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Christmas Cheer for the Young at Heart

Our Lay Chaplain Kicking off the Festivities.

Each December, Notre Dame students – led by our lay chaplain Mr Andrew Sullivan – come together to welcome older people from the local community and offer them an afternoon of Christmas entertainment.

So, on 4 December 2019, thirty five people joined us in the lower common room for carols and merriment. They were all treated to great food and good cheer. Our students called bingo, provided table service, and sang and played. One student, Storm Church, even dressed as Father Christmas! At the end of the event, some of our visitors had enjoyed themselves so much that they said they didn’t want to leave.

Thank you to all the students who took part in the event, and made it such an enjoyable occasion for those attending. Special thanks also need to go to the Health & Social Care Department, whose students not only provided table service on the day but also voluntarily give up their time to prepare for the event. This team of ambassadors wrapped a present for each visitor as well as writing them a Christmas card. They volunteered to make mince pies and cupcakes in their own time, gift-wrapping all their home baked goods, and giving up a lunch time to attach an individual message to each one.

Sweet Treats Provided by our Students.
(posted 17 January 2020)

Around the World in 80 Minutes

Our Student Cast During Rehearsals.

Notre Dame’s students flexed their theatrical muscles in the autumn term of 2019, devising and performing a first-rate adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days.

Rehearsals began back in September, with a cast and crew of 25 students. Opportunities were available to everyone, not only those studying Theatre Arts. A collaborative approach was taken to the development process, so all those involved were invited to suggest ideas, devise music, choreograph sequences, and generally get stuck in.

All that hard work certainly paid off. The performances given from 17 to 19 December – each of which lasted around 80 minutes – were very warmly received, with many audience members commenting on the professional standard of the production.

Head of Theatre Arts Mr Graham Hamlyn said, ‘Performances like this provide a wonderful opportunity for students to feel like they really are a part of the work we produce, outside of the confines of exams. I’m looking forward to our future projects, which will be led entirely by students, both in the summer term and when it comes to next year’s Christmas show.’

For those who missed out on the show, these 80 Days rehearsal photos should whet your appetite for whatever is coming next from our fabulous Theatre Arts Department.

(posted 10 January 2020)

Reverse Advent Appeal Moves Charity Forward

Students Who Generously Donated.

In the lead up to Christmas 2019, the Notre Dame community took part in a reverse advent calendar appeal. The idea came from Ms Anne Chevalier, our French Language Assistant, and the appeal was organised by Head of Languages Mrs Chary González-Latham, who said, ‘I knew we could help many families in Leeds through this appeal, which involved putting one food or hygiene item, or a children’s toy, into a box on every day of advent. Christmas should not just be about receiving but about giving to those in need.’’

Many items were generously donated by staff and students up until the end of term. Each box of practical presents was then passed on to Leeds Women’s Aid (LWA), which is an independent charity providing services to women and children. As their website says, their mission is to, ‘protect women and families from the damage that domestic violence & abuse can inflict on their lives.’ You can read more about what they do here:

A representative of LWA said, Thank you for these very generous donations which made a big difference to the families we support.’

Pictured are some of the staff and students who took part in the appeal, determined to make Christmas a little brighter for those in need in Leeds. We’d like to thank everyone who donated for their generosity, and Chary González-Latham for organising the appeal.

Staff Involved with the Appeal.
More of our Generous Students.
(posted 9 January 2020)

Business Students Take a Bus to the Future

Our Competition-Winning Students

On Wednesday 4 December, 15 of our business students took part in a marketing competition.

Called Bus to the Future, the competition was run by Ahead Partnership and the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance. Ahead Partnership is an expanding social enterprise that launched in Leeds and now works across Yorkshire and other regions of the UK. Their aim is to ‘help employers to engage, inspire and motivate young people around skills, career options and future employment’. The West Yorkshire Bus Alliance is committed to providing more reliable journeys, progress towards carbon-free buses, and affordable fares. One of the bus operators that makes up the Alliance is First Bus.

On December 4, an industry expert from First Bus visited business students at Notre Dame to explain the competition brief. Our students were tasked with planning a marketing campaign to promote bus travel as the best option for younger students and for the environment. Each group had to put together a script and the storyboard for a one-minute film, then present their ideas to the experts from First Bus.

