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Business Students Enter PwC Dragon’s Den


Some of our students with the PwC dragons.

On Friday 17 May, 16 colleagues from professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers led a Dragon’s Den style challenge with 70 of Notre Dame’s A level Accounting, A level Business and CTEC Level 3 Business students.

Our students were put into small groups and given the challenge of creating a new business idea to solve problems relating to either health or wellbeing, the environment, or a problem faced by those in their local community. Making the most of this opportunity to impress a potential future employer, our students thought up a whole range of solutions from apps to support those suffering from loneliness or to solve communication issues in large organisations, to wearable tech to track fitness.

At the end of the session, each group presented their ideas to a panel of judges from PwC. After much deliberation, a winning team was selected. Congratulations to SRC (Study, Relax & Chill) whose team members were Will Harland, Masab Khan and Nathanael Tesfay. Their winning idea was a social network app for a college intranet that could put lonely students in touch with others who had similar interests in terms of studying, relaxing and leisure time.

Business teacher Ms Francesca Ashton said, ‘I’d like to say well done to all the students taking part. The staff from PWC were very impressed with the range of employability skills displayed, from critical thinking to excellent communication and team working.’

A rapt audience for PwC’s opening presentation.
One of our student teams presenting their business idea.
(posted 24 May 2019)

Codebreaking’s a Walk in Bletchley Park

Some of our students modelling military hats and caps from the codebreaking era.

As Notre Dame’s computing and maths students discovered during a visit on Wednesday 15 May, Bletchley Park is celebrated for two main reasons. Firstly as the home of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) during World War Two, and secondly as the birthplace of the information age.

During the war, Bletchley Mansion – and the now-famous wooden huts on the lawns of its Park – were used as a base for a variety of codebreaking operations. The aim was to decipher coded military messages, such as those sent using Enigma machines.

The codebreaking process would have been impossible if it wasn’t for the mathematical brilliance of the codebreakers, and the invention of machines like the Turing/Welchman Bombe and the world’s first electronic computer, Colossus (read more here).

For our students, their trip to Bletchley Park provided an opportunity to see where the codebreakers worked and get a close look at a wide variety of Enigma machines. They had a guided tour of the Park and Mansion, which took in several monuments and provided a realistic experience of wartime work in code-cracking and linguistics huts. Our students got hands on with multiple interactive exhibits, exploring how different ciphers worked and finding out about the history of Bletchley Park. They also found out more about cyber security thanks to brand new exhibits on the subject.

The visit was a hit with students, one of whom commented, I am a maths & science student with an interest in cryptography, so found the trip to be incredibly interesting and enjoyed learning all about Bletchley Park and its history’. Another added, ‘Very interesting and relevant. I learnt a lot about the history of computing and codebreaking as well as some more modern knowledge from the cyber security exhibit.’

Inside Bletchley Manor
One of the Enigma machines.
Our students on their tour of Bletchley Manor.
(posted 23 May 2019)

It’s no Myth: our Students Excel at Greek!

Four of our proud students with their exam certificates. Pictured from left to right are Grace Matthews, Igor Mieczkowski, Callum McHugh and Shannen Agagon.

Congratulations to six of our students who’ve passed their Level 1 Classical Greek EMACT exam!

A level Classics has been enjoyed by Notre Dame’s students for many years and remains a firm favourite, partly due to its rarity in our local area. But Head of Classics Ms Angela Yates wanted to offer more, so 10 years ago she set up Greek Club. The first rule of Greek Club? Learn Greek, of course.

Students attend Greek Club during lunchbreaks, and learn about many aspects of Ancient and Modern Greek life including inscriptions, food, music, politics, and day-to-day activities.

Ms Yates says, ‘It’s rare for a state school to be offering Classical Greek and to my knowledge we’re the only one in the area who does this. Over the years we’ve seen nearly 70 Notre Dame students undertake the course and pass the exam. I’m extremely proud of them all.’

Of course, fluency in Classical Greek is useful for students who wish to progress to classics degrees, and it’s also highly relevant to subjects like history. This fantastic added extra will make any CV or UCAS application sparkle, and is just one example of the extra-curricular activities we offer at Notre Dame.

So congratulations to students Shannen Agagon, Grace Matthews, Hannah Walsh, Dovydas Gedvilas, Callum McHugh and Igor Mieczkowski. Or perhaps that should be Εὖγε!

