Hear from our teachers

We spoke to a Progress Leader and RE teacher at Ark Boulton Academy about her experiences at the school so far.  

She has worked at Ark Boulton since September 2015, where she is a Progress Leader and RE teacher. She joined the school because she wanted to help her pupils – many of whom are from poorer communities – to go to university or into the career of their choice. Before joining the Ark network, Ark Boulton was Golden Hillock School. The school was placed in special measures by Ofsted, but it is now under new leadership and on an inspiring journey.  

She says: “It’s an exciting time to be at Ark Boulton. We’re a transition school, so teachers have had a lot of extra training and support.  

“Our Principal, Herminder Channa, helped to completely turn around Ark St Albans Academy which is not far from us. Today it’s one of the best schools in the country. Ark Boulton has a bright future – together, we can really make a difference.” 

In December 2015, Ark Boulton featured in BBC Radio 4’s documentary The Educators: What does it take to turn a school around? Programme presenter Sarah Montague described the school environment as “phenomenal”.  

In a short time, the school has made significant changes. Students love learning and teachers are more focused on delivering excellent lessons.  

She adds: “Since the transition I’ve learned lots of strategies and techniques to use with children before resorting to a detention. We get trained on how to handle the behaviour, assuming the best of students rather than the worst. 

“This has definitely helped. I’m in my third year of teaching and the strategies have enhanced what I knew. It feels like I’m a lot more control of classes now.” 

All teachers at Ark Boulton receive free, high quality, tailored training and personal development, as well as the necessary support to become an outstanding practitioner. Ark offers a whole host of courses, including how to use data in lesson planning and supporting students with visual and/or hearing impairments. Teachers are completely in control of their professional development. 

“The training is very interactive; it might include role play or a writing lesson plan that can then be adapted in groups. There are discussions – it’s fun.” 

The school has some great opportunities for career progression, and the senior leadership team works hard to take extra pressures away from teachers.  

She adds: “I’m a Progress Leader, which means I’m Head of Year pending further recruitment. I’m responsible for looking at data and attendance, and engaging with parents. For example, if I see a child in Year 10 with Special Educational Needs and they’re not making progress, I’ll go and speak to the subject leader about intervention.” 

Ark Boulton also has a staff award for good performance, and pupils are able to nominate teachers who have done well. She received the award in December 2015.  

“It was unexpected. The Year 10 child who I think nominated me came in and said ‘Ms, that’s really well deserved’. My photo was taken and put on the board, and it was in the staff bulletin. The Principal said that pupils say they leave my lessons knowing things they didn’t know before.”