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: 18/05/2018

Weekly News - Friday 18th May 2018

Pupils throughout the school had a fabulous day yesterday taking part in lessons outside of the classroom as part of Outdoor Classroom Day. There was excitement and enjoyment as the children tried new ways of learning ideas, concepts, topics and subjects. There are photographs of this and many of the other exciting events of this week on our Galleries page. Black Park Nursery Visit Our Nursery children enjoyed a super outing to Black Park this week, where they made their own 'bug hotels' as well as helping to stock up the huge one already in use. This was great fun as the children went on a scavenger hunt to try and find things to put in the tunnels. They also went on a mini beast hunt to try and find real mini beasts in their natural environment. Lifting logs and digging in the undergrowth was lots of fun and a great way to explore nature. This was a really exciting way to spend Outdoor Classroom Day.  The children also got to use the adventure playground, and discovered that climbing, swinging and sliding is so much fun and a brilliant way to do exercise. The children behaved beautifully during their outing and the teachers were very proud of them, particularly as there was a lot of walking to do! 5W Assembly The pupils of 5W delighted us this morning with their account of their recent trip to the Isle of Wight. From the 3G swing, the 'leap of faith' and the visit to The Needles, our audience were captivated as the children performed with such confidence. It was clearly a truly memorable residential trip for the children - well done 5W.  A Royal Occasion The school sites were an array of red, white and blue today as the pupils and staff prepared for the big day tomorrow with the forthcoming marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan. Street party style lunches were enjoyed and the children's crowns dazzled in the summer sunshine!   5* Award to Accent Team Amidst the preparations for our street parties across the school today, Soula and her catering team had a spot inspection from a representative from the Food Standards Agency.  The inspector was so impressed by everything and we are delighted to announce that we have once again achieved the highest star rating and maintained our 5 stars! Thank you to the Accent team for all their hard work, not only in giving the children such a superb street party royal lunch today but for their dedication and commitment all year round.  Upper School Parents' Evenings It was lovely to see so many parents over our two Upper School parents' evenings this week. The new timings seemed to work really well and we hope that you all found it useful to talk with the teachers about your children and their work.  Borough Tennis Champions! Many congratulations to our Year 3 and 4 tennis teams, who took part in the Borough tournament held at Tripletts Community Tennis Centre this week. Tennis is such a popular sport at St. Helen's College that we were able to field three teams and all of our players performed well in some very competitive matches. Our C team and A team won all their matches in the group stages to proceed to the quarter final stages. The C team played very well but were defeated by Hillingdon School, but our A team defeated St. Andrew's to meet Dr. Tripletts in the semi-final - a match they won to reach the final to face Hillingdon. Eli played first and narrowly lost 10 - 9, Daniel then won 10 - 2, Catherine won 10 - 4 and Amar won 10 - 6 for the team  be crowded Borough Champions! The team will now go forward to represent the London Borough of Hillingdon at the Crystal Palace School Games on 5th July. Miss Walker, who also organised the event for over 20 teams from across the Borough, said, 'I'm delighted with the way all our teams played; they showed great determination but also good sportsmanship and they were a credit to the school'.  Well done to all of the players who took part: Aditya 3V, Samir 3T, Shaina 4T, Fredericka 3V, Patrick 4A, Harry 4T, Grace 4A, Lily 4T, Eli 4T, Daniel 4A, Catherine 4T and Amar 3T.   Mother and Daughter 'She Rallies' Tennis Taster Session Next Wednesday after school we will be opening our doors to our Year 2 and 3 girls and their mums to come and try some tennis together. The fun taster session will take place in the Upper School playground on our mini tennis courts from 4 - 5 p.m. and will include lots of fun games and challenges for mothers and daughters to try. 'She Rallies' is a programme championed by Judy Murray to create opportunities for women and girls of all ages and experiences to be involved in tennis. Last year Miss Walker was invited by Judy Murray to become a 'She Rallies' ambassador. All our Year 2 and 3 mothers and their daughters are invited to come along. There is no need to book or to bring any equipment - just turn up wearing some trainers and something comfortable to move around in!  Tag Rugby Tournament Our Year 5 mixed tag rugby team took part in the local district tournament this week held at Whitehall School. We played matches against Hillingdon, Oak Farm and St. Bernadette's, winning against Oak Farm. Thank you to all of the parents who came to support the team. North Hillingdon Methodist Church Spring Fair The North Hillingdon Methodist Church will be holding their Spring Fair this weekend. Parents may wish to take children along; there will be a variety of stalls and you can watch the royal wedding on the big screen too! Their flyer is here. Mini Monets Art Classes It may seem early to be thinking about the long summer holiday, but if your son or daughter is a budding artist and you are looking for something to keep them occupied, you might be interested in the summer art camps run in Beaconsfield by Mini Monets. Full details are available here. Parking Please would Upper School parents refrain from parking along Parkway. This causes unnecessary annoyance to our neighbours and we will be unable to continue running the 'drop and go' system if cars continue to park along the road on the opposite side to the school. Please pull up in the designated 'drop and go' zones only, or use the Court Park car park.
Posted on: 18/05/2018

