School News and Head's Blog
266 Blog Posts found - Showing 1-9
Posted on: 11/06/2021
Weekly News - Friday 11th June 2021Singing Competition
What a fantastic Singing Competition we enjoyed this afternoon! The children in Years 2 - 6 had obviously prepared and rehearsed their songs with dedication and the standard of performance was, as always, very high indeed. Gemma Cross was our guest judge and she was very impressed by the musicality and confidence of the children. Many congratulations to all those who took part and, in particular, to our winners, who were:
Zinnia M - Y2 Winner
Samara P - Y3 Winner (and Middle School Winner)
Eshanvi A - Y4 Winner
Shruthi T - Y5 Winner
Maya T - Y6 Winner (and Upper School Winner)
Winners' trophies and certificates will be awarded in Monday's assembly.
4T Assembly - Gratitude
We were treated to a wonderful class assembly by 4T this morning, whose focus was on Gratitude. They explained what Gratitude is and gave us lots of examples of what we might choose to be thankful for. They performed a lovely story about an old woman who was never satisfied, showing us how contentment comes from the heart and not from external possessions or surroundings. Finally, they sang their Gratitude song with real gusto and accomplishment, and led us in prayer. Well done, 4T, for conveying such an important value so enjoyably. We all now know that by being grateful for our troubles, we can turn them into blessings - which is a wonderful skill to have.
The Whale Company Assembly and Eco Work
On Monday we virtually welcomed Carolyn Newton, co-founder of The Whale Company, to be a guest speaker at our assembly. The Whale Company is an environmental organisation that connects people to nature by inspiring action and innovation through stand up paddle boarding, upcycling workshops, expeditions and campaigns.
Carolyn talked to us about the global problem of plastic waste on our planet and showed us some very impactful photos of the effects that this waste has on the world's oceans and rivers. Carolyn also played a video of a paddle board she and her husband had made reusing plastic drink bottles, which they used to travel down the River Thames, litter picking and educating people on plastic waste enroute. This paddle board really impressed us all and became a talking point for the rest of the day!
We learnt several thought provoking facts from this assembly and one that really stood out was that there is more micro plastic in the world's oceans than stars in our galaxy! There was a clear message that we urgently need to rethink how we use plastic and what small things we can do to help. The assembly ties in with our current school eco mission in taking steps to become plastic free. Each day our Eco reps have been collecting plastic litter in the playground and spreading the message that rubbish belongs in the bin and not on the floor! We hope this assembly, along with our eco mission, will encourage everyone to take actions, however big or small, to remove plastic pollution and help our environment. For more information about The Whale Company and what they do, please visit the following link.thewhalecompany.org
End of Term Events
The school is busy planning and adapting our programme for several end of term events, including Sports Days for all year groups, the Year 6 play, Prizegiving and transfer meetings for parents. With the Covid restrictions due to be reviewed next week, we are not yet able to confirm whether we will be able to welcome parents to these events in any 'normal' way. We are sorry for the uncertainty but we know you will appreciate that we have to follow the government guidance rigorously at every step.
You can see all of the proposed events listed on the school calendar. For now, we encourage you to save the dates if you would like to attend these events and meetings - but with the caveat that we will send out further information when we can, and that all plans are subject to change.
There is further information about this year's Sports Days via the links below. This has also been sent out by email to parents today.
Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 Sports Day
Year 3 - 6 Sports Day
It was wonderful to see all the children back in full summer uniform for our class photographs. Please can you continue to send Upper School children to school in full summer uniform, which includes blazers, and the panama summer hats should now also be worn. It was noted that many pupils had to borrow blazers for the photographs thus please do ensure that your child has one.
The PA are hoping to set up second hand uniform sales at the Sports Day events. Further details to follow pending government guidance.
Primary Mathematics Challenge
We are delighted that six of our Year 6 pupils have been recognised in this National Challenge, achieving Silver and Bronze awards. Congratulations to Ben L and Reece G for achieving Silver and Riya C, Aaron S, Arjan D and Pavitar D for achieving Bronze.
The National Quiz Club Finals are approaching with the Year 4 final next Thursday 17th June and the Year 5 and Year 6 finals on the 24th June. We wish all our teams well.
CRUK - Cancer Research UK
For many years now the school has been part of the Relay for Life Harrow event to raise much needed funds for Cancer Research. Unfortunately the event will not go ahead this year but as a school we will continue to support this most worthwhile charity which helps so many of us as the statistics show that one in every two of us will get cancer in our lifetime. In our final week of term the children in each class will participate in a range of fun activities and we will be asking you to make donations to our 'Just Giving' page. Further details will be shared nearer the time but he week will commence on Monday 5th July with a non-uniform day for all the children.
Posted on: 11/06/2021
GratitudeLast night I had the pleasure of meeting many of our new Nursery parents as they visited Lower School to have their individual meetings with either Miss Carmichael or Mrs. Mann.
