Headteacher's Blog 06.09.17

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Dear Parent /Carer

Welcome to the new term. I hope that every family who was able to have a break together feels really refreshed. It has been lovely to see everyone again as we have got into the new term.

Over the summer, we were able to congratulate our outgoing Y11 and Y13 students for some excellent exam results with which they were justifiably proud. All our students can take with them the many achievements and wider development that has been part of their time to date at Notre Dame, building on the successes and learning from the disappointments. We wish our outgoing Y13 every best wish as they start the next step of their lives. For those outgoing Y11 who are moving to new pastures too, we wish them all the best and thank them for all they gave to our community.

Of course the majority of our outgoing Y11 are now back with us, beginning their A level study. They join many students who have come to our 6th form having attended other schools up to Y11 and we extend the very warmest welcome to those students and their families.

We welcome too our new Y7 students, who have made a great start to their time at Notre Dame. It was wonderful to see them looking so smart, keen and ready for High School.  

This week we are having our welcome services during form time. The focus of the services is the Notre Dame Hallmark which we are focusing on this year. For those of you who are new to the community, there are seven Hallmarks of the worldwide Notre Dame community which set out the values and actions we try to put into practice. This year’s focus is the Hallmark which is about creating community. We are inviting all students and staff to think about what it means for us if we are to create a really loving community, what it is to be a true neighbour to everyone.

You will see from the ‘dates for your diary’ below that we have our Parents’ information evenings coming up over the next couple of weeks. Attendance is always fantastic at these evenings, and the ‘normal’ parents’ evenings that will come later in the year and we are grateful as a school for that. The information evenings will feature presentations from the Heads of Year, summarising the key things that will be important during the coming year. There will also be workshops, appropriate to the age of your children, covering things from advice on how to support your child with their studies through to tips on good mental health strategies for young people and what you might need to know as a parent to help keep your children safe online and out and about. The aim of these evenings is to provide information that we hope is helpful to you from teachers and other professionals who have a great deal of experience of working with young people as they move into and through their teenage years. On a practical note for these evenings, parking will be available on the school yard, which is accessible by the main gate and down the main drive.

While on the subject of things that may be helpful in supporting us as parents, I have attached to this blog a poster which has been distributed through all schools, outlining some new parenting forums which are being set up in the city. We all know that being a parent can be challenging at times and it is good to know where support is available.

Before I conclude the Blog, I must say a few words about the buses. When we discovered just after Easter that the Bright Bus company was going to cease to operate from September, we faced the possibility of having no direct buses to or from Notre Dame. As I noted before the summer, we are very pleased that we have got some form of replacement for all services. Nevertheless, we are acutely aware that for some of our children, particularly some from communities to the North of Sheffield, are facing some challenges both with relying on connections and also with very busy buses. We absolutely understand the concern and frustration of those families affected and I can assure you that we continue to work hard at school to find solutions with First Mainline and with South Yorkshire Transport Executive.

Some of the frustration has been added to by what appears to be a misunderstanding about the change in buses. I must clarify that there is not and never has been a contract either between Notre Dame and a bus company, or the city council and the bus companies that provide school bus routes.

This means that we had no control over Bright Bus decision to cease operating, nor do we have any control over what services First Mainline operate.

That being said, of course we want all of our students to be able to get to and from school safely and as quickly as possible and we understand the challenges of balancing work and family life. SYPTE share this aim and First Mainline are of course keen to encourage young people to use the bus service, not least because that is their business.

As noted, colleagues at Notre Dame continue to work very hard, passing on concerns to SYPTE and First Mainline and trying to find solutions. I must also add that we have found both SYPTE and First Mainline very responsive to us and I believe that they are doing their best to find a good solution not just for Notre Dame, but for the 15000 young people who travel by bus to and from schools across the whole of South Yorkshire. As I write, we have organised another meeting tomorrow with SYPTE where we are reviewing the things that are working and the things that are not after the first two days back at school. We will keep you informed with our progress.

Please do continue to give us feedback as you have been doing. I would thank you and ask too for your continued understanding that colleagues at Notre Dame are doing all that they can to resolve the problems that we know some students are facing. I would particularly like to thank Mr Scriven and Mrs Vivian for the huge effort they are putting into this.

On a final, practical note on the buses, Mrs Vivian’s work mobile number is on the website and I have copied it below. She does encourage students to contact her directly in the morning or evening if there is a problem on the bus, or if a bus has not arrived at a stop. If she knows about it, she can try to resolve the problem.

Mrs Vivian:  07585512741

Dates for the diary

Wednesday 13th September – Y7 & Y8 Parents’ Information Evening 4.45pm – 7pm

Wednesday 13th September – Battlefields Trip Parents’ Evening 7pm – 8pm

Thursday 14th September – Y8 & Y9 Parents’ Information Evening 4.45pm – 7pm

Tuesday 19th September – Y12 Parents’ Information Evening 5.30pm

Wednesday 20th September – Y11 Parents’ Information Evening 6.00pm

Friday 22nd September – Monday 25th September – Battlefields Trip

Tuesday 26th September – Training Day – School closed to students

Tuesday 26th September – Y6 Open Evening 5.30pm – 7.30pm

Friday 29th September – Monday 2nd October – Battlefields Trip

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