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18th March: Issue 26

Welcome from the Head

Dear Parents

Welcome to this week’s newsletter.

In another busy fortnight, it was lovely to see Year 13 parents for their Parents’ Evening; we were very proud of the students’ response to their mocks and know that the feedback and guidance they have received will set them well on their individual paths to success in the summer exams. It was a delight to be part of the audience for the Dance Show last week; joyful, vibrant and inclusive, the performances across Years 7 to 13 were rapturously received by the packed audience! Clarke House also led a busy fundraising day for their nominated charity, Rape Crisis, while our International Women’s Day assembly from Plan UK was an incredibly thought-provoking morning for us to reflect on their vision of a just world that advances global equality for girls.

Our community continues to offer our thoughts and support to all those affected by the war in Ukraine. The students are busy working on their plans for successive fundraising efforts in the coming weeks through to the end of term as we raise money for the DEC Ukraine Appeal. One such initiative is a sponsored swim for JAGS pupils and staff that Sixth Formers Noor, Isabelle, Grace and Ellie are coordinating. Their goal is for our community to collectively swim 150,000 metres and students have been sent full details of how they can take part via Teams today. We are encouraging donations and sponsorship via the school’s JustGiving page which you can find here. We thank you for your support.

Year 7 pack their bags for their residential trip to Hindleap Warren this weekend. We hope they have a wonderful visit and don’t come back too muddy …

With best wishes,

Mrs Alex Hutchinson

Dates for your Diary

  • Tuesday 22nd March – Kate Richardson-Walsh Parent Talk. Booking here.
  • Friday 25th March – Multicultural Evening from 5pm
  • Tuesday 29th March – Zoe Shuttleworth Parent Talk on substance abuse. Booking here.
  • Wednesday 30th March – Spring Concert at Cadogan Hall. Tickets available here.

Teaching & Learning

Alice Mollison

Assistant Head Teaching and Learning

This week the newsletter is spotlighting our growing community of chess players. We are fortunate to have several staff who are keen players, including Stanislav Larski and Frances Clifford who run the club, and you can hear from them below. Last week members of the club took part in an inter-school competition. It is wonderful to hear that our students are enjoying the sport and are clearly thriving with the opportunities to play for fun and competitively.   



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    Here are Arabella’s (in Year 7) thoughts: 

    “Bishop B4” is something you might hear, or “Knight C3”. But what do these mean? This is chess. I love chess as every move is significant. In Chess Club we have been learning how to analyse a board and the best strategies. Every game you play, you get a bit better, even if you lose. You gradually begin to see the point of moves by yourself and your opponent.
    Recently, a group of Year 7 and 8s went to a competition against some other schools. We each played 4 games and I won 3 of mine. The most fun bit about the competition was the support that your team gives you. For example, my opponent and I were the last on our table to finish and the rest of our teams were crowding around us, encouraging us. The most nerve-wracking moment was when I had blundered and the opponent could have checkmated (beaten) me. Luckily, he missed it and the game continued through an endgame which I won.
    If anyone wants to play, I think they should join a chess club such as JAGS’ Chess Club held on Monday during first lunch. Also, there are very good free chess websites;
    I’d recommend Lichess as you can play against anyone, your friends and the computer. Lichess organises tournaments every hour and random people can also create a tournament. There are unlimited puzzles for all different abilities. Also, chess.com is a good site. However, if playing on these sites, do make sure you create an account with parental acknowledgment in the kid mode, so that the chat is disabled. I hope you take up chess as it is incredibly fun. It is also currently a heavily male dominated sport (and yes, it is a sport) so it would be great to see more female players! 

Stanislav Larski and Frances Clifford, teachers of Economics and Physics, have been running the Chess Club this year and here is why they love chess: 

Stanislav Larski, Teacher of Economics 

I started playing chess at a Chess Club in the USSR when I was six years old. I played in many tournaments both nationally and subsequently internationally. As an international A-level student in Cambridge I played for Cambridge City and Cambridge University teams in county matches. After that I led the London School of Economics chess team while studying there. My FIDE (the International Chess Federation) Elo rating is 2210, which approximately corresponds to a level of a national master. 

