Archive | Education

Possibility of later school start time to “boost results”

Do you want to sleep in another hour before school?

For children over the next few years, starting an hour later could be a possibility.

Researchers say teenagers start functioning 2 hours later than adults.

A 4 yearlong study will begin next September covering 32,000 pupils at 100 schools, assessing whether a later start improves learning, performance, attainment and qualifications.

Professor of sleep medicine, Colin Espie says, “Science is telling us there are developmental changes during the teenage years, which lead to them actually not being as tired as we think they ought to be at normal bedtime and still sleepy in the morning.”

“The hormonal changes of puberty include later secretion of the hormone melatonin, which signals that it’s time to go to sleep,” said Reut Gruber, a psychiatry professor at McGill University chair of the Canadian Sleep Society’s paediatric sleep group. “The signal to get up in the morning is also later,” Gruber said.

Professor Russell Foster, director of sleep at Oxford University added to this saying getting a teenager to start their day at 7am is like an adult starting theirs at 5am.

The body clock remains in this state until the age of around 21 for males, and 19 for females.

“Later school start times for secondary grades have been shown to improve sleep-debt, punctuality, attendance, behaviour, sociability and continuous enrolment, particularly for the at-risk student population,” a review by researchers at Carleton University concluded.

There has already been evidence around the world for the promise of later school starts.

A pilot study at Monkseaton High School in North Tyneside in 2009 found that starting an hour later improved grades in core subjects by 19 per cent. Dr Paul Kelley, who now works as a research associate at Oxford University’s Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute, was head teacher at the time.

“There were very positive outcomes, both academic and in terms of health,” said Kelley. “Academic results went up, illness down and the atmosphere in school changed. The students were not only much nicer to each other; they were much nicer to teachers. It was bliss. I should have done it sooner. Nothing I had ever done in all my teaching made such a difference.”

5 years ago, Toronto’s Eastern Commerce Collegiate Institute moved first period from 9 am to 10 am, giving students an extra hour to sleep in. The school, located in Toronto, Canada has been the latest starting school in North America since 2009.

The evidence for their success is undeniable – a representative for ECCI has said, “Absenteeism is down, alertness and grades are up. They (students) are relaxed and ready to learn in first period. Behaviour in class and in the hallways has also improved.”

The team at Oxford University are hoping to publish their results in 2018.

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Notre Dame’s Fairtrade Fortnight

Fairtrade Fortnight saw a multitude of events that raised over £100 for charity. With the majority of events being fuelled by cake and biscuits from the numerous bake sales held, the fortnight demonstrated the importance of Fairtrade both within college and across the world.

The aims of Fairtrade are to make sure that farmers and workers in the developing world work and are paid on fair terms of trade, meaning that companies are encouraged to pay sustainable prices that never fall below the market price.

Whilst Notre Dame’s Fairtrade Fortnight gave everyone the opportunity to learn more about the Fairtrade scheme and become more involved within college, it also allowed many students to demonstrate their talents at the college’s own festival, ‘Fairstock’.
As with any festival, face and body painting, live music and food was available in the hall at lunchtime on Thursday 7th March. Spokespeople from Cadbury’s returned to the college with games and freebies whilst numerous students and teachers pledged to support the Fairtrade campaign by signing up to the balloon launch.
Over the fortnight, the Fairtrade group was shown support and encouragement from the college and succeeded in spreading the message of Fairtrade and selling an awful lot of cake.
The Fairtrade group meet every Thursday lunchtime in room 86.

by Meaghan Spencer

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Review of Twelfth Night

“If music be the food of love, play on”. Twelfth Night has to be one of Shakespeare’s best loved comedies. The Apollo theatre in London is currently host to a production originally created for the 400th anniversary of the first recorded performance in the Middle Temple Hall in 1602. The production transferred to the West End after a sell out run at the Globe Theatre. The performance features an all-male cast starring Mark Rylance as Olivia and Stephen Fry as Malvolio.

I was lucky enough to witness the performance for myself last week. As I entered Apollo theatre, I was amazed by the intimate yet grand and authentic stage environment. The theatre was filled with the sound of traditional Elizabethan instruments, accompanied by the singing of Feste. There was a buzz amongst the whole audience as we watched in anticipation, as Rylance practiced his ‘Dalek-like’ walk across the stage, whilst other cast members were having their make-up applied and being helped into their costumes.

Rylance and Fry are the big draw for many people, however, as I watched the performance I realised the characters of Maria and Sir Toby Belch really brought out the slapstick, tongue in cheek comedy of the play. Rylance’s performance was a thrill to watch. His performance as Olivia was hysterical, playing a very believable role along with the delivery of lines that brought the written words to life.

