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: 29/11/2019

Weekly News - Friday 29th November 2019

Philosophy For Children (P4C) Mrs. McLaughlin from 3M delivered two P4C sessions to our Nursery and Reception children this week, encouraging their reasoning and thinking skills.   The other staff looked on with great pride as the children listened very carefully and interacted with each other so mindfully. We are very fortunate at St. Helen's College to have staff expertise and the collegiality amongst staff to share good practice.                   2B Class Assembly What a super class assembly from 2B today, telling us all about their journey so far at Upper School! They demonstrated their growing independence with a 'Countdown' style challenge to change their reading books in the upstairs part of main school, shared some of their impressive English writing with us and demonstrated how to do column addition. They also told us about their involvement in STEAM Day and their first Year 2 class trip to the Chiltern Open Air Museum. It is clear that they are relishing the challenges that the move to Upper School brings and that they are taking on greater responsibility with glee. A perfectly chosen hymn - 'One More Step Along The World I Go' - rounded off an impressive and very well-presented assembly. Well done, 2B.         Year 6 Senior School Masterclass Mrs. Hubble, the Head of Northwood College, spent the afternoon speaking with the Year 6 children about transition to senior school. The children asked interesting and thoughtful questions about the issues that were important to them, as they prepare themselves for upcoming examinations and interviews at a wide range of schools. They asked about whether Year 7 children have lockers, how the settling in process works for pupils who are the only one from their prep school, and numerous questions about the interview process for independent schools. The most important message from Mrs. Hubble was that the children should always be true to themselves and sincere in every interaction. As ever, we were very proud of how our Year 6 pupils conducted themselves with such confidence. They certainly were a credit to St. Helen's College. We heard today also from the parent of one of the pupils who made the transition to senior school in the summer. She had this to say about how her daughter has settled into North London Collegiate School: 'Our daughter absolutely loves her everyday life at NLCS. Thanks to St. Helen’s College for building her self-confidence; she now actively and confidently participates in so many clubs there. She is in Concert Orchestra, Symphonia, duet ensemble; netball, lacrosse, badminton and swimming squads.  We attended the parents' evening last week and it seems that she stood out in all subjects, especially in Maths and English. St. Helen’s College definitely has explored her potential. We are extremely grateful to St. Helen’s College.' Any parents who are notified of their children's interview dates should inform Mrs. Drummond so that we may assist them in preparing for their interviews.  Month End Music Recital Well done to all of the performers who took part in today's Month End Music Recital, the third of the term. As ever, this was a wonderful opportunity for our children to perform in an informal environment and it was super to hear pieces on such a variety of instruments and voice. Thank you also to ex-pupil Shreya Tharmalingam for coming back to visit us and delighting us with her voice as she works towards her Grade 6 singing examination. Times Tables Rockstars Mrs. Rance is delighted with how pupils throughout the Upper School are engaging with Times Tables Rockstars. They are clearly putting in lots and lots of time to practice and the results are fabulous. In Upper School, the fastest player this week was Harry J (6RD) and the most improved player was Alex S (6RD). The fastest Middle School Player was Isaac B (2B) and the most improved was Jasmine H (2H). Well done to everyone and do keep practising! Christmas Events - Please Read Very Carefully! Monday 2nd December Carols Around The Tree 4 p.m. - Please join us in the Evans Hall/Upper School playground after school, where we will be serving mulled wine and festive treats from 3.10 p.m. We will gather around the large Christmas tree at about 4 o'clock to sing some carols and turn on the lights. All family and friends are welcome so please come along and get into the festive spirit! Tuesday 3rd December Nursery Christmas Assembly 8.45 a.m. - all Nursery parents are warmly invited to watch their children perform in their Christmas assembly, which will begin at 8.45 a.m. in the Lower School Hall. Prior to this, coffee will be served from 8.15 a.m. in the Lower School Hall. Wednesday 4th December Year 3 Rehearsal at Winston Churchill Hall - All Year 3 children should arrive to school as usual and they will then be taken by coach to WCH. A packed lunch will be provided for Year 3 children by the school caterers; lunch arrangements