Letter from Mr Spiers, Headteacher

Dear Parents and Carers,

 

We knew from the beginning that this term was likely to be turbulent and it hasn’t failed to deliver! This week in particular has challenged us all.

 

Yet despite the uncertainty our community has stuck together to achieve a common goal – the education and welfare of our children. I am immensely grateful for all your support this term. We couldn’t have done it without you.

 

I would also like to thank the incredible staff at AGFS who have barely missed a day. Their commitment to your children is unparalleled.

 

We can be certain that there will be more rough seas ahead, at least until Easter. But if we continue to work together, I am convinced we will come out stronger on the other side.

 

I wish you and your family a safe and restful Christmas.

 

Mr Spiers

 

AGFS Updates, 17th December, Week 15- Final Day of Term

Covid During the Holidays

The Department for Education recommended that schools should be closed to scholars on Friday 18th December in order to support the Track and Trace system over the Christmas break. It is vital that parents follow the below guidance if a scholar tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) at any time before the 23rd December.

If a scholar tests positive for coronavirus and develops symptoms before Sunday 20th December, parents are asked to email coronavirus.org with the information so that the school can assist with track and trace. The scholar and other members of their household should isolate as per the guidelines.

If a scholar tests positive for coronavirus but does not develop symptoms until after Sunday 20th December, the school does not need to be contacted and parents and carers should follow contact tracing instructions provided by NHS Test and Trace.

If the school is made aware of a positive case within our community we will work closely with Public Health England to identify anyone else that needs to isolate and you will be contacted if this applies to your child.

 

Winter Independent Learning

Following the success of the arrangements for the summer independent learning, scholars’ independent learning for the winter break will follow a similar format. Scholars must use Quizlet to revise the ‘winter golden nuggets’. For Y8-11 scholars, these consist of the most important concepts and terms from the summer independent learning and the most important terms from the autumn core knowledge. For Y7 scholars, the winter golden nuggets are the 30 most important terms from the autumn core knowledge. Scholars must then complete the associated pre-requisite test until they have 80% or more three times in a row. All the winter golden nuggets are terms that scholars have seen and learnt before, so this work is about consolidating knowledge, rather than learning new content.

Scholars will sit their winter knowledge check in the first week of January, with golden tickets and rewards available for those who show mastery of this important content.

In addition to the details shared on Satchel One, all links to the Quizlet stacks and pre-requisite tests can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/AGFSWinterIL

 

New Year Group Leads in 2021

Scholars will continue to receive exemplary pastoral care, and in the new year, the following New Year Groups will be led by: 

  • Ms Brooks, Year 7
  • Ms Hohenkirk, Year 8
  • Ms Zadeh, Year 9
  • Ms Seaman, Year 10
  • Ms Reddy and Mr MacPherson, Year 11

 

Use Sharp System for Safeguarding

Scholars are reminded that should they come across any safeguarding concern over break, they are encouraged to log it on the Sharp System, linked at the top of our website, or directly here: https://gfs.thesharpsystem.com/.

 

Introducing MCAS

We've heard our families loud and clear, and starting today, 17th December, we're introducing you to the new parent app, MCAS. This application will replace Xpressions and allows parents to access attendance details, behaviour notices, communications and more all in one spot. All parents will recieve an invitation to MCAS today and we encourage you to join asap! To learn more click here or the tile below for further information.

MCAS notifications will go live from 5th January, however we encourage all parents and carers to join now to assure the transition is smooth in the new year.

 

Free Tuition Offer

The Greenwich Tuition Centre is offering 4 week's free tuition for scholars ages 6-16 on Sundays as a part of their Covid-19 educational support programme. Should you wish to take advantage of this opportunity, see the flyer in the attachments below. Spaces are available first come, first serve.  

 

Digital Detox

We strongly encourage our community to take time away from digital devices over the Christmas holiday as much as possible. Research shows that over exposure to screens and video games can affect quality of sleep, mental health, stress and anxiety. We believe without careful monitoring, technology can even rob a child of their childhood. For more information click here. While it’s difficult to expect your family to go completely offline, there are easy ways to minimise screen time:

· Set a daily maximum for screen time ( 1 hour is plenty for children and teens)

· Turn off phones, television, etc during all meals

· Set aside time for no-screen activities (sport, painting, picnic in the park, etc)

· Make the detox a family competition

· Move all electronics out of bedrooms (no computers, TVs or mobiles) and 10:00pm lights out.

 

Return to School Reminder, 5th January 

This is a reminder about what our staff will be expecting to see from scholars upon their return from the Christmas holidays:

1. There should be no jewellery – this includes earrings, bangles, bracelets etc. This rule extends to jewellery in the hair. Only a watch is permitted.

