What's it like working at Ark William Parker Academy?
A supportive school
“When I first arrived at Ark William Parker Academy, I was really determined to build a new PSHE programme for the school. I think PSHE is hugely important – it’s about keeping students safe and preparing them for life after school.
“In my last school, I’d set up ‘drop-down days’, where normal lessons stop so students can take part in workshops on specific PSHE topics like alcohol and substance abuse. The days were really successful, but there aren’t that many schools which would be willing to try that approach – but the leadership team at the school have been really supportive and given me the opportunity to run drop-down days.
The autonomy is fantastic
“I’ve also invited in external agencies – local theatre groups and charities, for example – to deliver innovative and impactful sessions. It’s been fantastic having so much autonomy to develop the curriculum based on my experience of what works and what’s valuable – it means that I can really focus in on doing what I do best.
“My role’s now expanded and I’ve now got responsibility for PSHE across Ark Helenswood Academy as well as Ark William Parker. The new PSHE curriculum’s really positive and you can see the changes across the schools and how the students explore and interact with social issues.
“What’s been really special about working at these schools is that the Principals took it as a given that I’d want to develop and advance my career, take on bigger responsibilities and train for leadership. When I had to go to London for my National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership, the school was really supportive and gave me the time for training. Training and preparing staff for the future genuinely is that important to them.
“In my very first week at the school, I was trained in Instructional Leadership, which I’ve been able to use to train other staff, and I’m working towards becoming a Chartered Teacher with the PSHE Association. These are huge opportunities to progress professionally, and Ark Helenswood and Ark William Parker have absolutely supported me to do them.
“There’s a real culture of supporting teachers at both schools – the senior leadership team will make a point of stopping to let you know that you’re doing a good job and I make a point of meeting with my NQTs every day to mentor them and talk over any issues they’re having.
“I recently got a letter from the Chair of Governors thanking me for running extra revision sessions for our GCSE students. Things like that are normally just part of the job, but knowing that your work is recognised really important.”