remain as normal for all other children. End of day arrangements are as normal for all children. Thursday 5th December Year 3 Dress Rehearsal at Winston Churchill Hall - all children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3 must be dropped at the Winston Churchill Hall, Pinn Way, Ruislip, between 8.00 and 8.40 a.m. on this day, unless they are booked into Breakfast Club. Year 3 will perform their dress rehearsal to the audience and all children will be returned to school by coach in time for normal school lunch service. Year 3 Performance at Winston Churchill Hall - 7 p.m. - The Year 3 children and staff have been working very hard to prepare their Christmas performance, The Countdown To Christmas, and tickets are still available for the performance. You can book tickets by following this link. We do hope that you will join us on the evening and we are looking forward to seeing many family and friends at this event. Friday 6th December Reception Christmas Assembly - 8.45 a.m. - all Reception parents are warmly invited to watch their children perform in their Christmas assembly, which will begin at 8.45 a.m. in the Lower School Hall. Prior to this, coffee will be served from 8.15 a.m. in the Lower School Hall. Monday 9th December Infant Choir Carols in Lower School Playground - 8.15 a.m. - Please join us as you drop off your children to hear our Infant Choir singing carols in the morning. Year 1 Christmas Assembly - 8.45 a.m. - all Year 1 parents are warmly invited to watch their children perform in their Christmas assembly, which will begin at 8.45 a.m. in the Lower School Hall. Prior to this, coffee will be served from 8.15 a.m. in the Lower School Hall. Wednesday 11th December Upper School Pantomime Trip (Year 2-6) - after a brief introduction at school to pantomime as a traditional British drama form, all children in Years 2 and 6 will travel to the Beck Theatre to see 'Sleeping Beauty' Previous performances have been of a high quality and much enjoyed by all, so we hope that this year will be no exception. On return to school, the children will enjoy a party style picnic lunch and some afternoon themed activities. School will end at the normal time for all classes. Thursday 12th December School Christmas lunch - Lower and Upper School children will enjoy a party style Christmas lunch here at school, cooked and served by our Accent staff. You can see the menu, with allergens, here. Lower School Pantomime Visit - After their Christmas lunch, Lower School children will enjoy a visit from West End In Schools Pantomimes who will present their version of Dick Whittington. Lower School children are encouraged to wear party clothes to school on this day but please also remember suitable shoes and a warm coat! Friday 13th December Upper School Carol Service - Parents are warmly invited to join us at All Saints Church for our Y2-6 Carol Service, which will begin at 11.00 a.m. Please be mindful that the end of term is a busy time for traffic, and walk to the service/to pick up your children from school if you possibly can, or perhaps park away from the school and walk. End of Term - half day - Pick up times are: Ducklings and Nursery 11.50 a.m. Reception 12.00 p.m. Year 1 and Year 2  12.10 p.m. Year 3 and Year 4  12.20 p.m. Year 5 and Year 6  12.30 p.m. Holiday Club will be running on the afternoon of Friday 13th December and then every day until Monday 23rd December. Please book in via your SchoolsBuddy account. Christmas Cards The children often like to send festive cards to their friends at this time of year. We are aware that many children like to pop a Christmas chocolate/coin into the cards as a treat but please could we request that this year that an alternative to chocolate is sought. With our school being very allergy aware, we are recommending that perhaps Christmas stickers are added instead or perhaps the simple gesture of a card is adequate. Thank you for your continued support. For further information and advice on allergies please see the Allergy Aware UK website. Christmas postboxes will be open next week at Upper School, Lower School and Ducklings for free deliveries of Christmas cards among the children. Please ensure that the children's names and classes are clearly marked on envelopes. Jack and The Beanstalk at The Compass Theatre If any parents would like to take their children to a local pantomime, you can find details of The Compass Theatre's production of Jack and the Beanstalk here. And Finally.... Please remember to use Easyfundraising when you do your Christmas shopping, as over 4,000 shops and sites will donate to the St. Helen's College Development Fund at no extra cost to you - so you can raise donations when you buy gifts, decorations, your festive food shopping or anything else online! It doesn't matter if you haven't signed up yet as it takes just a moment to create your account and begin using Easyfundraising to raise money for our cause. Just click here or follow this link: ​  Thank you so much for your support!  
