Mohamed, Primary Teacher and Community Engagement Lead

I began my teacher training in 2015 when I joined the Teach First programme. This was also the year that I moved to Birmingham. The programme was intense to say the least, but I learnt and developed a lot in a short space of time and built a good support network of other teachers who I am lucky to be working with today at Ark Victoria.

Prior to me deciding to become a teacher, I worked as a Teaching Assistant and did a lot of voluntary work in different youth organisations and educational settings. It was these experiences that really opened my eyes to the world of education. The relationships I built with the young people and seeing them progress and achieve is what made me finally decide to take up teaching as a career. It is a great honour for me to play a small role in shaping the minds and characters of the young people I work with everyday and for that I am extremely grateful.

I began working for Ark in Ark Chamberlain’s last year before the birth of Ark Victoria. Ark is a highly reputable academy trust and what drew me to applying to this school were a number of factors. The Ark pillars really resonated with me especially the consistently high expectations and drive for excellence in all areas that students and staff aspire to. Ark design and deliver fantastic CPD opportunities which have allowed me to become a better education practitioner and refined my teaching skills. Knowing every child is another key pillar that I hold onto dearly and is why I love working at Ark Victoria. From members of the Senior Leadership Team to non-teaching members of staff, everyone executes their role to the best of their ability with the intention of benefiting and improving the quality of life of our students which is achieved through having a real understanding and knowledge of our students. The school has supported me immensely with my role as the Community Engagement Lead and are forward thinking in this area – our students can only be the model citizens we want them to be with the help and support of local community organisations and groups who play a vital role in nurturing our young people. ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ – this powerful proverb is something that we at Ark Victoria aspire to achieve on our journey to community engagement and empowerment.

Outside of school, I spend most of my free time with my wife and son travelling to new and exciting places - weather permitting!

Lisa, Assistant Head Teacher & Early Years Lead

After studying A Levels at Sixth Form College, I attended Newman University for 3 years and gained a Batchelor of Arts degree in Education with a specialist in Early Years and Key Stage 1.

Since I can remember, I always wanted to work with children so being a teacher was always my dream. 33 years since starting school myself, I still have the fondest memories of my first teacher, Mrs McLoughlin and the impact she had on my Primary Education; I knew I wanted to have that impact on a child’s life.

I joined Ark Victoria Academy when it first opened in 2018 and was part of the amalgamation from Ark Chamberlain.

Being an Early Years teacher, means playing a prime role in child development. We are shaping and forming our children's attitudes and characters to become life long learners. So there is no better place to do this than an all-through school like Ark Victoria, where we support and nurture every child through their educational journey from 3 to 16 years old.

In my free time, I love to read. My Network role involves research into Early Reading so I can often be found lost in the latest children’s literature.

The pillar that resonates the most with me is ‘Knowing Every Child’. In the early years, we spend time getting to know each and every child and shape our curriculum to suit their individual needs and interests. At Ark Victoria we believe that every child can and will achieve success.

Aamir, Faculty Director – Humanities & Network Lead for RE

I began my journey in education in 2008 when I began by degree in Religious Education at the University of Wolverhampton. I already knew at this point that I wanted to become a teacher and share my love and passion of my subject. I went on to complete my PGCE in 2011 and began my first year as a Newly Qualified Teacher.

I chose the profession because my father was also an RE teacher. He would come home after work everyday when I was at primary and secondary school and share stories of religion and world views with me. This is when I started asking questions, I wanted to learn more, I wanted to visit places of worship and I wanted to meet people of different faiths. During my secondary school, I had the most inspiring RE teacher ever. He was also another reason I chose to join the profession

I joined Ark Victoria Academy in January 2018 as  Head of RE.

I chose this Ark Victoria Academy because the values and ethos really resonated with me as an Individual. Upon researching the school, I found out that they were part of a wider network of schools making differences to children all over the country. I though this would be an excellent school to develop as a teacher, to network with other schools and collaborate with colleagues all over the network. This is exactly how I found this to be today.

I love that culture of the school, the fact that every child truly does matter. I love how staff are constantly developed as teachers and leaders. I love how there are so many opportunities for staff to progress and every day I love my job more and more.