Head's Blog - Celebrating Success And Dealing With Disappointment

Throughout my career, I have often had to bite my tongue when I have heard of schools banning competitive sports days or stopping class assemblies/plays because pupils who did not have the ‘big’ parts felt undervalued and could not accept that the part they had longed for was given to another child.   School staff are educators who facilitate in preparing your children to be able to participate in our future world. We play such a precious part in the cultivation of learning from a very young age. That learning is a cognitive, emotional and social activity and, here at St. Helen’s College, we believe that learning to cope with disappointment and to celebrate success (your own and that of others) is crucial to a happy future life. This term we have so many wonderful events on the school calendar where we celebrate the success of the pupils. The most recent was the Musicians’ Concert, where I was utterly delighted by the phenomenal calibre of performances throughout the evening. I was mesmerised by the focus and concentration of the performers, but also by the supportive environment that the children created for their peers. Their love and support for their friends were evident in their celebration of each other’s performances. I am assured by the pupils from Year 4 upwards that their Mindfulness training courses help them in these challenging situations, and I must admit that I did not notice any errors that evening despite being told by a couple of children afterwards that they had stumbled! Later this term, we will have the major production of a child’s St. Helen’s College journey...the Y6 production. I had the delight of attending some of the auditions for singing and acting parts for this year’s show. Oh yes, the pupils have to audition, just like in the West End! Even our current West End actor Kai (who is currently playing young Simba in Disney’s worldwide hit The Lion King) had to audition just like his peers! There were no exceptions made. What was lovely about this process was that the children recognised each other's efforts and talents and congratulated each other on whatever part they were given. The enthusiasm from every child has been quite overwhelming and Mr. McLaughlin is brimming with pride in how this cohort of Year 6 pupils are working so collaboratively in preparation for this year’s ‘Wizard of Oz’ spectacular! Our Year 1 and Year 2 children are also busy preparing for their big summer productions - and it is in these younger years where we start that process of celebrating the success of everyone who contributes to a year group production, regardless of what part they have been allocated.  I do recall a nativity play I was once casting where the part of the donkey became the starring role….it was the donkey who enabled baby Jesus to be born! In this particular production, the donkey was the real ‘star’ of the show! The child playing the donkey had no words and no dancing to do - just the odd hoof scuff, head jerk and the occasional  ‘Eeew-awww!’ How we all loved that donkey part! The child who played it was so full of pride for many a year to come as she knew she played her part to the best of her ability. Her pride was sparked by the manner in which her fellow pupils and the adults embraced the importance of the ‘donkey’ part in that child’s ‘learning’. In fact, I bumped into the ‘donkey’s’ mother quite recently in Intu shopping centre and we reminisced on how that lowly part of the donkey was so embraced by parents and staff!  ‘Donkey’ is now in her mid 20s and her dad is very successful behind the camera in the film industry. It is lovely that her parents knew that all those years ago that their daughter would be able to deal with disappointment with grace and resilience. Yes, she had wanted to be Mary, but she was not cast as such and she shone in her own way for the part she played. She continues to shine in her learning journey of life! One of the joys of being an educator is the relationships that are built with families. There is a beauty in shared moments where we are able, together, to support children in coping with what they may see as failures or disappointments, and in celebrating all the good times too. School is like a practice for life; there will be challenging times when a child may not be cast in the role they had their hearts set on, or may not come first in the race they had been practising so hard for. Every child will inevitably suffer little knocks, which may seem massive to them. Part of our responsibility as teachers and parents is to help children learn to respond to these disappointments positively. We can teach them not to react in a negative way, but to step back from the situation, acknowledge disappointment or upset and be able to move forward despite these feelings, so that they may make a positive contribution towards the end goal and experience pride in doing so. This is all a crucial part of helping every child on that cognitive, emotional and social journey of life! So as we prepare for the final busy half term, please do help us to support your child in celebrating their successes and efforts and in helping them to deal with any disappointments in a sensitive, kind but pragmatic way - the St. Helen’s College way! I shall not be blogging next week as I will be on the Year 4 residential trip at Flatford Mill. I wish you all a super half term holiday when it comes. Mrs. Drummond        
Posted on: 11/05/2018

