Reopening of school from 8th March
Dear Parents and Carers
Like you all, on Monday we were all hanging on every word as the Prime Minister addressed the nation to inform us of his latest roadmap out of Lockdown 3.0. Once again, like you, we were delighted to see that we will be able to welcome back all of our students in a staggered approach from 8th March. We have now received a huge amount of DfE guidance that we have absorbed in order to formulate our latest plan. You can see full details of this below.
We have also finally received some further clarification and guidance from The Education Secretary and Ofqual about how assessments will be carried out for our Year 11 and 13 students. Once again, the details of how we will implement that guidance is below.
Finally, you’ll be aware that we have been conducting a consultation about the recommended restructure of the week from September and we thank all parents and carers for expressing their views. We will be offering a live Q&A session on Wednesday 3rd March to clarify any queries that parents might have. We have also offered some responses below to points already raised.
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 again next week.
World Book Day – it May Be Virtual but it’s Still All About the Books!
We have lots of activities for everyone to enjoy next week.
· Listen to your teachers read their favourite books
· Sign up for a Scholastic Live Lesson (see the Academy’s social media for details)
· Re-create amazing book covers in your Art lessons (Y7 & Y8)
· Discover which quotations from books have inspired your teachers
· KS3 and staff Toilet Roll Competition. Decorate a toilet roll with a scene or character from your favourite book and email photo entries to Mrs Lamerton at firstname.lastname@example.org
· And. . . DO NOT MISS. . .(Almost) Live on social media near you. The Ilfracombe Academy’s answer to the ‘The Masked Singer’ – ‘The Masked Reader’! Videos will be released each day Monday to Thursday. All you need to do is guess the mystery reader and complete the MS Forms quiz released on Thursday. Don’t forget the ‘Grand Reveal’ on Friday!
Reopening of School – Staggered Start from 8th March
The school will be taking up the DfE’s offer of a staggered return to allow us to complete the three LFD tests for each member of our community that has consent to be tested. We will bring the whole school in gradually over the first three days from 8th to 10th March. Please see below for the start day/date for your child.
Monday 8th March
Tuesday 9th March
Wednesday 10th March
Important Health & Safety Considerations
· All students must wear a face covering on arrival at school unless they are exempt
· All students must wear a face covering on dedicated/service transport unless they are exempt
· All students must hand sanitise as they enter the school building
· All students must go straight to their Tutor Room on arrival at school
· The DfE have also suggested that students should wear their face coverings in the classroom and any social area such as corridors until we break up on 1st April for the Easter holidays
· Due to this updated guidance from the DfE, staff and students will also be expected to wear face coverings in any space where social distancing can’t be guaranteed including classrooms unless someone is exempt.
Return Structure of the Day
To safely facilitate the safe return to school including the administration of 3 LFD tests per student and staff member, we need to make an adaptation to the structure of the school day between Monday 8th and Thursday 18th March. Essentially, the only major change is that we will need to move the first break of the day from Period 2 to 3. This will only be for two weeks and will allow us to conduct all our LFD testing per day before any social period. This will significantly reduce any potential risk of transmission. Please see the details below:
8th March – Structure of the school day after considering the latest DfE Guidance
The students that have consent to be tested will be chaperoned down to the testing centre located in the school Sports Hall for the first two weeks to give us the space needed to conduct the testing in safe, socially distanced environment.
Vulnerable & Keyworker Children LFD Testing
The majority of our students that have been regularly accessing face to face teaching in school have already been having LFD tests. The staggered start to the reopening of the school does cause a complication for this group but we have a plan that will still allow them to receive their tests in line with the rest of their year group.
All V/KW students that are in Years 9, 10 or 11 on either Thursday 4th or Friday 5th March will be able to receive their test and then fit smoothly into the testing rota with the rest of their year group the following week. However, this is not the case for Years 7 and 8 as the first day of mass testing day for their years groups is on Wednesday 10th March. We would therefore like any V/KW children that do not normally come into school on Fridays to do so. These children would not be expected to stay in school that day and could go home straight after the test but the option of an extra day in school is also available.
Parental Consent for their Child to have LFD Tests
We would like to thank all those parents and carers that have given their consent for their child to have LFD tests and we are really pleased to have over 70% consent at this stage. We’re especially thankful to those parents that have filled out a second consent form since we received updated guidance. It goes without saying that the more parental consent, the more opportunity we have of keeping everyone safe in our school. However, we do understand that the testing can be a challenge for some children and we’re more than happy to speak to any parents that have concerns about the process.
Please follow the link below to complete the revised consent form.
We appreciate there is some concern surrounding testing and we have worked hard to convey the process this will involve. Please see the attached video link to see how we conduct the process here at The Ilfracombe Academy. https://youtu.be/gv5ySYexJ94
Year 11 & 13 Mock/Formal Assessments
Parents and Carers were informed on 5th January that students would sit their mock examinations two weeks after our return to school. The students’ mocks will take place between 22nd March and 1st April. These mock papers will be composed of questions which relate to content which was taught during face to face teaching between September 2019 and March 2020 and between September and December 2020. These mocks will form part of the overall picture for each student’s progress but will not be the only source of evidence that will be used to inform the Teachers Assessed Grades (TAGs) which students will receive this summer.
We are confident, following internal checks conducted throughout the most recent lockdown, that the remote work set for Year 11 and 13 students (and other students due to be examined this year) has been specifically focused on preparing students for these planned mock assessments. Furthermore, during the fortnight running up to the mock examinations, teachers will deliver face to face lessons which will consolidate the extensive revision that has been covered within the remote learning set during the most recent lockdown. To further support the students in preparation for the mocks, we will be arranging a further release of revision materials and guidance documents. These documents will support students in their revision enabling them to identify areas of weakness, or topics which they need to revise, as a result of any school absence during the identified periods of face to face teaching.