Throughout the evening I had wonderful conversations discussing the events of the past 16 months and listened to how different families have experienced the journey of the pandemic so far. What really struck me was the joy that so many parents expressed in being able to spend time with their children - despite mums and dads working from home and juggling work commitments, there really has been genuine joy in what these turbulent times have brought about. We often get lost in the sadness and fear that has been reported, but for so many families there has been new found family time and experiences which will never be able to be replicated under ‘normal’ working patterns for parents.
There was so much gratitude expressed from our Ducklings parents for the love and care that their children have had since joining us in September 2020. Parents are genuinely in awe of the all round development of their children, and in particular their oracy skills and levels of independence and confidence. I listened with great pride and shared all the parents' excitement as we prepare to welcome so many new families to our school. We have our new Ducklings intake, new Nursery children and many other families joining us throughout the school in September.
However, before the new academic school year I know that so many of you will be taking time this summer to reap the benefits of living on this incredible island! Our British coastline will be the busiest it has ever been as overseas travel is so restricted.
Many of us will be taking to the coast and I for one need my frequent intake of coastal sea air! The West Coast of Scotland, Oban and the Isle of Mull are my go to places and I am looking forward to catching up with family and friends. The beauty of the area and coastal scenery brings me great peace and pleasure.
Over half term I managed yet another visit to the Kent coastline, as my daughter is currently in university in Canterbury. This time I found a beautiful Airbnb apartment near to Deal. Since she moved there, we have discovered an area of the UK which we absolutely love with the most stunning beaches: Whitstable, Broadstairs, Deal, Herne Bay, Ramsgate, Margate...each area has their own identity and the area is becoming very popular with ‘those from London’. Who knew that Margate was home to the Turner Contemporary art gallery!
The attraction of the seaside here in the UK, regardless of what part of the UK, is special. The traditional piers, rugged coastline, undeveloped beaches, natural defences, the sea life, flowers and fauna really are unique to the UK - let alone the fish and chips and Mr Whippy!!!
The UK coast brings me great spiritual support too and I find being by the coast refreshing, reinvigorating and relaxing. Our seas are mysterious and powerful and we must all respect this and be grateful for our proximity here in the UK to such incredible coasts.
Wherever you are planning to visit this summer within the UK - I hope that some time near the sea is on your agenda.
Deal beach last Saturday!
Posted on: 28/05/2021
Weekly News - Friday 28th May 2021We hope that you all have a relaxing and enjoyable half term break - the children and staff have had a busy half term and it is always good to recharge batteries ahead of the very busy second half of the summer term! To those who will be attending Holiday Club here at school, we hope that your children have a great time.
Year 4 and Year 5 Residential Days
Our Year 4 children had a wonderful day on Tuesday, when they visited Iver Environmental Centre for a day of outdoor learning and exploration. During the day, they took part in several activities including pond dipping, mini-beast hunting, fire-lighting, den building and toasting marshmallows. They collaborated brilliantly to build animal homes and practised their advertising and persuasive skills as estate agents! It was a wonderful day all round and we were lucky enough not to be rained on!
On Thursday, the Year 5 classes went off-site to Paccar Scout Camp where they had an incredibly busy day participating in a range of activities, including zip wire, gladiator challenge, karting and archery. All of the children showed great camaraderie in supporting and encouraging each other and their perseverance was commendable - a real tribute to the St. Helen's College values being demonstrated by every student. Well done, Year 5!
You can see photographs of the residential days on our Galleries page.
Mr. Leo Harrington will be joining us in September as our new Director of Co-Curriulum/Head of PE & Games and will continue the excellent work that Miss Walker has been doing in these areas of the school for the past 26 years. He will also be taking on the role of Head of Assessment, working in liaison with Mr. Lewis, our Director of Studies. He will be visiting the school in the next half term and will have the opportunity to meet the children. Mr. Harrington brings with him a wealth of prep school experience and has most recently been teaching at Haberdasher's Aske's School for Boys. I am sure you will all join us in welcoming him to the school.
We are delighted to share the happy news that Mrs. Garnes is expecting a baby and will be beginning her maternity leave at the end of the summer term. We will let you know the name of her temporary replacement in due course but please rest assured that all of her individual lessons will continue.
Mrs. Pruce has just been appointed as the IAPS (Independent Association of Preparatory Schools) Art Subject Advisor. This is a prestigious role to hold and she will be working with the IAPS Education Committee, providing support and expertise to the art departments of preparatory schools throughout the UK and overseas.
Mrs. Califano returned from her maternity leave this week and is supporting Ms Matthews in Kingfishers class. We are delighted to have her back with us.
We are looking forward to welcoming Mrs. McLaughlin back to school after half term, when she will return from her maternity leave. She will resume her teaching in 3M, three days per week, with Mrs. Briggs continuing for two days per week.