Chess is a multifaceted discipline. It is a game (fun-fun-fun!), an intellectual pursuit, a sport, an art. It develops the ability to focus the attention, improves analytical skills and three-dimensional imagination (an experienced player would clearly see a position several moves ahead that does not yet exist!). 

The next competition that I am planning on taking the JAGS Chess Team to is the School Teams Chess Challenge organised by the English Chess Federation at Wilson’s School in Sutton on 25th March. 

 Frances Clifford, Teacher of Physics  

I started playing chess at home against my family members when I was very young. It’s something that I have always enjoyed as a hobby, though I have never played competitively. It’s a brilliant game because every time you play, whether you win or lose, you learn something new. Often, your strategy doesn’t work out as expected so you have to constantly adapt and reassess, which is great for building resilience. 

If you are keen to join the chess club, all abilities are welcome, so please do message Dr Larski in Teams or via email to find out more! Good luck to everyone taking part in the competition on the 25th!

Key Stage 3 Update

It’s been another busy fortnight for KS3! Half of Year 8 visited Kew Gardens in the sunshine this week, and those who didn’t go this week, are looking forward to their visit next week. Year 7 have set off for their residential adventure at Hindleap Warren and we look forward to hearing about that upon their return!

This week, 21 Year 9 pupils who scored highly in the Intermediate Maths Challenge participated in the follow-on round – the pink kangaroo. The Intermediate Maths Challenge is sat by pupils in Years 9, 10 and 11, so a high score in Year 9 is very impressive. And Raphaelle, who scored the second highest mark in the school, sat the Mathematical Olympiad. Good luck to all of you!

Lucy Rose, Head of Year 9

Key Stage 4 Update

Another two weeks have flown by and we are all enjoying the spring weather; it’s lovely to see the students using the outside spaces during rec and lunchtime. Last Friday a group of Year 10s were invited to attend a talk at Dulwich College, by Elif Shafak, titled ‘The Age of Division – Staying Sane.’ Our Year 10s very much enjoyed the opportunity to attend this thought-provoking afternoon along with other students from local schools and it has been a particular highlight.

Anna Jones, Head of Key Stage 4

  • KS4 enjoyed attending assembly together in the VWA last week to hear a talk from PLAN International as part of our International Women’s Day celebrations. All students then took part in some follow up discussions in their PSHCE lessons, focusing specifically on how to break the bias. We hope to continue these discussions over the coming weeks. Particular thanks must also go to some of our Year 10 students who are currently helping to plan initiatives to raise money for Ukraine, and we look forward to seeing the outcome of their efforts in the coming weeks.

Sixth Form Update

As ever, the Sixth Form community has been a hive of activity. From the Year 12 Higher Education and Careers Day, to lectures on the Science of Sleep, to Year 13 parents’ evening, to finding the time to visit the Women of the Future event, students have been maximising the benefit from all the varied opportunities available to them.

The Sixth Form community celebrated Holi last Wednesday; Ore and Jhenica in the Head Girl team organised a fantastic event on the playing fields which embraced a theme of cultural enrichment and fun. This theme will continue next week as we celebrate Multicultural Evening – the idea to reincarnate a much-loved JAGS event was Ore and Jhencia’s brainchild and we are all thoroughly looking forward to it.

Mat Weeks, Head of Sixth Form

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    Last Thursday Year 13 students attended a morning lecture about student finance delivered by the University of Leicester. Serious stuff for 08.35 in the morning, but nevertheless crucial that they are aware of the financial issues prior to following their post JAGS journey! A busy day then followed as Year 13s also attended their usual afternoon lecture and received a fantastic talk from Bridget Whelan (JAGS alumna), Director of Operations at Public Policy Projects, who talked about her institution’s involvement influencing public policy and how both successes and failures are essential for progression and development.

    To celebrate St Patrick’s Day, Erin and Maeve in Y13 gave a really interesting whole school assembly, managing the logistics of a hybrid event with both a live and online audience, to provide a wonderful insight into Irish culture and history – who knew that there were actually no snakes in Ireland for St Patrick to slay? Happy St Patrick’s Day for yesterday!

