As this is my first Blog of 2019, I wish you all a happy new year. As I have noted before, 2019 is a big year for us in school as it marks 100 years since the Sisters of Notre Dame arrived at Oakbrook House and it is also the 50th anniversary of St Julie being declared a Saint.
Through the course of the year, we will mark these milestones in a number of ways beginning with the celebration of a whole school mass at the City Hall on 8th February. Our Spring Ball will be bigger than ever, also taking place at the City Hall and it would be wonderful to see you there. Our alumni morning and Summer Festival will be part of the celebrations and many other regular events with take on the theme of the anniversary year. Some of our students and staff will be joining representatives from the other UK Notre Dame schools in Liverpool Cathedral and later in Rome to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Julie’s sainthood.
The purpose running through all this activity is a celebration of a Notre Dame tradition that is very much alive and well here in Sheffield and throughout the world. We hope too that we will help students, staff and all members of our school community to gain a renewed appreciation that they are part of a wonderful community which is a source of support and inspiration.
This term our Y11 and Y13 students are into their final run up to the exams. Teachers will be setting homework that helps them to revise and will also be giving tips and advice on ways they can prepare for exams. However, the following three points are good general advice on revision and exam preparation:
1. Make a revision timetable if you haven’t already done it. The important things about making a revision timetable are:
• It is good to spread revision out over a long time, doing a little bit every week rather than cramming it all in at the end. You are trying to build memory and re-call and the brain does this best through regular repetition over time.
• By spreading revision out over a long time, you also make sure that you can build in space for relaxation and seeing friends and family all the way through the exams. This is important as it helps you to manage stress so that you can do your best. If you leave everything until the end, you will increase stress and you won’t leave time to rest.
• Do a little bit of every subject every week. The gaps between revision sessions on a subject are just as important as the sessions themselves for strengthening memory and recall. It is best to spend a bit of time on every subject every week, instead of spending a long time on one subject, then leaving it for a long time before coming back to it.
2. Test yourself. A great way to spend your time when revising is to make flash cards for each subject, with questions on one side and the answers on the other. You can then test yourself on these cards (or ask someone else to test you) every time you are doing some work on that subject. Keep going with it even when you’re getting all the answers right. By doing this repetition over time, you will really help to strengthen your memory and your recall. You will find that the better you know and recall key facts, the easier you find it to learn other facts and the easier it will be to make links between things which you need to do in exams.
3. Sleep is important. Of course this is always true, but the run up to exams may be a great time to get into good habits if you don’t have them already. A particular tip here is to try to avoid using mobile phones and tablets before going to bed and to leave them out of the bedroom. They can be a distraction and make it harder for us to relax and get to sleep.
Our Y8 students will be making their option choices during this term. They will get advice on this through the enrichment day, assemblies and form time. We will also be encouraging students to talk to their teachers, to friends and to family as they make their decisions. The Y8 Options Evening (22nd January) is an opportunity for parents to hear first-hand the information and advice that we give to the students. The normal Y8 parents’ evening will then be on 7th March and this will provide an opportunity to talk to individual subject teachers about options for your children.
Also this half term, we mark Holocaust Memorial Day with assemblies for each year group and our ‘Shoah Service’ with Y9 students. This service follows the pattern of an international service, which specifically remembers the events of the Second World War and calls us to be mindful of the horrors that can happen if we are not vigilant against division, hate and discrimination. In the service, we are reminded and inspired too by the many acts of kindness, goodness and bravery where people stood with the Jews and others who were being persecuted during that time.
Before I hand over to a ‘window’ into some of the classrooms in school, I would like to make a plea to all parents who collect their children directly from school, or who drive to meet them at a bus stop when they get off the school bus. We have had a few emails from residents around school and from some who live close to bus stops where our school busses go to, asking me to ask you to be aware of parking restrictions and generally to be considerate when pulling over to wait for children. Concerns have included blocking driveways, stopping on double yellow lines causing difficulty for pedestrians to cross the road safely or for other road users to get about. Please do be mindful of these legitimate concerns. Thank you for your support.
