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Students get to Bare Bones of Archaeology

Notre Dame students experiencing osteoarchaeology.

Notre Dame’s A level Classics students took part in a People in the Past workshop on 20 March. The University of Bradford’s Archaeology Department ran the session, which focused on osteoarchaeology and Pompeii.

This is an annual trip for classical civilisation (classics) students. They always enjoy the opportunity to speak with the university’s archaeology lecturers and undergraduates. During the morning, our students had the chance to gain practical experience in the university’s state-of-the-art labs, learning about osteoarchaeology. Defined as the study of bones found at archaeological sites, our students were able to analyse parts of the human skeleton. They carried out age and sex assessments as well as looking for signs of injury or disease.

In the afternoon, our students learnt about the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. Volcanic ash and pumice buried Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. The ash preserved the city, which archaeologists have since excavated, providing a unique insight into life for its inhabitants at that time. Our students learnt about food and feasting in ancient Pompeii. They also used virtual reality headsets to get an idea of how technical developments are influencing modern archaeology.

Our classics and geography students will have the chance to visit the city as part of a college trip to the Amalfi coast in the summer of 2019. This trip fits with the classics curriculum, which focuses on the literature, history, archaeology, culture and ideas of the ancient worlds of Greece and Rome.

We’re proud to offer such a fascinating and unusual subject here at Notre Dame. If you’d like to know more about it, please click here.

(posted 25 March 2019)

Science Festival: Biology Takes Main Stage

Teacher Mrs Sue Lowe with A level Biology students.

Notre Dame’s students were lucky enough to get involved with the 2019 Leeds Festival of Science.

Running throughout March, the Leeds Festival of Science offers a wide range of events for the public, as well as a programme of activities for schools and colleges. It aims to provide fun opportunities for people to engage with science and technology. This year, it will ‘showcase plate tectonics, interactive space toys and the funny side of climate change’. Hosting the events are the University of Leeds, Leeds City Museum, Lotherton, and Café Scientifique.

It was the University of Leeds that treated our A level Biology students to two visiting roadshows. On 11 March, 18 students took part in an interactive and inspiring How Do We Use DNA? session. This focused on gel electrophoresis, which scientists all over the world use to explore DNA. Our students used electrophoresis to diagnose patients at high risk of developing breast cancer. They looked for a lack of BRAC1 and BRAC2 tumour suppressor genes.

On 12 March, another 20 students attended Playing Dice with Epidemics. This session explored how we can use mathematics and computer programmes to simulate real-life epidemics. The students used a video game called Hospital Infections. They had to work out how long an epidemic would last and how to organise hospital wards to limit its spread.

Upper sixth student Fran Alexander-Guthrie commented that, ‘The electrophoresis workshop was enjoyable, useful and gave me the opportunity to complete a practical that we wouldn’t do in college.’ Her peer Joy Bromley added, ‘The epidemics workshop was challenging but it was interesting to see how maths could be applied to biology.’

To find out more about the Festival, please visit the University of Leeds website here.

(posted 22 March 2019)

Student Triumphs at Public Speaking

Notre Dame student Thomas Schofield with his public speaking trophy.

Congratulations to Notre Dame student Thomas Schofield who won a public speaking competition on Sunday 10 March.

The competition was organised by the Catenians, an international Catholic association that you can read more about on their website. Thomas, alongside fellow student Alessandra Orlandini, competed against 16 other speakers at St Thomas à Beckett Catholic Secondary School in Wakefield.

Thomas spoke on the topic ‘Assisted dying should be made legal’, while Alessandra chose ‘Plastic is the current blight on the world environment’. Both students had taken part in Notre Dame’s own public speaking semi-final, at which college Principal Mrs Justine Barlow, alongside Mrs Sarah Barber (Head of Faculty), adjudicated. Head of Theatre Arts Mr Graham Hamlyn suggested top technical tips and ideas for voice training, all of which were clearly very helpful.

Alessandra magnanimously said, ‘Tom was amazing and it was a well-deserved win. I’m just immensely proud that one of us brought the trophy home! I also got lovely feedback from the judges, and I am just happy to represent our school.’

Notre Dame previously won the regional competition in 2017, so it’s great to have the trophy back. Thomas will now complete in the national final, which takes place on Sunday 8 September in Manchester. We wish Thomas the best of luck.

(posted 20 March 2019)

Students Wow on Work Experience

Level 2 student Mediha Tariq on placement at Headingley Hall Care Home.

The world of work can be a daunting place. However, 90 of our students rose to the challenge and successfully completed a week of work experience from 11 to 15 March.

All these students are studying a one-year level two programme at Notre Dame, re-taking maths or English GCSE alongside other courses. We helped these students to find work placements in order to develop their employability skills and inspire them to consider a full range of potential career options.

