Regional Director of Primary (London Cluster): Damian McBeath
Damian McBeath is the Regional Director of Primary (London Cluster) for Ark and is Executive Headteacher of Ark Conway and Ark Bentworth. He was the founding Headteacher of Ark Conway, which was the first free school to be awarded ‘Outstanding’ status by Ofsted and has subsequently achieved the highest KS1 results nationally. In 2014, Damian was named by the Education Foundation as one of their Educational Reformers of the year ‘for inspiring and collegiate leadership and nationally acknowledged achievement for pupils in a new school.’
Damian is a strong advocate for a College of Teaching, and has dedicated a great deal of time into developing a strong reflective staff team committed to embracing innovation and challenging the status quo.
He is the Chair of the Ark Schools Teacher Training Steering Group and the Ark Schools Headteachers forum but above all a teacher.
Damian is a keen musician and has a love of performing arts. He is the proud father of two rather wonderful little baby girls.
Head of School: Justine Oldham
Justine Oldham has recently returned from Sri Lanka, where she was Deputy Head of the British School in Colombo, in order to join the team at ARK Conway. Her responsibilities there included the roles of SENCo and Assessment Coordinator and, whilst working hard to change cultural awareness and opinions surrounding special educational needs, she created a very successful SEN department. Lower attaining children made rapid progress throughout the school and a new Gifted & Talented programme was introduced. Demand for school places increased by 25% during this time as a direct result of the implementation of new initiatives and SAT’s results were the highest in the school’s history.
As a class teacher she has taught years 3, 4 and 6 and has held various responsibilities including subject leader for English, Science and PE. Whilst in London previously, she chose to work as Key Stage 2 class teacher in a school for children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. She has proven success working with statemented children, who all developed from very resistant or non-readers and writers to confident learners and made outstanding progress. She is drawn to the challenges and opportunities associated with inclusion within a multi-cultural environment, has taught voluntarily in various schools in Asia, and has a love of travel.
Interim Deputy Headteacher and Instructional Lead Teacher: Rebecca Carver
Rebecca Carver joined Ark Conway Primary Academy in 2012 and taught the school’s first Year 1 cohort, in which 100% of children passed the Phonics Screening check. After also teaching in Year 3 and leading on Mathematics, Rebecca took on the role of Interim Deputy Head Teacher and Instructional Lead Teacher.
Rebecca completed her PGCE at the Institute of Education in central London, which involved a variety of teaching experiences in Key Stage 1 and 2 classes. She is passionate about providing children with the chance to learn the skills required to achieve excellence both academically and beyond the curriculum. Before teaching, Rebecca graduated from the University of Durham with a degree in Natural Sciences.
Rebecca enjoys both dancing and acting. She has competed in the finals of Miss Dance of Great Britain and performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Dublin International Theatre Festival. As an employed dance teacher for five years, Rebecca witnessed at first-hand the benefits that dance can have for children’s health and well-being and, as such, has thoroughly enjoyed being involved in a range of performing arts events at Ark Conway.
Deputy Headteacher: Lois Osborne
Prior to joining the team at Ark Conway Primary Academy as Deputy Headteacher, Lois Osborne was Assistant Headteacher at a neighbouring Ark academy. She was at the forefront of improving the quality of teaching and implemented a coaching cycle with opportunities for teacher-led reflection and research. This ensured teachers developed their skills at a fast rate and the quality of teaching improved rapidly. Lois has contributed to the wider Ark network by supporting the development of Instructional Lead Teachers and delivering central training, including co-facilitation of a National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) middle leader programme.
Before progressing to school leadership, Lois graduated with a First Class BA Honours in Primary Education and established a portfolio of outstanding classroom practice, in which she endorsed learning through critical thinking and collaboration. Her lesson planning was shared across a local authority as excellent practice. Lois enjoys being innovative in her approach to address educational challenges. A technology-based initiative that she assisted was recently recognised by the Association for Learning Technology as excellent practice and an outstanding achievement in the learning technology field. She hopes to use this passion to develop truly unique and rigorous education-based practices at Ark Conway.
