Going Back to School at ARK Kings Academy

Aspire. Expect. Achieve. ARK Kings Academy's motto and words to live by?
Aspire. Expect. Achieve. ARK Kings Academy’s motto and words to live by?

As I write this post the sun is just beginning to peek through the clouds on a clear February morning. I am able to tell you this because I happen to find myself up and about earlier than usual, swapping my usual canalside cycle for a more conventional commute on an early morning train to London.

I find myself travelling to London this morning to join colleagues from across the country for the catchily named ARK Schools Network Hub Day 2. What’s that when it’s at home? Well first of all I feel I should explain to you what ARK is and my connection to it.

What’s in a name?

ARK Schools is a global educational charity. Headquartered in London, ARK is best known in England for running a network of high performing academies in different parts of England, including a growing cluster of schools in Birmingham. The name ARK stands for Absolute Return for Kids and reflects the charity’s commitment to education as an investment in future success. You can find out more about ARK by clicking here.

Working 9 to 5 (or rather 8 to 4), What a Way to Make a Living

Last December, I was appointed to the role of Communications Manager at ARK Kings Academy, a non-selective secondary school located in the ‘Three Estates’ area of Birmingham. The role is highly varied, covering all aspects of internal and external communications, from ensuring the staff bulletin goes out on time to communicating with current and prospective parents. Relationships are at the heart of the role as it is only by developing and maintaining effective relationships with everyone with a stake in the school that ARK Kings Academy can develop and thrive.

Since joining ARK Kings Academy in December I have been focused on getting to grips with my new role and getting to know my new colleagues and external partners. As the role is full-time I have had to scale back my other commitments. This has meant that my regular blogging and online patter has fallen by the wayside in recent months. Fortunately, however, I have still been able to keep up my work as a Web Design Tutor at mac Birmingham as well as continuing to support voluntary and community groups at Social Media Surgeries.

Life Beyond the School Gates

What’s great about my new job is that I can use the skills and links from outside work to strengthen my work for ARK. For instance, my photography and digital storytelling skills allow me to communicate more effectively the positive difference ARK Kings Academy is making to our students’ lives. Now that I am settling into the role at ARK Kings I am hoping to get a bit more active again with my outside interests and look for opportunities to share the things I am learning in my Communications Manager role with a wider audience.

Looking ahead to the next few months, I’m particularly keen to do the following:

  • Learn video production skills. I’ve signed up for a video editing course at mac Birmingham so that I can learn how to get the most out of the video I shoot, both inside and outside of work. My goal here is fairly modest. I am not expecting miracles, I simply want to be proficient at producing short form videos such as ‘talking head’ interviews and news reporting.
  • Expand ARK Kings Academy’s student newspaper. Since joining ARK Kings in December I have volunteered to help colleagues and students bring the student newspaper online. You can check out the basic WordPress site I have set up for the team. Going forward, I want to help students develop their confidence in digital journalism so that they can make their own voice heard online through words, pictures, video and sound.
  • Develop a Social Media Surgery for the Three Estates. I would love to support community groups and local residents in the Three Estates, ARK Kings Academy’s local neighbourhood, to develop social media skills. Not only would this be a convenient way for me to maintain my volunteering commitment (I could hold the session straight after work), it would be a great way to develop relationships between ARK Kings and the local community.

Keep In Touch

Now that I’ve got round to blogging again I promise not to leave it so long until my next post. I’ll try to use this blog as a place to set out my thoughts and work through any issues I am having. As ever, it would be great to know what you think about the work I’m doing and any ideas for what I should explore next. The best way to keep in touch with me is by Twitter, @francisclarke.

Thanks for reading.