Unprecedented Times - Letter from the Headteacher
Dear Parents and Carers,
It’s been another week of extremes with a series of really popular and positive Sports Relief events alongside some excellent feedback from both our School Improvement Partner and the Regional Schools Commissioner about the things we are doing in school. Unfortunately, this was once again set against a backdrop of increasing Covid cases amongst our staff. At the time of writing, we currently have 10 staff members that are Covid positive with a further 10 staff absent with seasonal illness or long-term sickness. I mentioned this week that we have been managing these staff absences through the effective use of Cover Supervisors who are specifically employed to cover teachers who are absent. We have also managed to use a number of agency cover/supply teachers for a considerable amount of time to help the school run as normally as possible. However, these options are now exhausted. This meant, that like a number of other schools, we were forced to take the difficult decision to send Year 10 students home for two days to access remote education. Staffing continues to be an issue and we have put a plan in place until our staffing levels increase (please see below).
Please see below for some further details in preparation for the week beginning Monday 21st March.
Once again, a huge thank you to Mrs Hill and her team of trusty young leaders who put together some great fun events this week including 10,000 Step Challenge, Hula Hoop Challenge, Penalty Shootout, Staff Vs Students Wacky Races and Non-Uniform Day. Students and staff also came to school in Blue and Yellow rather than the traditional red to support the people of Ukraine.
Everyone had a great time and we’ll report back to you about the money that was raised next week. A special mention to Mr Alvarez who had his long flowing locks shaved off for charity today. This was not only very funny but was also raised lots of money.
Year 12 UCAS Trip – Westpoint, Exeter
The whole of Year 12 travelled down to Westpoint in Exeter for the UCAS exhibition this Thursday. The UCAS exhibition allows students to meet representatives from every University and Further College in the UK to help them explore their next steps. Alongside all the stalls there were various talks available for students including how to apply to university, student finance and getting into Oxbridge. More excitingly, students were able to accumulate an impressive stash of free merchandise including pens, pencils, bags and water bottles! The students found the trip interesting and informative. As always, they proved to be excellent ambassadors for our school.
This week Mr Vale, Mrs Fishenden and I had the pleasure of taking a group of Y9 and Y10 students to the Queens Theatre in Barnstaple to see a matinee performance of the renowned West End musical, ‘Blood Brothers’.
It was a fantastic afternoon, not just because it’s such a great show but because our students were a credit to the school clearly demonstrating our school values throughout the trip. They were kind to one another and respectful towards members of the public who were also in the matinee audience.
The show was moving and entertaining in equal measure, with moments of compassion, genuine humour and absolute ‘edge of your seat’ tension. It was no surprise that it had a standing ovation with a few students leaving the auditorium in tears! Ours held their composure very well it has to be said and talked about the different elements of the show they found most moving/effective both in the interval and afterwards. From a Drama teaching perspective, it was fantastic to hear them sharing their views as they left the theatre to get on the coach.
A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. Well done to all those Year 9 and Y10 students who came on the trip, you showed how responsible young people can be.
Final Reminder - Romeo & Juliet Reminder - 24th and 25th March
As you know, due to storm Eunice safety concerns, Stage Right's performance of Romeo & Juliet has now been re-arranged to 24th & 25th March. The performance takes place at 6pm in St Christopher's Hall and all originally purchased tickets will carry over. There are still some tickets available on the door and you can ring the office to reserve these (£12 for adults and £6 for students). We are performing the unabridged, full Shakespeare text and the lead roles range from Year 9-13. The students have worked incredibly hard throughout a rehearsal process highly affected by Covid-19 and they are all really proud of what they have achieved. For updates and information please contact Mr Vale or follow Stage Right on socials (FB & Instagram). We look forward to the students showcasing their amazing talents again and urge anyone to purchase a ticket if they haven’t already done so.
Year 7 Rugby – North Devon ‘Waterfall’ Tournament
The Year 7 rugby squads’ effort in previous league games meant they entered into the ‘Shield’ competition held at Park School on Tuesday night. The boys continued their impressive development and came out all guns firing in the first game to beat Pilton 45-15. Tries were shared around throughout the team with a number of superb whole team efforts. The boys support play and rucking in this game and throughout the tournament was a real strength.