Posted on: 29/11/2019

Au Revoir by Mrs. Stark

As I read Mrs. Drummond’s blog last week with its ‘retirement wish list’, my thoughts turned to my own imminent retirement. At the end of this term I will be retiring from my position as Deputy Head after a long and happy association with the school. I joined St. Helen’s College over 20 years ago as a part-time French teacher and it is true to say that things were very different here back then. For one thing, French was the only language taught in the school and it was taught only during timetabled lessons. I am very proud that I have been able, during my time at the school, to introduce Spanish and Latin to the curriculum, to help with establishing co-curricular language clubs and to introduce the Eurotalk competition (now called uTalk) which gives Upper School children a chance to learn even more languages and compete online against other language learners from across the United Kingdom. Language teaching is most certainly not the only area of change I have seen during my time at St. Helen’s. The buildings and facilities at the school have developed apace over the last 20 years; the Upper School building’s first floor has been extended to add an extra classroom and enlarge those already there, libraries have been established at both Lower and Upper School, Ducklings Kindergarten has opened, an Art Studio has been built, a Business Office has been established and the kitchen and refectory have been added so that children may have meals cooked for them at school. The dining experience now is a far cry from how it was back then, when the children each had to unfold an embroidered napkin (often embroidered during their sewing lessons), then lay out their packed lunches at their desks and eat in silence! Recorder cases were also stitched, and some classes had home-sewn ‘chair bags’ in which pupils kept their belongings. In my early days, some year groups only had one class and there was just one teacher per class from Year 3 onwards. The pupil roll has increased to two classes per year group and we are so lucky, now, that the staff body has grown to include more specialist teachers and such a big team of teaching and learning assistants. Having more staff means that we can offer more opportunities to the pupils and one opportunity which I am particularly proud to have introduced is the annual Year 6 trip to the Chateau de la Baudonniere in Normandy, France. About 15 years ago, Mr. Crehan and I travelled to France for a ‘recce’ and, having enjoyed the French culture (and cuisine!) so much ourselves, we were determined that St. Helen’s College pupils should benefit from an immersive language experience in such a beautiful setting. The trip was established, and I have accompanied the Year 6 children on their trip every year since then. I am delighted that this is always a highlight for the children and that we have fostered close relationships with the local community and the local primary school there. As my own children grew older, I moved from part time teacher of French to full time class teacher, spending many years as a Year 5 class teacher and a few years as a Year 6 teacher and becoming Deputy Head over 10 years ago. My roles have meant working closely with the staff across the whole school, and at Upper School in particular, and I have enjoyed close working relationships and friendships with so many talented and enthusiastic colleagues over the years – including, at various times, my own children! My daughter Laura is a teacher herself and has done some supply teaching here, and my son Chris worked in Funtasia and Holiday Club during his sixth form and university years. I must say that it has been a privilege to work alongside such a diverse, positive and friendly group of people. There have been so many meals out, holiday meet-ups, drinks receptions and Christmas parties and I have memories to cherish of wonderful times with colleagues and friends. There have been sad times, too, with the loss of colleagues to cancer in particular. I am proud to have been able to establish the school’s relationship with and ongoing commitment to Cancer Research UK’s Relay for Life. In the years we have been taking part in this event, the school has raised tens of thousands of pounds for Cancer Research. I am enormously thankful to all of the staff, parents, pupils and friends who have been involved with this over the years, and I am hopeful that this association will continue into the future as we continue to fight cancer together. The work that we have undertaken together in support of Relay for Life is just one expression of the St. Helen’s College spirit. Certainly much has changed over the past 20 years, but it is true to say that much has also remained the same. The heart of St. Helen’s College still beats strong; the school’s family ethos and traditional values still underpin all that goes on here. The well-being and personal development of the pupils is still given the highest priority by both staff and parents; love, kindness and tolerance remain the most important of the values that we teach. This is why I have remained with the school for so many years - it has been genuinely inspiring to work in a school with such a strong heart and virtuous purpose. Over the years I have taught thousands of pupils from hundreds of families; some of my earliest pupils are, in fact, now parents themselves. I would like to extend heartfelt thanks to all of the parents who have chosen St. Helen’s College over the course of my time here and showed me such trust and such kindness. To the pupils, I would like to say thank you for making my working life such a joy. I have seen so many children grow and develop into fine young people and I am pleased to be able to retire feeling confident that the future is bright! We all become teachers because we want to make a difference, and I am happy and proud to be retiring as Deputy Head feeling that I have been able to do that. I am handing over the Deputy Head baton to Mr. McLaughlin in the certain knowledge that he will use the role to drive forward change, to uphold the traditional St. Helen’s College values and to make a positive difference too. This is not goodbye, as I will be returning to St. Helen’s College in January for one day per week as a part-time French teacher, ending my journey here just as I began it all those years ago. So, for now, I shall simply say ‘Au revoir’. Mrs. Stark
