Heads Blog

Headteacher’s Blog 10/09/2021

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It has been great to see students back in school this week. I have particularly enjoyed being out on duty at break and lunch time where there has been a lovely atmosphere of young people enjoying being together. The sunshine helped too!

In form time over the first few days, we have been reminding students of our expectations. To make it easy for students to remember those expectations we have grouped them under the three key headings, Ready, Respect & Safe. You will find these in your child’s journal and I have included a copy at the end of this Blog.

These headings will be familiar to some of our younger students as they are commonly used in the Catholic Primary Schools. It reflects the way we work closely in partnership with the other Sheffield Catholic Schools, to try to make the stages of education as coherent as possible from reception through until the end of 6th form.

The focus is on positive ways to behave and how they help ensure that each student gets the most out of school, including how they can help build a community that helps everyone to learn and grow. We see students living up to these expectations day in day out in school. Thank you for your support in praising your children in all the ways they live up to these expectations and working with us to change things on the occasions that they find it hard.

Bishop’s walk – raising money for the St Wilfrid’s Centre

On the 1st October, I will be joining the Bishop along with other head teachers, priests and parishioners from Hallam Diocese in the annual sponsored walk to raise money for the St Wilfrid’s Centre for vulnerable adults.

We have a long relationship with the centre, which provides a vital set of services for vulnerable adults in Sheffield. Their clients have often experienced significant challenges often leading to periods of homelessness, poor mental health, lack of social engagement, difficulty finding work and many other things that so many of us are blessed to take for granted. As you will be aware, the impact of Covid has been felt twice over by charities like the St Wilfrid’s centre as the need has increased dramatically while many of their sources of fundraising have been squeezed.

I will be speaking to all the students in a virtual assembly in two weeks’ time, asking them to raise money as sponsorship for my participation in the walk. I know that this will come back to you as parents and I thank you in advance for your support.

My wife and I will also be running the Sheffield Half Marathon at the end of September along with a number of other runners who are being sponsored to raise money for St Wilfrid’s. I hope that you don’t mind that I have included the link to our just giving page, as an alternative way that you could donate to the overall fundraising that we are doing for the St Wilfrid’s centre. As I say, I know that the fundraising that I will ask the students to do will ultimately come back to you as parents so I am certainly not asking people to give twice. I just want to make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to support the Centre if they are able to, at a time when it is needed more than ever.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sally-davies32?utm_source=Sharethis&utm_medium=fundraising&utm_content=sally-davies32&utm_campaign=pfp-email&utm_term=3f4a46a32c76435ba044d48d739c572d

I have also included a link to the website of the St Wilfrid’s centre so that if you wish, you can learn a bit more about the work that this fundraising will support. There is also information about other ways in which people can support the centre as I know that a number of members of our community choose to do.

St Wilfrid’s Centre Sheffield (stwilfridscentre.org)

Thank you

Sports Day

Thank you to everyone who responded so quickly to the message about the Sports Day that we are running on 29th September. This is the deferred Sports Day from the end of the summer term and will be in addition to this year’s Sports Day that will run as normal at the end of the summer term.

We have had some questions checking on the timings of the day, especially for those students with permission to make their own way to and/or home from the English Institute of Sport.

  • Students in Y7 should come to school for the normal time – 8.55 for a 9am start
  • Students in Y8-Y11 who need transport from school to the EIS should also arrive at the normal time – 8.55 for a 9am start.
  • Students in Y8-Y11 who are making their own way to the EIS should arrive for 9.15, allowing us to register everyone and make a 9.30 start to events.
  • Students in Y8-Y11 who are making their own way home from the EIS will be dismissed at 2pm
  • Students in Y8-Y11 who need transport back to school will be dismissed from school at 3.35
  • Students in Y7 who are having their own events in school will also be dismissed as normal at 3.35
  • The school service busses will all be running as normal.

Unfortunately there is no capacity at the EIS for parents, other family members or friends to attend the Sports Day and due to the additional measures to minimise risk of Covid transmission we need to be strict in refusing entry to anyone other than students or staff members.

Likewise, we are not able to invite parents, other family members or friends to the events that will be run in school for Y7. Thank you for your understanding and support of this.

Notre Dame on Bitesize

You may remember me telling you about the film crews that we had in school in the summer term, filming some of our students as part of the BBC Bitesize content for learning Science.

