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Posted on: 15/02/2019

Head's Blog - Working At St. Helen's College

  Working in the independent sector is a privilege for many teachers and support staff. Here at St. Helen’s College we have an incredibly supportive parent body, pupils who are eager to learn and it is the journey which home and school take together which ensures that we get the best from each child. This may not always be the picture some schools are facing. For those of you who have been keeping an eye on the education news, it can often be quite a depressing read; teacher recruitment and retention sits high on the agenda. Damian Hinds, education secretary, said: “I think teachers work too many hours – aggravated by unnecessary tasks like excessive marking and data entry, spending more than half their time on non-teaching tasks.” I make it my job to keep in touch with what is going on in the maintained sector and regularly meet up and interact with colleagues from both the independent and maintained sector.  On a Sunday evening I regularly contribute to an online discussions platform, ‘SLTChat’, which is both enlightening and refreshing as I am able to reflect on the good practice happening at our school.   At St. Helen’s College we have an incredibly dedicated staff who all work for the common interest in giving your children the most interesting experiences in our  curriculum. We use smart assessment methods which are effective and involve the pupils in the process and our data is used effectively to plan the next steps for the children’s learning.   Parents from Year 1 upwards will have received the children’s Learning Logs this week as part of our reporting process. These Learning Logs were noted in our last school inspection as an exceptional aspect of our teaching and learning process and the inspectors were showing so much interest in these that I have become very protective of these unique logs as they are totally bespoke for our school, being the brainchild of Mr. Lewis. The subject leaders have ownership of their subject logs and work closely with the class teachers to ensure that each statement is appropriate for the children but that pupils will all be stretched and challenged, often aspiring to targets in the year above or adapting to targets which still need to be consolidated from the previous year.  The pupils take ownership of their learning and visit these logs often to reflect on their progress and set their targets. For our younger pupils from Ducklings to Reception their learning is tracked and monitored via our online platform ‘Tapestry’ which I know that all the parents also have access to. This assists us in building up the profile of the children’s progress and development as they work within the Early Years Framework. Our staff have the freedom to be creative with our curriculum and have the time to research and plan for inspirational lessons to engage your children.   We have not felt the backlash of teacher recruitment which many schools face and it is with confidence and pride that we have a very low turnover of staff here at St. Helen’s College.  When teachers do decide to move on to pastures new or retire (sadly we will bid Mrs. Stark farewell in due course), we are inundated with applications from ambitious and inspiring teachers and other staff  who would like to join our team to make their contributions to your children’s learning. To say that that I am proud of our school is an understatement.  As we approach the mid-year point in our school calendar, I can hardly believe that we have already completed a term and a half of the 2018 - 2019 academic year.  Enjoy the half term break with your children. Continue to enrich their learning - talk to them about the world around them, play games and puzzles, read books together, visit interesting places! Happy Half Term! Mrs. Drummond
Posted on: 15/02/2019