2. The school bag can be your own, but must be plain black & have a small logo.

3. There must not be any badges or paraphernalia pinned onto blazers.

4. Scholars should not return to school with unnatural hair colour, extensions or grooves cut into their hair or eyebrows.

5. Scholars will not wear make-up.

6. Skirts must be knee length whilst standing upright and trousers must be worn on the waistline (not below).

 

Scholars arriving without the correct school uniform or equipment will not be permitted to enter main school circulation. Instead, these scholars will be directed to our Behaviour Support Unit (BSU) where they will remain until their uniform is corrected, parents attend school to provide the missing items or parental permission is granted for the scholar to travel home to correct their uniform. Whilst in the BSU, scholars will complete silent study. For a full list of uniform and equipment expectations please visit: https://arkgreenwichfreeschool.org/uniform.

 

Parents are reminded that we operate a strict no mobile phone policy at AGFS; this policy allows us to minimise any online bullying, distribution of indecent images, exploitation, theft and distractions to the learning environment. The policy refers to ALL mobile communication devices. Scholars must not have a mobile phone device on their person at any point whilst at school. I can confirm that we do not operate a mobile phone drop off/collection service. Randomised searches are undertaken and if a scholar is found to have a banned item on their person this will be confiscated and parents will need to attend school at the end of the half-term to collect it. Only the Headteacher can authorise an exception to the policy in agreement with the governing body.

 

Assembly Time Reminder

Each week scholars have two assemblies, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Please note scholars may return 5-10 mins later on assembly days, especially during rewards assembly, as we are celebrating your child’s success! Please see the schedule of assemblies below: 

Asembly AM PM
Monday Y7 Y11
Tuesday Y8 Y10
Wednesday Y9 Y7
Thursday Y10 Y8
Friday Y11 Y9

Dismissal is from 4:00-4:30pm Monday -Wednesday and 3:00-3:30pm Thursday and Friday.

 

Nasal Flu Vaccine Clinic - Tues 22nd and Weds 30th December

Oxleas is holding a clinic on 22nd and 30th December for year 7s who refused the vaccine due to inclusion of porcine gelatine. The vaccine available at this clinic will NOT include this.  If your child did not receive the flu vaccine in school already this year, we encourage you to read the attached information below.

 

High Valued Goods at School

Please be reminded that scholars should not bring high value goods into school such as expensive trainers and smart watches. Lost, damaged or stolen property is the responsibility of the scholar.

 

Online Music Enrichment Opportunity

Ark Music are proud to offer AGFS scholars the opportunity to join two online music ensembles. These ensembles are a great opportunity for scholars, especially while many schools have been unable to run enrichment.

See the promotional video here for more info.

Students can join on their own MS Teams accounts (school email addresses) or through their browser. Below are the details for the individual clubs:

Sounds Alive Instrumental Ensemble:

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

Time: Wednesdays, 4:30pm – 5:30pm.

Link: Sounds Alive Teams Link

One Voice Choir:

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

Time: Wednesdays, 4:45pm – 5:45pm.

Link: One Voice Teams Link

Do Join!

Dates for the Calendar

19 March

Inset Day

24 March

Dress As Your Favourite Literary Character Day

26 March

Inset Day

Merry Christmas from AGFS

All of the staff at Ark Greenwich Free School would like to wish our entire community a very merry Christmas!

Scholars of the Week

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

After School Clubs Beginning January 2021

The next cycle of after school clubs will commence after the Christmas break. Please see all after school clubs running in the spring term in the table below.  We encourage all scholars to get involved in these co-curricular activities as a further extension of our enrichment offerings. To register your child for an after school club and consent, fill in the form here: https://forms.gle/oZg7zcQwPDGzvzBT8  

DDD1 Performing Arts Body Percussion

On Thursday 22nd October, Years 7,8,9, and 10 scholars spent one of their Drop Down Sessions taking part in a Body Percussion workshop led by Ms. Matthews, Mr. Mageean, Mr. Bellow, and Ms. Rellosa.

Scholars started the session by learning about the origins of Body Percussion in the mines of South Africa, before going on to learn the four key sounds; stomp, click, clap, and tap. As one large group, Scholars practised these sounds in different combinations of increasing difficulty, putting them to the beat of Bob Marley’s ‘Could You Be Loved’. Once the group had mastered the core sounds and embedded the rhythm of the song, they split into class groups to develop their own original combinations. Creativity was flowing, and the idea of performing for other classes soon added an air of competition!

It was amazing to see Scholars uniting together, demonstrating fellowship and supporting each other's performances. There was a real buzz created around the school, as the scholars were able to develop a new skill set which they took joy in sharing with their peers and members of staff. It seemed to be a great hit!

