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.

News

Posted on: 17/05/2024

Weekly News - Friday 17th May 2024

Nursery Visit To Hobbledown Heath On Thursday Robins and Wrens enjoyed a fun day trip to Hobbledown Heath. The children were captivated by a fascinating talk from 'Zac the zookeeper' about capybaras, which are large rodents native to South America. They had a brilliant time exploring many other farm animals including goats, cattle, rabbits and alpacas. The children even had the opportunity to feed the meerkats which was great fun!  They finished the day playing in the sand pit, climbing on the play equipment and jumping on the 'water pillows'. The children had a terrific experience and their behaviour was impeccable throughout the day.    Owls Class Assembly Owls performed an impressive class assembly this week all about traditional fairy tales and the important moral messages they impart. The children retold the story of 'Little Red Riding Hood', reciting their lines clearly and with great confidence. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the jaunty songs and actions. It was wonderful to be reminded of the enduring power of traditional tales passed down through the generations. You can hear from some of the children here.        Mini School Marathon Following the recent success of our runners at the TCS Mini London Marathon event, this week St. Helen's College pupils put their best foot forward again for our own Mini School Marathon in Court Park.  The lunchtime run offered children in Years 2 to 6 the option to complete between 1 km and 2.5 km with many opting for the longer challenge! It was inspiring to see over one hundred children choosing to be involved and demonstrating admirable pace, stamina and positivity. A great achievement for everyone involved!     Charity Fundraising Achievement A group of St. Helen's College pupils have raised an incredible £24,000 for The Ghassan Abu Sittah Children's Fund, a charity providing critical medical care for the children of Gaza. Over the last two weekends the children have participated in a sponsored hike of the four hills in Northala Fields and managed to smash their original fundraising target of £5000. Incredible work! A huge well done to the following children who took part: Ali A 2R, Hassan A Kingfishers, Zoe B Robins, George B 2R, Kyan K 2R, Noah K 2R, Aarav L 2R, Amaya L 6H, Rania Q 4T, Hadi Q 1R, Zara F 6L, Dawud H Kingfishers.   Junior Chess Tournament  Uxbridge Junior Chess Club are hosting a tournament on Saturday 13th July at St. Catherine Primary School in West Drayton. Categories include under 8, under 10 and under 12. The best local juniors will be invited to compete for the London Borough of Hillingdon chess teams in national events. More detailed entry information for the tournament is available here.  Year 6 Author Visit St. Helen's College will be hosting a visit from children's author Caroline Boxall on Monday 3rd June for Year 6 pupils. The author of 'The Secret Children of Mumbai' and 'The Runaway Children of Chennai' will be here to talk about her experience as an author and how to become a published writer. She will also be introducing her International Creative Writing Competition for children to have the opportunity to write their own story and win a copies of her books. Signed and personalised books are available to order in advance here.  Singing Competition Today is the final day to submit song choices for approval using this form so don't miss out! Video entries must be received by Friday 31st May, please record these at home and upload using this form. Backing tracks must not contain the main vocal line. Singing from memory is preferred and will be required for the live final. The finalists will be announced on Friday 7th June. Good luck!  News From The PA As we enter the final half term of this academic year, we have some exciting events to look forward to!  The Parents' Association (PA) will be hosting refreshment stalls at both the Upper and Lower School Sports Days, as well as a special gift stall for Father’s Day. Here, children can purchase gifts to celebrate significant male figures in their lives. Additionally, the PA is organising our much-anticipated Summer Fete. This year is a special Centenary Fete, and we encourage all parents to play a part in this unique celebration. With these events on the horizon, expect to receive plenty of communication through the school newsletter, ClassList and class reps. If you haven't signed up for ClassList yet, please do so to ensure you receive all updates and information. The PA is always in need of volunteers to help make these events successful. Whether you can contribute a little time or a lot, your involvement is invaluable. Volunteering is a great way to support our school community and demonstrate to our children the importance of participating in school events. If you’re interested in helping out, please contact your class rep, who can connect you with a committee member. Or why not come along to our next meeting on Tuesday 4th June at 7 p.m. in The Evans Hall at Upper School? All are welcome. Thank you for your continued support and participation. Together, we can help to make this final half term of the 2024 academic year and the St. Helen's College Centenary year a very special, memorable one for our children. Next Week All week - Year 6 residential trip to France Monday 20th May - District cross country (Uxbridge) Tuesday 21st May - U9 cricket v. Buckingham Prep Wednesday 22nd - Friday 24th May - Year 4 residential trip to Flatford Mill Thursday 23rd May - Wrens coffee morning and class assembly Thursday 23rd May - Year 5 transfer meeting 6.30 p.m.    
Posted on: 17/05/2024