Weekly News - Friday 15th February 2019

Half Term Activities Although no formal homework is set during the half term break, the teachers are offering some optional activities for pupils to keep them occupied. Please read on to find out more about these optional opportunities.   World Book Day - 7th March This year for World Book Day our theme will be 'Stories from Around the World.' We have a range of fantastic activities planned for the children throughout the week including a visiting book bus, author talks and book quizzes. We will not be dressing up for Book Day this year; however, we will be creating a photograph compilation display of the children in traditional dress from around the world. Form teachers will issue guidelines for the challenge following the half term break. "There are many little ways to enlarge your world.  Love of books is the best of all.” – Jacqueline Kennedy Mindful Sit Congratulations to the whole school for taking part in the Mindful Sit this week, sitting in complete silence for five minutes to experience the sound of silence. Many thanks to the Year 5 Mindfulness Ambassadors, who led the assemblies in Lower School and Upper School to explain what Mindfulness is and to demonstrate some practices. True ambassadors for how to be mindful! Assemblies This Week Money Money Money! 6W took on the challenge of financially educating the children in Upper School with their assembly all about money this week. They presented ideas about how to earn pocket money and how to make financially responsible decisions about how to use your money. The 6W pupils explained you can EARN, SAVE, SPEND or DONATE your money. There was even a working cash machine in the assembly issuing money! Developing our pupils' financial literacy and ability to manage money is one of our PSHCE themes and such an important life skill, so the 6W pupils have challenged the pupils in Upper School to take on an optional half term pocket money challenge. They have encouraged the children to find some helpful jobs they can do around the house to earn a little bit of pocket money and everyone has been given a half term 'Money Flow Diary' to complete to show how they EARN, SAVE, SPEND and DONATE their money during the week. After half term they will share their diaries and what they did with their class in PSHCE lessons.  The themes of 6W's money assembly and ideas about teaching your child about financial responsibility can be found on the Cha-Ching Family Zone here. The resources are excellent and may be of interest to families for developing the child's life skills with money.  Valentine's Day There was so much love in Lower School this week as Kingfishers Reception class performed their wonderful assembly celebrating the history and traditions of Valentine's Day.  We even had a marriage celebrated on the day with our bride and groom!  A delightful performance by all the children and so poignant as the children shared their Valentine's messages to their families.                 Nursery Counting Cushions The Nursery children absolutely loved counting on their new cushions this week, which have been kindly made by Brenda Hunt. The children used the Numicon pieces to count and then matched them to the cushions. Thank you very much Brenda!           Owls Visit the Art Studio The children of Owls Reception class visited the Upper School Art Studio and Miss Dear this week to create space-themed t-shirts for their upcoming assembly. The children were very excited to come over to the Upper School and see the Art Studio and they created some lovely t-shirt designs!         Year 2 Trip to Heath Robinson Museum Our Year 2 pupils enjoyed a super trip to the Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner this week, where they looked at the different illustrations Heath Robinson had made and found clues in his pictures, like a swinging cat in a box. The pupils made felt with different coloured materials, using water and soap. It was great fun to have soapy hands!       JRSO Conference Our Junior Road Safety Officers were invited to attend an event at Brunel University run by the London Borough of Hillingdon’s Road Safety & School Travel Team this week. Our team, consisting of six pupils from Year 5 (Catherine L, Laura B, Jasmine B, Dhiya K, Esha T & Anaiya B) were invited to participate in a number of fun educational activities including a theatre performance, workshops and the Dragons Den (during which they had to present an idea and pitch for funding). Over the past few weeks the team have been discussing ideas to improve road safety or school travel and they came up with the idea of a loyalty scheme to encourage safe, active walking to school.  They investigated their ideas, looking at how it would be achieved and what the rewards for participating would be.  They then had to research the costs involved and produce a proposal in the form of a presentation. On the day the girls were excited but a little nervous and were part of the first group to be called in to face the “Dragons”. They came across confidently and gave a polished presentation. The Dragon’s commented on their well thought out ideas and clear costings.   Councillor Burrows remarked that he has never had a school ask for funding for a loyalty scheme, and he was impressed at the innovative idea to encourage everyone to make a commitment to our scheme. At the end of the day we all sat nervously waiting to find out if our pitch to the Dragons had been successful and I am delighted to say that not only did they endorse our idea but actually gave us more money they we had asked for, which is fantastic. This will enable to JRSOs not only to implement their idea but promote their scheme throughout the school with posters and banners. They very much deserved the funding that they received and we look forward to seeing their Active Walking Loyalty Scheme in action.  Well done girls.         Sports Results The Year 5/6 Netball B team played two matches this week, successfully winning both with improving performances. In their first match on Wednesday against Ryefield School they won 5 - 1. They then played St. Mary's School B team on Thursday, winning 3 - 0. The Year 5/6 Netball A team played St. Mary's School A team too on Thursday, dominating their match to win 12 - 0.  Our school football team resumed matches after the winter break with a 2-0 win against St. Andrew's, with Harry and Alex scoring the goals. This was followed up this week with a convincing 4-0 win over Laurel Lane School, with Alex scoring 2, Harry netting one and Jack H getting his first goal for the school. The team has started very well and hopefully we can keep this going for the remaining three matches. We welcome two new additions, Thomas W and Jack H, to the team. BBC 500 Words Competition The annual BBC 500 Words Short Story Competition is now open and entries are being accepted until 8th March for ages 5 - 13. This is a fun writing activity for the children with some fantastic prizes to be won, so we hope that you will encourage your child to enter. Half term is a super time for the children to plan and write a short story. An adult must submit a child's entry online so please feel free to submit your child's entry at home; alternatively, you may email the entry to your child's class teacher and we can submit it for you. Here is a link to the main competition information:  https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00rfvk1 Here is the link to the resource pack, including planning tips and activities:  http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/radio2/500words/500_words_2019_resource_pack.pdf Good luck to all entrants! Waste Week: 25th-29th March As part of waste week there will be a host of assemblies taking place by Mrs. Mann, Mrs. McLaughlin, Miss Dear and the Eco Reps. The theme this year is 'Say no to single use plastic', so we would like to set an optional half term challenge of taking photos of 'alternatives used instead of plastic'. These photos will then be displayed on our Eco Board for all to see. Please bring the photos into school and give to your class teacher no later than Friday 1st March. During the week, the Eco Reps will keep a record of single use plastic they see from their class and the results will be shared in assembly, the aim being that all classes have 0% single use plastic. Children will be focussing on the theme in more detail in their lessons during that week to discuss, learn and debate this very important issue.  We look forward to seeing all your photos after the half term. 
Posted on: 8/02/2019

