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Building Music Popularity - by Julie Shaw

Julie Shaw, Head of Instrumental Studies at Notre Dame School, argues the key to music popularity is making it accessible to everyone and at any level.

Since 2011 in my post of Head of Music (Prep) at Notre Dame School, Cobham, I have spent my time encouraging a number of initiatives designed to increase interest in learning instruments and playing in ensembles, using a multi-faceted approach. The results have been marvellous. Over the eight years, we have seen an increase in the take-up of musical instruments in school from the national average of 33% to a whopping 80% of children in the Prep School in 2016, and an increase in the number of musical ensembles and clubs from five to around 25.  Entries for ABRSM exams have grown from an average of around 15 girls per session to 33 girls per session with an all-time high of 42 girls taking exams in Summer 2018.

Information is power! The key to beginning an increase in music popularity is to first know what your baseline is. Every girl at Notre Dame Prep School has a music profile which is updated every term. Each girl is asked about her musical activities, whether she learns an instrument in or out of school, and records are kept of her exam successes and her participation in music ensembles or clubs. If a girl does not learn an instrument or is not involved in a club she is personally invited every term to take one up, and a letter sent home with an application form for her to begin according to her preference. Gradually the expectation is built that this is the norm for the school. The information gathered is used to invite children to join appropriate ensembles, tailored to their individual ability, making music a social activity and allowing girls to encourage each other.

To continue reading my blog on the ISC website, please click on the image below:


Hampton Court Palace History Trip with Year 8
Year 8 Hampton Court History Trip

Year 8 had a lovely time visiting Hampton Court Palace on Wednesday the 7th November.  Our day was broken up into two halves.  Group A began with a tour of the palace, which we discovered was built by Thomas Wolsey.  We were shown around by a costumed guide who told us a lot of facts as well as a few scary, ghost stories.  Group B began with a workshop on primary sources and how to evaluate and analyse evidence.  We became real historians and discovered that being a historian is a little like being a detective.  We examined some artefacts from the palace and had to figure out what they were and we discovered how to decide if sources are reliable or not. 

The guides were brilliant and very knowledgeable and answered all of our questions.  We were told so many interesting facts that we did not know before, such as the fact that the tapestries hanging in the great hall cost the same amount as a war ship at the time.  Some other interesting facts we learnt about included where the name ‘eavesdroppers’ comes from and the ‘upper crust’.  Additionally we learnt the fact that Henry VIII had all the symbols of Anne Boleyn removed, apart from two that missed and still exist to this day.

After lunch we switched over and both groups had the opportunity to get lost in the maze which was fun and enjoyable, in fact it was ‘simply AMAZING!’

Everyone in the Year learnt lots of new things making the trip very beneficial.  One of our favourite parts was discovering how old the artefacts were that we were handling and also discovering how reliable they were. 

Another aspect of the trip that we found really fun and enjoyed was the photo challenge, this made us research more into the palace features.  It made us pay more attention to detail and made us question why Henry VIII took certain decisions. We also enjoyed the gift shop.

After all that we experienced, we are very grateful to the staff for organising this amazing trip, as we learnt so much more about the history of the Tudors. 

Written by Darcey A

Contributors Scarlett R, Layomi D, Hanah C, Mila M , Sofia A P and Freia N

Year 8 Numeracy Day at Kempton Park Racecourse

On Monday 12th November, 15 Year 8 students attended a Numeracy Day at Kempton Park Racecourse.  The girls had a behind-the-scenes tour of the racecourse including the weighing room, where they learned about the handicapping system.  The girls had the opportunity to be weighed at the Clerk of the Scales desk but only after they had estimated their weight in stones and pounds.   They saw the stables and measured the parade ring using trundle wheels to calculate the safety limits for the number of horses allowed in the parade ring and calculated that a maximum of 26 horses can be safely paraded at any one time.  They were also given permission to walk on the racecourse itself; an all-weather track made partly from recycled cabling.  They learned about the origin of many of the imperial distances used, such as a furlong was the length of a furrow and they discovered how the photo finishes are measured.  


They ended the day by watching three races whilst being taught how to interpret the complex information from the race cards.  They had the perfect position by the finishing post and were able to follow the action on the big screen, as well as feel the horses come thundering past.   