Resource Director: Hannah McCormick
Hannah was part of the founding team to open Ark Conway in 2011. As a member of the Senior Leadership Team, Hannah is responsible for the operations of the school. However, she enjoys being part of all of the school life and is always keen to help out with trips, clubs and events. Her background in music and dance helps her to engage with the school’s specialism of performing arts and has supported many pupil performances.
As Resource Director, Hannah also works across Ark Bentworth and Ark Swift.
Before joining the Ark Conway Primary Academy team, Hannah was an assistant director at a leading educational company, providing Maths and English tuition for children.
Whilst studying History at the University of York, Hannah spent three months working with children in America, gaining an international view of education. This inspired her to undertake a voluntary placement working at a primary school in York, working predominantly with reception. She also helped with an initiative called ‘MEG’ – ‘Musical Education Group’ sending volunteers into local primary schools to hold music workshops and encourage the children to try performing arts.
SENCO: Angela Mak
Angela was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada. In the summer just before going into university, Angela decided to do some volunteer work at her local community centre. She was very passionate about helping others and so she committed herself to teaching refugees conversational English every Saturday for the next 3 months.
She went to University of British Columbia where she acquired a Bachelors of Arts, majoring in English Literature and minoring in Geography. She then studied further to gain her Bachelors of Education specialising in elementary children. Immediately after graduation, Angela stayed in Canada for another 2 years, where she taught in secondary schools before coming to the UK. With over 12 years of teaching experience here in the UK, Angela has worked primarily in mainstream schools, teaching nursery children to year 6. Within this time, she has also taken 1 year to be a deputy at a bilingual French Montessori school in South London. In all the teaching experience, Angela has found her interest in her Ethnic Minority Achievement Teaching post. She realised that she wanted to work closely with children who have particular barriers such as English as a Second Language. She felt that she could relate to children who had a barrier in language, but also in culture. Having said this, it was then that she started to embrace the challenge in supporting children with Special Needs. Ultimately, it was here that Angela felt she made a significant difference in the lives of those children.
Angela is looking forward to doing her National SENCo Award in the near future.
Year 4 Teacher: Emily Collins
Emily spent last academic year broadening her knowledge of the Early Years syllabus as a Teaching Assistant in Reception. She is looking to utilise this knowledge next year by working in Year 3 as a Co-teacher. Alongside this she will be completing her teacher training, making for an exciting year.
Prior to joining ARK Conway Primary Academy, Emily worked at a secondary school in North London as a Teaching Assistant specialising in behaviour for learning. Her role involved supporting students with challenging behaviour both in and out of lessons.
Before working in education, Emily spent two years working in Public Relations, having graduated from The London School of Economics and Political Science with a degree in Sociology. Whilst at university, she was the Theatre Editor of the London Student and Social Secretary of LSE's drama society, regularly performing in productions.
Emily is passionate about Performing Arts, having been a member of The National Youth Theatre and singing in choirs since she was young. She thoroughly enjoyed teaching drama in Arts afternoons and hopes to continue to do so next year.
Year 4 Co-teacher: Gareth Johnston
Prior to joining Ark Conway, Gareth spent three and a half years working as a Key Person and Early Years Education Worker at a thriving public sector Children's Centre and Nursery School in Islington, North London. This period has provided him with an in-depth knowledge of formative child development and broad experience of working with children and families from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures. Gareth carries into his practice the philosophy that excellence in learning is nourished through inspiration, that being inspired in teaching enriches a child’s perception of the potential of learning.
Following completion of a Diploma in Childcare and Early Years education, Gareth went on to achieve a First Class BA Honours in English Language and Creative Writing at Bangor University. Gareth has a particular passion for English, for writing and for storytelling. He is inspired by the power that stories, both lived and imagined, hold over our lives. He has a strong ambition to work toward a career in teaching in the future.