Miss Carmichael will be stepping down from her role as Holiday Club Manager at the end of the summer term. We would like to thank her for her hard work and commitment to running the Holiday Club over the past four years. Miss Carmichael will continue to work in Holiday Club and we are delighted that she is handing the baton over to Miss Flemming, who is already known to the children and is one of our current Funtasia staff. Miss Flemming was previously one of our EYFS assistants before she went travelling and we were delighted to welcome her back last year. Further information about our summer Holiday Club will be distributed by Miss Flemming in due course.
Climate Change Competition
Just a reminder that, to encourage more people to think about Climate Change, Hillingdon Council is running a Climate Change Competition, which is open to all St. Helen's College children. The closing date is Saturday 5th June.
Children are urged to get creative and take part in this borough wide competition to get everyone thinking about Climate Change, how it makes us feel and what can be done to do our part. Children are free to use any art form to express what Climate Change means to them, whether it be a musical composition, a drama scene, a poem, a piece of artwork or something else.
You can find out more information about the competition here, including how to enter and of course what prizes are on offer! We hope that many of your children will create entries for this competition and that, in doing so, they will think deeply about climate change and what it means for all of us.
Royal Mail Stamp Design Competition
Well done to all of the children who have been busy designing their stamps for the Royal Mail competition. We have seen several very high quality designs come through school, and we know that many more have been submitted directly to the Royal Mail. Fingers crossed that the children's hard work and creativity may be recognised in a winning design!
Reminders - Second Half of Term
We would like to remind parents that all children should return to school on Monday 7th June wearing full summer uniform. Girls should not wear tights with the summer dress. Woolly hats should now be put into hibernation please and at Upper School, blazers are expected to be worn as part of uniform.
Class photographs for all classes from Ducklings to Year 6 will be taken by Tempest on Wednesday 9th June. Please ensure that your children arrive to school in good time on that day and in full, smart summer uniform with tidy hair. If girls' hair could be plaited for the occasion, that would be much appreciated. If any of the boys are having their hair cut over half term, please be mindful of the school guidelines, which are that boys’ hair must be cut above the collar and ears in a conventional manner. Crew cuts, shaved patterning, obvious layering and gelling are not allowed.
The Year 2 - 6 Singing Competition finals will take place on Friday 11th June. Good luck to all those involved.
Details about upcoming events such as Sports Days, concerts, Prizegiving and plays will be sent out in due course but you can see the dates on the school calendar.
Just a reminder that, if you are planning a clear out over half term, you can bring any unwanted textiles (clothings, belts, bags, paired shoes, bed linen, curtains, towels etc) to our textile bank outside 227 Long Lane. Please note that, while bed sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases are fine, we cannot accept duvets, cushions or pillows themselves. The items donated via the textile bank are gifted to those living in poverty across the UK and the world, and anything that cannot be gifted in this way is recycled into industrial cleaning cloths, so that nothing ends up as landfill. The school receives a small donation per kilo of textiles collected too.
Thank you once again for supporting this eco-friendly and charitable initiative.
Posted on: 21/05/2021
Weekly News - Friday 21st May 2021World Meditation Day
Today is World Meditation Day, and in Upper School assembly this morning, we considered this quote from the actor Dick Van Dyke: "When you’re a kid, you lay in the grass and watch the clouds going over, and you don’t have a thought in your mind. It’s purely meditation, and we lose that". We then participated in this beautiful three minute meditation together, enjoying the images and sensations. Why not take part in this with your children again over the weekend?
There are events running throughout the day for World Meditation Day until 8 p.m. this evening - you can find more details here:
On Wednesday, our Year 3 classes enjoyed their outdoor-based residential day and on Thursday, the Year 6 children immersed themselves in France and all things French for their residential day. You can read more about these days and their value in Mrs. Drummond's Head's Blog today and you can see photographs of the days on our Galleries page.
Thames Water Assembly
Many thanks indeed to James from Thames Water, who delivered an informative and thought-provoking assembly to our Upper School classes on Monday. James told us all about the importance of being 'water-wise', which means being considerate about our water use. The children engaged enthusiastically with the quiz questions and clearly have a good understanding now of how to use less water and why it is so important to consider and limit our use of this precious resource. As discussed, if each person can make one change to their water use, we can together make a real difference. Hopefully, your children will want to spread the word, encouraging their family and friends to be more 'water-wise' too.
There is a fantastic e-book available to download regarding water saving, with a related competition! Please do take a look and encourage your child to enter this competition too.
Well done to Charlee G and Pavan S (Year 3), who were so inspired by the assembly that they are creating their own presentation to share with their peers to further highlight the importance of saving water.
Singing Competition Finalists
Congratulations to these children, who have been selected as finalists for this year's Singing Competition!
The final will take place next Friday and we are all looking forward to watching the children perform before our guest judge Gemma Cross picks her winners! Gemma is the vocal and choral lead for Slough Music Services.
