Notre Dame Newsletter

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Bon Voyage and Buen Viaje!

21 AS Level French and Spanish students are departing this weekend to spend half term completing work experience in either Lille or Salamanca. The week is organised by Halsbury Work Experience Abroad, and will provide the students with invaluable experience of using the language in a work environment. It will also improve their language skills in preparation for their future examinations, as well as help them to stand out in future job or university applications.

In addition to working hard, the students will be able to socialise with other sixth form students and take part in organised activities during the evenings. They will also spend some time getting to know the town in which they are working. We wish them all an exciting week!

(posted 16 February 2015)

Product Design students visit Allied Glass

Several students of Product Design at Notre Dame enjoyed a trip to Leeds firm Allied Glass Containers on the 5th of February. The visit marks the twentieth successive year that the department have visited the firm in order for the students to observe the production of clear glass bottles for the drinks industry.

The visitors enjoyed a welcome presentation by the Assistant Design Centre Manager, who explained how the company are evolving to meet the changing demands of the global market by producing high quality clear glass bottles for brands such as Johnnie Walker and Bloom. The students were then given a tour of the production line, including a visit to the furnace and forehearth area where the molten glass is prepared for forming.

This year’s visit was particularly relevant as a former Notre Dame Product Design student, Liam Appleyard, is currently employed as an Allied Glass New Product Designer.

Alex Brooke, one of the visiting students said, “It was incredible to see the forming process up close, and feel the heat – something you don’t get from a video! That furnace was intense and it will stick in my mind for a long time.”


(posted 16 February 2015)

Students take part in Bank of England challenge

Five Notre Dame Economics students recently took part in the “Target Two Point Zero Challenge”, an event organised by The Bank of England and held at Weetwood Hall in Leeds. The event gave the students the opportunity to experience life as a member of the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee; their task was to assess economic conditions and the outlook for inflation and then present their findings to a panel of judges, made up of representatives from the Bank of England. The aim was to convince the panel that their monetary policy would result in helping the government achieve their 2% target for inflation.

Schools and colleges from all over Yorkshire took part. Notre Dame were represented on the day by Niamh Murray, Joseph Fraser, Anjola Babalola, Max Forshaw and Endrit Gashi. A support team of students had previously helped to research the data and produce a very detailed report, consisting of Ahmed Azahari, Andrew Kyles, Jake Griggs, Stephanie Hatib, Kenzie McCabe, Rebecca Gamble and Timothy Mobbs.

After they had delivered the presentation, the team were faced with rigorous questions from the panel and performed exceptionally well under immense pressure. Unfortunately, on this occasion the team narrowly missed out on progressing to the next round and were pipped at the post by a very impressive team from Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Wakefield.

Team member Anjola Babalola said, “Although it took a lot of time and effort, I am proud of myself and the team for taking part and am grateful for the opportunity. The experience broadened our understanding of Economics, gave us a really good insight into how the Bank of England operates and showed us how the Monetary Policy Committee arrives at its decision regarding interest rates.”

Pictured l-r are Endrit Gashi, Anjola Babalola, Joseph Fraser, Max Forshaw and Niamh Murray.

Pictured l-r are Endrit Gashi, Anjola Babalola, Joseph Fraser, Max Forshaw and Niamh Murray.

(posted 11 February 2015)

Notre Dame student success in IELTS exam

Nandana Syam, a first year student at Notre Dame, was able to celebrate recently when she was awarded the highest score for her IELTS exam in the college’s history. IELTS (International English Testing System) is accepted as evidence of English language proficiency by over 9,000 organisations worldwide. It is recognised as a secure, valid and reliable indicator of true-to-life ability to communicate in English for education, immigration and professional accreditation.

All international students at Notre Dame follow an IELTS programme and take the test when they are ready to do so. Nandana scored 8.5 across the four skills tested, with a score of 9.0 in listening and reading and 8.0 in both speaking and writing. The highest score awarded for any skill is 9.0, meaning that Nandana achieved full marks in both listening and reading.

Well done Nandana!