Weekly News - Friday 11th May 2018

The children of Kingfishers Class educated and entertained us with an assembly about the history and traditions of 'May Day' this week. There was some superb singing, morris dancing and even maypole dancing! This was a vibrant and colourful assembly to celebrate those days of sunshine which we hope will be plentiful over the next few months. Well done indeed, Kingfishers. You can see photographs on our Galleries page. Cancer Research Relay for Life Today is 'Relay Friday' and we have launched Relay for Life to the children at school in assemblies. St. Helen's College teams have taken part in this special event for many, many years now, following the battles of dear colleagues against cancer and the losses of much loved family members, colleagues and friends to this merciless disease. Today we wore Relay for Life colours and explained to the children what the event is all about and why we will be working to raise money for this cause. If you would like to find out more information about the event itself, and perhaps join the St. Helen's College team or sponsor us, please follow the link below. We would be delighted to welcome parents, children and extended family members to our team! http://relay.cancerresearchuk.org/site/TR?fr_id=1850&pg=entry Royal Wedding Celebrations Next Friday we are encouraging the children in Ducklings, Lower School and Upper School to come to school dressed in red, white and blue (no football tops please). Ducklings and Lower School children may wish to make a crown at home to wear on the day.   We will be celebrating the upcoming nuptials with a street party themed picnic lunch. (Ducklings children should supply lunch as normal).  Junior Language Challenge There are now just three weeks to go in this year's Junior Language Challenge first round. If your child is taking part, please encourage them to put on a final push - all is still to play for and we hope that some of our pupils will manage to secure a place in the semi final! More Music Results! We are pleased to announce an additional music examination result: Piano Reece G   Grade 1  Pass Well done Reece! Reminder - Holiday Club Bookings We would like to remind parents that bookings for the May half term Holiday Club are now open. The booking form is available on the Documents page of the website and the deadline for bookings is next Friday, 18th May.    Summer School 2018 Bookings are now open for this year's Summer School, which will take place from 20th to 24th August. The themes for this year are 'On The Farm' for children currently in Nursery - Year 1, and 'Under The Sea' for children currently in Year 2 - Year 6. The Year 2 - Year 6 Summer School will take place at Hillingdon Outdoor Activity Centre. Both Summer Schools will include a programme of fun and exciting activities for the children. Full details and the booking form are available here. PA Quiz Night - Cancelled Sadly, the PA Quiz Night (which was scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday 12th May) has been cancelled due to lack of interest. We are very sorry that this event will not go ahead and we urge parents to support the PA's events wherever you can; the committee work so hard to put on events to bring our community together and it is such a shame that parents won't enjoy the feeling this year of 'beating the teachers'! Tax-Free Childcare Accounts/Childcare Vouchers If you are using a tax-free childcare account to pay the school, please email our Finance Office at finance@sthelenscollege.com as soon as possible to let them know the account reference number. This will make it much easier for the school to locate your payments and allocate them correctly to your account.  We are aware that there is currently some confusion over whether parents may use a tax-free childcare account (or childcare vouchers) to pay for school fees after their child's 5th birthday. As St. Helen's College is not an Ofsted registered school (because we are regulated by the Department for Education under the Independent Schools Inspectorate), we do not currently accept childcare vouchers or tax-free childcare account payments towards school fees after a child's 5th birthday. However, the school is currently taking independent legal advice on this issue and if there are to be any changes, we will let parents know as soon as possible. You may continue to use childcare vouchers and tax-free childcare accounts to pay for Breakfast Club, After School Club and Holiday Club provided by the school on the school premises, throughout your child's time at St. Helen's College. School Fee Plan/Third Party Providers If you are using School Fee Plan or any other third party provider to pay your school fees, please ensure that the Finance Office knows this, so that they are able to correctly match payments received to your account. You can email the Finance Office at finance@sthelenscollege.com.  
Posted on: 11/05/2018