Mrs Wallace  


Chaplain's Corner Nov 16th

This week I have had the pleasure of going on a Theology trip with Year 8 to Bhaktivedanta Manor, the home of the UK’s Hare Krishna movement. I was not entirely sure what to expect as my experience of the Hindu religion is limited, in spite of several years spent working in West London in areas with very large Hindu communities.  However, during my time spent at the temple this week I learned that although there are very many differences between Hinduism and Christianity, there are also many similarities. Generosity and kindness to all is very important, as is respect for all living souls. The most important thing I learned, though, was in relation to the Hindu principle of Karma.

Karma is quite difficult to define but in essence it is the idea of “what goes around comes around”.  It is the principle of cause and effect whereby, what happens to a person, happens because they caused it with their actions. In other words, I suppose you could say it is reaping what you sow. In the Bible, this is something that Jesus preached about a great deal. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus lays out the principles of how we should all behave in life and in doing so, we should be mindful of the effect of our behaviour on others and, ultimately, on our own lives.


“Do not judge and you will not be judged, because the judgements you give are the judgements you will get.”

“Always treat others as you would like them to treat you.”


In the Beatitudes, Jesus explains how those who are merciful will have mercy shown to them, those who are peacemakers will be called sons of God, and how those who are gentle will inherit the earth. He indicates that we must live our lives with consideration for others and although it is not always easy, we will reap the rewards of doing so in His name.

The visit to Bhaktivedanta this week was a very enjoyable experience and it made me realise that whatever deity you choose to believe in, the message is clear.  Doing good to and for others will ensure that you will reap the rewards for the choices you make. Be merciful, non judgemental and kind. Be humble, love your enemies and pray. If you live your life in this way, you will inherit all that is good.



Mrs Hopkins



“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people…”

Galatians 6: 9-10

Sports Board

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Prep Weekly Sports Round Up Nov 16th


U9A Netball Tournament

U9 Netball Winners at Rowan Tournament

Well done to the U9 girls, who played in the Annual Rowan Netball tournament. The girls played fantastic netball, working very well as a team and securing the over-all WIN! I am very proud of the girls and their performance through the morning.

 U8A- C Netball v GHS

U8 Netball v GHS

Very well played to the ND Year 3 girls who had their first netball match on Monday! The girls showed excellent ball skills as well as positioning. They are showing great promise for the future.


U11A- E Netball v Rowan

U11 A-E Teams v Rowan

Thank you to Rowan for a lovely afternoon of netball on Tuesday, with both schools playing five - U11 teams. The girls played 40 minute matches, with some lovely play from both schools.

The match results were;

A team won 11-7 with Alexia voted as player

B team won 9-5 with Gracie and Chloe votes as player

C team lost 5-6 with Willow voted as player

D team lost 1-5 with Darcie votes as player

E team won 6-0 with Lara voted as player



U9A- D Hockey v Feltonfleet

U9 A & B Hockey v Feltonfleet

The Year 4 girls played hockey against Feltonfleet yesterday afternoon. It was a lovely afternoon of hockey! Very well played to all the girls from both schools!


U7 Hockey with Downsend

The Year 2 girls are taking part in a fun hockey afternoon with Downsend on Friday 16th November, learning new skills, working on ones they already know and most importantly meeting me people and making friends! Photos will be put up on twitter.


U10A and B Hockey Tournament @ Downsend School

Good luck to the U10 girls playing at the Downsend Tournament on Saturday!


Next week’s fixtures:

  • Monday 19th November -U9A Hockey Tournament @ Downsend School

  • Monday 19th November - U11A and B Netball v St Hilary’s

  • Tuesday 20th November - U11A and B Hockey v Downsend

  • Friday 23rdNovember- U8A and B Netball v Bishopsgate

  • Saturday 24th November- Modern British Biathlon in Leeds


Mrs Purgavie

Senior Weekly Sports Round Up 16th Nov

Swimming Gala against Guildford High

The U12 A,B,C&D, U13 A&B and U14 A&B Swim Squads swam in a Gala on Monday 12th November against Guildford High. All the girls swam really well with some races being extremely close between all the teams! It was lovely to see the U12 C&D swimmers swim in their first gala for Notre Dame J. The overall results were:

U12 Notre Dame 34 v Guildford High 44

U13 Guildford High 28 v Notre Dame 32

U14 Guildford High 29 v Notre Dame 31

Final totals were: Notre Dame 97 and Guildford High 101


Swimmers of the Night:

U12 Alice H, Sasha K and Emily P

U13 Darcey A

U14 Sofia K

Well done girls!


