Letter from the Headteacher - Mixed Emotions
Dear Parents and Carers
This week brings a huge feeling of mixed emotions for our community. We know our Year 11 and 13 have great joy and relief as they have now completed their assessments. We are so proud of the dedication and resilience they have shown throughout the most challenging circumstances in educational history. The Senior Leadership Team and Governors are also proud of our teaching and support staff that have dedicated their time to giving our students the best opportunity possible of achieving their potential. However, there is also great sadness in our community with the sad news that one of our former students Vinnie Dennis has passed away. Vinnie was a wonderful young man who I had the pleasure to teach in my first year at the school. He will be greatly missed by all of us and all our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends at this incredibly sad time.
Once again, I will look to pick out a few highlights from the week and offer some reminders to ensure that everything runs really well next week.
Yr11 & 13 Last Day
We bid farewell to our Year 11 and 13 students today in great style. Both year groups had a final assembly within their bubble where the senior leadership team and staff served them a three-course meal. We wanted to give the students a really good send off and it was a small way of saying well done for all the dedication and resilience that they have shown throughout the pandemic. We will be inviting the Year 11 students back to school for a final end of year celebration on the evening of Thursday 24th June after we hope there has been further relaxation of Covid restrictions in line with the DfE roadmap. This celebration will be a free event as we all know that the pandemic has had a significant impact on our community’s employment over the 18 months with a number of parents being furloughed or being out of work all together. As a values-based school we didn’t want students to feel they couldn’t attend an event because they couldn’t afford to purchase expensive dresses/suits or hire cars. As previously mentioned, the students that remain with us in 6th Form will have the opportunity of planning their own end of year event which could be a Prom when they are in Year 13. This is also an option that we are happy for our Year 12 students to consider when they finish next year.
Higher Expectations of Year 9 & 10
Parents and Carers will have received a letter from Mr Cronin this week that explains the enhancements to our behaviour policy which will hold students to more account for their actions in school. We are fully aware of the challenges that the children have had to face over the last 18 months but there is a small minority of students in each year group whose low-level disruption is having a negative impact on teaching and learning. This is unacceptable as we want every child in our school to achieve their full potential. We have spoken to both year groups, giving them a clear message about expectations and that the silent majority of good, hardworking students should not accept any disruption to their learning. We have been overwhelmed by the positive response and support from parents and students about these clear high expectations which will come into action when we return from May half term.
Charity House Competition
A huge well done to all of the students that took part in the Charity House Competition to raise money for the two students we support in Bulembu, Eswatini! Students demonstrated our school values of Kindness, Hope and Responsibility and raised an amazing £1923.94! We are incredibly proud of all of the determination, hard work and imagination that went into raising the money and thank the students for all of their efforts.
Here are some of the challenges taken on by our fantastic students:
1st. Charlotte Cook – Dali. Charlotte walked 3.5 miles a day for 29 consecutive days. This is the average distance children in Eswatini have to walk for water. She raised £530.
2nd. Eddie Wallace-Cook – Michelangelo. Eddie ran a mile every hour for twelve hours from 6pm to 6am and raised £500.
3rd. Poppy Bradley – Dali. Poppy cycled from Braunton – Bideford – Barnstaple and raised £245.
4th. Mattie Thorn and Tilly Learoyd – Michelangelo. They swam in the sea in their swimmers every day for a month and raised £232.94
Reminder of an Extra Inset Day (Friday 11th June)
This is a reminder that The Ilfracombe Academy will be having an extra inset day to give our teachers the required directed time they need to complete the Teacher Assessed Grades (TAG) moderation process. I have sought permission from our Local Governing Body (LGB) and our Trust Directors who have all been unanimous in their support of this day. Both the Chair of Governors and Chair of Directors have counter signed this letter to show their support. This has not been an easy decision to make, especially as our students have lost so much face to face education over the last 18 months. However, as a values-based school, we feel this is an action that we must take in order to ensure that the TAG process is completed with the highest levels of accuracy and integrity.
·A number of schools and trusts are taking this action, locally, regionally and nationally
·Teaching staff have only a limited time to complete the marking and moderation process which is extensive
·As a good employer we must consider the workload of our staff
·Schools are choosing to do this even if they only have Year 11 students to moderate. As a Post-16 provider we also have Year 13 to mark and moderate
·All staff that work that day will be in school
Teachers will set work for students to complete at home. This will be for all students in Years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12
· This will be either traditional written work or they can produce pre-recorded videos or utilise one of the many Oak Academy resources.
· Year 11 students that we are retaining into Year 12 will receive remote work as previously planned.
The table below highlights the TAG process that our teaching staff are currently working through. The departments still need to complete a vast amount of marking, moderation and official paperwork by Monday 14th June. Below is breakdown of that process. The yellow sections are those that will be completed by Thursday 10th June; the grey section shows what work will be completed on the day and the white section shows the work that will still need to be completed by the final submission date on Friday 18th June.