Royal Mail 'Design a Stamp' Competition
We would like to encourage children (aged 4-14) to enter a very special competition being run by the Royal Mail.
For more than 50 years Royal Mail’s Special Stamp programme has commemorated British history and achievement. Stamps have also been issued to honour the achievements of many British people. Often, the people who appear on stamps are already famous. They include scientists and explorers, writers, artists, musicians, athletes, and Prime Ministers.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, there have been many people who have done great things. Many of them are not famous, but they have done extraordinary work. These are the people who have helped us all through a really difficult time. Some are frontline workers in healthcare, others look after elderly or vulnerable people. Millions of key workers have kept the country going when most of us were told to stay home for our own safety. And there have been many people who volunteered to help people in their communities who needed help or support. Royal Mail wants to honour these heroes by producing a set of eight stamps.
The stamps will feature designs created by eight school-aged children. Pupils should think about who their hero or heroes are, and then design a stamp in their honour. A special panel of judges will pick the winning designs. The final eight stamps will be sent to Her Majesty The Queen before they can be printed and issued.
You can find out further information, including how to submit your entries, here:
The closing date for entries is 5 p.m. on Friday 28th May 2021. Please do let us know if your child enters and how they get on!
Thank you so very much to all of the parents who have sent such positive feedback and heartfelt thanks for the Teddy Talks which we shared last week. The talks are a part of our new Pre-School Parenting Programme, through which we aim to support parents of babies and toddlers in the local community and beyond. Please do continue to watch and share the talks, and to let us know if you have ideas for topics for our next set of talks, which will be filmed later this year.
We plan to launch our first free in-person pre-school classes, our Mother and Baby Mindfulness Classes, in September. If you are interested in taking part in these, then please telephone the school office on 01895 234371 to register your interest.
Virtual Open Morning
We held our summer term Virtual Open Morning for prospective parents today and it was both enjoyable and successful! As well as talking to those who joined us about our school aims, values and provision, we were able to play them a Teddy Talk and answer their questions about joining us. Don't forget that we are now running a Virtual Open Morning once per term, as well as our in-person school tours, so if you have any friends or family who might be interested in attending these, please tell them to visit the school website for more information and to register their interest.
Wraparound Care Bookings
We would like to remind parents that, while it is usually possible to book wraparound care at the last minute via your SchoolsBuddy account, it is enormously helpful for the organisation of our staffing and catering if parents could book required sessions in advance as much as possible. Many thanks for your support with this.
Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Emanuel, our school librarians, ask that pupils and parents check school bags and return any stray library books ahead of the half term break.
Uniform4Kids Summer Plans
Our uniform supplies, Uniform4Kids (Pullens) have asked us to share their plans for summer opening with parents, so that you can plan your uniform shopping for the new academic year. The headline news is that they will once again be opening the shop by appointment only from June to mid-August. There will also be extended opening hours in the final week of August just before the new term starts. You can find out more information on their plans here and you can book your appointments online at www.uniform4kids.com.
Weekend and Half Term Classes
Hotshots Football Academy
Hotshots Football Academy are offering a free first class for boys and girls aged 4-12. Classes take place in Uxbridge from 9.00 to 10.15 a.m. on Saturdays. If you are interested in signing your child up, you can find out more information here.
Computer Xplorers have fun and exciting Half Term Holiday classes open to children age 6+ from Monday 31st May to Friday 4th June, as follows.
Video Game Animation (Age 6-8)
9 a.m. - 10 a.m., Monday 31st May to Friday 4th June
The perfect introduction to programming for primary school children. Children aged 6-8 will make progress as they learn how to program an animation in this class using Scratch - an easy-to-understand drag-and-drop programming method.
Click on the link below to register:
Kodu Game Design (Age 8+)
10.15 a.m. - 11.15 a.m., Monday 31st May to Friday 4th June
Children will use Kodu, a graphical programming environment, to design and build games. They will then create a range of terrains, worlds and characters, controlling the characters' movement, sound and vision using an intuitive, icon-based programming language.
This is a great class for budding game designers and tech enthusiasts. Are your children up for a new challenge? Now is your child's chance to develop coding and programming skills in our online Game Design classes!
Click on the link below to register:
11.30 a.m. - 12.30 p.m., Monday 31st May to Friday 4th June
Click on the link below to register :
Posted on: 21/05/2021
Residential TripsAs many of you know, the annual residential trips which are part of our enrichment programme from Year 3 to Year 6 have not gone ahead during the pandemic as we would normally have desired. Usually, in the summer term, Year 3 would have visited Shortenills Environmental Centre for 2 days and 1 night, Year 4 would have travelled to Flatford Mill in Suffolk for 3 days (2 nights), Year 5 would have taken the ferry to the Isle of Wight for 5 days (4 nights) and Year 6 would have crossed the channel to Normandy to stay at the Chateaux de la Baudonniere for 6 days (5 nights).
