Notre Dame Newsletter

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Success for Notre Dame Student in Spanish Essay Competition

Congratulations are in order for second year student Caitlin O’Hara, who has received third prize in the Santander Essay competition, awarded by Queen’s University in Belfast. The competition is open to all A2 students who have applied to study either French or Spanish at Queen’s from September 2016 and is sponsored by the Banco de Santander.

Caitlin, a former Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School student is also studying for A Levels in History and ICT.

The award means that she will receive a £250 scholarship towards her undergraduate studies and will be presented at a special ceremony at Queen’s, to be held at the end of June. Everyone at Notre Dame is impressed by Caitlin’s achievement and offers her their warmest congratulations.

Caitlin is pictured on a trip to Spain earlier this year

Caitlin is pictured on a trip to Spain earlier this year

(posted 21 June 2016)

PE Department Celebrates Team ND with First Awards Ceremony

2016 has been a very exciting year for the PE department at Notre Dame, with the launch of ‘Team ND’. The aim was to provide an even bigger range of sports for our students than has been available in previous years – all under the same ‘Team ND’ banner. Students have had the opportunity to play basketball, football, volleyball, cricket, boxing, badminton, netball and rugby throughout the year. ‘Team ND’ also has a unique partnership with Leeds Beckett University, which means that specialist coaches from their highly successful sports department come to Notre Dame to train our students in the available sports.

To celebrate an extremely successful first year, an awards ceremony was held last week in order to commemorate some brilliant performances by our students. Here are the awards presented to our fabulous students:

  • Badminton player of the year – Matt Jones
  • Basketball player of the year – Kamal Gamir Shahin
  • Boxer of the year – Obrey Zulu
  • Football Academy player of the year – Brett Hinchliffe
  • Football 1st XI players of the year – David Morley, Fungai Madeya
  • Cross Country Runner of the year – Will Collumb
  • Outstanding Sports Performer of the year – Matty Lee
  • Netball player of the year – Kate Gledhill
  • BTEC Sport Diploma Outstanding Academic Performance – Katie Richardson
  • Rugby player of the year – Callum Richardson
  • Activators Award 2016 – Emma Haslam, Matty Mayne
  • Unsung Hero Award – Lesley Stead
  • Volleyball player of the year – Zoe Malone

A very special well done to all of our award winners!

Pictured is Brett Hinchliffe after receiving his Football Academy award.

Brett Hinchliffe

(posted 17 May 2016)

Students Head to Durham to Experience University Life

Thirty Six lower sixth students headed to Durham in April to take part in the widening participation day offered by the university. The University of Durham has worked closely with Notre Dame over the last few years, culminating in our students participating in a forum discussion last October. This year, we were offered ten places on the widening participation conference – but Durham were happy to send a free coach when it turned out that thirty-six of our students wanted to attend!

All of the students on the visit are part of Notre Dame’s OCRE (Oxford, Cambridge and Russell Group Experience) group, an enhancement group which is co-ordinated and delivered by English teachers Kitty Graham and Mark Anderson and Classics teacher Penny Beaumont. Students in the group are offered guidance on application and interview and assistance in developing the research and presentation skills required to obtain a place at a university such as Durham. Visits take place throughout the year; OCRE students will be visiting both Oxford and Cambridge in July.

Activities throughout the day included a presentation by a Durham liaison officer, which covered academic and social concerns as well as what made Durham such a unique place to study, subject-specific mini lectures and an excellent lunch. Two current Durham undergraduates accompanied the group for the entire day and were very helpful in addressing questions and concerns.

The day was a huge success, with all students commenting on how useful they found it. “I thought it was a very informative trip, which enabled me to find out about aspects of the campus which I would have struggled to find out otherwise,” said Notre Dame student Jack Burnett.

The visitors are pictured enjoying their day in Durham.

Durham trip


(posted 17 May 2016)

Upper Sixth Student looks forward to National Evangelisation Team Challenge

Lucy Crispin, a student in her final year at Notre Dame, is about to embark on the ‘adventure of a lifetime’ by taking part in the ‘NET ministries’. NET stands for National Evangelisation Teams, a scheme that originated in America and has since spread all over the globe, to places as diverse as Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Australia and Uganda. It is a specifically Catholic organisation whose aims are to bring young people back to the Church through other young people. Lucy will be joining NET in either Ireland or Scotland.

For the next nine months, the former Corpus Christi Catholic College student will be serving with her team by delivering retreats, in the parish, high schools or in primary schools, on topics such as self-worth and how to deal with life’s pressures. “To me, these topics are so important in today’s society,” said Lucy.  

As yet, Lucy is unsure whether she will be travelling around, living in host homes (where people give up some rooms in their house for NET people) or whether she will be working in just one place. “I do know that I will be living out of my suitcase for the next nine months!” she said, “and that I will be working with around 7 or 8 other Catholics from different areas of the world.”

Every year over 250 people worldwide are trained in youth ministry and, as a team, will reach out to over 10,000 young people. “It’s going to be an adventure of a lifetime and I’m so blessed and excited to be a part of it,” said Lucy.

We all wish her the best of luck with this fantastic opportunity.

Lucy Crispin

Lucy Crispin


(posted 10 May 2016)

Brave Josie Shaves Head for Charity!

Lower sixth student, Josie Lee, took the very brave step to shave her head a few weeks ago, in order to raise money for Sport Relief.

