School News and Head's Blog

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Posted on: 14/06/2019

Head's Blog - Are Outdoor Lessons Just A Distraction?

    A recent article in the Times Educational Supplement, which I highly recommend that parents read,  reaffirms the belief which we have here at St. Helen’s College about the benefits of learning in the great outdoors. A couple of years ago, Miss Walker as part of her professional studies further engaged our staff with ‘outdoor learning’ across the curriculum and it has been so wonderful to hear the feedback both from children and staff of the benefits of taking their subjects outside.  On a daily basis we have pupils across the school using our outdoor spaces for learning and I am always delighted when the pupils are able to articulate what they have learnt with not a textbook or school desk in site!  Traditionally many schools felt that the best learning was conducted in a classroom environment with a very structured curriculum directed by the teacher.  Thankfully, due to all the valuable evidence research which has been carried out, educationalists are now so aware of the benefits, not only academic but social and emotional, which outdoor lessons provide. Our EYFS pupils in Ducklings through to Reception spend a great deal of time in the outdoors and the best practice can often be found amongst Early Years practitioners.  Last week I spent 3 days as a member of the Independent Schools Inspectorate inspecting the educational quality of a school. The inspection team had to gather evidence on the pupil outcomes in relation to academic achievement and progress as well as their personal development. Much of the evidence was sourced by the team in the great outdoors! Below I have extracted an example from the independent schools regulatory standards of some of the areas which schools must be seen to be fulfilling.  As you read the list below I hope that you will be able to visualise your son or daughter (from Ducklings to Year 6) actively learning in the outdoors - as this is where much of this wonderful rich learning is taking place! Pupils’ academic and other achievements Knowledge, skills and understanding (KSU); the development of their knowledge, understanding and skills across the areas of learning (linguistic, mathematical, scientific, technological, human and social, physical and aesthetic and creative education. Communication; the development of their competence in communication (speaking, listening, reading and writing) and its application to other areas of learning. Numeracy; the development of their competence in numeracy and the application of their knowledge and skills in mathematics to other areas of learning. Study skills; the development of their study skills, including the ability to draw upon a suitably wide range of sources and to develop higher-order skills, including the ability to analyse, hypothesise and synthesise. Attitudes; their attitudes towards learning, including their ability to demonstrate initiative and independence, their willingness to work collaboratively and the extent to which they take leadership in their learning. Pupils’ personal development Self-understanding; develop their self-knowledge, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-discipline and resilience, including an understanding of how to improve their own learning and performance, so that they are well prepared for the next stage of their lives. Decision-making; understand that the decisions they make are important determinants of their own success and well-being. Spiritual understanding; develop spiritual understanding and an appreciation of non-material aspects of life, whether religious, philosophical or other. Moral understanding and responsibility for own behaviour; distinguish right from wrong, understand and respect systems of rules and laws, and accept responsibility for their own behaviour, including towards others. Social development and collaboration; are socially aware and so are able to work effectively with others, including to solve problems and achieve common goals. Staying safe and keeping healthy; know how to stay safe and understand how to be physically and mentally healthy, particularly in terms of diet, exercise and a balanced lifestyle. Our day trips and residential trips, which are such an important part of our educational provision, allow your children to achieve so much academically and personally and it has been wonderful to receive such positive feedback form the parent body recently as our Year 3 to Year 6 pupils have all returned from this year’s trips. The recognition of the pupils' personal development is quite remarkable with comments such as: ‘he really seems to have grown up in such a short time!’ ‘She is so much more independent and took risks we never imagined she would take’ ‘I cannot believe my daughter was rolling about in mud and loved it so much!’ ‘He genuinely seems more organised and considerate since he came back’ ‘ He hasn’t stopped talking about the trip - every day we seem to hear something else!’ As a school when we receive such positive feedback from parents after the residential trips it is so rewarding and makes our jobs even more enjoyable, knowing the difference that we make to a child’s development. Education should be rich in experiences and prepare young people for the future. All the experiences that your children are having in the outdoors  are contributed to by the lessons the teachers are planning, the trips and activities they have the opportunity to take part in and of course the superb outdoor space we have at school. Experiences bring us happiness not just when we’re having the experience, but also when we simply think about them. I am sure that you have seen your child’s face light up when they talk about some of the things they have done outside of the normal classroom environment. Many of you are possibly starting to plan some of the things that you may be able to do with your children over the summer holidays.  So please do continue the ‘outdoor’ learning for the children, giving them the opportunity to explore the great outdoors - it is called the ‘great’ outdoors for a reason! “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.” — Mark Twain https://www.tes.com/news/outdoor-lessons-distraction-schools-learning Mrs. Drummond
Posted on: 14/06/2019

