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: 18/10/2019

Weekly News - Friday 18th October 2019

Month End Music Recital Our first Month End Music Recital of the year took place in The Evans Hall this afternoon and was well attended. These informal recitals give those children learning instruments or having vocal tuition a chance to perform in an informal setting. Very well done to all of the children who performed; we were treated to a variety of pieces on the piano and violin from various year groups, including a duet. This was a lovely way to end the week and the half term! Well done to all those who performed. Year 5 Trip to Hampton Court Palace Year 5 had a great day at Hampton Court on Monday, despite the weather. The children were very inquisitive as they looked around the palace and were wowed by the size and magnificence of rooms such as the Great Hall, the Great Watching Chamber and the Chapel with its beautiful ceiling painted like a starry night sky. The children took part thoughtfully in their workshop with 'Edward, a member of the King's household'. They learnt about the different positions at court and about the 'great chain of being', which put everyone in the land into society groups. However, your position was not fixed and you could rise in society (like Thomas Wolsey did). You could also fall and the children learnt that the further up the ladder you went, the further you had to fall! In the end, most of the pupils were in agreement that it would probably have been safer to have been a servant in Henry's household rather than in a position of power.  Times Tables Rock Stars This week has been another exciting week in Times Tables Rock Stars. Congratulations to Eva J (2H), who had the biggest increase in accuracy for Middle School and to Anokhi B (4T) who now holds the title of the most accurate player in the school. There has been a hard fought battle at the top this week between two of our fastest boys in Upper School. Harry J just pipped Mohib F to the post with less than a hundredth of a second between the two to hold on to his title as the fastest player! Poppy H (3M) retains her title as the fastest Middle School player. Well done to all! Year 6 Morning Tea Party               The school is very grateful to our wonderful Year 6 students, who were great ambassadors for the school on our recent open morning. The children enjoyed some morning treats to celebrate their achievement. 4T Assembly - How We Learn At St. Helen's College Our 4T pupils presented a well-informed and research-based assembly this morning, as we were introduced to the ideas behind Carol Dweck's Growth Mindset.               The children also examined various ways in which they learn, including reflection, collaboration and always trying their best. They finished the assembly by treating us to a wonderful rendition of a song from The Greatest Showman. Well done, 4T! STARS Character Competition The Hillingdon Road Safety Team are running their annual road safety competition and we would like to encourage pupils in Years 3 - 6 to design an entry over the half term break. Pupils are asked to design a road safety character, and the four winning characters will be used in Hillingdon's printed road safety material. You can see the full details and entry form from the Hillingdon STARS Team here. Card Designs This year the Parents' Association have asked the school to take part in designing Christmas cards as a school fundraiser. The children are all currently busy completing their designs ready for processing and they are all looking very exciting. In addition, the Parents' Association have also expressed that they would like to give each child the opportunity to create their own family, birthday, or other occasion card. If you wish to take part, you will need to follow the instructions on the form which has been sent home today with your child, placing your order online first then bringing in your form and design back to school no later than Friday 8th November, ready for collection. Children should hand their designs to their class teacher or to Miss Dear directly. We hope you enjoy taking part. We are sure your designs will look fantastic! Half Term Holiday Club and Breakfast Club Holiday Club and Breakfast Club will both take place at Lower School over the half term break. The children will make use of the facilities at both Upper and Lower School over the course of the week, but we would ask that you drop children off to Lower School and pick them up from Lower School at the end of the day. You can see more information about Holiday Club here. Admissions We are now beginning the entry processes for Ducklings entry in September 2020 and Nursery entry in September 2020. If you have a child who is eligible for entry to the school next September, and you have not yet registered him/her with us, please do so as a matter of urgency so that you do not miss out on a place. You can register your child online here. Children in Need Fundraising On Friday 15th November we will be supporting the Children in Need charity to raise money for projects taking place all over the UK. To support this excellent cause, we will be holding a tog (non-uniform) day and children are asked to come to school wearing yellow and/or spots. In addition to this, we will have a raffle and a special live stream workout  with 'The Body Coach' Joe Wicks. Many schools up and down the country will be participating in this huge event. We kindly ask that you send your child in with a suggested donation of £2 - any more will be gratefully accepted.  