Dear Parent/ Carer
Over the last few weeks, I have received a number of emails and phone calls highlighting some great examples of our students at their best, both in and out of school. As they came in, one after another, I decided that this Blog was a great opportunity to share and celebrate this good news with the wider community.
I will start with the Inspiring Youth Awards. This is a programme run by a number of agencies working together in Sheffield to promote and recognise positive choices, community action and effort in education amongst young people in Sheffield. Last Friday, there was a big awards ceremony in the city centre to recognise achievement in this programme and I was so proud of our Y10 and Y11 students who were nominated for awards. Those students are Nsikanabasi Umoh, Tafadzwa Chaita, Tsitsi Shelter Zimbwa, Takudzwa Mhandu, Cheryl Sigauke and Gillian Karuga. One of our Y12 students, Agnes Bangura, who joined us this year from Handsworth Grange, also received an award for her work in the programme and leading the younger students. I met with them before the awards ceremony to hear about the work that they have been doing on the programme and also to hear their ideas about how we can promote this programme in school. I was so impressed and inspired by them and I am looking forward to the write up that they have promised, along with the photos from the awards evening which will be on our website soon.
Talking of the website, you may have already seen the article about Sarah Roberts, one of our Y13 students who won third prize in the Herbert Hughes Memorial Fund essay writing competition, organised by Sheffield University. Sarah is studying A Level Spanish and the essay competition is organised by the department of Hispanic Studies. It is an annual and hotly contested regional event.
The examiners commented on Sarah’s "very good command of Spanish" and her ideas in the essay being "well organised and reasoned. Her teachers in the MFL Department are rightly very proud of Sarah and her achievement.
Continuing with academic success, you may remember that last year, our students reached the final of the ‘Top of the Bench’ competition in Chemistry. Well, they have done it again and will once more be going off to compete against students from across the country in a competition which has often been dominated by high performing independent schools.
You will also have seen articles before about the success of our cross country teams, particularly our Y7 & Y8 girls. Their success has continued as Notre Dame finished in 3rd place overall in the league. In Y8, Annie Naylor was crowned City Champion, with Polly Platts taking the silver and Zena Hartley the bronze. In Y7 Rebecca Evans and James Hartley Y10 - both got bronze. I have noted before that the hard work and commitment of these students in training and in turning out to competition is a great reflection of making the very best of the gifts that God gives. In a time where we are worried about the health of young people, it is great seeing so many out on a Saturday morning, whatever the weather.
Also on our website, you may have read about our Y8 students who are taking part in Sheffield’s ‘Big Challenge’ enterprise competition. Students across the city have set up companies to sell their products. They are encouraged to look at all elements of having a business including marketing, finance and production. So far there has been a "Flying Start" competition and we are delighted that our HAH Jewellery team were highly commended with a £25 prize and an opportunity to show and sell their beautiful handmade jewellery. Harriet, Aine and Hannah impressed the organisers with their professionalism.
Our students have had a great deal of success in the performing Arts, with students again making the most of their talent through commitment and effort in and out of school.
Duncan Webb in 6th form auditioned for the National Youth Orchestra and was successful. He will take part in a three day residency at the University of Liverpool (NYO Inspire Ensembles) where 350 young people will be involved in an in-depth three day project aimed at strengthening ensemble musicianship and instrumental technique. Lizzie Webb was also successful in her audition for the National Youth Orchestra.
Another group of our students were spotted at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance workshop yesterday and have been invited to audition to train on their Centre for Advanced training course which is where young people with remarkable talent train in dance. They are; Georgia Feasey-Dean, Millie Pender, Evie Rostant, Bethany Croft & Rachel Jones.
Mr Ward was also keen to share with me recent success of some of our musicians in their exams. They are:
Benedict Walton-McBain Y8 (Electric Guitar) who was awarded a merit in his grade 6 Electric guitar exam in December
Grace McDonough Y13 (Viola) who was awarded a merit in her grade 8 Viola exam in December
Sarah Roberts Y13 (Flute) who was awarded a merit in her grade 8 Flute exam in December
Eleanor Buckley Y10 (Cornet) who was awarded the prize of “most improved player” by her brass band, the Loxley Silver Brass band.