    As well as participating in many Higher Education and careers events, such as the UCAS exhibition at the Excel Centre on Tuesday, Year 12s have submitted their applications for positions of student leadership and it is wonderful to see their promotional campaigns for House Captain and their Head Girl applicant short films. We wish all Year 12s the best of luck in their applications; they will learn the results in the first few days of the summer term.


We enjoyed a stunning lunchtime recital at St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, from our Music Scholars on Friday. It was wonderful to be back again after two years and to have parents and guests join us in the audience. A huge congratulations to our talented musicians for such powerful and moving performances.


Last week our pupils studying Russian had the opportunity to create their own silk scarf, inspired by traditional Russian textiles. The workshop began with a talk by Oksana Sekacheva, PhD, about traditional patterns, motifs and key elements in decorative Russian textiles including embroidery, lace, printed textiles and their representation in paintings of famous Russian artists A. Ryabushkin and P. Maliavin as well as leading female figures in Avant-Garde art N. Goncharova, L. Popova, V. Stepanova.

The students enjoyed learning about the famous bright, vivid colours and forms of Ivanovo cotton prints and Pavlovo Posad shawls.



In House news:

  • We have raised £1,170 so far for Rape Crisis England & Wales we are still accepting donations here.
  • The elections are going well for the new House Captains, voting via Teams closes on Friday. Results will be revealed after Easter.
  • Our House debate competition is underway, with Desenfans having won the KS3 debate last week!
  • The MFL department is hosting a fun Just Dance event this Friday at lunchtime. Students are encouraged to join us!
  • The Science department is running a poster competition – winners will be entered in the national round of the competition.
  • We are really excited about having House assemblies in person again soon. We are really looking forward to making those connections between year groups stronger and building house spirit!


There were two great trips to Lordship Lane with Y7 that took place over the last two weeks. We were so impressed with the students’ independent work. They were polite and confident in asking members of the public their questionnaire questions and they show excellent observation skills when tallying local, national, or global land uses. The students got to apply what they learnt in the classroom to a real life context – that is geography in action!

Eva said, “It was lovely discussing and observing different shops as a group.”

Dorothea, said “It was fun learning about different shops and hearing people’s opinions on the high street.”

Alexa said, “The trip was interesting as we got to observe our local high street ourselves.”

Honor, “I loved how, instead of discussing it in a classroom, we got the chance to explore our local high street ourselves and learn more about the difference between local/global products and chain/independent stores.”

Maya, “The trip was really fun and loved collecting all the different types of data!”

Camille, “I really enjoyed the trip and I really liked the variety of activities that we did on the high street like interviewing people and seeing the products that shops were selling. It was really fun!”


Our Year 8 pupils have recently made these impressive wooden boxes as part of their Activity Slot.

Elif Shafak talk at Dulwich College

Last Friday, we went to Dulwich College to hear Elif Shafak, a Turkish novelist speak. First, she introduced herself and a bit about her background. A poignant message was, speaking to 6/7-year olds she found at least half the people in the room wanted to became writers and artists. But talking to 15/16-year olds only one or sometimes none raised their hand.  I resonated with this as being 15 I experience first-hand how society doesn’t encourage dreams that are deemed unpractical or unsustainable. She reflected that rather than letting the opinions of our peers influence our decisions, we should practise looking into ourselves and rather than being dependent on others around us, we should encourage ourselves.  Another thought she reflected on was intellectuals may only read non-fiction book as they are deemed educating, but fiction books are exercises for the human mind and soul to empathise with other humans. For me, this was an insight into fiction books I had never looked at, and now reading books, my outlook on them is completely different. Now reading, I am conscious of the message an author is trying to convey through the characters they write, making reading for me not only an enjoyable past-time, but an also educating and thought-provoking exercise. This is what impressed me the most about Elif’s talk, her ability to alter the way I viewed books in the space of 45 minutes.

Olivia C, Year 10

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