Letter from the Headteacher - The Sun Is Still Shining
Dear Parents and Carers
It has been a difficult week for the students and staff this week. The number of Covid 19 infections has steadily increased across North Devon and we have seen this pattern repeated within our learning community. The track and trace process is very complex and time consuming. I would like to thank the senior team, teachers and support staff that have come into school to help plan cover from 7.00am in the morning through to contacting parents at times beyond 11.00pm in the evening and over the weekends. It has been a huge team effort and I would like to thank every member of staff for their hard work and resilience during these challenging times. I would also like to thank all the parents and carers who have sent in messages of support over the last few days: it is really appreciated.
We would like keep parents and carers fully up to date with these developments. Students and staff are having to self-isolate because of being positive themselves or because they are a close proximity contact either in the community, their home or in school. The current situation is as follows:
Year 7 – 150 students in school 1 positive case - 34 self- isolating (17 absent other reasons)
Year 8 – 140 students in school 1 positive case – 37 self- isolating (14 absent for other reasons)
Year 9 – 130 students in school 0 positive cases – 22 self-isolating (29 absent for other reasons)
Year 10 - 38 students in school 2 positive cases – 121 self-isolating (19 absent for other reasons)
We also have one admin member of staff that has a positive case. However, we have another 12 staff that are having to self-isolate for various reasons such as their own child is a close proximity contact at their own nursery/school and they need to support them at home. Other staff have been contacted independently by NHS Track and Trace. Only two members of staff are self-isolation because of their proximity to a positive case in school which is testament to our Covid procedures. However, this all puts a huge strain on our school resources and means that we need to bring supply and cover teachers into classes until teachers’ self-isolation periods finish and they can return to work. Throughout the last week we will continue to deliver the very best education we can either face to face or remotely depending on your own child’s current situation.
We have taken the decision to keep all Year 10 students at home until the end of term and they will be able to access their education remotely. A number of these students have been asked to self-isolate and it is now at the point that the students will be able to access a better education from home as their teachers will be able to set work remotely if they are self-isolating themselves. Those students that have not been asked to self-isolate at this stage are not required to do so but we might still have to complete a track and trace process that involves them early next week.
Due to the developing situation in school, we have taken the decision that students in Year 12 will also continue to receive a remote education next week. This will also ensure that there is a greater consistency in teaching and learning for those students who are having to self-isolate at this time. Work will continue to be provided with a variety of set work and pre-recorded lessons for Year 10 with some Live Teams lessons for Year 12. Students should check Class Charts every day and are expected to attend live lessons during their normal timetabled slots.
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.
Early July saw the successful completion of two Silver Duke of Edinburgh Expeditions. Year 10 and a returning leavers group from Year 13 in two separate bubbles. Different locations but the same if not a greater challenge. The routes took students from Year 10 From The Academy as a start point on day 1, along the coast path and countryside routes to a camping location in Lee. The nearly tropical weather conditions brought with them an altogether different challenge. The students were undertaking the expedition with smiles and great teamwork, ensuring they all remained on the correct route!
Day 2 started off a little overcast which was a welcomed change from the previous day’s balmy temperatures. The group all managed to get themselves up, cooked breakfast and set off by 9am. On this day of the expedition, they would journey all the way to Heddon’s Mouth using public transport for part of the leg before the gruelling walk up to Combe Martin.
Day 3 saw another promising start containing much enthusiasm and teamwork to set off on the last leg which took them past Valley of the Rocks and ending in Barbrook.
Congratulations guys - you were determined, amusing and are a great bunch of youngsters!
The Learning Institute Adult Education Opportunity
An exciting opportunity for university-level study in Ilfracombe
Working in partnership with the University of Worcester, The Learning Institute offer a range of foundation degree courses that could be your step towards to a new career working with children and young people.
The degrees - FdA Early Years Professional, FdA Inclusive Education, FdA Learning and Education, and FdSc Mental Health and Wellbeing of Children and Young People - are delivered using a blended learning approach and are designed to fit alongside your existing commitments. Sessions take place once a week, between 1pm and 7.30pm, with a combination of live online delivery and face-to-face teaching at The Ilfracombe Academy.
Alongside your study, you will be working or volunteering with children or young people in an appropriate workplace (for example a school, early years setting or within children's services) for at least seven hours a week. This will give you the opportunity to link theory and practice, gain valuable insight and experience, and potentially continue to earn while you learn.
Year 11 and 13 Teacher Assessed Grades 2021
To help students and parents further understand the process that The Ilfracombe Academy has followed, please click on the link below. Here, you will find The Ilfracombe Academy Centre Policy and the assessment records for different subjects and qualifications which detail the sources of evidence that the subject departments have used to determine students’ grades.
The link also provides details about the results days and the appeals process.
Hard Decisions Being Made The reality is, with the rising level of infections across North Devon, we have had to make the difficult decision to cancel a number of end of year events and celebrations. This is because we feel it would be irresponsible for us to hold events that could potentially cause an increase in infections. This decision has been made with a very heavy heart as these events are what should be the beating heart and soul of the school. We really hope that we will be able to get back to a normal way of working in the new academic year. The events that will be cancelled or moved to a remote provision are as follows:
The Year 11 End of Year Celebration
The staff leavers’ gathering (moved to a pre-recorded remote event)
The end of year celebration assemblies (adapted to remote assemblies)
Y11 have been through a lot over the last 18 months and unfortunately the leavers’ event is another aspect of their final year which won’t now happen. However, they did have a positive final day celebration and we did all we could in challenging circumstances to give them the send-off they deserved, this included the three-course meal and free leavers’ T shirt. They have shown fantastic determination to get through these last few months and we are sure that this positive energy will carry them onto great things as they make their steps into their Post-16 education. We hope they have a great summer. For those that return to 6th form we are looking forward to seeing them in September. For those that are stepping out on their next steps and won’t be with us, we wish them well and good luck for the future.
