Letter from the Headteacher
Dear Parents and Carers
As we come to the end of a long term, it gives us all a chance to look back on what we’ve achieved. Once again, I can confirm that this term has by far been the most intense, challenging and rewarding period of my teaching career. I would like to publicly thank all of our teaching and support staff for the incredible levels of resilience and determination they have shown in delivering the very best education possible under incredibly challenging circumstances.
I would also like to thank our students for showing great resilience throughout this term with the vast majority of them taking all the adaptations in their stride. There is a small minority of students that have found this term incredibly challenging and we are very proud of our Pastoral Team who have supported those students to engage in their education. There are also some students that made some poor choices and the school has acted swiftly and consistently to support those students through alternative pastoral and educational programmes which we believe will help them to better engage in their education and ultimately to help them fulfil their potential.
It goes without saying that the end of term did not end the way that any of us wanted it to. We would have much preferred to have everyone in school to complete our Christmas celebrations together but it was not to be. However, the Senior Team are clear that the actions we have taken were the right ones to ensure we can keep our school campus safe. At the time of writing this letter the Government are likely to announce that there will eb a staggered return to school from the 4th of January. Please see below for further details.
Finally, I would also like to thank all Parents/Carers who have sent in their messages of support and encouragement throughout this term. Your support continues to give our staff great strength to take on the challenges that will present themselves in the future. We are all hopeful that the new vaccine and proposed mass testing in schools could be a real game changer and that the light at the end of the Covid tunnel will start to shine brighter as we move towards the summer term. We hope that all our students, their families and our staff have a restful and safe Christmas. We will write to you again before we return if the Government/DfE send out any additional or new guidance during the Christmas period.
Below are some highlights from the week and points that I would like to make Parents/Carers aware of in readiness for our return on Monday 4th January.
Congratulations to Abigail Loveless (Year 7)
The school are hugely excited to hear that Abigail Loveless has recently had her first book ‘The Plasticosaurus’ published. Abigail wrote and completed all the illustrations about a plastic-munching dinosaur while she was attending Parracombe Primary School. All the proceeds will be going to towards the Marine Conservation Society. Well done Abigail, we’re all very proud of you.
Message from Cambridge University (Aimee Cooper Former Student)
My name is Aimee Cooper and I studied Maths, Chemistry and Biology at A level at the Ilfracombe Academy; I was part of the unfortunate Year 13 cohort that had to have our final year cut short due to COVID-19. I have just returned home after my first term studying Medicine at the University of Cambridge. I always loved school growing up, and happily my experience of University was the same. Despite the pandemic, I was still able to meet some great friends and attend some practical classes, such as dissections. However, all of my lectures were online, and a proportion of my supervisions and small group sessions were also over Zoom. The academic rigour at Cambridge is unlike anything I had experienced before, but I found it incredibly exciting; I could feel myself growing not only in knowledge but also as an individual who had just left home for the first time. I have the fantastic opportunity to be taught – often in groups of only two or three students – by world-leading academics, often about the current research that they are doing in their field. For example, my Director of Studies (who I meet with weekly) is co-leading the Cambridge COVID-19 research lab, and yet she still makes ample time to check in with me and help me with any tricky biochemistry content from that week. I feel extremely privileged to have been encouraged to apply to Cambridge. When I received my GCSE results, I can remember feeling shocked at the mention of a possible Oxbridge application because until then I had never really considered it an option. Even throughout Sixth Form I had very little expectations for the application. The nucleating factor that got me to apply was my friends' – what I believed to be frustratingly irrational – belief in me, for which I am very grateful. So to all the students who feel excited at the prospect of being immersed in an academic culture at Oxbridge, or at University in general, but have never considered it a true option – it is an option. I would strongly encourage you to talk to your teachers, who will have the perspective to encourage you of your full potential. Medicine at Cambridge is hard, but it is not too hard. I am especially passionate about encouraging students to take up studying Medicine, so please do get in touch with me through the school at any time in the future if you would like any advice about medical work experience, personal statements, admissions tests or interviews.
I hope you all have a lovely Christmas despite the current circumstances.
Possible Staggered Return to School from the 4th January
The Government are possibly set to announce today that schools will be instructed to implement a staggered return from Monday the 4th of January. This once again is another example of the Government and DfE giving school leaders very little time to plan ahead. However, the guidance does seem to suggest that face to face teaching will take place for Year 11 and 13 as they have examinations next year. All other year groups initially are set to access their work remotely from home. We do not have any guidance as yet about keyworker or vulnerable students. I will update parents/carers in the new year once the Government has finalised its plans.
See BBC Article
School Continues to Perform Track & Trace Duties Until 24th December
The SLT will continue to complete any Track and Trace obligations up until midnight on the 24th December. We ask all Parents and Carers to contact the school if their child unfortunately tests positive for Covid 19. This should only be completed for our students until 24th December when the Track and Trace responsibility will be passed back to PHE.
Student Safeguarding Concerns (During Holidays Only):
As ever, we are always looking to safeguard our students. Parents/Carers or Students can refer to the ‘How Can I Keep Myself Safe? over the Christmas holidays if they have any safeguarding concerns. This information has also been shared on our website on all the normal social media platforms.
They can also email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Year 11 & 13 Mock Examinations
This is a reminder that all Year 11 and Year 13 Mock examinations will take place between 20th January and 1st February. Please also be aware that this will mean there will be some adaptions to the PE curriculum as the main Sports Hall will be used throughout this period.
Year 11 Period 6 PCRE (January 4th to February ½ Term)
A quick reminder to all Year 11 students that the only Period 6 session in the new year will be PCRE (Tuesday 3.25 to 4.35pm)
Transport Face Coverings
The Government have now stipulated that all students who travel to school on Dedicated or Public Transport must wear a face covering. This applies to all students who travel to school unless they are exempt. Those students that are exempt and travel on dedicated transport are able to wear their school exemption badge. However, those students that are exempt and travel on public transport will have to download the Devon Transport Template.
The latest DFE School’s Guidance (15th December)
The link below shows the latest DfE guidance for opening schools.
Parental guidance if their child tests positive or negative for Covid 19
As part of the national ‘Track and Trace’ system our school is now required to report the date and positive or negative result from any our students who have been tested for Covid 19. Therefore, from this point forward, Parents/Carers must contact Nikki Brisbourne (Attendance Officer) on 01271863427 to give her the date and positive or negative test result so she can pass the information on (email email@example.com up until the 24th of December.
Current Government Guidance on Christmas Bubbles (23 to 27 December)
Making a Christmas bubble with friends and family - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Parental guidance if their child needs to self-isolate
As you know we do currently have three positive Covid 19 cases within our school. Here is a reminder of the what the PHE guidance states about isolation with regards to two key scenarios.
PHE guidance states:
1. If your child becomes symptomatic with any of the following:
a new and persistent cough
a high temperature
a loss of or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell
Parents should collect their child from school, ensure they self-isolate and book them a test. If the test is negative, they are able to return back to school.
2. If your child is in self-isolation because they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, their isolation period is 10 days since the last contact with that person. If they test negative during this time, they must still complete the 10 days isolation.
We hope that this helps to explain the different types of self-isolation. Please rest assured that students will be able to access school work during any period of isolation. Please contact the school if you are concerned or would like further clarification.
As ever, the school will continue to monitor any further guidance. This guidance will always be clearly communicated to our students and their Parents/Careers.
Once again, we do realise that this is a challenging time for all of us and I hope that all our students and their families have a great Christmas holiday.