Head Teacher’s Blog – 11th Feb 2019
It was quite a week for us in school last week.
On Tuesday, we were delighted to welcome Dame Jess Ennis Hill into school. She was here in her role as an ambassador for International Sporting Futures, who are launching a new level 3 Diploma Course for young people who are looking toward a career in Sports Coaching. We are delighted to be playing host to this course, which will be delivered by International Sporting Futures here at Notre Dame. This programme will be open to our students who wish to stay on at Notre Dame after GCSE and it will also be open to other students from schools across the city.
During the day, Jess worked with some of our Y9 and Y10 students and she had so much time for them. We also had reporters in from various media organisations and we hope that the message has got out to those who may be interested in the course which runs for the first time this September.
Then on Friday, all students and staff travelled from school to the City Hall for our Centenary Mass. As we left, the bells of St John’s Ranmoor rang out, thanks to one of our premises team, Pete McCoy, who is a bell ringer. He organised a team to ring for us and it was a wonderfully thoughtful touch that set a special day off to a great start.
It was quite a sight to see all of our students arriving at the City Hall, along with many parents, former students, former members of staff, representatives from other Sheffield Catholic schools, Sisters of Notre Dame and representatives from other Notre Dame schools across the country. The City Hall looked wonderful, with the altar, the statue of St Julie and our orchestra and choir on the stage.
As the students and guests gathered, we were treated to performances from our Notre Dame dance team, songs from the student cast of ‘Hairspray’, music from the orchestra and readings about the life of St Julie.
We were delighted that Bishop Ralph celebrated mass for us, along with Fr Martin Trask, Fr Andrew Brown, Fr Shaun Smith and Fr Chris Posluszny. The mass was a truly joyful celebration and the orchestra, choir and readers did a wonderful job helping to lead us all. There was a really prayerful atmosphere throughout and we finished with a very rousing version of the school song!
Fr Andrew, in his homily, talked about the family of Notre Dame and a number of people have commented to me that this was really what it felt like during mass. Although there were nearly 2000 people filling the City Hall, it had a feeling of closeness and community.
I was deeply proud of the students and grateful to the staff who made the mass a really joyful and prayerful occasion. I would like to say thank you to all our students and staff, personally and on behalf of the many guests who were there. We marked 100 years of Notre Dame at Oakbrook and 50 years since St Julie was made a saint by reflecting our school at its very best.
I would also like to thank all those parents who have made contributions to help cover the cost of the busses and the hire of the City Hall. Wise Pay is still set up to take contributions for this event if you intended to make a donation but hadn’t been able to do so yet.
There will be other events happening during the year to mark these special anniversaries for our school. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a return to the City Hall on 10th May for our Centenary Ball. This will be a special version of our regular Friends of Notre Dame Spring Ball, with dinner, a live band and a disco. Tickets are available to parents of students, staff, alumni of the school and others connected to our community. It is always a great opportunity to enjoy each other’s company and at the same time, the event raises money to support the extra-curricular opportunities provided for our students. If you are interested in tickets for this event, please contact Mrs Parker Giblin on email@example.com.
Of course, the normal activity of school carried on in the middle of all this excitement! I will hand you over now for a look into some of that day to day work that students and teachers are doing.
Dates for your diary
• Last day of half term Friday 15th February
• Training Day (students not in school) Monday 25th February
• Students back in school Tuesday 26th February
• Y8 Parents’ Evening Thursday 7th March (5-7.30pm main building)
• Spring Concert Tuesday 19th March (7pm in the Salle)
• Last day of term Friday 29th March
• Students back in school Monday 15th April
Some events happening with students during school time over the coming weeks
• Y13 students sitting mock exams
• Hosting the ‘Big Sing’ (Catholic Primary Schools) Friday 15th February
• Ash Wednesday services for all students on Wed 6th March
What’s going on Social Sciences?
A quick round-up of what department classes have been doing recently….
Key Stage 4 Classes
The Year 10 and Year 11 Child Development students have been working hard so far this year on their unit 1 coursework, focusing on childcare provisions and responsibilities on placement. They have shown excellent commitment and focus and as a result have developed excellent literacy and research skills and even gained practical work experience at the Old School House Nursery.
Students have really enjoyed applying their knowledge to support the development of the children at the nursery including helping children to complete craft activities and play games with them. Amanda particularly enjoyed her experience in the baby room saying: “They were so cute, I played games with them, made a snowman collage and they even brought me food at snack time! I can’t wait to go back again.” James also enjoyed applying his new skills to support children’s needs and seeing how the children’s’ development differed at different ages.