Weekly News - Friday 14th June 2019

Singers' Concert Our annual Singers' Concert on Tuesday evening yet again left the audience with a sense of pride and awe at the calibre of our pupils' musicality as they entertained us with a range of songs and choral numbers. Congratulations to all of the children who took part, whether they were Singing Competition winners or sang as part of one of the school choirs. Maths Challenge Six of our Year 3 pupils attended a maths challenge day at Edge Grove Prep School this week. They participated in a variety of problem solving challenges and earned shells for correct answers. They collaborated really well and worked with both speed and precision, finishing second overall. The team consisted of Zach F, Luka K, Anjika G, Shruthi T, Aryan B and Devan S.     4T Read to Reception On Wednesday, 4T visited Reception. As a class, they first performed the basic version of the tale 'The Blind Man and the Hunter', using actions, before sharing their superb versions of the story, which they had worked hard to write, reflect upon and improve. The Reception children behaved impeccably and were engaged throughout the session. Mindfulness Course for Parents Please see below the link for the next Mindfulness course for parents which is being offered by the Mindfulness in Schools Project. This online course begins in September and runs online for 8 weeks. https://mindfulnessinschools.org/course/begin-for-parents-and-carers-17th-sept-19/   Kingfishers Assembly Kingfishers class took us on a journey to the continent of Africa to retell the story of Handa's Surprise with their colourful costumes, animals, African instruments and tremendous singing in Swahili. Well done to all of the children! 4KT Assembly The children of 4KT used their class assembly to share their experiences on their recent residential trip to the beautiful Flatford Mill in the heart of Constable Country. JRSOs - Roadwatch Our JRSOs had a wonderful opportunity this week to work with the Hillingdon STARS Team and the Metropolitan Police piloting the Junior Roadwatch scheme. The girls worked alongside the Met Police on Long Lane and drivers who were pulled in for speeding were offered the opportunity to have a conversation with our JRSOs as an alternative to receiving a fine and penalty points. We are very fortunate to have been involved with the Junior Roadwatch pilot and hope that in the future this will be rolled out across the London Borough of Hillingdon to increase safety on our roads and to raise public awareness of the dangers of speeding. It has also been a great opportunity for our children to raise awareness to their own parents who drive the children to school each day!  May we take this opportunity to ask parents who drive along Parkway to be very aware of their speed as they approach school. Parent Parking Pledge Thank you to those of you who have now signed up to the Parent Parking Pledge - please can we ask that you display your badges with pride! Bikespiration 2019 The London Borough of Hillingdon are running a few 'Bikespiration' events soon to help to encourage local residents to use bicycles. Further information can be found here. Harefield Colts Cricket If you have a budding cricketer you might be interested in Colts Cricket at Harefield Cricket Club. The club offers professional, safe, fun coaching with ECB qualified coaches, a superb club house and cricket facilities for all ages from U9 to U17. Training for U9 to U15 age children is on Friday evenings from 6.00 - 7.30 p.m. If you would like further information, pop into the club or email harefieldcoltscricket@aol.com. Sports Days The PA provides a refreshments stall for parents to enjoy at the Sports Days and we really need your help please with donations of cakes, biscuits, snacks, soft drinks and bottled water. Please contact us at pa@sthelenscollege.com to let us know if you will be able to make a donation - any contribution would be very gratefully received.  You can drop your donations to the Upper or Lower School office.  Thank you. Music News We will have some vacancies for September for individual tuition in trumpet, clarinet and flute at Upper School. If you are interested in lessons for your son or daughter on one of these instruments, please email Mrs. Allery directly at rallery@sthelenscollege.com. Places are allocated on a first come, first served basis. All places for the other instruments have now been allocated.
Posted on: 7/06/2019