Despite us not travelling this year, I am delighted that the staff have been able to arrange alternative days for our pupils, some on site and some at off site venues closer to home, to replicate the activities in which the children would have participated on their residential trips. These days offer the children experiences that enhance the pupils’ classroom learning, adding opportunities pupils may not otherwise have. Research has proven that by participating in such a range of activities can lead to improved relationships, development of important skills, improved achievement and progress and a greater sense of belonging.
Many schools only offer one residential trip to their children throughout their primary school years, but here at St. Helen’s College we recognise the enormous value of these trips, which is why, from Year 3, our children experience these on an annual basis.
This week we have had the first two of our residential days for the Year 3 and Year 6 children.
Year 3 packed their backpacks and ventured on foot to Court Park on what was a blessed day of good weather on Wednesday! I witnessed each activity and was so impressed by the teamwork and determination which some groups of children demonstrated as they pulled together to erect a tent with minimal adult assistance. For some children this task really challenged them but, crucially, they were able to reflect on what they found difficult and why. I would not be surprised if many of the Year 3 children are now badgering their parents to purchase them tents to put up in the garden - please note that they were only pop up tents! The ‘green’ group in session 2 worked speedily and with a sense of pride as they basked under their green canopy as the first group finished and discussed our green planet and climate change! The children had no idea that I could overhear their conversation through their tent canopy but it was a delight to hear!
Each Year 3 group also took part in orienteering, story stones and mud masks. The trees in the woodland area of Court Park are now a gallery of the most exquisite mud masks and I highly recommend taking the time after school to take a stroll through this beautiful part of the park which is right on our doorstep. Seemingly one child has made a portrait of me! I wonder if you can spot it.
On arrival at school on Thursday I greeted the children at the gate at Upper School with my very best French (a tad rusty but hopefully grammatically correct!! The French flag was flying and the bunting was out! We became ‘L’Ecole de St. Helen’s College’ for the day!
Our Year 6 children were immersed in a cultural day of language, cuisine, outdoor games and drama! A breakfast of croissants et chocolat chaud set them up for their morning bread-making activity, during which they raised the roof of the Evans Hall with their ‘chant de Francais’ as they kneaded their bread and tried to out-sing the other class. French boules was very competitive indeed and the traditional playground games challenged their listening skills! Lunch was a culinary delight as the children visited a crepe/galette van and enjoyed dining alfresco in a French cafe style, ordering and enjoying this traditional French treat. In the afternoon the pupils enjoyed a performance of ‘The Three Musketeers’ and again were immersed in the French culture and language!
Next week our Year 4 and Year 5 children will be off site at two other local venues. Year 4 will be participating in a range of outdoor pursuits at Iver Environmental Centre, including pond dipping, shelter building, bushcraft skills, exploring animal homes and investigating minibeasts. Their day will conclude with a campfire activity. Year 5 will spend their day at Pacar Scout Camp where they will be enjoying the Gladiator challenge, pedal karts, zip wire and archery.
It is a huge testament to our staff that they are so committed to organising these days for the children to ensure that our pupils are able to benefit from participating together in such a vast range of activities away from their normal classroom setting. I am sure that those of you with children in Years 3-6 have heard so much already about their experiences - the memories created on such days are long lasting and the learning which happens outside of the normal school day is irreplaceable.
As the restrictions posed by Covid continue to lift, we look forward to being able to offer our full range of co-curricular activities from September and plans are already in place for next year’s residential trips!
Posted on: 14/05/2021
Weekly News - Friday 14th May 2021Baroness Floella Benjamin Online Talk
On Tuesday morning, Baroness Floella Benjamin joined Years 1-6 for an inspiring and educational talk. During her virtual talk, she passionately discussed her experience of moving to England from Trinidad, and the many successes that she has achieved throughout her life in the West End, film and television, as a children's author, and in her role as a member of the House of Lords.
She inspired us all with her resilient and courageous response to racism, demonstrating the power of positivity and self-belief to overcome hardship and challenge. Education has always been important to Floella, and she articulated the transformative power of learning and striving towards greatness. She left us with her 4Cs for a happy life: consideration, confidence and contentment - all wrapped up with some extra COURAGE. We all had smiles on our faces as she sang us out with ‘smile’ by Charlie Chaplin.
Parents' Evening (Years 1-6)
Another successful parents' evening took place remotely on Tuesday evening for parents of children in Years 1 to 6. We hope that you all found this useful and thank you for attending.
Royal Parks Urban Tree Festival
The Urban Tree Festival is a celebration of urban and suburban trees, woods, forests, scrubland, hedgerows and all the wild places that bring life and joy to our cities. It is taking place this year from 15th-23rd May.
