School News and Head's Blog

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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: â€‹https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/sthelencoldevfund/?invite=T7XS4M&referral-campaign=s2s  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 tstark@sthelenscollege.com 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.  https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wallington/features/free-family-fun-in-the-great-outdoors-this-summer-  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  
Posted on: 15/11/2019

Weekly News - Friday 15th November 2019

St. Helen's College Shortlisted for TES Awards! The most outstanding individuals and institutions that the independent sector has to offer have been recognised in the shortlist for the 2020 Tes Independent School Awards and we are absolutely thrilled that St. Helen's College has been shortlisted in not one but two categories - an outstanding achievement! We have been shortlisted for the Pupil Initiative Award for the wonderful work undertaken by our Junior Road Safety Officers, and for the Sports Award for our superb sporting provision. Tes editor Ann Mroz said: “The Independent schools in this country are truly exceptional and those that have earned a place on the Tes Independent School Awards shortlist are a cut above the rest. We received an unparalleled number of entries this year, all of which were first rate. The schools that have been shortlisted should be proud - it's a remarkable achievement."  The winners will be revealed at a gala awards evening at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London on Friday 7 February 2020. So please keep your fingers crossed for St. Helen's College!     Author Visit - Anna Fargher The pupils at Upper School were inspired on Monday when, alongside our Remembrance Day activities, they were treated to a visit from author Anna Fargher. Anna is the author of The Umbrella Mouse, an award winning adventure tale based on true stories of animals involved in World War II.    The children were shown how dogs carried medical supplies on the battlefield and how foxes would make lucky mascots for fighter pilots. We also learned about the history of the Dickin medal, awarded on one occasion to a courageous pigeon that saved many lives. After the charming presentation, Anna signed books for the children in the library. Catherine and Anish recited the Exhortation in the Upper School playground before everybody observed a two minute silence and Patrick played The Last Post beautifully on his trumpet as we remembered all the soldiers and animals who have fought bravely in war. Fireworks (Years 1 - 6) On Tuesday, all of the children from Year 1 to 6 took part in our termly school writing task. This time, the children had to write a description of a fireworks display. During assemblies, the children shared their experiences and looked at some helpful techniques before going back to classes to plan and write. Here is a selection of examples from work across the school: 'I heard a crash, whizz and boom. There were ten fireworks and everyone was amazed. They sparkled and lit up the sky with glitter. The fireworks were cherry red and sea blue. Suddenly one went BANG! and brightly filled the sky.'  - Anna 2B 'I could smell hotdogs, onions and candyfloss. Incredible colours covered the sky such as violet, vermillion and tangerine. A joyous feeling filled my heart as the booming and banging filled my ears.' - Shruthi 4T 'The moment the display commenced, I was transported into another dimension where only fireworks and fun existed. A vivid explosion ripped through the air - a fluorescent contrast against the pitch black sky. Again, a spark shot out into the night, only to explode into a flower of a thousand varied shades.' - Anaiya 6M Times Tables Rockstars The children have competed in the National Maths Week Tournament for Times Tables Rockstars this week and we are so impressed with their results. They have fully engaged with the task and have made some exceptional progress as a result. Congratulations to 6RD who were the winning class for the school. St. Helen's College came 204th (at last checking) out of thousands of schools which applied. Harry J in 6RD is the fastest player in Upper School and Sean R is the fastest player in Middle School. Lachlan J in 2H is the most improved Middle School player and Zain A in 6M is the most improved Upper School player this week.  Children in Need This week, pupils have been busy raising funds for BBC Children in Need. The money raised will go to support vital projects across the UK including Hillingdon Carers, who provide opportunities and support to unpaid carers in the local area.  