Headteacher’s Blog 06/03/2023

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Christmas seems but 5 minutes ago, yet we are now in the season of Lent which we marked on Ash Wednesday as usual, with a special service. For the first time ever, it wasn’t the 6th form students that administered the ashes but some of our Faith in Action students in Y8, Y9 and Y11. What an incredible act of witness and service for such young students. They are wonderful role models to the school community.

Suzanne our School Chaplain explains below the theme of this years’ service.

“We reflected on the reading from John’s Gospel ‘The Woman Caught in Adultery’ (8:1-11). This reading was chosen because it gives humanity hope that Jesus forgives all sins.

The woman who has committed adultery had done wrong and she knew she had. When Jesus challenges the crowd and asks those without sin to throw the first stone, they of course couldn’t because they knew they were all sinners and none of them were without sin! We all need forgiveness and we all need God’s love”.

As always in Lent we will be focusing on giving alms – donating money or goods to the poor or performing other acts of charity.

This year the profits made from ‘Tuck-shop Tuesday’ will be given to a local organisation in our Diocese called Caritas which means charity. They provide various services in Hallam that support families in all sorts of ways but most of the money goes towards providing counselling services for young people in schools.

In addition, students will also take part in actively fundraising this Lent for a charity called ‘Beat.’ They are the UK’s eating disorder charity which was founded in 1989. Their mission is to end the pain and suffering caused by eating disorders.

It is wonderful that once again we can travel abroad with students for enrichment activities. Many thanks to Mr Egurrola and Mr O’Sullivan for organising recent trips and telling us all about them below.

6th Form Spanish Exchange Trip to Palma de Mallorca
This long running exchange trip to Palma de Mallorca happened again this year. There had been a hiatus of a few years (due to COVID) but luckily the trip, led by Sheffield Girls High and involving several secondary schools, is now happening again and it was a big success.

Here are some quotes from students:

“Before the Mallorca exchange, I was very nervous about meeting my partner, and having to live in a complete strangers’ house, but after returning to England, I’m glad to have taken part. I’ve made many friends, and my level of Spanish has improved as well” Sam

“The Mallorca exchange really brought me out of my comfort zone and offered me the opportunity to gain new friends from another country whilst also improving my dialect due to speaking Spanish there. It was overall the best experience!” Olivia P

“The Mallorca exchange trip was a great opportunity for me. It helped me with my understanding skills of the language and overall broadened my vocabulary. It allowed me to understand the Spanish culture and made me more confident with my Spanish in lessons. I would recommend it to anyone doing Spanish I had such a good time”. Olivia S

Mr W Egurrola

Ski Trip
February half term 86 pupils and 10 staff had a fantastic week skiing in and around the Austrian town of Wagrain. The weather was perfect all week and there wasn’t even an injury to report!

Thank you to all staff and students for making the trip such a success.

Details for the 2025 ski trip will be released in the summer term. This will predominantly be for the current Year 8’s.

Mr J O’Sullivan


Staff Training Day
The half term was followed by a Staff Training Day with a specific focus on our unique ethos and on the Notre Dame Mission. This included listening to some of our current students and parents as they explained why the Notre Dame Ethos has been important to them. It was very moving, as each in turn shared their stories with us all and we are very grateful to all the parents and students who gave up their time to do this for us.

We were also delighted to have David Wells come and speak to us on what it means to work in a faith school. David is a well know motivational, inspirational speaker who describes himself as a teacher, catechist and author. His message of hope and service lifted us all.

In smaller groups, following David’s keynote speech staff discussed; what the values of Notre Dame are, how we can uphold these values and how we can engage students in prayer. Many thanks to the staff who lead their colleagues in this.

Lunch was a huge communal shared meal and the day ended by celebrating Mass with much joyful singing. Our thanks go to Bishop Ralph who was able to come in and say mass for us.