Weekly News - Friday 7th June 2019

PA Summer Fete The date for the PA Summer Fete is approaching quickly and PA class reps will be busy over the next couple of weeks arranging rotas for stalls and collecting in donations. We urge all parents to give your support to this special event - please sign up for a slot on your class stall or one of the general stalls and please do be generous with your donations so that this year's Fete may be the biggest and best yet! Most importantly, please do come along on Saturday 29th June and enjoy the day with your family and friends. All are welcome and there will be a wide variety of stalls, entertainment and food and drink to enjoy. World Environmental Day Wednesday this week was World Environmental Day, which this year had a focus on air pollution. Classes were spoken to about air pollution, its effects and how we can help to limit this particular type of environmental hazard. Eco Reps were also involved in making posters to highlight this important issue. If you would like to follow up on this with your children at home, you might find the following links useful. https://www.worldenvironmentday.global/   https://www.unenvironment.org/interactive/how-to-beat-pollution/  https://www.twinkl.co.uk/resource/t3-dd-68-air-pollution-is-it-really-a-big-deal-discuss-lesson-pack https://www.sparklebox.co.uk/previews/11876-11900/sb11889-pollution-solution-posters.html Singing Competition Today saw children in Middle and Upper School compete in our ever-popular annual Singing Competition. Very well done to all those who took part! It was clear that the pupils had been practising very hard and the standard was, as always, very high. Many congratulations to the winners, who will perform at our Singers' Concert at All Saints Church next Tuesday evening. All parents are warmly invited to attend the Singers' Concert. There was not enough time to complete the Upper School competition this afternoon so this will be completed, and the winners will be announced, early next week. Sports News Tennis Borough Champions! Many congratulations to our Y5 and 6 tennis players who took part in the Borough tennis tournament this week held at Tripletts Community Tennis Centre.  Our three teams displayed some great play during the course of the competition, resulting in both our A and B team reaching the final to play each other! The matches in the final were highly competitive but it was the A team that came through to take the title and retain the cup for St. Helen's College this year. Our team will now progress to the London School Games Finals to represent Hillingdon against schools from across London.  Well done to everyone who took part: Rishi, Daniel, Aaria, Catherine, Eli, Alex, Hebe, Tamara, Patrick, Ciaran, Mia and Kyra.    Opening Training Sessions - London Girls Development Academy of Football Watford FC Girls are rebranding as LGDA (London Girls Development Academy) and will be holding open training sessions on the following dates/times. If your daughter is interested in football why not encourage her to go along. Saturday 8th/Sunday 15th June U8/9/10 10.00 a.m. - 11.00 a.m. U11/12   11.30 a.m. - 1.00 p.m. Walking Loyalty Scheme Our Year 5 Junior Road Safety Officers will be launching their walking loyalty scheme for Upper School pupils from next week. The scheme, which has been designed by the pupils and has been supported with funding from the London Borough of Hillingdon's School Travel and Road Safety team, is an exciting way to reward our pupils for walking to school this term. Pupils will be able to collect a loyalty card from our JRSOs and, for each day they include a significant element of walking to school as part of their journey, they will be able to collect a stamp for their card.  For pupils who are unable to walk all or part of the way to school, a walking circuit will be available in the playground and they may complete ten laps before school starts to gain a stamp. As pupils collect enough stamps they will be rewarded with bronze, silver and gold certificates and at the end of the term medals will be awarded to pupils who have impressed our JRSOs with their commitment to walking to school. We do hope that lots of our Upper School pupils will get involved and, if successful, the scheme may be extended to Lower School next term. Year 6 Summer Production - Romeo and Juliet - Tickets Now Available Tickets may now be purchased for our grand Year 6 musical production at The Compass Theatre, Ickenham. This year, our Year 6 pupils will be presenting Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Performances will take place on: Thursday 4th July at 7.30 p.m. Friday 5th July at 2.00 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. Parents will be permitted to take pupils out from school on the Friday in order to watch the matinee performance. You may book tickets by following this link: https://mpv.tickets.com/schedule/?agency=HIMS_MPV&orgid=54332#event=romeo&view=list Sports Days - Message from the PA The PA is organising a refreshments stall in Court Park for the Lower School Sports Day on 20th June and another at Hillingdon Sports and Leisure Complex for the Upper School Sports Day on 28th June and we really need your help.   We would be really grateful for any donations of cakes, crisps, drinks and other snacks which we will then be able to sell to parents in order to raise money for the school. If you are able to donate anything, please let us know by emailing pa@sthelenscollege.com so that we can gauge quantities. If your donation is not perishable, you can drop it off at the Upper or Lower School office at any time before the day and we will pick it up from there. If your donation is perishable, please bring it to the relevant venue on either 20th or 28th June 2019. Any support that you can offer would be very welcome. Thank you!
Posted on: 24/05/2019

