Notre Dame High School is situated in the Ranmoor area of the city in 20 acres of ground, which includes Smith Wood, believed to have been once part of Sherwood Forest. It was here that Mark Firth, famous son of the city of Sheffield, steel manufacturer, philanthropist, Lord Mayor, Master Cutler, built his dream mansion in 1860.
His mansion became an Officers’ Convalescent Home in the First World War, a convent in 1919 and a Sixth Form Centre in 1988. The school’s history goes back even further than the Firth estate. It was in 1855 that the Sisters of Notre Dame came to Sheffield from Liverpool to set up a much needed school for girls in the city centre. The school was established in Holy Green House on the Moor, now replaced by a busy shopping centre. In 1862, the school was moved to Cavendish Street where it developed and expanded to such an extent that further space was required for the many girls who sought admission. The Sisters moved their living quarters to Oakbrook in 1919, leaving more room for classrooms and in 1935 built another secondary school in the extensive grounds.
This remained a separate school until amalgamation was recommended in 1948. In 1976 the school changed its status from that of a girls grammar school to become a mixed comprehensive. Cavendish Street housed the lower school until 1988 when the Victorian buildings were finally vacated and later demolished by the new owners. To accommodate the whole school on the Oakbrook site, extensive internal improvements were made. New buildings were erected, including a fine Sports Hall and three additional Science Laboratories.
1995 was a year of celebration for Notre Dame High School: Together with the Sisters of Notre Dame we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the establishment of their order in England. After OFSTED inspection in February we were found to be ‘a good and successful school with many excellent features’. From September we were awarded Technology College Status which has resulted in a dramatic increase in access to information and communication technology with exciting developments in increasing opportunities for innovation within learning and teaching. We created the ‘Chapel Drama Studio’.
In 1996 the school celebrated the award of Investor in People, a purpose built Technology Centre and two new science laboratories. January 1997 brought the opening of a new suite of Music classrooms and rehearsal rooms. In September 1997 we opened a new building housing the Open Learning Centre (a 21st Century multi-media learning resource centre), eight classrooms and facilities for students with disabilities. In 1998 we opened new and refurbished changing rooms and two all weather sports pitches. In 2000, the school received excellent report following a short inspection in May. Shortly afterwards Notre Dame High School was invited to become a Beacon School and named by HMCI as an “outstanding school”. Hallam City Learning Centre, a centre of IT excellence for the community of South West Sheffield and its schools was opened in 2003. Notre Dame was rated “outstanding” by Ofsted and in 2005 and 2008. In 2009 Notre Dame was further extended by the Environmental Learning Center, a purpose-built wooden building located at the north end of our school woodland. In 2011 the school was recognised as one of the first 100 Teaching Schools nationally and became an Academy in 2012.
The school retains contact with the Sisters of Notre Dame, who are still represented on the school’s governing body, and regularly gives thanks for the work done by them for Catholic education in Sheffield for over 150 years.