The videos made that day are now live on Bitesize. Our students are involved in the KS3 topic on “Working Scientifically” and our teachers will no doubt proudly share our involvement in making those resources with the students.

The BBC team were really impressed with our students and were delighted to work with them. They did ask that we make sure that parents and students know that the video clips should not be shared via social media as they have a policy of maintaining anonymity for students and schools on their Bitesize clips.

I know that the students had a really good day, learning about the work that goes into these clips and it was certainly great to be able to contribute to a resource that has helped so many, especially during periods of isolation and lockdown.

Reminders about the revised Covid guidance for schools

As I noted in my last Blog, the clear message in the new guidance for schools is that we should try as far as possible to minimise disruption to the normal school experience. This is in recognition of the success of the vaccines in significantly reducing the risk of serious illness in adults for those who have been vaccinated and the established low risk of serious illness from Covid of young people. Given this picture, the guidance reduces the number of very disruptive measures, recognising that these measures are also harm young people’s experience of education and development.

The virus is still present and the number of cases remains high in the City, so while more disruptive measures have been removed, there are still things we are doing to minimise the risk of transmission. The key measures are:

  1. Following public health advice on testing, self-isolation and managing confirmed cases of COVID-19. This is being supported by testing for students and staff at least until the end of September.
  2. Keeping occupied spaces well ventilated.
  3. Ensuring good hygiene for everyone – part of our start of lesson routine is asking students to sanitise their hands as a way of supporting this
  4. Maintaining additional cleaning

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The first control measure remains the most effective as Covid cannot be passed on in school if no one in school has the virus. Any student or member of staff who develops symptoms or receives a positive test should isolate as before.

There is a difference with the rules for contacts of those who have tested positive from the situation last year. It is now NHS track and trace who will be identifying contacts directly and notifying them, rather than the school. Contacts will now be advised to take a PCR test and will only be expected to isolate if the result is positive.

Lateral flow testing helps in identifying any positive cases where there are no symptoms, again helping to reduce the chance of anyone passing the virus on in school. Thank you for supporting us in this by giving consent for your child to have onsite testing as we have returned. Please continue to encourage and remind your child to use the home tests that they have been given. They should test twice a week, ideally on Monday morning and Thursday morning. Even if it was difficult for your child to have the test at school, they can begin home testing now and I would really encourage this and thank you again for the very high levels of engagement we have had.

We do continue to liaise with the local Public Health Team in any situation where there is a concentration of cases in school that could indicate that there has been some transmission in school. In this event, the PHE team will be able to advise and authorise the introduction of other control measures, as needed. These could include:

  • Wearing of face coverings when inside buildings, including classrooms
  • Daily testing for key groups of students
  • Steps to reduce the number of contacts that key groups of students have, e.g. introducing ‘zones’ of the school that those students use for lessons and social times
  • If necessary, suspending some enrichment activities where there is likely to be more mixing
  • If necessary and as a last resort, having groups of students access school remotely for a short period of time

In applying any additional measures, the aim will be to minimise disruption to the school experience for students as far as possible, while working to minimise risk of transmission.

Picking up and dropping off students

Please do not park in the bus bays that run from St Marie’s to Notre Dame, when dropping off or picking up your children at the start or end of the school day. It does create problems when busses arrive and cannot park as a result of cars parked in the bays near to school gates.

Please also respect the areas around school that are marked with double yellow lines. These are in place to make the roads around our school, St Marie’s and other nearby local schools as safe as possible for young people moving around.

I understand that parking near school is very difficult and it is very tempting to stop close to the school gate. However, the parking restrictions are there to ensure that young people are safe. I would ask, therefore, that you arrange a pick up or drop off point further from school where you know that you can legally park.

Thank you for your cooperation in this.

Upcoming events

Information evenings – Y12 Information Evening 17th September – other year groups dates TBC

We will be running information evenings for parents, giving key information for what to expect in the year ahead and guidance on how to support your child. These will be run remotely as last year.

Y6 Open Evening – Tuesday 21st September 5.30 – 7.30pm

This event is for parents of children in Y6 who are considering an application to Notre Dame for Y7 next year. This will be a ‘live’ event in school, with access to my presentation and other information also available remotely.

Sports Day – Wednesday 29th  September

This is the Sports Day that we deferred from the summer term. It will involve Y8 to Y11 students at the EIS, with Y7 students having their own day in school.