In his free time Gareth is a keen writer and avid reader. He enjoys playing football and holds a love for good food and music. He is very excited about joining Ark Conway this summer, having been impressed by the atmosphere and ethos of the school during the interview process. He is very much looking forward to meeting the children and families and all involved in driving the school to the standards it has achieved in its journey thus far.
Year 3 Teacher: Tim Jones
Tim Jones studied at the University of Durham, gaining an MA in English Literary Studies. Following university he worked in children's publishing for 15 years, first in marketing and then as the publisher of books by such authors as Michael Morpurgo and Enid Blyton and characters such as Winnie-the-Pooh and Tintin. In 2013 he began a research programme into children's attitudes to reading and enjoyed spending time with children and hearing their thoughts and opinions. He retrained as a teacher on the Ark Teacher Training Programme at Reach Academy in Feltham during the 2014/15 academic year. His specialist interest is promoting a lifelong love of reading.
Year 3 Co-teacher: Neelam Choudhry
Neelam graduated in 2012 from Royal Holloway, University of London with a BSc degree in Psychology. After graduating Neelam volunteered as an editorial and Oral History Assistant at the UCL Slade School of Art, working on the first stages of the Slade Archive Project. Her responsibilities included formatting a newly digitised archive reader and editing interview summaries with past alumini and staff. In previous years, Neelam has also acted as a volunteer ambassador for the Science Museum, London.
Before joining Ark Conway, Neelam was an office administrator and then teaching assistant at a secondary school for students with special educational needs, including Autism and moderate to severe learning difficulties. Having seen the positive impact on the wellbeing and academic achievement of students who made the transition from mainstream to an SEN setting, and those who attended as part-time inclusion, Neelam hopes to help facilitate similar provisions for children in the future. She is passionate in promoting the independence of young people and is excited to create challenging ways in which to inspire confidence to further achievement.
Since joining Ark Conway, Neelam has established this year's Computer 'Code Club' aiming to inspire students to build and share ideas in a creative environment, whilst developing valuable digital skills for the future.
In her spare time, Neelam is an avid reader and her interests include contemporary British history, theatre and film.
Year 3 Learning Support Assistant: Chlorise Benjamin
Chlorise Benjamin joined Ark Conway in 2013 and will be continuing her experience in the Reception classroom. Before coming to Ark Conway, Chlorise was studying Architecture at Greenwich University part time. Prior to that, she worked in after-school clubs and holiday play schemes in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
During this time Chlorise studied Art and Design at college, and because she enjoyed her art and design work so much she volunteered to help at the Mangrove Mas Camp (Carnival Band work space). It was there Chlorise learnt to play the steel band. Chlorise had the privilege of playing with the band in the Notting Hill Carnival Panorama Steel band competition.
Chlorise enjoys cooking, music and dancing and she loves sharing these skills when teaching the children.
Year 2 Teacher: Richard Welsh
Richard joined Ark Conway in 2012 as a Teaching Assistant following a previous 10 year career in the insurance industry after having graduated from the University of Durham in 2001. Having successfully passed Initial Teacher Training in 2014, Richard has had the pleasure of teaching in Year 1 and Year 2 and is currently the school’s lead for Literacy which is a very rewarding position.
In his free time, Richard enjoys long distance running and is hoping to be able to run the London Marathon again this year and improve on his time. Richard is also a keen cyclist and heads to the gym when the opportunity arises because he is a keen cook and can often be found eating cake whilst reading any book he can get his hands on.
Year 2 Co-teacher: Rosemary Hung
Before coming to ARK Conway, Rosemary was a Project Manager and a Literacy Intervention Tutor for an education charity, Springboard for Children.
