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In admiration of ARK Bentworth

Those of you who have followed our blog from the start will know that I am a school governor at ARK Bentworth, a primary academy in Shepherd’s Bush. Ever since my first governors’ meeting I have been hugely enthusiastic about ARK and the work that they do; and now my enthusiasm has almost become adoration as I’ve learnt more and more about ARK and how they operate (which sometimes renders me a useless governor as I accept everything they tell me).

This morning I was at the school attending a Learning Walk led by Gemma Grierson, the Associate Headteacher. I had the opportunity to sit in on a few classes and watch their lessons unfold. It is spellbinding to see a good teacher in action: someone who has the whole class focused and thinking about what they are learning; someone who is explaining and breaking down a concept while asking different children to respond; someone who reacts to students’ answers while spotting those children who are not understanding.

I spent 15 minutes in a maths accelerator class where 9 or so students from Years 3 and 4 were receiving extra maths support from Daniella Grasso, the school’s SENCO, and two teaching assistants. The class was a mixture of students with dyslexia; a student who has English as a second language so even though his maths is very strong, he doesn’t have the vocabulary to understand what’s being asked of him; students who have missed a lot of school so have huge gaps in their knowledge; and those who just generally struggle.

Daniella told me that a couple of students had advanced by two sub levels since the February half term… and when you consider that students are normally expected to advance by two sub levels in a year, this is just remarkable. She has devised a tracker for each student in the school which plots their progress throughout their time at ARK Bentworth – whether or not they have special needs. This allows teachers to see at any given time what level the student is at, what intervention they’ve had in the past, what progress they’ve made and where improvement is needed. With care, attention and dedication like this, surely I am justified in my admiration?

Lucy Cawkwell

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