Head Teacher’s Blog 17th December
Here we are in the last week of term. We have had Gaudete Sunday, when the focus of Advent moves onto preparation for celebrating the birth of Christ, so there is definitely a festive sense in the air. On Tuesday of this last week (18th December) we will gather at St Vincent’s church in Crookes for our annual Advent Carol service. This is always a wonderful evening that helps set the tone for the final run in to Christmas. My thanks in advance to Mr Cain, Mr Wilkinson, the students and staff of St Marie’s school, Fr Walsh and the parishioners of St Vincent’s and all our students and staff who will lead us. I hope to see you there.
Anyone who was lucky enough to see ‘Hairspray’, will have had a real treat. As we have come to expect, the production was ambitious and everyone rose brilliantly to the challenge. The set, costumes and technical side, the back stage crew, the musicians, choreography and the amazing performances by the cast were all of such high quality. One member of staff whose wife and daughter came with him to one of the shows told me that his wife was stunned at the quality from a school production. On behalf of all those who enjoyed a great show, my thanks to the army of students, staff, parents and friends of the school who gave so much time and generously shared their talent. I must give particular thanks to Mr Wilkinson as musical director, Miss Wildes as Choreographer, Mr Hogan for leading the technical crew, Bella Schofield who led the back stage crew and of course Mr O’Farrell and Miss Carrigan our inspirational directors.
Congratulations to our PE department and all the members of staff who support them in providing a wide range of extra-curricular sporting opportunities. They were nominated by the Sheffield Federation of School Sports for the John Moss award for outstanding contribution to school sports in the city. Every summer at our Sports Presentation Evening we get just a sample of the tremendously wide range of sports and the tremendous number of students who get involved each year and this relies on the commitment and drive of those members of staff. I am sure that you will agree that this nomination is richly deserved.
Finally from me, you will hopefully have received a letter telling you about the celebration mass that we are having on 8th February. This mass is close to the Notre Dame Founder’s Day (4th February), the date on which the Notre Dame order officially began in 1804. It will mark the official beginning of our centenary year as we mark 100 years of Notre Dame at our current site. Next year is also the 50th anniversary of Julie Billiart, the founder of the sisters of Notre Dame, being declared a Saint. We are looking forward to marking these milestones with events through the year and we are very excited to be able to gather the whole school along with some past students and members of staff in the City Hall for a mass celebrated by Bishop Ralph. There is a reply slip on the letter and it will really help our planning if you can get the slip back in to your child’s form tutor by the end of this week. Thank you.
All that is left from me now is to wish you and your families a happy Christmas and I hope that you are able to enjoy some rest before we head into the new year.
Dates for your diary
- Evening Advent Service; Tuesday 18th December 7pm – St Vincent’s Church, Crookes
- A Level Prize Night; Thursday 20th December 7pm – Notre Dame (Salle)
- Last day of term; Friday 21st December (Finish at normal time)
- First day of new term; Monday 7th January
- Y13 Parents’ Evening Thursday 17th January
- Y8 Options Evening Tuesday 22nd January
- Y9 Parents’ Evening Tuesday 29th January
Some events happening with students during school time over the coming weeks
- Form group services On-going through the year
- Y11 Mock Exams 12th to 20th December (normal school time)
- Winter Wonderland Fundraising Fair Wednesday 19th December
- End of term Advent Services Thursday and Friday 20th and 21st Dec
- Enrichment Day 2 Thursday 17th January
- Centenary Mass Friday 8th February
Headteacher’s Blog – English Contribution December 2018
Happy Advent to you all from the English Department! We are busy once again in the run up to Christmas and would like to share with you a little of what has been going on in English this term.
Y7, Y8 and Y9
We are very excited about the changes we have made to our Key Stage 3 English curriculum over the last two years. The design changes in the English curriculum reflect our passion for reading, our ongoing engagement with educational research, and our understanding of the crucial role that student talk has to play in developing analytical skills. We believe that English lessons in Y7-9 should be fun, active and that they should also challenge our thinking, so that we can become confident critics of everything they read!
From September of this year, we have rolled out a three-part programme of study for the third hour of curriculum time for Y7. Students take part in a session of ‘Let’s Think in English’ on a bi-weekly basis. ‘Let’s Think in English’ is an hour of talk-based problem solving, designed to improve students’ analytical skills, as well as their overall cognitive development. The celebrated scheme was designed by Kings College, and we are very excited to be offering this to Y7. The three-part rolling programme also comprises active grammar teaching, structured reading (independent and reciprocal) and focussed creative writing.
Y10 and Y11
Y10 are currently studying A Christmas Carol, a fantastic novel to read as we reflect on the Christian message of hope at this time of year. Students are engaging with the wonderfully rich language and world of Charles Dickens, learning to write fluently about characters and themes, as well as learning quotations off by heart – no mean feat! We look forward to sharing information about your children’s progress at Parents’ Evening in February. The Y11s enjoyed a superb performance of the AQA Power and Conflict poetry in October which was appreciated by all. The theatre company managed all fifteen poems in one hour with only three actors – amazing! We were particularly impressed with the calibre of our students’ questions in the half hour Q & A session afterwards and, as ever, the visitors were overwhelmingly complimentary about our students’ impeccable behaviour. We know this experience has enriched students’ understanding of the texts and will further aid revision for the Literature Paper 2 mock exam which they will complete as part of mock exam week. We have invited the theatre company to return in March to perform Macbeth to coincide with our revision of this text, studied alongside the 19th Century novel for English Literature Paper 1.
Y12 and Y13
We were thrilled to be able to take 40 Y12 and Y13 Literature students to Manchester in November to watch Death of a Salesman at the Royal Exchange Theatre. Students benefitted not only from the superb interpretation of the text, but also a rare Q & A afterwards with the actors and director. As with Y11, we were incredibly proud of our students’ engagement with this and with their mature questions. Alongside Death of a Salesman, Y12 are studying Othello as part of their preparation for the tragedy paper – we like to keep things light and cheery! Y12 Language students are currently studying the topics of Language and Gender and Language and Occupation, as well as engaging in plenty of wider reading which covers a variety of genres and audiences. They are applying as much of the new terminology to these texts, such as pragmatics, lexis and semantics, grammar, phonology and discourse, in their analysis of meanings and representations.
All of our Y13s have been working hard on their NEAs which are now largely finished and we look forward to reporting on their progress at Parents’ Evening later in January.
Our KS3 Creative Writing Club and KS4 Debate Club continue to be very well-attended. Club members are passionate about developing their creative and persuasive skills, and their ability to craft their language effectively to meet the needs of the task, purpose and audience. Both of these clubs have focused on Remembrance themed activities this month and we are looking forward to exciting new topics in the New Year. Creative Writing Club takes place on Fridays at 12.40pm in 003 and Debate Club takes on Wednesdays at 12.40pm, both run by Mr O’Farrell and other English staff. Students – please drop in and check it out!
Last year’s hugely popular Y8 trip to the Globe theatre is running again in the summer term. Students will have the opportunity to experience a workshop based on The Tempest (which they will be studying in the summer term), a tour, performances and a ‘Muggles’ Tour of London.