Nursery & Lower School

The Lower School at St. Helen’s College consists of the Early Years Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception) and Year 1. Children enter the Nursery in the September after their third birthday. The following September, they move up into Reception and then into Year 1.

We are on a secluded, colourful and safe site and are a close-knit unit of just under 150 children. We are very well staffed and have a basic ratio of 1:6 in Nursery, 1:8 in Reception and 1:12 in Year 1, with extra floating staff in all classes. This means that the children can make rapid progress in their learning, as well as having lots of fun!

The Lower School is very much part of the whole school and takes part in all of the whole school events such as the annual Speech Competition, St. Helen’s Day, Sports Days and themed curriculum days. 

Lower School children have specialist teachers in Drama, Spanish, Music and Philosophy for Children. 

My child likes all of the staff in Nursery; they are welcoming and fun. The teacher organises her team and class very well and always has time for a chat if needed.

A parent

The curriculum is very vibrant thanks to our dedicated and creative staff, who teach educational skills in a playful way. Teaching develops throughout the Early Years Foundation Stage to become more formal in Year 1. We have interactive whiteboards in every class, along with special computing and IT resources and weekly computing lessons. The Lower School has its own well-stocked library and wonderful outdoor play and discovery areas including our super play castle, Camelot.

There are opportunities for children to begin extra-curricular clubs from Nursery and to take individual music tuition, and we have Lower School Choir for pupils in Reception and Year 1. 

We follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum and most children achieve the highest points on the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile.