Movement For Mental Health By Mr. Harrington

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme for 2024 is Movement: Moving For Our Mental Health. Regular physical activity is known to improve mental health, quality of life and wellbeing. There is a strong connection between our bodies and our minds, so looking after ourselves physically also helps us to prevent problems with our mental health.  Exercise releases “feel good” hormones which reduce feelings of stress and anger. It also helps us to feel better about our bodies. It can improve our sleep too, and boost our self-esteem.  At St. Helen’s College, children are provided with so many opportunities to exercise their bodies and minds through physical activity. We have a carefully planned PE/Games curriculum, taught by specialist teachers, throughout the school. All of the pupils from Ducklings to Year 6 have weekly PE and Games lessons where they are given the chance to develop skills in a wide variety of sporting activities, and where they learn to love sport through exercise. Children in Years 2 to 6 all take part in a week-long intensive swimming course as part of their curriculum. Swimming is an important life skill and we encourage parents to continue lessons outside of school. We encourage the enjoyment of team games and sportsmanship and all of the children from Years 3 to 6 have represented the school in at least one sporting fixture this year. In addition, over the course of the year there have been over 150 co-curricular clubs and activities offered to the children, with sporting and exercise activities including karate, tennis, cricket, football, netball, basketball and very many more! Over the past month, 100 pupils of all running abilities from St. Helen’s College attended the TCS Mini London Marathon where they ran either 1 km or 2.6 km. We also ran a Mini School Marathon this week in Court Park, in which another 100 pupils took part.  In order to encourage an active lifestyle in other ways, we run Bikeability courses at school for our Year 6 children and we encourage pupils throughout the school to walk, cycle or scoot to school wherever possible. As with all things, the consistency of messaging and modelling at both home and school is crucial. Although there are lots of ways your children are getting exercise at school, it is important that they continue to carry this on outside school. Children who see their parents participating in and enjoying sport or physical activity will pick up the message that this is a healthy, fun part of life. There are so many things that you can do together as a family to promote fitness and physical/mental health: walking, cycling or running together; games of rounders, cricket or softball in the park; dancing in the kitchen while you are cooking dinner; swimming and other water sports; countless other ideas! It doesn’t matter what it is - everyone likes different activities and sports - but it does matter, deeply, that you and your children find something active to enjoy. You can see some photographs of SHC children getting active on our Galleries page here. Five Top Tips For Exercise And Mental Health Get outdoors as much as possible Spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. Doing things like exercising can have lots of positive effects. It can improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger and help you to feel more connected to nature. Pick a team sport and join a club outside of school  Find a sport your child enjoys. There are hundreds out there to choose from, so if they don’t enjoy sport then they just haven’t found the right one for them. Playing a sport as part of a team requires persistence, practice and patience with yourself and others. If exercise involves other people, like being part of a team, a class or group we see regularly, that can also boost our mental health. Find out where the nearest Park Run is and sign up with your children  Studies show that regular running at a moderate or vigorous pace can improve your mental health and even your memory and ability to learn. Many of your children are already capable of running the children’s 2 km park run as they are doing this in school. Your child may surprise you and want to sign up for the 5 km run.   Sign up for an outdoor holiday club  If your child is in Years 3 to 6 then why not get them involved in our Summer School at PACCAR? The children are given the opportunity to spend the week outdoors doing activities such as climbing, abseiling, laser tag, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and much more. If your child is younger, you could sign them up to a sports activity camp. Pledge to walk part or all of the way to school  We understand that many families need to drive to school, because your home is not a walkable distance from the school gates and/or because you need to drop your child and go directly to work or somewhere else. It is still possible to leave a little earlier, park slightly away from school (perhaps in Court Drive or another nearby road) and start your day with a short walk through or around the park to the school gates. Children - and adults - who begin their day with a walk have the opportunity to clear their minds, warm up their bodies and notice the beauty of the world around them. Why not try it? I wish you all an active, happy weekend. Mr. Harrington Head of PE/Games/Co-Curriculum
Posted on: 10/05/2024