As part of the festival, The Royal Parks are offering free workshops to children in Years 3-6 and your children will be taking part in some of these during school hours. The workshops aim to get pupils thinking creatively and speaking out about the impact of urban trees during the climate emergency. We would like to encourage families to take your children to visit the Royal Parks over the next couple of weekends or over half term, and to take a look at the trees planted within them, to support their learning in this area. So don't let the weather dampen your spirits! Pop on your raincoat and explore the Royal Parks to inspire your children and yourselves to consider the importance of urban trees.
We hope that you will enjoy watching our brand new St. Helen's College Teddy Talks. These are short talks, given by experienced and dedicated St. Helen's College staff, on topics of interest to parents of babies and young children. Please follow the links below to watch our first six talks and please do share them with friends and family!
Growing A Love Of Reading With Your Child - Shirley Drummond, Head
Early Speech, Language And Communication - Lucy Hunt, Head of Lower School
Positive Behaviour Management - Aidan McLaughlin, Deputy Head
The Value of Nursery Rhymes - Jill Crehan, Principal
Choosing The Right Setting For Your Child - Su Smith, Director of Admissions
Baby Mindfulness - Poonam McLaughlin, Year 3 & Baby Mindfulness Teacher
We will be making more talks soon, so if you have any ideas of topics on which you would like advice/tips, please do let us know. You can read more about the ideas behind this initiative in today's Head's Blog, which is a guest blog from Mrs. Smith.
May Online Open Morning
Our next virtual Open Morning for prospective parents will take place next Friday, 21st May, at 10.00 a.m. If you or any of your friends or family have children under 3 then please do join us online to find out more about the school and the entry process. Anyone interested in attending will need to register by following the link below, and will then be sent a joining link for the Open Morning in advance.
If you have a child aged 3 or under and have not yet registered them with the school, please do complete a registration form for them so that we can add them to the list for entry in their year group.
Eco Team Trash Mob
Next week, our Eco Team Reps will be out on patrol encouraging children to look after our environment by picking up any litter that they see and reminding people to use the bins in the playground for any remnants of snack, tissues etc. It is important that we all raise awareness of looking after our environment and we appreciate your support if you are also able to arrange a family litter pick in your local park. You might like to visit the Keep Britain Tidy website for ideas and inspiration.
Mindfulness at St. Helen's College
Last week's Head's Blog, all about Mindfulness at our school, was picked up by the Mindfulness In Schools Project (MiSP), who were delighted to read about how embedded Mindfulness is throughout the school community. We are very proud that St. Helen's College is being recognised as a frontrunner in children's mental health and wellbeing through our Mindfulness programme.
You can also find MiSP on Twitter as @dotbschools.
Half Term Holiday Club
Bookings are now open for the May half term Holiday Club at St. Helen's College. If you have not already booked and you would like your child to attend, please login to your SchoolsBuddy account to book. Places are allocated on a first come, first served basis.
Posted on: 14/05/2021
Teddy Talks by Mrs. SmithAs you will know, I spend a lot of time meeting prospective parents and helping you to navigate the admissions process. I was involved in each one of your pre-joining experiences, since I have been with the school over 11 years now.
This aspect of my work is one that I particularly enjoy. I remember well being a parent of very young children, and my husband and I making our own decisions about childcare and schooling for them. I remember, too, how tough it can be to parent a baby or toddler and how many variables there are in parents’ lives during that period. There are questions over maternity and paternity leave, finances, whether to move house for more space, whether a second or third child is a consideration and so much more. It can also be an emotional and exhausting time, as you navigate the early months and years of life as a parent, possibly feeling that you are losing your sense of self along the way.
Here at St. Helen’s College, we believe that a positive, mutually supportive partnership between school and home is crucial to ensure a happy experience for your child. Starting a family is a miraculous time, but we know that parents of pre-school children have busy, demanding lives and we want to help.
Another aspect of my role is overseeing the school’s marketing activity. I have been mulling over, for some time, how to dovetail the need for pre-school parenting support with one of our marketing aims, which is to reach parents of young children right from birth (since in the past some parents were leaving it too late to apply to St. Helen’s College, and then missing out on the chance of a place here). So, early this year, I came up with a proposal for a ‘Pre-School Parenting’ initiative. The initiative has two strands: one is to provide in-person baby/toddler classes here at St. Helen’s College for parents of pre-schoolers in the local community. The other is to make short videos with advice on various topics from our expert staff for parents of pre-schoolers. We decided to call these ‘Teddy Talks’, to include our school teddy, which is given out to prospective parents in goody bags when they visit.
Next, I undertook some market research, sending a survey out to all of our current Ducklings, Nursery and Reception parents. I asked what they would have liked more support with when their children were 0-2 years old, and in what format they would most have appreciated that support. I am very grateful to all those of you who responded: the results were fascinating. It is clear that there is a significant need for more support for new parents on many topics: sleep, feeding, how to retain your own identity, how to manage behaviour and set boundaries, how to encourage reading and develop speech, how to bond effectively and calmly with your baby and how to manage the arrival of a sibling. The survey results made me even more determined to put something in place to support new parents.
