Letter from the Headteacher - Living With Covid
Dear Parents and Carers,
The Government are moving to the next phase of their “Living with Covid” plan and we will be following all of their guidance from 25th April. Later in this letter, I will explain the different approaches that we will take in the lead up to the Easter Holiday compared to our return to school from on 25th April.
It was great to be able to welcome all of our students back into school this week. To achieve this, a large number of classes have had supply teachers or have been covered by teachers and senior leaders. We know that the best thing for our students is for them to be taught by their own specialist teachers. Since Monday, we have been able to manage the staffing situation without having to send year groups home and we hope that this will continue next week. Deciding who we should send home to access remote learning is never an easy task and we are mindful of the balance that we need to strike between the impact caused for students that are in exams and external assessments over the next two years, against the childcare issues for students lower down the school. We do not think we need to send any year groups home next week, but we have formed a worst-case scenario in case our staffing drops significantly over the weekend. We will confirm the arrangements with our Year 9 parents on Monday 4th April if we need to put the plan into action. Please also see the ‘Living with Covid’ plan later in this letter.
Year Group Rotational Plan (Only if Needed)
Tuesday 5th to Wednesday 6th April - Year 9
Thursday 7th to Friday 8th April - Year 8
ROMEO & JULIET – 24th & 25th March
‘Romeo & Juliet’ marked our first Stage Right show in over 2 years. I first of all want to thank all cast and audience for their support, your patience and of course for coming to celebrate the success of the students in something they are all so passionate about.
Covid-19 has had such a detrimental effect on all walks of life. We have lost loved ones; people have lost their jobs; people have lost a lot of their freedom and students have lost elements of their education. What I do hope, however, is that during this time of loss, it has given people perspective. In education, it is not just exams and ticking boxes that is important, it is experiences like this. The creative arts are so important to the lives of so many. In terms of its place in a school (both pre, during and post Covid), it gives people hope; it gives people joy and it gives people something to hold on to. I am ever hopeful that like me, you look forward to a future where we can enjoy life in all its fullness again.
‘Romeo & Juliet’ provided numerous challenges. After casting the show last May, we have rehearsed this show in year group bubbles; I have had to direct from inside a teacher box; students have had to rehearse in masks; and we had to deal with more student and staff absence than any production has ever had to face. Oh yeah, and then there was storm Eunice forcing a month-long postponement……. But the key thing to take from all of this is the incredible power of resilience! Never more than now has the somewhat corny expression “the show must go on” been more relevant.
Our production of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ is a celebration of not only student resilience but also significant student potential and talent. We performed the unabridged, full Shakespearian text so students have had to not only learn the lines but also try and work out what on earth they are on about when they say them! For all those that saw the production, I think we can agree, the students did an OUTSTANDING job.
Special thanks to the students for grouping together and making so many elements of this production work in such challenging circumstances. Beth Smith (Year 13) in particular, has gone to extraordinary lengths in her role as company manager in producing, organising, and directing large elements of this show. Praise must also go to students like Ellie Beaman (Y12) and Ruth Woolmer (Y13) who were an ever-reliable presence at every single rehearsal, such is their commitment to the show. Commitment like this is why these three could well succeed in this industry.
There were many Stage Right debut performances in this show and lots of younger students took on bigger roles which is always good to see. I look forward to taking the show on tour in the summer with performances at Lee Abbey Lynton (9th July), Arches Wedding Venue Combe Martin (10th July) and back in school on Blazing Sounds (11th July) featuring Ruby Godber as Juliet. I hope to see a number of you there again as we keep celebrating the joy of performance.
Stage Right is a student led company and with teacher guidance always aims to push students to be the best they can be as well as develop and nurture a passion for performing. We want to give students the opportunity to make new friends and give them a place to feel safe, valued and welcome within the school community.
Please follow our socials for more information:
Mr Richard Vale Producer/Director.
Showstoppers 3 is a Musical Theatre and Performing Arts showcase produced mainly by students. The theme for this show is “legends”, celebrating the work of artists in music, theatre, and film. Our past showstoppers productions have been a huge success and we look forward to seeing this one come together.
We started our rehearsals in November, beginning with the finale. It was amazing to see so many students showing an interest in performance. The initial rehearsal saw over 100 students come and learn the closing dance and commitment is still strong across all year groups.
The show will contain a variety of styles and numbers, from large group dances to solo songs. The audience will be familiar with some of the songs and some will be completely new. The Drama and Music department, along with the student committee, are combining all our skill sets to bring you an outstanding production that will showcase just how many legends we have in our school. We hope to see you in St Christopher’s Hall on July 15th – 16th during what we are hoping will be a whole week of ‘creative arts events.’
Bethany Smith (Y13)
North Devon Sinfonia
The North Devon community came together on Saturday night in St Christopher's Hall to be treated to an amazing performance from the North Devon Sinfonia with our very own Head of Music (Mr Tim Baker) being the special guest soloist. Mr Baker’s performance of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A was simply awe inspiring, demonstrating the great power and technical precision that takes years of practice and dedication to perfect. We hope that Mr Baker will have many more opportunities to demonstrate his talents to our students and wider learning community and we’re so grateful that we have such a talented performer and teacher on our staff.
Sixth Form – Southwest Apprentice Show
This Thursday, several of the students in the Sixth Form attended the South-West Apprenticeship Show at Sandy Park in Exeter. The event included 40 local apprenticeship providers and gave students the chance to explore different options available to them in their next steps. Students enjoyed the day, engaged positively with representatives from many companies and were excellent ambassadors of the school.
