Ark Soane Academy Mission
To ensure our pupils have the education and character to go on to live happy, fulfilled lives as the drivers of their own destinies.
The Ark Soane Academy Values
- Work Hard: we put 100% effort in, every day, to everything we do.
- Be kind: we treat others how we want to be treated.
- Aim High: we all have the potential for greatness: we always strive for it.
Our values are underpinned by responsibility - we remember that each of us is responsible for how we live and can influence our destinies. We are honest with ourselves and each other, and we take pride in ourselves and how we are seen.
- Work Hard
All members of the school community know that effort, not intelligence, will lead to exceptional results. They work hard in lessons, losing not a single minute in off-task behaviour, and know their teachers will help to hold them to account. This ensures they develop a strong work ethic. Students accept struggle as a natural part of learning. They are driven to succeed, even when it is difficult. They make no excuses.
- Be kind
The value of kindness is explicitly taught and exemplified by students and staff at all opportunities. They understand that we learn more as a team – as a class, year group and as a school we are a team, and we succeed and fail together. When one of us succeeds, we all succeed – we celebrate the success of our peers. We never try to bring other people down. We always have the most generous interpretation of the actions of others. We help others when we can because it is the right thing to do. If others are unkind, we never respond like them: we tell a teacher and rise above it.
- Aim High
Students focus on the message that they are the ultimate driver of their lives: their actions and their choices lead to their futures. They can always make the choice to change their future. They are shown how to make brave choices. Students never blame other people – they always focus on what they can control: their own actions and choices. They strengthen their minds with our character programme to ensure they can withstand any challenges life will throw at them. They understand that by taking personal responsibility they “protect the hive” and can be a stronger cohesive team.
Ark Soane Academy Pillars
Our school’s vision is founded on Ark’s six pillars, outlined below
1. High expectations
Students have high expectations for everything that they do,
We have the highest expectations of students both academically and in terms of their conduct. We uphold these high standards with love and care. The school day at Ark Soane is designed to ensure that no time is wasted, so teachers can teach effectively and with energy. A rigorous curriculum full of cultural capital ensures all children can achieve their full academic potential. All adults expect all children to be able to achieve top grades in external examinations, regardless of their starting points, and work “smart” and efficiently to ensure they do. Along with academic success, Soane pupils are kind individuals, who wish to improve the world around them, and who take full responsibility for their choices, recognising that only their choices can change their futures. Non-academic time is used to ensure all children are aware of the breadth of possibilities open to them. Assemblies, form time, and special events ensure students are taught about a wide range of careers and connect their choices to their learning. They understand the opportunities that arise from school success and university attendance and visit universities to demystify the experience. They consequently raise their aspirations. Students understand how academic learning and development of a work ethic, kindness and personal responsibility contribute towards shaping their futures. They discover and develop their passions and talents through a broad enrichment programme both built into the school timetable and delivered at lunchtime and after school.
2. Exemplary behaviour
Explicit and consistent teaching of routines ensures strong student buy-in and develops student habits to create a calm, purposeful school.
Ark Soane Academy is a calm, purposeful and well-ordered school. Teachers are consistent in their sky-high expectations of children’s behaviour. Students are explicitly taught self-discipline, and these behaviours are practised and reinforced to ensure children develop life-long habits of self-control, focus and hard work. Interactions are organised to help students take responsibility for their choices and understand that they drive their own success: the choices they make determine their futures. All classrooms are ordered and focused to maximise time for learning. Teachers behave in a calm, kind and respectful manner with children, understanding that their role in behaviour management is to emphasise purpose not power. Many of our classroom routines will be communicated with non-verbal signals, meaning teacher-talk can remain focused on learning. Teachers remind children of their expectations repeatedly in lessons and around the school, explaining why we have the routines we do and constantly communicating their purpose. As a result, students buy into these systems and understand that their lives will be better if they follow routines and develop strong habits. Teacher consistency means that the vast majority of instructions are met with 100% compliance first time.
3. Depth for breadth
A curriculum full of cultural capital, thoughtful planning and frequent assessment enables exceptional academic achievement.
Our curriculum will be a rigorous academic curriculum that leads to exceptional achievement and full readiness for university regardless of whether students choose that route. The curriculum provides a solid foundation, develops knowledge and provokes curiosity and interest in further study. Teachers understand the need to revisit core concepts frequently to ensure children master learning, using frequent low-stakes tests to assess what children need to learn. The curriculum is Ark-aligned, knowledge rich, contains the “best of what has been thought and said,” and takes inspiration and guidance from the best schools and universities in the world. Studying challenging content develops students’ character and resilience. The timetable is organised so almost all academic subjects are taught daily, to enable frequent low-stakes testing. More time for English, Maths, Science, Humanities and MFL supports students’ achievement in all subjects. Daily reading for 30 minutes with form tutors exposes children to a wide range of fiction and non-fiction and builds cultural capital. A longer school day ensures more time for learning. Homework is clear, consistently set and centrally checked, with a clear purpose to consolidate learning or encourage deliberate practice. Students are constantly tested formatively, to give teachers and leaders a clear steer on which students require additional support. Subject-specific skills are embedded within the curriculum, and core subject knowledge is revised from year 7 onwards to prevent cramming at KS4.