Head's Blog - Outdoor Learning by Miss Walker

No doubt many of us were outside with our families enjoying the long bank holiday weekend last week. Being outside in the fresh air, engaging with our surroundings and being away from ‘screens’ I’m sure made us all feel good. There is a growing awareness of the benefits of the ‘outside’ in society and in particular for our wellbeing. For example, patients with a natural view from their window recover more quickly and require fewer painkillers than those who look out onto cityscapes. Being outside reduces the production of stress hormones, lowers blood pressure and boosts our immune system. Being exposed to the ‘outside’ as a child develops and instils lifelong benefits which are not developed if children remain inside too much during their formative years. Research into the educational benefits of outdoor learning is growing too, with studies suggesting that outdoor learning can enhance cognitive abilities. This may lead to improved understanding of concepts and ideas, promote collaboration and meta learning, foster engagement, creativity and innovation and allow pupils’ confidence to flourish. We are proud that St. Helen’s College has, for many years, led the way, with an extensive co-curriculum programme of opportunities for our pupils to experience outdoor learning, including residential trips, day trips and visits to the local park. In fact I write this blog after another fantastic day spent outside on a residential trip, this week with Year 3!   However, over the past 18 months we have been incorporating more and more outdoor learning opportunities throughout the school and across all curriculum areas. We are determined to make the most of the beautiful school grounds we have at our disposal to support and enhance a creative and engaging curriculum through outdoor learning. As part of a UCL leadership course I completed in 2017, I ran a 12 month project to assess the impact outdoor learning had on our pupils and the results were compelling. 89% of pupils reported learning outdoors made them feel happier and more confident and 96% felt they learnt better outdoors. In interviews, pupils’ comments included, “examples in the playground were exciting, challenging and fun and helped me understand”, “you actually know how to do something because you get to do it”, “we get more involved together” and “fresh air stimulates my brain!”. Teachers also reported increased motivation and accelerated learning, progress in attainment and improved pupil self esteem.   As I walk around the school now I often see maths lessons investigating and measuring angles in nature, art lessons using natural materials to make pictures or sculptures and music lessons where children are making and recording compositions created using natural objects. Amidst it all, I see happy and engaged children and our teachers’ passion for teaching.  It is little wonder then that we are taking part in Outdoor Classroom Day next Thursday, 17th May. This is a day to showcase and celebrate our commitment to outdoor learning but also share common goals with schools across the UK and the world in promoting the benefits of outdoor learning. Throughout the day our pupils will be challenged and inspired whilst learning outside the classroom. For more information about Outdoor Classroom Day please visit the website here. Today as I watched our Y3 pupils’ growing sense of wonder and awe as they soaked up being in nature and learning through nature I was reminded of the William Henry Davies poem ‘Leisure’. In an ever busy and stressful world, its words resonate as a call for us all to be outside more and to find the time ‘to stand and stare’. Leisure - By William Henry Davies What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare. No time to stand beneath the boughs And stare as long as sheep or cows. No time to see, when woods we pass, Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass. No time to see, in broad daylight, Streams full of stars, like skies at night. No time to turn at Beauty's glance, And watch her feet, how they can dance. No time to wait till her mouth can Enrich that smile her eyes began. A poor life this if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare. We hope that parents, too, will find time to enjoy the beautiful outdoors with children, friends and extended families. Miss Walker
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