Approach to Learning Report 1 – 28th September

On 28th September, you will receive the first report on your child’s approach to learning in each of their subjects. This gives an opportunity to recognise the great start that students make to their time in school and, where needed, to flag up any early concerns so that we can work together to nip them in the bud.

Notre Dame High School

Our Relationships and Behaviour Expectations

At Notre Dame High School, the Governing Body, Headteacher and all staff are committed to ensuring that all students have access to high quality education in a loving and safe environment.

Everyone is expected to;

  • Build relationships with peers and staff that are positive, enhance lives and lead to happiness and joy
  • Maintain the highest standards of personal conduct
  • Accept responsibility for their own behaviour and encourage others to do the same

 

Ready 

Respectful 

Safe 

 

Our expectations can be can be summarised as follows;

‘Ready’ – Ready to learn, ready to listen, ready to participate because we educate for life.

‘Respectful’ – Respect yourself and others, including your peers, adults and the school environment. We do this because we are a community that is welcoming and diverse and honours each person’s dignity.

‘Safe’ – Everyone should feel safe in our learning community, safe with the people around them and safe in the activities in which they are taking part because we work for Justice and Peace.

 

How we meet our school’s expectations

Ready to learn

  • Be on time to lessons and form time arriving within 3 minutes of the bell
  • Have all the correct equipment for the day which includes pencil case, journal, reading book, exercise and text books and PE kit
  • Wear correct uniform
  • Stay in the lesson and use break and lunch to go to the toilet, visit the medical room for non- urgent reasons and see staff.
  • Be attentive, focused and listen well in lessons
  • Have phones switched off and in your bag unless the teacher has asked you to do otherwise
  • Complete all work to the best of your ability
  • Bring enough water for your day at school

 

 

Respectful

  • Listen to others, staff and students
  • Think about other people’s feelings before doing or saying something that might be hurtful, in person and online
  • Use appropriate language at all times with everyone so that words are not used to cause shame, harm or offence, in person and online
  • Actively seek to be open to learning from other people in our diverse community, so that we are able to make everyone feel welcome and we don’t cause hurt through ignorance
  • Respect differences including race, cultural heritage, religion and sexual/gender orientation, in person and online
  • When sharing different points of view and beliefs in person and online, always respect the person you have disagreements with
  • Keep other people’s property, equipment and work safe
  • Keep the school site free from litter and damage

 

Safe

  • Follow all instructions at all times
  • Act in a sensible and safe way on our site and the buses
  • If you have a personal issue to deal with during school hours you should seek the support and guidance of your teacher, Form teacher, Head of Year, Pastoral manager or any member of staff you feel you can talk to
  • Ear/Head phones are not worn on the school site unless in a designated area
  • If you are out of class for any reason you must have your journal with you and a signed note from a member of staff
  • Mobile phones should not be used to contact home during the school day unless a member of staff has given you permission to
  • Phones must not be used to record staff, other students and incidents that happen in school
  • Phones must not be used to share inappropriate images or content, including those of an abusive, sexual or discriminatory nature
  • Banned items should not be brought in to school which includes; drinks cans, chewing gum, offensive weapons, alcohol, cigarettes, e-cigarettes and non -prescription drugs
  • Resolve issues without behaving in a confrontational or violent way through words or actions
  • No pushing, shoving or play fighting

 

School routines

Arrival at school

·         You should arrive in school by 8:55 so that you can be on time to Form

·         Y7-11 should come into the school via the main drive

·         Greet staff with a ‘Good morning’ and 😊

·         Remove ear/headphones at the gate and put in your bag

·         Remove hoodies/non-uniform jumpers at the gate and put them in your bag

·         Arrive wearing your jumper, this is our school uniform and should take precedence over the need to wear a coat

 

Start and end of Form time/ lesson

·         Walk in a calm and orderly way on the corridors, using the one -way system

·         Meet and greet your teacher at the door

·         Respect the rules for entering the classroom as asked for by your teacher e.g. wait in a quiet line on the corridor/ sit in your seat/stand behind a chair

·         Sit in the seat given to you by your teacher so that you are ready to learn

·         When entering the room coats should be removed and put on the chair and bags on the floor

·         Journals, pencil cases, reading books should be taken out and available on the desk as well as any other required resources/equipment.

·         Stand up, push in chairs at the end of the lesson and wait to be dismissed in an orderly fashion