Posted on: 17/01/2020

Weekly News - Friday 17th January 2020

Lower School and Ducklings Reading and Phonics Evening Thank you to all parents who attended last night's workshops. We hope that you have taken away some very useful tips on how to support your child's development in reading and writing and that you now understand more fully how teaching staff are developing these skills. Please do speak with the class teachers if you would like to  follow up on any points discussed. Upcoming Music Events - All Welcome! Month End Music Recital Our next Month End Music Recital will take place this coming Friday (24th January) from 3.45 p.m. in the Evans Hall at Upper School. All are welcome to this informal event, which gives our instrumentalists and singers a chance to practise performance in a friendly and encouraging environment. Do come along! Children's Trust London Schools Concert - Sunday 2nd February The St. Helen's College Chamber Choir will once again be performing at the Children's Trust London Schools Concert this year. This event takes place from 2 - 4 p.m. on Sunday 2nd February at the beautiful St. John's, Smith Square in London. All St. Helen's College families are welcome to book tickets, whether your child is in the Chamber Choir or not. This is a really special event in beautiful surroundings and we would appreciate support from families across the school. You can purchase tickets via the following link. St. John's Church Concert - Saturday 8th February The Chamber Choir will also be performing publicly more locally in February, taking part in an evening concert at St. John's Church, Royal Lane, Uxbridge on Saturday 8th February. The concert begins at 6 p.m. and tickets are available to all (£5 cash payable on the door). Through ticket sales, the concert will raise funds for renovation of the church and for two animal charities in South Africa which promote animal welfare, one of which is run by an ex-Hillingdon vet.  We would be delighted to have as many St. Helen's College families as possible supporting the event, so please do come along if you can. The concert will last from approximately 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., with tea/coffee/cake available in the interval. Our Chamber Choir will be performing in the first half of the event, and several other local bands and artists will be performing too. We hope to see you there! Pupil-Led Learning Well done to Manisher L (Y5), who is certainly taking her learning into her own hands. Last week, she proudly brought a scale model of the solar system into school, which she had created at home with her father over the Christmas holidays. Here is the piece she wrote about her creation: Over the Christmas holidays, I was asking my Daddy how big our solar system is and that's when he said, “Why don't we make our own scale model of the solar system!”  It took us approximately 3-4 hours to collect the measurements, divide the length by 34 billion and find out more information about each planet, for example my age on each planet. The following day my Daddy had ordered a 200 metre long roll of paper and 200 metre tape measure so that I could be 100% accurate.The next day the equipment arrived. It took a while to measure out all of the planets, because the distance from the Sun to Mars is relatively close but the distance from the Sun to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto is astronomical! When I finally finished my scale model of our solar system it was 169 meters of paper from the Sun to Pluto! Fun Facts: The full length of our solar system is 6 billion kilometres. The day in Venus is shorter than the year. It takes 365 days to complete a year or a full orbit on earth. Pluto is not actually classed as a planet - it is classed as a dwarf planet. Scientists are not 100% sure that Pluto orbits the Sun. They are thinking that Pluto orbits another planet. ABRSM Music Results In addition to the excellent set of results announced last week, we are also delighted to let you know the following result for an ABRSM exam taken last term: Violin Krisha S - Grade 2 Merit Acts of Kindness Our school community continues to inspire pride. We were delighted to hear this week of further acts of kindness by two Upper School pupils. Samir (Y5) and Hana (Y2) are regular visitors to their grandpa's social group; the children regularly sing, play the piano and bring joy to the older people with their presence. Hana also helps out at a toddler and baby group run by her grandmother. Well done Samir and Hana - this is yet another example of how our pupils really are living the St. Helen's College values and ethos. Co-Curricular Clubs It has been wonderful to see the engagement of the children in the first week of our spring term programme of clubs. We have an additional pupil-led club which will commence next week; a group of very enthusiastic Year 6 pupils (Harry, Taha, Lakhi, Eli, Mohib, Jai and Dhian) will be running a 'Mathletics and TimesTables Rock Stars' Club commencing next Thursday lunchtime for Y4-6.  Pupils can sign up on Monday. Pupils are aware that if they have already committed to another Thursday club then they must attend the club that they were allocated.    News From The School Kitchen Chinese New Year - Special Themed Menu Please note that we will have a special, Chinese-themed menu on Thursday 23rd January, to celebrate Chinese New Year. You can see the menu here. February's Spice of the Month - Recipes for Parents At school we are always working to stimulate your children's taste buds and encouraging them to try new flavours. February's 'spice of the month' is ginger and we are delighted to share with you these recipes, all including ginger, which you might like to try cooking at home with your children. Do let us know how you get on! Pick Up and Go We would like to remind parents collecting children from the Parkway entrance at Upper School that you must move to the car park if your child is not visible at the gate at the end of the day. This week there has been congestion along Parkway due to some parents remaining at the pick up and go area. Mrs. Hunter does her best to keep the traffic moving and we work hard to maintain our relationships with our neighbours; we ask that parents work with us to do the same. Teachers try hard to ensure that the classes are out on time; however, there may be the odd occasion when a class is delayed for some valid reason and we ask, on such an occasion, that you move to the car park to enable traffic to move freely on Parkway.
Posted on: 17/01/2020


