Head Teacher’s Blog 14th October 2019
Once again this October we will be marking Black History Month. One of the ways we will do this is through resources prepared by a range of staff and students which introduce us to the lives of some people whose contribution to history may not have been recognised or celebrated or who may have made a great difference in the face of discrimination or other forms of adversity. As we come toward the end of the month, we will turn our attention to reflect on our school ethos and take time to recognise and be thankful for the great goodness and opportunity that comes from the diversity of our own community. I hope that the students will be going home and sharing something of what they are doing with you.
This theme fitted perfectly with this year’s Notre Dame Conference where staff from the UK Notre Dame schools gather each year with several sisters of Notre Dame to recommit to the particular Notre Dame mission. This year’s theme was focusing on the goodness in our schools and helping the students to do the same. Ms Gennard, who joined us at this year’s conference, has kindly shared a bit about her experience and some of the goodness she has seen back in school since her return.
After attending the Notre Dame Schools conference in Wigan I returned to school full of excitement as we had spent 2 days focusing on going for goodness. It was a privilege to spend time with the Sisters of Notre Dame and learn about their vocations, many of whom spoke of being inspired by Sisters that they had met during their lives.
These themes of goodness and inspiration continued into Wednesday as I returned to the classroom. Year 10 had been set a piece of homework that required them to be creative. The only instruction was whatever they created had to reflect what they had learnt over the last 5 weeks. Please bear in mind that unlike God, Year 10 had only 5 days to create and are lacking in omnipotence.
Imagine my delight when 31 pupils came into my room with an array of wonderful creations. 7 cakes were produced which reflected images from Genesis 1 and 2, 2 sets of cookies that were shaped into something created in the 7 days of creation. 2 sets of cupcakes reflected the attributes of God shown in Genesis 1 and 2. A quilt with the 7 days of creation had been sewn and a double sided cushion crafted to show the similarities and differences between Genesis 1 and 2. Several impressive pieces of artwork reflected different ideas about the origins of the universe and a poem about creation was also produced alongside a rap to the theme of Fresh Prince of Bel Air which was rapped by a very smooth year 10 pupil.
Finally, one pupil had composed a piece of music to show the comparison between Genesis 1 and 2. I was literally blown away by the creative talent of year 10 and reminded once again that goodness can be blinding when we truly look for it. Thanks for inspiring me this week year 10. I will continue to wear my goodness glasses and I know I will not be disappointed working with such inspirational young people.
Ms F Gennard
Next week we have the first of our Enrichment Days. During these days, we suspend the normal timetable to make the space for parts of our wider curriculum which don’t fit so well in the usual five period day. I have included a summary below of the activities that each year group will be doing next Wednesday so that you have an idea of what your children will be getting up to.
One of the curriculum areas that students do some work on during the Enrichment Days is Personal, Social and Health Education, which includes Relationships and Sex Education. This curriculum is not only covered in Enrichment Days. Key ideas are covered and repeated in different ways over the time in school through form time, assemblies, RE and Science lessons, special one off events and lessons and Enrichment Days. Y8 and Y9 students will have some time during the coming Enrichment Days to further explore some parts of the PSHE curriculum and parents of those students will shortly be receiving a letter with a bit more information about what they will be covering.
Brief outline of Enrichment Day Programme:
Y7 Retreat – Concentrating on the theme ‘one body, many parts’. Students will get the opportunity to meet more of their year group and understand that everyone contributes something to our community. The day will be led by youth leaders and our 6th formers and consist of hands on activities to explore the theme.
Y8 PHSE/Health – Concentrating on issues around alcohol, menstruation and digital citizenship.
Y9 Relationship and sex education – The first half of the day we be spent looking at themes such as positive relationships, consent and STI’s. The afternoon examines the issues around knife crime and gang culture.
Y10 Careers moving on – Activities to help Y10’s develop more of an appreciation of what opportunities are available for them and what skills and attitudes they need to be successful in the future.
Y11 – Subject taster sessions to help Y11’s gain knowledge and experience of subjects they may like to study post 16. Sessions from Sheffield College, UTC and apprenticeships in addition to individual subject tasters.