I am delighted to say that we have recently filmed our first six ‘Teddy Talks’, which I can now share with you. Each person who wrote and delivered a talk did so from the heart, working independently, and I am so proud of my colleagues for their bravery and willingness to be a part of this project on top of their extremely busy day to day lives. I hope that you will agree that these Teddy Talks are useful, and represent our ethos and values at St. Helen’s College effectively. Please do share them with family and friends, and encourage them to share them with any new parents they know, no matter how far afield! You might pick up some useful tips from them to use in your parenting, too.
Please follow the links below to watch our first six talks.
Choosing The Right Setting For Your Child - Su Smith, Director of Admissions
Growing A Love Of Reading With Your Baby/Toddler - Shirley Drummond, Head
Early Speech, Language And Communication - Lucy Hunt, Head of Lower School
Positive Behaviour Management - Aidan McLaughlin, Deputy Head
The Value of Nursery Rhymes - Jill Crehan, Principal
Baby Mindfulness - Poonam McLaughlin, Year 3 & Baby Mindfulness Teacher
We are looking forward very much to adding more videos to the Teddy Talk bank in future – we hope that this will, in time, become a comprehensive resource for parents in the local and wider community. So if you have ideas for relevant topics, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know.
I am now also working on the proposed programme of baby/toddler classes to be held at St. Helen’s College, when Covid restrictions allow. Mrs. McLaughlin is currently undertaking Pause Baby Mindfulness training, and will be offering Mother/Baby Mindfulness classes on site soon. We will let you know when these are going to begin, and will also let you know as other classes are added in due course.
Thank you for supporting us by viewing and sharing the Teddy Talks and please do contact me with feedback or ideas on this theme. Parents and your needs are really, really important to us and we are here to support you in every way we can, from birth all the way through.
Posted on: 7/05/2021
Weekly News - Friday 7th May 2021Parents' Evenings (Years 1-6)
Thank you to all of the parents who attended online parent consultations on Tuesday for children in Years 1-6. We hope that you found these useful. The second parents' evening for these year groups will take place this coming Tuesday, 11th May. We look forward to seeing many more of you online then.
Upcoming Author Visit - Baroness Floella Benjamin
On Tuesday 11th May at 10 a.m. pupils in Years 1-6 will have the privilege of joining a live online event with Baroness Floella Benjamin, a truly inspirational speaker. The Baroness is celebrating the publication of both her picture book Coming to England: An Inspiring True Story About the Windrush Generation, and the 25th anniversary edition of her ever-popular memoir Coming to England: two books that give a powerful reminder of how courage and determination can overcome adversity.
Parents and children have the opportunity to pre-order copies of these books if you would like to do so.
THE PICTURE BOOK for younger readers (rrp £6.99) - Suitable for Years 1 & 2
A story about the triumph of hope, love, and determination, Coming to England is the inspiring true story of Baroness Floella Benjamin: from Trinidad, to London as part of the Windrush generation, to the House of Lords. When she was ten years old, Floella Benjamin, along with her older sister and two younger brothers, set sail from Trinidad to London, to be reunited with the rest of their family. Alone on a huge ship for two weeks, then tumbled into a cold and unfriendly London, coming to England wasn’t at all what Floella had expected.
Coming to England is both deeply personal and universally relevant – Floella’s experiences of moving home and making friends will resonate with young children, who will be inspired by her trademark optimism and joy.
THE MEMOIR (25th anniversary edition) (rrp £6.99) - suitable for Years 3-6
With a foreword by the author and some additional historical information, this is the incredible story of Floella’s journey from Trinidad to London, as part of the Windrush generation, to the House of Lords.
Floella Benjamin was just a young girl when she, her sister and two brothers arrived in England in 1960 to join their parents, whom they had not seen for fifteen months. They had left the island paradise of Trinidad to make a new home in London – part of a whole generation of West Indians who were encouraged to move to Britain and help rebuild the country after the Second World War. Reunited with her mother, Floella was too overwhelmed at first to care about the cold weather and the noise and dirt from the traffic.
But, as her new life began, she was shocked and distressed by the rejection she experienced. She soon realized that the only way to survive was to work twice as hard and be twice as good as anyone else.
If you would like to buy copies of Baroness Floella’s books, please click on the link below to order
Important: as you go through the checkout, you will be given the option to have your book(s) delivered directly to the school, with no delivery charge. If you choose this option, please state your child's name and class in the 'Details Required For School Events' box, as this will ensure correct allocation of the book(s) to your child in school.
This link will be open until midnight on Thursday 13th May.
Pullen's, our uniform suppliers, will soon be doing some updated photographs for their website of children modelling school uniforms. They are looking for 4 or 5 St. Helen's College children aged 4-9 to model our school uniform. The shoot will take place on 2nd June in Elstree (during half term) and the children will be needed for around 4 hours on that day. If you would like your child to be involved, please email email@example.com, clearly stating your child's full name and age, and then await further instructions/confirmation.
