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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)

Staff and Students take part in “Interfaith Day”

The Philosophy, Theology and Ethics department at Notre Dame held an “Interfaith Day” event on Wednesday the 19th of November. Students and visitors from eight different faiths attended the event in order to represent their religion, with presentations given about Buddhism, Sikhism, the Bahai faith, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Paganism and Hinduism.

All students at Notre Dame follow a Philosophy, Theology and Ethics programme and those who had a timetabled lesson on Wednesday attended the event. There was also the opportunity for all students to meet the visitors at lunchtime. As well as this, a debate entitled “This house believes that God does exist” was held during the afternoon.

The event proved very popular amongst both students and staff. Pictured are some of the visitors along with several representatives from Notre Dame.

(posted 26 November 2014)

Students’ film screened at Leeds International Film Festival

The hard work of four A2 Notre Dame students has been rewarded with their film being screened at the 28th Leeds International Film Festival. The screening took place on Tuesday 18th November at The Hyde Park Cinema and offered the students the opportunity to network with casting directors and producers.

The film, a full length feature entitled “Into Dust”, was made by a group of 20 students from schools and colleges around Leeds. They were brought together by Gage Oxley, a student at Garforth Academy, who selected his cast and crew from a group of friends and acquaintances who all have an avid interest in acting and film-making.

The four Notre Dame students involved in the project are Holly Ainsworth, Emily Cairns, Sian Carry, and Siobhan Flaherty, all former students of Corpus Christi Catholic College. Emily, Sian and Siobhan all acted in the film whilst Holly, as well as playing a role, also helped to co-write the script. She explained, “It took about a year to make the whole thing. We made it because we all want to do something in film for our future careers.”

Pictured are the four Notre Dame students at the screening.

(posted 26 November 2014)

Students and Staff attend celebration of Catholic Education in Leeds

A selection of Notre Dame staff and students were privileged to attend “Christ at our Heart” – a celebration of the ordination of Bishop Marcus, the tenth Bishop of Leeds.” It was the first official engagement of the new Bishop who was installed the previous day. The service took place at Leeds Cathedral on Friday 14th November and was attended by Terry Coen, the principal of Notre Dame, as well as Religious Studies teacher Catherine Herring, Chaplain Andrew Sullivan and three current students – Ciaran Morrison, Harold Rasalan and Alphons Anyoka.

The rest of the congregation of 350 was made up of staff and students from all of the Catholic primary and secondary schools in Leeds, as well as representatives from Leeds Trinity University.

One of the topics covered by Bishop Marcus was the importance of faith. He presented the congregation with a 1960’s shirt box, a treasured possession he found while cleaning out a cupboard, which held his white baptismal garment from 50 years ago. His mum, who recently died, had kept it safely all this time. Bishop Marcus used this to represent faith and how we should always treasure it.

Pictured are the three students from Notre Dame who attended the service with the new Bishop.

(posted 21 November 2014)

25th Anniversary Mass

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of the College back in 1989. As part of the celebrations, we are holding a Mass of Thanksgiving at St Anne’s Cathedral on the College Feast Day of 8 December 2014 (the Feast of the Immaculate Conception). The Mass will be followed by a Reception at the College.

We would love to see as many past students, staff, parents, governors and friends of the College as can make it.

If you are able to join us on the day, please contact us at Hopefully we will be able to accommodate everyone who wishes to attend, but an early response will help us to manage numbers.

Monday 8th December 2014

Mass at 10.30 am

St Anne’s Cathedral, Great George Street, Leeds

To be followed by a Reception at Notre Dame

(posted 7 November 2014)

Notre Dame Students take part in Wordsworth residential

Twenty English Literature students from Notre Dame visited the Lake District last week in order to enhance their study of pastoral poetry. They arrived in Ambleside on a sunny Thursday evening, before taking part in a literature themed quiz.

The next day, they visited the Wordsworth Trust and enjoyed a guided tour of Dove Cottage, Wordsworth’s home when he was a young man, followed by a workshop on pastoral poetry. All students agreed that this helped their understanding of the poems they had been studying at college. After lunch, the students visited Rydal Mount where Wordsworth spent the last 37 years of his life.

The annual residential is one of the many enhancement opportunities offered by the English department in order to develop students’ understanding and appreciation of the subject.

Pictured (l-r): Vanessa Buckley, Arianne Thomas, Kritika Khalia and Catherine Cable in the living room at Rydal Mount

(posted 24 October 2014)