Posted on: 22/11/2019

Weekly News - Friday 22nd November 2019

uTalk Children's Language Competition Wins Prestigious National Award! We are delighted to report that more than 25,000 children, including hundreds from St. Helen's College over many years, have helped the uTalk Junior Language Challenge to win a prestigious award from the Chartered Institute of Linguists. The Threlford Cup was presented to uTalk by the Institute's Patron, Prince Michael of Kent, for its competition to foster the learning of languages. Since the Challenge was launched in 2004, around 27,000 UK children have entered the competition, learning a range of languages including Arabic, Zulu, Khmer, Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, Dutch, German, Swahili, Chichewa and Esperanto. St. Helen's College children have been taking part for 15 years and have a strong record in the competition - we even had a national winner a few years ago, when ex-pupil Brendan won his family a trip to Malawi! uTalk MD Richard Howeson mentioned St. Helen's College and quoted Mrs. Stark in his acceptance speech, during which he dedicated the award to all of the children who have taken part in the competition over the years. Mrs. Stark had said, 'Each year when the initial language is announced, a buzz of excitement goes around the school. It is a great motivator and has really brought languages to life'.  We are proud of our association with this fabulous competition and delighted that we are able to offer it to our children every year. If your child is taking part this year, please do remind them to keep going so that they can keep raising their points score! It is also not too late for your child to enter this year, if they have not already done so. Registration costs only £5 per child and gives each participant access to 12 topics on the uTalk app for the rest of the school year (2019/20). Every child is provided with a unique username and password which they can use to login to the uTalk app as well as view their scores, progress and achievements in their very own online dashboard. The first round language is Spanish and pupils who score 500 points (out of a possible 3,960) will go through to Round 2, which will run from 10 a.m. on Monday 6th January 2020 until 10 a.m. on Friday 27th March 2020. If you are interested in registering your child, please email Mrs. Stark at as soon as possible. 2H Class Assembly 2H took us on a journey through Numberland this morning, reminding us of what a wonderful world we live in, with maths everywhere.               The Zero Heroes embraced their 'nothingness' with the important message of how place value underpins all mathematical concepts and we were treated to a beautiful rendition of 'What A Wonderful World'. Well done everyone...all 26 of you! Times Tables Rockstars Well done to all of the pupils who are continuing to work/play hard on Times Tables Rockstars! Here are the results this week: Fastest Middle School - Verity S Fastest Upper School - Harry J Biggest improvement in correct answers in Middle School - Verity S Biggest improvement in correct answers in Upper School - Anjika G  Switch Off Fortnight The school has been getting behind the national campaign 'Switch Off Fortnight' which runs from 18th-29th November (this week and next).                 The Eco Reps have been busy creating posters and helping to launch the campaign in assembly. They have a challenge to see if their class are 'waste busters' by turning off electrical devices like smartboards, televisions or lights when not in use and closing their classroom doors to keep the heat in. During the campaign children throughout the school are learning all about energy and how to use it efficiently. We hope that you will be mindful about 'switching off' at home too.   Myla Wins Silver Medal at International Karate Championship Myla competed in The Central England 7th International Open Karate Championships last weekend - a high profile tournament attended by over 70 clubs from 12 countries from around the world. Algeria, Finland, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Slovakia, Turkey, Scotland, Wales and England were represented. Myla did herself and the UK incredibly proud and walked away with silver in her category for fighting, having narrowly missed out on gold, and also took home a bronze in Kata. Well done indeed, Myla. Congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. Crehan! We are delighted to share the happy news that Mr. & Mrs. Crehan welcomed their third grandchild, a girl, last night. Teddy welcomes his little sister and Mum and Dad are very proud parents! Christmas Tree Decoration Competition As usual, we will be running a Christmas tree decoration competition this year. Pupils are asked to bring a home-made tree decoration to school and please make sure that they add their name to the decoration! All of the decorations will be displayed on our lovely Christmas trees at Ducklings, Lower School and Upper School and there will be a small prize for the winner