Your child may wish to bring some extra money into school for raffle tickets, which will be on sale throughout the week in the mornings at Lower School and Upper School. There will be a giant Pudsey Bear and a smaller Blush Bear as prizes at Lower School and Upper School. Ducklings children may also buy raffle tickets for the Ducklings raffle; the prizes at Ducklings will be a smaller Pudsey Bear and smaller Blush Bear. We wish the children luck in the raffles and thank you, in advance, for your support of this charity. St. Helen's College Parent Parking Pledge  We would like to remind parents of our Parent Parking Pledge which aims to manage congestion and improve safety near our school at busy times. The idea is simple: in return for agreeing to follow some basic principles, your car can carry a sticker that tells the world you are doing your bit to make a difference. Parents at schools across Hillingdon are agreeing to: • Help my child/children travel actively at least once a week • Drive with consideration for others • Park away from the school gates • Never block a driveway • Turn off my engine when parked In addition we have three pledges that apply here and trust that you will agree to: • Follow the St. Helen's College parking regulations • Use the 'Drop & Go' and 'Pick Up & Go' zones safely and efficiently • Respect and adhere to the parking restrictions in operation around all our school sites If you are happy to make the Pledge, please follow the link and complete the form. Once submitted, you will get your car sticker that will show others your commitment to pupil health and safety. Thank you and please remember to display your car stickers with pride! PA Class Representatives Many thanks to those parents who have volunteered to become (or continue as) PA class representatives. We are still seeking a class rep for 4T. Please contact if you would like to take on this role. School Uniform Children should return after the half term break wearing full winter uniform. The only winter coats that should be worn are the school 3-in-1 coats. Parents' Evening Upper School parents' evening is on Thursday 7th November and appointments can be booked in the usual way. We look forward to seeing parents then. PA Christmas Parties The PA Christmas parties for children will take place on Sunday 1st December 2019 at Richings Sport Park, Wellesley Avenue, Richings Park, Iver, SL0 9BN. Tickets will cost £11 per child which includes food, entertainment and a visit and gift from Father Christmas! Timings of the parties will be: 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. Nursery and Reception 12.30 - 2.30 p.m. Years 1, 2 and 3 3 p.m. - 5 p.m.     Years 4, 5 and 6 Please look out for details of how to book, which will be sent out via your class WhatsApp group. Please note that bookings must be made by the deadline as we will not be able to add children after this date. Don't miss out - pencil the date into your diary now! The flyer is available here.
Posted on: 18/10/2019

Head's Blog - Powerful Learning

This week we have had the privilege of showcasing our pupils' learning to numerous prospective parents during our weekly individual tours but also at our Open Morning on Wednesday when the visitors were guided around the school by our current Year 6 pupils. The feedback we had from our visitors this year was quite overwhelming and the sense of pride which we have in your children is immeasurable. The last port of call on the tours was to the Upper School Hall as the guides introduced their visitors to myself, Mr and Mrs Crehan and Mrs Smith.  Every visitor paid our students the highest of compliments remarking on their confidence, communication skills, passion for their school and their learning and how they managed to answer all the questions but also enticed questions from their visitors.  What we do at St Helen’s is truly unique and it is through the dedication of the staff working so closely together to lay strong foundations for your children that they go on to be very successful young adults. Our teaching and classroom environment empowers the children to be adventurous in their learning journey; strengthening their determination and imagination to become critical thinkers with the ability to reflect and collaborate to deal with difficulty and uncertainty to enable them to become more independent and resourceful learners. One such example of powerful learning this week was in the Year 6  science lessons . The children have been studying microorganisms; they designed and planned an investigation to find out the various factors that affect respiration in yeast.  A preliminary experiment was suggested by one of the children and from there, the whole year group was challenged to think of a ‘bigger’ experiment.   The result of the independent planning was that 5 main factors were to be investigated: temperature of water, acidity of substances, natural vs artificial sugar, amount of sugar, and various sources of sugar including vodka! (This was under lock and key but the children were definitely resourceful in their planning!)  