Headteachers from two top-performing West London schools joined Prime Minister David Cameron at an event in Downing Street on Monday to celebrate excellence in state education.

Damian McBeath, who heads ARK Bentworth Primary Academy and ARK Conway Primary Academy, and Dame Sally Coates, principal at Burlington Danes Academy, were invited in recognition of their schools’ outstanding achievements.

Also in attendance at Number 10 were Education Secretary Michael Gove and Chief Executive of ARK Schools Lucy Heller.

Mr McBeath said: “It was an absolute honour to be invited to such an event. I’m delighted that the prime minister has recognised all the hard work and dedication of the pupils, staff and communities of ARK Bentworth and ARK Conway primary schools. With Dame Sally representing Burlington Danes at the event, this shows the strength and quality of schools in this area.”

While the oversubscribed ARK Conway was the first free school to be rated outstanding by Ofsted, ARK Bentworth has seen improvements in results across the board recently.

82% of pupils passed their phonic screening tests last year – well above the national average of 69% – and the year six SATS results were the best in the school’s history. The academy is expecting further improvements come the summer.

Principal Dame Sally Coates with her DBE award last year
 

Burlington Danes Academy was awarded outstanding status by Ofsted in November last year, marking an impressive turnaround since being placed in special measures in 2006 and becoming the first ARK academy the same year.

Dame Sally, who will take up a new role with academy chain United Learning in September, said: “I am delighted to have been invited to Downing Street to celebrate what has so far been an excellent year for everyone associated with Burlington Danes Academy. I reiterated to our staff this morning, the positive attention that we receive is all thanks to their hard work and commitment. They do so much to ensure that our students have every opportunity to fulfil their potential.

“I was particularly proud to hear Mr Cameron refer specifically to Burlington Danes in such a positive light during his speech. It’s great that he is so clearly impressed with our achievements. He commented on our outstanding results and the fact that we are at the forefront of state schools.”

It was confirmed last week that Michael Ribton, currently senior vice principal at Burlington Danes, will replace Dame Sally as principal on an interim basis from September.

In addition to her role at Burlington Danes, Dame Sally has agreed to assist at West London Free School for the remainder of the school year, while it looks to appoint a new head.