(posted 22 May 2019)

Pushing up Daisies

Notre Dame’s College Counsellor was inspired to provide support for grieving staff and students throughout Mental Health Awareness Week.

Mental Health Awareness week ran from May 13 to 19 this year. Organised by the Mental Health Foundation, it aims to spread awareness and understanding about mental health. (You can find out more here: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week) This year, our College Counsellor Miss Charlotte Anderton decided to focus on the mental health impact for those in our community who are grieving.

This decision came after she spoke to the organiser of Pushing Up Daisies: an annual week-long festival hosted by Todmorden village, which aims to start conversations about life, death and loss. In response Miss Anderton, supported by our lay chaplain, offered students and staff the chance to talk about the loss of someone they love. ‘This can have a huge effect on your life and your mental wellbeing,’ said Miss Anderton, ‘so we wanted to have our own event at Notre Dame to recognise the importance of having an opportunity to talk about that’.

Throughout Mental Health Awareness Week, our counsellor and chaplain opened Café Daisy every lunchtime in the lower common room. This quiet, private space allowed for conversations to take place about an issue that affects everyone. Staff and students were also encouraged to take part in The Last Post, writing letters to people in their lives who had died. Miss Anderton was on hand to support anyone who struggled with what to write. All letters were placed into a postbox, and on Friday lunchtime these were taken to the Chapel to be burnt as a gesture of passing the messages on. This symbolic ceremony provided an opportunity for quiet reflection, a gathering of people from all faiths.

Miss Anderton said, ‘We did this during Mental Health Awareness Week because we believe that grief and loss are a huge part of life and affect both staff and students. However, it’s not something we’re very comfortable talking about. I was inspired by the message of Todmorden’s Pushing Up Daisies Festival: bring death into the light’.

You can read more about the festival here: http://www.pushingupdaisies.org/

(posted 21 May 2019)

Golden Lunch Ticket for Outstanding Students

Outstanding students. Pictured from left to right are: Aaron Sangha, Laureen Missidimbazi, Aimee Denton, Lydia Earl, Louis Hickling, Matthew Gerrard, Jakub Krajewski, Abbey Calvert, Rhys McLean, Charlotte Ward.

13 Notre Dame students received a golden ticket for lunch with our principal on Friday 10 May. The students were chosen from across lower and upper sixth due to the outstanding contribution they have made to the Notre Dame community. Our principal Mrs Justine Barlow felt that their hard work, resilience, and commitment to extra-curricular activities deserved recognition.

10 of the students were able to attend, enjoying a buffet lunch and the opportunity to speak to the principal. Mrs Barlow was interested in their plans for after college and also sought their opinions about our enrichment programme and whether any additional activities could be offered in future years. The students found out more about her too, asking about her previous roles in education.

Congratulations to all nominated students:

Student NameReason for Nomination
Laureen MissidimbaziCharity work
Aaron SanghaCharity work
Louis HicklingVolunteering at college events
Matthew GerrardOrganised and delivered a week of assemblies
Lydia EarlUnderstanding the true nature of friendship
Aimee DentonUnderstanding the true nature of friendship
Emma WatsonShowing resilience
Rene RoweShowing resilience
Charlotte WardCaptain of the netball team
Jakub KrajewskiCaptain of the basketball academy team
Rhys McLeanCaptain of the 2nd XI football team
Joe FitzpatrickCaptain of the football academy team
Abbey CalvertMember of the U19 Great Britain Underwater Hockey World Championships team
(posted 17 May 2019)

Sports Awards a Winner with Students

Kickoff at the TeamND Sports Awards.

The Sports Department celebrated in style this year, holding a glitzy BAFTA-esque awards event on the evening of Wednesday 8 May.

Here at Notre Dame we are very proud of our sporting achievements. We run highly successful basketball and football academies led by professional coaches, which are designed to combine training with an academic timetable. We also have a range of sports teams that compete on Wednesday afternoons in the Association of Colleges Yorkshire and Humber League. These include basketball, netball, volleyball, and three football teams. All our sporting students are part of TeamND.