Rosemary has a BSc degree in Psychology. She is excited to broaden her knowledge about the educational and social factors that contribute to children's learning at Ark Conway. She hopes to study for a Phd in Educational Psychology in the next few years.
Rosemary is a keen philanthropist, who supports and volunteers for a children's counselling service, Childline and a homeless charity, Crisis in her spare time. She also enjoys reading and travelling.
Year 1 Teacher: Donna Goodfellow
Donna began her working life as a classical ballet dancer. Following her training in Manchester, her ballet career took her from Ireland to Germany and finally to London, where she met her husband and became mother to three children.
Her teaching career began some twelve years ago, teaching English in a French school in London. Having gained her teaching qualification in 2015, Donna is excited about her appointment at Ark Conway and is looking forward to working with her Year 1 class.
In her free time, Donna enjoys running and is passionate about music, enjoying the vibrant music scene of West London.
Year 1 Co-teacher: Hannah Bridges
Hannah Bridges started working at Ark Conway in September 2015. She has worked in several schools in Buckinghamshire and Berkshire, as a teaching assistant and as a class teacher. Previous to her career in education, Hannah worked professionally as an actress. She appeared in several performances at both the National Theatre and the Royal Court, including Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters and A Miracle by Molly Davies. Additionally, she has appeared on television in productions such as EastEnders, Casualty, The Bill and Cutting It. She also won a Scottish BAFTA for her role in Uncle Dad, a children’s comedy for Citv.
Hannah is a keen gymnast and competed internationally for a number of years. She now coaches in her spare time and has judged at a number of national and international competitions.
Hannah is really excited to be working at Ark Conway this year.
Reception Teacher: Sarah Hyslop
Sarah Hyslop was born in South Africa, raised in America and schooled in England. She did an English Literature Masters degree at the University of Edinburgh, throughout which she produced plays, operas, and even joined a successful 5-piece girl band. After gaining a 2:1 MA, she went on to work as a script developer for Sir David Frost followed by an 8 year long career in advertising as a TV and Radio Producer at Ogilvy & Mather.
After years of dreaming about a career in teaching, and taking some time out to have her two children, she finally made her much desired move into a school and completed the ARK Schools Direct ITT programme last year. Sarah is now an NQT and Reading Leader. She has always been passionate about cultivating the magic of childhood and the inspiring imagination. As a teenager she worked with disadvantaged children at the Strathmore school in Petersham. She also taught ballet at the Richmond Academy of Dance and throughout early motherhood ran toddler and baby singing and dancing groups.
Reception Co-teacher: Stephen Rodwell
After graduating from the University of York with a First Class Honours degree in History in 2013, Stephen has stayed within the education sector. He spent some time volunteering as a TA in a York primary school. Stephen also provided academic and pastoral support at Bucks New University. He has recently been leading craft activities & events at three different museums (including the National History Museum). Stephen was lucky enough to be part of the National Education Trust - an organisation dedicated to sharing excellent practice in education across the UK. It was here that Stephen decided to pursue teacher training.
Stephen joined Ark Conway in June 2015 as part of a magnificent team in Reception Class, and is very excited to continue this year as Co-Teacher. Stephen is thrilled to bring his love of cinema to school this year with the Ark Conway Film Club (ACFC).
Reception Co-teacher: Merle Makinde
Merle joined Ark Conway in September 2015, after graduating from the University of Westminster with a degree in English Language and Linguistics.
Merle has always had a passion for teaching, and has spent the past 4 years as a tutor in many primary and secondary schools across London, with the objective to raise the attainment in English and Maths in socially economically challenged schools.
Merle loves working in Early Years as she believes the formative years of education are crucial in developing competitive skills in Literacy and Mathematics. She is dedicated in ensuring every child has the opportunity to realise their own potential, and excel not only academically, but socially and physically.