The children worked collaboratively and had to figure out and allocate certain jobs and responsibilities within each group. All resources were provided for the children which they had to organise and use effectively. They all worked out timings and the recording and collection of data. The children relied on the efficiency and cooperation of each group member to complete their experiment; some giving up their playtime to continue with the work.  The children achieved success in many ways. They all learned an important scientific concept in yeast respiration and  mastered investigative skills by performing a full scientific enquiry in a fun and enjoyable way. It is also equally important to note that through hands-on experiences and activities in science such as this, collaborative learning took place and continues to be encouraged. During lunchtime on Wednesday the Science monitors were discussing their learning with me in the Science lab and Shaina has kindly written up this wonderful report to share with you. I will leave you with Shaina’s words - it sums up the power of learning at St Helen’s! Mrs. Drummond   In science this week, Year 6 did an experiment to see how yeast respires with liquids of different pH values.  Firstly, we had to plan what we wanted to include in the experiment. In our plan we had to include our prediction, our fair test (what we keep the same, what we change and what we are measuring), all the equipment we would need from the ingredients to the labels and bags and also our method in a way that we could then follow the steps in class making the experiment easier. After this was completed, we gathered into groups and labelled the bags (lemon juice A and B, milk A and B…), got the sugar and yeast and beakers in case they leaked. We were all ready for the next day when we would conduct the experiment. Everyone was allocated a job. In my group we had some pairs and some people working alone as they chose to do so. Conducting the experiment along with me were Laura, Esha, Malaika and Ridhima were one pair and Catherine and Lily were another pair. Each person/pair was allocated two liquids to test; there were five liquids to test and ten beakers as we had A and B of every liquid to increase accuracy in our results. The following day, we gathered our materials with speed because of our thorough planning. To each bag we added five millilitres of the given substance to ninety-five millilitres of water. When everyone was ready we added in our teaspoons of yeast and sugar at the same time and sealed the bag immediately afterwards. Every five minutes over a forty minute period, we took measuring tapes and measured the width of the bag. We did this because just as we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide so does yeast. This life process is called respiring. When the yeast breathes out carbon dioxide the bag inflates and therefore causes the width to expand. Having already created a rough table to record data findings, we simply wrote down the width of the bag every five minutes for each person’s/pair's findings. In conclusion, we found out that substances with a pH of 7/8 (neutral or slightly on the alkaline side) worked best. Extremely surprisingly, we found that lemon juice, which is pH 3 and very acidic, also helped yeast respire, whereas vinegar of the same pH value did not help yeast respire at all. I don’t think this was a fair test because our bags kept opening, allowing carbon dioxide to escape and some yeast bubbled up into a froth, leaving the bag to have not expanded at all. I thoroughly enjoyed this experiment because of the new things I have discovered. I did not know that yeast respires in the same way we do or that it grows but not in the same way we do - instead it multiplies many times. I also did not know that different temperatures or pH values can affect the way that yeast respires.  I think this experiment can be improved by not putting the liquids in the bags but instead in the tubes because they have lids and are leak proof, whereas in our experiment some of the bags leaked and/or opened. In the tubes we can measure the amount of froth as that is also carbon dioxide building up.  By Shaina A
Posted on: 11/10/2019

Weekly News - Friday 11th October 2019

Harvest Festivals Once again, pupils and parents have been enormously generous in their giving and the food donated at our Lower School Harvest Assemblies and Upper School Harvest Festival Service has now been distributed to the Salvation Army. They have sent a lovely message of thanks, letting us know that these donations will help to supply many Christmas food parcels for families in this area who will appreciate this type of assistance over what can be a particularly difficult time.  Some of the food will also go to supply the Food Bank at Yiewsley, as the Salvation Army issue many Food Bank vouchers throughout the whole year to local people who need a little extra help. The Salvation Army asked us to convey sincere thanks to all who contributed in the collection and assure you all that your kindness will make a difference to many people in the local community. Thank you! Our pupils from Nursery to Year 1 performed wonderfully in their Harvest Assemblies. It was a joyous occasion and the confidence that exuded from the children was quite overwhelming. Well done to all of the children and staff involved. You can see photographs on our Galleries page. Times Tables Rock Stars The children have been very busy with their Times Tables Rock Stars this week.  