Headteacher’s Breakfast Club
The highlight of my week is meeting groups of students on Thursday mornings during Form Time, who have been nominated to attend Breakfast Club by staff. Students are nominated for a variety of reasons which include but are not exclusive to the following;

  • participating in sport and other extracurricular activities
  • fundraising and community projects to help others
  • Being student leaders
  • Working consistently well in lessons or performing well on monitoring
  • Competition winner
  • Serving as panel members when we are recruiting new staff

They are always excellent company and very often clear the table of all food! It is wonderful to hear about how much they have enjoyed their activities and school in general. I always use it as an opportunity to ask them about what is going well in school, as well as what isn’t, as it is vital to understand what school life is like experienced through the eyes of the students. I have learned much from them that can then be feed back to staff. They are also a good sounding board for running by them any changes we are thinking of making or for gathering information on anything new we have in place, such as the monitoring system.

Recent attendees were;
Thursday 23 February 2023 – A small group of Y8 students who were chosen to take part in the Faith in Action award due to their dedication to the school Ethos and Chaplaincy Department.

This group met with Y8 students and their chaplains from other Catholic Schools in Hallam Diocese. They spent time getting to know each other, pray and celebrate Mass.

Joining them was the incredibly talented Y7 student who won the Creative Writing Competition in December 2022, Huda Ibrahim. She told us she has written a book already too – I can’t wait to read it!

Thursday 2 March 2023 – Another group of Y8 students were referred by their Head of Year (Mrs Rauf) for achieving 4 or more outstanding’s in their monitoring reports during last autumn term.

The following students attended: Thomas Disha, Ayda-Mae Ebsworth, Lucy Elliott, Boro Fekete, Harry Kirkman, Caleb Loh, Daisy McDonagh-Hutton, Ingrid McKinney, Erick Moreira Chaves and Sam Woodcock.

Joseph Byrne and Louis Nolan were also part of this group but were unable to attend on 2 March 2023. They have therefore been re-invited to breakfast club at a later date.

Winner of the February Writing Competition
Many thanks to Mrs Cramphorn who is running the writing competitions. Miguel Sanchez Parisini (7RA) achieved the winning entry for January’s writing competition. He won against 23 other entries. This is the highest number of entries received so far!

I have ben amazed at the quality of the work and I am sure you will agree when your read Miguel’s winning entry.

Winter by Miguel Sanchez Parisini
Winter comes writhing through the barren plane.
His frosted mantle breezing and blowing in the frosted wind,
Claiming his territory with every frigid step.
His glacial breath blanketed the Earth in a layer of pure white.
His overpowering presence humbled all and boasted his dominion over nature.
He binds nature in frosty manacles so that there is only him and his domain of bleak anguish.
He causes avalanches and torrential weather
So that all inhabitants suffer under his cruel grasp.
All vegetation is covered in a bedsheet of snow and left to rot.
He turns flowering beauty hard and dangerous.
He turns plants of the utmost verdure brown and dry.

School notices
There are also a few updates and items for information for you as detailed below, including what to do if disrupted by snow this week.

Loan of IT equipment
If your child still has a school laptop that was lent to them during the pandemic these will need to be returned to the IT Office (near the main gate) for an update otherwise they will stop working.
Mr P Woodcock

Theatre Production Romeo & Juliet 4th to 6th July 2023
Auditions for Y7/8 take place on Tuesday 7 March, 15.35-17.30
No preparation necessary.
Y9/10 and 12 auditions will take place on Thursday 9 March, 15.35-17.30
Please collect audition sides from the chapel.
Ms E Carrigan

Change of date for Y10 Parents evening
Due to the planned days of Industrial action on the 15th and 16th March, Y10 Parents evening will now take place on Monday 3rd April. More details to follow.

Reminder about Snow procedures
If there is likely to be disruption to school due to snow then a short message will be sent to parents by text but full information will be posted on the website by 7am. Parents should check there for details.

In the event of snow;

  • If buses are running school is open as normal
  • If school is opening there could be a later start to the day to ensure that everyone can get here safely- if so you will be informed
  • If buses are not running then we will shut the school. However, it will remain open to any students who need to come to school due to child care issues etc. They will be supervised by a small number of staff and should bring a packed lunch. It is supervision only and lessons will not be running.
  • If school is closed- work will be set on Satchel One

Take care and God bless,
Mrs Cleary


Dates for your diary

  • Higher Education Information meeting –  Thursday 23rd March
  • Rearranged Y10 Parents evening – Monday 3rd April
  • Last day of Term – Thursday 6th April
  • Training Day 5 – Friday 21st April
  • Summer Term begins – Monday 24th April
  • Y9 Parents Evening – Thursday 6th April