(posted 6 February 2015)

Students Celebrate Oxbridge Success

Six Notre Dame students were able to celebrate last week, after being offered places to study at either Oxford or Cambridge University. This year’s high number of offers marks a continuation of the success of our students being offered places – last year’s performance was the best the college has ever had when eight students were successful.

Five students have been offered places at Oxford: Dominic Leonard has received an offer to study English at Christ Church College, Adam Higgins has been offered a place on a Maths degree at St Catherine’s College, Zac Leather has received an offer for PPE at Balliol, Sarah Rouse a place to study Biology at St Anne’s, and Katie Wood a place to study Classics at St Hugh’s. The University of Cambridge have offered Simon Lo a place to study Mathematics at Trinity College.

Any student at Notre Dame who is interested in studying at Oxford, Cambridge or a Russell Group University has the opportunity to join OCRE (Oxford, Cambridge and Russell Group Experience), an enhancement group which is co-ordinated and delivered by English teacher Kitty Graham and Classics teacher Penny Beaumont. Students in the group are offered guidance on application and interview, assistance in developing research and presentation skills and the opportunity to attend a conference with a visiting admissions tutor from Cambridge.

“Admission to Oxford and Cambridge universities is still a massive step for the average student from a state school,” says Kitty Graham, “especially as we have broadened our programme to make it more open access in the past two years. The students who have been successful are among the highest achievers in college but, more significantly, they have focused very hard on their goals. In particular, each of them has demonstrated a passion for their subjects which is genuine and obvious and which has been evidenced by the considerable amount of extra reading they have been prepared to do. They all deserve their places and we are very proud of them!”


(posted 2 February 2015)

College Celebrates 25 year Anniversary

Past and present staff, students and governors from Notre Dame celebrated its 25th anniversary on December the 8th, with a Mass at Leeds Cathedral followed by a celebration dinner at the college itself.

The Sixth Form College site has been providing Catholic education in Leeds since 1898, when the Sisters of Notre Dame came to Leeds and to the parish school of St Anne’s, which is situated across the road from the current site. In 1904, the main building of what is now the Sixth Form College was built and opened as Notre Dame Collegiate School for Girls. The school became the Notre Dame High School in 1978, a catholic comprehensive school for pupils aged 13 to 18, with around 650 girls.

In 1989, Catholic education in Leeds was restructured. The site became the sixth form college for the Leeds Catholic high schools, and also became co-educational for the first time. It now educates almost 1,900 16 to 19 year olds from a wide variety of schools across Leeds, Wakefield, Bradford and beyond, making it ten times larger than the average Leeds sixth form, and provides qualifications in over 30 subjects. Previous notable students include BBC sports presenter Gabby Logan, Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences at the Open University Monica Grady and Alicia Blagg, diving bronze medallist at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Over 300 staff, governors and students celebrated the occasion, including three past Principals of the college, and several students also provided entertainment at the event. Terry Coen, Principal of Notre Dame since 2012 said, “December the 8th was a special day for a special college. It was wonderful that so many current and past students, staff and governors could join us to give thanks for the last twenty-five years and to celebrate our community – a community which we hope will continue to provide excellent education for the young people of Leeds and surrounding areas for many years to come.”

Pictured are some of the current students who celebrated the event.

Pictured are some of the current students who celebrated the event.

(posted 19 January 2015)

Production of Twelfth Night a resounding success!

Theatre Studies staff and students had cause to celebrate at the end of December as their three night run of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” came to an end and received superb feedback. The production was directed by Theatre Studies teachers Rosie Hamblyn and Graeme Brown, along with student Ella Burns Robbins, as Assistant Director. The full cast and crew consisted of over 30 students who willingly gave up their free time for 8 weeks in order to ensure the production was a success.

This version of Twelfth Night was set in the 1930’s and featured band music from the period, designed by student Fran Golding. The Design Technology department built a beautiful set, which was enhanced by the lighting design of Abi Waller and perfectly evoked the coldness of midwinter. Malvolio, played by Dominic Leonard, was presented as a dour Scotsman which added to the humour that featured in some hysterically funny scenes with Sir Toby (Elliot Matthews), Sir Andrew (Ben Jowesey), Maria (Emily Simister) and Feste (Evie Appleson).

