History & Ethos

Our School

History & Ethos
Notre Dame Plymouth is over 150 years old. The first school was founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1865. It moved to Wyndham Square near Plymouth Cathedral in 1868 and, apart from a brief spell in Teignmouth during World War 2 as a result of the Blitz in April 1941, remained there until 1966. The school’s current home on Looseleigh Lane is in the grounds of the former Sisters of Notre Dame convent.

The school today is proud of its history but is forward looking.
In 1804, two French women, Julie Billiart, the daughter of a country draper, and Francoise Blin de Bourdon, an aristocrat, founded a Religious Congregation dedicated to the education of girls. From that time onwards, in Europe, America, Africa, Japan and other parts of the world, Sisters of Notre Dame have worked to keep alive the educational ideals of St. Julie. It is a truly worldwide family to which all our students belong. When you come into our Main Reception, you are welcomed by a statue of St Julie.

St. Julie believed that education should be for all, whatever their ability. The first Sisters were encouraged to educate “the whole child: head, heart and hands” and they were urged to teach their pupils “whatever is necessary for life.” You can read more about the history of the Sisters of Notre Dame and their continued work in the world today by following this link: https://www.snduk.org
Today the school numbers over 750 students, more than 80 teachers and support staff and has strong links with other local schools. The Link Partnership (TLP) operates Post 16 working with Devonport High School for Girls, Devonport High School for Boys, St Boniface’s College and Eggbuckland Community College. This increases the opportunities the school is able to offer to students.

Notre Dame has a strong record of academic success, a rich spiritual ethos that is welcoming of all students and staff, a broad and enriching curriculum that stretches the gifted and supports those who need extra time. The school expects the best effort and the best standards from all community members because everyone is totally committed to achievement. Notre Dame is a learning community – and a successful comprehensive school that values all achievements.

The mission statement and home-school agreement demonstrate clearly the school’s ethos and values. Respect and responsibility underpin the learning experience for students and staff, as does the belief that God loves us which makes us optimistic and purposeful people. St Julie said that people should be drawn to the love of God in the same way as the sunflower turns towards the sun. The sunflower image is one with which all the members of the Notre Dame Plymouth community are very familiar. We believe that God is good and we can experience his goodness and love through each other. Our school motto is taken directly from St Julie who proclaimed: “Ah, qu’il est bon, le Bon Dieu!” (“How good is the Good God!”) and we wear it with pride on our blazers and PE shirts.
Notre Dame works best when students make the most of every opportunity available to them.

Students get involved in all aspects of school life. They compete for their Houses, stand for election as House or Sports Captains, raise money for charity and participate in surveys and interviews. They run clubs, volunteer and represent the school in sports and academic events. Students have leadership opportunities in the school by becoming Young Spiritual Leaders or Peer Mentors.

Notre Dame also has a strong tradition of student involvement in local and regional activities such as Plymouth Youth Parliament, Mock Bar Trials, Carnegie Awards, International Awards and Young Carers Awards, and in ND Sixth students successfully applying for Nuffield Research Placements.
Notre Dame UK Schools

Notre Dame Plymouth is part of the global network of Notre Dame education, and one of seven Notre Dame secondary schools and one sixth form college based in the United Kingdom.

You can find links to all of our partner schools below:

Notre Dame, Southwark: www.notredame.southwark.sch.uk

Notre Dame High School, Glasgow: www.notredamehigh.glasgow.sch.uk

Notre Dame Catholic College, Everton Valley: www.notredameliverpool.com

Notre Dame High School, Sheffield: www.notredame-high.org.uk

Notre Dame Sixth Form College, Leeds: www.notredamecoll.ac.uk

Notre Dame High School, Norwich: www.ndhs.org.uk

St. Julie’s Catholic High School, Liverpool: www.stjulies.org.uk
Notre Dame is set in acres of land, providing a beautiful backdrop to school life and learning.

An ongoing commitment to providing students with the best of facilities can be seen in the modern 4-court sports hall, fitness suite and library complex. In the new Stang block, named after Notre Dame sister and environment campaigner Dorothy Stang, there are 10 modern and well-equipped classrooms along with 2 break-out spaces.

Notre Dame also benefits from dedicated drama studios as well as specialist technology and art workshops. Technology is always at the forefront of daily life, with school-wide wi-fi providing ‘anytime anywhere‘ access to a wide variety of mobile devices.

The beautiful school Chapel, reminds everyone of the importance of faith at the heart of all we do.