  Last Saturday, I attended the annual Diverse Leaders Conference, which happened to be hosted by Upton Grammar School in Slough. The event is in its third year and is organised by a close friend of mine, Hannah Wilson, who is currently Head of Secondary School Teacher Training at the University of Buckingham. It brings together leaders and educators from all areas and phases of education who are passionate about supporting professionals and pupils within the education system who are underrepresented but with particular reference to educational leadership in our schools.  There was representation from the BAMEedNetwork (Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic Educators), the LGBT network, Disabled leaders,  WomenED (women in education) and the HeforShe movement. The opening keynote speaker, Diana Osagie, who stands at 6ft 2, inspired the delegates by asking us this question: ‘Are you fulfilling the expectations of your life?’  Can I? Will I? Am I? Her call to arms for us to fulfil expectations in life was a powerful reminder to find and serve our purpose.   Several leaders that day reflected on the struggles they have had in their careers and on the resilience and courage that it took, for many reasons, to climb the ladder and be recognised for their contributions. Sadly there were devastating stories of leaders who had been pushed out of their schools: James Pope, who last year featured on the BBC2 documentary ‘School,' spoke eloquently but emotionally about his experiences and how he now supports other Heads who may find themselves in this very vulnerable and stressful situation (I have linked the moment in the documentary where James had to tell his staff he was leaving).  Ofsted (the regulatory body which inspects maintained schools) can make or break a dedicated Head’s career and I am somewhat grateful that as an ISI (Independent Schools Inspectorate) inspector, the approach that the Independent Schools Inspectorate takes is to celebrate the achievements and outcomes of schools and support them in areas where improvement may be required - not to push dedicated Heads from their schools.  One inspirational Head, Jo Lawrence, whom I have known on social media for several years, shared her courageous journey through being diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer just 18 months into her Headship and how she coped with handing over the reins to an interim Head but keeping in touch with her staff and school community throughout her treatment (I have linked Jo’s blog prior to her cancer diagnosis). She stood proud on Saturday, although still suffering from severe bone pain, and with a fantastic new look cropped hair do. It was my first time actually meeting Jo in person despite our many communications on social media - the warm embrace we gave each other spoke volumes and I only hope that not many of us have to endure what she has been going through.   Mark Pritchard, the Head of Upton Grammar, reflected on how we need schools to be diverse; complex problems needs people who think differently and collective intelligence is determined by our cognitive diversity. He reminded us of the detriment of homophily amongst leadership teams and the HIPPO style of leadership (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion!). Thankfully over my years in education I have only experienced this type of leadership on two occasions and stayed strong to my moral compass and moved to pastures new where colliding perspectives and risk taking was welcomed and staff and leaders were developed and nurtured.  I could continue sharing my reflections of the many other inspiring leaders I heard from on Saturday but I will end with Karen Giles, who has been Headteacher of a co-educational primary school in Brent for 16 years. Karen spoke about the learning behaviours of boys versus girls in her school and how she has worked with her staff to ensure that they are inspiring girls to become strong, confident leaders for the future - they tackle stereotypes and support equality of education. Karen has 960 children in her four form entry school, pupils are from the immediate local area and the school is incredibly diverse in culture, faith and languages. Karen highlighted the charity and the film  ‘Girl Rising’  and shared the ‘Nepal Chapter’ with us. I urge you all to take the time to watch (12 minutes) - this is a simple reminder of how far equality of education for girls has come, but also of how much there still is to do in this area. As we left the conference, we were asked to make a pledge to ourselves as we return to our own schools on Monday. The first couple of weeks back at school have been incredibly positive and Mr. McLaughlin has been handed the baton by Mrs. Stark and has stepped up to his new leadership role as Deputy Head with commitment, confidence and energy. With a new Deputy Head in place I am excited for the future - I pledge to continue giving my best to lead St. Helen’s College with the staff team, the pupils and parents to give the children the best possible education and to prepare them for life in the 21st century (whatever this future will look like). I will work my hardest with the amazing staff at St. Helen’s College to fulfil the expectations of the parent body, Principals and Governing Body and will be honest, resilient and courageous but will lead with grace, love and compassion.  Mrs. Drummond
Posted on: 10/01/2020