We are committed as a school to implementing a second assessment opportunity for students. Any assessment used to inform teacher assessed grades needs to be completed, marked and moderated in advance of the deadline for entering teacher assessed grades which is 18th June. Subsequently, we have scheduled these assessments to take place between 17th and 21st May. During this second assessment the school intends utilising the DfE mini assessments that will be produced by the examination boards later in the spring. We have been informed that staff can adapt the mini assessments by extracting any questions that have not been taught to their classes. The students will not be disadvantaged by being set questions on any content they have not covered with their teachers. Once again, the students will be issued with topic lists which will inform their revision for these assessments. We feel it is important to ensure that there is sufficient face to face teaching time between these two keys assessments. This is required ensure that students can work with their teachers to increase their chances of academic success within the second planned assessment.
The school will follow DfE guidelines relation to the awarding of teacher assessed grades this summer. A moderated process, informed by a range of available data (including, but not limited to; in class performance, coursework marks, classroom tests, mock examination grades, mini assessment grades) will be used to award students with their teacher assessed grades.
Assessment Summer and Next Steps
Further Reminder of Next Steps
Year 11 On-going Assessment and Applications to Sixth Form or Petroc
Students have been applying to the Ilfracombe Sixth Form and Petroc and will be called for remote interviews over the coming months. During those interviews, you will have a discussion about your current progress, what courses you would like to follow and whether you are likely to achieve the entry requirements.
The most recent data shared with students and parents was the Progress Point 1 data (October 2020). This progress data was a reflection of students’ current grade at this time following the national lockdown between March and August 2020. Year 11 students attended school between September and December 2020 and they would have sat mock examinations starting the week beginning 18th January 2021. These examinations would have informed their latest progress point data. You will note from the letter sent to you on 8th January informing you of the school’s intention to hold mock examinations two weeks after the students return to school following the current lockdown.
If you are planning to apply to The Ilfracombe Academy Sixth Form
The post-16 interviews at The Ilfracombe Academy are due to start after February half-term and the available data will be used to inform discussions regarding students’ suitability for courses and course selection.
If you are planning to apply to Petroc or other Further Education or sixth form providers
With regard to students applying to other colleges or sixth forms and requiring indications of grades, we are advising students and their parents/carers to record their Progress Point 1 information alongside a consideration of the progress they feel they have made since this information was shared. This will mean that any grades your child shares with other institutions will be their own self-assessed grades, based on their previous assessment in school, and adjusted according to what they believe they are currently demonstrating or will most likely achieve in the summer. We advise students not to over-exaggerate their grades since this may restrict their entry onto their course of choice if these grades are not achieved.
This proposed model will be shared with the Admissions Team at Petroc College explaining the context of the Progress Point 1 data for students at The Ilfracombe Academy.
Year 13 On-going Assessment and Applications to University
Given the current uncertainty, we are conscious that many of our students in the Sixth Form may have questions about their current progress and how it might inform their next steps
The most recent data shared with students and parents was the Progress Point 1 data (October 2020). This progress data was a reflection of students’ current grade at this time following the national lockdown between March and August 2020. Year 13 students attended school between September and December 2020 and they would have sat mock examinations starting the week beginning 18th January 2021. These examinations would have informed their latest progress point data. You will note from the from the letter sent to you on the 8th January informing you of the school’s intention to hold mock examinations two weeks after the students return to school following the current lockdown.
The consultation across England on how Year 13 should be assessed this year ended last week. We expect the final guidance to be issued to schools after the half-term break. It is likely that schools will be awarding centre-assessed grades again this summer. We are conscious of the Ofqual guidance last summer and the importance of confidentiality to support the integrity of the process. For this reason, we will be asking staff not to provide students or parents with specific grades in the form of a progress point.
For students applying to university the process currently remains the same as normal. The UCAS application deadline was last Friday (29th January) and all applications were submitted with predicted grades just like any other year. These predicted grades were based on teacher judgments and evidence of students work throughout year 12 and up until the end of the Autumn term. In other words, the UCAS predicted grades were not affected by the latest ongoing lockdown. Hopefully, the vast majority of students have already heard back from the universities that they have applied to but please be aware that some universities may not respond until late March (and that the absolute deadline for receiving a reply from universities is 5th May).
Recommended restructure of the week
We have been delighted by the numbers of responses to the MS Forms allowing parents to share their views and questions that they wanted us to clarify. We will be offering a live Q&A session on Wednesday 3rd March. This session will give SLT the opportunity to provide further clarity on the recommended restructure. However, in the meantime please note some initial responses to questions raised.
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 2.45pm 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 socialising with their peers. We initially planned to create a split break where half of the students would have their break ensuring swift movement through the canteen so that students are able to socialise with friends. 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. This means 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 about 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 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; 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 support students to catch up for lost time in school. This is a long-term strategy that we firmly believe will give your children an enhanced support package that will, over time, allow them to utilise the same 25 lessons of high quality face to face teaching across in conjunction with a better support process. Thus making them better independent learners which 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 be able to access 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 as normal.
The recommended end to the day will be 2.45pm and the buses will leave the school campus at 2.55pm. 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 who 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 ben completed on a particular day. However, its important that they understand that once they have signed out of the site they will not be able to return on the same 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 allow our students to be better prepared to become fully fledged independent learners by the time they reach 6th Form.
DFE Guidance – Supporting Mental Health in the current Pandemic
What should I do if my child tests positive for Covid 19 at home?
If your child tests positive for C19 whilst at home and is currently not attending school, please can you still report this to the school as we need to submit this information in our daily Government reporting numbers.
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 weekend.