Head Teachers’ Blog – 25th February 2022
It has certainly been a busy start to the year and my new role!
Of course, an important part of this was the Ofsted inspection that took place on the 25th and 26th January, our first visit since 2008. It was a thorough, challenging but fair process. I will be able to share the report with you in the next few weeks once it has been finalised. Although the inspection was busy and extremely tiring, when I reflect on it I think about it very positively because over those days we certainly saw what makes Notre Dame such a special place to be. The staff responded magnificently, needing to drop everything to prepare information and attend meetings, as well as continuing to provide education as usual and carry out their normal duties. Everyone pulled together and supported each other. There was a very real sense of pride in the school that staff and students wished to share with the Inspectors. I was privileged to hear information from the team that won’t be published in the report, particularly in relation to comments given through Parent view. It was heart-warming to hear so many of your positive comments and I thank you for taking the time to communicate them to the Inspection Team.
We found ourselves inspected at a time when we were being heavily impacted by staff absence due to COVID, as well as two years of disrupted education. It is very easy to dwell on what we haven’t been able to do because of this, but the process of the inspection highlighted to me that despite the challenges we have faced we have managed to still provide some great experiences and opportunities for our students. In particular, within Chaplaincy, it hasn’t stopped Mr Neal, the Superman of Notre Dame, organising the ‘Christian Message Bus’ to be on site. Students loved going on the bus and taking part in fun activities led by the team. As well as having fun on the bus, the most important message students heard was that they are loved by God.
Assemblies and other events were not able to go ahead as normal due to restrictions but virtual or pre-recorded events were organised instead. In Advent, students made up boxes for the Sheffield shoe box appeal, ensuring that the homeless, vulnerable, and lonely people of Sheffield received a Christmas present. Each form was asked to fill 1 or 2 shoeboxes filled with items. The amount of shoe boxes the form groups made were incredible! There were so many boxes that when the delivery man came to collect them he had to go away and come back again as he didn’t realise there were so many!
Sadly, we were not able to meet together for the Carol service at St. Vincent’s church again this year so we organised an online version. We enjoyed beautiful singing from students, ensembles from the orchestra, expertly led by Mr Ward.
On the last 2 days of term, our Christmas services were held in St. Johns’ church, which was very exciting as we had not been able to meet together for 2 years. The theme of the service was ‘Prepare the Way’ based on the reading from Matthew’s Gospel when John the Baptist preached in the wilderness and prepared the way for Jesus’ coming. I was so happy that we could meet in person to celebrate Christmas together.
In the last couple of weeks, we have finally been able to return to collective prayer and contemplation, assemblies have begun again in the Salle and we are now getting ready to prepare for the start of Lent. We will be holding services on Ash Wednesday to spend time in reflection of the important weeks ahead. During the services we will invite everyone up to receive ashes on their forehead (or a blessing) The ashes are a symbol of humility and show that none of us are perfect. There will be a service next Wednesday morning during form time streamed from the Salle to all form groups. Then at the times set out below there will be a time of reflection in the Salle where students will be invited to receive the ashes if they wish to do so.
Despite restrictions the PE department have remained busy, providing very welcome extra – curricular opportunities for students. We have so many talented youngsters and recent successes include those who participated in the South Yorkshire cross country championships in Doncaster, earlier this month. All our Year 8-13 runners qualified for the English Champs in March. So, special congratulations to;
Toben Ugonna – 6th place
Grace Igoe – winner
Heather Berry – 6th place
Will Platts – 2nd place
Rebecca Evans – 3rd place
Isabel Causer – 5th place
Sadly, at the beginning of this term, Miss Green from the RE department had to leave us suddenly due to unforeseen, personal circumstances. I know students will miss her enthusiasm, positivity and love of the subject that she communicated to them so well. We miss her and will keep her in our thoughts and prayers.
On the subject of the RE department, those of you who remember Mr Loftus, will be delighted to know that he will be returning to us in September and no doubt will be serenading us with the School Song shortly after!
As you know, COVID restrictions have been lifted during this week and I will be giving you more information on this and what it means for us in school on Monday.
Have an enjoyable and restful weekend if you can.