Letter from Mr Spiers, Headteacher

Dear Parents and Carers,

Thank you for continuing to ensure your child is attending lessons on time and engaging fully in the remote learning programme. We are closely monitoring scholar engagement through the contributions they make in class, work completed on Google Classroom, and standards of independent learning (homework). Your key worker will continue to feedback to you on this and, once you have downloaded our new MCAS parent app, you too will be able to monitor live attendance, rewards and behaviour points for your child.

Thank you to all those parents who provided feedback on remote provision via the recent parent survey. Your feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and staff were visibly lifted when I shared your kind comments with them. The themes of screen time and technical issues emerged from the parent survey and I have addressed these below:

Screen time

All lessons finish 5-minutes early to ensure scholars are able to take regular screen breaks. To ensure this is happening, we will now be incorporating a standardised end of lesson slide which will act as a reminder to scholars. Please monitor your child to ensure they are using these breaks to move around, use the toilet and get a drink. Lessons in some subjects such as PE and Drama will be more active, and children should be encouraged to take exercise and fresh air every day during their lunch break. We will keep screen time under review and take further steps in due course if necessary.

What to do if my child is experiencing technical issues at home

Our onsite technical team are on hand to support you and your child if technical issues are impacting learning at home. Please call reception on 0208 319 3692 or email info@arkgreenwich.org and one of the team will respond straight away. If we are unable to find a resolution, your child will be invited to attend community classrooms where they can receive support at school. If you would like to request access to community classrooms, please email vgainey@arkgreenwich.org.

We continue to prepare for the return to school for all scholars. To help us with this task, please provide consent for your child's Covid-19 testing when they return to AGFS here.

Thank you once again for your ongoing support, please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance.


Mr Spiers

AGFS Updates, 22nd January 2021

Covid-19 Testing Consent

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.  As we prepare for this return, we ask that parents and carers provide consent in advance for their child to be tested for Covid-19, helping us to identify the virus early and reduce transmission rates. Thereafter, students will only need a test if they are identified as a ‘close contact’. We support this government initiative as it will help to provide a further layer of security, on top of the existing strict safety and hygiene measures that are already in place across our school.

The process is relatively straight forward and approximately 30 AGFS staff have already received training to ensure the process runs smoothly. Our aim will be to get as many students and staff tested as possible before they return to face-to-face teaching and learning. 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.

To provide consent for your child to be tested for Covid-19 please click here.

Download MCAS Today

We've heard our families loud and clear, and we are thrilled to announce the new parent app, MCAS. 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 look forward to 100% use in the next few weeks.  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.

Year 9 GCSE Options Launch Evening 3rd February

In the coming weeks, Year 9 scholars will, for the first time, make their own choice about the subjects they wish to pursue alongside their core subjects. Of course, this is an exciting, important and potentially life-changing decision and we very much look forward to discussing the Curriculum Choices process with you at the Curriculum Choices Launch Evening on Wednesday 3rd February, at 5 pm. A letter with further details and a link to join the Options launch meeting will be shared to all year 9 parents within the upcoming days.

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

Exercise and Mental Health While at Home

We recognise how difficult it is to spend so much time indoors and online during the lockdown period. It is increasingly important that you encourage your children to take time for proper exercise. A 2017 study showed that increased physical activity can reduce depressive symptoms in children and young adolescents. Below are a few key tips to encourage more activity and positive mental health:

· Taking the opportunity to go outdoors before school in the mornings or during lunch break, while observing distancing regulations

· Incorporating physical activity into children's daily routines – even if supported by use of electronic media (Wii Sports, PE with Joe Wicks on YouTube, etc)-- and breaking up extended sedentary periods every 40-60 minutes; families should also be encouraged to join in while observing distancing regulations. Lessons are now ending 5 minutes earlier to allow scholars to stand up, stretch, take a break from the computer, etc.