 

Forensic Science Day with Year 9s

Forensic Science day was packed with a great immersive scientific practical tailored for the scholars to collaborate in teams, role-play and have fun! What crime happened at the school last night? The classroom was staging as a real enthralling crime scene. The crime scene was searched by the scholars in protective kit: white suits, foot covers and with fascinating results. There was lots of practical work in teams - fingerprints, shoe marks, blood, documents, DNA, chromatography, jig-saw fits and digital forensics - with more surprise outcomes. Our year 9s took part in a role-play trial with scholars (in courtroom) as judge, barrister, witness, accused, jury and usher. They came up with brilliant scripted evidence collection and cross-referencing reports.

 

 The event was led by a teacher with a forensic science degree, the purpose of the DDD2 was to create awareness in this industry and the teacher worked to raise aspirations and achievement in Science amongst our scholars incorporating Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) designed to enhance the classroom experience using authentic forensic resources, stimulating an interest in and progression towards higher skills. Scholars demonstrated brilliant scientific skills and reasoning,  continuing to develop a practical "hands on" experience designed to engage scholars in scientific enquiry using processes and applications used within Forensic Science and Crime Scene Investigation, promoting early intervention, and introducing scholars at a young age to the Criminal Justice System.

 

 As well as the forensic day, there were also engineering based activities going on at the same time. One class had scholars designing and building bridges using paper straws and competing to see how much mass each bridge could carry. This helped scholars explore the best way of spreading load and making strong structures from weak materials. Another engineering based activity was based on designing the tallest structure possible using nothing more than marshmallows and dried spaghetti. Each tower was carefully designed to be as solid as possible, as tall as possible yet take in to account the difficulties of fragile spaghetti and semi-liquid marshmallows. The winner was the tallest tower that could stand – unaided – for 2 minutes!

 

Similarly, scholars also designed a roller coaster for marbles. Here, marks were awarded for the fastest moving marble as well as the most twists, turns and stunts endured by the marble! Further activities had scholars investigate refraction of light through media of different densities as well as determining whether the stretch of a spring is proportional to the amount of mass stretching it – this is known as Hooke’s law.

 

Performing Arts Enrichment with Year 7s

From September, scholars from Year 7 have been participating in Performing Arts Enrichment, dividing into three different pathways; Music, Drama and Dance.

Inspired by Black History month, 60 Year 7 scholars created their own performances to celebrate Black History and what it means to them. Most of the scholars have not experienced dance before, so it was positive to see how they dived into learning choreography, creating their own movements, and performing these in front of a camera and their peers in order to create a video to be celebrated amongst parents and the rest of the school.

From experience, performing for a camera has just as many challenges as creating live theatre. Scholars had to work as professional performers, having re-takes (repeatedly!), but also experiencing working on the stage for the first time – a real “LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!” moment!

For some of the scholars they found performing quite nerve-wracking - yet they demonstrated complete courage and bravery in all three areas; singing in small groups, dancing, and having to learn lines to perform their own take on Tom Foolery’s ‘The Great Realisation’. Ambition is clearly beginning to shine through in the youngest year group of the school, and it is truly amazing to see.

 

Year 10 Scholars, Ambitions and Career Aspirations Day DDD2

On our second Drop Down Day of the year, Friday 23rd October, our year 10 scholars had the opportunity to meet with professionals across multiple sectors to unlock their ambitions for the future. During the morning sessions, our scholars took the Myers Briggs personality test, and reflected on career opportunities that may fit best with their personality type. Scholars discussed the importance of forward planning, and setting goals for themselves along the way. We had two special guests join us online to talk about best practices for writing personal statements. Aweys Abdullatif an undergraduate at Harvard and Jardelle Johnson an alumnus of Brown University spoke to scholars and answered their questions about the importance of the personal statement, preparing for interviews, and working hard toward top GCSE grades.

In the afternoon, scholars were joined by Samantha Breckenridge, a recruiter at Smart Teachers; TJ Juttla, Managing Director of QTS London; Leon Nesbeth, Solutions Architect for Sailpoint; Aaron Austin, a recruiter with Vision Teaching; and Emma Brown, IT Risk Manager at Legal and General. In these sessions, our professional guests lead our scholars on activities to improve their interview skills, in presenting oneself, and how to prepare for their next steps leading into post-16 and beyond. Our scholars were then given an opportunity to vote for one classmate to represent their form in a mock interview that afternoon.