The Year 6 children organised a raffle and Jena J (Year 5) put together a 'guess the number of sweets in a jar' competition. Today, children dressed in spots or yellow and took part in the Joe Wicks 'Big Morning Move,' which included a special guest appearance at Upper School! The short group workout was a great way to energise for the day ahead and to raise money for those in need. The raffle winners were: Elisa K (Wrens) - Giant Pudsey​ Selina A (1HC) - Blush Bear Annabelle S (3B) - Giant Pudsey Leo J (4KT) - Blush Bear The winner of the 'guess the number of sweets in a jar' competition was Siyana M (4KT).  Thank you for your generosity in supporting the event.       St. Helen's College Pupils Feature In Steve McQueen Year 3 Exhibition Steve McQueen Year 3 is a partnership between Tate, Artangel and A New Direction. Turner Prize-winning artist and Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen has this week unveiled one of the most ambitious visual portraits of citizenship ever undertaken in one of the world's largest cities. This epic portrait of the future of London captures thousands of local children in a milestone year in their development, and we are delighted that our current Year 4 classes are being featured as part of this piece of art, which includes 76,146 pupils from 1,504 London schools!  Over the past week, class photographs have been popping up on over 600 billboards across London's 33 boroughs as part of a city-wide outdoor exhibition, and the gallery exhibition is now open in the Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain, from 12 November 2019 to 03 May 2020.  We do hope that many of you will take the opportunity to visit this exhibition with your families and reflect on the citizens of the future and all that is being done by schools and families to prepare them for what lies ahead. Christmas Cracker Concert Band English Music Academy will be hosting a superb performance opportunity for young wind, brass and percussion players of Grade 3 - Grade 8 standard. They are inviting young musicians who are playing at this level to join them as part of their Christmas Cracker Concert Band on Friday 20th December at St. Peter's Church, Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill, London, W11 2PN. The day runs from 10.30 a.m. and pupils will rehearse seasonal popular music pieces during the day, showcasing their work in an evening performance at 6 p.m. in the church, which is free for parents, family and friends to attend. The music will include Let It Snow, Let It Snow, White Christmas and music from Frozen. The day costs £110 (with a £15 discount if you book before 22nd November) and the church is just a few minutes from Notting Hill underground station, with Portobello Market just around the corner. For more information and to book, please follow this link: www.englishmusicacademy.co.uk Sports News Netball Our Year 6 netball players travelled to Langley Hall School this week for a friendly 7-a-side netball fixture. The team grew in confidence as the match progressed, retaining more possession and shooting with more success to win the match 13 - 7.  As we approach the mid-season break in the local schools' netball league, we are pleased to report that the St. Helen's College team are currently top of the table. League matches will resume in January.  Football On Saturday morning our football team took part in the annual Packham Cup Memorial Trophy. The team had three group matches, winning the first 3-0, the second 5-0 and the third with an impressive 1-0 victory over Hermitage. This meant that we finished top of the group. In the quarter final, we were drawn against Whitehall School and after extra time we were unfortunate to lose 1-0. This was an extremely tough draw for us as Whitehall went on to win the trophy. Mr. Dyson feels that, if the draw had been a bit kinder, we could well have been in the final ourselves. However, the team played superbly well, scoring many goals and should be very proud of themselves for strong performances on what was an extremely cold morning. Thank you to all of the parents for your ongoing loyal support. Team members were: Zail T, Patrick E, Joban K, Daniel G-J, Eli V-B, Harry J, Adam K. At the halfway stage in the football league, we are currently sitting at the top of the division with four games left to play. Important Reminder Children must not arrive unaccompanied at the school gates after 8.30 a.m. Registration takes place at 8.30 a.m. every day and it is important that your child arrives at school in good time to line up and go into registration without rushing. If you are unavoidably delayed and your child arrives after 8.30 a.m., then you MUST accompany your child to the school office and sign him/her in.
Posted on: 15/11/2019