U15’s drew 0-0 v Howard. .


U18 netballers v KGS  - two good matches one win each!

U18 Netball v KGS


U13 netballers battled but lost v SWP last night! Well played ladies - tough matches

U15’s had tough matches v Tormead A team lost 21-22!

U12A beat Milbourne 11-8,

U12A Netball v Milbourne Lodge

U14A&B had valuable training session before Nationals on Sunday!

Good luck

U14 netballers playing in Tonbridge Wells in the Surrey round of Nationals Netball on Sunday and then in the Surrey hockey trophy on Monday!


Mrs Marsh

Outstanding Sporting Achievements!

Tate G

Tate had a great performance at the Guildford Gala on 20th October.  She competed in five races and achieved five PB’s and was awarded five medals!

50m Back Silver 35.96

50m Fly Silver 34.19

50m Breast Silver 42.38

400m IM Gold 6.04.44

50m Free Bronze 32.70

Well done Tate!!


Verity P

Verity P - Triathlon Success


Verity came third this year in the Triathlon England London League in the Youth category. This is a season-long competition encompassing Aquathlons, Duathlons and Triathlons with points accumulated at numerous events across the South East. She has also been selected for the London Regional Training Squad. The London Region “invite the best athletes from each age group to come together between six-eight times in the early / off-season to get specialist performance training to enhance their skills and conditioning. As well as general enhancement of their skills and conditioning the squad is very much a part of the triathlon development pathway all the way to Olympic status”

It’s great to see her commitment rewarded!

Well done Verity!

Sisters n Sport Weekly Netball Classes
Sisters n Sport Weekly Netball Classes


Performing Arts

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Prep Music Board Nov 16th

Carol Service

Preparations are already well on the way for the annual joint schools’ Carol Service at 7pm on Wednesday 12 December. 
All girls in years 3 to 6 are expected to attend, so please reserve this date.  Songs including words, music, and backing tracks are available on Firefly here for the girls to practise at home – all words will be from memory and this is for homework for Years 3 to 6 from now until the end of term.




The ABRSM exam date has now been confirmed as Thursday 29 November.  Letters have gone out to parents by post with the time of your daughter’s exam.  Please return the consent slip as soon as possible with a cheque for the accompanist if appropriate.


Thursday 22 November: Rehearsal Day.

Thursday 29 November: Exam Day.


Faith and Music Assembly: 6GW

6GW’s Faith and Music assembly will be on 7 December at 9am, and the theme will be ‘Jesus - God’s Gift of Love’.  Girls will be asked in class two weeks before the event for musical submissions or given the option to do a reading. 

Mrs Shaw


Senior Music Board 16th November


Staff & Senior Choir Rehearsing

Senior Choir and Staff Choir had their first combined rehearsal for Feast Day this week. They are sounding great!

For more photos and videos, follow us on Twitter @NotreDame_MUSIC

Dance - Nov 16th

Ballerina of The Week is Anaiya (Y5)!

Ballerina of The Week - Anaiya

Year 2 Private Ballet girls have been having great fun learning 'The Dressing Up' dance!

Mrs Thomas

Prep Drama Board Nov 16th

Year 2

Year 2 Nativity Rehearsals

Year 2 are making great progress in rehearsals for their Nativity.

Please make sure your daughters are learning their lines as it is not long now until the show!

Year 4

Year 4 Rehearsals for Hoodwinked

Year 4 are rehearsing hard for their play Hoodwinked!


Miss Fletcher

Senior Drama Board Nov 16th

Made in Dagenham

Made in Dagenham Rehearsals

Things are starting to come together for “Made In Dagenham” with some set, costume and lighting introduced. We are really looking forward to the band joining us this week for their first call. We are in for a great show.

Book your tickets online now through the ticketlight link :

Made in Dagenham Logo



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Prep Library News 16/11/18

SLA Information Book Award 2018

SLA Information Book Awards Winners 2018

An annual event celebrating information books, this award ties in with Non-Fiction November. The School Library Association (SLA) has announced this year’s winners.