Environmental Sustainability Strategy by Mr. McLaughlin

On Tuesday 7th May, we all returned to school after the bank holiday weekend to a superb ‘One World Day’ at St. Helen’s College, co-ordinated by our sustainability education lead, Mrs. Briggs. The day involved a host of cross-curricular learning including making bug hotels and seed bombs, visits to a local food bank, green education workshops, climate justice, pollution, carbon sinks and smoothies powered by static bicycles! The children really enjoy learning about our planet and the impacts of the ongoing climate crisis. They are naturally so empathetic and open to change. I am positive that, in the future, many of them will go on to provide the kind of clean, renewable energy and conservation solutions required to help the world continue to thrive for many more generations to come.   We have been working on our climate education program for several years now. I am sure that you have seen in our exhibition days, the success of our Eco Warrior team, and the thread woven throughout our curriculum, how much emphasis we have put on what the United Nations calls ‘the defining issue of our time.’ You may have seen the recent reports that ocean temperatures have been at record high levels every day for the last calendar year, further highlighting the urgency of action and awareness.  In the 2021/22 academic year, all teaching staff (and many of our support and administrative staff) undertook a rigorous training course on climate education, organised by Mr. Lewis, who inspired others with his passion for sustainability. Since then, we have gradually added and replaced content throughout our curriculum to highlight this issue amongst our community. On the way, we have achieved the Eco Schools Green Flag Award, driven forward by Mrs. Mann at Lower School and Mrs. Reid at Upper School. We are currently planning the next steps to meet the merit/distinction levels in the near future and to truly establish ourselves as a leading eco school. To achieve that aim, we knew we needed to go further. So in 2023 we established a Sustainability Committee to track and lead our progress in this area. We have had input and support from all of the names mentioned already plus Mr. and Mrs. Crehan, Ms Drummond, Mrs. Hunt, Chef Soula and her catering team plus many more (including, of course, the pupils!). Mrs. Cargill, our Business Manager, and the premises team of Mr. Graddon, Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Smith have worked hard to adapt our environment to be more sustainable. We have made changes to our business processes to become more efficient and we have plans for on-site renewable energy sources. Sustainability really is a team sport at St. Helen’s College, from the pupils and their families to the whole staff team. We know that to excel in this area, we need everybody to pull in the same direction and support the initiative. Every member of staff has contributed to our progress so far through their work on the curriculum or the business side of the school. To help support this, we have written a three year strategy which breaks down our goals for that period into ten distinct areas. You can view the strategy here. We have already made good progress with our action plan and we are confident that our next strategy cycle can be more ambitious in scope.  If you, or somebody you know, is connected to the sustainability industry and you feel you could partner with us to provide an educational experience for the children or a good business opportunity for the school, please get in touch and help us on our journey to becoming a leading Eco School. Mr. McLaughlin amclaughlin@sthelenscollege.com
Posted on: 10/05/2024