Dates for your diary
• FOND Party for Y7 and Y8 students – Thus 24th October 7-9pm in the Chapel Drama Studio
• Last day of the half term – Friday 25th October
• First day back after the half term break – Monday 4th November
• Remembrance mass – Friday 8th November 1.35 in school
• INSET Day – Friday 15th November
• 6th form open morning – Saturday 16th November 10am – 12pm
• Y12 parents’ evening – 28th November 5-7pm
• GCSE Prize Night (for last year’s Y11 students) – Tue 3rd December at Notre Dame
• School production of Les Miserables – Wed 4th to Sat 7th Dec
• Y7 Parents’ Evening – 10th December
• Advent Carol Service – 17th December 7pm at St Vincent’s Church
• A Level Prize Night (for last year’s Y13 students) – 19th December at Notre Dame
Other things happening in school over the coming weeks that your children may be involved with:
• Black History Month – activities in lessons and form time throughout October to help reflect on people whose contribution to history is often hidden and not celebrated
• Collecting for Sheffield Food Banks – Two weeks leading up to the half term break
• Y12 year group liturgy – Thursday 17th October
• Enrichment Day – 23rd October
• Pink Day activities round breast cancer awareness – Friday 25th October
• Remembrance assemblies and poppy appeal – Week beginning 4th November
• Advent assemblies and advent fund raising begins 4th December
The History Department
What a busy first few weeks it has been for the History Department! We have had so many wonderful things happening in our department to help students to learn about and celebrate history.
We really enjoyed welcoming so many of our prospective Year 7s to the Open Evening on Tuesday 24th of September. It was lovely to hear so many positive stories about how much students had enjoyed History at primary school and were looking forward to continuing that love of the subject in Year 7.
We had great fun seeing how accurately we could fire a model Trebuchet at a medieval castle to break the siege.
There was also the opportunity for students and parents to take part in a Medieval Urine Chart game – don’t worry we used coloured water! – where they could diagnose illnesses and suggest treatments just like Medieval physicians would have.
We also conducted our own mummification experiment involving rice, water and apples. I hope that when you tipped your apples out of their sarcophagi that they were mummified! We have included the instructions – just in case you want to have a go at home!
For the last thirty years the History Department has taken Year 11 students on a Battlefields Trip to explore the experience of those affected by WW1 on the battlefields of France and Belgium. This year 80 students from Year 11 went over two weekends in September with Mrs Cleary, Mr Doherty and members of the History Department.
We were fortunate enough to visit such important sights as the memorial to the missing of the Somme at Thiepval, and Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest British cemetery on the Western Front, and the final resting place of thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers killed at the battle of Passchendaele. We were also very fortunate to visit the resting place of the Sheffield Pals at Serre and remember the people from our local area. This cemetery is a beautiful, peaceful place and it is always a touching moment to take time to reflect here.
A highlight of the trip is attending the memorial service at the Menin Gate in Ypres. There has been a remembrance service here every night since the end of WW1, only interrupted by the outbreak of WW2 when the service was moved to London, and as always it was a privilege to take part. Two students took part in the wreath-laying ceremony as representatives of the wider Notre Dame community – it was very touching to see so many of our students volunteer to be the ones who lay a wreath to remember the fallen during this ceremony.
The whole trip is centred around not only learning new information about WW1 but also about reflection and consideration of others. As always our students were incredible – it was such an honour to take so many respectful, caring and thoughtful young people to sights of such historic significance. To all those who went on the trip, thank you for making this one of the most memorable years yet – you are wonderful!
The Girl’s Trip was even treated to a celebratory BBQ as we were lucky enough to have the 200,000th visitor to the accommodation we used in our group. What a nice surprise!
Over the next month we will be preparing our Year 13 A Level students for a trip to the National Civil War Centre in Newark. Here they will be participating in workshops about the reign of Charles I and reasons behind the outbreak of Civil War. We also have access to the museum and gallery here. This promises to be a very interesting day and supports the students in their understanding about the early Stuarts and the difficulties of ruling in early modern England. We also have an upcoming Lecture Series trip to Manchester for Year 13 students in November which we are looking forward to. To complement the European side of our A Level we are attending a Historical Association event on Napoleon which will be a great enrichment opportunity for our A Level students.
October sees the beginning of Black History Month which is a celebration of the role of people of African and Caribbean descent across History. To participate in this celebration across the school and our community the History Department has been involved in preparing form time resources of influential individuals to help to highlight the role of black people across History to our students.
November marks Remembrance Day and as always we want to inform all of our school community about the significance of this day and why it is so important that we continue to remember those affected by conflict. There will be in-class activities and assemblies that students will be actively involved in to help us to participate in Remembrance as a community.