Weekly News - Friday 8th February 2019

Quiz Club Success On Tuesday, eight members of our General Knowledge Quiz Club took part in the annual general knowledge quiz area heat at Davenies School in Beaconsfield. Two teams of four children went head to head against nine other teams to answer forty general knowledge questions. Subjects included geography, history, classical music, films and literature. It was a close contest and our teams showed great knowledge and determination. We are very proud to say that our teams finished in 2nd and 3rd place. Well done to Arushi (6M), Anisa (6M), Catherine (5A), Daniel (5G), Ben (4T), Vidhit (4T), Aryan (3B) and Anjika (3B).              Sign2Sing All across the school this week our children have raised awareness of a very small charitable trust, Sign2Sing, by taking part in their annual event 'Sign2Sing'. In their music lessons the children have been learning British sign language to a popular Take That song.  Mrs. Smith, one of our Year 3 Teaching and Learning Assistants,  has also been running a sign language club at lunchtime.  Each assembly gave me tingles and we were delighted that Tony the representative from the charity was able to join us yesterday to enjoy our performances.   It is so important that we raise our children's awareness of this disability but that they realise that deaf people are able to communicate and lead a very enriched and fulfilling life as they do.  For those of you who have not seen the Oscar nominated short film about Maisie the 6 year old girl I would highly recommend it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkIbPTV1NIE A special thank you is due to Georgia in Year 6, who has been inspired by this charity and arranged a 'Guess the number of sweets in the jar' event at Upper School, which raised £100 yesterday.  We will announce the full amount raised next week and thank you all for your kind donations. You can see videos of the assemblies here: Lower School - https://youtu.be/SwFWlEaXy40 Upper School - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gj0R5EKWJeY&feature=youtu.be Year 5 Sell Their Cereals Pupils in Year 5 have been busy taking part in their own 'The Apprentice' challenge. The brief was to come up with a new cereal for children and our pupils worked in their English, art and computing lessons to put together a pitch for their own brand new cereal. In art lessons they made and designed cereal boxes, in English they wrote a presentation pitch which would persuade supermarkets to buy their product and finally, in computing, they put together an eye catching and informative stop motion animation for their pitch. The children worked enthusiastically to develop their ideas and the delivery of the pitches by all of the children was to a high standard and very professional. Watch out Alan Sugar - the next generation are on their way!         Chinese New Year We had a great time at school this week celebrating Chinese New Year. The children loved the special menu created by Soula and her team for lunchtime. The children in Year 2 particularly enjoyed seeing Joleen demonstrate how to use chopsticks properly!                     Assemblies This Week On Thursday, the children of Robins Nursery performed superbly as they shared with us the traditions and history of the Chinese New Year. A most colourful and confident performance from every child - congratulations!                                2H told us all about The Great Fire of London in their assembly today. Their re-enactment of the Great Fire of London was really entertaining, with wonderful singing, dancing and drama.  We are so fortunate to live so close to London and I am sure that many of the pupils will enjoy visiting so many of the landmarks they have been learning about.  The visiting 2H parents had an extra treat today as the Middle School children also performed their Sign2Sing song to their audience - a very poignant moment.                   5A performed a wonderful, thought provoking assembly this week on dreams and aspirations. The children recited a fun poem by Gareth Lancaster and re-enacted the traditional story of ‘The Three Trees’.  Parents and pupils alike joined in to sing 'A Million Dreams’, led by a confident and proud 5A, all dreaming big to be the very best that they can be in their futures.                          Sports News Handball Competition Last Saturday some of our Year 6 pupils took part in the district handball competition held at Oakwood School. The event, supported by Ruislip Eagles Handball Club, who provided referees, saw ten teams of boys and girls play this exciting and fast paced game.  St. Helen's College had two teams taking part and both teams played very well during the group stages, winning many matches. Our A team progressed to the semi finals to play Oak Farm in a thrilling match which was won by just one goal by Oak Farm. Player of the day was Thomas W who was outstanding in goal! Well done to everyone who took part and congratulations to the A team who were presented with bronze medals.  If your child is interested in handball, they might like to join the Eagles handball club for training. More details can be found here. Information about Thames Valley Cavaliers basketball club's Saturday programme and half term holiday camp can be found here. Netball Results Netball teams from Langley Hall came to St. Helen's on Wednesday to play netball against our Year 6 girls. Our A team won 9 - 0 and the B team lost 10 - 0.  In the local schools' netball league our team played Hermitage school last night. After a shaky start, the girls rallied in the second half and the final score was 10-4 to Hermitage. Mindful Sit Pupils from Ducklings to Year 6 will take part in a mindful ' Sit Together' on Monday, where they will embrace the moment and sit mindfully to enjoy a strong silence. This activity is being carried out by thousands of children across the UK to raise awareness for National Children's Mental Health Week. More details can be read here: https://mindfulnessinschools.org/sit-together-for-childrens-mental-health-week/ Month End Music Recital - Next Friday (15th February) We would like to remind parents that our February Month End music recital is happening rather early, next Friday, because of half term! Please do come along to this lovely informal occasion to hear the pupils perform, playing their musical instruments or singing. You will be most welcome, whether your child is performing or not. We look forward to seeing many of you there. PA Class Representatives - Forum Meeting Tuesday 12th February Please let your PA class rep know if there is any point relevant to the whole school community which you would like us to discuss at the forthcoming forum meeting on 12th February. Any points which relate specifically to your class or year group should, as always, be addressed to the class teacher. We are particularly interested to hear any feedback or ideas from the parent community about car sharing and how this may be embedded further throughout the school.
Posted on: 8/02/2019

