Headteacher's Blog 08.05.18

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Dear Parent/ Carer

Each year we choose one of the Hallmarks of Notre Dame as a particular focus. This year, it is the turn of community. Of course, community is built by all the little actions and decisions that happen throughout everyday life, but there are also some events and actions that make community obvious and help to strengthen it. As I look back on the last couple of weeks and ahead to the coming week, it is particularly easy to see expressions of our Notre Dame community.

Many of you were gathered in the Sports Hall just under two weeks ago to see the first Dance show, put on by our thriving Dance club. Led by the energy and commitment of Miss Wildes, the students gave us a truly joyful evening. Their creativity, talent and support for one another was so clear throughout the whole evening.

Over the weekend following the dance show, it felt like there was hardly a student or member of staff who wasn’t doing something related to school! Many of our students were out on a DofE expedition, working together and enduring the bitter cold that is already almost hard to remember as I write on such a sunny warm day. As always, there was no shortage of offers of help from members of staff, giving their time to help Mr Pickup and Ms Nicholls support the students. At the same time, members of staff and students were away on a football trip while others were enjoying great success competing at the Sheffield Schools Trampoline competition.

While all this was going on, that same Saturday the school was open and various members of staff were there to welcome former students and members of staff on our annual Alumni morning. There was a great turn out and Mrs Willis returned to give a talk which covered some of her own experience of the Notre Dame community and some great nuggets she had discovered in the school archive. These mornings are always such a joy, hearing stories from various points in the school’s history, but most of all, seeing the strong bond of friendship that exists between former students and members of staff. We are blessed to be part of a special worldwide community with such a rich tradition.

During the alumni morning, the president of the Notre Dame Federation made an appeal to see if there would be interest in re-starting a Sheffield Notre Dame Association and I am delighted to say that a number of people came forward, keen to do just that. For anyone reading who is a past student, member of staff, or who knows someone who may be interested please watch this space as we will publicise any planned activity of a Sheffield Notre Dame Association in this Blog and on our website.

Looking ahead, we have a week of important community events coming up. We celebrate St Julie’s day this week and will be marking the life and inspiration of our founder with Mass on Tuesday and a range of things happening on Friday, including an own clothes day, ice cream and bungee run, all to help us enjoy our time together. On Friday evening, that celebration will continue with parents as we gather to enjoy the Friends of Notre Dame Ceilidh. This is a first and is happening as something a bit different to our regular Spring Ball, which will return next year at the City Hall for our centenary celebrations.

If you intend to come to the Ceilidh but haven’t ordered tickets yet, there are still some left, but please do get in touch with Mrs Wright as soon as possible. (awright@notredame-high.co.uk)

In this celebration of community, the last word goes to our Y11 students who will be marking the final week together as a year group before their exams start. They will gather for Mass on Wednesday and then there will be a number of things happening on Friday, coinciding with our St Julie’s celebrations, culminating in a farewell assembly. There is always a wonderful atmosphere and I expect this year to be no different, as our students take the time to mark their friendships and a big milestone in their lives. I wish all of our Y11s a really joyful week and pray that it sets you up well, not just for your exams, but for the next chapter in your life. You should know that you are a unique part of the story of a worldwide community and I pray that the things you have experienced and learned will be a strong foundation for your next steps.

God Bless

Mr Davies

Dates for the diary

Spring Ceilidh;                                             Friday 11th May 7pm at Notre Dame

Last day before half term break;                Friday 25th May

First day back after half term break;          Monday 4th June

Summer Festival including

Summer showcase and art exhibition;      Thursday 28th June 5pm at Notre Dame

INSET Day;                                                    Friday 29th June

Y6 parents’ induction evening                    Wednesday 4th July

Sports Presentation Evening                      Thursday 5th July

Last day of summer term                             Friday 20th July

Some things going on in school in the coming weeks

Y11 leavers’ mass;                                       Wednesday 9th May

Last day of normal timetable for Y11;        Friday 11th May

St Julie’s Day;                                               Friday 11th May (Own Clothes Day)

GCSE exams begin;                                     Monday 14th May

Y13 leaving day;                                           Friday 25th May

A Level exams begin*                                  Monday 4th June

GCSE & A Level Exams end;                      Friday 29th June

*Please note, there will be some examinations before this point, but this marks the start of the main A Level exam period.