Children’s choice winner (for ages 7 to 12) – 100 Things You Should Know About Food, by various authors and illustrated by Parko Polo and Mariani Federico (Usborne).

Judges’ choice overall winner (7yrs and under)Look I’m a Scientist, by various authors (Dorling Kindersley).

Hilary Murray Hill, from the award’s sponsor Hachette Children’s Group, commented: “Information publishing for children could not be more important in a world of conflicting, and often dubious, sources and it is good to see the increasing acknowledgement of the importance of non-fiction in improving empathy and other life skills.”

Anti-Bullying Week 12th – 16th November

The theme for this year’s Anti-Bullying Week has been Choose Respect. Books can help children to cope with difficult issues when they are feeling overwhelmed. These are some suggestions.

The Purrfect Pawse

The Purrfect Pawse: A little book to help children pause, stretch and be grateful by Avril McDonald

Part of her ‘Feel Brave’ series this book uses rhyme and repetition to encourage children to take time out, pause and gently stretch with Catreen the cat. A daily dose of wellbeing that all young children will enjoy. Ages 4 - 7


The Lost Diary of Sami Star by Karen McCombie

The Lost Diary of Sami Star by Karen McCombie

When Hannah finds an abandoned diary in the park, which describes the colourful life of the mysterious Sami Star, she hopes that she has found a new friend. This is the heart-warming story of finding friendship in a most unlikely place, as it turns out Sami needs Hannah’s friendship too. Age 8+

101 Small Ways to change the World by Aubre Andrus

101 Small Ways to change the World by Aubre Andrus

This is a practical, fun and creative book that can inspire children at home or at school. It shows you’re never too young to make a difference and includes suggestions for random acts of kindness, craft-projects, ways to save energy and much more. Age 9 - 12



Mrs Hughes

Senior Library News 16/11/2018

Poetry Competition

First News Living Planet Report Poetry Competition

We have had some excellent discussions about the work of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and their informative report regarding the environment and the threats facing the planet.

To support the cause, students from years 7 – 9 have been embracing the challenge of writing and illustrating a poem about one of eight declining species:

Emperor penguin, Ganges river dolphin, giant panda, Javan rhino, mountain gorilla, orang-utan, polar bear and snow leopard.

We have been very impressed with the levels of research conducted; the facts that they have shared and the awareness and creativity shown when writing their poems. The lesser - known Ganges river dolphin has been of particular interest:

The Ganges river dolphin can only live in freshwater and is essentially blind. They hunt by emitting ultrasonic sounds, which bounces off fish and other prey, enabling them to “see” an image in their mind.

The Ganges river dolphin is still-hunted for meat and oil, which are both used medicinally. The oil is also used to attract catfish in net fishery.

Industrial, agricultural, and human pollution is a serious cause of habitat degradation.

The Ganges river dolphin is important because it is a reliable indicator of the health of the entire river ecosystem. The government of India declared it the National Aquatic Animal in 2009. WWF


This powerful poem about the snow leopard was written by Mercedes in Year 9. 

Mrs Finch


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FoND Weekly Update Nov 16th

Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of our Christmas Fair - from school staff to parents, you were amazing! We had a fantastic time and will be looking forward to letting you know shortly how much was raised.

FoND Christmas Gift Fair 2018 Collage


For those of you who have paid but have not collected these yet, please do contact us on to arrange a time for collection. 


Raffle Winners

Well done to all the winners of the raffle:

1st prize - Four Jingle Bell tickets went to 

Jane Barclay Wilson. 


2nd prize  £150 Whistles voucher went to 

Mrs Josyln Woodger.


3rd prize £100 Voucher from Lounge and Cloth went to 

Taylor Khoo


Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate sales start today by the Sports Hall. Warm up with a delicious cup of hot chocolate and tasty toppings.


Winter Ball

It is not too late to join us at this year's Winter Ball.  Please contact Carolyn Dawson for tickets:


Empties Please!

Empties please is a new fundraising venture which will be introduced next week. 

Further information will be available shortly do keep your empty ink cartilages. 

We would love to have them. 


Parent Board

Parent Board

Parent Board - You can still take advantage of this lovely platform to advertise your business or sell second-hand items..... and much more. To advertise, or to look what is on offer, just log into firefly and follow the steps to go onto parent board. 

Please contact Gia or Mike on: if you need any assistance.