that class, a girl was sent down to me on day one of year 10. She was devastated, and said: ‘that means I’m thick Miss.’ Luckily, she was also hugely resilient and fiercely driven. She and her sister – also in set 5 – badgered me for extra work and completed it. Both girls achieved A grades.

We cannot control our past educational experiences. We cannot control where we come from, or how rich or poor we are. But we can control how hard we work. At Ark Soane Academy, every single child will be challenged to work really, really hard. That’s because we will never compare ourselves to children in the next row or the next classroom. Instead, we will strive to achieve the very top grades academically from day one. An enormous benefit of a new school is that we can focus on the incoming year 7s and make sure they make exceptional progress, and are in the best possible position to achieve in national exams. At Ark Soane Academy, there is no reason why every single child cannot succeed and achieve academically.

 

If a school built on strong discipline, a challenging curriculum and with high aspirations for all appeals to you, and you have a child in year 6, apply for a place at Ark Soane Academy here.