Sixth Form vs Year 11 Football Match – Thursday 7th April
Next Thursday is the eagerly anticipated annual football match between the Sixth Form and year 11. The match is held every year to raise money for charity and promises to provide an exciting end to this term. The match will be taking place at the town football pitch during period 5 (2.05 to 3.05pm) on Thursday 7th April. Students in years 11, 12 and 13 are invited to attend the event which will cost £1 with the proceeds going to charity. We would encourage all students in these year groups to get behind the event.
Year 11 – Period 6 Revision Sessions & Transport
We are pleased to announce that we will be offering a number of Period 6 revision sessions in preparation to the Year 11 summer examinations. We encourage all students to attend these sessions to receive extra support and help ensure they are able to maximise their full potential this summer. Due to the number of subjects to cover and the loss of Monday 2nd May (bank holiday), we will offer two further sessions during curriculum lessons in June.
As a large coastally and rurally isolated school we will endeavour to offer free transport home to as many students as possible. This means that students are able to get home without having a negative impact on their parents’ working arrangements.
The period 6 bus routes will be as follows:
Bus 1 – Berrynarbor, Combe Martin & Lynton
Bus 2 – Woolacombe and Mortehoe
Three taxis will also take students home that would normally go home on smaller buses.
Period 6 Mock Revision Sessions - the transport will run as follows:
1 Bus Berrynarbor (4.40pm), Combe Martin (4.50pm) and Lynton (5.00 to 5.15pm)
2 Bus Mortehoe (4.50pm), Woolacombe (5.00pm)
For students that live in smaller communities we look to get them home either in school transport, another bus or in a taxi (5.00pm)
These sessions will either be delivered in the same classroom that your child is taught, or they will be informed of any changes on the day by the subject Head of Department.
We also understand that your child may have an identified Special Educational Need that would make it too difficult for them to extend their school day. For these reasons, we have asked these sessions are revision based rather than delivering new content.
This is a huge commitment from our teaching staff who are ready, willing and able to give up their own time to help support our students. We therefore hope that every child takes up the opportunity of attending every session with their specialist teachers as they are without doubt the best resource, we have to offer them.
We hope that you can see that we are trying to do everything we can to support your child through the next year and hope that you will encourage your child to attend these high-quality sessions to give them every opportunity to reinforce their knowledge and allow them to fulfil their potential.
If you have any questions about the Period 6 sessions, please direct them towards Mrs Tilley (Head of Year 11) via her email address below.
Focus on Knowledge Organisers
The Senior Leadership Team will be visiting the Year 10 Tutor Groups during the week beginning the 4th of April. This is to check the consistency of their work and reward students those students that are completing the work to a good standard. However, they will also be issuing academic catch-ups for those students that do not complete their work to an acceptable standard, complete 3 pieces of work per day (unless their SEND passport stipulates fewer) or follows the correct subject list each day. This is to ensure that all subjects are covered equally across the school week and to ensure that all students are putting themselves in best position to fulfil their full potential.
Living with Covid - What is the future plan?
As mentioned earlier, the Government has now updated its “Living with Covid”. As you know a number of our staff have been ill, but many have mentioned that under normal circumstances they would only have been unable to attend school/work on 2 to 3 days out of the 10 that they were having to stay at home. It is, therefore, time for our learning community to start to live with Covid and get back to normal as soon as we possibly can. However, we will take a balanced approach to this new way of working as follows:
Measures leading up to Easter break
· Students and staff can use their own discretion to wear a face covering both in school and on school transport
Assemblies in St Christopher’s Hall will continue to be delivered remotely until the Easter holidays.
Hand sanitising before and after each lesson will still be recommended
Enhanced cleaning in school of regular touch points will continue
Ventilation maximised with classroom doors and windows being open
Mechanical ventilation units continue to operate at maximum capacity
Staff and students can use their own discretion to LFD test if they have symptoms during the week leading up to the Easter Holidays. Please also note that the school will not be issuing any further LFD tests from this point forward.
Measures after Easter - What happens if my child is ill (from 25th April)
· The school will be moving back to our pre-pandemic procedures where parents are requested to inform the school if their child is ill.
· New guidance states that children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people. They can go back to school, college or childcare when they no longer have a high temperature, and they are well enough to attend
· These actions will also help to reduce the spread of other respiratory infections, such as flu
The Government has removed the need to LFD test but what happens if parents decide to purchase a test for their child?
· If parents/carers decide that they wish to purchase their child or young person aged 18 a test that subsequently returns a positive Covid 19 result, the child or young person should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 3 days, which is when they are most infectious.
· Please note that the academy will not be issuing any further tests to students or staff
What if my child was originally part of an extremely vulnerable group?
· People who are eligible for community COVID-19 treatments because they are at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19. People in this group will be contacted directly and sent lateral flow tests to keep at home for use if they have symptoms as well as being told how to reorder tests.
Other measures that the school will action from 25th April?
· Face to face assemblies will return from Monday 25th April.
· Regular hand sanitising is still recommended
· Ventilation maximised with classroom doors and windows being open
· Mechanical ventilation units continue to operate at maximum capacity
· Students and staff can use their own discretion to wear a face covering both in school and on school transport, but it won’t be recommended and the school will not be issuing face coverings to students
These measures will be reviewed during the period up to May half term and we will continue to take advice from the DfE and PHE as and when needed.
The school will continue to keep a close eye on any new developments and/or guidance and will communicate this with Parents, students and staff at that point.
On behalf of all the staff at The Ilfracombe Academy, I hope you all have a nice weekend with your family and friends.
Steve Rogers (Headteacher)