Tiya T in 2H was the most accurate player in Middle School and Harry J in 6RD was the most accurate player in Upper School. Harry also gained the coveted Rock Hero status and takes the crown from Mohib as the fastest player in the school. Poppy H in 3M remains the fastest player in Middle School.  Well done everyone! Trips This Week Our Year 2 children had a super day out at the Chiltern Open Air Museum this week, where they were transported back to the Iron Age. Year 3 pupils visited St. Albans Cathedral where they re-enacted the story of St. Alban and created beautiful mosaics. Football On Wednesday our football team had their third match of the season away at Laurel Lane. The team performed very well in difficult conditions, with long grass and a very windy day. Goals from Harry J, Jack H and Patrick E secured us a 3-0 win. Mr. Dyson feels that the team is progressing very well and hopefully this can continue when we entertain Cowley St. Lawrence at home this coming Wednesday. Netball Well done to the netball team who played their first match this week with an outstanding win of 12-0 against St. Mary's. The girls passed extremely well and their teamwork and co-operation has put them in a very strong position this early in the season. Pupil Fundraising Efforts Grace O'H, one of our class charity representatives, will be running the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) 5k again this year, on Saturday. She has raised over £400 for the cause so far. Good luck Grace, we will be thinking of you! It has been noted that many of our pupils are now taking part in weekly fun runs. Healthy Snacks A reminder to all parents that any snack provided for your child must not contain traces of nuts and must be healthy. Suitable snacks are fresh or dried fruit and vegetables or plain biscuits. Crisps, popcorn, mini cheddars etc. are not suitable snacks. From Monday, Upper School pupils will be able to replenish their water bottles at break time with fresh fruit-flavoured water. Milk will still be available. Late Arrivals We would like to remind parents that the gates at the three entrance points to the school (Lower School, Long Lane and Parkway) close at 8.30 a.m. promptly. If your child arrives after 8.30 a.m., then a parent or carer will need to accompany the child to the school office to be signed in, and their arrival will be recorded as a 'late'. There is a significant amount of administration to be completed by teachers in the early morning before assemblies, including taking the register and completing lunch orders, and it is therefore crucial that children arrive to school by 8.30 a.m. at the latest. School Drop Off and Pick Up Those of you who have been following the news will be aware that idling cars have been a hot topic recently. Please do not leave your car engine running if you are parked up on Long Lane, in Court Park or in any of the surrounding roads. Those parents who do use the Pick Up & Go or Drop & Go facility, please remember not to exit your car and to move off swiftly. Data Collection Forms Data collection forms have been sent home with each child this week in your child's book bag. Please check the form very carefully and return it to school. You must sign the form even if there are no changes to confirm that the information we hold for you and your child is correct. If there are any changes to the information we hold, please note these clearly on the form when you return it to us. Please return your forms as soon as possible, and by Friday 18th October at the latest.
Posted on: 11/10/2019

Head's Blog - Golf - A Game Of Life

  Last weekend I had hoped to attend a conference in Sheffield - the 4th annual WomenEd Unconference (it is called unconference for a reason - but this is not relevant to my blog!) However, I made a decision to put my own wellbeing first - take the foot off the gas so to speak and spend time with my husband - on the golf course! (I hear the chuckles already!)  Some of your children whom I have taught mindfulness to will already know that I am a keen golfer - but sadly do not get to play half as much as I would like to.  As a youngster growing up on the west coast of Scotland I would spend every hour possible on the local golf course from about the age of 6 to 15. I attended golf summer school every year and was coached by the local professional, my parents were both avid players and my dad who once played off a handicap of 2 was a great teacher; I am so grateful for his patience as I tagged along weekend after weekend with my tiny clubs - the round of golf which should have taken 3 hours was often a day’s excursion as we waved players through! Juniors in Scotland were very much tolerated! (I am very proud to state at this point that there were only a handful of girls who played golf in the late 70’s early 80’s in my hometown -  it was very much boys who were in the junior clubhouse - the lack of girls did not bother me - I loved the sport!) Thankfully the presence of girls and women in sport has somewhat escalated and last weekend there were numerous girls on the driving range practising as we finished our round.  