Head's Blog - Antarctica by Mrs. McLaughlin

This week we have a guest blog from Mrs. McLaughlin, who has been inspiring the children at Upper School with assemblies about her journeys in Antarctica. On Monday I had the opportunity to lead the Middle School and Upper School assemblies. When I am given such opportunities I like to share my life experiences with the children: having written a book, explored Antarctica with Sir Robert Swan, trekked the Amazon Rainforest and the Himalayan range, hiked Mt Fuji in Japan and volunteered in Palestine, there is something there that intrigues everyone.   On Monday, I chose to inspire the children (and staff) with my Antarctica story. It seemed apt with the children having had a snow day on the Friday and temperatures in other parts of the world sinking to lows never experienced before. I showed the children videos and pictures of my trip and talked about what it was like to visit one of the coldest, loneliest and driest places on Earth. The children were in awe! I started by telling the children that I had watched a video that Sir Robert Swan had shown the children at the school I was working in at the time, and it was this video, showing the beauty and wonder of Antarctica, that made me determined to visit. I shared this video with the children and they seemed to be just as inspired as I was.   As I continued to show the children videos and pictures, I could see their eyes widen with excitement. The story of my friend Jemima the penguin and the leopard seal was one of the stories that intrigued them most. After telling my story of perseverance, co-operation, respect and fairness - just some of the values we teach here at school - I went on to explain the real reason I visited Antarctica. It was to make a difference, however small. It was to make small changes in my lifestyle and to inspire others to do the same, so that the world could be a much nicer place to live in. I shared some eye-opening facts about climate change with the children and asked them what they felt was the number one threat to our planet. I got so many fantastic answers: pollution, noise, humans, artificial intelligence and more. The children were surprised but quickly realised the truth when I told them Sir Robert Swan’s most famous quote: ‘The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.’ This alone inspired me to do more and I know that it got the children thinking too. Since the assembly, the children have asked me a whole host of questions and have carried out research about Antarctica independently of their own accord. As a school, we continue to work closely with our Eco Reps to make a big impact in small ways. This includes taking part in 'Waste Week' and 'Switch Off Fortnight', ensuring that electricity is used efficiently, growing our own vegetables and monitoring food waste. Last year we achieved the Eco Schools Silver award and we are now striving for the prestigious ‘Green Flag’ award. If there is a final message I can leave you with, it is this: ‘The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.’ - Sir Robert Swan OBE Mrs. McLaughlin
Posted on: 1/02/2019

