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Head of Year 7 - Letter to parents

Year 7 have made a great start back to school after the Christmas break. Through the schools extensive testing process we are keeping students safe, whilst trying to maintain a positive and effective teaching environment for all at The Ilfracombe Academy.

The purpose of this letter is to give you an update on some of the thing activities students can get involved in along with supportive practices that we adopt and encourage here at the Academy. There are also numerous links within the letter that will help parents support their child with mental health and wellbeing.


Social Media

Social media is something many students in Year 7 are actively engaged with. Most use it appropriately, but some have made poor choices in terms of content they have posted online. All students have had tutor sessions relating to how to engage positively with social media and how to conduct themselves safely and respectfully online. This message was also delivered in assemblies in September. However, there are a growing number of incidents involving inappropriate comments being made on the various ‘WhatsApp’ tutor group chat groups that students have created, again certain individuals have been spoken to about their conduct online and what is acceptable. We strongly encourage parents to check their students’ phones/social media content, this is another layer of adult safeguarding that can be applied to help keep all students safe whilst making sure they are only engaging in a forum where they feel comfortable. If students are unhappy or uncomfortable being in certain chat groups, the first thing they can do is leave the group. Secondly, they can block or remove contact of any student they do not wish to receive messages from. Finally we strongly advise them to only accept friend requests or group chat requests from students they know who will be kind and respectful towards them (close friends). Tutor group ‘WhatsApp’ groups do not serve a positive purpose and we strongly recommend that students keep their chat groups to their trusted circle of friends.


Here are few links that give valuable insight and guidance for parents and how to support their child in the online world:

Online Safety for Children - Tips & Guides | NSPCC

Apps guide for parents | Internet Matters


Mental health and wellbeing

We recognise that our students have had an extremely turbulent couple of years throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The Year 7 students have also been dealing with other universal issues for this age group such as transition to secondary school and the start of adolescence. As a school, we are supporting students with their mental health and wellbeing. Referrals have risen in recent times which means services are stretched and time frames to access support have increased. However, we do have the following provision available for students who do need extra support:


  • Pastoral support from Head of Year, Tutors or Pastoral Coordinator to listen, signpost and advise.

  • Referral to the North Devon Mental Health Support Team, a new resource visiting the school every fortnight to see a set number of students per half term for more serious concerns. (waiting list is currently in place).

  • Counsellor in school for those with specific issues (waiting list is currently in place).

  • Lunchtime wellbeing club (Thursdays run by Ms Meurer)


As parents and carers, there are some fantastic resources to help support children. Also attached to this letter is a Young Devon wellbeing toolkit, which includes tips for good mental health and directory of useful links. If you feel that your child would benefit from formal counselling support then we do recommend using Kooth, which is an online service with trained professionals Home - Kooth. You can also access counselling services through your local GP. Support linked to mental health and wellbeing associated with Covid-19 Pandemic can be found on this weblink - Coronavirus - mental health information and support


Girls on Board

Girls on Board is an approach which helps girls, their parents and their teachers to understand the complexities and dynamics of girl friendships. The language, methods and ideas empower girls to solve their own friendship problems and recognises that they are usually the only ones who can.

We are looking to deliver this training program to all Year 7 girls this term with the vision that it will enable students to actively problem solve and become much more independent in relation to how they positively manage their friendships. See the link for a short video on this approach. Girls On Board


Enrichment activities –

Please find attached to this email a list of all the extracurricular clubs running across school this term.




Movement on the corridor

There have been concerns raised by students and parents around congestion on school corridors at social times and between lessons. In response to these concerns, senior leaders have increased staff capacity in terms of supervision during social times, also new year group social spaces have also been allocated to set floors (History/Geography) in school, bringing more structure and clarity to student movements. Staff have also been given clear instructions about how to finish their lessons effectively, which will mean students leave the classroom in a calm manner and enter the school corridors respectfully whilst also being considerate to others.


ClassCharts

ClassCharts is a really good way of getting hourly updates on how your child is getting on at school. ClassCharts does not only give parental updates it is also is used to send messages home (along with WEDUC). It is used to load up extension homework and gives access to electronic copies of the Knowledge Organiser material. Therefore, we recommend all parents download the free app and check it regularly. Just before Christmas all students were sent home with a paper copy of a parental log in and guide – hopefully you received it and are using ClassCharts. If you are unsure on how to download and log into the app please call main reception and the admin team can guide you through this process. This link can also guide you through key steps that help you register an account and use the ClassCharts software. Parents guidance for ClassCharts


If you do have any questions in relation to any matters discussed in this letter, please email me at school.


Kind Regards




Rupert Tilley rtilley@ilfracombeacademy.org.

Head of Year 7

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