Headteacher's Blog 12.03.18

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Dear Parent/ Carer

As I am writing the blog today, it is bright and sunny and it does actually feel like we are heading into spring. Quite a contrast from the last couple of weeks! I would like to say a big thank you to all members of staff for the many ways in which they got on with what was needed to try to minimise disruption due to the snow over the past couple of weeks. I would like to thank parents for their understanding and cooperation. I would also like to note the many examples of students getting in to school when conditions were difficult for them and enjoying the challenge!

While the students had an extra day’s holiday at the start of this half term, the staff were in school for a training day. The teaching staff spent the morning refreshing our knowledge about the ways in which we build memory and, in particular, the evidence about the best ways to revise. There has been a great growth in understanding over the last 40 years about how we learn and about the revision techniques that are proven to be the most effective. This is of course very timely as teachers work with their exam classes from Y9 to Y13 in helping them to revise effectively over the final run into exams. I thought it would be useful to share with you a summary of what we looked at as teachers during that training day. There is a table at the end of this blog which highlights some common revision techniques and puts them in order of how effective they have proven to be. If you are interested and have some time, I have also attached an article which summarises some of the research and work that this table is based on. Two main things to take away for students who have exams this summer would be:

  • If you haven’t already done so, get a revision timetable put together and get working on it now. Plan the time that you can spend out of school on revision so that you are breaking up the things you have to revise into manageable chunks. It is better to do a bit of revision on everything every week, over as long a time as possible, than it is to do lots of revision on one topic all ‘crammed together’. A revision timetable doesn’t just help to split revision up to improve your learning, it also helps you to plan a balance in your time between revision and rest, which is good to help you to avoid getting too stressed or anxious.
  • When you are revising, doing self-tests is a great use of the time you’ve set aside. Teachers will be able to give you tips on how to test yourself in their subject. They will also be able to point you toward resources, both from school, but also things you can do yourself and all the many excellent resources available on line. Your friends may also have good tips on ways that they have found helpful to ‘self-test’.

While many of our students are revising for exams, our Y8 students are nearly at the point where they will make their options choices. A number of colleagues have commented to me about the excellent questions that the Y8 students are asking to help them make their choices. The bit of advice that I would offer is not to worry about making a bad choice. You can’t. All the subjects that you can study will give you opportunities to grow and develop knowledge, skills and understanding and all the combinations of subjects (including the ones you have to study) will open lots of doors for you when you take your next steps.

You will find things that are hard in any subject and, if you make a positive effort, you will be rewarded with some things that you love that you didn’t expect to. So, as you are doing, think about the positive reasons to choose the subjects that you are choosing so that you commit to doing your best.

I will finish by sharing a couple of lovely bits of feedback I have received about our students in the last couple of weeks. The first was a personal letter from the tour operator who the RE department worked with on the trip to Rome that took place over the half term break. The operator had been so impressed by our students that he wanted to write personally to pass that on to me. He spoke not only of their politeness and conduct, but also their interest, enthusiasm and sense of fun.

On a similar note, I have just come out of our Y10 mass which was celebrated by Fr Walsh from St Vincents’ parish. He was telling us that he had been in the Salle celebrating mass almost exactly forty years earlier shortly after his ordination. He commented to me after Mass how good our students had been and thought that they were even better behaved than those forty years ago!

God Bless

Mr Davies

‘Rank order’ of what evidence says about the most and least effective ways to revise

Headteachers Blog 12.03.18 revision

A message from Mr Coats who leads on our work as a teaching school

I’d like to draw your attention to a paid opportunity that may be of interest to friends or family who are currently 2nd year Maths, Physics or Engineering undergraduates.

The Department for Education are currently funding paid internships during the summer term to give undergraduates experience of working in schools. While the underlying aim is to encourage future applications to teacher training in Maths and Physics, this also represents a great opportunity for undergraduates to find out more about teaching as a career, while getting paid to do so!

Notre Dame is participating in this national programme and is currently interviewing potential applicants. We would welcome interest from former students or those connected in any way with the school.

More information can be found at this link http://www.network2learn.com/home/paid-internships, along with an expression of interest form that will allow you to register an interest in taking part.

Dates for the diary

Spring Concert;                                Tuesday 20th March (7-9pm in the Salle)

Last day of spring term;                  Thursday 29th March

First day of summer term;               Monday 16th April

May Day bank holiday;                     Monday 7th May

Spring Ceilidh;                                  Friday 11th May 7pm at Notre Dame

Some things going on in school in the coming weeks

Sleep Out;                                          Friday 16th March

End of term Lenten services;          Thursday 29th March

Easter assemblies;                           Week beginning Monday 16th April

St Julie’s Day;                                   Friday 11th May



Our two GCSE Business classes combining students from years 9,10 and 11 are currently working hard in the run-up to their May exams. They’re all studying the Economics aspect of the Business & Economics course and after looking at the benefits that countries can get from economic growth we moved on to the possible drawbacks of economic growth such as pollution and the exploitation of non-renewable resources. They are about to start looking at fairness in the global economy which is a very relevant topic at this moment in time. Students have recently completed their controlled assessments which are worth 25% of their overall grade. This required them to investigate a small business.


Year 12 Business students earlier in the year created and carried out primary research into the establishment of a deli in Broomhill .They are currently gearing up for their end of year progression exams looking at sources of external funding for businesses such as crowdfunding. In Year 13 we are approaching the end of the course and students are gearing up for their A-level exams and conducting extra research into the chocolate industry for their pre-release Paper 3 exam. Hopefully this won’t involve the addition of too many calories!


Year 12 Economics students are currently studying the macro-economy. Having looked at how an economy works and the problems economies may encounter we are now looking at the various policy options available to governments and central banks.

Year 13 students are nearing the end of their course and are currently moving onto study the labour market, specifically what determines the level of wages and employment in an economy. We recently had the announcement of the school Toniolo Economics Essay Competition winner. This is an annual competition which is open to Year 13 Economics students. This year the winner was Josie Goacher with three other students short-listed Daniel O’Sullivan, Angel Orola and Alex Doyle. Entrants had to complete a fully-referenced 1,500 word essay tackling the topical question "The rise in self-employment and zero-hours contracts is detrimental to the UK” Discuss.

Lastly great news from one of old Economics students Daniel Konopka (left in 2014). After completing his degree at Durham University he’s accepted a position on the Bank of England graduate development programme.

Headteachers Blog 12.03.18 BE

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