Weekly News - Friday 10th January 2020

We would like to welcome all members of the school community to a new year and to a new term. We look forward to another busy, productive and joyful term together. Many of our Year 6 children will be sitting entrance examinations and having interviews for independent schools over the coming weeks. We wish them all well and look forward to hearing of their successes. Autumn Term ABRSM Exam Results Well done to all of those children who sat ABRSM examinations at the end of the Autumn term. We are delighted to announce another super set of results. Guitar Jasmine B Grade 4 Merit Flute Ridhima M Grade 3 Merit 'Cello Devan S Grade 2 Merit Piano Reece G  Grade 2 Pass Samir H Grade 2 Pass Arjan D Grade 1 Merit Advik S Grade 1 Merit Oliver T Grade 1 Merit Sofia H Prep Pass Trumpet Patrick E Grade 2 Pass Aarya D Grade 1 Pass Violin Leila B Grade 1 Pass Singing Dhiya K Grade 3 Merit Esha T Grade 3 Merit Anaiya B Prep Pass Singing for Musical Theatre Siyana M Grade 2 Merit Anaya K Grade 1 Merit Clarinet  Georgia S Prep Pass Staff News We are delighted to share three very happy pieces of staff news with you. Mr. McLaughlin (Deputy Head, Y6) and Mrs. McLaughlin (Y3) are expecting their first baby in the summer.  Miss Hill (Ducklings) is also expecting her first baby, which means another grandchild for Mrs. Hill (Y2) as well! Mrs. Hunt has recently celebrated the milestone of 20 years as a member of staff at St. Helen's College! Pupils and staff at Lower School surprised her on their first day back this week with a beautiful assembly celebrating her long term service. Children from each Lower School class shared why they all love Mrs. Hunt so much. It was a very emotional and moving celebration with tears of joy.  What a wonderful way to start the term and the new year with such happy news! Year 5 Parent Transfer Meetings Mrs. Drummond will be meeting with Year 5 parents individually over the following weeks to discuss senior school transfer in detail. If you have a child in Year 5 and have not yet met with Mrs. Drummond or made your appointment to do so, please log on to your SchoolsBuddy account and book an appointment as soon as possible. Well-Being Day We will be holding a school-wide Well-Being Day on Thursday 13th February to support the well-being of all members of our community and especially our pupils. Throughout the day, pupils will take part in special off-timetable activities designed to give them the tools to look after their own well-being.  Last term, Lower School parents had the opportunity to attend a Parent Practice presentation about how to support your child in developing their self-esteem, and so bring out the best in them. On 13th February, we are inviting parents of Upper School children to attend a Well-Being Evening Workshop Session, which will give parents ideas about how to support children's well-being beyond school. If you have a child at Upper School and have not yet signed up for the evening session, there are still some places available. These can be booked through your SchoolsBuddy account. There are 70 places in total and these will be allocated on a first come, first served basis with a maximum of one place per family. Bookings will remain open until Friday 17th January. Pipers Corner Literary Festival One of our school priorities is to promote a love of reading in our pupils. The Pipers Corner Literary Festival in High Wycombe is now in its second year and will take place from 31st January to 13th February. We would encourage you to book tickets if you would like to visit and hear one of the visiting authors speak; there are authors/events suitable for children aged 4-7 and 8-11 as well as a few events suitable for adults. ​ Community Service/Acts of Kindness Following on from our school promotion of acts of kindness and community service, two of our families visited a Watford care home over the holidays and performed a mini music recital to the elderly residents, spreading joy to all who experienced it. The five children involved (Alex S, Marcus S, Annabelle S, Jasmine B and Xavier B) shared their experience with the rest of the Upper School in assemblies this week. It is wonderful to hear about these acts of kindness taking place outside of school - please do let us know if your family has any similar news to share. Charity Fundraising We would like to thank all parents and staff who contributed last term to collections for SANDs, raising funds to support families affected by Still Birth and Neo-Natal Death. The school raised a total of £172.03 which has now been passed on to this very important charity. Upper School End of Day Pick Up Please can we remind parents using Court Park car park that, while waiting, engines should be switched off rather than left idling. Idling engines contribute to local air pollution and we would like to do our bit to help the environment! School Security The safety of pupils is our primary concern at school. We would like to remind parents that, when school gates are closed and you have pressed the buzzer to gain entry, you should not then hold open gates at any school entrance to allow others access to the grounds. All visitors to the school must report to the school office and be accompanied while on site. We thank you for your support in adhering to our Safeguarding Policy in this respect. EasyFundraising Just a reminder that, if you are not already doing so, you can raise money for the St. Helen's College Development Fund while shopping online at no extra cost to yourself. You simply need to download the EasyFundraising app and/or visit and sign up to support our cause. Most well known high street and online retailers take part in this initiative, including John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Boots, Amazon, Ebay and many, many more. Once you get into the habit of using EasyFundraising it is very easy indeed. If you are booking a holiday, break or getaway or renewing car, home or other insurance this month, please use EasyFundraising. You can raise a big donation for the St. Helen's College Development Fund when booking higher cost items like holidays and insurance - companies including Expedia, Secret Escapes, Virgin Holidays, Onthebeach, MoreThan, Direct Line, Admiral Multicar and many more will donate to our cause at no extra cost to you. If you book a holiday or getaway before 12th January you'll raise twice as much with a double donation! Thank you so much for your ongoing support with our efforts to launch the Development Fund.
Posted on: 10/01/2020