Weekly News - Friday 24th May 2019

Vive La France! Our Year 6 pupils have enjoyed a wonderful week at the Chateau de la Baudonniere in Normandy, and the children all had plenty of joie de vivre every day! This has been a tremendous week of culture, language immersion and lots of fun. As always the children were such a credit to the school. You can see some photographs of their trip on our Galleries page. Constable Country On Wednesday our Year 4 pupils set off for their three day residential trip at Flatford Mill in the heart of Constable Country, where they have been undertaking art and geography-linked studies as well as enjoying the wonderful weather and the beautiful nature all around them. They return today tired, happy and with an increased level of maturity and independence. We are sure you will enjoy hearing all about their experiences from the pupils themselves. There are some photographs of their trip on our Galleries page. Nursery Get A Surprise At Bekonscot! Our Nursery children and staff had a real surprise during their day trip to Bekonscot Model Village and Railway this week, when they bumped into Mrs. Crehan, who was also enjoying a day out in the sunshine with her daughter-in-law and grandson, Teddy!  Bekonscot is celebrating its 90th year this year and, during their visit, the Nursery children had the opportunity to be involved in a workshop about what life at home was like 90 years ago, which was very interesting. They also enjoyed exploring the models, and got very excited when the little trains ran past and under the bridges! This was a super day, packed with outdoor learning in Understanding the World, Maths, PSE and many other areas.  The teachers were very proud to hear members of the public comment on how well behaved the children were.          Year 5 Pupils Qualify for Giga Finals of National Chess Challenge Three children in Year 5 have qualified for the Giga Finals in the National Delancey Chess Challenge 2019 https://www.delanceyukschoolschesschallenge.com/ The Giga Finals are the last round before the prestigious Tera Finals which are shown online and have Grand Master commentary! There are thousands of pounds in prize money available in this national competition. Jai D, Alex S and Michael K all managed to get through the Mega Final stage (regional) and will now move on to the Giga Finals (national level). This is no mean feat as you need to qualify in the first place to take part in the Mega Finals, so the standard is high. Mega Finals take place over one day and consist of six rounds (50 minute matches). A score of 3.5 or higher out of 6 is required to qualify. Jai qualified at the Maidenhead Mega Final, while Alex and Michael qualified at the Caterham Mega Final. Michael came 3rd overall, out of 35 boys in his category (U10), with a score of 5 out of 6. Well done indeed, boys, and we wish you the very best of luck at the Giga Finals!             3B Class Assembly - Shortenills Well done to the children of 3B, who presented a confident, interesting and entertaining assembly today, recounting their experiences on their recent residential trip to Shortenills. It was fascinating to hear about how they had developed their learning at this wonderful environmental centre, by using their senses in a woodland setting, taking part in orienteering and 'journey stick' activities and gathering around the campfire to sing traditional songs and share jokes and riddles. In addition to experiencing the great outdoors, the children told us how they had learnt many essential indoor skills, such as preparing and tidying away at meal times, keeping their dormitories tidy (for inspection!) and making their own beds. One highlight of this assembly was definitely the Countdown clock ticking as two children demonstrated how quickly they are now able to put on their own duvet cover and pillowcase - essential life skills indeed. This was the first school residential trip for this group of children and it is clear that even just one night away has helped them to develop much greater independence. As they said at the end, they are now looking forward to a longer residential trip next year - roll on Flatford Mill! You can see some photographs of the Shortenills trip on our Galleries page and you can see the photo montage from this morning's assembly here. Rocketman Miss Collier, one of our peripatetic music teachers, is part of the Crouch End Festival Chorus, the choir which was chosen to provide backing singing for the new Elton John 'Rocketman' film, which is out this week. Miss Collier's choir were featured on the ITV news earlier this week - eagle eyed pupils might enjoy spotting her by watching the choir rehearse on the news clip! https://www.itv.com/news/london/2019-05-20/crouch-end-festival-chorus-helps-fuel-soundtrack-to-elton-johns-rocketman/ Sports News Quad Kids Athletics On Wednesday ten of our Year 5 children took part in the annual Hillingdon Quad Kids athletics competition. This involves a 60m sprint, vortex throw, standing long jump and a 600m run. All of our team showed some tremendous character and effort, competing against mainly Year 6 pupils from other schools. We came a creditable 13th overall out of 20 and all of our children showed that they had a great time. Team members were: Jack H, Grace B, Chloe W, Catherine L, Harry J, Eli V-B, Rhea A-V, Shaina A, Alex S and Daniel G-J.     Battle of Britain Bunker - 75th Anniversary The 75th anniversary of the Normandy Landings will be commemorated through events and activities at the Battle of Britain Bunker in Uxbridge from Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th June. Each day will feature special D-Day 75 tours, which explain how the Bunker was used during Operation Overlord. The tours can be booked on the day and are allocated on a first come, first served basis. Tour times will be at 10.15, 11.30, 12.45, 14.00, and 15.15. There will also be an additional 16.30 tour for Saturday 8 June and Sunday 9 June. Full details are available by following this link: https://battleofbritainbunker.co.uk/whats-on/ We hope that many of you will choose to take your children to visit this special place. In particular, our Year 6 pupils visited the bunker with school recently and it would be very valuable for them to go again with their families to focus on this particular part of history. Other year groups are also encouraged to attend. Important Reminders Snacks We would like to remind you that children must not bring nuts, or any items containing nuts, to school. Suitable snacks for break time are fruit, raw vegetables or plain biscuits. Upper School Library As the summer term is now underway, may we remind all Upper School parents - and in particular Year 6 - of our school library lending arrangements. Each student may borrow up to three books on their library account for up to two weeks, after which period they may be renewed. Pupils are expected to respect and care for their books and to be organised about returning them to the library in good time. Please support your children in caring for library books as part of their day to day school equipment. Discuss what books they have borrowed, how they are enjoying them - and perhaps, suggest books they might like to try!  Individual Music Tuition Parents are reminded that a full half term's notice is required if you would like your child to stop having individual instrumental or vocal tuition. Notice should be sent to Mrs. Allery at rallery@sthelenscollege.com. Photographs - Wednesday 5th June Class photographs for all classes from Ducklings to Year 5 will be taken on Wednesday 5th June, and the Year 6 leavers' photograph will be taken on Monday 10th June. Please ensure that your children are at their smartest and in full uniform on these days (and every day!). If your child would normally wear PE kit on the day of their photograph, they should instead wear their uniform and bring their PE kit to school to change into later in the day. Please don't forget to check the School Calendar to see all that is in store for your children in the next half term. In the meantime, we wish you all a pleasant and relaxing half term break!
Posted on: 17/05/2019