Congratulations to Megan Fletcher, Patrick Flaherty, Emily Owen, Sophia Hudson and Mya Hanson, whose group was chosen as the winner. These students will now get the opportunity to shoot and edit the promotional film they planned, with the support of industry professionals. They will also present their ideas again to a student audience at a high school in Leeds, competing against competition entries from other colleges across West Yorkshire.

If you’d like to know more about Ahead Partnership or the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance, please click on the links below:

Ahead Partnership

West Yorkshire Bus Alliance

Students Work on their Campaign with Support from First Bus
(posted 11 December 2019)

Poetry Please: Owen Sheers’ Return Visit

Visiting Writer Owen Sheers Reading from Skirrid Hill

Notre Dame’s English Department once again secured a visit from novelist, poet and playwright Owen Sheers. On Thursday 5 December, lower and upper sixth A level English students were treated to a 45-minute recital from Mr Sheers, followed by a question and answer session.

Mr Sheers is a multi-award winning author, who has recently published two film-poems, including To Provide All People, which marked the 70th anniversary of the inauguration of the NHS. Mr Sheers read from this during his visit, as well as choosing a selection of poems from Skirrid Hill. These would have been very familiar to his audience, as Skirrid Hill – Mr Sheers’s second collection of poetry – is a set text on the A level English Literature syllabus. Mr Sheers read Border Country, Mametz Wood, Winter Swans, Late Spring, and Under the Superstition Mountains.

Speaking about the collection, Mr Sheers said that he’d enjoyed choosing the order of the poems, with half of them reflecting on his early life in Wales, and the other half looking outward. He talked about the theme of separation prevalent in this work: the separation of childhood from adulthood, and of mankind from nature. In 2005, when the collection was published, Mr Sheers was already writing about climate change. This is a subject he remains passionate about, and the last piece he read was a poem to his daughter in the womb, first written for the Writers’ Marathon.

Students then had the chance to ask Mr Sheers about his work. Their questions focused on his poems about nature, and why he chose to move into other forms of writing. He said that a broad canvas allows a writer to explore ideas and issues in a variety of forms, and that not all topics are suitable material for the medium of poetry.

He certainly gave our students a lot to consider, and we’d like to heartily thank Mr Sheers for giving up his time.

All photographs were taken by English student Gabriel Bowden.

Mr Sheers with Teachers from the English Department
(posted 11 December 2019)

Notre Dame is Cambridge Hub

We’re pleased to announce that Notre Dame is now a Cambridge HE+ hub for Leeds!

The University of Cambridge HE+ project is designed to academically challenge the brightest young people, to raise their aspirations and to encourage applications to selective universities. The project is collaborative, enabling the University to work with its choice of state schools and colleges. HE+ is a year-long programme for lower sixth students, which includes masterclasses, guidance sessions and a visit to the University.

We launched the HE+ project at college on Tuesday 26 November. The 40 lower sixth students who were selected to be part of it spent the day attending lectures and a seminar. Over the year they will have four days of events in Leeds and a residential in Cambridge.

Competition amongst students at the Leeds and Wakefield schools and colleges who are part of the project has been very intense. HE+ will offer those selected from Notre Dame the support and guidance to give them the very best chance of attending a world-class university.

Enhancing Excellence Coordinator Ms Kitty Graham said, ‘This is a great opportunity, which will help our students to get into top universities, whether or not they decide to apply for Cambridge. I’m looking forward to finding out more as the year progresses.’

(posted 4 December 2019)

Business Insight from Bed Makers Harrison Spinks

Mr Ruairi Giles, Commercial Director at Harrison Spinks.

CTEC Business students were glad they got out of bed on the day Harrison Spinks came to Notre Dame.

Mr Ruairi Giles, Commercial Director at Harrison Spinks, visited college on 19 November to talk about the company, which operates from a site on Westland Road, Leeds. They have been bed makers for 178 years, and currently have more than 600 employees, including some of Notre Dame’s ex-students!

