• The Ilfracombe Academy

Letter from the Headteacher | Welcoming the Sunshine at Last

Dear Parents and Carers,

It’s been another week of two extremes at the Ilfracombe Academy. The students have enjoyed a Maths Trip to Thorpe Park. Y10 had their trip to Petroc. Year 7 and 8s had an amazing Sports Day and the Drama and Music students have been rehearing really hard for the forthcoming Ilfracombe Fringe festival.

We have also been explaining how the school intend to improve standards and raise expectations. This started with a remote presentation to students by Mr Cronin and my weekly letter last Friday. Some parents reacted to the letter both via email to the school and via a social media group which led to articles on DevonLive and the North Devon Journal. I have run assemblies all week to explain the rationale to students that we are looking to move the school forward even further to ensure that everyone has the support they need to fulfil their full potential. It was also great to send out an open invite to parents to attend a meeting to explain the rationale behind the meeting. The meeting was robust to say the least but we didn’t expect anything different from a passionate community which we look forward to working with more in the future. After the meeting we received a number of emails thanking us for our time and looking forward to seeing how things will improve even further at the academy. It is true that throughout this process we have received both positive and negative feedback both to the school and on Devonlive.

During the parental meeting, we also tackled the various comments about the school being a military regime and about my own military career. So, for the record I feel that I am compelled to say that, yes, I was in the Royal Marines for 6 and a half years which I am very proud of and is something that I always aspired to be from a very young age. But this does not define me as a person or as an educationalist. I have been an educator of wonderful young people for 20 years and I have always helped them to fulfil their full potential. As a head of PE I moved our department’s GCSE results forward from an average 65% pass rate to every year scoring in the mid 90% allowing our department to becoming one of the highest performing departments in the Southwest. I then moved into Senior Leadership in another school where I was highly successful in leading the Special Educational Needs Department and Disadvantaged students’ areas of the school. In four years, I moved those areas of the school forward ensuring that those key groups performed above their academic targets ensuring that they were able to fulfil their full potential. I then moved to The Ilfracombe Academy as Deputy Head and onto the headship with the clear moral purpose to improve the outcomes for all of our students so that they can all realise our vison of ‘life in all its fullness.’

What does ‘Life in All its Fullness’ mean?

  1. Keeping students safe

  2. Developing young adults with a strong moral compass (values) that are ready for life after school/next steps

  3. Providing enrichment activities which promote belonging and aspiration

  4. Helping students obtain qualifications which maximise their potential and allow them to fulfil their dreams

We recognise that a very small number of students will go straight into a family business (they are the lucky ones). But for the vast majority of students the grades that they obtain will determine their next steps and their ability to enter a field of work that brings them joy and fulfils their dreams.

Leadership is about making decisions that make a difference and move the school forward and this new process is simply about sorting any issues out in the morning in supportive way so that the rest of the day is all about positivity and high-quality teaching and learning. We recognise that not everyone will agree with the decisions we make but it is important that all our students, parents and carers understand that they are all made with integrity based on our experience of working in our school; research and best practice of other schools and trusts across the country that are being highly successful using similar methods to great effect in supporting disadvantaged communities. Those schools are actually following systems that are way more stringent than we are. However, we feel that we can do things our way in a much more supportive manner taking into account the specific needs of our learning community.

At the same time we have reflected on the feedback we have received and will be making the following adaptations:

  • In light of the hot weather, we are experiencing we will be bringing in a summer uniform up until the end of the summer term. This means that students have the option to remove their blazer all day and they can also wear tailored shorts. Sports shorts are not acceptable

  • KS3 registration spot checks by HoY and Link SLT will be completed in the classroom rather than in the corridor

  • KS4 registration - Head of Year will use their voice to settle the room so that the tutor can complete their daily routine (register, KO & uniform check).

  • The Pastoral and SEND teams will liaise to ensure certain students have their checks carried out discreetly.