This Wednesday we were very pleased to be supporting the new and exciting Delta Project in Ilfracombe. This is the perfect time for Ilfracombe to be receiving a new centre for young people. Our Year 9s started making a new Coffee bar for the project. Measuring a massive 2.5 metres long, they certainly had their work cut out for them. A framework has been manufactured in the DT school workshops and we have stripped down the reclaimed pallets ready for the cladding. It was fantastic to see students back in our practical space and we are looking forward to getting the coffee bar finished in the new term.
Year 6 Transition 2021
As we look forward to the new academic year, our transition team is working hard to ensure an excellent start to our new Year 7s’ secondary school experience. We have shared information with our primary feeder schools; our pastoral team will be meeting with Year 6 teachers and some of our team has been into primary schools already with more visits planned for next half term. We are also planning opportunities for the Year 6 students to visit the school for the first time, experience some lessons and enjoy some social time. There will also be a remote Q&A session for parents.
New Structure of Day/Week
You will remember that we completed a full consultation with students, parents/carers, and staff with regards to an adaptation to the school working day/week. We would like to thank everyone for offering their support and suggested improvements. These were all considered, and adjustments have been implemented to ensure that everyone is able to benefit from these improvements to our provision.
A reminder of the key points
· Each student will still receive 25 teaching episodes per week (some other schools have reduced this significantly to support prep time but we believe our students need the guaranteed face to face time with their specialist teachers
· Improved reading and the ability for all students to access the curriculum
· Introducing the use of Knowledge Organisers to support our students’ ability to be effective independent learners
· To further develop our students independent learning through the introduction of prep time at the end of the school day (4 days a week). All students in years 7 to 11 will be expected to complete three homework tasks per day based on their knowledge organisers. Students in Years 10 and 11 will also receive 1 extra homework per fortnight from their subject teacher. This is a system that has been implemented nationally in many schools to great effect
How will the week be structured?
Your queries answered
Why does the lunch period have to be so short on a Friday?
We have looked into this and can see that consistency across the week at social times is needed and so have made an adjustment so that Lunch will be 40 minutes in duration in line with the rest of the academic week.
I’m a working parent who might struggle to pick up my child at 2.40pm on a Friday.
We recognise that for some of our parents this would be a challenge and will therefore put a provision in place until 3.25pm for students that are picked up by car to ensure parents do not have any loss of earnings.
Concerns about the loss of break time to socialise
We are committed to ensuring that our students have a break that allows them to ensure that they are able to get something to eat and drink whilst socialise with their peers. To facilitate this we initially planned to create split break where half of the students would have their break ensuring that the process of going through the canteen was swifter ensuring they were able to socialise with their peers. However, after feedback from staff as part of the consultation we have instead decided to create a second place for students to purchase their food and drink meaning that they can still get the benefit of a good social period that will support their mental health without any disruption to the flow of the day.
Concerns that pick-up times on a Friday might clash with Primary schools
We have worked with Devon Transport to ensure that all pick-ups from school on a Friday will take place at 2.45pm. Once again, we will put a provision in place for any students that need to be picked up by their parents after a younger sibling is picked up from their Primary school
Why are we looking to make the change the now?
The recommended new structure of the week is to specifically designed to improve reading so our students are better able to access the curriculum; improve their metacognition and subsequently their ability to learn independently. However, it still ensures that students access their full complement of 25 lessons per week led by their specialist teachers.
Moreover, this new structure would offer our students in Years 7 – 11 an additional 80 minutes of support across the working week. This in turn equates to over 3000 minutes of additional support across the academic years. We truly believe these changes will have a massive impact on our students’ academic success and life chances and will allow us to build on our past and accelerate our school improvement journey over the next few years.
Why are we shortening the day when the DfE are suggesting that the day and term should be longer?
The DfE are currently weighing up various options to assist schools in supporting students to catch up for lost time in school. Ours is a long-term strategy that we firmly believe will give your children an enhanced support package that will overtime allow them to utilise the same 25 lessons of high-quality face to face teaching across in conjunction with a better support process that will allow them to become better independent learners that research tells us has a huge impact on their progress and academic success.
What is Prep Time?
Prep time is a 20-minute session that each student in Years 7 to 11 will complete four times a week between 3.05 and 3.25pm. It’s important to confirm that the introduction of Prep Time falls within the main school day that all Year 7 to 11 students will be expected to attend. This also ensures our school day on Monday to Thursday still finishes at 3.25pm and the buses will leave at 3.35pm as normal.
On Fridays the end of the day will be 2.40pm and the buses will leave the campus at 2.50pm. This means all students will still be able to get home as they normally do on school transport.
What about the 6th Form?
The 6th Form will not be included in the Prep arrangements. They are our senior students that are expected to study independently throughout their course. We will be following the same procedures that were introduced this year where 6th Form students should be in school for Tutor Time but are free to leave after lesson have been completed on a particular day. However, it’s important that they understand that once they have signed out of the sight that will not be able to return on the same day. their lessons have been completed on a particular day. They are free to stay on site to use the school and 6th Form facilities or the library to complete their own independent study. We believe that the new measures we would like to bring in will changes will allow our students to be better prepared to become fully fledged independent learners by the time they reach the 6th Form.