· Keeping children's bedtime and rising time consistent, keeping screens out of the rooms where they sleep and avoiding screen use at least 30 mins before bedtime

· Watch this video on supporting your child’s and your own mental health

There are lots of places that you or your child can go to for advice or help, and below are some links to useful websites:

· https://www.childline.org.uk

· https://www.headscapegreenwich.co.uk

· https://youngminds.org.uk

· https://www.samaritans.org

If you or your child need support you can also get in touch with the school via the following channels:

· Emailing info@arkgreenwich.org

· Speaking to your key contact

· Logging a concern on the Sharp system

The Importance of Screen Breaks

It is important that scholars take regular screen breaks between lessons. Following staff and parent feedback, lessons will finish 5 minutes early to allow scholars to take a short screen break before the beginning of the next lesson. The below slide will be projected at the end of each lesson to give scholars suggestions on how to spend this time:













The 60-minute lunch break also gives the opportunity to take a more extended screen break. Please support your child in disconnecting completely from the screen for the full lunch break and encourage them to go outside and enjoy some time in the sunlight and fresh air. We would also advise scholars to take a further 60 minutes away from a screen at the end of the school day before starting any independent learning tasks.

We will be keeping the arrangements for screen breaks and rest under review, so do please continue to share your ideas on how we can balance providing full-time, high-quality remote provision and prolonged screen exposure.

Community Classrooms

The school is staffing a face-to-face Community Classroom provision for the period of remote teaching where eligible scholars are expected to attend site for supervised study in one of our computing rooms. All social distancing and hygiene measures are strictly adhered to.

If you are a critical worker and require your child to attend please email Ms Gainey (Assistant Headteacher SEND/Safeguarding): vgainey@arkgreenwich.org.

When attending community classrooms, scholars must wear full school uniform including an approved face covering.  They should bring their own set of headphones if they have a pair. The usual school rules on jewellery, makeup and mobile phones apply. Scholars may bring a packed lunch or purchase lunch whilst onsite from the school canteen. FSM will also be available to eligible scholars.

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. 

HPV Vaccinations Clinic 26th January

NHS nurses were originally planning to be on site giving year 9 scholars the next round of HPV vaccinations, however they are now holding a clinic outside of school, given the recent closures. The clinic will take place at:

Waverly Crescent Scouts Hall

19 Waverely Crescent SE18 7QT

Tuesday 26 January 10.00 am- 2.30pm

How To Help Your Child While Remote Learning

It is unlikely that your child will run into technical difficulties when accessing their online lessons. That said, the following tips will help you troubleshoot any issues:

1. Scholars’ IT login details can be found on a sticker in their planner.

2. Our website holds guides and video tutorials walking you through how to handle any IT issues.

3. Remember to check whether the correct user is signed into the platform. Alternatively, please email info@arkgreenwich.org where a dedicated member of our team will aim to provide fast response support on a case by case basis.

Community Check-In Calls

During this lockdown, as we did in the first, AGFS staff will be making weekly calls home to check in with families to see how they're doing and if we can lend any additional support. As many of our staff are working from home, these calls may come from an unknown number. Please do answer these calls, as it is important for us to connect with you and your child throughout the lockdown period.

Private Music Lessons

The school works with a team of highly-qualified, experienced peripatetic music teachers who are currently offering lessons in drums, piano, guitar, and singing. These lessons are currently taking place remotely via MS Teams. Any student wishing to take music at GCSE level should either be learning to play a musical instrument or be regularly singing, and the current lockdown provides an excellent opportunity to start this process. Priority will be given to scholars in receipt of free school meals, where financial assistance is available to help support the cost of these lessons.

If you are interested in your child learning the drums, piano, guitar, or singing, please contact Mr Bello (ybellorkgreenwich.org) in the first instance.


Ark Music Wednesdays

Ark Music are running enrichment activities for all scholars on Wednesday afternoons. Parents must return the attached consent slip below to ybello@arkgreenwich.org.