Growing Initiative - Head's Blog

This week I have to admit that I jumped for joy, literally, when I heard the news that we have been shortlisted for the prestigious TES Independent School Awards in two categories: Student Initiative and Sport. We are incredibly modest about our achievements at St. Helen’s College and every week I pick up an educational journal only to read about what ‘initiatives’ other schools are discussing when often we have been doing many of these things for several years - e.g. P4C, Flipped Learning or Mindfulness. But this week I want to focus on the impact of what we do here at school with our pupils which enables them to show ‘initiative’.   Initiative is a self-management skill, and self-management is one of five key life and work skills for young people entering the workforce. Your children are nowhere near the age of entering the workforce but they are certainly proving that they are going to be an incredible workforce for the future! ‘Initiative’ is defined as 'the ability to assess and initiate things independently'. There has been a plethora of activities recently in which we have seen our pupils stepping up to the mark, conceiving of and leading on some wonderful projects. The confidence, self belief and leadership qualities which the children possess are admirable and most definitely worthy celebrating. Our JRSO team and our Sports Leaders have been recognised by being shortlisted for the TES Awards, but it is true to say that pupils across the school are incredibly resourceful and enthusiastic in their self-led endeavours.  Examples of some of these activities are: A Year 6 pupil designing an 'inside out sound box'. This is a very intricate project, which is worth a future blog in itself. The design and planning process is now complete and the build is in hand,  so watch this space! Year 6 boys setting up a ‘Times Tables Rockstars’ club. Inspired to improve their mental maths skills, this group of boys are eager to encourage other pupils form Year 4-6 to challenge and improve their mental agility too. Year 5 girls running ‘Nature Club’, which has involved organising and sourcing resources and activities to bring joy to their peers through the exploration of nature. Year 6 pupils holding maths clinics in the library at lunch and break times for younger pupils to have some peer tutoring in maths topics Numerous charity fundraisers throughout the school; every class becomes involved in charity fundraising and all ideas are led by the pupils. Another definition of ‘initiative’ is the power or opportunity to act or take charge before others do. Yet again we witness this on a daily basis at St. Helen’s College. Only yesterday at lunch, a Year 3 pupil told me that he would be applying for the position of Head Boy when he was in Year 6 as he has so many good ideas for me for the school and children! I shall not reveal his innovative ideas but I am sure this proactive young man will go places in the future. Even our youngest Ducklings were innovative in their thinking today as we discussed what to do with the toy cars in the garage which had missing wheels! So, how can you support your young children at home to develop skills such as innovative thinking, problem solving and  entrepreneurship? Below is a list of some tips recommended for toddlers and preschool children. If we can encourage our youngest pupils in this way, this will provide a great start to developing their confidence, self-belief and leadership qualities. Praise your child’s efforts, not the result. “I know you worked hard to put the napkins on the table. Thank you.” “It took a lot of time to put all your toys away.” When your child asks a question, if appropriate, respond with a question. “What do you think?”  When your child says, “I can’t do it,” instead of immediately helping, suggest other options depending upon the task. “Can you try doing it a different way?” “Tell me what you need to make it work.” Allow your child to make decisions so he/she becomes comfortable doing so. Even a toddler can choose which clothes to wear when given options or between a cheese or ham sandwich. (This helps decrease frustration, too.) Allow a little extra time so that your child can do things themselves, like putting on their shoes or coat, packing their bag or picking out a book to read in the car before you leave the house. Provide opportunities for your child to have creative play – playing outdoors, playing with groups of other children in structured time, drawing, painting, making things or baking. Avoid screen time! Time spent watching movies and playing video games decreases the need to be creative and take initiative. And for us adults in the workplace! We all need to inspire the younger generation so here are a few tips for our further future success:  Never stand still. Do more than is required of you.  Think as a team member, not an employee. Speak up and share your ideas.  Consider every opportunity.  Always be prepared.  Regardless of the outcome at the TES Awards Ceremony in February next year, it is a huge testament to our school that we have been shortlisted for our achievements in the two categories. We need to remember that it is our staff and parents coming together to support the children in a safe and nurturing environment which enables our pupils to develop these most crucial skills which will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives. Mrs. Drummond
Posted on: 8/11/2019

Artificial Intelligence In The Classroom - Head's Blog

I am writing my blog today (Sunday) in advance of returning to school after a wonderful half term break.  Hopefully everyone is feeling as energised and as rested as I feel as we enter another busy and fruitful half term. I am on a school inspection this week, thus not in school Tuesday - Thursday, so taking the opportunity now to write the Friday blog! I would be most interested to hear parental views on this week’s topic. I am sure that everyone is very aware of the momentum that AI is having in our society as systems become more automated in our daily lives. AI is something which we cannot ignore; we must embrace it and move with it as appropriate for our lifestyles. I am not convinced yet about the prospect of cashierless supermarkets (Tesco’s have already trialled this in one of their 'Express' stores), but I will watch with interest as Amazon Go plans and opens its first store in Oxford Circus.   So, how should we move with Artificial Intelligence in education? Could the teaching profession be threatened by AI - might we find robots in the classroom 30 years from now? Personally I do not think that this is a reality, but the benefit of using AI in education is that the technology can be used to personalise children’s learning as the work set is adapted according to data collected as the child moves through a task. This is known as adaptive learning.  The official definition of this is as follows: 'Adaptive learning is a technology-based or online educational system that analyses a student's performance in real time and modifies teaching methods based on that data. Think AI meets dedicated math tutor meets personalised engagement.' Adaptive learning, also known as adaptive teaching, is an educational method which uses computer algorithms to orchestrate interaction with the learner and deliver customised resources and learning activities to address the unique needs of each learner. There are many adaptive software learning apps available not only for children but also for adults. Mr. Crehan is already an avid user of a language app to assist him in his acquisition of Mandarin. This also inspired my use of Bussu to help me with my Spanish and there are numerous others on the market such as Duolingo or Babbel which are widely used by children and adults alike. The UK unfortunately does seem to be quite behind in embedding AI as an integral part of a pupil’s learning in school. The US, India and China are way ahead of where we are and it will be very interesting to monitor the growth of AI in these countries and its impact. Whilst attending the IAPS Heads' Conference in September, I heard from the founder of CenturyTech - Priya Lakhani OBE. Priya’s company has established a successful adaptive learning platform for pupils in Key Stage 2 upwards in English, Maths and Science. Her presentation was inspiring and many UK based schools are now looking at how we may embrace AI further to enhance teaching and learning.  At St. Helen’s College, our pupils use technology exceptionally well. They have excellent digital literacy and technology is used across the school in many curriculum areas. However, what more could we be doing? Mr. Lewis and I are meeting with a CenturyTech representative for a demonstration of their learning platform tomorrow (Monday) and I am looking forward to hearing from their representative as to how this product may enhance the experiences and opportunities we offer your children.   If any parents have further insight or experience of AI in education - please do share! It is a very exciting and fast moving industry but should be approached with caution and with an awareness of who is developing the products and why. We do not wish to remove teachers from the classroom - adults still need to work with children to develop their soft skills and assist them in becoming creative independent  individuals. We need to prepare our children for the future but be well informed and confident that what we do offer them is right for them and us as a school.  You may enjoy reading this for further depth: https://www.independent.co.uk/independentpremium/long-reads/ai-schools-slow-learning-century-tech-stem-artificial-intelligence-a9108411.html Mrs. Drummond
Posted on: 8/11/2019

