Letter from Mr Spiers, Headteacher

Dear Parents and Carers,

I am delighted to be able to share with you our detailed arrangements for the return of scholars week commencing 8th March here. Please take the time to digest this information fully and rest assured your children will receive a very warm welcome!


Mr Spiers 

Dates for Your Calendar

28 September

Open Day

29 September

Open Day

01 October

Black History Month

Provide Covid-19 Testing Consent Today

The government has asked secondary schools across England to set up COVID-19 testing for students and staff as they return to school in person. All scholars will be tested three times onsite in the first two weeks upon return to AGFS. Afterward continued testing will be self administered at home.

Testing of students is optional, but strongly encouraged. All information on testing at AGFS can be found here. If you wish to volunteer to support with testing at AGFS please email: coronavirus@arkgreenwich.org.

Please provide consent before 8th March for your child to be tested for Covid-19. To consent please click here.

Download MCAS in Preparation for 8th March Return

Now that scholars are headed back to school starting from the 8th March, it’s more important that ever to download the My Child At School (MCAS) application. It’s free on Apple and Android app stores, and can be accessed online as well.

This application has now replaced Xpressions and allows parents to access attendance details, behaviour notices, communications and more all in one spot. All parents have received an invitation to MCAS and will also be sent a letter with directions for downloading and use in the upcoming days. We’re thankful to the near 70% of parents who have already downloaded the parent app. If you still need to do so, we encourage you contact the school at the earliest convenience. To learn more click here or on the tile below for further information.

If you have not received an invitation to join MCAS, please email info@arkgreenwich.org.

Digital Detox Afternoon, Round 3!

On the 18th we had our first full Digital Detox afternoon, and we beat our 1,000 mile target! With today’s (26th Feb) detox afternoon and Monday’s (1st March) left, we’re challenging you all to hit ANOTHER 1,500 miles by the morning of 2nd March. So be sure to record your miles and send in your photos. To do so, click here. To donate to our charity partner, the YMCA, click here.

Which year group will come out on top? Who will have the most miles? Scholars will find out our winners the week we return to school in person.

World Book Day 3rd and 24th March

This year World Book Day will look a bit different. We’ll be celebrating online Wednesday next week (3rd March).  But to celebrate the return to school later this month, we’ll be having another celebration of World Book Day on March 24th where scholars are encouraged to participate by dressing as their favourite literary character.

Read more about World Book Day and our preparations here.

AGFS Updates, 26th February 2021

Vaccine Roll Out to Carers

The Royal Borough of Greenwich has informed the school that unpaid carers are in Priority Group 6 in the first wave of vaccinations. The vaccination programme has now reached Priority Groups 5 and 6, meaning eligible unpaid carers should soon be receiving an invite for their vaccination.

To check if you’re eligible and for further information about this process click here. We strongly encourage anyone who’s able to get the vaccine to do so at the earliest availability.


Free Courses Run By Eton College

AGFS have been successful in partnering with Eton College, the prestigious private school attended by Boris Johnson and a large number of former prime ministers, so our scholars can access the same opportunities as Eton pupils. ‘EtonX’ is the school’s remote courses that can be accessed from around the world and our scholars are being given the opportunity to participate free of charge in the Eton course on resilience and entrepreneurship. These courses will predominantly be of interest to scholars in Y10 and Y11, but are open to scholars throughout the school.

To sign up:

Go to http://learn.etonx.com/ and click ‘Sign Up’

1. Create your account using your school email address

2. Enter your Access Code

o Entrepreneurship:


o Resilience:



Support for Vulnerable Families in the Borough

If you're vulnerable and self-isolating, and don't have anyone who can help, the Royal Greenwich Community Hub can provide support.

· Freephone 0800 470 4831 (Mon to Sat, 8.30am-6pm)

· royalgreenwich.gov.uk/communityhub

· Should you need support from one of our local foodbanks during half term, click here.