  • After KS4 have improved their standard of uniform and Knowledge Organiser work for a sustained period of time we will move back to the normal tutor room start to the day. At this point SLT will carry out spot checks in the rooms to support the tutors. However, if the standards slip then we will move back to a centralised approach until the standard is met again.

  • A new uniform policy to be in place by September 2022 that reflects some of the points that students· and parents have raised.

The students will follow a dry run though on Wednesday 13th of July. This means that Year 9 and 10 students will be directed to their allocated space for a walk through/talk through. Year 7 and 8 will go straight to their normal tutor room. Students will be reminded of any issues, but no sanctions will be put in place.

The new registration process will commence in full from Thursday 14th of July where the expectation is that students are in the correct uniform and their knowledge Organiser meets the expected standard. However, the process will pause on Tuesday 19th July for activities day and the students will also have a knowledge Organiser holiday that day as well.

As previously stated, we want to work with our students and their parents and carers to raise the standards and expectations further in our school so that everyone is able to fulfil their full potential. We firmly believe that this organised, positive start to the day will set the tone for learning and thereby help us to improve our students’ life chances.

Mrs Phelps Funeral Arrangements

The school want to ensure that staff and students are able to pay their respects to Carol Phelps and so we will be closing the school on Monday 11th July. This means the buses will not be running that day. The funeral will take place at 12.30pm in Pip & Jim’s Church. The family realise that it is not practical for everyone to attend the service. However, they are really keen for the staff and a number of selected senior students to have the opportunity to pay their respects in the church. Those students being Carol’s Y11 Tutor Group, and the four Foodtech groups from both Y11 and Y10. Those students that would like to attend would need to be transported to the funeral and picked up afterwards by their parents. The family also ask those that are attending the service to please wear colourful clothes and be seated by 12.15pm. Any other students that would like to pay their respects can do by viewing Mrs Phelps as she travels to the Vison Centre and the Church. If students would like to do that, we encourage their parents to accompany them if needed to ensure they are safe. No students are invited to the wake unless they have been specifically invited by the family.

The Route to Pip & Jim’s Church (arrival at 12.30pm)

  • Mrs Phelps will leave A.D Williams at 11.45am and will arrive at the Vision Centre at 12.00 midday

  • Mrs Phelps will then leave the Vison Centre at 12.15pm and arrive at Pip & Jim’s church at 12.30pm

Parent/Carer Survey

We request that all Parents/Carers complete a short parental survey by 3.25pm on Tuesday 12th July. It will only take a few minutes but will be really useful in understanding your thoughts on our school. Please see the link below:


Reminder of Social Time Change Academic Year 2022-23

The school will be introducing a new social time plan from September. The school is growing in popularity which in itself means we have more children in the building and it is a large campus. Breaktime will remain the same with Year 7 and 8 going up to the Beacon Bistro and all the other year groups going down to St Christophers Hall. However, we will be moving to a split lunch as we feel it will be a much better way of students to socialise with their peers in an enjoyable and safe environment. Year 7, 8 and 9 will go down to St Christophers Hall during Lunch A. If it’s dry, they will be expected to go outside to get some fresh air. If it is wet, then Year 8 and 9 will remain seated in St Christophers Hall and Year 7 will move back to their last classroom where they can socialise sensibly.

Year 10, 11, 12 and 13 will go to St Christopher’s Hall during Lunch B. Year 12 and 13 will leave their period 4 lesson 5 minutes early to collect their food before moving to the common room. Year 10 and 11 will then come down to St Christophers Hall. If it is dry, they will be expected to go outside. If it's wet, they will remain in St Christophers Hall. We will be making some improvements to the site over the summer to ensure that the students have opportunities to play sport and run off any excess energy. Students that want to attend a specific extra-curricular club will be issued a corridor pass. This is to minimise disruption to lessons that will be ongoing throughout the day.