Mr Giles explained the work of different departments within the company, allowing our students to understand how their theoretical learning in lessons could be put into practise. Students found his description of the Research and Development Department particularly interesting, learning about the development of spring technology and recyclable mattress fillings. For those considering a career in digital marketing, the information that Mr Giles provided about the company’s use of social media was particularly insightful.

Students were surprised to discover that Harrison Spinks have a 300-acre farm in North Yorkshire where their farmers rear sheep for wool to be used in their mattresses. They also fell their own woodland, and have staff who work on their mattresses by hand. More information about the company can be found here:

On behalf of Notre Dame’s Business Department, we’d like to thank Mr Giles for taking time out of his busy schedule to further develop our students’ understanding of how a business operates.

(posted 4 December 2019)

Fair Success for Science Students

A Popular Stand at Our STEM Fair.

Notre Dame’s annual STEM Fair took place on November 12 this year, with a wide variety of businesses, organisations and universities attending.

This event aimed to promote higher education courses and careers relating to subjects such as maths, the sciences, engineering, IT and computing, geography, psychology, design, sports science, construction, and allied health professions to our student community. The majority of those who attended were studying STEM subjects, but the fair was open to anyone with an interest in the information and activities on offer. The 17 employers and higher education providers who staffed stands represented the full spectrum of STEM opportunities available for our students.

They included Leeds Trinity and Manchester Metropolitan Universities, University Centre Leeds, and the Universities of Bradford, Salford and Sheffield, all of whom provided detailed course information for our students. The bounty of employers and apprenticeship providers present came from sectors such as IT, civil and aircraft engineering, the pharmaceutical industry, the armed forces, sports science and the NHS. So thank you to Babington, BT, Covance Clinical Research Ltd., John Sisk and Son, Leeds Galleries and Museums, LSS online, PWC, Royal Air Force Careers and The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust for giving up their time.

Leeds College of Building also attended to showcase the construction industry, and YIPIYAP talked to our students about a golden gap year opportunity.

Head of Careers Mrs Anna Dickinson said, ‘The STEM fair was another great success at Notre Dame. This is a fantastic opportunity for students to find out more about STEM progression routes including apprenticeships, HE options, employment and beyond. It was lovely for some of our Notre Dame alumni to be present at the event and for new employers to come on board. We look forward to seeing you all our 2020 STEM event!

(posted 29 November 2019)

Children in Need 2019

Notre Dame made a song and dance of the Children in Need Appeal this year.

At our weekly staff briefing, early on the morning of Friday 15 November, staff were treated to a special performance. A group of onesie-clad students (not to mention our Lay Chaplain, and Head of Biology) danced to Tony Christie’s (Is This The Way To) Amarillo, raising smiles and much needed funds for this worthy cause. They were rewarded with resounding applause and a grand total of £288 to donate.

Many of our staff and students dressed up for the occasion, posing for the camera in their Pudsey onesies, as you can see below. To find out more about the work done by Children in Need, please click here.

(posted 29 November 2019)

Guest Speaker Debates Ethics of Warfare

PTE Students Discuss Utilitarianism with Lieutenant Colonel Sean Scullion.

Our students were encouraged to consider the age-old philosophical question: ‘does the end justify the means?’ in PTE classes on Friday 8 November.

Philosophy, Theology and Ethics (PTE) is a core part of our curriculum for all students, and encourages them to share and evaluate their opinions and beliefs, as well as listening to those of others. The aims of PTE are to enable our students to engage in healthy debate, and develop them as a whole person.

Guest speakers have a key part to play in our PTE programme, and on November 8, Lieutenant Colonel Sean Scullion, who serves in the British Army, visited classes to discuss his experiences. He talked to students about helping to sustain peace, and the ethics of warfare. He explained the differences between consequentialism and utilitarianism and how they might apply in the arena of war. Students then had the chance to ask him any questions and offer their own opinions on the topics at hand.

Margaret Stapylton, Head of PTE, said, ‘It is fantastic when people like Sean are willing to share their experiences and the wisdom they have gleaned from life.  Students and staff appreciated his insight, honesty and integrity.’

Catherine Herring, Head of A Level Philosophy, Ethics and Religious Studies, added, ‘’The students responded to Sean’s experiences with a mixture of awe and respect’.

(posted 26 November 2019)