Parent Wellbeing

We know that the past year has been very challenging and has had a detrimental impact on many people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. 1 in 4 adults experience mental illness and there has been an increase in the rates of anxiety and depression amongst adults due to the impact of COVID and lockdown. Recognising the signs of depression can be the first step towards getting support. We are committed to supporting your child's wellbeing and yours.


Some common signs of depression include:

· Decreased energy

· Restlessness, irritability or rapid changes in mood

· Lack of motivation

· Frequent and overwhelming feelings of sadness

· Persistent physical symptoms

· Difficulty concentrating

· Sleep disturbance

· Self-medicating to deal with emotional distress


If you are concerned about your own mental health and would like to talk to someone there’s lots of support available through the following websites or organisations below:

· www.nhsfreeyourmind.co.uk- resources to help your mental health and wellbeing 11year old and above

· https://thriveldn.co.uk/ info@thriveldn.co.uk- tools and resources to help your mental health and wellbeing

· https://www.good-thinking.uk/-

· Mindline, if they would like to talk on 02088531735

· Qwell on www.qwell.io (a free, anonymous online counselling and emotional wellbeing service.

· Live well Greenwich on 08004704831-has lots of local support, advice and information

· www.livewellgreenwich.org.uk

· Open Monday- Saturday 8.30am – 6pm

· Samaritans –talk on 116123

· Greenwich Time To Talk http://oxleas.nhs.uk/advice-and-guidance/greenwich-time-talk-iapt1/ via telephone : 020 3260 1100 (8am-8pm Mon–Thurs & 8am–4:30pm Fri)

· via email: oxl-tr.greenwichtimetotalk@nhs.net


Free School Meals Eligibility

If you have had a change in circumstances and believe your child could be eligible for free school meals (FSM) please fill in your information via the link below and we will be notified immediately of the outcome. Anyone eligible for FSM will also be issued vouchers to cover lunches over breaks, so we strongly encourage any family who believes they could be eligible to complete this short form. The Government has temporarily extended eligibility for free school meals to groups with no recourse to public funds.


Seneca Learning

Seneca Learning is one of the platforms your child has been using as part of remote teaching. For scholars in Years 10 and 11, Seneca Learning is also used for independent learning tasks and is a recommended tool for revision. All Year 10 and 11 scholars have access to Seneca Premium resources, which gives additional exam practice for scholars and allows them to track their errors. As a Seneca Premium parent, you can now access and monitor the work your child is doing on Seneca Learning. Seneca’s parent accounts also allow you to learn alongside your child if you wish to do so. This might be helpful in supporting you to work with your child on areas of their school work that you are less familiar with.

· You can sign up for a free Seneca parent account here: app.senecalearning.com/parent

· Seneca have made this 2 minute video to help you get started.

· Or you can read how to get your free account if you’d prefer.

· If you have any questions about how Seneca works, you can get support from the Seneca team using the live chat on their website or you can email them at learnmore@seneca.io.

We hope you find Seneca’s free parent account useful.


Oak National Academy Now Data Free

Oak National Academy, an online platform full of remote lessons and curriculum resources, is now available on mobile devices without using any of a user's data plan. This means every family who has a device for accessing the internet via a SIM card can now use Oak, download resources and watch videos, without worrying about any costs to them. We hope this will help scholars with their independent revision without adding further burden on families’ wifi usage.


Sing Into Spring Competition

The Music team have launched our first network-wide singing competition, Sing into Spring Stay At Home Edition. Scholars can submit audio or video recordings of themselves singing, rapping or beatboxing by Friday 12th March. All entries will be reviewed by a panel of music industry judges, with winners revealed in a virtual awards ceremony on Wednesday 31st March at 1pm on YouTube Live. We know our network is full of passionate, talented vocalists and would love to see every school represented.

Parents/guardians or teachers need to email or WhatsApp the recording to Carys Evans, Ark Music Programme Manager (carys.evans@arkonline.org / 07535271558), stating the child’s name, school and year group by Friday 12th March 2021.


Safeguarding and IT

Please be advised that everything that is done on a school device and during online lessons is tracked by our safeguarding software, SENSO. This is in order to ensure that scholars are safe when they are using school devices. Any inappropriate usage may result in sanctions. Please remind your child of this and ask that they only use the school devices for school work.