So back to last weekend - as I watched my husband prepare for his first tee shot I could not resist but smile as I could see the tension on his face, his shoulders tighten and the look of determination for him to execute the best shot ever! He hooked his first shot…...(He plays much more than I do these days and I had not swung a club since the summer of 2018!!) I stepped up - took my stance - looked ahead - relaxed my body, inhaled - exhaled - kept my head down - and enjoyed the sound of the ball being driven down the first fairway! ‘You’ve still got it!’ was his comment - now that is praise of the highest! Now for a bit of background husband had never played golf until our honeymoon back in 1998 where we stayed on a beautiful golf resort in Malaysia (of course I chose the resort for a reason!!) Over the duration of two weeks he went from a spinning cartoon character attempting to tee off to someone who showed potential as a golfer… Fast forward 21 years and he usually beats me now!  However, last weekend I have to admit to laughing out loud as he allowed his frustrations to show at some of his poor shots! (I had many too) As I walked around the course my mind kept making analogies of how we can compare the game of golf to life and I knew that there was a blog to be written! To those of you who are non-golfers I shall try to explain how controlling a little white ball can be so relevant! Swing Hard and Pray: I will give my husband a break for now but for many people who start golf this is the thought process - alas there really is no correlation between how hard you swing and how far the ball will go.  With experience one learns that there is so much more to the game. By slowing down, having more focus, making good contact, the ball may travel further. Sheer force does create action, but it’s often negated by a lack of strategy. Embrace Failure: FAIL -First Attempt in Learning.  Golfers can be temperamental! Two bad shots and they give up on that hole or even worse walk off the course.  We need to learn to embrace failure, analyse, learn, and move on - reflect on the shot, and use the positive mindset that the next shot or hole will be better.  Practice -the primary driver of consistent success is practice. You must try, fail, adjust, and try again.  Last weekend I still played relatively (I use the term loosely) successfully and I am confident that this is due to the solid foundations of good habits, hours of coaching, more hours of practice over the course of many years of my youth which has secured my knowledge and skill level.  Many of you may have heard about the 10,000 hour rule; the principle that 10,000 hours of "deliberate practice" are needed to become world-class in any field. I am certainly not world class in how I play golf but the fact that I was taught complex skills and technical aspects of the game at such a young age may be an important factor in my ability to engage with golf as infrequently as I now do and enjoy it as much as I do. Of course there are specific shots that still need refining and much more practice to be had - but could how I was nurtured also be part of the success - I was encouraged to play golf - the language of golf floated around our household (much to the horror of my older sister who to this day has managed to never play a round of golf - but has married into a golfing family!! Oh the irony!) Mentorship Matters;  Having a good mentor/teacher/coach is crucial.  I have already spoken about how fortunate I was in my early golfing years. Even the top pros are coached on a daily basis.  It is important to remember that asking for advice isn’t a sign of weakness, but instead a sign of maturity. You’ll never know what you don’t know unless you ask.    Lifelong Learning:  One day, in my retirement (in a couple of decades!)  I will aim to improve my game of golf and will seek out more lessons, a good teacher to help me refine my game - in the meanwhile I will allow my husband to do this!!  But lifelong learning is exciting - we all have so many opportunities to learn and I for one have have a thirst for learning. I enjoy challenges, meeting people who will challenge me in my thinking and who will teach me new skills.  Fear:  One cannot even consider playing golf if we fear how the next shot may unfold! Allowing fear to overcome us can only cause bad results. Fear can drive poor decisions, can cause paralysis, and debilitates us.  When teeing off, yes bad things may happen, but one must focus on executing the best shot possible, it is likely it will go well if one focuses on the positive! Self-Awareness:   It is with experience and maturity that I have come to realise how important that self-awareness is.  The art of self-reflection allows us to analyse our own motivations, our emotions and helps us to understand how others see us.  Practising mindfulness has helped me to become more self aware and as I played golf last weekend I used my mindful practices not only execute the game but I allowed myself to enjoy the great outdoors, appreciate what surrounded me and was so aware of how fortunate I am to have the family, friends, job...the life that I have.  Like golf, life is a humbling game that can only be played well if we understand our own weaknesses and tendencies. Like golf, life is an intricate game. Play it well! Mrs. Drummond
View all news