Latest Update from the Headteacher
January 8th 2021
Letter 15 – Lockdown 3.0
Dear Parents and Carers
It’s been a really busy week at Ilfracombe Academy despite only having our group of Critical Worker and Vulnerable students in school. We have had to deal with the multitude of new guidance following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday night that all students will need access their education remotely from home at least up until February Half Term. We’ve have also had to deal with the twelfth hour announcement about the January BTEC and vocational qualifications being cancelled. Our teachers have been delivering remote learning to students working from home and supervising those students in school. We have also set up our Lateral Flow Device (LFD) Testing Centre and training our Testing Team. It has been an amazing team effort and I am proud to be part of such a dedicated group of professionals.
As always, I will endeavour to share some highlights from the week and offer reminders to ensure that everything runs really well again next week.
Year 11 & 13 Mock/Formal Assessments
In light of the government announcement regarding this year’s GCSE and A-level exams, it now looks likely that there will be some form of school assessment to inform the grades that students will receive in August 2021.
The mock examinations for Years 11 and 13 were due to be held from 20th January 2021. These will now be held two weeks after the return of students to school and will assess content that was delivered in school through face-to-face teaching between September 2019 to March 2020 and between September to December 2020.
These mock examinations will form an important part of the evidence base that the school will use to inform the grading decisions for students and will be used alongside the other assessments that have been completed during the GCSE and A level courses. We are awaiting further guidance from Ofqual and the government regarding the specific details of the assessment that will be required.
We are aware that many students have been revising for their mock examinations and would encourage them to continue this during the lockdown period so that they are fully prepared. The Year 11 and 13 online lessons will support students in their revision and Year 11 students will soon receive copies of their autumn and spring term knowledge organisers.
Cancelled January Vocational Examinations
As you may know, we have taken the decision to cancel the January Vocational BTEC and OCR examinations across Year 11, 12 & 13. This decision was based on public health reasons; reaction to the communication received from the Department for Education and further updates from exanimation boards. After the teaching profession raised concerns about the assessments, the respective boards responded by saying that students that do not sit their January assessments will not be disadvantaged. This was assurance enough for the school to cancel the examinations.
We hope you can see that we have made our best endeavours to support our students in the right way to both keep them safe and to strive to ensure that they are able to fulfil their full potential and the very best outcomes for their future. We recognise the uncertainty resulting from this situation and the worry this may have caused. Hopefully, this clarification will now enable students to focus on their other priorities, including the remote learning that has been set on ClassCharts.
Rapid Lateral Flow Device Testing Centre
The school is all set to fully open our testing centre on Monday 11th January. The Testing Centre has been built and the Testing Team have completed their training including two testing sessions with some willing volunteer staff members who, you’ll be please to know, all came back with a negative result. The staff screening process will be completed next week and this will then be followed by testing any Keyworker or Vulnerable students whose parents have given consent for testing. Once again, we encourage all parents/carers to give their consent as we feel it will help our school to have a safer return after February half term. A particular thanks must go to Helen Cook and her team for organising this.
We have been really thrilled with the feedback we have received from parents about the quality of our remote leaning provision. We encourage every child to fully engage in this process so that they can keep pace with their peers. Parents should contact their child’s pastoral co-ordinator if they are having issues with IT equipment or Wifi access.
Remote Learning Expectations
Students should log on every day to access the 5 hours of work available to them on ClassCharts. In KS3 & 4 students will be able to access a personalised 20-minute video
Each video will culminate with some work/tasks for the students to complete
The students must then upload their completed work back onto ClassCharts to be reviewed by their teacher.
Some students and their parents have been contacting the school to get their ClassCharts login but if anyone still needs some help then please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Next week, the school will be producing a ‘How to Access My Work’ video v
This will show how students are able to access different devices; complete their work and then upload it back onto the system for reviewing.
0We are also exploring the possibility of running a webinar next week on the same subject which will also offer a question and answer session.
Like a number of other schools we decided to use pre-recorded video based lessons in KS3 and 4 for the following reasons:
The level of Wifi connectivity in our geographical area is a real issue meaning we all experience a number of outages. We want our students to receive a consistent education and video allows students to view an explanation or new concept on multiple occasions rather than miss the point entirely if their connection goes down.
There is anecdotal evidence of safeguarding concerns associated with live lessons that also concern our leadership team
Teachers do deliver some live lessons to KS5 students but these classes are much smaller and fewer issues are likely to occur.
The departments have been developing knowledge organisers that are currently being quality printed and will be posted out to your child - hopefully by the end of the week. Your child will be able to use their Knowledge Organiser to supplement their learning especially if they have an IT issue on a particular day. The teaching staff may also ask you child to refer to this information to help complete the work that has been set.
As ever, the school will continue to monitor and make any adjusts in our way of working in line with any further guidance. This guidance will always be clearly communicated to our students and their Parents/Carers.
I hope all our students and their families enjoy the weekend.