As we continue during the lockdown period we know that scholars are using their devices more and more often. It is vital parents monitor the usage of these, particularly their phones.

Some key reminders:

· Scholars should never add anyone or accept any friend or follow requests from people they do not know personally.

· All social media profiles should be set to private to stop people from accessing them and to limit what people see.

· The minimum age for someone to have an Instagram account, TikTok account or a Snapchat account is 13. Scholars who are younger should not be signing up.

Many scholars are in Whatsapp groups and unfortunately there have been a number of bullying incidents related to these. The minimum age for using Whatsapp is 16. Scholars should not be in group chats with lots of people and should only communicate with people they know well. If they are worried about anything in a group chat they can leave that group.


Independent Learning at AGFS

Scholars at AGFS typically leave the school in Year 11 with grades that are between a half and a whole grade higher than their same ability peers nationally. This achievement places the school in the top 200 schools in the country. The academic success of our scholars can be attributed to high quality in-class teaching, supplemented by frequent, highly structured independent learning tasks. Scholars are working very hard in remote lessons, which is to be celebrated. Genuine success during this period will be a result, however, of this strong engagement in online lessons plus the continuation of independent learning.

Independent learning at AGFS is the same across all subjects:

At Key Stage 3, scholars use Quizlet and Google Forms to test themselves on the ‘core knowledge’ they need to be able to access lessons and make rapid progress. Scholars should spend 20minutes revising the knowledge on Quizlet, before completing pre-requisite tests (PRT) until they sore 80% three times in a row. This level of mastery will mean knowledge sticks.

At Key Stage 4, scholars complete the above, as well as additional tasks set by their teacher. To help scholars organise their time, we advise the following independent learning study schedule.

Key Stage 4 study schedule:

Thank you for your support in monitoring your child’s remote learning and independent learning so that they can be in the best position possible when schools begin to re-open from 8th March.


Expectations for Scholars When Completing Online Learning

It is vital that all scholars are working in a way that closely emulates their school experience. Please ensure your child is following the steps below:

1. Get up at the same time every day

2. Have breakfast before morning registration so they are prepared for the morning

3. Wear appropriate clothing in case their camera accidentally turns on

4. Sit at a desk/table. Scholars should not be sat in bed or on the sofa. If you do not have a suitable place for your child to work please contact Ms Gainey (vgainey@arkgreenwich.org) to enquire about your child attending our Community Classroom provision

5. Take short breaks in between lessons. Scholars should stand up, stretch, and move away from the screen. Lessons are now finishing 5 minutes early to enable this to occur

6. Cameras and microphones should be turned off. Microphones should only be turned on when the teacher asks your child to.

7. Scholars should not listen to music or play games while they are completing their work to enable them to focus fully on their school work

Thank you for all of your support with ensuring your child is able to access and engage with our online provision.


Top Tips for Supporting SEN Scholars with Online Learning

1. Changing the background of documents on Google Classroom can help scholars with their ability to read, particularly if a scholar is dyslexic. This can be done by following the simple steps below:

a. Open the document

b. Select File

c. Select Page Setup

d. Change the page colour to light blue

2. If your child is having trouble reading the text on Google Classroom, they can use a screen reader. To install and use this please follow the steps below:

a. Download the ChromeVox extension for Google Chrome. This can be done by selecting extensions and then going to the Google Chrome Web Store. It is free.

b. Once installed open the document

c. Select Tools

d. Select Accessibility Settings

e. Click on ‘Turn on screen reader support’

f. A new item will appear in the menu called Accessibility. Select this

g. Select speak

h. Select speak selection

i. Highlight the text you want read

3. To enable your child to type using speech please use the below link here and add the extension to Google Chrome. This will mean that your child will be able to say what they want to type into their microphone and it will appear on the page.


Olive Dining Presents Recipes for At Home Cooking

Our wonderful staff at Olive Dining who cook our tasty school meals, have put together a few recipes for our community to try out at home. This is a great option to try out on those digital down time afternoons when it may be cold or rainy outside. Check out the recipes linked in the attachments section below, and click here to watch a video on how to make penne pomodoro.

