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Farewell to Level Two Students

Level two leavers in our chapel.

We said goodbye and good luck to our level two students on Friday 14 June. These students had enrolled on a one-year programme at Notre Dame but we’ll be seeing many of them again in September, when they begin level 3 applied courses or A levels here at college.

Thank you to all staff who made the last day for these students such a warm and celebratory experience. The students enjoyed their leavers’ assembly and engaged with their leavers’ mass in a quiet, reflective manner.

We wish them all the very best of luck, whatever they choose to do next.

(posted 21 June 2019)

Excellent by Design: Student Showcase

College Principal Mrs Justine Barlow admires the work of student Jai Mistry.
Pictured left to right are: Abhik Roy, Head of Design Mr Ian Granger, Ray Laybourn, Jai Mistry, Wilgrace Gerona, and Mrs Barlow.

A level Product Design students had the chance to showcase their work on Wednesday 22 May. The annual exhibition for this department took place from 5 to 6:30pm so that parents, staff and students would all have the chance to view the project pieces on display. Highlights included:

  • The chessboard and pieces created by Charlotte Jones using epoxy resin casting and low temperature pewter casting.
  • Ash Allen’s oak storage box for Dungeons and Dragons game pieces. The design includes sliding drawers and a resin lid for dice rolling with embedded timber sections.
  • Jai Mistry’s flat-pack record player and vinyl storage unit.

Mr Ian Granger, Head of Product Design, said, ‘We are extremely proud of the dedication and enthusiasm shown by students this year as they adapted to the new specification criteria. They have produced some outstanding prototypes with many moving features.’

Notre Dame’s Principal Mrs Justine Barlow also attended the event, and was very impressed with the quality and professionalism of the work produced.

Ash Allen’s oak storage box.
Chessboard and pieces created by Charlotte Jones.
(posted 11 June 2019)

Parting Sweet Sorrow for Upper Sixth Leavers

The Class of 2019 prepares to say goodbye.

Our upper sixth students left on a high note on Friday 24 May.

The leavers’ liturgy was full to bursting with music and prayer provided by our students. The highly talented Macy Loftus, Laureen Missidimbazi and Tamara Gaskin Henry opened the liturgy with a worship song, accompanied by Omaatla Phiri on the piano. Led by Joe Robinson, a small procession of students brought the cross, candles and flowers to the front of the hall. Hannah Boyle, Louis Hickling (and College Principal Mrs Justine Barlow) read passages from scripture beautifully.

The students also offered prayers of thanksgiving for all the experiences they had been blessed with at Notre Dame. These were illustrated by the various artefacts – such as sports and Lourdes shirts, books, flags and a giant globe – that made up the backdrop to the main stage. Both our Lay Chaplain Mr Andrew Sullivan and our College Principal spoke eloquently about the importance of being a community rooted in Catholic values.

Towards the end of the liturgy, all students had the opportunity to come forward and receive a blessing, while the staff choir gave a beautiful rendition of The Lord is my Shepherd. To close, Simran Athwal wowed her peers with her performance of Song of Thanksgiving.

After a short break, our students returned to the hall for their leavers’ assembly, to celebrate their time at Notre Dame. We congratulated the Student Executive team for all their efforts, and noted that they had raised a stunning £4945.63 over the past year. Each Head of Faculty awarded High Flyer and Rising Star Awards to students from their subject areas. We also recognised student resilience with three awards, and chose eight Notre Dame Legends, all nominated by staff (award winners are listed below).

Then came a musical interlude: students Simran Athwal and Christina Xaviour sang Stand by Me, and everyone joined in, creating one of the most heartfelt moments of the assembly. Students used their mobile phones as torches, swaying in unison, each point of light adding to the sense of community and belonging.

After a whistle-stop tour of the past year’s events, we moved on to the Student Awards, voted for by the students themselves. King and Queen of Notre Dame were Feras Abulula and Aimee Denton, with Aimee also receiving the award for Notre Dame’s most inspirational student. Before the assembly ended, the audience chose the best fancy dress outfit: Notre Dame’s two student spidermen.

Refreshments in the sunshine of St Joseph’s Court provided an excellent photo opportunity, as you can see from the pictures below. An email has been sent to all upper sixth students containing a link to photographs taken on the day.

Higher Flyer Award Winners for academic excellence

Omar Valeinis

Sean Carey

Yasmine Bridge

Macie Buchanan

Rising Star Award Winners for most improved student

Kerys Hall

Finn Rea

Thomas Chappell

Mine Cothay

Student Resilience Award Winners

Shakra Ahmed

Rene Rowe

Nelima Begum

International Student Award Winners

Miranda Chen

Anastassiya Bukova

Notre Dame Legends

Amie Jobarteh

Hannah Boyle

Janos Magyar

Louis Hickling

Emily Anslow

Sergejs Mezeckis

Emma Watson

Jo Parker

Student Awards

Most Likely to Become Famous: Christine Xaviour and Joseph Robinson

Couple Most Likely to Get Married: Matthew Peyton and Luke Dickinson

Snapchat Superstar: Seb Trujillo

Baby Face Award: Craig Baker

Award for Best-Dressed Students: Kasia Klekot and Sajib Miah

Ray of Sunshine Award: Khoirotun Daud

Most Inspirational Student Award: Aimee Denton

King and Queen of Notre Dame 2019: Feras Abulula and Aimee Denton

Students singing along to Stand by Me.
The nominees for best fancy dress.
Some of our talented singers.
The king and queen of Notre Dame.
(posted 3 June 2019)

Design Workshop Empowers Student Creativity

Notre Dame students busy developing their poster designs.

Creative students from across Notre Dame’s A level and BTEC subjects attended an inspirational design workshop at Leeds Arts University on Wednesday 22 May. The aim of the event was to support them with developing ideas for our Young and Powerful poster competition.

The poster competition, organised by NCOP Higher Education Progression Officer Miss Mary Owoo, is open until Monday 10 June. Our students have the choice of four topics for their poster entries: Be Active, Be Healthy; Wellbeing; Mental Health; and Young Power.

The workshop was full to the brim with opportunities for our students to explore and expand their creative ideas. They took part in a university-style ‘crit’ where they shared their initial research in small groups and gave each other feedback. Following this, Jenny Scannell from Leeds Arts University led our students through the basics of graphic design, providing them with a framework for developing their posters. Students then had the chance to
practice their newly learnt vocabulary by analysing a selection of mental health posters, including a set of new designs for the Samaritans by brand experts Spencer Du Bois.  

In the afternoon students took a tour of the university, which included the new library, print workshops, ceramics department, and photography studio. Student ambassadors from the Illustration and Visual Communications BA presented their work and gave our students tips on portfolio development. Our students spent the rest of their time developing design ideas, working with a range of media including paint, collage, typography, ink and drawing.

NCOP HEPO Mary Owoo commented, ‘It was a very enriching and mindful day that provided our students with the skills and opportunity to be imaginative and reflect on their own wellbeing.’

(posted 30 May 2019)

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: 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:

(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 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


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


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)