A Busy Week for Y10

Thorpe Park trip:

This week we took 40 Y10 students to Thorpe Park to take part in a numeracy workshop and a thrill-seeking day enjoying the rides at the park. The workshop element of the day allowed students to surround themselves in real life mathematics calculations outside of the classroom. This included calculating the average number of rides visitors may complete in a day to the gravitational potential energy of the SAW ride. Year 10 then enjoyed putting the maths into practice by enjoying the rollercoasters and rides on offer. Particular favourites being Swarm and the SAW ride. The students behaved brilliantly and where a real credit to the school. Well done Year 10.

Petroc Trip:

On Thursday, we took nearly 100 Y10 students to Petroc to sample taster courses on offer to students after they have completed their GCSEs. Students had picked their choice of subject before the event. Some of the subjects on offer were: animal care, hair and beauty, hospitability, forensic science, performing arts and mechanics. All students found out about what qualifications they would need to gain access to the courses. They had a tour of the Petroc campus and a presentation on life at Petroc and what opportunities would be available to them. More opportunities will be available to students next academic year to sample post 16 courses and receive further information on our academy sixth form and opportunities at Petroc. Mrs Clarke

Race for Life Events

Our fantastic team of student leaders organised a range of events throughout last week including a mass ‘Race for Life’ event on Killacleave with over 100 students and staff taking part. There were games, quizzes and a bake sale and the week ended with a non-uniform day. The week raised a magnificent grand total of £1,163.60. A huge well done to Mrs Hill and her team.

Sports Day 2022

Sports Day this year has taken place over two weeks. Please see below for a summary of our events by Mrs Norris.

We had an incredible Sports Day Part 1 last week and were blessed with some beautiful weather!

Part 1 consisted of javelin, shot putt, long jump, triple jump, 800m and 1500m. Firstly, we had an excellent number of competitors, which is always lovely to see and so many students willing to step in to cover for absence/injury. Excellent performance was shown and medals were well spread across the year groups with LOADS of athletes getting up on that podium.

Stand out performances came from Mia B in Y7 getting a gold and silver, Grace LJ and Maia C getting 2 silvers. Jackson J bagging 2 golds and 1 silver and for the highly sought-after Victor and Victrix titles, Joe H is currently battling Stan J with Taya B and Beatrice T head to head!

We have had another super busy week with our second half of sports day for our Y7s and 8s. They had a wonderful afternoon up at Killacleave with facepaints, sweets and of course high-quality entertainment and performances!

All houses in all the year groups had a full competitor sign-up sheets and we awarded a record number of medals!

Narrowly missing out of some records were the Y8 girls relay team by half a second and Hele house also just over half a second off. A special mention has to go to Joseph P who performed phenomenally in the high jump. He was amazing not only in his ability but also his courage and confidence of getting the crowd involved getting them to clap and cheer etc. He attempted to break our long-standing school record but just missed out. Hats off to him for incredible performance all round though.

We are excited to see what year 9 and 10 have to offer on their sports day next week.

Mrs Norris

English House Competition

In support of the House re-launch this year, the English Department invited students to get involved in National Wildlife Week and produce either a story or poem from the perspective of an animal. UK gardens are full of wonder. And we wanted to celebrate these ecosystems by highlighting the amazing creatures that live in our gardens by writing about their day-to-day life.

Thank you to everyone who submitted an entry – we really enjoyed reading all about the creatures who inhabit our gardens! The winners are:

1st Place – Alice L 9KLI Hele

2nd Place – Joseph S 8GHI Lee & Maya C 7SLN Lee

3rd Place – Poppy J Hele 8HMu

4th Place – Isabel T 7EEV Capstone & Oli R 9LGW Watersmeet

Congratulations to the winners! Miss Davidson

Upcoming Competitions and Events:

House Reward Film Tuesday 12th July

House Rewards Assembly Thursday 21st July

Year 9- and 10-Sports Day Tuesday 12th July

House Points Update:

Capstone: 4695

Hele: 5000

Lee: 4793

Watersmeet: 4586

On behalf of all the staff at The Ilfracombe Academy, I hope you have a lovely weekend with your family and friends.

Yours Sincerely

Steve Rogers


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