Tim Rafferty Y13 (French Horn) who was awarded a pass in his grade 8 French Horn exam in December
Ellie Billingham Y12 (Cello) who was awarded a merit in her grade 7 Cello exam in December
Isobel McGarry Y12 (Violin) who was awarded a distinction in her grade 8 Violin exam in December
Outside of school, many of our students are involved in different organisations such as the Scouting & Guiding movement, and the different cadet forces. Again, we are delighted to hear about their achievements. Recently, for example, Nicole Weyman in Y13, a member of the Air Training Corps, was appointed as the Mayors Cadet in Rotherham. Another of our students, Kieren Raybould has won a place at the Scout Jamboree in the summer.
I get many emails and phone calls too highlighting just how impressive our young people are in their day to day lives too. Mr Lacey highlighted for me the example of one of our students who cycles in from Rotherham every day, including last Wednesday when we had to delay the start of school due to the snow! Then, last week I received a wonderful email from a member of the public who had fallen near Endcliffe park. A group of our students went to her aid and made sure she was alright before continuing on to school. The lady couldn’t speak highly enough of how kind and helpful they were.
I have featured here a number of examples of good news about students named and unnamed, which have been highlighted to me over just the last few weeks. I know that there are many more great things that our young people are doing day in and day out, in school and beyond. We have much to be proud of in our community. Ah, Qu’ill est bon, le bon Dieu!
I will hand over now to Mr Coats, who has put together some information about the work that we do as a teaching school. Here too are some great successes in the work of our members of staff that you may not always get to hear about, so it certainly feels in keeping with the theme of this blog.
Notre Dame was designated a ‘Teaching School’ in 2011.
Being a Teaching School brings many benefits to Notre Dame, as well as fulfilling our moral obligation to support other schools. Our website www.hallamtsa.org.uk tells you more about what we are up to, but I have highlighted some of our activities below in order to give you an idea of what the Teaching School side of Notre Dame does.
We are an accredited provider of teacher training, just like a university. Last year we trained a total of 66 teachers, both at Notre Dame and in around 30 partner schools. Our involvement in teacher training helps give Notre Dame direct access to the best new teachers in Sheffield and many of our trainees have gone on to take up jobs either at Notre Dame or in other diocesan schools. This is especially important because it is helping protect Notre Dame against the very real challenges of teacher recruitment that are being faced nationally. Our teacher training provision was recently inspected by OFSTED and received an extremely positive report.
If you, any member of your family, or a friend is interested in a career in teaching, do please get in contact with us, or come to an open afternoon – email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Teaching School runs the South Yorkshire Maths Hub which is one of only 35 Maths Hubs nationally. Maths Hubs activities largely involve working with teachers across the region to develop high quality professional development for Maths Teachers, and in delivering national professional development programmes (such as Teaching for Mastery).
Notre Dame’s track record of consistently very strong Maths results helped us become a Maths Hub in the first place, and the Notre Dame Maths department is now benefitting from its high level of involvement with Maths Hub activities.
The reputation of Notre Dame for the quality of its Science provision has again helped us secure a contract to operate the Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley Hub for the national Science Learning Partnership. The focus of this is providing high quality professional development to science teachers across the region. We are also a Physics Lead school and are funded to support a number of schools with Physics across the region.
This is probably the most exciting recent development in our activities. Nationally, the education profession is lagging behind the health profession in using robust evidence to inform practice, but this is changing and there is a greater emphasis on obtaining and using evidence to find out what works best in the classroom. We are leading several funded research projects across a number of schools to answer a range of questions such as:
‘Does giving students audio feedback on their work result in better progress than giving them conventional written feedback?’
‘Does the use of comparative judgement software by students bring about better progress than conventional marking by teachers?’
Teachers are a finite resource and the purpose of both these projects is to find out how to help teachers make best use of their available time to support students. We are also involved in leading a national trial across 100 schools into Spaced Learning in Chemistry. This project is evaluating the impact of a particular lesson structure to support retention of knowledge by students. Early trials of this show promise and this is being taken very seriously by funding bodies.
We have several classes in school involved in these projects, so you may find that your child is involved in these projects in some way.
As well as the benefits outlined above, Teaching School activities generate a modest financial surplus which is of a very practical assistance to the school as a whole, particularly at a time of constrained school funding.