Improved Uniform Standards in September
We want our students to be smart, well presented and proud of their school. Good presentation starts with their uniform and will continue all the way through to all aspects of their academic life including their written work. To improve their presentation the expectation from September is that every child will wear their full school uniform. This must include the items of clothing with the school crest: the school blazer, school tie and, from September, the school sweater when a child feels that they need an extra layer to keep warm. We have spoken to Pedlars and Excell Embroidery and they have agreed to supply both items as a combo deal. As ever, any students that is in receipt of pupil premium funding will be offered some uniform support.
Students will be allowed to wear appropriate outdoor coats to school and when they are outside during social times of the day. However, they must always have their blazer on around the school site. Once students have entered their classroom then they will have the option of removing their blazer in order to help them regulate their temperature. We will also be bringing in a winter and summer uniform expectation. The only difference in the summer uniform expectations is that students will be able to remove their blazer.
The school will also have higher expectations of students’ hair and jewellery and will ensure that students follow the standards in our policy. We have been very lenient with uniform expectation due to the pandemic, but September is the right time to insist on high standards in all areas of the student time in school including their uniform.
Health & Safety
There are things that will be continued but also some subtle differences/adaptations have been made by the DfE in line with stage 3 of the Government’s Covid 19 roadmap to recovery. Please see a basic overview below.
What’s the same
Students and staff must continue to use good hand hygiene measures throughout the day by using hand sanitiser before and after each lesson, before and after eating and they must also wash their hands after using the toilet.
Students and staff must continue to wear face coverings on the corridors unless they are exempt.
Good respiratory hygiene must continue to be followed by following the ‘Catch it, Bin it and Kill it’ process.
The use of good ventilation in classrooms must be followed.
Students must continue to work and socialise within their own year group bubble.
Students must wear a face covering on all dedicated and service bus transport unless they are exempt.
Staff do not have to wear their face covering whilst they are in their teacher box.
Staff must maintain social distancing and so must still remain in their teacher’s box.
Staff must continue to wear face coverings in communal spaces such as offices if they cannot maintain social distancing.
Enhanced cleaning of classrooms and regular touch points will be carried out during the school day by a dedicated cleaning team.
Students do not have to wear face coverings in classrooms (students still have the
option of wearing one if it is their favoured option).
Students do not have to wear their face covering once they are in a communal setting (St Christopher’s Hall)
Covid 19 Section (unaltered since 23rd April 2021)
Home testing will continue through the rest of this term. It is essential that everyone who has consented to testing continues to test themselves on Sunday and Wednesday each week. This is to ensure that our community remains safe and that we can all focus on teaching and learning in school. Social media reminders will be sent out each Sunday and Wednesday to help students keep to the testing schedule.
Completing the Test
Please see the link below for NHS guidance video on how students can complete the LFT CV19 test at home.
Reporting Your Results to the NHS
Report your result so the NHS can monitor the spread of the virus, support communities across the UK, combat the virus and save lives. You can report your results online by visiting www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result. Alternatively, you can call 119 (free from mobiles and landlines), the lines are open 7am to 11pm.
Reporting Results to School
In addition to reporting all results to the NHS we would also like parents and carers to inform the school of only any positive or void test results that you record at home. Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org If your child has a void result we are happy to offer them an in school LFD test the next day they are in school.
Guidance From Devon County council – Please Read Carefully
Follow-up PCR tests required after a positive LFD test
Previously, a follow-up PCR test was only required following a positive LFD test carried out at home. The Government has re-introduced the requirement for a PCR test after positive LFD tests carried out at all assisted testing sites. As of 31st March, staff and pupils who get a positive LFD result (whether at home or at supervised testing site in school) should take a follow-up PCR test. This requirement is now published in the Stay At Home Guidance. Stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) and has been included in the DfE daily update. As the prevalence rates are now low in England, follow-up PCR tests will help reduce the chances of false positive LFD tests. The follow-up PCR test should be taken as soon as possible and within 2 days of the positive LFD result. The quickest way is to book a test online or call 119 for an appointment at a nearby nearest testing centre. Alternatively, a PCR home test kit can be used but it may take longer for the results to come back.
Staff, students and pupils who have a positive LFD test result, their household members and close contacts should self-isolate immediately whilst waiting for the follow-up PCR result. Public health action must be taken from a positive result, whether from a LFD or PCR test, to quickly identify close contacts in school and request that they self-isolate.
If the follow-up PCR result is negative
If the follow-up PCR test result is negative and the test was done within 2 days of the positive LFD result, the person, their household members and close contacts at school can stop self-isolating and return to school or college if they are well. It is important to continue with all existing protective measures, negative test results should not be read as a means to relax preventative measures which are intended to reduce the risk of transmission.
DfE Guidance (Updated 10th May 2021)
Parents and Carers please see the latest DfE guidance for schools
As ever, the school will continue to monitor and make any adjustments 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.
We hope all our students, parents and carers enjoy the half term break. It looks like there might finally be some sunshine heading our way!