“I chose Sport Relief because I think the work it does with the elderly and with domestic abuse victims is brilliant,” said Josie. Asked how she felt beforehand she replied, “I was terrified!” A huge number of Notre Dame students attended the big shave, which was carried out in the common room. Josie felt very touched by the huge amount of support she received from the Notre Dame community.

Afterwards, the new ‘do’ took some getting used to! “At first it was very cold! I kept going to push it out of my eyes and then realising there was nothing to push!” she said. “Everyone loves how it feels though and everyone strokes it. Now, with the warmer weather, I’m just trying not to burn my head!”

Everyone at Notre Dame is very impressed by Josie’s courage and generosity and looks forward to seeing the total amount raised.

Before and after the big shave!

Before and after the big shave!

(posted 10 May 2016)

Spanish Department Visits Salamanca

Spanish trip better

Twenty AS level Spanish students visited Spain over the Easter holidays, in order to give them the opportunity to use and practise their Spanish in a real environment.

The group, led by Spanish teacher Chary Gonzales-Latham, visited Salamanca in north-western Spain and stayed with host families. They were able to practise their Spanish in a number of different contexts and also had Spanish lessons whilst they were there.

The visitors were also provided with many opportunities to immerse themselves in Spanish culture, and enjoy themselves at the same time. They attended flamenco classes, visited the local Cathedral and learned how to cook tapas.

David Morley, one of the students on the trip, said, “I thought it was an amazing experience. I enjoyed giving everything a go and really tried to push myself. I know that this trip has helped my Spanish skills enormously.”


(posted 21 April 2016)

Shakespeare Celebrations!

William Shakespeare died exactly 400 years ago on the 23rd April. The English department at Notre Dame commemorated this occasion today by organising a Shakespeare themed day for all students and staff to enjoy.

English staff arrived to work dressed in period costume – we even had our very own ‘bard’ thanks to Mr Anderson who donned an outfit that Shakespeare himself might have worn. “Cakes and (ginger) Ale” were served at “The English Tavern” and sheets of Shakespearean insults were provided for students to have fun with.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the day was the Romeo and Juliet ‘flash mob’ which took place at break and lunchtime. Four brave A2 English Literature students surprised onlookers by performing Act 1, Scene 1 in the common room and outside in the sunshine, complete with plastic swords.

Thank you to all staff and students who helped to organise the day.

The English Department in period costume

The English Department in period costume

(posted 21 April 2016)

English Department Hosts Prominent Literary Critic

The English Department was very privileged last month to host a conference led by Pastoral Literature expert Terry Gifford. Mr Gifford, currently a visiting scholar at Bath Spa University, has written many successful books and articles about literature, including “Pastoral; The New Critical Idiom”, which is a recommended reading text for A Level English Literature students at Notre Dame.

He addressed over 100 A2 students, giving them advice about how they could link his ideas into their examination answers and more generally about pastoral literature.

Students found the lectures given by the visitor very helpful. “It was really useful to be able to ask Terry Gifford questions about what I had read in his book,” said one English Literature student.

Thanks are due to Julia Geddes, Head of English at Notre Dame, who organised the visit.

Terry Gifford addressing English Literature students

Terry Gifford addressing English Literature students

(posted 21 April 2016)

Talented Notre Dame Student Receives Gymnastics Award

Upper Sixth Notre Dame student Sophie Richardson deserves special recognition this week, for being awarded a place on the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS). TASS is a Government funded programme which aims to provide the opportunity for young athletes to balance academic life with training and competition as a talented athlete without having to make the hard decision between the two.

Each year, athletes who are recognised as being at the top of their respective sports are nominated by their national governing body. Sophie is a talented gymnastic tumbler and her achievements in the sport have been recognised by the governing body and by the award of the scholarship.

The award means that Sophie will have access to essential support services, such as physiotherapy, sports psychology and nutrition, which should make balancing sport and study a little easier for her.

Everyone at Notre Dame is very proud of her achievements and wish her the best of luck with both her sporting and academic endeavours. Well done Sophie!

Sophie Richardson


(posted 20 April 2016)

Upper Sixth Student Succeeds at Science Competition

Congratulations are due to Ashleigh Ruane, an upper sixth Notre Dame student, who recently returned from a very successful trip to Birmingham to take part in the finals of the National Science and Engineering Competition.

The National Science and Engineering Competition is open to all 11-18 year olds living in the UK and in full-time education and aims to recognise and reward young people’s achievements in all areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Ashleigh did remarkably well to reach the finals, which meant she was invited to showcase her work at the “Big Bang” Fair, held at Birmingham NEC. The field was very strong; Ashleigh did extremely well and made the final 40, which meant she was presented with a medal and a certificate.

Ashleigh’s stall proved very popular and caught the attention of a member of the Society of Radiological Protection, who took pictures of her work to display at the Society’s annual conference. “He had never seen an application of Physics like it,” said Ashleigh. “He was impressed by high SAR (Scientific Absorption Rate), which is usually controlled in radiotherapy, being actually used as a ‘weapon’ in itself to kill cancer.” She was also interviewed about her research by the venue’s camera crew.

Ashleigh has also been informed that she will be able to continue her research alongside a Master’s degree at The University of York, if she decides to study there in September. She also plans to enter her work into the Google science fair, a worldwide competition with a more diverse range of entrants.

Everyone at Notre Dame is extremely impressed by Ashleigh’s dedication to science and wishes her the very best of luck with her future studies and career. Well done Ashleigh!

Ashleigh is pictured being interviewed on film about her project

Ashleigh is pictured being interviewed on film about her project

(posted 15 April 2016)