4. Excellent teaching
Teachers are subject experts who plan rigorously, believe in the limitless potential of every child and deliver engaging and energetic lessons to enthuse students.
Every teacher and adult employed by Ark Soane Academy believes in the limitless potential of children and their power as a professional to shape their futures. Teachers display love and understanding of all young people and believe in their potential for excellence. Teachers are subject experts with strong curriculum knowledge, who know how to get children to achieve at the highest possible levels. Through daily low-stakes observations, leaders ensure teachers use school routines consistently, leading to stronger student buy-in, in order to create a positive climate for learning. Teacher excitement and energy enthuses students in learning tough subject content. Teachers use resources created by curriculum experts and their planning focus is on how to adapt these to the needs of their classes to enable exceptional progress. They consider misconceptions prior to teaching and note down any that come up in their lesson to improve resources for future years. Lessons focus on learning rigorous content and extensive practice of key skills and teachers think deeply about how to best communicate and check for understanding. Improving lesson resources is a collaborative effort: after a unit, teachers spend time together discussing how to improve the lessons for the following year. In lessons, teachers are highly responsive to students, and have no distractions from teaching their class: lesson time is sacred. Teachers employ proven techniques from our Great Teacher Rubric scope and sequence on questioning to deliver subject content, never lecturing without checking for understanding. A ‘culture of error’ is developed, where students are unafraid to make mistakes and teachers are curious about what has led to these misconceptions. Lessons begin with a recap do-now, so no moment is wasted. When students work, teachers either circulate or provide extended one-to-one support where appropriate.
5. Knowing every child
We focus on every child to ensure that they develop the character and habits needed for success.
At Ark Soane we value diversity and promote inclusion so it is essential that every pupil knows and is known well by their teachers. We explicitly develop the character and habits which support pupils’ academic and personal development. This means Soane pupils develop as kind, caring individuals who are self-motivated, and keen to help others succeed. Habits for success are explicitly taught and revisited frequently. Our core messages are: work hard, be nice; team beats individual; students have limitless potential; it is always right to take full responsibility; and that students represent the school community at all times. In assemblies, tutor time, line-up, and other out-of-lesson times, these core messages are shared and reinforced. All students know why these core messages will lead to their own personal success. All teachers “narrate the why” behind every routine to ensure these are embedded. Learning a rigorous and challenging curriculum prepares students to be resilient in the face of future challenges. The wider curriculum and enrichment model ensures children practice organising their time, manage extended and group projects, discuss and debate and conduct research. Positive relationships between pupils and adults reinforce a culture where children are safe and maintain excellent behaviour and a commitment to learning. We value pupils’ wider experiences, providing access to a diverse range of high quality pathways and enrichment.
6. Always learning
Weekly coaching, collaborative planning, high quality teacher training and self-directed CPD enthuses teachers to want to improve and commit to teaching for the long term.
Every member of staff deserves to be developed and every teacher can seek to improve the learning experience of their students. Weekly coaching ensures a bespoke approach to teacher development, and is supplemented by weekly whole-staff training.. Collaborative planning meetings ensure teachers can deliver excellent lessons and improve their practice. Teacher feedback is vital and acted upon: leaders keep their doors open and encourage challenge from others. Changes are made as a result of teacher suggestions. Leaders are effectively trained and given appropriate time to coach, line manage others, deliver training and plan strategically. Development of all staff is founded on the notion of autonomy, mastery and purpose to ensure we retain teaching and operational staff for the long-term.
Staff culture and organisation
We are honest with each other, support and respect each other, constantly seek to improve and use time effectively.
Ark Soane Academy employs a culture of respectful honesty. We talk about others as if they are in the room. We address all concerns to the individual in the first instance or seek support from our line manager in advance if guidance is required. We never raise a problem without also suggesting at least one specific and actionable solution. There are no lengthy meetings, only professional development and strategic planning. Operational and logistical briefings are shorter than 15 minutes and frequent, so everyone knows what is happening and when. All staff members operate an ‘open door’ policy in their classrooms and offices. Leaders support teachers 100% of the time in front of the children, never undermining colleagues publicly and addressing concerns rapidly and privately. Our school is highly efficient and enables staff to find a good balance between work and home