Weekly News - Friday 17th May 2019

Outstanding Musicians' Concert Last night the audience at All Saints Church was treated to a fantastic array of performances given by our extremely talented children, ranging from the impressionistic piano music of Debussy to the more traditional tunes of Amazing Grace. The concert opened with the orchestra playing and this was followed by our many soloists and instrumental groups, all ranging from Grade 1 to Grade 8. There was also an opportunity to hear staff perform as Mrs. Stubbs (flute), Mrs. Nash (violin) and Mrs. Maclean (cello), accompanied by Mr. Stubbs (piano), performed 'Allegro from Trio Sonata in G Minor by JC Pepusch. This really was a spectacular event and all the instrumentalists played with admirable confidence and panache! Well done to all involved.   National Numeracy Day National Numeracy Day on Tuesday provided an exciting impetus for teachers to enrich and extend the pupils' learning and it was wonderful to see so many children engaged in activities in and outside of the classroom. Robins Class Assembly Wow! Our Robins Nursery children showed how far they have come during their Nursery year as they performed a fantastic assembly all about the seasons of the year on Thursday. It is clear that their programme of rehearsals and performances during the Nursery year (including Harvest Festival, their Nativity Play and class assemblies, as well as the Speech Competition last term) has helped them to find their feet when standing up and speaking in front of an audience. Their confidence, their memories, their relaxed and engaging style and their superb voice projection really were astonishing. We all learnt much about the seasons too. Well done, Robins!   Noah's Ark Hospice Charity Walk Well done to all of the pupils, parents and staff who came together last Sunday to take part in a charity walk to raise funds for the Noah's Ark Children's Hospice. The walk alone raised £725 for the hospice, which is a wonderful achievement. The sense of community on the day was inspiring and we would like to pass on sincere thanks to all who gave up their time and energy to raise funds for this very worthwhile cause.     Borough Sports Success Our Year 3 and Year 4 teams were in the spotlight this week and showed their competitive spirit, taking part in Borough Tri Golf and Mini Tennis competitions.  Tri Golf Success Well done to our Year 3/4 Tri Golf team, who on Tuesday afternoon took part in the annual Hillingdon Tri Golf Festival at Hewens Academy. The team had a wonderful time competing against a time limit, improving their chipping and putting to score points. With ten teams in the festival, St. Helen's College Year 3/4 team came an impressive 3rd place. Congratulations to all of the team on such a great perfomance! Team members were: Anjika G, Maisie H, Maya T, Jena J, Krishav P, Joban K, Sahib N, Reece G.     Mini Tennis Excitement On Wednesday, three St. Helen's College teams took part in the annual schools tournament held at Tripletts Community Tennis Centre. The competition attracted 20 teams from across the Borough and each team consisted of two boys and two girls, who played singles matches against players from other schools. The event was played in a very supportive atmosphere, with parents spectating applauding the great play. Our pupils in particular showed a high degree of technical skill and tactical awareness when playing their matches - so much so that all three of our teams made it through to the quarter finals, where our C team faced Glebe and our B team faced our A team! The matches could not have been closer and semi finalists had to be decided on points countback as matches were drawn, but in the end it was only our A team that progressed. Incredibly, the semi final against Whiteheath had to be decided on countback too and unfortunately the St. Helen's College A team missed out by just a few points to Whiteheath, who went on to be the tournament's eventual winners. Well done to all of our team members who were a credit to their school with their sportsmanship and resilience.   A Team: Amar C, Anaiya L, Samir H, Hamdan U B Team: Fredericka T, Jena J, Zail T, Luka K C Team: Anaya K, Amber P, Reece G, Eshan N Co-Curricular Club Reminders We would like to remind parents that the following clubs will not be taking place next week, since Miss Walker will be in France with the Year 6 residential trip: Tuesday Y2/3 Athletics - lunchtime Thursday Y5/6 Rounders - after school May Half Term Tennis Camp Miss Walker will be running a May half term tennis camp at Tripletts Community Centre in Hayes. If your child would like to attend, you can find full details including booking details here. Residential Trips We wish our Year 4 and Year 6 children enjoyable and enriching times as they embark on their exciting residential trips to Flatford Mill (Year 4) and France (Year 6) in the coming week.
Posted on: 17/05/2019

