Aim: To drive up the quality of teaching and learning to ensure students have a rich and purposeful education that enables them to be successful.

Background: Ark Academy was a brand new school in 2008 when it welcomed its first reception students and in 2010 it received its first cohort of Year 7. From the outset, the aim was to create a school in which there was a staff culture of observation and learning from each other, so that exemplary practice could be shared.

Method: All staff were trained on how to conduct lesson observations and feedback. A weekly observation schedule was introduced and staff used the “self observation” video room. Senior staff attended training in the USA from Doug Lemov (Teach like a champion) and training on mentoring using the ‘Leveraged Mentoring Approach’. A language teaching programme was created with the Institute of Education aimed at teaching students with English as an additional language. A staff handbook was developed which included ‘Building Student Understanding’ and ‘Literacy’ training programmes.

Evidence: Departmental ‘Evaluation of Teaching and Learning’, the School’s Self Evaluation Form, termly reporting system amongst senior staff around teaching quality and CPD, qualitative feedback from staff from CPD sessions, published case studies.

Impact: The quality of teaching in the school remained high across the three years of the lesson study, even as the profile of the staff changed. In 2012-13 the staff consisted mainly of the middle leaders and experienced teachers who had founded the school. By 2014-15 the experience level of staff members was wide ranging, including 12 Newly Qualified Teachers; out of the 152 observations conducted, 80% were rated Good and above.

Observations: Numbers and Gradings (1=Outstanding, 2=Good)

Reflections: Having a brand new school allowed us to set the agenda in many ways. Empowering staff to research and share their practice is a key driver in improving everyone’s classrooms. Of course, mistakes have been made along the way, but these have enabled us to improve our lesson study practice. Indeed, using exemplar lessons when things go wrong has helped to establish policy and inform the practice of others, which has enabled our study to be successful.

Contact: John Kirkman,; 020 8385 4385