• Rob Whitney

Resilience - Update from Headteacher

Dear Parents and Carers

I’m sure that many of you will have seen that the Government are starting to consider how they will go about reopening schools which could possibly take place from 8th March. However, we’re all now very accustomed to the ‘on the bus: off the bus’ approach that the Government have used over the last year so this will probably be out of date before you’ve had chance to read it. Whilst they have said that schools in regions that have a low infection rate are likely to return to lessons first, we haven’t received any detail at this stage. This is important for all students but especially those in Year 11 and 13 as we move steadily towards the summer term. To that end, we have included a section specially for those year groups later in this letter.

In other news, we held a really successful ‘Remote Learning: Sharing Best Practice’ event for our teaching staff on Monday evening. This allowed each department to share the resources and ideas that they felt were helping to engage their students. The Pastoral and SEND are continuing to support our students both in school and remotely, and our Tutors have also started to contact their tutees by phone once every two or three weeks (depending on the number of students in their tutor group). Hopefully, parents and carers will be able to see that we are doing everything we can keep a link between our staff and our students.

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.

UCAS Deadline

Mr Collins has confirmed that the Year 13s have completed their UCAS University applications and they can now concentrate on completing any work set by their teachers to prepare themselves for any forthcoming assessment. Well done to our Y13 students for submitting these applications in such uncertain times. We are proud of your resilient and positive attitude in planning for your bright futures.

Year 9 Options Reminder

We are excited to launch the remote KS4 options process. This process will support year 9 students in identifying the option subjects that they will study during years 10 and 11. Please watch the virtual presentation from Mr Rogers and Mr Twomey which outlines how this process will run remotely over the next 2 weeks.

This resource along with other resources linked to the remote options process can be found on the school website: https://www.ilfracombeacademy.org.uk/yr9options

Overview of key dates:

· Wednesday 27th January – remote options assembly (Mr Rogers and Mr Twomey)

· Thursday 28th January – option subject videos available via the school website

· Monday 1st February – year 9 parents evening (we would encourage you to discuss options with staff on this evening)

· Monday 1st February – Mr Law and Mr Twomey available for parents evening appointments should you wish to raise questions specifically about the options process

· Monday 1st February until Friday 5th February – options subject videos included in remote learning lessons set by teachers

· Monday 8th February – online options form link available via the school website and shared via Classcharts and WEDUC

· Friday 12th February – deadline for the completion of online options forms

We hope that the resources and support outlined will provide students with the guidance that they need to make these important decisions. If you have questions relating to certain subjects, please email your teacher of this subject. If you have questions about the options guidance or process you can make an appointment with Mr Law or Mr Twomey on the upcoming parents’ evening or email us with your question.

Safeguarding – Remote Learning and Online Safety

We understand that juggling the commitments of remote learning and work within your household will be a challenge and that the internet is a vital tool in this. Please keep in mind the internet can be a risk for young people.

Thinkuknow is the national online safety education programme from CEOP, the online child protection command of the National Crime Agency. They have put together a brilliant range of resources to support families with safe internet use. Please follow the link for a range of short informative video clips. Also attached is their “8 steps to keep your child safe online this month”. Online safety home activity worksheets (thinkuknow.co.uk)

If you have any safeguarding concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Academy’s safeguarding team or the police. We can be contacted on the following email address or the school’s usual phone number: safeguarding@ilfracombeacademy.org.uk

Year 11 & 13 Mock/Formal Assessments

The Government have started to make some suggestions that regions with low rates of infection could potentially see students coming back to school from 8th March. Fortunately, we are all aware that North Devon does have a low infection rate and so we are assuming that we could well be one of the first schools to bring more students back into school. We mentioned in a previous letter that we are keen for our Year 11 and 13 students to complete some formal assessments on their return to school. This will help our staff further broaden their evidence base in order to make a rounded and balanced judgement on students’ performance. With this in mind, we would really encourage our Y11 and Y13 students to continue to engage with remote learning and show their resilience at this time.

With potentially more students coming in to school, we would like again to ask parents/carers to complete the updated LFD testing consent form if they haven’t already. This will need to be completed even if the initial consent form was completed as that was

produced during the Christmas holidays when we were trying to coordinate the potential of testing students in the first week. Please see the consent form below.

NHS Test and Trace consent form for COVID-19 testing (office.com)

Immunisations Completed

A number of our Year 9 and 10 students came into school for their immunisations this week. We were pleased to see them, albeit briefly, in school. The Immunisation team have confirmed that they will arrange a catch up session at some point for those students that did not come in.

Student Feedback

Many thanks to those students that have so far responded to the questionnaire that was posted on the announcements section of ClassCharts and which asked for feedback about their remote learning. To ensure that as many students respond to this, we have also posted this as homework and we ask that all students in years 7 to 11 complete this by Tuesday 2nd February. There will be a VI Form student voice questionnaire which will be available next week.

In terms of the feedback from years 7 to 11, we can see that there have been many positive comments about what we are providing and how hard many students are working to ensure that they continue their studies during this difficult period. There is also some feedback which we will use to review our provision and to identify where there many need to be some support for students. Some positive feedback we have received includes the following comments:

  • Teachers are explaining everything clearly and are always setting extension tasks.

  • The video lessons are extremely helpful. I feel in control of my learning.

Rapid Lateral Flow Device Testing Update

We are continuing to test both our staff and students with parental consent. We’re happy to announce that everyone tested negative again this week which is certainly reassuring. A reminder that following the latest DfE & PHE guidance that as of Monday 25th January, a positive LFD test from any assisted test site (which includes secondary schools) triggers the legal duty to self-isolate. The staff member or student will not need to book a confirmatory PCR test. The reason for this change of advice from PHE is because as the prevalence of the virus rises, the predictiveness of LFDs increases and the proportion of false positives decreases. They are also concerned about delays in the start of contact tracing while awaiting a confirmatory PCR test when the prevalence of the virus is so high. This is particularly an issue for community testing where individuals may delay or not get a confirmatory PCR test.

Consent Form Update.

However, as a school we still want to be as prepared as we can as the Government are likely to go back to their original plan of using LFD testing once the virus R Rate starts to come back down again. Since we sent out our original consent form to you, updated guidance has come to us and we must, regrettably, ask you complete the new form. We apologise for any inconvenience caused but we have been informed that we require further information from you.

NHS Test and Trace consent form for COVID-19 testing (office.com)

We would encourage parents and students to give consent as we feel this is a way of keeping everyone in school as safe as we possibly can.

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 her at The Ilfracombe Academy. https://youtu.be/gv5ySYexJ94

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.

DfE Guidance

Parents and Carers please see the latest DfE guidance for schools https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak

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.

Friday 12th February – normal working day

Just a reminder that Friday 12th February will be a normal working day as the non-pupil day was commuted to Friday 18th December. Commuting the days allowed the school to close one day early for Christmas, in line with DfE guidance at the time.

Term Dates 2021-22 – now available

The term dates for the academic year 2021-22 are now published on our school website under the Calendar tab.

I hope all our students and their families enjoy the weekend.

Yours sincerely

Steve Rogers


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