Head's Blog - Would You Like To Tidy Up Now? by Ms Matthews

  This week we have a guest blog from Ms Matthews, our Head of Early Years Foundation Stage. “Would you like to tidy up now?” Regardless of their age, I would wager that if you asked your child that particular question, the answer would be a resounding “No”. However, perhaps if you instead asked “Shall we race each other to see who can get the most toys in their box?”, the answer might be slightly more favourable! The effect of questioning style when engaging young children cannot, and should not, be overstated.  Adults’ questions can encourage children to engage in extended conversations, can facilitate comprehension and research also shows us that effective questioning style is proven to stimulate higher-order thinking. There is great potential to increase children's capacity to learn from an activity through careful adult-child talk and questioning is one of many strategies that can either support and encourage children's learning - or stop it in its tracks. But how often do we really stop to think about our questioning style and how it affects children's ability to learn, think and reflect? As teachers and as parents, we all want to be sure that we are facilitating our children’s learning rather than interfering with it - but how can we achieve this? At one end, too little adult support can limit learning. While play without adults can be rich and purposeful, at times it can become a chaotic or repetitive activity which is decidedly ‘hands-on, brains-off’. At the other end of the scale, too much tightly directed activity deprives children of the opportunity to engage actively with learning. Questioning is one of the most common methods of prompting interactions with children and, if done well, it can have a staggering impact upon learning. Over the past 14 months, I have been undertaking a range of studies as part of the Chartered College of Teaching’s ‘Chartered Teacher Status’ programme. This opportunity has allowed me to further explore the pedagogy of teaching, but it has also afforded me the valuable opportunity to research, analyse and evaluate the teaching and learning currently going on in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) here at St. Helen’s College. The EYFS curriculum tells us that we “...must respond to each child’s emerging needs and interests, guiding their development through warm, positive interaction” and it is precisely this style of interaction for which St. Helen’s College is renowned. Knowing that we are blessed with a wealth of adult expertise in our Kindergarten, Nursery and Reception, I was particularly interested to ascertain exactly how your child benefits from that in our early years classrooms. Thus, my studies culminated in a research project focusing on the direct effect of adult questioning on children’s attainment and progress, with the aim of proving that the teaching and learning at St. Helen’s College is some of the best there is! As part of the research intervention itself, I carried out specific mathematics activities (number and shape, space and measure) whilst utilising a set of pre-determined questioning techniques – closed questioning for a control group of 24 Reception pupils, versus open-ended questioning for an intervention group of 24 Reception pupils across a 3-week period. The pre-set closed questions used were questions such as “What colour is that square? Is it blue or green?” “Is the answer 3 or 4?” whereas the open-ended questions were designed based on questions I had previously observed being widely used across the St. Helen’s College EYFS classrooms, questions such as: “How could you find out?”; “What do you think?”; “Do you think everyone else would think the same?”; “What do you think is happening?”; “I don't know, what do you think?”; ”Can you tell me more about that?” Control group results The control group were presented with only closed questioning that required a recall of fact, experience or expected behaviour, decision between a limited selection of choices or no response at all. When they were then exposed to mathematical activities outside of the control group intervention project, almost all remained very dependent on a nearby adult to start and complete a task, there was very little independent problem-solving (only 4 out of 24 children displayed