My colleagues who know me well know that I follow Manchester United up and down the country home and away. But also in my spare time, I volunteer my time as a Special Constable for West Midlands Police. This means that I have the same uniform and police powers as a paid police officer, but I volunteer my time rather than getting paid. Giving back to a community that has given my everything in life is so rewarding and the skills really help me in the classroom too.

The Ark Victoria value that resonates with me the most is ‘Be Kind’. Kindness is key. Being kind to yourself and kind to others is the starting point of fostering excellent relationships, love for not only what you do, but love for waking up in the morning known that you are making a difference every single day!

Heidi, Secondary Lead for Personal Development and Teacher of English

I studied English Literature at Worcester university for 6 years where I completed both my undergraduate and masters degree. I then spent three years working as a learning mentor at Tudor Grange Academy in Worcester where I acquired lots of experience within a secondary school setting before embarking on my teacher training degree. I began working at Ark Victoria Academy in 2018 where I have enjoyed working as a teacher of English, alongside being head of year and now I am the secondary lead for Personal Development.

I always wanted to be a teacher since I was at school. I was always very passionate about studying English and I knew from a young age that I would love to work as a teacher in order to ignite the same passion for English in future generations. I think teaching is an extremely rewarding career where teachers have the ability to inspire, encourage and lead pupils to success in order to prepare them for their future.

I began working at Ark Victoria Academy in 2018.

I chose to work at Ark Victoria Academy because it is a school which has high standards, for both staff and students, because we truly believe in providing the best possible outcomes for our children. I love being part of a wider network of schools where we can support one another, share best practice and share in a national vision of success for our pupils.

I really love the family atmosphere here at Ark Victoria. There is a real culture of positivity where staff are encouraged and supported to be the best possible teachers we can be. I also love working with our children who are eager to learn and be successful in their educational careers.

In my free time, I really like going for walks in the countryside and I especially enjoy visiting stately homes at the National Trust where I can enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

The Ark Victoria value that resonates with me the most is resilience. Despite the challenges we may face, I believe here at Ark Victoria we encourage both staff and pupils to persevere in the face of difficulty in order to overcome and be successful in all that we do. This is something that we foster within our pupils in all areas of the curriculum and extra curricular activities in order to prepare them for their future, both in education and beyond.

Kate, A newly-graduated Geography teacher

How has Kate found her training year?

“I have found it extremely beneficial in my development as a teacher. The programme has provided me with valuable experiences and has delivered extremely useful training and subject specific sessions that I have then taken into my classroom and have had great results. I am really looking forward to my next year and developing further!”

This is what Kate said she was looking forward to most:

“I am looking forward to meeting the pupils I will be working with this year and being able to build good relations with them as I improve my teaching.”

Did it meet her expectations?

“It exceeded my expectations; it has been wonderful meeting the students I taught and building good relationships with them. Throughout the year I have seen my students progress and develop into mature young adults following the schools core values of ambition, kindness, and resilience. It has been an amazing year and I look forward to teaching them again next year.”

This is what she said would be her biggest challenge: 

“I think my biggest challenge will be having the courage to be calm and collected in front of all the pupils when something goes wrong.”

How did she overcome this?

“I made sure I had created a safe and calm learning environment as if there was to be an issue, for example, a technical issue, my students wouldn’t react and I could easily sort it out in a calm environment. Additionally, I familiarised myself with the schools behaviour policy and followed through with the necessary sanctions if required in a calm manner, not engaging the student as it would have escalated the matter further. This allowed me to keep calm and keep the other students focused on their work.”

This is what Kate said she was hoping to get out of your course aside from a teacher training qualification: 

“I am hoping at the end of this course to have gained more confidence in myself and my abilities to become a great teacher.”

Has she achieved what she wanted to?

“I would say I have achieved what I set out to do. My confidence in myself and my abilities has grown massively during my training year. I have been supported by other wonderful teachers who have provided me with constant support and their expertise so I can develop and grow.”

Looking back, what would she say to herself at the start of the programme, and what is her advice for future trainees?

“Looking back, I would tell myself not to expect greatness from the beginning. There is no way you are going to be perfect at everything, and the whole point of this is to improve and develop in your practice. So do not stress if you find certain elements hard, there will always be people around you to support, be it colleagues or other trainees!”