One of the first free schools in the country to be rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, ARK Atwood Primary Academy in north London has the highest possible aspirations for its pupils.

The academy is run by ARK Schools, an educational charity that runs a network of successful academies in London, Birmingham and Portsmouth which are all characterised by high ambitions, high achievement and exemplary behaviour.

 ARK Atwood benefits from this network’s expertise in governance, staff training and operations but it is also very much its own school, with a desire to become a focal point for the local community. When Ofsted visited the school they praised the way that the school celebrated the diverse cultural heritages of its pupils.

They were also very complimentary about the way the school was run generally, describing how, “inspirational leadership by the Headteacher, supported by the committed team of teachers, non-teaching staff and governors, has created an excellent learning environment in which all pupils can fulfil their potential.”

In the classroom, this translates into a school culture where there are no excuses for not enabling every child to succeed, a curriculum built around mastering the basics first before broadening out into other topics and a longer school day that delivers more learning time. The success of the school’s approach was recognised at the 2014 TES awards, where it won an award for its pioneering use of the Maths Mastery curriculum.

Outside of lessons it means a commitment to celebrating all children’s success and building their character. This is something which can be seen clearly at lunchtime, where children sit and eat together in ‘families’ to develop good table manners and those who have enjoyed a particularly successful week are invited to join the headmaster for lunch at the top table.