Weekly News - Friday 10th May 2024

One World Day Children across the school participated in a busy day of cross-curricular workshops and activities for One World Day on Monday. This special day has been created to prioritise environmental sustainability, one of our key school values and part of our strategic programme to support climate education. The children had a wonderful day attending interactive workshops, led by Young Climate Warriors, Green Up Your Act and Accent Catering, which demonstrated valuable ways we can all contribute to sustainability, such as recycling waste materials creatively or growing our own vegetables.  The children had the opportunity to create notebooks from recycled maps, concoct a green salad from home grown leaves and shoots, build a giant bug hotel, make seed balls, conduct water saving experiments using pipes, create outdoor nature sculptures and even blitz up their own healthy drink pedalling on the smoothie bicycles!  Thank you to Mrs. Briggs for planning and co-ordinating a valuable and inspiring day. You can read more about our St. Helen's College sustainability plans in this week's Head's Blog.  Robins Class Assembly  The Robins class assembly this week was all about the wonders of mini beasts and the importance of preserving their natural habitat. The children got into character by dressing up as bumble bees, ladybirds, spiders, caterpillars and butterflies, and shared fascinating facts about these colourful garden creatures. You can hear from some of the children here. It was lovely to listen to the children share poems and sing with such joy and enthusiasm whilst showing an appreciation for the natural world. Well done, Robins! Now the sun is shining we hope the children will enjoy venturing outdoors this weekend to explore the garden or park and hunt for mini beasts for themselves! 4B Class Assembly 4B led an accomplished and thought provoking assembly today about global sustainability, sharing their work on the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The children demonstrated an excellent knowledge and understanding of global disparities and challenges, and explained why key UN goals, such as no poverty, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, quality education and gender equality are so important.  Inspired by the work of explorer and polar conservationist Robert Swan, the children shared the ways they have pledged to play their part in tackling these issues: limiting food waste, walking instead of driving, using reusable water bottles, growing vegetables and turning off lights to save energy. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the pupils' creative poetry and their impassioned song performance which rounded off the assembly with an uplifting sense of hope for the future. You can hear from some of the children here.  UKMT Maths Challenge Huge congratulations to all the children from Years 4, 5 and 6 who participated in the recent UKMT Maths Challenge. The results are in and we are delighted to report the following children have achieved awards: Bronze awards: Samara P, Arjun C, Alexander A, Rohaym U, Avar D, Mustafa F, Luca H, Parth K, Zakariya M, Pavan S, Jeena H, Ayush A, Emily S, Samuel H, Kal-El M, Verity S, Roha K, Amaya L, Eva J. Silver awards: Amelia L, Dylan C, Aiden T, Joseph T, Zara F, Rayan S, Ashvika A. Gold awards: Tiya T, Aaryav K, Aryan L, Raiden B. A special well done for Aaryav K and Aryan L whose scores have earned them both a place in the Junior Kangaroo follow-on round, and to Raiden B whose score has earned him a place in the Junior Mathematical Olympiad follow-on round. Terrific work! Quiz Club National Inter-School Maths Championship Today our Maths Quiz Teams from Year 5 and 6 competed in the online National Inter-School Championships. Although they didn't quite make it to the next heat, they all partook with great spirit, enthusiasm and grit! The teams were as follows:  The Mathemagicians - Ryley J, Ali B, Zara F, Tiya T. Pi-rates - Eva J, Raiden B, Anika C, Saayan S. Pi-thons - Roha K, Aaron B, Verity S, Amelia L. Well done to all the teams for their sterling effort!   Year 3 PACCAR Residential Trip Year 3 have returned home tired and happy this afternoon after an exhilarating two days at PACCAR Scout camp for their first overnight residential. The children embraced the great outdoors, taking part in an array of exciting activities including crate stacking, zip lines, obstacles courses, campfires and much more. Well done to all of the children for rising to the challenges presented with such confidence and optimism! You can view more photographs here.        Year 6 Bikeability Achievement Congratulations to Year 6 who today completed their Level 2 Bikeability cycle training. Over the past four weeks they have mastered the basics of bike control and safety at Level 1 and have now gained further competence to cycle safely on the roads. The children have gained the skills and confidence to negotiate parked cars, other road users, roundabouts, junctions and crossroads. Cycling is a great sustainable form of transport and supports good health too so we hope to see Year 6 putting their new skills into action from now on!     Summer School 2024 Summer School will be running at PACCAR Scout camp from 5th-9th August for Years 3 - 6. This will be a fun-packed week of thrilling outdoor activities including climbing, archery and a day of water sports at nearby Taplow lake. Full details have been sent directly to parents and bookings will open at 12 p.m. on Saturday 11th May on SchoolsBuddy, with places allocated on a first come, first served basis. The St. Helen’s College Holiday Club will run at school for children in Nursery - Year 2 as usual during this week.  Next Week Thursday 16th May - Nursery visit to Hobbledown Heath Thursday 16th May - Owls coffee morning and class assembly Thursday 16th May - Parents' evening Years 1 - 6  
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