Notre Dame School has a long history and tradition. It is one of the many schools in the country which was founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame. The Sisters came to Southwark in 1855 and opened a school on the present site. The School has developed and thrived over the years and has always been known as a centre of excellence in the local community.
The Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame has always placed a high priority on the education of women, particularly of those in inner-city areas. It strives to educate women to reach their full potential, to be confident, to be successful and to become mature and responsible Christians. The present headteacher follows a long line of Sisters of Notre Dame who have led the School since its foundation and Notre Dame is now one of the few schools in London, and indeed, in the whole of the country, which has a headteacher who is a religious sister.
Over the years Notre Dame has seen many changes in its character. It has been both a day and boarding school and after the Second World War it became a voluntary aided grammar school. In 1977 it expanded to become an 11-18 comprehensive school and in 1985, in response to wishes of the diocese, it became an 11-16 school with its students being given priority of place, after the age of 16, at the Catholic sixth form college in Clapham, St. Francis Xavier.
In September 1993 Notre Dame School became a grant maintained school and continued to thrive. It used its new resources to provide more teachers for its students and, as a consequence, to reduce class sizes.
In September 1999, following new government legislation, Notre Dame School reverted to being a voluntary-aided 11-16 comprehensive school. In January 2000 it was awarded Beacon status and received several School Achievement Awards.
In September 2003 the School was awarded the specialist status of Language College enabling students to study more languages and to develop even greater global awareness. In September 2004 the School became the Lead School in a Leading Edge Partnership and in 2008 became A Raising Achievement Lead School.
The HMI Ofsted inspection in June 2012 graded the school ‘outstanding’ and it was given the status of a ‘High Performing Specialist School’. This led to the School becoming the Lead School in Southwark for Gifted and Talented Students. In 2012, the school was graded ‘outstanding’ in every category. This was the fifth time the school had been given the ‘outstanding’ grade.
In September 2012, with funding from central government, Phase 1 of a building programme was completed which gave the school a new kitchen, dining areas and cafe, dedicated Year 7 classrooms, outdoor recreation area, better circulation and library space. Phase 2 was completed in January 2013 and provided new performing arts areas for music and drama.
Notre Dame School is committed to maintaining and improving further its long tradition of excellence in the local community.