Our students worked with a huge variety of employers across Leeds. These included:

• Network Rail

• Leeds Teaching Hospitals

• Marriott Hotels, Hilton Hotels, and Oulton Hall Hotel

• Charities such as Stop Hate UK, Brain Tumour Research and the Geraldine Connor Foundation

• A variety of primary and high schools including Broomfield South SILC

• SARAS Technology and Asda’s Technology Department

• Aventus Law and Kamrans Solicitors

The employers gave our students fantastic feedback, complimenting them on their professionalism and ability to fit into a working environment. Some even said they would be happy to recruit our students, based on their excellent performance in such a short space of time. Springbank Primary School said their student was, ‘Brilliant with the children, showing patience, positivity, and a warm and friendly attitude.’ Sagars Accountants praised their student for his ‘professionalism, smart dress, punctuality and the ability to ask many relevant questions’.

The students returned to college this week full of positivity and newfound confidence. For many, direct experience of the career they wish to pursue has added an extra level of motivation for achieving the grades they need to progress.

We are very proud of the students who represented Notre Dame so well in different work places, and who have made such a positive impression on members of the local community.

(posted 20 March 2019)

Net Win for High School Teams

Year sevens from Cardinal Heenan and Mount St Mary’s Catholic High Schools. 

Notre Dame’s CTEC Sport Diploma students hosted an energetic championship on Thursday 7 March. As part of their studies, they invited year seven pupils from our three Catholic partner schools to take part in a netball contest. The idea was not only to provide an opportunity for competition, but also to encourage all those involved to take part in more regular netball training at school.

The year sevens from Mount St Mary’s Catholic High School, Corpus Christi Catholic College and Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School played enthusiastically against each other. At the end of an afternoon of high quality sport, Mount St Mary’s won the day. We also chose an outstanding player of the match from Cardinal Heenan and awarded her with a stylish Notre Dame hoodie.

Head of Sport Mr Scott Broadley commented, ‘The Year 7 Catholic partner school netball tournament produced an electric atmosphere in the sports hall. The event was extremely well marshalled and officiated by the CTEC Sport Diploma ‘Notre Girls Can’ team. There was some outstanding netball on display and all the players were rewarded with a positive experience.’

Well done to our fabulous students for organising the event, and thanks to the year sevens for being such good sports.

(posted 13 March 2019)

Geopolitics Mapped Out for Geography Students

A level Geography students with teachers Mrs Hotchkin and Mr Hurrell.

Our students had the chance to meet journalist and author Tim Marshall on Thursday 28 February.

Thanks to funding and support from NCOP, seven of Notre Dame’s A level Geography students attended a talk Mr Marshall gave at The Grammar School at Leeds. Mr Marshall spoke about his bestselling book, Prisoners of Geography, which is an increasingly popular course textbook. He also talked about his experience as a news reporter and presenter. Mr Marshall gave his opinions on the future, suggesting where the next conflict risk might arise. Our students were able to ask him questions such as ‘Is there a future for NATO?’

Mr Marshall, who is originally from Leeds, has more than thirty years’ experience as a journalist. He’s worked for the BBC and Sky News, covering conflicts in Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo and Serbia. More recently, he’s reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. As his website states: ‘Tim has been shot with bird pellet in Cairo, hit over the head with a plank of wood in London, bruised by the police in Tehran, arrested by Serbian intelligence, detained in Damascus, declared persona non grata in Croatia, bombed by the RAF in Belgrade and tear-gassed all over the world. However, he says none of this compares with the experience of going to see his beloved Leeds United away at Millwall FC in London.’ (http://www.thewhatandthewhy.com/)

Prisoners of Geography is Tim’s third book. As geography teacher Mrs Hotchkin says, ‘This has proven itself an invaluable text for all A level Geography students as we’ll as anyone interested in how the world works and global connectivity.’

Our students were pleased to meet the author in person. One of our lower sixth students said, ‘I think Tim Marshall was a very funny and innovative person. Despite the jokes, he taught us fundamental lessons that I never thought would be applicable to A Level geography, in the form of understanding a country’s psychology to delve into geopolitical ideas! ‘

Mr Marshall in action.
(posted 7 March 2019)

Fairtrade Fortnight a Sweet Success

Principal Mrs Barlow is pictured signing a petition to promote fair trade. Also pictured are religious studies teachers Mrs Herring and Mrs Coyle, who organised many of the activities.

Fairtrade Fortnight took place from 25 February to 10 March. Here at Notre Dame, our students and staff organised a wide range of activities to raise awareness of this year’s campaign. This focused on the people (especially the women) who grow cocoa for the chocolate we eat.

