Parents, pupils, staff and friends of the school are invited to our Advent Liturgy of reading and carols, followed by a Christmas-themed musical celebration. It will be held in the School Hall at 7.00pm on Monday 18 December; we look forward to seeing you and your families there. Following the liturgy of readings and carols, warm mince-pies, soft drinks and mulled wine will be served during the celebration. We will be honoured by the presence of the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Jane Dowson. Entrance is free but the traditional retiring collection is donated to St Gemma’s Hospice. Please be in your seats by 6.55 pm. In the interests of families (and those who have to work in the morning), the entire event will finish by 8.30pm. Please join us.

Pupils will be allowed to wear their own clothes on Monday 18 December in exchange for a donation of £1 to the St Vincent’s Support Centre, a community project of the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP), dedicated to changing the lives of families living in poverty across Leeds.  The SVP is an international Christian voluntary organisation which tackles poverty and disadvantage by providing practical assistance to anyone in need, without discrimination.  I know that we can rely on pupils to support the initiative.  Prizes will be awarded to the best festive Christmas jumpers.

Large numbers of pupils took the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation last Friday as part of the school’s Advent programme of prayer and liturgy.  Many thanks to local priests who gave generously of their time to administer the sacrament: Reverend Fathers Josh Hilton (our Priest Chaplain), Canon Tim Swinglehurst, Mgr. William Steele, Fr. Simon Lodge, Fr. Emmanuel Adindu and Fr Gerald Creasey.

A group of 38 pupils from Years 7 and 8 enjoyed a visit to the West Yorkshire Playhouse for a new production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, described by The Times as ‘gorgeous’.  Our discerning young critics were unanimous in recommending the show. They were accompanied by Mr Teggart, Miss Gallagher, Miss McMinn, Mr Easter, Miss Deedigan and Miss Bell.

Planned theatre trips for the New Year include a visit to Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde at Alhambra Theatre, Bradford.  The Young Shakespeare Company will bring a performance of Macbeth to school for year 11 in February.  They return in March with Romeo and Juliet for Year 9.

A new version of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol, adapted for the stage by former Cardinal Heenan pupil Deborah McAndrew, runs at the Hull Truck Theatre over the festive season.  The playwright has been described by the Yorkshire Post as ‘increasingly brilliant’.  Her recent August Bank Holiday Lark, won the National Theatre Award for Best New Play of the Year 2014.

The whole school enjoyed another dedicated Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) time this morning when all pupils and staff spent 30 minutes in silent reading.  This activity is part of a national initiative to promote reading within schools.  Inspiring a love of reading in our pupils has always been an important aim of the school.  All pupils are following a new English curriculum.  Success in this new programme of study depends upon the ability to read, evaluate and analyse texts effectively.  By encouraging your child to read, you will be enabling him or her to access a range of complex texts and supporting progress across the curriculum.  Pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9 have been given a Reading Passport by their English teachers.  This document lists four core texts that your child will be expected to have read by the end of the school year in July 2018.  Each core text will present something new and interesting and will capture the imagination.  At times pupils may find elements of the text challenging: this will help them improve their reading ability.  Reading the four core texts is a minimum expectation: we hope to see pupils reading many more.  The texts are differentiated and suitable for each child’s reading ability.  We believe that the level of challenge within these texts will enhance and develop reading, literacy, writing, imagination and critical thinking skills.  All core texts may be borrowed from our school library.  We suggest that local public libraries are used too.  Parents may, of course, wish to buy copies of the recommended texts.  They are widely available.

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