At this year’s TeamND Sports Awards, Head of PE and Sport Mr Scott Broadley and Mrs Vic Tiffany (who coordinates all our enrichment activities) ran the show. They were ably supported by the sports teaching staff and team coaches. Invited VIPs included Notre Dame alumni Paddy Miller, Nathan Wyspianski and Richard Downes. Our college principal Mrs Justine Barlow also attended, congratulating the students and presenting each one with a commemorative sports yearbook.

Each team’s coach presented awards for Players’ Player of the Year, Coach’s Player of the Year, and Most Improved Player in their team. In addition, ex-student Paddy Miller presented Victor Ludorum and Victrix Ludorum awards to overall male and female champions. A full list of winners is given below.

Light refreshments were provided for all, as well as musical entertainment and the opportunity to use a free photo booth (all photos are on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/notredamecoll). Midway through the event, students took part in a ‘plank-off’ to see who could hold the plank position the longest. The winner of this battle of wills (and abdominal muscles) was Maria Girt.

Head of PE and Sport Mr Broadley said, ‘Our awards event provides a fantastic opportunity to celebrate this vital part of college life and show our students how proud we are of their endeavours. Thank you to all the staff, coaching staff, support staff and our amazing students’.

TeamND Sports Award Winners

Basketball Academy

Coach’s Player of the Year – Matthew Laird

Co-Players’ Player of the Year – Jens Nsengimana Jakub Krajewski

Most Improved Player – Daniel Armintia

Women’s football

Coach’s Player of the Year: Emma Watson

Players’ Player of the Year: Holly Staten

Most Improved Player: Becky Noble

Football Academy

Manager’s Player of the Year – Joe Fitzpatrick

Players’ Player of the Year – Jonah Smith

Most Improved Player – Jose Paulino

Netball

Manager’s Player of the Year – Charlotte Ward

Players’ Player of the Year – Melissa Metcalfe

Most Improved Player – Maria Girt

Football 2nd XI

Coach’s Player of the Year – Aaron Taki

Players’ Player of the Year – Aaron Taki

Most Improved Player – Sulaiman Rauf

Volleyball

Coach’s Player of the Year: Tailson Borges

Players’ Player of the Year: Andrew Sarai

Most Improved Player: Fatemeh Kazemi

Victor Ludorum

George Grubb

Victrix Ludorum

Emma Watson

College principal Justine Barlow congratulated every student and gave them a commemorative sports yearbook.
Students made full use of the photo booth.
The plank-off.
Victrix Ludorum Emma Watson.
Victor Ludorum George Grubb.
Our fabulous sporting students.
(posted 17 May 2019)

Students Inspired by Professor of Diversity

Professor Archibong explaining key skills for success to our students.

On Thursday 9 May, Notre Dame’s level two students were treated to an exclusive and inspirational talk from the University of Bradford’s Professor of Diversity, Uduak Archibong. Professor Archibong was invited to speak at college by Mary Owoo, Notre Dame’s HE Progression Officer, supported by the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP). Professor Archibong talked about her career and explained the strategies she’s used to help her succeed.

Professor Archibong was born in Nigeria, where she worked as a nurse. When she moved to the UK she studied at the University of Hull – completing a PHD – then worked at the University of Bradford. There, her hard work, determination and skill enabled her to progress from a role as a lecturer in nursing, to research coordinator and head of department, before becoming a professor in 2004.

She is now Professor of Diversity at the University of Bradford, and the strategic lead for equality and diversity in our region. She told our students that, ‘Equality and diversity is about removing barriers and challenging behaviour’. The examples she gave included Danny Baker’s recent tweet, which cost him his job at the BBC.

Professor Archibong has a particular interest in workforce equality and showed our students a clip of an inequality experiment carried out with Capuchin monkeys (you can view this here).

She then talked about the importance of self-mastery, and other strategies that could help our students succeed. These included resilience, supporting others and asking for support when you need it, expending your energy wisely, building on your strengths, regularly reviewing how your values have changed, and discovering your personal mission.

During her career as a nurse, lecturer, professor, and equality and diversity champion, Professor Archibong has received many awards, becoming a fellow of the West African College of Nursing in 2001, and a fellow of the Royal College of Nursing in 2012. In 2015 she was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her contributions to higher education and equality.

Her work has been greatly influenced by her mother, who raised her alone after the death of her father, and always did her best to support people in their community. In turn, Professor Archibong has inspired our students to strive for the changes they wish to create in the world, and to remain true to their own path, working patiently to overcome any challenges they meet.