Chemistry and Physics


Year 7 students are studying heating and cooling in physics and mixtures and compounds in chemistry. Y8 are studying waves and fundamentals of chemistry, which has lots of practicals, looking at the reactions of acids and metals. They should all be experts on rust prevention by the end of the topic!


We follow the AQA GCSE specification – if you are planning on buying a revision guide please make sure it is for the new 2016 specifications (it should have 9-1 on the front of it).  Check with your child’s class teacher if you’re not too sure.

Our Year 11s are in their final week before the exams start, so have been focusing on high quality revision – use questions to find out what you don’t know, do an activity to help you understand that topic, then do more questions to test if you do know now! Parents of Y11 can help by offering to test students on key equations and definitions… what is the difference between pure water and potable water? We also have drop in sessions – Chemistry is on a Monday in Lab 3. Physics on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Y9s are currently studying forces and structure and bonding – what holds substances together? This will all be covered on their GCSE exam, so learning it well first time makes revision easier in Y11.

Y10s are studying electromagnetism and ‘Earth’s resources’. They will also have a mock after half term, for each of biology, chemistry and physics on the topics that they covered between the start of y9 and Easter of y10. There will be some revision time in lessons, but students who have finished their short fat GCSE can get a head start on revision for all their Y10 mocks.

A level:

We study the OCR B (Salters) Chemistry syllabus and Edexcel physics syllabus, which are heavily context driven, with a helical design, where topics are introduced then reinforced later.

Y12s are preparing for their progression exams, which cover the same content as an AS level.

Our Y13 are in deep revision mode, having completed their required practicals. There are chemistry drop in sessions on Tuesday and Friday lunchtimes, but we have 6 chemistry teachers, all teaching A level, if you are stuck, ask one of us. Look out for physics posters for their Tuesday and Thursday revision sessions.


CERN trip for A level Physics students during the Easter holiday, saw 36 students travelling to Geneva, visiting the CERN assembly area, control room and canteen. They also saw a simulation of the experiment, part of a collaboration with ISS. Students also enjoyed a meander through Geneva’s old town and a cruise on Lake Geneva.

STEM club are currently constructing products made from waste plastic, to encourage responsible recycling. This is for the Big Bang competition later in the year. We have 4 teams from year 7, year 8, year 9 and year 10, who will be competing for the best product. So far we have a part built water wheel, a bird feeder, a pump and a water collector.

Engineering trip – Institute of Civil Engineers, Yorkshire and Humber Inspire competition, came 3rd in the final, after getting shortlisted from all the entrants, Thank you to Miss Gomes and Dr Williams for supporting the trip and well done to Mia Hatton, Osheni Dawatage, Eleni Taylor and Clara Loughran.

RSC Top of the Bench is a chemistry quiz developing students’ knowledge of content within and beyond the syllabus and their ability to work as a team in a practical and theoretical context. We had compliments from the organisers of the Sheffield heat on how well our team worked together, with all 4 offering contributions. We qualified for the final by winning the local heat for the second year running, however sadly the final at the University of Birmingham was cancelled due to snow. Well done to Isobel Hatton, Eva Charles, Luke Hopkins and Luca Walton Ryan, particularly Isobel who dashed off to reach school in time for a speaking role in the school play.

Y12 trip to Sheffield University for a talk by Professor Tony Ryan on ‘What does sustainable mean for chemistry & materials?’ The talk was followed by a tour of the Chemistry department which provided the students with first-hand experience of how undergraduate students carry out experiments, as well as looking at how the analytical techniques covered at A-Level are actually used.

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