Anti-Social Behaviour These are unsettling times for students after a long and difficult year. Some students have struggled with this more than others. However, we have had to speak to a section of our student body following complaints from our cleaners and caretaking staff due to some antisocial behaviour in the toilets. This has led us to have to take some robust action. Year 9 boys are now restricted to the use of the toilets only at social time unless a child has a toilet pass linked to their Individual Education (IEP). The Student Council have also discussed this issue with Mr Cronin (Assistant Headteacher) and have supported the introduction of camera being installed outside the toilet blocks to stop the anti-social behaviour. This is something that we will consider further along with a full behaviour review and consultation in the new academic year.
We highlighted the latest guidance from the DfE and are making plans for our September return. We have become accustomed to the guidance changing at very short notice. To coin a phrase we have learnt: if you plan early you’ll need to plan twice. The plan is to see how the guidance develops through the summer and firm up our plans after the GCSE and A-Level results which is the W/B 9th August. It is likely that the guidance will be confirmed around 2 weeks before our September return and I will then produce a return to school video just like the one I shared with parents and carers last year. Until then, please see a reminder of the points we shared last week.
School Roadmap Relaxation
As we know the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday set out plan for the final stage of the roadmap in England. Main points of the new guidance are as follows:
At Step 4 and after the end of the summer term, it will no longer be necessary to keep children in consistent groups (‘bubbles’). This means bubbles will not need to be used for any summer provision (for example, summer schools) or in schools from the autumn term. If your school is still open at Step 4, you may wish to continue with these measures until the end of your summer term.
Schools and settings will only need to do contact tracing up to 18th July 2021. From 19th July 2021 (Step 4), close contacts will be identified via NHS Test and Trace.
From 16 August 2021, children under the age of 18 years old will no longer be required to self-isolate if they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case.
From step 4, face coverings will no longer be advised for pupils, students, staff and visitors either in classrooms or in communal areas. From Step 4, face coverings are also no longer recommended to be worn on dedicated transport to school or college.
He said that bubbles for students from will be removed from stage 4 as well as some other changes. However, in light of our latest positive cases we have taken the decision to continue to keep all of our current measures in place until the end of term. This represents 5 more days and we feel it is essential that minimise any infections as we run into the summer holidays. The Control measures that are likely to continue in September
Ensure good hygiene for everyone (hand washing or hand sanitising).
Maintain appropriate cleaning regimes.
Keep occupied spaces well ventilated.
Follow public health advice on testing, self-isolation and managing confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The guidance also states that as students will potentially mix with lots of other people during the summer holidays, all secondary school students should receive two on-site lateral flow device tests, 3-5 days apart, on their return in September. We will be following a staggered start to the start of term again in September which will be communicated in good time before we return in September. Students should continue to use LFD tests (Lateral Flow Device)
If their parents have given consent, students should complete a test on Sunday evening and Wednesday evening. LFD tests can identify people with lots of the virus and who are very infectious. 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 have no symptoms and could be spreading the virus to other people without knowing. These tests are for people who do not have any symptoms of coronavirus. They provide quick results within half an hour, so that you can get on with your day if you test negative, remembering to keep following public health guidance. If you test positive, you’ll need to arrange a follow-up PCR test (see below). LFD tests are available for all adults and secondary aged pupils to test twice weekly. You can pick them up for free from your local pharmacy, and they are available to order online for home delivery. Assistance with the test is available at any of our Community Testing sites. You can find details about where our sites are across Devon on our website, devon.cc/flow.
PCR tests (Polymerase Chain Reaction)
PCR tests are more sensitive and used to confirm if someone has COVID-19. The result takes longer as it is processed in a lab. PCR tests are for people with COVID-19 symptoms – high temperature, new and continuous cough, change to usual sense of taste or smell - or for follow up after a positive LFD result. Close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case can also get a PCR test.
Please remember to report test results on the national website as well as to the school, this helps us monitor cases and support quick and appropriate action to keep schools operating as normal. You can keep up to date with the latest coronavirus news from Devon County Council at devon.cc/covid-19
As we mentioned earlier in the letter, we strongly encourage students to continue to wear face coverings on the corridors and in places where they cannot easily socially distance. Students should keep their face covering on whilst queuing up for food but can remove it when they are seated in St Christopher’s Hall. It is important that students remember that the face covering is specifically about protecting other people and its everyone’s responsibility to wear them correctly at the appropriate times. This will continue up until the end of the summer term.
We strongly encourage all students to continue to use LFT tests twice week. These should be completed on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. This will allow us to work together to keep everyone safe.
Completing The Test
Please see the link below for NHS guidance video on how students can complete the LFT CV19 test at home. Also, the attached guide gives further details and guidance.
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 then we would be happy to offer them an in-school LFD test the next day they are in school.
The school will retain a small test centre for those students who might struggle to complete their tests at home. However, this centre will only have a very small capacity as we need the space to create as many student support rooms for SEND students or those that are engaging with Covid catch up. Therefore, we strongly encourage parents and carers for their children to complete the tests at home. This is to allow the school to focus on teaching and learning and pastoral support.
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.
I hope all our students and their families enjoy the sunshine over the weekend.