Headteacher’s Blog 22/07/2022

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I can’t quite believe that we are here again and another year has gone by. And what a year it has been! COVID has certainly thrown us many challenges but finally we have also been able to get back to normality and been able to enjoy school in a much more familiar way.

Community celebrations
It has been a particular joy to return to those occasions that bring us together as a community. We were so glad to be able to celebrate with our Y11 and 13 Leavers at the Prom and Ball. They all rose to the occasion magnificently, and were determined to savour every moment; dancing the whole evening through!
Thank you to all parents who supported us by coming to the Summer Festival and we were delighted to raise 1300, which will be put towards our concrete table tennis fund. Even though it poured down, it didn’t dampen spirits and it was lovely to see parents and friends of the school on site again. During the evening we had GCSE and A’ level student Art and Photography work on display, and as always, it was evident that we have very talented students who have worked hard and created work of such a high standard. Of course, the difference this year is that a proportion of this work was done under lockdown and more independently by students. To have produced work of such a high standard despite this, is extraordinary.

During the same week as the summer festival, we had the 2nd school production of the year, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. It was great to see a whole alternative cohort of students performing, a very different piece to ‘Everyone’s talking about Jamie’. The performance was polished, funny and entertaining and it is a credit to the staff and students involved that they were able to achieve this despite all the other demands on their time.

Sports Day last week was a joy. Days, such as these give us both an important opportunity to see students excelling in their events and enjoy being together as a community. Watching the whole school stand up and join together singing and dancing, will remain a highlight of the year for me. I sometimes wonder who is more competitive on Sports Day, staff or students! The House competition was hotly contested and the overall trophy went to . . . . . . Compiegne. Many congratulations to them but next year could be different. I was very pleased to see that Cuvilly, (my house), won the Y7 trophy. After a very many years of disappointment, I am more hopeful for the future!

Staff Leavers
Unfortunately, at this time of year we always have to say goodbye to some staff. This year we have 3 staff looking forward to their retirement. This includes; Mrs Knight, a member of the English department who has inspired so many students with her passion for English over her 14 years with us. Over the same amount of time, Mrs Allison, started here as a Cover Teacher, left and returned to train as a Maths teacher. She has been an invaluable member of the Maths department and over recent years been our Careers lead. Mrs Locke, who now works in the library has been with us 24 years and worked across the school in different roles, supporting with dedication our students. Mr Clark (Physics and Teaching School), describes himself as going into ‘semi- retirement’ as he will be tutoring some students next year. I suspect retiring fully will become more appealing as he gets used to it!

Mr Robinson (History), Mrs Bruno (English), are moving on to teaching at the University of Sheffield. Although we will miss them greatly, it is reassuring to know that they are shaping and inspiring the next generation of teachers.

Miss Jones (MFL), Mrs Bates (Biology), Mr Wright (IT and Computer Science), Mr Tweeddale (PE), and Miss Baggaley (DT) are all leaving for new posts and we wish them every happiness for the future.

Likewise, we send every good wish to Miss Knight (PE), Mr O’Connor (RE) and Miss Smalley (Music) who were on short contracts, but during their time with us, have made a very positive contribution to school life. Miss Yuste (Maths), would rather not be leaving after one year but Gibraltar has won her back!

I know that so many students are very sad to see Mrs McGee (RE & Teaching school), leave us as am I. The only consolation is that she has a new post in a Catholic School as a Senior leader.

Thank you to the staff
On your behalf I would like to thank our staff. It has been the most difficult year yet for schools in terms of the impact caused by the pandemic. They have given their all, and kept our students at the heart of what they do, ensuring they did whatever they could, despite the many obstacles in their path. We are blessed to have them

Arrangements for a return to school in September 2022
We will look forward to seeing our students again in September and an especially warm welcome will be given to our new Y7.

Thursday 1st September, is a Staff Training day
Friday 2nd September, Y7 and Y12 external students only
Monday 5th September, Y7-13 return to school as normal

I hope you all have a wonderful summer and look forward to seeing you all during the year ahead God bless,

Mrs Cleary

A message from Mr Davies
Thank you to Mrs Cleary for inviting me to give you an update on the development of St Clare CMAT and my seconded role.

I must say, I have very much missed the Notre Dame community and it has been wonderful to be able to come back regularly to visit to keep in touch with everything that is going on. As always, no one is standing still, not only doing the day to day work, but always looking to change and improve.

Work on the development of St Clare CMAT has brought challenges as anyone would have expected with a project as ambitious as this. However, as I know Mrs Cleary and the governing body have explained, St Clare CMAT does have approval to open in September 2022. Notre Dame will be one of the schools forming the CMAT from September, along with 12 other schools in the Diocese. There are a further 9 schools who are actively engaged with us in planning their own consultation and application to join in the coming year.

It is great to be able to focus on the work of building our CMAT in the way that we want it, maintaining the individual character of each school, while finding areas that we can share to reduce duplication and support improvement. We are starting to refine priorities around support for Special Educational Needs and subject leadership as these are shared priorities across all our schools. It is exciting to think about how we can combine our efforts in this work.

As the first phase of the CMAT is happening later than original set out by the Diocese, Notre Dame governors and I have been asked to extend my secondment through until 1st April 2023.

I have agreed and the governing body have generously supported that.

That decision has been made easier for me and for the governors by the way in which Mrs Cleary and the other leaders, managers and staff in all their roles have picked up different roles in serving the students and also continuing to develop and improve the school.