May Half Term Holiday Club
Bookings will open next week for Holiday Club for May half term. We will send an email to parents when bookings open. Please login to your SchoolsBuddy account if you would like to book a place for your child. Places will be limited to 15 children per bubble and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Parents are asked to send packed lunches for Holiday Club during half term as there will be no catering available on site.
As we are now gradually able to resume some of our events following such a disrupted period, we would like to remind parents to check the School Calendar regularly and add dates to your own diaries. In particular, coming up soon, we have Sports Days, residential days, Meet the Teacher evenings, Prizegiving and of course our Year 6 performances. Please do make a note of the dates!
Chiswick Lacrosse - Summer Camps
Chiswick Lacrosse will be running two weeks of summer camps this year, during the weeks of 16th and 23rd Aug. These are suitable for girls over the age of 9.
The club has run lacrosse camps for over 30 years and are confident that it gives girls the very best introduction to a sport they may be playing at their senior school when they transfer. Approximately half of the girls who attend the camp are new to the sport. The camps also enable girls to meet up with their prospective peer group as we can group the girls according to their new school.
If you are interested in booking a place for your daughter on one of these camps, you can find further information here. Do let us know if you plan to attend!
Posted on: 7/05/2021
Mindfulness v. MindlessnessOver the past few weeks I have been so proud of all of your children as I have observed them navigate their learning inside and outside of the classroom.
Schools are busy places for our pupils and we expect your children’s brains to ‘ache’ each day as they are challenged in lessons by the curriculum and the questions being posed to them, and asked to demonstrate their understanding of what they have learnt. It is therefore so important that we help children in coping with such a busy school day and busy lives in general.
As many of you know, we are a school which promotes mindfulness and we give your children time to be in the present moment, noticing, feeling, sensing and bringing attention to their breathing. We allow the children to be in mindful silence in assemblies, and there is a magical moment when, as adults and children, we feel that connectedness through our ‘strong’ silence as we bring attention to our breath and the present moment.
Children in Years 4, 5 and 6 are currently being taught more structured mindfulness courses too. Year 4, as part of their Paws b course, are being taught about the main parts of the brain. This week in 4T they learnt about the role of the insula and how it works with the prefrontal cortex in assisting us to recognise emotions. I do tell the children that without mindfulness in my life I would find my job more challenging and I am always so pleased to hear that many parents also engage with mindfulness either in their workplaces or as part of your family routine. It is so important that we recognise how we may be feeling and give ourselves the opportunity to acknowledge emotions, talk about them if appropriate, and develop techniques to deal with these emotions.
In the last week I have had two very sad bereavements within my own family and, with the Covid regulations in Scotland, my sister and I have not been able to travel or attend the funerals of these close family members (for now, only 20 people may attend funerals in Scotland). I have managed to support my elderly mother from afar with her emotions and also allowed myself to be in the present moment to acknowledge and deal with my own feelings.
Your children are in a fortunate position, in that by the time they leave St. Helen’s College they will have a toolkit of mindfulness practices which will support them for years to come. It is a testament to our staff that so many of them are now either qualified mindfulness teachers or are currently undergoing training. Mrs. McLaughlin is currently training to be a baby mindfulness teacher for 0-2 year olds. Mrs. Hunt embarks upon a new course, dots, in June, which has been especially written with 3-6 year olds in mind. Mr. Roche is leading the Year 5 children in the .breath programme and Year 4 and Year 6 are working with me on the Paws b and .b courses.
Our staff are interested in what the children are learning and this week I overheard a lovely conversation in the playground when one of our pupils explained to one of the lunchtime supervisors how she is training her mind to train her brain and then explained what different parts of the brain do! Mind blowing from an 8 year old!
We all can make wrong choices or decisions and the children begin to realise that some of their choices may be ‘mindless’ choices - done on autopilot without much thought - like running down the path to get the front of the lunch queue! They also learn that there may be consequences for mindless decisions - like having to go to the end of the queue! (The prefrontal cortex made the wrong decision!) But our pupils learn to respond mindfully and not react mindlessly. It truly is a joy when the children are able to take more responsibility for their actions, with an understanding that they are in control of their actions and decisions. For those children who do find themselves feeling strong emotions of anger or maybe sadness, then the simple mindfulness practices we teach them can alleviate some of their tensions and increase their happiness levels. We talk about ‘growing happiness’ and we all have that ability!
I will be attending the annual Mindfulness in Schools Conference on Saturday 19th June with other staff members including Mrs. Crehan. Over the past five years, I have come away from the annual conference feeling nourished and so proud of the role we are playing in educating your children to enable them to live full, meaningful lives with the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to flourish in today’s busy world.
You can find out more about why we teach mindfulness here.
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