Director, Tim Carroll strived for authenticity for the production, which he most definitely achieved throughout the whole performance. At either sides of the stage some of the audience sat in wooden galleries – typical of Elizabethan times. To accompany the authentic stage environment, the clothing had been hand-stitched and the shapes as close to those drafted by 16th century tailors using only buttons, pins, laces and strings.

Reading Shakespeare from a book can sometimes seem slightly tedious, but seeing a performance like this with such superbly, talented actors makes you realise what a brilliant playwright Shakespeare was. The standing ovation was fully deserved!

To top off a wonderful evening, David Tennant happened to be sitting two rows behind us!! This will be one night I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.

By Katie Muir

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Fairtrade Fortnight!

The International Fairtrade Certification Mark

The International Fairtrade Certification Mark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’d like to alert you all to the fact that Fairtrade Fortnight is coming up the first two weeks back after half term!

The Fairstock Festival will be held on March 7th in the hall at lunch. What should you expect? Food, samples, free chocolate… as well as various games, stalls, competitions and face painting! There will also be live music – if you’re interested in raising awareness or simply want to display your talents, feel free to volunteer.

On Friday 8th March, there’ll be a balloon launch on the balcony the main hall; if you want to be a part of that, all that’s required is a contribution of 20p.

And last but not least: the bake sale! This will take place in the upper common room at lunchtime – expect to see Fairtrade goods for sale at reasonable prices.

Remember to keep an eye out for the posters around to school as not to miss out on any information about key events!

To visit The Fairtrade at Notre Dame Facebook page, follow this link:

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Black History Month disappointment

The question about Black History Month have always been on the minds of young people, for example ‘what is the main point of black history month’ and ‘how comes it’s never actually a whole month’.

Black history month have changed considerably to incorporate Asian history into as well. Many People believe that Black history month should not be scrapped but changed to fit into the modern society we live in now, to engage the minds of not just young black youths but of every ethnic group. The social justice group in Notre dame tried this new vision of black history month in their college, by changing the name from Black History Month to World Heritage Week, which would incorporate every ethnic group, heritage, history and contribution that they made in modern society. This new innovative Idea would have taken place over a week in October, this week would be jammed packed with activities for the young people of the college for example ‘world food day’ which would involves the college canteen serving foods from different countries for a whole day, giving out samples, another example is the dress in your native countries tradition dress, this was mostly popular among the younger people.

However hopes were dashed as one member of staff disliked the idea as she felt it would ‘cause animosity between the students’, this was a huge disappointment for the social justice group who claimed that ‘World Heritage day was never meant in anyway shape or form, to cause animosity to any of the students or members of staff in Notre Dame. As a black Caribbean student at Notre Dame, I felt that Black History month doesn’t offer any significance to students, we do now learn about black history in class, or in the assemblies, from what I see all we seem to hear is ‘we were once slaves, and now we are not’ and the only black people were learn about is Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. There are many other people who contributed to black history and we seem to be denied this information. World heritage day would be able to offer students this information and extra information about other nations and their history, every culture in this college should feel heard done, we are denied information that would open our eyes to the diversity of our college, and embrace it. Fear of the unknown leads to ignorance and ignorance leads to animosity, how can we expect to grow as a community and as people if we know nothing about our neighbours and the other students in this college?

By Shona Cain

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Young Adult Novels: A Cliché?

Young Adult novels have had their fair share of slander over the years, but should a novel aimed a specific audience really be disregarded because of said audience? I’m not arguing that we should take ‘Twilight’ and put it up there with canon literature but sometimes I can’t help but get the impression there is a certain amount of snobbery associated with the genre, especially when it comes to the romances. I get the feeling the reason for this is big cooperate book stores and their obsession with for some reason placing all the books with the cheesy covers featuring beautiful swooning girls and ethereal men on the cover with some half-hearted review by Stephanie Meyer in their own little section, hereby giving the impression that all young adult literature is read by overly hormonal, fourteen year old girls. I’m talking about beautiful coming of age stories from geniuses like John Green and Steven Chbosky, Dystopia worth of George Orwell in the form Lauren Destefato and Suzanne Collins, heart breaking, moving books from Lauren Oliver. When I say YA lit I don’t mean the cliché we all so readily accept of a twelve year old girl swooning over Edward Cullen. I don’t have any problem reading canon literature, and can appreciate it as much as the next person- but I feel like the stigma given to YA can make me feel slightly inadequate for shopping in the ‘teenage’ section of Waterstone’s, because sometimes bit of teen drama is exactly what you need.  I feel like incredible authors can be disregarded for their audiences which really shouldn’t be what reading is all about. A book should be based on the words, the connection with the reader, not what genre/audience it has.

