Notre Dame Newsletter

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Superb Performance by Notre Dame Students in Cambridge Chemistry Challenge

Fifteen A Level Chemistry students from Notre Dame were able to celebrate receiving an award in the 2016 University of Cambridge Chemistry Challenge. The competition, launched in 2011, aims to stretch and challenge first year A Level Chemistry students interested in pursuing science courses at university. Set by an experienced team of teachers and university chemists, it is designed to be accessible to Year 12 students but will take them significantly beyond the syllabus. All participating students take part in a monthly online quiz and sit an exam paper in June.

2016 was a record-breaking year for our students, who performed brilliantly. Eleven students achieved the ‘copper’ award, two students were awarded ‘silver’ and, for the first time ever, two students achieved the prestigious gold award. Such is the challenging nature of the exam that only 60% of candidates receive an award, and only 7% of entrants manage to achieve the gold standard.

The “copper” award winners were Nada Abdulaziz, Mohammed Albayyat, Rebecca Allinson, Ruth Fawthrop, Rachel Lam, Xuan Li, Sophie McKay, Shuhaan Miah, Lugano Mwakila, Maysha Norwin and Christopher Rooney.

The ‘silver’ award winning students were Hajji Samia and Katherine Ka Wan.

‘Gold’ awards were presented to Joe Marsden and Jake Still.

An awards ceremony was held on Wednesday for the successful students, with certificates presented by our principal, Terry Coen.

Pictured are all the award winners win Terry Coen and Chemistry teacher Mary Legg.


(posted 20 September 2016)

Superb Exam Results at Notre Dame!

A huge “well done” is in order for the class of 2016 who can celebrate another great year of examination success.

Notre Dame has maintained its excellent pass rate at A level and, at AS level, has improved its performance by 4 percentage points.  Our BTEC courses have maintained their unbroken record of 100% success and the numbers achieving Distinction or Distinction * was our highest ever.  A record 19 subjects achieved 100% pass rate at A level.

There were some outstanding individual performances as well, including:

  • At A level, 23 students gained 3 or more grade A/A* and 6 gained 4 A/A*
  • At AS level 45 students gained 3 or more grade As, 24 gained 4 or more and 5 students gained 5 straight As
  • At BTEC, 57 students gained the highest grade of Distinction*

Early indications are that these excellent results have enabled almost every student to move on to their desired next step, be it University, an apprenticeship or the workplace.

Principal Terry Coen said, “Our students deserve enormous credit for the performance they have achieved.  Our teachers have worked tremendously hard to prepare students for their exams and, bearing in mind that many of the A levels had new specifications this year, this is a very encouraging picture – and one which will encourage us to even greater success in the future.”

Pictured are some of the successful students of the class of 2016.








(posted 19 August 2016)

Athletics Success for our Students!

Congratulations are in order for Jemma Ibbetson and Reynold Banigo, who, following their selection for the Leeds Schools Athletics Team, represented West Yorkshire at the English Schools Track and Field Championships. The competition was held at Gateshead Stadium in July.

Jemma performed very well, throwing 32.03m in the senior girls’ discus final and finishing in 9th place. Reynold had a fantastic championship, jumping 7.19m in the long jump to secure the gold medal! He is definitely an athlete to watch out for in the future.

Very well done to both Reynold and Jemma – everyone at Notre Dame wishes you the best of luck for your future athletics careers.

Jemma Ibbetson

Jemma Ibbetson

Reynold Banigo

Reynold Banigo

(posted 17 August 2016)

Students Embark on First Steps to Oxbridge

Several lower sixth students began their journey to hopefully secure a place at either Oxford or Cambridge University in June, when they visited colleges at both universities.

Twenty of our students visited Selwyn at Cambridge, a college with which we have had a partnership for several years. The visitors enjoyed an informative talk by admissions tutor Sophia Connell, followed by a tour of the beautiful grounds, the accommodation on offer and the chapel. Following a delicious lunch, a tour of Cambridge enabled the visitors to get a feel for the city, including a visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum. Some of our students also attended a free lecture on the life of the Galapagos Islands.

A similar number of students also visited the University of Oxford and were given the opportunity to take part in a ‘mock’ interview to give them experience of the selection procedure. They were also given lunch, which was eaten on the lawn of the spectacular Worcester College, followed by a tour of the city led by current Oxford University students.

Both visits were blessed with wonderfully sunny weather and all students arrived back in Leeds more determined than ever to apply to Oxbridge. Thank you to the staff from OCRE (Oxford, Cambridge and Russell Group Experience) at Notre Dame and all the staff involved at both Oxford and Cambridge, who made the trips possible.

Pictured are current lower sixth students Joe Marsden and Maysha Nowrin, who visited Cambridge.

oxbridge trip June rotated

(posted 17 August 2016)

Congratulations to ex Notre Dame Olympian!

Everyone at Notre Dame would like to pass on their congratulations to ex-student Alicia Blagg, who competed in the 3 metre synchronised diving event at the Rio Olympics last week, with her partner Rebecca Gallantree. The pair performed extremely well and achieved a very commendable sixth place.

Alicia was a student at Notre Dame from 2013 to 2014, before leaving to focus on her diving career. She is planning on moving to Florida in September to begin a degree course at the University of Miami, where she will also continue with diving.

Everyone at Notre Dame is immeasurably proud of Alicia, and we will continue to follow the career of such an inspiring sportswoman.