Sound Alive Instrumental Ensemble

Open to all instrumentalists across the network (all abilities and all year groups welcome).

Sounds Alive is aimed at beginner to Grade 3 instrumentalists, and is a perfect opportunity to ensure that keen Y7 and 8 students do not lose their enthusiasm for music; we know that a number of students are not having curriculum lesson at present and these ensembles are a perfect way to continue their music-making.

Time: 4:30pm – 5:30pm

Link: Sounds Alive Ensemble Link

One Voice Promotional Video

Open to all singers across the network (all abilities and all year groups welcome)

Time: 4:45pm – 5:45pm

Link: One Voice Choir Link

Careers and Aspirations

Latest updates on Year 11 GCSE examinations can be found here.

Year 11 Post-16 Applications

All Y11 Scholars must apply to a minimum of five post-16 providers before Friday 12th February 2021, if they have not already done so.

Applications to post-16 providers can be done in various ways: online via their school website, printing and posting the application, or sending them via email. Please refer to the post-16 providers’ websites for further guidance on how to apply, paying particular notice of the post-16 application deadline date to ensure applications are submitted on time by scholars.

Scholars may also need their student UPN/ULN or UCI number when completing post-16 applications, as well as their most recent predicted grades. If you are unsure of your UPN/ULN or UCI number, you may request this information from the AGFS Careers Lead, Mrs Neville at lneville@arkgreenwich.org.

When completing your applications, alongside being asked your personal details and current GCSE predicted grades, you will be asked for details of a referee at Ark Greenwich Free School. Please use Mrs Neville at lneville@arkgreenwich.org as the referee, as this will ensure all reference requests sent from the post-16 provider are delivered to the AGFS Careers Lead for completion and will avoid any unnecessary delays.

After scholars have 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.

CTK Virtual Open Evening 27th January

Christ the King Sixth Forms are hosting Virtual Open Evenings taking place on Wednesday 27th from 4pm for all three campuses. For those scholars that are interested in joining them in September 2021, we encourage you to attend. Sign up via the CTK school website, as listed below.

Virtual Career Fair 27th January

Open to scholars in Y9-Y11 but Scholars in Y7 & Y8 are also encouraged to sign up to attend!

Springpod is holding a Virtual Careers Fair, taking place on the 27th of January, which allows students to learn from companies such as HSBC, Network Rail, EY and Cancer Research UK.

Some of the companies providing talks and interacting with students are also either due to run Virtual Work Experience Programmes in the coming months or are already accepting applications. This means that, not only will students be able to learn about potential apprenticeships at each company, but also find out about current programmes and insight days that they can get involved with from home! 

To take a look for yourself, please click here

UK University & Apprenticeship Search Virtual Fair 27th January

The UK University & Apprenticeship Search Virtual Fair takes place on Wednesday 27th January (12:00 - 18:00).

It's completely free of charge, and it's a fun and easy way to explore over 80 universities, colleges and apprenticeship providers. Take part in live and interactive webinars, talk to a range of different exhibitors to ask any questions you have about your next steps, and visit our virtual Exhibition Hall to check out booths and resources. Students should register to attend here.

NHS Work Experience Opportunity for Students in Years 10 & 11

We are pleased to inform you that the NHS Live Virtual Work Experience Programme is now available to support our aspiring healthcare scholars with work experience opportunities during the pandemic. Scholars now have access to their own specific work experience programme that will be highly relevant to the following healthcare careers:

· Nursing

· Midwifery

· Paramedics

· Physiotherapists

· Occupational Therapists

· Radiographers

· Art, drama and music therapists

· Dietitians

· Operating Department Practitioners

· Radiographers

· Podiatrists

· Osteopaths

· Orthoptists

· Prosthetists and orthotics

· Speech and language therapists


Scholars can learn more and register for the programme here.

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. A particular job well done to Nightingale House for nearly sweeping the top scholar spots this week!


Dates for the Calendar

28 September

Open Day

29 September

Open Day

01 October

Black History Month