Head Teacher’s Blog 8th November 2019
Welcome back to the new half term. We finished last half term with our annual ‘Pink Day’ when there are various events happening around school to raise awareness about cancer and in particular breast cancer. We raise money for cancer charities during the day as well.
Our 6th form 1804 students lead the planning for the day and this year’s students certainly lived up to the challenge. Despite the weather, which led to the postponement of the staff football match, there was a great atmosphere round school, helped by the decoration and all the events that had been planned. We are currently collecting and counting the money and look forward to seeing this year’s total.
We also had our Y7 disco on the second to last day of the half term. There were some amazing costumes and we had a great night, with a lot of singing. It is a good point to say how well our year 7 students have settled in to life at Notre Dame. I have had so much positive feedback about the approach to lessons, the enthusiasm and the politeness that the newest members of our community are typically showing each day.
With All Saints and All Souls days and Remembrance Sunday all occurring within a short space of time at this time of year, we do a number of things to mark this time. This Friday (8th November) we will have our Remembrance Mass, when we think both of those people who have lost their lives in conflicts round the world, but also those close to us who have passed away. We are often joined by families, particularly those who have experienced a recent bereavement and we are able to plant some flowers in our memorial garden together after the mass. As a faith community, these opportunities to support one another in the difficult times are so important. It is important too that we remember God’s promise of eternal life and His love and consolation which can bring great light and goodness even through the hardest things we experience if we can be open to it.
I just want to draw your attention to a couple of things that will be happening in the coming weeks.
First of all, tickets will be going on sale this week for “Les Miserables”, which is this year’s school production. Tickets are already available to order for families of cast members. Tickets for general release will be available later this week and can be bought through Wise Pay.
Wisepay can be accessed in the following way:
Go to the school website
Go into Wisepay Account
Under Ticket Payments – option to choose which date you prefer.
Please contact the Finance Department on email@example.com if you experience difficulties or for log in details if you do not have an account set up.
The cast performed some of the songs from the show during assemblies before the half term break and they were amazing. It promises to be a wonderful show and we hope once again to sell out the Chapel for each performance between 4th and 7th December.
In just under two weeks, on Saturday 16th November, we will have our 6th form open morning between 10am and midday. This is an opportunity for any students who are thinking about their options for post 16 study to come along and find out from current 6th form students and from subject teachers about what A Level study is like here at Notre Dame. It is always a very positive morning, useful both to current Notre Dame students and those who are at other schools. I look forward to seeing many of you there.
Dates for your diary
- Remembrance mass – Friday 8th November 1.35 in school
- INSET Day – Friday 15th November
- 6th form open morning – Saturday 16th November 10am – 12pm
- Y12 parents’ evening – 28th November 5-7pm
- GCSE Prize Night (for last year’s Y11 students) – Tue 3rd December at Notre Dame
- School production of Les Miserables – Wed 4th to Sat 7th Dec
- Y7 Parents’ Evening – 10th December
- Advent Carol Service – 16th December 7pm at St Vincent’s Church
- A Level Prize Night (for last year’s Y13 students) – 13th December at Notre Dame
Other things happening in school over the coming weeks that your children may be involved with:
- Remembrance assemblies and poppy appeal – Week beginning 4th November
- Advent assemblies and advent fund raising begins 4th December
A word from the ICT Department
A focus on staff in the department for this year’s blog from IT and Computing. We have been undertaking the Computer Science Accelerator Programme. This is a professional development programme designed to support teachers from non-specialist backgrounds who want to improve their knowledge of computer science and teach it at GCSE level.
The benefits to the staff and students are that we have been able to:
- update our skills and be recognised for our subject knowledge
- feel more confident to teach this high demand subject across the curriculum
- choose from face-to-face and online modules to suit your learning needs
- save time on lesson planning and gain inspirational teaching ideas
- call on a team of champions on hand to support you throughout the programme
The course ends with a graduation which took place at Google Headquarters in London. We were told that security was tight at the building, and I underestimated just how tight it would be having to pass sniffer dogs and answering questions which seemed to be part of a vetting operation. In my experience it was easier to get into Buckingham Palace then to visit Google.
We had a presentation by the Chair of the Academic Board, Simon Peyton-Jones and the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Chris Skidmore MP.
The whole event had a good mixture of professionalism and humour with Teachers feeling rightly valued and recognised for their achievement and enthusiasm for this difficult subject area.
In terms of the curriculum we are moving from providing the BTEC in Information Technologies to the A Level Computer Science at Sixth Form.
We currently have one group at GCSE Computer Science. They are learning about computational and algorithmic thinking; understanding and tracing linear and binary searching algorithms; describing and tracing bubble, insertion and merge sort algorithms; learning how to produce algorithms using flowcharts and pseudocode; and interpreting, correcting and completing algorithms.
There are two groups in Cambridge Nationals in Information Technology. They are improving their knowledge of the digital environment and confidence with IT. They are learning about data management issues and developing practical skills by planning and creating an integrated technological solution to communicate information.
In year 9 students are working on a unit about graphics editing. The unit explores how bitmap and vector images are represented and stored by the computer. The students then practise skills in design, photo-editing and image manipulation using Photoshop©. The pupils’ final posters will be put into an assessment portfolio.
In year 8 we have completed the first unit on Computer Crime and Cyber Security and are about to start the work on database development. They will create a flat-file or two-table relational database of their own, using suitable field types and adding in appropriate validations; an input form with help text, combo boxes and list boxes; queries and a report using data from one or both tables; and a front end menu for their application linking to the database input form and report.
Year 7 will shortly be moving on a unit based around the Flowol© software package. It is a practical unit covering the principles of producing control and monitoring solutions using a flowchart-based interface. Students will start by producing systems that use simple loops and basic outputs, and then move on to look at systems that have multiple inputs and outputs. They will refine their solutions using subroutines and variables.