(posted 17 August 2016)

An Experience to Remember

One of the most memorable parts of this academic year for some of our students was the week of work experience undertaken by our brave Modern Foreign Languages students. Back in February, sixteen Notre Dame students headed to either Spain or France to become an ‘employee’ in that country and submerge themselves in the life and culture.

One of the students, Lydia Austin, headed to Spain to work for a charity called “Fundacion Amigos de Galicia”. Lydia became a fundraiser, working door to door to try and raise much needed donations. “Despite being extremely nervous, everyone was extremely friendly and helpful,” she said. “Having a host family was one of my favourite parts of the trip and helped me the most. The experience of living with a stranger and being involved in their family life gave me a huge amount of confidence.”

Alisha Henderson headed to Rouen in France to work in a crèche, caring for French children aged between six months and three years. “I got lots of opportunities to speak French and really improved my listening and reading skills too,” said Alisha. “I even taught the French children some English nursery rhymes, which they really enjoyed!”

Well done to all of our students who completed work experience this year, especially those who were brave enough to take on a position in another country, and thank you to all the staff who have made the experience possible.

Pictured are four of our students heading to Spain

Pictured are four of our students heading to Spain


(posted 15 July 2016)

An Italian Adventure

Enhancement week is always a very exciting time in the Notre Dame calendar, and 2016 was no exception! One of the highlights this year was a trip to Italy, to take in the sights, sounds and smells of this wonderful country.

The visit was jointly organised by the Geography and Classics departments so the itinerary reflected the topics studied in both of these subjects. The visitors managed to pack in trips to a number of places: the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, the Neapolitan city of Sorrento, the ruins of Herculaneum, Mount Vesuvius and the Amalfi coastline.

Forty lower sixth students went on the trip and it was so successful that plans are already underway to repeat it in 2017. Thank you to all the staff members who arranged the visit and accompanied the students.

Italy trip 2016 1

(posted 14 July 2016)

Historical Trip to a Historical City!

Forty Notre Dame students partook in a fabulous and educational few days in Berlin last week, as part of the college’s enhancement week programme. The visit was organised by the History department, who arranged a packed itinerary for the students to enjoy.

The theme of the trip was the Cold War, one of the topics studied as part of the History syllabus. In order to gain an appreciation of the topic, the students visited the Bundestag Dome, the Stasi Prison, the DDR Museum and the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. They also spent some time enjoying the sites of the city, relaxing on a river cruise and taking trips on the S-Bahn and U-Bahn.

Leah Barker, a student on the trip said, “It was an amazing experience, in a beautiful city with great people. So many activities were packed into four days and it is a trip that I will never forget.”

It is hoped that a similar trip will be organised for next year. Thank you to all of the teachers who accompanied the students and organised the visit.

Berlin trip 2016

(posted 14 July 2016)

Notre Dame Students Benefit from Partnership with Leeds Theatres

Notre Dame Theatre Studies students visited Leeds Grand Theatre on the 20th of June, as part of a new partnership between the college and two of Leeds’ major theatres – The Grand and City Varieties. The visiting students spent the day with staff members, learning invaluable skills and working with every department at the theatre, including marketing, lighting and costume. They were also given the opportunity to ask questions about possible careers available in the arts.

The visitors and the team also spent time developing ideas and strategies for the collaboration taking place for Leeds Light Night 2016, which will see the teams come together to produce an installation for the annual celebration that takes place across the city every October.

From September 2016, two exciting new courses (BTEC Performing Arts and BTEC Production Arts) will be delivered by Notre Dame, in association with both The Grand and City Varieties. Sessions will be run at both venues by theatre staff, giving our students invaluable experience of real-life theatre work.

Thanks are due to the Theatre Studies staff at Notre Dame, and the teams at City Varieties and The Grand for developing the partnership.

The visiting students are pictured at The Grand Theatre

The visiting students are pictured at The Grand Theatre


(posted 7 July 2016)

Spanish Visitors Experience Life at Notre Dame

Twenty-five 17 year olds from Vigo in Northern Spain arrived at Notre Dame last week, in order to immerse themselves in English culture and get a feel for how their UK counterparts live and learn. The visit is funded by the Spanish government and offers the students a unique opportunity to live and study abroad.

As part of the experience, the visiting teenagers (accompanied by two trip counsellors and key Notre Dame staff, including Principal Terry Coen) visited Leeds Civic Hall on Friday 17th June to meet the Lord Mayor Cllr Gerry Harper. They were given a comprehensive tour of the chamber rooms and the opportunity to ask questions of Cllr Harper. One of the visitors later described him as ‘really nice and friendly’!

They also met Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, who spent time chatting to the students and told them about his own children who are previous Notre Dame students. After this, they had traditional tea and biscuits, were invited to sign the visitor’s book and were given an owl lapel badge as a souvenir.

The visitors have also been to a number of different Leeds and Yorkshire tourist attractions including Kirkstall Abbey and Roundhay Park, as well as spent time within college ‘shadowing’ a Notre Dame student. Bethany Anderson, a lower sixth student who was shadowed by one of the Spanish students said, “It’s been a real privilege to spend time with the Spanish visitors. My Spanish skills have improved enormously and it’s been an honour to help them get better at English.”

Thanks are due to International Students co-ordinator Rose Lou who has arranged the visit and the programme the students have followed.

The visiting students outside Leeds Civic Hall

The visiting students outside Leeds Civic Hall

(posted 28 June 2016)