Headteacher’s Blog 22/12/2021

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Head Teachers’ Blog – 22nd December

As is so often the case, I can’t quite believe that we are at the end of term already. I included a lot of updates in the Blog which went out on Friday, but I wanted to take this opportunity to say a few words about colleagues who have moved on or who are moving on at the end of this term and also to thank you for your support before I step away for a while.

Over the course of this term, four colleagues have made the decision to retire. Rhona Cattell, who served for a number of years as the administrator for our SEND team retired earlier this term. Lorraine Wright, who has been one of the librarians, working with students and staff in the OLC, also retired earlier this term. Keith Barna, who has served since 2016 as the commercial manager for the teaching school is also retiring this December. Finally, Janet Snowdon has also made the decision to retire after a career in teaching which has included tremendous service to so many young people in our school.

Each of these colleagues, in different roles and in different ways have made a great difference to our school community and they leave their mark on the lives of the students and colleagues who have benefited from their gifts and dedication.

Also leaving after 18 years teaching at Notre Dame is Laura Coffey. Laura has taken up an opportunity to step into a new career, starting in January. We are grateful for all she has given as a teacher and as a colleague and we wish her well in what we hope is an exciting new chapter in her life.

Two other colleagues who have been with us for a shorter time will also be moving on at the end of term. Mia McHugh joined us on a temporary contract as a cover supervisor when we needed to increase cover for absent staff during the pandemic. She joined the school as we went into lockdown last January and she threw herself in from day one working with those students that we had in

school each day over that term. Reuben Knowles joined the PE department while Mr Downs was away from school last year and we were so grateful when he agreed to extend his contract this term to cover for Ms Kay. We are delighted that both Mia and Reuben have secured jobs to move into from January. I thank them for their work and wish them every success in their next steps.

As I write this blog, I have just returned from the first of our end of term services and not for the first time I have reflected on what a blessing it is where part of my job is to join with the students and staff I work with, in a beautiful church, to take time for prayer, reflection and celebration. It struck me particularly this year, both because so many of these milestones have been and continue to be disrupted and also because it is another example of what I will miss so much while I step away for a while in my new role.

One of the things that makes it personally easier to step away is knowing that I will still have regular contact with the Notre Dame community while serving as interim CEO of St Clare’s MAT. I am looking forward to playing my part in helping all the schools to build a MAT which only serves to strengthen the unique character of each community, through mutual support.

The governors of Notre Dame will be writing to you in the new year with more information about the formation of St Clare’s MAT and what it means for Notre Dame. Governors and I will welcome your thoughts, hopes and questions.

The other thing that makes it personally easier to step away is knowing that the school is in great hands. Mrs Cleary brings tremendous knowledge of the school and great skill and experience as a teacher and school leader as she takes over as Head Teacher. She will be supported by a strong and experienced team of senior and middle leaders and a committed governing body. In many ways, I believe it is the best of both worlds as there is the continuity of a team of people who are fully part of the work of the school today, but also with the fresh perspectives that will undoubtedly come as colleagues take the opportunity to serve the school in different ways.

In short, it will be business as usual at Notre Dame in January, but perhaps with an extra boost as a change is as good as a rest!

For now, though, I simply want to say thank you for your support since I took on the role of head teacher and to thank you in advance for the support I know you will continue to give to Mrs Cleary and to the whole staff team. Thank you for trusting your children to us. I will miss the joy of seeing them each day and for all the ways that they and the staff bring to life St Julie’s great saying; “How good is the good God!”

Happy Christmas and very best wishes for the new year.

Steve Davies & Deirdre Cleary


Contingency Planning for the return in January

At the moment there is some uncertainty about what a return to school will look like in January, but we have contingency plans in place if we find ourselves being required to make any alterations to the usual running of the school. As things stand, we expect to have everyone back on Monday 10th January, with provision of onsite testing for all students whose parents have given consent taking place during the day. If there is any change, it is Mrs Cleary’s intention that she will contact parents in relation to this as early as possible in the week beginning the 4th January.


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