Health and Social Care
Our Year 9 health and social care students have almost completed their coursework unit which has assessed their knowledge and practice of health and safety and first aid.
They have been learning about how to assess the scenes of accidents and to identify the risks. They have also learnt how to understand first aid procedures for a number of accidents and had to plan and demonstrate this in multiple role play activities. They are now confident in giving CPR effectively and how to put a casualty in the recovery position. They move onto their exam component unit next week whereby they will be learning about the features and the importance of providing quality care for vulnerable people.
Sixth Form Classes
Year 13 Psychology
Students have made a positive, focussed start to Year 13 and have studied the topics of Gender, Schizophrenia and Aggression in depth. Students have enjoyed studying schizophrenia as it was a mental disorder about which they didn’t have much prior knowledge. They have found it particularly interesting to learn about some of the symptoms such as hallucinations, and the theories of what causes schizophrenia, including a “schizophrenogenic” (schizophrenia-causing) mother!
They have also enjoyed studying aggression as it has allowed them to gain an understanding of the behaviour of serial killers.
Students are now preparing for the mock exams where they will be able to put their new knowledge into practice and we wish them the best of luck.
Year 12 Psychology
The Year 12 classes have made an excellent start to Sixth Form and are currently enjoying studying the topic of Social Influence.
The students started this year learning about the different approaches in psychology and how different psychologists have tried to explain behaviour over time. They particularly enjoyed learning about Freud’s theory of the unconscious mind and Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs which involved creating our own pyramids of needs!
The Year 12s have also studied some research methods in psychology which has involved carrying out some of our own memory experiments, and psychopathology where we have learned about the mental disorders: phobias; depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
Year 13 Sociology
We’re almost there! Our students have started their final topic of A-Level Sociology, ‘Crime and Deviance’. They have just finished learning about Lombroso’s theory which states that criminality is biologically inherited and particular physical characteristics can determine a criminal.
Amongst other things, he suggested that people with high cheek bones, large ears and a twisted nose are most likely to be a criminal. Lombroso devised his theory by going into prisons and cataloguing the bodily makeup of prisoners, often examining them and taking photographs and drawing sketches. Of course, our inquisitive and analytical sociologists were ready to pick this theory apart, not least because it was developed over a 100 years ago!
Year 12 Sociology
Our Year 12 sociologists have been learning about the position of women in both society and in the family household. They have currently been learning concepts including the ‘triple-shift’, an idea that women are involved in three types of labour; paid employment, unpaid housework and childcare, and ‘invisible emotion work’. They have also been getting to grips with different Feminist theories and evaluating their varied contributions. Their theoretical knowledge and understanding was tested recently through debate when students were ask to construct arguments for and against the statement “Is Feminist’s bad reputation justified?” Students were keen to share their opinions.
Isabelle was quoted as saying “I think hypermasculinity has made men more resistant to engage in women’s fight for equality. I feel that feminism has been hijacked and vandalised by men in power or are afraid of women who have ambition and use feminism as a dirty word to mock girls who want to achieve something good in their lives”. It was a very lively debate and it was great to see students express their personal opinions and experiences!
Year 13 Health and Social Care
The Year 13 class have recently completed their exam in Anatomy and Physiology and are now continuing to learn about Public Health and Mental Health through their coursework.
Throughout Anatomy and Physiology, students learned about all the major systems of the human body including cardiovascular, respiratory and sensory.
With many of the students pursuing health-related careers and university courses, they have found this unit particularly informative. For example, for Hiba who is preparing to study Biomedical Sciences, “Anatomy and Physiology has really helped me understand the parts of Biology that I will need for my course, such as how different chemicals affect bodily systems.”
Students particularly enjoyed acting out the roles of parts of the kidney to show how our kidneys filter waste from our bodies!
Ms Tazzyman and Miss Teder
Year 12 Health and Social Care
Students began this year learning about diversity, equality and rights in health and social care. The start made to the course has been excellent with students enthusiastically completing placements, demonstrating their knowledge practically in different health and child care settings. Students have attended a range of local primary schools, residential care homes and nurseries, and demonstrated their abilities to build positive relationships with service users and colleagues through a range of interactions such as paired reading and craft activities and even a carol singing afternoon. They are now looking forward to applying their experience to a different work placement in the upcoming months.