The 2nd game the boys came up against a strong Braunton side and in a close game they lost 15-5, in a game that could have gone either way.
The 3rd and last game of the evening came against a powerful Bideford side who include several strong individuals. However, through great defensive efforts and strong attacking Ilfracombe came away from a 50-5 victory, playing some of their best rugby of the season.
Tackle of the day went to Harry W for two tremendous and textbook try saving tackles. Man of the Match was Baen T who was tenacious throughout and managed to score his first try in an Ilfracombe shirt.
This rounded of an excellent first season for this team who with continued commitment to each other and training will only go from strength to strength.
Well done boys.
Covid 19 Plan
In order to run the school safely we will unfortunately have to send year groups home on a rotational basis. We will still invite some students in that are vulnerable. Please see the plan below:
Year Group Rotational Plan
Monday 21st & Tuesday 22nd March
Wednesday 23rd & Thursday 24th March
Remote learning tasks will be set each day on ClassCharts and students are expected to complete this work. In the event that there is an issue with internet connection, students need to complete revision work using their knowledge organiser.
We will review the staffing situation on Wednesday 23rd March to see if we need to further action beyond the days lists above. We will only complete/action the entire plan if needed and will communicate the rotation to parents and carers each time. In the event of staffing levels increasing, we will call a year group back in. We realise that this is a huge inconvenience to students, parents and carers but we really don’t have any other option open to us at this stage.
Covid 19 - What are we already doing?
Students and staff who have tested positive are staying at home and will return to the setting once they are well and have completed the recommended isolation period.
Outbreak control measures are also being stepped up in school which will come into effect from Thursday 17th March:
We strongly recommend that face coverings should be worn by all staff and students on the corridors and social spaces unless they are exempt
Assemblies in St Christopher’s Hall will be suspended and move to remote videos in tutor rooms
Face coverings are strongly recommended on school transport to and from school
Hand sanitising before and after each lesson
Enhanced cleaning in school of regular touch points
Staff given the option to work from their ‘Teacher Box’
Ventilation maximised with classroom doors and windows being open
Mechanical ventilation units continue to operate at maximum capacity
Students and staff should continue to LFD test on Sunday and Wednesday each week. We have been informed that we will not be issued any further LFD tests but we will of course challenge this point with Devon County and PHE.
We hope that everyone has a nice weekend with their family and friends.
Please see some ongoing Covid advice.
Face Coverings Update
We strongly recommend that students and staff wear face coverings in school. Face coverings at this time will be available from the front of school on arrival or from Student Services but we would prefer it if students could bring their own to school as the ones we issue are very expensive.
If someone develops symptoms or has a positive test result the guidance still advises people to stay at home to avoid passing the infection on to others. There is no longer a legal requirement for people with COVID-19 to isolate BUT public health guidance STILL advises people to stay home for 10 days (or until have 2 negative LFDs on consecutive days from day 5).
Are no longer required to self-isolate or advised to take daily tests and contact tracing has ended.Routine contact tracing (provided by NHS Test and Trace) has now ended, and close contacts will no longer be required to self-isolate or advised to take daily LFD tests. People with COVID-19 will be encouraged to inform their close contacts, household and overnight contacts who are advised to take additional precautions for 10 days.
Students who are unwell should not attend the setting and should remain at home until their acute symptoms resolve (+24 hours for a fever).
• IF these symptoms develop into cough, temperature, changes to taste and smell, should isolate and test.
• IF test negative to COVID-19, still need to remain at home until at least 24 fever free and acute symptoms resolved.
Parents and settings should not try and ‘second guess’ diagnosis – if have the key symptoms, isolate and test.
PCR testing is still currently available for anyone with Covid-19 symptoms.
Regular asymptomatic testing of staff and pupils in mainstream secondary schools will not be expected to continue. Any outstanding test orders to school from the DfE will now not be delivered.
In the event of an outbreak, a school may also be advised by their local health team or director of public health to undertake testing for staff and students of secondary age and above for a period of time. This would only be as an exceptional measure and any tests schools have currently should be kept in case, they are needed for this. If schools do not have tests available, they will be able to be ordered from the DfE for use if in response to an outbreak.
As ever we’ll keep an eye on the guidance and communicate any key points to you.