Our mock interviewees were Ki’Annah Ekinu 10H, Yamin Miah 10N, Tobi Animashaun 10S, and David Constantin 10W. Each scholar answered a series of questions from our professionals, and spoke in front of their entire form. Ki’Annah was our successful candidate and she won a Kindle as her prize. Our first runner up was Yamin, who won a £40 Nandos voucher. “I was so impressed with our scholars today,” said Ms Linn, who co-lead the day for our year 10s. “They had clear goals for the future, and knew what steps they needed to get there. I was inspired by several scholars in 10 Sancho, who volunteered to speak in front of the class just for the experience of it. We have such leaders among these scholars, and this drop down day really highlighted what they are doing in and outside of school.”

 

Year 7s Take on Netball in Enrichment

Year 7 have undertaken a 3 week crash course in Netball this term thanks to our resident netball superstar, Ms Belch! Scholars have been working hard on building their netballing skills such as footwork, passing and shooting. Each week the scholars built on the session before and were able to play a conditioned game by the end of week 3. All scholars demonstrated outstanding growth and ambition throughout and are eager for the after school club to start in January (Friday, after school). A huge well done again to all scholars involved.  Be on the look out for more information regarding after school clubs starting in January!

Poems of Equality During DDD1

On our first drop down day of the year, the English team ran a poetry writing workshop around the theme of equality. Scholars were encouraged to engage with themes of equality and with movements including Feminism and Black Lives Matter.

 

Scholars began by examining a variety of stimulus including poems from Maya Angelou, George the Poet and Keith Jarrett, as well as an interview with Reni Eddo-Lodge and a variety of photo stimuli. This prompted some insightful and articulate responses in which scholars discussed some of the issues society faces in achieving equality.

 

Faisel (Year 10) said, ‘In groups, we all created a spoken word poem which embodied the passion and feelings that impacted us as a group. Our group added an entertaining rap style poem to begin and then Moshood came in with a more serious poem which explained how people around the world feel about equality using his own words and melody.’ Moshood (Year 10) said, ‘people who knew about the issues could relate and those who did not could open their eyes to the issues facing equality in the world.’  

 

Scholars then responded to the stimulus with their own ideas and were given time to write their own poems inspired by the stimulus. The poems were incredibly impressive! Some scholars were inventive in their approach in adding percussion to accompany their performances with every poem displaying a maturity and thoughtfulness towards the theme.  

 

A definite highlight of the day was seeing the confidence with which each scholar approached the performance of their finished poems. Miss Lamb stated, ‘It was particularly gratifying to see how all of the scholars displayed fellowship in their support of one another’s viewpoints and final performances.’

 

Success (Year 10) reflected that, ‘it was a way for us to express ourselves, the videos [stimuli] really portrayed how we experience life. In particular, George the Poet’s words were really impactful and people could relate to it.’

 

The scholars at AGFS are truly remarkable and creative and overall made the day an incredible success with their hard-work and the maturity in which they engaged with the Drop Down Day.

 

Celebrating influential black women's hair through the medium of Collage

On Thursday the 22nd, scholars rotating through various activities including Art, where they were inspired by the work of multimedia artist and photographer, Lorna Simpson. Ms Simpson is known for her art that celebrates the beauty of black women’s hair.

 

Ragi, Amidat and Nkechi from year 9 chose woman that have had a positive powerful influence on themselves, both currently and historically.

 

Using Lorna Simpson's beautiful collages as inspiration, year 7-10 created their very own unique collages all portraying powerful messages. Students then wrote a letter to these woman thanking them for the changes they have made in society and how they inspire people every day.

 

"Dear Esmeralda Simmons, Thank you for making equality a rule not an option. Thank you for making the world a better place. Thank you for debunking any beauty standards in the modern world. My artwork was made to inspire classmates to do what they want to do and to give thanks to these powerful woman for making a change in the lives of people" (anonymous year 8 student).

 

" Dear Serena Williams, Thank you for inspiring young black women to play sport. Before, sport would have been considered a man's game. But you and many other women have shown that it doesn't matter what gender you are, you can still succeed. I also want to thank you for your perseverance which has empowered woman to carry on. Because of this, I have made a piece of artwork which shows you standing out from the crowd" (John, year 8).

 

" Dear Maya Angelou, Thank you for making our world a better place and showing how proud and grateful we should be everyday. I am also thankful for all of your amazing poetry you do. All your poetry has a meaning which is impacting our lives and also telling us to be proud of ourselves"(Hussain year 8).

 

Ms Harvey said,  "I couldn't be more impressed with the vigour and intellectual thinking that went behind every scholar’s collage. The messages of power, change and admiration were clear in every scholar’s work. They excelled far beyond their age to create artwork that tells a million stories, both relevant today and paying homage to those past".