Weekly News - Friday 1st February 2019

Year 5 Armada Battles In their history lessons this week, 5A and 5G had great fun re-enacting the events of the Spanish Armada. Throughout their afternoon lessons, the children heard the story of the Armada whilst having their own 'mini battles'. On tables of four, children were split into two pairs, with one pair representing the English and the other pair the Spanish. Everyone had a picture of their monarch, a picture of the type of ship they would be in and a map of the English Channel showing the points of the various battles, as well as four sets of scenarios from different times during the event. The pupils were made commanders of their fleet, with the number of ships the Spanish and English actually had. As events 'unfolded', the children worked in pairs to make decisions about how to proceed, given three possible options for each decision. Each class then discussed all the choices they had made, and Mrs. Hopkins revealed what actually happened and what would have happened if the children had been the decision makers back in the sixteenth century! The pupils very much enjoyed examining their results cards to see whether they would have lost ships and ultimately been victorious!  Many thanks to Burn, our History Prefect, and Anisa for assisting Mrs. Hopkins with these exciting lessons! Year 5 gave some excellent feedback after the sessions, which were clearly extremely interesting and memorable for them. Times Tables Rock Stars We would like to remind all parents from Year 1 upwards that all of your children have a school subscription to the superb 'Times Tables Rock Stars' site, which is also available as an app to download. This online programme assists the children in learning their multiplication tables in a fun and interactive manner...so do remind them to use it regularly! The children are able to access Times Tables Rock Stars via the Learning Portal, as well as other online resources including Mathletics, Language Nut, Abacus and Curriculum Visions. DeLancey UK Chess Challenge The first online Delancey UK Chess Challenge begins this Friday 1st February, and the children from our Upper School chess clubs will be encouraged to take part. Please see the following link for details on how to register and take part.  https://www.delanceyukschoolschesschallenge.com/chesskid/  Alternatively, watch the following brief videos https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpl7XQdwRMM&feature=youtu.be https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKAhDhFzhzQ&feature=youtu.be  St. Helen's College to become ABRSM Exam Centre We are delighted to announce that we will be becoming an examination centre for some of our music pupils. This will mean a large number of our pupils will be able to sit their examinations in a familiar environment on a Saturday instead of missing lessons during the week and travelling to other examination centres. Peripatetic music teachers who will use our centre will be in contact directly with parents.  Hillingdon Music Hub This week in assembly, Miss Collier gave a talk to Upper School children about the Hillingdon Hub. The Hub provides opportunities for young musicians from different schools to get together to play in a band or orchestra, on a Thursday evening and/or Saturday morning. Some current St. Helen's College pupils already attend, as do some ex-pupils. If your son or daughter has Grade 1, or plays at that level or above, they are able to join, and you don't have to live in the borough to attend. We would urge you to allow your children this extra musical opportunity! If any parent or pupil would like any further information, Mrs. Allery or Miss Collier would be pleased to provide this. You can also find more information by following the link below. ​https://www.hillingdon.gov.uk/music Wrens Assembly The children of Wrens Nursery put on a roaringly good dinosaur-themed assembly this week, displaying quite astonishing knowledge and performance skills for children aged 3 and 4!. They knew lots of interesting facts about dinosaurs and educated their audience about herbivores, carnivores and what caused dinosaurs to become extinct, even re-enacting a meteorite hitting the earth! They also sang three very catchy songs and wore fantastic costumes. Each and every child spoke individually, remembering their words and projecting their voices beautifully. Well done, Wrens! Borough Basketball Our basketball team took part in the borough basketball competition this week held at Uxbridge College. The team played four matches in their group and after narrow defeats in the first two matches they bounced back to win the final two matches against Ryefield and St. Swithun Wells schools. Well done to the team.  Chinese New Year - Special Menu On Tuesday, we will be celebrating Chinese New Year with a special themed menu. You can see the special menu here. Year 5 Transfer Meetings Thank you to all the Year 5 parents who have met with me over the last couple of weeks to discuss the choice of schools available for your children’s senior school transfer. With us all working together, we can prepare the children for this exciting next step.  Car Sharing If you currently drive your child to school, we would like to encourage you to consider sharing the journey with other parents who live near to you. Car sharing has many benefits, including: Relieving parents of the need to drive to school every day. Encouraging friendships among children, either within the same class/year group or across the years. Reducing traffic congestion on local roads. Easing the difficulties of finding parking spaces around school. Reducing pollution in the local area. Helping to educate children to be responsible citizens by reducing pollution and congestion. Encouraging relationships between parents across the same/different year groups to enhance the SHC community. Freeing up parents' time at the start/end of the day on some days of the week to enable more working hours/free time! If you are interested in car sharing, please let your PA Class Rep know, as we will be discussing this further with Class Reps at the next Parents' Forum meeting. We would be delighted to see more parents car sharing at morning drop-off and evening pick-up, and we will be actively promoting car sharing to the children in assemblies and via our Junior Road Safety Officers too. Thank you, in advance, for your efforts in arranging car sharing in order to improve the school run for everyone. St. Helen's College Parent Parking Pledge  We are asking you to consider making the Parent Parking Pledge in an effort to manage congestion and improve safety near our school at busy times. The idea is simple: in return for agreeing to follow some basic principles, your car can carry a sticker that tells the world you are doing your bit to make a difference. Parents at schools across Hillingdon are agreeing to: • Help my child/children travel actively at least once a week • Drive with consideration for others • Park away from the school gates • Never block a driveway • Turn off my engine when parked In addition we have three pledges that apply here and trust that you will agree to: • Follow the St Helen's College parking regulations • Use the 'Drop & Go' and 'Pick Up & Go' zones safely and efficiently • Respect and adhere to the parking restrictions in operation around all our school sites If you are happy to make the Pledge, it would be great if you could follow the link and complete the form. Once submitted, you will get your car sticker that will show others your commitment to pupil health and safety. Thank you!  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScEIokFqGjH68LP5qCH9miaJIxA4i6cTB4J67WMDB009-j5PA/viewform?usp=sf_link
Posted on: 25/01/2019