I’m not saying I don’t appreciate and read adult literature, Classics, poetry, biographies, I’m open to anything as I think most people should be, what I am saying is that yes, sometimes you want to read a book with all the complexities, that people have spent time and energy studying, that are about people with vastly complex and interesting lives who make you question the metaphorical resonance of the world around- and then sometimes you want to read a book purely for the story, for the escapism and the teen drama. The genres of fiction, and teen fiction shouldn’t be set with such a fine line. I know plenty of people who can enjoy both. So stop reading the cliché of teen lit which seems to have been constructed, because the audience shouldn’t define the book, there are a lot of really beautiful books in there which shouldn’t be over looked. So don’t pass it off because of the cliche associated with it; don’t overlook the beautiful novels hidden amongst it, because in my opinion it should be credited just as much as any other form of literature.

By Eloise Pearson

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An re-introduction to ‘The Bottom Line’

Once again we enter another college year and preparations for exams have already begun. This means that work has been coming at us all thick and fast, so this introduction to the college newspaper is a little late.

As the editor I think it is my duty to inform you of what is coming up this year on the college newspaper. With the start of a new term comes a fresh group of writers from both the Upper and Lower Sixth and along with the existing writers from last year we will be continuously posting stories that are both interesting and relevant. Coming soon we will have film, music and book reviews, news on events happening within college, current affairs coverage and opinion pieces on issues that could affect students such as yourselves.

Our major aim this year is to make the college newspaper all about the students, written, edited and relevant to everyone in the college.

We hope you enjoy reading what we have to say and we may even get some of you to join us on our writing team? Or maybe that is just wishful thinking on my part. Also don’t forget that we gather during Thursday lunchtime in room 12 in the English Department.

By Emma Smith

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The Fairtrade Launch Picnic

On Thursday 27th September, Notre Dame’s Fairtrade group held a picnic in the hall to launch this year’s campaign and celebrate the college’s new Fairtrade status.

Buns were baked, lemonade made and Cadbury’s chocolate handed out for free. Students swarmed the hall on Thursday lunchtime looking to buy from a selection of the handmade baked goods on offer; members of the Fairtrade group contributed their own home-made cakes and lemonade to raise money for charity and awareness for Fairtrade, and with great success. Representatives from Cadbury’s also came and handed out free chocolate, helping to raise the profile of the event as, apparently, free chocolate is very popular.
The launch picnic also gave the college a chance to unveil the plaque that has been created in celebration of the college’s first ever year of Fairtrade status. Fairtrade status basically means that Notre Dame has made and shown their commitment to supporting and using Fairtrade, making the products more available within college; all in all, a very good thing.

Keep an eye out for more Fairtrade events coming soon.

By Meaghan Spencer

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Ever fancied working abroad?

Spanish students in Valladolid

During the February half-term holiday a group of French and Spanish students from Notre Dame embarked upon a daunting week of work in a foreign country. That’s right, while you were sleeping in until twelve each day and kicking that due-in coursework to the corner of the room until, at best, two days before college started again, these students were unleashed into the working world of Nancy, a city in the Lorraine region of France and Valladolid in north-central Spain.
Having been given this opportunity by work experience program, Halsbury Work Experience, AS French student, Adam Leonard talked to me about his week in Nancy.
Everyone knows that work experience looks good for your university applications, so why choose France to do it? ‘I wanted to go on the trip to improve my French speaking skills before the speaking exam and also see what life was like in France’. Makes sense, you’ll stand out from the crowd as having worked abroad and you’re able to try out your skills in a real-life French environment. But starting a new job all on your own is nerve-wracking enough, how about being left alone for a week in a mainly French speaking restaurant? ‘I was initially worried about my placement since I was unsure how nice my employers would be, however, they were brilliant and I got along well with all of them. Although, it was slightly awkward on the first day because they spoke very little English, so my French was definitely put to the test.’
So, Adam was lucky with his placement, ‘I worked in a restaurant and did some waiter related jobs like laying tables and cleaning glasses, but mostly I worked in the kitchen with the chefs. This was the best bit, because they let me help make the meals and it was a very relaxed working environment’. But was it worth it, has it made a difference? ‘I am sure my French speaking has improved because I was surrounded by the language constantly, whether that was through speech, the written word or on the television. Also, because my employers spoke poor English it forced me to try and use as much French as possible. Being in a foreign country with just your classmates also helps your independence.’ After a week away, adjusting to working life in France, I asked Adam if he thought it was a worthwhile experience for other students, to which he replied, ‘I’d definitely recommend it to other students who want to practice and improve their French skills because, by the last day I was fairly confident with basic conversation and because it also re-sparked my interest in French lessons.’
The Halsbury Work Experience definitely seems to have had an impact upon the students that went to France and Spain; whether it has given them more confidence in speaking or just a fun week away that they’ll remember for a long time, the number of students I have spoken to have all recommended it as an opportunity not to be missed.
Meaghan Spencer

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