Head Teachers’ Blog – 17th December
Everyone definitely is talking about Jamie! There has been such a buzz in school and more widely about this year’s production and rightly so. The students did an incredible job, putting on a really great production of a great musical. I found myself forgetting that I was at a school production and was absolutely drawn into the story, such was the quality of the work of our cast and crew. There was a wonderful reaction from everyone in the audience throughout the evening.
Of course, this year was extra special as we were able to put on a production for the first time since the start of Covid and, of course, this was the world premiere of the teen version of the musical. On Thursday, we were joined by the CEO of the licensing company who have been working with us throughout. We were also joined by Tom MacRae, the writer of “Everybody’s Talking about Jamie”, Jonathan Butterell, the creator of the stage production and Jamie Campbell, the real-life Jamie whose story inspired the musical.
They were so complementary about our students and staff and I know they were very moved by the show. Jamie commented particularly on how powerful it was to hear the themes and messages in the piece presented by people who are the age of the people portrayed. Tom MacRae was really excited that this was being shared in the context of a school community, given that is where the story began. The students were certainly thrilled to meet them and really appreciated the time that Jamie spent with the cast at the end of the evening.
On behalf of everyone who saw the show, I would like to congratulate and thank the amazing young people in the cast, the crew and the band. I know that they would also join me in thanking the members of staff who put so much into the production on top of their day jobs. I must particularly highlight Mr O’Farrell, Miss Carrigan and Miss Corbett. We are blessed to have colleagues with the drive, creativity and vision to help our students shine as they did.
Other news and updates
Well done to Y11 and Y10 students who have completed their assessments over the last two weeks. Many members of staff have commented on how well they have approached the whole process as a year group.
Teachers will be able to share marks with students and provide feedback on the papers to help students plan their next steps in revision. Teachers will need to retain the papers and will not be able to share grades. This is part of the contingency instructions set out by the exam boards, so that we are prepared in the event that there is any disruption to the exams. It will allow us to use these assessments as part of the evidence to inform teacher assessed grades should they be needed.
The focus now, however, will remain on working towards the expected exams in the summer and using these assessments as a learning point to see what we need to focus on in the coming months
to be fully prepared. I am certainly encouraged and given confidence by the way I have seen so many
students tackle these assessments.
I also want to thank students and parents for their amazing response to the shoe box appeal. I hope you have seen the photo on the website of the altar in the Salle covered with boxes put together in record quick time to share with those in need this Christmas.
I would also just like to share a brief word about what I have seen this term as I and other colleagues have been able to get back out and about on learning walks and lesson observations in a way that we couldn’t last year.
I have been so encouraged by the work I have seen going on in classrooms. While it is clear that disruption due to Covid has had and continues to have an impact in various ways on the learning and development of students, what I see too is that it isn’t stopping students and teachers from getting on with it. When we read about the impact of Covid on education, as real as it is, we could form an image of young people in classrooms who have completely given up or who are completely at sea with their learning. That is definitely not what I have seen in any of the classrooms I have been in. In fact, on the face of it, lessons and learning have looked exactly like they always have.
Of course, teachers have adapted work to focus more on areas where students need some extra recap. In every lesson I have seen, for example, teachers are routinely including quick recap quizzes and checks at regular intervals to help prepare for the next step of learning and to help students to really imbed key knowledge through regular retrieval. Teachers are also focusing on things that help students to rebuild routines and habits in learning that have been disrupted. I saw students responding well to this work, engaged in their learning, asking questions and trying the activities set. I talked to students about how confident they are feeling and they were as articulate as ever, explaining what they were doing, what helps and how they might do better.
As per the communications last week, the Advent Carol Service and Prize Night have both been moved from being live events to being remote. This was done in the light of the rising numbers of Covid cases nationally and the related advice to consider changes that could be made to reduce the risk of transmission. As these are both events where people who would not normally mix would gather in one place, they do present the risk that they could have allowed for transmission of the virus that was avoidable by moving to a remote presentation.
The Advent Carol service will be streamed so that all our families can enjoy it at a time of their choosing in the comfort of home. Similarly, last year’s Y13 students and their families will be able to gather via Zoom where we can celebrate their achievements from their time at Notre Dame. We have sent invitations with details of how to join direct to the families of those students.
Our Covid numbers in school, after a bit of a rise two weeks ago, have been falling again. For most of this half term, we have seen numbers of cases in single figures each week, often only one or two cases in a week. We then did have some transmission, particularly between people involved in the production of Jamie three weeks ago, when we reached 22 cases in school in a week. Since then, the numbers of cases have fallen each week.
Thank you for your ongoing support of regular testing, for ensuring that your children come to school with a face covering, for notifying us of positive cases and for making sure your children aren’t coming in when they have symptoms. All of this, along with the high proportion of students
and staff who are vaccinated has, I am sure, helped to keep the numbers of cases as low as possible.
As we look ahead to next term, there is a similar uncertainty to that which we felt last Christmas. As things stand, we expect to be back as normal on 10th January. On that Monday, we will be running on-site lateral flow testing as an extra measure to help reduce risk of transmission. You will be
receiving a letter about this shortly. The testing is voluntary and requires consent. Information about that will be included in the letter.
Please also be assured that if there are any other changes over the Christmas break, we are well prepared. We have practiced contingencies for different restrictions in school through to support of remote learning, so we will be ready to go in whatever way is needed of us and I know you will support us in that, to do the best for your children.
Before a summary of the activities happening next term, I want to draw your attention to the attached information from the Children’s University about a range off activities and events happening over the Christmas period. I hope it is helpful to you.
Upcoming events and dates for the diary
Last Day of Term Wednesday 22nd December
First Day of new term Monday 10th January
GCSE Prize Night (for members of last year’s Y11) – Thursday 13th January (this is a change from the original date)
Y13 Parents’ Evening Tue 18th January – This will be remote, via school cloud. Information about how to book and log in will be sent to parents of Y13 students.
Enrichment Day 2 – Thursday 20th January – The normal timetable is suspended to allow time for learning in a different way
Monitoring Feedback Monday 24th January – You will receive monitoring reports showing approach to learning. There will also be updated progress grades for students in Y11 and Y13.
Y11 Parents’ Evening Thus 11th January – This will be remote, via school cloud. Information about how to book and log in will be sent to parents of Y11 students.
Y13 Assessment Week – Mon 31st Jan to Fri 4th Feb
Y8 Options Evening – Tue 1st Feb. This is likely to be a remote information evening, delivered via
Zoom. There will be information about the options process for parents of students in Y8.
Last Day of the half term – Friday 11th February
Teacher Training Day – Monday 21st February. Students are not in school on this day
First day of the new half term for students – Tuesday 22nd February
Internship Opportunity- a message from the Hallam Teaching School Alliance
Notre Dame is accepting expressions of interest for the government funded Maths, Physics and
Computing internship programme. If you are studying a Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths
at university and are interested in receiving a bursary to spend 3 weeks helping in a secondary school during summer 2022, please contact the Teaching School.