Weekly News - Friday 25th January 2019

Class Assemblies This Week 1HC Assembly - Roald Dahl Pupils in 1HC brought the world of Roald Dahl to life with their wonderful assembly this week, recounting their recent visit to the Roald Dahl Children's Gallery. Their passion for reading and for Roald Dahl's books in particular shone through in their confident and enthusiastic performances. They also communicated clearly that Roald Dahl's books teach us all about character and the virtues we all aspire to lead our lives by.   One of my favourite Roald Dahl quotes is this one: 'So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install a lovely bookcase on the wall.'' 5G Assembly - Food Glorious Food! 5G's assembly this week certainly was a varied recipe of stupendous performing and sharing of information to raise our awareness of the importance of a balanced diet. How fortunate we are at St. Helen's College to have Soula and our wonderful catering team keeping our children healthy to enable them to benefit from all that they do at school. The behind the scenes documentary enlightened us all as to the thought and the processes involved in food preparation each and every day for our children. Thank you to all of the staff and pupils involved. You can see the assembly powerpoint presentation here. You can see 5G's documentary here: https://youtu.be/8lB3rAZ5J6o Haggis, Neeps and Tatties Well done to all of the children who stepped out of their comfort zone to taste something different today to celebrate Robert Burns Day. Thank you to the Accent team for preparing Scottish specialities including the cranachan dessert.   Sit Together for Children’s Mental Health Week The Mindfulness in Schools Project community is coming together to mark Children’s Mental Health Week 2019 and to raise awareness of the need for young people to develop skills to support their own wellbeing, both inside and out. On Monday 11th February, pupils and staff in Lower and Upper School will be invited by Mrs. Drummond  to join with other teachers and students from primary and secondary schools all over the world who have introduced mindfulness into their schools in a shared mindful 'sit together'.    Parents may also wish to take the opportunity during this week to have some mindful moments at home with your children. All our pupils know how to take part in the finger breathing practice and I am sure they will share this with you.  Staff News It is with a heavy heart that we announce that, following 20 years of distinguished service at the school, Mrs. Stark has decided to embark upon her well-deserved retirement and will be leaving us later on this year, once we have appointed a new Deputy Head. Mrs. Stark has been an integral member of the staff at St. Helen's College for many, many years and her contribution to the school has been immense. Mrs. Stark joined St. Helen's College as a part time French teacher and introduced the school to other languages. She should be very proud to leave the Languages department enriched with Spanish, French and Latin. Mrs. Stark went on from being a part time teacher to a full time Year 5 class teacher for many years before becoming Deputy Head ten years ago. She will be very greatly missed by colleagues, pupils and parents and I am sure that you will join us in wishing her all the very best for a long, happy and healthy retirement. Mrs. Stark is looking forward to spending time with her family and her four delightful granddaughters but we know she will always remain part of the St. Helen's College community. Sign2Sing Fundraising This half term we will be supporting the charity Sign2Sing. Your child has been busy learning to sign the song 'Greatest Day': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNuVOO_-uHk Sign2Sing is an annual event, organised by the Deaf Health Charity SignHealth, which provides health and wellbeing services in sign language for deaf people. They are committed to breaking down the barriers that deaf people continue to face, with poorer communication support and poorer access to health services than hearing people. Sign2Sing is designed to promote sign language as a communication tool and make music more accessible to those who can’t hear it. It provides us with the opportunity to become deaf aware, while also raising essential funds for their projects which support the deaf community. The children will be performing the song together on Monday 4th (for Lower School children) and Thursday 7th (Middle and Upper School children). We would ask that your child pays a £2 suggested donation to take part in this event, but all donations are greatly appreciated by this small charity.   The Upper School Library book sale on Wednesday raised an impressive £65 for Sign2Sing. This total will be added to the school's fundraising efforts this half term. Thank you to all those parents and children who bought books - enjoy your reading! Coding Club We still have a few places available in our Coding Club and we will now be opening this club up to Year 4 children too. If you have a child in Year 4, 5 or 6 who would like to attend Coding Club after school on a Friday, please email Miss Lang at mlang@sthelenscollege.com as soon as possible. The remaining places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Month End Music Recital Well done to the children who performed in today's informal Month End Music Recital. As usual, there were some very impressive performances and it was lovely for the children to be able to begin their performing 'journey' in front of such an enthusiastic and supportive audience. Sports News England Roses Inspire St. Helen's College Pupils  Last Sunday, over 50 St. Helen's College parents, pupils and staff travelled up to the Copperbox Arena to watch some international netball. The event was part of the Quad Series of matches being played between England Roses, Australia Diamonds, New Zealand Silver Ferns and the South African Proteas this winter in preparation for the Netball World Cup taking place in Liverpool in July. The first match, between South Africa and New Zealand, could not have been closer! With the score tied at the end of full time and still tied at the end of extra time, the teams had to play on until one of them won by two goals. Finally it was New Zealand who won 62 - 60.  Next up was England versus Australia, their first match against each other since England beat them in the epic Commonwealth Games final in 2018. There was a fantastic atmosphere in the Copperbox as it seemed the whole crowd got behind the Roses. Our pupils and parents were on the edge of their seats watching the game as it swung in England's and then Australia's favour but it was England who found the resilience to come through in the final quarter to win the match 52-49. Our pupils were truly buzzing after the match and one was even overheard saying, 'I want to play for England when I'm older'. Let's hope the visit to watch the England Roses has inspired them to strive for excellence and realise their dreams one day.  Netball League Results St. Helen's College played Cowley St Laurence this week and won 9 - 3.  Gymnastics Many congratulations to our Y3/4 and Y5/6 gymnastics teams who took part in the Borough competition this week at Botwell Leisure Centre. Teams of four, two boys and two girls, from eleven schools across the Borough competed at the event. Each team member had to perform a floor routine, a body management routine and two vaults in front of judges at the event. Our team members had been practising their routines and vaults for the past few weeks and all their hard work really showed in the confident and polished performances they gave. Anaya K (Y4) achieved the highest score of all the Y3/4 competitors on the floor and second highest score on the vault, Mark R (Y4) achieved the highest score of all the Y3/4 competitors on the vault and second highest score on the floor and Ionie M (Y6) achieved the highest score of all the Y5/6 competitors on the vault and second highest on the floor. Overall in the team competitions our Y3/4 team came 6th and our Y5/6 team came 5th. The children thoroughly enjoyed the competition and are already planning how they will practise and improve for next year!  Travel To/Around School Car Sharing If you currently drive your child to school, we would like to encourage you to consider sharing the journey with other parents who live near to you. Car sharing has many benefits, including: Relieving parents of the need to drive to school every day. Encouraging friendships among children, either within the same class/year group or across the years. Reducing traffic congestion on local roads. Easing the difficulties of finding parking spaces around school. Reducing pollution in the local area. Helping to educate children to be responsible citizens by reducing pollution and congestion. Encouraging relationships between parents across the same/different year groups to enhance the SHC community. Freeing up parents' time at the start/end of the day on some days of the week to enable more working hours/free time! If you are interested in car sharing, please let your PA Class Rep know, as we will be discussing this further with Class Reps at the next Parents' Forum meeting. We would be delighted to see more parents car sharing at morning drop-off and evening pick-up, and we will be actively promoting car sharing to the children in assemblies and via our Junior Road Safety Officers too. Thank you, in advance, for your efforts in arranging car sharing in order to improve the school run for everyone. St. Helen's College Parent Parking Pledge  We are asking you to consider making the Parent Parking Pledge in an effort to manage congestion and improve safety near our school at busy times. The idea is simple: in return for agreeing to follow some basic principles, your car can carry a sticker that tells the world you are doing your bit to make a difference. Parents at schools across Hillingdon are agreeing to: • Help my child/children travel actively at least once a week • Drive with consideration for others • Park away from the school gates • Never block a driveway • Turn off my engine when parked In addition we have three pledges that apply here and trust that you will agree to: • Follow the St Helen's College parking regulations • Use the 'Drop & Go' and 'Pick Up & Go' zones safely and efficiently • Respect and adhere to the parking restrictions in operation around all our school sites If you are happy to make the Pledge, it would be great if you could follow the link and complete the form. Once submitted, you will get your car sticker that will show others your commitment to pupil health and safety. Thank you!  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScEIokFqGjH68LP5qCH9miaJIxA4i6cTB4J67WMDB009-j5PA/viewform?usp=sf_link Chess Challenge Uxbridge Chess Club will soon be hosting a UK Chess challenge tournament. Several St. Helen's College chess players already attend the club, but the tournament is open to any entrant, whether they are a member of the chess club or not. Any players scoring 3.5 from 7 games will qualify for the UK Chess Mega, then Giga finals. The tournament will take place in a hall near to Uxbridge town centre. If you have a child who would like to enter, we would encourage you to do so.​ Full details are available here. Uxbridge Chess Club is run by a St. Helen's College parent, Mr. Knight, and we would encourage any keen chess players, or those who would like to give chess a try, to go along and try the club!
Posted on: 25/01/2019