Office Manager: Maheshi Navaratne
After graduating from University with a degree in Accounting & Finance, Maheshi worked in the Banking sector for 12 years. She has extensive sales, operational and administrative knowledge gained in this sector both here in the U.K. and in the United States of America. Due to several relocations as well as personal and family commitments, she took a step back from the corporate world and decided to embark on something that would allow her flexibility and manageability of her time. Hence, she has been running a small but successful e-business in Singapore since 2008. Maheshi has recently moved back to the UK and looking forward to a rewarding career at Ark Conway primary.
Maheshi has travelled extensively and has had the opportunity of working with children by volunteering at many schools. Having lived and worked in four countries, she has a wide breadth of experience dealing with people from many different cultures.
School Administrative and HR Officer: Susan Niland
Before joining Ark Conway, Susan worked for 19 years at a Special School in Blackpool as an SEN Administration Officer, so has many years of experience working in a school setting. Susan was born in Shepherds Bush and moved to Lancashire 25 years ago, where she raised her family. She relocated to London in November 2015 and was delighted to join the Ark Conway team on a permanent basis in January 2016.
In her spare time, Susan loves to watch movies and listen to live music. She also enjoys travelling, reading, drawing, and walking in the countryside.
Site Manager: Maher Fara
Before joining the team Maher worked as a care taker for Sorby House and Vestry Hall in Sheffield which is currently run by the City Council. In his current position he manages the running of the buildings and undertakes reception duties on a day to day basis. He has a great deal of experience dealing with customers and contractors at all levels and has enjoyed working within different communities and cultures. He is fluent in English and Arabic. He is skilled and trained in safety and security duties and is very capable of building upkeep and maintenance, site security and small DIY jobs.
Maher describes himself as a confident and friendly person with excellent communication skills and a commitment towards any tasks given to him. He likes to keep himself fit and active. He likes watching films and listening to music and also enjoys socializing with his family and friends.
Midday Meals Supervisor: Dina Romano
Dina has been working with ARK Conway since May 2013. Before joining the staff team, Dina volunteered as a teacher's help in her children's school as well as being an active member of the school PTA.
Dina has a diploma in Community Interpreting and has previously worked with local charities. Dina also studied Music and has toured with an Anglo-Indian dance company playing the guitar in it's orchestra.
Midday Meals Supervisor: Morita Braithwaite
Before joining the ARK Conway team, Morita used to volunteer in the Old Oak Children's Centre as a toy library assistant and worked with the children at a cook and play session once a week.
In her spare time, Morita enjoys singing and is part of a gospel choir called Singology based in Ealing.
Morita successfully passed a first aid course and a food and hygiene course and she now looks forward to working and being a part of ARK Conway Primary Academy.
Midday Meals Supervisor: Claire Stanley-Cumbers
Prior to joining ARK Conway Primary Academy, Claire worked as a dental nurse in busy NHS and private clinics often helping to reassure nervous and anxious children. Claire loved working in dentistry but after her son was diagnosed with Autism it prompted a career change as she developed an interest in children with special needs.
Claire has attended many workshops including challenging behaviours, speech and language, sleeping problems, practical parenting and eating difficulties. She also attends a monthly ASD parents group. Claire also runs her own small ironing business from home.
In the future Claire hopes to work with children who have special needs on a 1:1 basis.
Midday Meals Supervisor: Sheika Said
Before joining ARK Conway, Sheika worked with children with learning difficulties as an escort for school runs. Sheika is originally from Kenya and since living in the UK, has studied fashion and design.
Sheika loves the energy in a school and hopes to provide support to the children and the school.
Midday Meals Supervisor: Archna Jani
Before joining Ark Conway, Archna worked within fashion retail, as a Merchandiser, working closely with Buyers.
Archna has three children, one of whom is a 13 year old who was born with Downs Syndrome and was later diagnosed with Autism and ADHD. Archna has attended several workshops to help understand these conditions.
Archna loves the family atmosphere the school, parents and children have created.
*All teaching staff have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)
* The Headteacher has the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH)