Why Community Engagement?
‘It takes a takes a village to raise a child’ and when the school, families and local communities are all focused on securing the very best outcomes for the children of the community, the greatest positive impact can be felt. The local area, Small Heath, is one of high deprivation and suffers in places from criminal and anti-social behaviour, including drugs, violence and anti- social behaviours such as damage to property, dangerous driving, fly tipping, littering. Parents and children have reported that they do not always feel safe in the community and the general feeling and perceptions of Small Heath have been quite negative.
The school is working on becoming more integrated within the community through engaging with our parents and local and city-wide organisations to address some of these social problems.
Our school becomes a community hub, a place where learning and our values extend beyond our students, through to their families and into the community.
The community seeks to improve and develop the local area and the community itself, through a focus on education, core values and human virtues and development of entrepreneurial collegiate spirit.
Community Engagement Lead’s BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal
Ark Victoria Academy is a pioneer in community engagement and a model for excellence across the Ark Network and other schools.
Community Engagement Pillars
The three pillars form the foundation of what excellent Community Engagement looks like:
- Listening: To address the social problems within a community, it is essential to actively listen to their needs. This will be done through an ongoing listening campaign - conducting one-to-one meetings with different stakeholders of our community: parents, students, teachers, local business owners etc.
- Empowering: Once the issues and members of our community who want to take an active role in bringing positive change have been identified, these individuals will undertake the necessary training empowering them and equipping them with the skills to lead on projects. The training will take the form of in-house community organising training led by the Community Engagement Lead and other sessions led by our community partners.
- Action: After the necessary training and careful planning and preparation has been put in place, collective action can be implemented to achieve the desired outcomes. This could be a specific campaign that involves the whole school community.
Community Engagement Lead’s Strands of their role:
The three pillars of Community Engagement are intertwined with these three strands which are the three broad areas that the Community Engagement Lead operates in. Below you can see examples of what activities have already been achieved in these three areas:
Education and Training:
- Citizens UK Student Leadership Program (Primary and Secondary): Students across both phases undertaking community organising training. By the end of the year students would have identified a problem within their local area that they would like to change and plan and execute a campaign to address this issue. These students will be meeting with and working with our local councillor (Shabina Bano) and MP (Jess Phillips) to be able to put their ideas into action.
- Parent and Community Forum: Working in parallel with the CUK Student Leadership Program, parents undertake similar training with the aim of addressing identified community challenges.
Our Primary students reflecting on what makes them mad, glad and sad about their community and what power they have to make positive change.
• Housing Workshops/Advice Surgeries: In collaboration with our community partners (Citizens UK, Early Help Yardley), we are providing workshops and advice surgeries on a range of issues such as Housing and the cost-of-living to support our parents during these difficult times.
• AVA Community Meal: Community event where our friends and family are invited to have a meal and get to know different people in a safe and warm environment. A series of four community meals are planned to take part across the 2022/23 academic year. Each meal has a theme based on the needs of the community as identified in the listening campaign. Specialists will speak/deliver a short presentation on that theme in the meal to benefit the attendees. The themes for this year’s community meals: Diversity and Inclusion, Aspirations: Careers and Pathways into STEM, Social Justice: housing, cost of living, local politics, Looking after our environmen
• Primary Library (Warm Hub): Following the opening of the new Primary Library, we plan to use the amazing space we have as a warm hub where members of the community can read a book with friends and family over a nice of tea!
- ArkVic Radio: The school has set up its own student radio station. This will enable students to write, edit and record their own radio programs and podcasts on a range of topics that matter to them.
- Tyseley Energy Park: We have a longstanding relationship with the park and aim to continue our current activities with them. By the end of the 2022/23 academic year we hope to send a few students on work experience placements in the field of STEM and journalism in partnership with the University of Birmingham.
What has now become an annual tradition, Earth Day is a time were the whole school comes together to learn more about the global environmental challenges we face and the solutions that have arisen as a result. Speakers from local environmental charities and the University of Birmingham shared with students their insights into. Students have taken part in a range of activities from picking litter, writing letters to our local MP and creating artwork using recycled materials.
Summer Fete 2022
Our first summer fete was a great success at bringing the community together and celebrate what was a fantastic year. Archery, boxing, squash, face painting, food stalls and wheel chair basketball were just a few of the activities that were on offer to our 1000+ guests.