Head's Blog - Talking Together

This week I have worked with both pupils and parents on issues regarding the use of social media platforms.  We are all members of a digital society and for those of us who are slightly older we have had to embrace this new arena and re-educate and up-skill ourselves (my final dissertation at university was typed up by a paid typist - computers were not a part of our world!)   By contrast, children nowadays know no different - technology is their world and it is rapidly changing.   This blog is not about how we use technology but more about the interpersonal relationships about which we MUST not forget. This week I met with some parents who wanted to dispel some myths or rumours which had been circulating in a parents' group on their social media platform WhatsApp. Through our face to face meeting, I was able to give them some clarity and answers to their queries. I was somewhat concerned about how much worry adults and children alike can allow themselves to suffer through dependency on online interactions and second guessing truths. This week in my Year 6 mindfulness lesson we discussed how to deal with worries and addressed how our minds can ruminate, catastrophise or overthink things and how worries can snowball and end up causing unnecessary stress and anxiety. I urge us all as a community to be kinder to ourselves and to each other -  let us remember what being human is all about - it is those interpersonal relationships and ability to communicate with each other which makes us quite superior to other living creatures.  We are a unique community here at St. Helen's College and, as a staff body, we are passionate about what we offer and how we work together to keep inspiring a lifelong love of learning in your children. Do keep speaking with us - communicate regularly, because ultimately we all put the children at the centre of every decision we make together!  Tomorrow I have my next set of meetings with Year 5 parents as we discuss their next steps; this is one more example of school and family working together - talking together - to get the best for the children! Have a lovely weekend. Mrs. Drummond
Posted on: 18/01/2019