Scholars of the Week

Congratulations to this week's top scholars for achieving the most golden tickets in their year groups. Each scholar has exemplified the school values of Ambition, Growth, Fellowship and Scholarship

Careers and Aspirations

Work Experience for Year 10s

Finding work experience has been limited because of the pandemic and what is available in the current climate and many scholars are struggling to secure a placement. To help support you, our Careers Lead has posted onto SMHW various WEX opportunities for scholars to undertake, and AGFS would encourage scholars to sign up for one of these placements. These are online/virtual WEX and whilst, may not be of a direct interest into your chosen career, like any experience, there are transferable skills to gain and will give you an opportunity to see the world of work in practice.

Virtual WEX does not replace the face to face WEX placements we hope you are able to undertake in September, but are additional placements. However, at present AGFS nor the employers may let a WEX occur due to the pandemic. We will of course keep you updated. 

Alternatively, scholars can search for placements with Speakers for Schools S4nextgen here https://www.s4snextgen.org where they will find a huge variety of placements on offer.

Please do not hesitate to contact our Careers Lead, Mrs Neville at lneville@arkgreenwich.org if you require any additional support.


What Career Live & What University Live– Online Event for Years 10 & 11

What Next? are holding a virtual 'What Career & What University' event on Saturday 20th March, 11am - 3pm. The event will be a highly engaging online experience, replicating the physical event format. Students will be able to speak to universities and companies to get all the information they need to make a decision about their future.

The essential event for school leavers is going virtual. Speak to top universities and companies in real-time, get expert advice and benefit from one-to-one support to help you kick-start your future.

Registration is now open. For students to gain access to the online event platform, scholars must register using this link by 5th March 2021.

Year 11 Post-16 Applications

As Y11 Scholars continue to make applications to their chosen post-16 providers, invited for interview and receive conditional or unconditional offers of placement, it is vitally important to advise the AGFS Careers Lead of all interviews and offers received from post-16 providers. Scholars should email Mrs Neville at lneville@arkgreenwich.org with this required information.

A reminder if any scholars have recently submitted an application to join a post-16 provider, it is vitally important to advise the AGFS Careers Lead of each application completed by filling in the details at the following link: https://tinyurl.com/Post16ApplicationMade

If any scholars require any additional support with the post-16 process or in completing individual applications, they can also contact the AGFS Careers Lead Mrs Neville at lneville@arkgreenwich.org who will be able to support them.


Ark Alumni: Year 11

This is a reminder that all Year 11 scholars are expected to sign up and join the Ark Alumni network. This is a mandatory task. If you have not signed up to the platform yet, you can do this here.

What can the Ark Alumni Network offer you after Y11:

· Support during 6th form for those going to university or applying for an apprenticeship

· Job opportunities, work experience and internships from our partners

· Exclusive events with our partners including interview skills and other workshops

· Online networks managed by our alumni where they can ask questions about different A Levels/courses/careers/universities etc.

· Resources to support them to develop their employability skills

· Exclusive offers and ‘freebies’ from partners

In a little over 6 months you will leave the AGFS family to embark on your next journey into further education and then into your chosen career pathway.

As a staff body at AGFS, we want to keep in touch with you and provide continued support to you. By joining the Ark Alumni programme you can keep in touch with us, your friends and other scholars who have attended an Ark school, who can offer valuable advice on choosing subjects, universities and career pathways.

Why do we want students to join the Ark Alumni network?

We can continue to support students once they have left school and minimise the challenges they may face by providing them with access to financial support, career development opportunities and networks to support their personal and professional development.

Beyond Ark ongoing support and opportunities programme provided through the Ark Alumni online platform and monthly newsletter.

The Beyond Ark programme will provide school leavers and alumni with support in four key areas which have been identified through surveys, focus groups and interviews with alumni: Professional skills, Independent learning, Independent living and Resilience. This support will be accessible through the Ark Alumni online platform, in addition to a monthly newsletter.