ENRICHMENT DAY NEWS
On Thursday this week (17th Jan) we have our second Enrichment Day. The theme is on personal, social and health education, with a particular focus on options and careers for some year groups and on safety and wellbeing for others. The table below gives you the headings of what will be covered, so you can ask your children about what they did on that day.
Enrichment Day Thursday 17th January
Year 9 -
GCSE subject taster sessions
Multi faith visits
RAF Careers talk
University & Apprenticeship talks
Sleep well talk
A round up of events from the Physics Department
STEM club has been very well attended this year and amongst other projects, we have built a water pump from recycled plastic, brewed cider, dissected lungs and a heart and observed celestial bodies using a remotely operated telescope that is situated on the Canary Islands. Here are some of the amazing pictures our Y10s were able to capture, which involved some complex photographic editing.
Messier 66 Spiral Galaxy
Northern Trifad Nebula
Our next STEM project is our most ambitious to date. Our KS4 and A Level STEM club are going to attempt to send a camera up on a helium balloon to the edge of Space and obtain a video of the journey! More details to follow as the project progresses.
We were delighted to welcome back an ex-student, Mr Kieren Edge, who gave a talk to many of our older students about working in an engineering or physics based career. Kieren is now a technical lead engineer at the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham and his fantastic talk inspired many of our students to follow in his footsteps.
Two of our current Y12s have been successful in applying for the Arkwright Scholarship, which pairs them with Engineering Companies and prepares them for a career as a future leader in Engineering. This is a huge achievement and a very prestigious award. We have three applicants from our current Y11s this year.
Year 7 students have been studying Space and Energy in recent weeks and we've had some incredible space projects, ranging from cakes and model solar systems to presentations about black holes and Space exploration.
Year 8 have been learning about forces and electricity - many or our students were brave enough to experience an electric shock from the Van de Graaf generator - a hair-raising experience!
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 almost at the end of the physics course, although our triple students still have a fascinating topic about Space to look forward to. Year 10s have learnt about electric circuits, while year 9 have been focussing on mechanics.
We are building on the success of our previous Y13s excellent 2017/18 results in their Edexcel A Level physics exam. Our very enthusiastic and impressive current Y13s are coming to the end of their course and are preparing for a mock in February, while our Y12s have made an excellent start to the course, having covered Mechanics, Electricity and Materials so far, with a fascinating about waves, particles and quantum mechanics to come.
Our popular trip to CERN was a huge success last academic year, during which, students were able to see the largest science experiment in the world. We will be repeating this trip next academic year. In the meantime, our biannual trip to Alton Towers will be taking place this year during the Easter Holidays
Dates for your diary
• Y13 Parents’ Evening Thursday 17th January (5-7.30pm main building)
• Y8 Options Evening Tuesday 22nd January (7pm – 8pm in the Salle*)
• Y9 Parents’ Evening Tuesday 29th January (5-7.30pm main building)
• Y10 Parents’ Evening Wednesday 6th February (5-7.30pm main building)
• Last day of half term Friday 15th February
• Training Day (students not in school) Monday 25th February
• Students back in school Tuesday 26th February
• Y8 Parents’ Evening Thursday 7th March (5-7.30pm main building)
* The Y8 Options evening will involve a presentation given by Mr Nixon and Mr Marsden, providing information for parents of students in Y8 about the curriculum they will follow in Y9, Y10 and Y11 and the options that they will make this year. Individual subject teachers are not available on this evening – the opportunity to speak to them is in the normal Y8 parents’ evening on 7th March
Some events happening with students during school time over the coming weeks
• Enrichment Day 2 Thursday 17th January
• Shoah (Holocaust) assemblies and service Week beginning 28th January
• Centenary Mass at City Hall Friday 8th February
• Hosting the ‘Big Sing’ (Catholic Primary Schools) Friday 15th February