The Fairtrade website states: ‘£1.86 is the amount a cocoa farmer in West Africa needs to earn each day in order to achieve a living income. Currently, a typical cocoa farmer in Cote d’Ivoire lives on around 74p a day. Almost all cocoa farmers in West Africa live in poverty. For the women the situation is even worse. They may plant and harvest on the farm, look after children, carry water, collect wood, cook and clean for the family, and transport the cocoa beans to market but often with fewer rights than men. This is why we at Fairtrade are campaigning for a living income to become a reality for cocoa farmers in West Africa. If we can work together with governments, chocolate companies and retailers to make the commitments and policies necessary, then we can make it happen.’

A team of Notre Dame students encouraged their peers and teachers to sign a petition. This asked our Prime Minister to act. Staff and students created a Fairtrade collage. They displayed it in the lower common room to demonstrate how many Fairtrade products are already available to buy. As usual, the college shop sold Fairtrade chocolate. To round off the week, on Friday 1 March teachers organised a pop up café in the staff room. As this date coincided with St David’s Day, one member of staff cooked a small mountain of Welsh cakes, using as many fair trade ingredients as possible. Taylors of Harrogate kindly provided Fairtrade tea and coffee to accompany the Welsh cakes. We’d like to thank them for their generosity. Staff were encouraged to make donations in exchange for their goodies. We collected £70 for Alzheimer’s Society, a charity that raises awareness of dementia and Alzheimer’s, and supports and cares for those with these conditions.

Head of Religious Studies Mrs Catherine Herring, who was heavily involved in arranging all the activities, said, ‘Fair trade fortnight is a key part of our ethos, living the virtue of solidarity with each other and especially those whose hard work provides us with the ingredients that we all rely on.’

To find out more about Fairtrade Fortnight, please visit the Fairtrade website: http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/en/get-involved/current-campaigns/Fairtrade-Fortnight

The Fairtrade collage created by our students.
(posted 6 March 2019)

Elevate Enable Exam Excellence

An Elevate Education presenter delivering the ‘Ace Your Exams’ session.

Elevate Education boosted the study skills of Notre Dame’s students during the last week in February. This educational organisation delivered a one-hour seminar to every upper sixth tutor group. The sessions were entitled ‘Ace Your Exams’ and focused on revision and exam techniques. Elevate gave each student a booklet to complete and keep, full to the brim with step-by-step strategies to markedly improve their exam grades.

Elevate Education has been working in the UK since 2013 and has delivered sessions in more than 850 UK schools. The company bases its study skills seminars on international research into the factors that affect exam outcomes for young people. We’ve arranged for our students to access additional resources on the Elevate website, using a password provided during the sessions: https://uk.elevateeducation.com/

Mrs Mary Owoo, our NCOP HE Progression Officer, arranged the visits with Elevate. She said, ‘The quality of these sessions has been excellent, providing specific and practical advice for our students. The presenters have been highly complementary of the students who have engaged really well in the sessions.’

(posted 1 March 2019)

History Reformed by York Minster Trip

York Minster

York was the chosen destination for our A level History students on Tuesday 26 February. 27 of them had the chance to visit York Minster, a magnificent cathedral of worldwide renown. The Minster is still the site of daily worship and prayer after more than 1000 years. Not only is the building itself beautiful, but the Minster’s collection includes 300,000 objects, some of which are almost 2000 years old.

Our students attended a session in the Minster’s Learning Centre that focused on the significance of the English Reformation during the Tudor period. The Reformation began during the reign of Henry VIII, when he wished to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. His actions led to a rift between England and the Pope, as head of the Roman Catholic Church.

As part of the session, our students donned ecclesiastical robes. They then had a tour of the minster to look for architectural evidence of the events of the Reformation. Both students and staff very much enjoyed the visit. Lower sixth student Nathaniel Kimberley said: ‘I enjoyed the York trip and believe it was beneficial to my A Level course. It provided an opportunity to see the historical impact of the Reformation first-hand.’

(posted 28 February 2019)

Students’ Tate-a-Tate with London Galleries

Thanks to A level Art student J. Woodcock for this article.

On Monday 4 February, a sleepy cohort of 34 upper sixth A level Art students set out to London.

Although the coach trip was long and arduous, the destination made it all worthwhile. We had the opportunity to visit two wonderful galleries: the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern. The Tate Britain is home to a plethora of art, primarily celebrating British creativity. Everyone found some form of inspiration from either the stunning architecture, the classical sculpture, the unnerving modern installations or the classical paintings.

As we travelled from one venue to the next we took in the moody scenery, passing The Gherkin, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, The Shard, and the Millennium Bridge, which was used as a location for the filming of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

The Tate Modern contained an eclectic mix of contemporary art that provided a sensory overload, from the impactful paintings to the ambiguous installations and sculptures. Overall, the trip gave everyone a chance to conduct in-depth research into this year’s exam theme (Variation and Similarity) and find a way to put their own spin on the subject.

A huge thank you to Mr Farago, Ms Meehan, and Miss Hyde, without whom this trip would not have been possible.

(posted 14 February 2019)