Dear Parent / Carer
Happy Easter to everyone. While the Easter Sunday feels like quite a long time ago already, we are still in that joyful period of Eastertide and this has been marked through our Easter assemblies this half term. It has certainly nice to see some sunshine after what felt like a never ending winter!
We had a couple of trips out over the Easter break, with some of our students traveling to Iceland and another group traveling to CERN. Once again, I have had wonderful feedback about our students and how they really got the most out of the trips and were a delight to be with. I also appreciate the students and parents who have expressed their thanks to the members of staff who put in a great deal of work to provide these enrichment opportunities. I know that the great experience that our young people get makes that effort worthwhile.
Over the last week Mrs Vivian, Mr Saunders and I went out on our first Y6 Road Show of the year. I can’t believe that has come round again so quickly, not least because it doesn’t feel like five minutes since our current Y7 were preparing to come up to Notre Dame. Now they are experienced ‘old hands’. As always, we were made to feel very welcome at St Mary’s by the staff and the parents and we’re looking forward to getting out on our travels round the rest of the primary schools.
Also over the last week, I have enjoyed getting out to see some Y13 lessons and talk to the students about how they are revising and preparing for their exams. After the work that the staff did together on the recent training day, revisiting the evidence about the best methods for building knowledge, it was really great to hear students talking about how they are putting that into practice.
Looking forward to the summer term, there is as always a lot going on. It is a big half term for our Y11 and Y13 students who will have their leavers’ services and events in this half term and later in the year we have some of the great community events like Sports Day and the Summer Festival. In the near future, I want to draw your attention to the Dance show, which is happening this Thursday and also to our Friends of Notre Dame spring Ceilidh, which is taking place on 11th May at Notre Dame.
The Dance show is a new venture for us as a school and is the latest step for Miss Wildes and the amazing group of students that she is working with. I am certainly looking forward to seeing the performance and I hope to see you there.
The Ceilidh is happening in place of the Spring Ball that we normally have around this time of year. A number of people have said that they would like a Ceilidh and with us building up to a special edition of the Spring Ball next year, as part of our centenary celebrations, we thought it would be a great opportunity to do something a bit different for our spring social this year. If you would like tickets for the Ceilidh, please contact Mrs Wright at email@example.com
Dates for the diary
Dance show; Thursday 26th April 7pm-9pm at Notre Dame
May Day bank holiday; Monday 7th May
Spring Ceilidh; Friday 11th May 7pm at Notre Dame
Last day before half term break; Friday 25th May
First day back after half term break; Monday 4th June
Summer Festival including
Summer showcase and art exhibition; Thursday 28th June 5pm at Notre Dame
INSET Day; Friday 29th June
Y6 parents’ induction evening Wednesday 4th July
Sports Presentation Evening Thursday 5th July
Last day of summer term Friday 20th July
Some things going on in school in the coming weeks
Y11 leavers’ mass; Wednesday 9th May
Last day of normal timetable for Y11; Friday 11th May
St Julie’s Day; Friday 11th May
GCSE exams begin; Monday 14th May
Y13 leaving day; Friday 25th May
A Level exams begin* Monday 4th June
GCSE & A Level Exams end; Friday 29th June
*Please note, there will be some examinations before this point, but this marks the start of the main A Level exam period.
Since joining us our Year 7 students have studied a range of topics ranging from our local area to tropical rainforests. In the first half term all the year 7 students undertook a day of fieldwork. We really value this trip within the department as it introduces the students to the idea of fieldwork and also helps bring the form group together by being in a different environment for a full day as a group. The students have recently completed an energy topic. This unit involves us identifying the pros and cons of renewable and non-renewable energy sources, including looking at the enhanced greenhouse effect. It concludes with a decision making assessed piece of work in which students are asked to make an informed decision regarding the most suitable location for a new windfarm. This task also introduces the students to Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GIS basically involves the use of lots of data to produce maps with multiple layers of information on them. There is a whole career out there in GIS for interested students. To find out a little more go to http://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/geographic-information-system-gis/ . There’s the windfarm exercise and also some other fun activities using basic GIS here http://mapzone.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/mapzone/giszone/english/gismissions/page2.htm
The half term before the Easter holidays saw all the year 8 students visit Whirlow Hall Farm. We’ve done this trip in November before and one of the things we were hoping for with the shift to the Spring was possibly some decent weather. Due to the snow in this year’s long winter we ended up having to re-schedule half our trips but we hope that the experience of seeing some newly born piglets and lambs made the trip worthwhile. The Food & Farming topic involved a decision making exercise and this is something we really like the students to engage with as it is a key skill at GCSE level.
All our GCSE students are now in the final few weeks of their course. The last topics of the course are now being covered and more and more attention is being paid to exam technique and practising past exam questions. We follow the Edexcel B GCSE specification – if you are planning on buying a revision guide please make sure it is for the new 2016 specifications (it should have 9-1 on the front of it). Check with your child’s class teacher if you’re not too sure.
Across the year all our GCSE students have undertaken two days of fieldwork – one urban based and one river based. The techniques used on these fieldwork days as well as the research and evaluations are an important part of the upcoming exams.
Good luck to all our GCSE students in their exams. We have been so impressed with the way they have worked this year and really stood up to the challenges posed by the new GCSE.
Iceland – Easter 2018
Easter Monday saw us take 47 yr9/10 & 11 students to Iceland. This was our 6th visit to Iceland and each one provides us with so many amazing memories. This trip wasn’t without its drama and enormous credit must go to all the parents who managed to get everyone to school early on Easter Monday, despite the most unwelcome snow! Once there we had a magical time and visited sites such as Gulfoss (pictured), the Secret Lagoon and participated in a glacier walk on Solheimajokull. The weather was glorious with wall to wall sunshine – most pleasant indeed! It really is an amazing country and despite not managing to see the northern lights I think that everyone had an incredibly memorable time. We’re currently looking into the possibility of running another trip in 2020 so if your son/daughter will be a GCSE geographer over the next couple of years and want to go to Iceland tell them to keep an eye on their emails over the next few months.
We are currently preparing to take our Yr12 students on a 3 day residential fieldwork. We are heading up to the beautiful location of Malham and for the first time we are using a Field Studies Centre, with the aim of giving the Yr12 students as strong a foundation as possible for their upcoming Independent Investigation. The 3 day trip will look at a range of issues from regeneration to the carbon cycle. The Independent Investigation is a 4000 word report (based on fieldwork) and will certainly be a challenge but it will give our students a taste of what is expected at university. The students need to decide on their own topic for investigation but could do a lot worse than look at the regeneration that is currently underway in Sheffield city centre.
As part of our trip we will study some of the regeneration in Leeds and students may choose to re-visit the area, or indeed anywhere else, to undertake their data collection.
Our Yr 13 students are now entering the final straight and beginning to prepare for their final exams. They are our first cohort since the specification changes to be assessed entirely at the end of their course and this naturally brings about a whole different set of stresses and strains. We naturally wish them lots of luck and hope that they get the rewards their hard work deserves.
As a department we are very committed to fieldwork. Fieldwork is a key part of Geography and helps our students to study places in a way they may not have done so previously. It also helps them to take ownership of their own learning and to develop a range of skills from data handling and analysis to critically evaluating the success of various projects.
All of our students in Yr7-12 have participated in fieldwork so far this year. We try to use our local area as much as possible as it offers such a wide range of opportunities.