The production was well attended by students, staff and governors. In addition, Production Manager Paul Graham also organised through Facebook for 40 ex Theatre Studies students to attend the performance; some of these students had recently left Notre Dame whilst others left over ten years ago! Feedback on all nights was overwhelmingly positive and the college are already looking forward to next year’s production.

Pictured left to right are Ruby Pickup as Viola, Alicia Mason as Curio and Darren Phillip as Count Orsino.

Pictured left to right are Ruby Pickup as Viola, Alicia Mason as Curio and Darren Phillip as Count Orsino.

(posted 8 January 2015)

Notre Dame hosts visit from Harvard University representatives

Several students and staff welcomed two representatives from Harvard University on the 16th of December, who visited Notre Dame to provide information about studying at the US University. Stuart Gordon and Mark Yeung, both graduates of Harvard, spoke to a group of over 20 students who were considering studying in the USA.

Harvard University, an Ivy League University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was established in 1636 and is one of the most prestigious universities in the world. The visiting speakers provided information about the history of Harvard, as well as more practical advice about studying there and life as a student in the USA. Many students who attended the event said they were inspired to consider applying to study there.

Notre Dame is the only sixth form in Leeds to have hosted a visit from Harvard. Careers advisor Anna Geldart, who organised the visit, said that both institutions are excited about developing an even stronger partnership in the future.


(posted 8 January 2015)

Alicia Blagg narrowly misses BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year Award

Former Notre Dame student, Alicia Blagg, who was included in this year’s BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award nominations, narrowly missed out on the award which was won by gymnast Claudia Fragipane.

Alicia, a diver, was part of the strong field of ten contenders, which also included wheelchair athlete Jade Jones. Previous winners have included household names such as Tom Daley, Andy Murray, Wayne Rooney and Ellie Simmonds, which highlights just how exceptional these sports people are.

18-year-old Alicia represented England at this year’s Commonwealth Games in the 1m, 3m and 3m synchronised diving competitions, after winning the British 3m springboard title in June. A student at Notre Dame until a few weeks ago, she has unfortunately had to move to a college nearer to her training centre in order for her to keep up with her rigorous training schedule.

Notre Dame Principal, Terry Coen, said, “Alicia is an incredibly talented and determined young woman. She is an excellent student in every way and we wish her every success in the future. The whole College will be following her career and cheering her on.”


(posted 18 December 2014)

Notre Dame students inspired to say ‘Yes’ to success

On Monday 1 December 2014, 12 students from Notre Dame travelled to London to kick start their Career Academy programme, and enjoyed a behind-the-scenes visit to Clifford Chance Solicitors. The event, called A Capital Experience, was organised in partnership with national charity, Career Academies UK, which aims to bridge the gap between education and work by giving young people access to real experiences of the world of work.

As part of their visit to Clifford Chance, students were given information about undertaking a career in law.

In the afternoon, the students joined 1,700 other young people from across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, all of whom are beginning the Career Academy programme. Students were given the opportunity to hear from motivational speakers and enjoyed entertainment from Citi Bank’s choir, who recently featured in the BBC’s The Choir – Sing While You Work, as well as dance group, CEO Dancers.

Career Academies UK aims to make young people work ready by delivering a programme of mentoring, masterclasses, workplace visits and internships in schools and colleges across the UK. Notre Dame] has been working with Career Academies UK for several years to help our students prepare for the world of work.

Anne Spackman, Executive Director of Career Academies UK, said: “It is always fantastic to welcome students from right across the country to experience work and life in the capital. We know that for some of them it will have been their first trip to London, and to walk into the glass and marble towers of the capital and realise that they are welcome and that someone like them could work there, is an inspirational moment for students.

“We hope that moment of inspiration will stay with them throughout the programme and motivate them to aim higher in their future careers.”

For more information about Career Academies UK, and to see photos from the event, visit:

(posted 12 December 2014)