Notre Dame Secondary School, Southwark
AN OPTION IN LONDON FOR LATIN AMERICAN STUDENTS
Source: Express News (UK/Latin American Newspaper: July 2016)
Excerpted/Translated by: Sr. Mary Kavanaugh
To emigrate is a difficult process — more than just a change of direction — it needs a great deal of support especially when there is a language barrier.
Notre Dame Secondary School in Southwark, London has been one of the few schools which has perceived this need and dedicated many of its projects to helping these students adapt to their new surroundings and begin to feel at home.
Sr. Anne Marie Niblock, the head of this school, together with a dedicated professional team have for several years tried to offer these young people greater opportunities for life.
The school facilities have always been at the service of the local community – with free activities, English classes and events such as the international afternoon.
Through the years, the academic achievement has improved. This is reflected not only in the results but also in the attitude of the students. Sr. Anne Marie notes that 18 years ago when there were few Latin American students they felt very insecure and did not have the support of their parents. Now the parents recognise their daughters’ successes and feel proud of them.
All the activities are directed towards incorporating the students as quickly as possible into the classes whilst at the same time recognising the richness of their cultures. To reinforce this they are encouraged to improve their mother tongue and preserve their own traditions.
The international afternoon is one way of celebrating the nationalities which make up the school. Students and their families enjoy sharing their culture through typical foods, music, dance, language practice, songs and other activities which strengthen the spirit of sharing which characterises the school. It is an afternoon which celebrates everyone’s culture and in which all feel special.
In the last five years the school has helped around 300 adults with classes in English, not only the parents but also people living in the neighbourhood – the classes are aimed at enabling people to take their place in society and to work for change and social justice.
More recently children wishing to join the school in September have been invited to take part in a summer school to help with English or to improve their academic performance.
The school is a member of the Charity, Citizens UK which has a section dedicated to Southwark and which develops projects to defend the rights of citizens. In school they aim to show students that they are capable of achieving their goals, that language need not be a barrier if they learn from an early age, that working together with other organisations, it is possible to change society.