in each year group. Pupils should bring their decorations from Monday 2nd December and judging will take place on Thursday 12th December. Staff/Parent Choir It is not too late for any interested parents to join the Staff/Parent Choir and rehearse over the next few Fridays, ready to perform at the Carol Service on Friday 13th December. You do not need to be a high level musician at all - enthusiasm is really the only requirement! We meet at 7.50 a.m. each Friday in the Upper School Hall and would be delighted to welcome new members. There are just three rehearsals and a performance to come this term, so the time commitment is not great. Please do just turn up and join us next Friday morning if you would like to join in. Charity Collections We are very proud to announce that our school community has raised the following amounts for charity in recent weeks:  Children In Need - £1579.96 Poppy Appeal - £226.52 Very many thanks to you all for your generosity in supporting these two charities. Quick Sticks Hockey Festival On Friday last week, St. Helen's College took two mixed teams to the Quick Sticks Hockey Festival at Eastcote Hockey Club. Our A and B teams were put into two groups of five teams, meaning we had four matches to play. Both teams really enjoyed the evening, playing some good hockey and scoring some good goals, but unfortunately we did not make it through the group stages. All the children tried their very best and showed really good signs of improvement. Many thanks to the parents who supported on an extremely cold evening! Team members were: Dhian C, Ciaran R, Vidhit N, Pavitar D, Grace B, Chloe W, Maya T, Charlotte M. Borough Sports Hall Athletics The Sports Hall Athletics event took place at Swakeleys School this week. Ten schools from across the borough competed in this heat, taking part in running, jumping and throwing events. Our Year 5 and Year 6 teams worked hard in their events and finished in 7th place overall. Well done to all those who took part.                  On the evening of the event, we were awarded our Platinum School Games Award, which lasts for two years. This award recognises the superb sports provision at St. Helen's College across the curriculum and co-curriculum, including the opportunities our pupils have to show leadership through sport. We are very proud to have been recognised once again in this way. Month End Music Recital A reminder that next Friday we will have our November Month End Music Recital in the Evans Hall from 3.45 p.m. All children and family members are invited to come and support our musicians. 
Posted on: 22/11/2019

The Simple Things In Life - Head's Blog

Cooking Visiting new places Volunteering Gardening Reading  Painting/learning a new craft You may think that this list looks somewhat like the ‘Top 7 things to do when you retire’, but actually this is a list of some of the activities which we see your children do or hear your children talking about on a regular basis - just the simple things in life!   How fortunate your children are that, at St. Helen’s College, they have opportunities to participate in so many 'simple things' during their time with us. Our curriculum and co-curricular programme are extraordinarily rich and diverse. On Wednesday, our Cookery Club children were so excited at the prospect of cooking their chicken pie after school and I am sure that several families enjoyed tucking into delicious cuisine at home! Our Gardening Club pupils have harvested so many vegetables this year and await the arrival of the next season. Each term the children visit a new place to extend their learning and bring to life what they have been learning in the classroom with exciting visits to Bletchley Park, the Heath Robinson Museum, the Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery and so many more places. Our Year 6 pupils give their time to visit local care homes, entertaining the residents and sharing their youthful voices. The reward for them is seeing the older generation smile, laugh, and sing along, remembering their own youth.  This week I was discussing some of these activities with Mr. Lewis and Ms Gilham and talking about how, as adults, we often neglect some of the simple things in life as the demands of life take over and we forget the joy which they can bring. I am almost envious of our current parents as you still have those wonderful opportunities with your dearest children to participate in these simple things together as a family. With my own daughter now at university, I relish her visits and look forward to spending time with her - she may not be as eager to help out in the garden or to get all the paints out on a Sunday afternoon (fond memories!), but we do cherish our time together as a family, enjoying each other’s company - simple! At St. Helen's College, we pride ourselves on striving for excellence and our pupils fill us with pride with their academic achievements on a daily basis. I had the pleasure of being read to this week by some Year 4 pupils who impressed me with beautifully written myths, in which they used complex language and literary devices. But what we do so well here is balancing the pursuit of academic excellence with the appreciation of the non-material aspects of life - the awe and wonder of the simple aspects of life.  I have previously blogged about the top 50 things to do before you are 11 and 3/4rs.  How many can your children tick off? Lots, I am sure! Thankfully I am way off retirement or even thinking about what I will do -  but I did have to chuckle when I searched! We certainly are giving your children the best of a ‘simple life’ - they are well prepared for their futures! Mrs. Drummond  
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