Ark Greenwich Free School and Ark Schools Governance Arrangements

Academies are schools funded by the government with the freedom to govern independently – but all are accountable to the Secretary of State for Education. To share resources and best practice, many are part of multi-academy trusts – a network of schools under one legal body.

Ark Greenwich Free School is part of Ark - a leading education charity and one of the country’s top-performing academy operators. Ark is non-denominational and does not make any profit from running its schools.

Ark’s relationship with the Secretary of State is set out in the master funding agreement. There are also supplemental funding agreements for each individual school in the network, including Ark Greenwich Free School.

Every school in the Ark network is the legal responsibility of the Ark Schools Board. This board focuses on statutory duties and delegates most day-to-day responsibilities to each school’s individual Local Governing Body (LGB). This means that Ark Greenwich Free School's governors are able to concentrate on the things that really matter – educational strategy, school outcomes and aspiration.

PDF iconArk Greenwich Free School Supplementary Funding Agreement.pdf

A201 GFS annual report and financial statements 2018

The Ark Schools Articles of Association, Master Funding Agreement and Accountabilities Framework can be found on the Ark Schools website here.

Our Local Governing Body

Ark Greenwich Free School's LGB is made up as follows:

Six to 10 members appointed by Ark, to include the Chair - usually people with a local connection or interest who are committed to supporting educational opportunity in the area.

The Principal

Over the academic year the LGB will be appointing the following:

One parent governor

One teaching staff governor

One non-teaching staff governor

Ark aims to create a balanced group that will have the right skills, connections and dynamic for the LGB to work well and support the school in achieving exceptional performance:

Good insight into the specific challenges at the school and the general challenges of operating top-quality schools
Excellent community links
Specific skills as needed by/relevant to the school
A link to the senior executive team of Ark

The LGB meets four times a year.

Contacting the Governors

The current Clerk to Governors is Louise Garcia ( All Governors can be contacted through the Clerk.

Ark Greenwich Free School Governors

Rhys Spiers (Principal)

Jonathan Simons (Chair)

Jonathan is the Director of Policy and Research at the Varkey Foundation, a global education charity, and the current Member, Co Founder and Chair of Governors of Greenwich Free School. Previously, Jonathan was Head of the Education Unit at Policy Exchange, where he wrote over 15 major reports, book chapters and policy papers across all aspects of education. He appeared regularly in print and broadcast - including Today, Newsnight, World at One, Adam Boulton, and Jeremy Vine.

Jonathan has also worked at Serco Group, as Head of Open Public Services in the Cabinet Office, and as Head of Education in the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit in the administrations of both Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

Outside of work Jonathan is also a Trustee of Astrea Multi Academy Trust, and a Trustee of Ambition School Leadership.

Kristen Hassler (SEND Link Governor)

Kristen moved to the UK 14 years ago from the US where she studied SEN Education (SpLD/BESD) and Fine Art at university. She worked at a St Augustine’s CE High School in Westminster for 13 years as a SENCo/SEN Teacher. Wanting to learn about different aspects of education in the UK she became a governor at GFS and then the SENCo at Eton College, where she currently works. She is passionate about the development of SEND in the UK and ensuring that all students in all areas of education are supported and empowered to progress in all areas of their lives.

Simon Hurst (Safeguarding Link Governor)

Simon become involved with Greenwich Free School in 2012 as a single father of twins who were among the first cohorts of students. He has run the Astronomy enrichment programme since 2013 giving the students opportunity's to do solar observation's and viewing the transit of mercury in 2016, He  is   also  passionate about online safety and has worked hard with the safeguarding team at GFS to setup the school's SHARP and Securus system's which is making a very positive effect in increasing not only online safety but also increasing the whole of the stutents safeguarding both in and out of school which he is very proud of.

Joanna Israel (Vice Chair and Pupil Premium Link Governor)

I have been a Governor at GFS since 2015, and have seen the school grow and improve under the leadership of two strong heads. My highlights as governor so far have been attending the most recent Ofsted inspection when the school was graded Good, the magnificent production of Bugsy Malone, and interviewing for the new headteacher in 2017. I am a qualified secondary RE teacher, but have been working for the Department of Education, since 2008. I currently lead on English Policy. I live in Greenwich, about two miles from the school, and so the quality of secondary education in the RBG is of great importance to me personally. My eldest son (of two) will be starting primary school in September, and I strongly feel that by helping to make GFS as great as it can be, we will drive up the standard of secondary education throughout the borough.

Ben Jasper (Finance Link Governor)

Ben works as a solicitor at an international law firm specialising in litigation, investigations and dispute resolution. He obtained a first class degree in modern history and a masters in politics from Wadham College, Oxford University where he was Student Union President. He has been a governor at the Greenwich Free School since 2011 and chaired the Finance Pay and Personnel Committee between 2014 and 2018. He grew up in London where he attended a state school and was the first person in his family to go to university. He is committed to ensuring that young people, regardless of their background, have the best possible chance of achieving outstanding results and attending top-flight universities.

Sophie Welch (Ark-Nominated Governor)

Sophie has worked in education for her entire career and has been a governor at GFS for a number of years. As a serving practitioner Ofsted inspector and am Associate Headteacher at an all through school she is clear about the crucial role good governance plays. She is keen to continue to work with GFS as it joins ARK and would like to continue to be a part of the LGB.

Owain Williams (Ark-Nominated Governor)

Owain is an Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company in London. He was previously a civil servant at the Department for Education. Owain's interests include classical music, sport and literature, and he enjoys supporting GFS' high aspirations in these fields.


The Register of Interests for governors can be found here: PDF iconArk Greenwich Free School - Declarations of Interest 2018-19.pdf

The attendance information for 2017-18 for the predecessor Governing Body can be found here: PDF iconGreenwich Free School- Governing Body Attendance Log 2017-18.pdf

All appointments are made by the Governance Manager for Ark. The term of a governor is three years, except for the Principal, who remains a governor for the duration of their time in post.