Student comments after the event included, ‘Her story was interesting because she was really open when talking about race’ and I learned from the speaker that if you want to be successful you have to go through a lot, it’s going to be hard but the end result makes it worth it’.

(posted 14 May 2019)

Parliament Trip gets Students’ Vote

Politics students debate with Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP.

Our Politics A level wouldn’t feel complete without a visit to the Houses of Parliament. So Notre Dame’s students travelled to London on Monday 29 April for a grand tour, and to meet with the Right Honourable Hilary Benn MP.

Mr Benn encouraged our students to engage in a lively discussion while they visited a committee room overlooking the Thames. Hot topics included Brexit, voting systems, air pollution and poor public transport in Leeds, as well as Extinction Rebellion and direct action generally. One of our students, Macsen Tiffany, pressed Mr Benn to take access to music lessons and tuition more seriously for children from deprived backgrounds.

In addition to touring the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Hall, our students got to see Portcullis House where MPs have their offices. They also walked around Whitehall, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden.

Politics teacher Dr Warnes said, ‘We were hoping to meet privately with both the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition to advise them on the Brexit deal, but sadly we didn’t get the chance.’

(posted 9 May 2019)

Parents Updated about Higher Education

A parent speaking to staff from the University of Leeds.

This year’s annual Notre Dame Higher Education Parents’ Evening took place on Thursday 25 April.

The event was attended by around 300 parents and carers of lower sixth students. Its aim was to inform parents about the UCAS application process and the range of related support provided by staff at college.

Assistant Principal Mrs Sarah Dumont welcomed those attending and explained the UCAS application schedule as well as outlining widening participation access schemes and alternatives to university. A representative of Leeds Beckett University talked about the student finance process, then parents were invited to attend a variety of subject-specific talks. These included a bespoke session about applying to Oxford and Cambridge Universities, or for medicine, dentistry or veterinary science.

Parents also had the opportunity to speak to 15 universities, the Leeds Apprenticeship Hub, and National Citizen Service (NCS), who all staffed stands in our upper common room. Exhibitors were asked about courses, campuses, finance, applications and all other aspects of higher level study.

Our attendees found the event very useful. One parent said, ‘Thank you for a fantastic and informative evening to help us support and motivate our child.’

Head of Careers Mrs Anna Dickinson added, ‘This year’s HE Parents’ Evening was a huge success. There was a great buzz around college with a wide range of HE providers offering information, advice and guidance to our lower sixth parents. A special thank you to Leeds Beckett University for providing the student finance talk. And thank you to all the parents who took the time to visit Notre Dame and make the most of the valuable information provided. If you missed the HE Parents’ Evening and would like to receive further information please feel free to contact the Careers Department using careers@ndonline.ac.uk

Leeds Beckett University staff explain student finance.
University stands in the Upper Common Room.
(posted 3 May 2019)

Spanish Students Hit New Heights in Grand Granada

Our students and staff in El Realejo in Granada.

During the 2019 Easter holiday, 34 of Notre Dame’s A level Spanish students enjoyed a fantastic ten-day visit to Granada, Spain.

Throughout the trip they took part in a variety of activities. Highlights included a 17 kilometre hike in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, along a river in a gorge to a mountain peak with incredible views of the valley. Continuing to make the most of the weather, our students took a day trip to the beach to play volleyball, football and traditional Spanish games. They used up the rest of their energy at salsa and flamenco dancing lessons, then enjoyed a more sedate visit to the beautiful Alhambra Palace.

Each student stayed with a host family to enhance their language skills. Their mornings began with lessons at a prestigious Spanish school, designed to stretch and challenge them. Our students were also invited to deliver presentations in a secondary school, one about Yorkshire and the other about Brexit – both in Spanish, of course. They did us proud, and all had an amazing experience.

‘It’s the best way to practice your Spanish. There’s nowhere to hide!’ said student Kieran Masso.

Student Cate Young added, ‘We walked everywhere but it was worth it. The Alhambra Palace is a hidden treasure!’

Thanks to Mrs Gonzalez-Latham, Mr Sampson and Mrs Castro for giving up their Easter break to run the trip.

(posted 2 May 2019)