Letter from Mr Spiers, Headteacher

Dear Parents and Carers,

It has been a difficult week for all members of our community. We now know schools will be closed until at least 22nd February to all but vulnerable students and children of critical workers. We have responded as best we can to a very fluid and changeable situation. Our staff have worked hard to re-establish a high quality live remote learning provision. We have also taken steps to reassure all members of our community including our fantastic Year 11 students who were due to sit public examinations this year.

Our onsite COVID-19 testing facility is fully functional and nearly 30 members of AGFS staff have already received training to ensure this process runs smoothly. I strongly encourage all parents to complete the consent form here. The ability to be able to test all members of our community regularly will help us to keep everyone safe.

Throughout the lockdown period we will again be calling all of our families on a regular basis. These calls are to check on your wellbeing and to ensure you are receiving the support you need. Your child’s form tutor remains your first point of contact for any pastoral issues. We will continue to keep you updated via text, email, Twitter and the main school website throughout the lockdown period.

Although it appears to be some way off, when students do eventually return to school you can rest assured that every possible measure will be in place to ensure the safety of all members of our community.

Thank you once again for your continued support and positive feedback. We are here for you if you need us.


Mr Spiers

AGFS Updates 8th January 2021

Covid-19 Testing at AGFS

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. 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, 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.

Testing of students is optional, but strongly encouraged. All information on testing at AGFS can be found by clicking 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 please click here.

Community Classrooms

The school will be 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 will be 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. 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.

Support for Online Learning

At AGFS we know the most successful scholars are those who demonstrate high levels of independence, often taking responsibility for their own learning and supplementing in-class work with further consolidation activities at home. We have taken some time to provide you with our highly recommended online learning platforms which your child can use to reinforce their learning. Here you will find a range of learning resources on every topic across the curriculum including helpful videos, interactive presentations, revision materials and much more. Scholars already have login details where applicable.

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. The walk-throughs include how to:

· Access ShowMyHomework

· Submit work via ShowMyHomework

· Downloading MS Teams

· Access MS Teams

· Access pre-recorded lessons

· Access Google Products

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.

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. Any one eligible for FSM will also be issued vouchers to cover lunches over the Christmas break 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. The income threshold for these groups is higher (£16,500 after tax) than the income threshold for standard eligibility.

Wellbeing During Lockdown

This is a challenging time for everyone. It is vital for us to take care of ourselves and be as healthy as possible in order to keep our immune systems strong, and to protect our mental health. Here are some tips for doing that:

· Keep to a routine – make sure your child is getting up at the same time everyday and that is in line with the school day, and that they are going to bed at a sensible time.

· Sleep – Sleep is vital for our physical and mental health. Teenagers need between 8 and 9 hours of sleep per night. They should turn their phones and other electronics off an hour before bedtime to help them wind down and relax ready for sleep.

· Exercise – The Government has asked that we limit the amount of time we spend outside but we are able to go out with people in our household or alone for exercise. It is important to take advantage of this and get outside every day. Going for a run, bike ride or walk will help keep us all mentally healthy, will help us sleep and will give us a much needed break from the inside of our homes. If you can’t go out there are lots of workout videos on YouTube and Joe Wicks is starting his online PE lessons again.

· Eat fruit and vegetables – Encourage your child to eat some fruit and vegetables every day to help keep their immune systems well.

· Family Time – This period is a great opportunity to reconnect with the people you live with. We often take the time we have with our families for granted and spend time in separate rooms or on our devices. This is a great opportunity to play games, learn new things together and spend some quality time with each other.

· Keeping occupied – Encourage your child to do as many different things as they can. They could read new books, watch new films, run or walk, take part in online exercise videos, play board games, or research topics they are interested in. 

· Reference the Great AGFS Parent document here.

Support with Mental Health

There are lots of places that you or your child can go to for advice or help on mental health, 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 https://gfs.thesharpsystem.com/

Year 7 Reading Programme Launch

During this period of lockdown it is crucial that scholars are reading independently. The benefits of reading are infinite; reading promotes empathy, imagination, vocabulary and understanding of difficult concepts. It is more important now more than ever before that we encourage our young people to read. For this reason, we have created a rewards programme for Year 7 for prizes that will be posted home to the most avid readers. They will be able to show evidence of all that they have read through a quiz on tinyurl.com/gfsrenlearn. There is a multitude of places in which students can gain access to free online books such as openlibrary.com and Audible for audio books. Students wishing to collect a FREE book from a choice of 40 books we have to give away are welcome to get one from reception on Thursday 14th January 2021 from 4-5pm. More information will be shared via SMHW and in assembly.

Reminder: World Book Day is 4th March 2021

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.

Introducing MCAS

We've heard our families loud and clear, and we are thrilled to announce 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 should now have received an invitation to MCAS and we encourage you to join asap! To learn more click here or the tile below for further information.

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

Careers and Aspirations Information

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.

Scholars of the Week

We may be in lockdown, but our expectations are still sky high! 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.

Dates for the Calendar

28 September

Open Day

29 September

Open Day

01 October

Black History Month