Weekly News - Friday 8th November 2019

Times Tables Rock Stars The children at Upper School have been diligently practising their times tables this week ahead of National Numeracy week next week, when all children will be entered into the national Times Tables Rockstars competition. Prizes will be awarded to classes with maximum participation over the course of the week and we hope the children will all be able to participate. There have been some changes in scores this week with Sean R (2H) becoming the fastest middle school player and Avantika G (2B) achieving the most improved player.  In Upper School there has been another fierce battle with Mohib F achieving a phenomenal 0.94 seconds per question and regaining his title as the fastest player in the school. Louis B (4T) is the most improved player in Upper School this week. Keep up the good work! Year 1 Trip to Roald Dahl Museum/Gallery Our Year 1 children enjoyed a phiz-whizzing trip to the Roald Dahl museum/gallery on Thursday and have certainly been inspired to be even more creative in their creative writing work! Nursery Trip to Playtrain The Nursery children had a wonderful trip today to the Playtrain soft play centre and were very excited also to be getting on a coach at the beginning of their adventure!  Remembrance Day Thank you to everyone who has supported the Poppy Appeal thus far. Children will be selling poppies on Monday morning in the playgrounds. We will be observing a two minute silence at 11 a.m. at Upper and Lower School and this year one of our Year 6 pupils will be playing The Last Post which he has been working hard to learn in his trumpet lessons. Visiting Author - Anna Fargher On Monday we will enjoy a visit from Anna Fargher, author of 'Umbrella Mouse', the winner of the 2019 Sainsbury's Book Prize for Fiction, who will speak to children in Years 3 - 6. Information has been sent separately to parents. This will be particularly poignant on Remembrance Day as 'Umbrella Mouse' is a timeless tale of courage, resistance and friendship, drawing on the true stories of animals caught in the conflict of World War 2. Anna will also be joining us for the Remembrance silence.  Children in Need Next Friday (15th November) is national Children in Need Day and we will once again be supporting this worthy cause. We would like to invite children to come to school dressed in yellow or spots on Friday, for a donation to the charity (we suggest a minimum donation of £2). Raffle tickets are being sold at Upper School, Lower School and Ducklings so please do allow your children to bring in some money to buy raffle tickets if they would like to be in with a chance of winning Pudsey and Blush Bears.  At Upper School, Jena J will be running a 'Guess the number of sweets in a jar' competition to raise money for Children in Need. This activity will start on Tuesday in the gazebo every morning from 8 a.m. and will cost £1 a go.  Thank you in advance for your generous support for this charity initiative. Football On Wednesday our football team had their fifth match of the season against Highfield School, winning 7-1. Highfield weren't the strongest of opposition but the team were able to work on developing their skills, tactics and teamwork. Adam K scored his first goals of the season, netting 4 - quite an achievement for a Year 4 pupil - and Eli scored 2 and Harry 1. Hopefully we can take this form into the Packham Cup this Saturday and progress through the competition. Team members were: Zail T, Patrick E, Joban K, Reece G, Daniel G-J, Eli V-B, Harry J, Jack H and Adam K. Well done to all involved! The Year 5 and 6 girls' football team were also in action on Wednesday, travelling to Denham United Ladies FC to take part in a tournament of sixteen local schools. Some of the girls were playing competitive football for the first time but they showed great skill and tenacity to win the group with one goalless draw and two victories. Rhea A-V captained the team, leading by example with two winning goals to help the team through to the semi finals. Unfortunately, they lost a competitive semi final against an excellent team but the whole squad can be very proud of an excellent performance. Congratulations, girls!
Posted on: 18/10/2019

Powerful Learning - Head's Blog

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

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