Weekly News - Friday 18th January 2019

It has been a week of sports festivals, with our Year 5 and 6 pupils taking part in a Hillingdon borough badminton festival and our Year 1 and 2 children taking part in a multi skills festival at St. Mary's School, Gerrards Cross.  Badminton Some children from our Badminton Club and from across Year 5 and 6 attended the inaugural badminton festival for Hillingdon schools this week, taking part in different skills activities related to badminton. This event promoted badminton to pupils and it was great to see some of the children from Badminton Club extend the skills they've been learning at school. Multiskills Festival Thirty two pupils from our pre-prep department got their first taste of representative sport for St. Helen's College this week when they took part in a fun multi-skills festival, hosted by St. Mary's School. The event was led by their Year 10 and 11 young sports leaders, many of whom were old girls from St. Helen's College. Jumping, running and throwing challenges were set up at skills stations by the leaders and our pupils rotated around the sports hall trying all the activities. There was a huge amount of energy on display as our pupils demonstrated some great skills. Our Year 1 and 2 pupils were super ambassadors for St. Helen's College, upholding the school values and showing they were model students who were ready, respectful and safe. Congratulations to everyone who took part.  Netball Team Off To A Flying Start The local netball league resumed this week after the winter break and our Year 5/6 team were off to a flying start in their first match back this week against Laurel Lane school, winning 15 - 0. Well done to the girls! 4KT Assembly - Perseverance 4KT gave a very polished assembly performance today, reminding us all of the importance of 'persevering' - superb drama performances, poetry recitals and singing - thank you 4KT for a most poignant assembly for pupils and adults alike. A great assembly as our first class assembly of the year. Please see the link below if you are interested to watch Austin's Butterfly, which I referred to this morning: https://vimeo.com/38247060 Book Sale - Wednesday 23rd January The Upper School Library will hold a book sale next Wednesday (23rd January), in the gazebo in Upper School playground. The sale will open at 8 a.m. and close before the bell rings at 8.30 a.m.  Pupil Librarians will be offering for sale a range of paperback books, suitable for all school years, which are no longer required in the library. Books will be priced at 50p or 25p and the money raised will contribute to our efforts this term for Sign2Sing. We thank you, in advance, for allowing your children to bring in some spare change to buy books! Casting Opportunity We have been approached by a casting director who is looking for a non British accent 10 year old girl for an exciting role in a major studio feature film in London this spring. It would not be an extensive time commitment - just a couple of weeks. Please see this document for further information. Parking Next Week We have been informed by the council that the three lay-bys along Long Lane between the shops and Lower School will be resurfaced next week. They will be closed between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. while the work is carried out. Please do be mindful of this and leave plenty of time for your journey and to find alternative parking if necessary.  
Posted on: 18/01/2019

Head's Blog - Looking Forward

Tomorrow I will have the pleasure of meeting many new families with their children who would like to become members of our wonderful St. Helen’s College family at our annual 3+ entry day.  I am also currently in the process of meeting with all of our current Year 5 parents to discuss future schools as our Upper School pupils begin to think about their future schools and the next step in their learning journey. It is always an emotional time for parents at both end of the scale. When the children are preparing to join us at 2+ or 3+, suddenly their babes in arms are wearing school uniforms, carrying a book bag and running into the playground to greet their new friends!  And at the other end, when the parents reflect on the many years they have spent under the watchful eye of the caring and compassionate staff at St. Helen’s College, emotions always run high. Many parents this week at the transfer evening related their memories of sitting with Mr. and Mrs. Crehan all those years ago as they entered into their journey with us. I can hardly believe it myself that the children we have been discussing were only beginning Year 3 when I arrived at the school as the new Head; they seemed so little, so young as they embraced the changes of moving from the end of Key Stage 1. Many of our current parents have older children now sitting GCSEs and beyond whose siblings are still with us - there is such a sense of family and strong bonds with the school. It certainly is unique and special to keep building those relationships with families and for the alumni parents and children to keep in touch with us, celebrating the children’s achievements and successes. Tomorrow I will be sharing with our new prospective parents the joys of being part of our community, what we stand for and the pride that we take in forming such strong bonds with families as we all work together to unlock their children’s talents and nurture each and every one of them to achieve their utmost best in all that they do. We are, as normal, incredibly over subscribed for entry to our Robins and Wrens Nursery classes, thus we already know that we will not be able to give a place to every child we meet on Saturday - for everyone that is so difficult - as everyone wants a piece of what we offer! Thank you to all parents and staff who are reading my blog this week - I am proud to lead this school and am full of admiration of each and every one of our pupils every day as they embrace new challenges and opportunities in their learning.  But without the staff and the full support of parents this would not be achievable. One day your children, when they are grown up, will reflect on their school days at St. Helen’s College - the best days of their lives! Mrs. Drummond

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