Start with Heart

Happy New Year to all of our St. Helen’s College families.  We have had a very successful start to the new term and I thought that it would interesting for parents and pupils to hear about what the staff did during our two training days on Monday and Tuesday this week.  At the first staff training day of 2020 I showed staff the image below, replacing the word ‘teacher’ with ‘staff’: In every work place I am sure that people wear many hats and this is particularly the case in schools, where staff members wear multiple hats throughout the day and often at the same time! Working in a school means spending your days in the most rewarding, stimulating and busy environment and after 30 years as an educator I cannot even imagine doing anything else! However, it is so important that, regardless of the job we do in society, we are kind to ourselves. We must notice how we are feeling and look after ourselves.  I then shared this short video with everyone, which I urge you to find time to watch.   Kindness has many benefits, including increased happiness and a healthy heart. It slows down the ageing process and improves relationships and connections, which indirectly boosts your health.  It is our job to ensure that your children are safe and happy at school and of course learning each and every day.  To keep them safe at school we need to keep up to date with regulatory training, so we then had our annual asthma and anaphylaxis training from Rebecca, a member of the Hillingdon Asthma team.  First aid training was also on the agenda and 34 members of staff completed Paediatric First Aid training - the trainers made this very serious training fun and I am sure that children would have loved to have seen Mr. Dyson putting me into the recovery position as an unconscious breathing casualty or critiquing my bandaging of Mr. Lewis’s hand following the amputation of two fingers!   Having the children back on Wednesday was a breath of fresh air and although I thoroughly enjoyed the holiday I most certainly welcomed having routine back and the joy of the children around us again. It is not only the staff who have been 'upskilling' themselves in first aid this week, as our children from Reception to Year 6 have commenced the ‘Heartstart’ programme.  For many years Miss Walker has arranged for all of the children to take part in this most valuable course; the children’s knowledge and skills of how to react in an emergency are built upon year on year. Some of the skills which the children learn over their time with us are: What to do in an emergency situation Knowing how to make a 999 call Putting someone in the recovery position Dealing with serious bleeds Recognising signs of heart attack and stroke Administering CPR How to utilise an automated external defibrillator (AED) Yesterday, the Year 6 pupils went through exactly the same training as we did as they used the Annie dolls to practise their CPR technique.   At lunch on Tuesday we were discussing the fact that the children learn these life skills but with the hope that they may never have to use them in a real life situation. However, one member of staff whose children both attended St. Helen’s College still recalls the day when her daughter had a seizure at home and it was her 5 year old son (now a teenager) who took control and told his dad what to do! It was a very helpful, calm voice of reason from a child who recalled his ‘Heartstart’ training skills.   Do speak to your children over the next couple of weeks as they learn these life skills from Mrs. Hunt, Miss Ward, Miss Walker and Mrs. Wilcock. I am sure that you will be so impressed by what they know and can share with you! So, as we start the new term, we do start with ‘Heart’.   Here’s to a super 2020 for us all at St. Helen’s College! Mrs. Drummond  
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