this) and independence in both number and shape, space and measure activities was low – 6 out of 24 children and 5 out of 24 children. Interestingly, though, independent use of appropriate mathematical vocabulary was significantly higher (13 out of 24 children), but this could perhaps be attributed to additional factors such as continued whole-class teaching time away from the intervention itself, peer-interactions and learned facts taught before the intervention took place. Intervention group results The intervention group were presented with a broad range of open-ended questions which provided for increased encouragement, to foster speculation and trial and error and talk that fostered the potential for sustained, shared thinking, exploration and talking. When the intervention group were then exposed to mathematical activities outside of the intervention project, very few (only 3 out of 24 children) looked for support from an adult to start and complete a task, there was a huge rise in independent problem-solving (19 out of 24 children displayed this) and much-increased independence in both number and shape, space and measure activities – 19 out of 24 children and 20 out of 24 children respectively. Again, use of mathematical language remained high (22 out of 24 children) but the difference when observed this time was more sophisticated use of said language to explain and guide peers during their activities – the children in the intervention group were observed to be directly applying their knowledge of mathematical language to other tasks and in more creative and critical ways.   Rest assured then, that your children are in very safe and capable hands in our St. Helen’s College classrooms. Continuing our open-ended style of questioning actively encourages them to be successfully motivated by the pursuit of learning and discovery for their own sake; their resulting excitement has been captured through my purposeful observations and research of their language and independence. Each day, they are supported in finding out answers for themselves and ringing out in each classroom are the “ers” and “ums” of not knowing,  followed by the wonderful “oohs” and “ahs” of learning - the sounds of awe and wonder in action, of learning itself, of meaning being made. The skill, knowledge and understanding of our wonderful staff team has been research-proven to allow your children to reflect en route to becoming lifelong learners, ensuring that they are offered a less fixed view of the world - one where curiosity and investigation, rather than correct solutions and consensus-building, fuel their investigations. So, what will you ask your child to elicit thinking, learning and wondering about the world this weekend?  Now that’s a good question. Ms Matthews
Posted on: 10/05/2019

Weekly News - Friday 10th May 2019

Staffing News Congratulations to Ms Matthews, our Head of EYFS, who has successfully completed and passed the Chartered College of Teaching CTeach programme. Ms Matthews is now recognised nationally as one of 180 teachers to be accredited with Chartered  Teacher status. The programme of study and research which she engaged in was rigorous and demanding and will continue to benefit the outcomes for our children. It is wonderful to have this level of expertise on our staff.  Year 3 Residential Trip To Shortenills  Our Year 3 pupils have had the most wonderful residential trip and taken part in a super programme of activities including orienteering, journey sticks and camp fire singing, to name but a few.  They also carried out numerous chores as they developed their maturity and independence, including making beds, clearing tables, setting up for breakfast!  Great teamwork and camaraderie from all. You can see some photos of their trip here. SATIPS Art Exhibition - Bromsgrove School We are delighted that some of our pupils' work has been exhibited at the national SATIPS Art Exhibition at Bromsgrove School near Birmingham.  Well done to Aleyna (1J), Aaryan (1HC), Avneet (2H), Chloe (5A), Jack (5G), Georgia (6W) and Zoe (6W). You can see their artwork here. Next year the exhibition will move closer to home (to the Royal Masonic School, Rickmansworth) and we hope that many of you will be able to visit. Musicians' Concert We look forward to seeing many of you at our annual Musicians' Concert next Thursday at 7 p.m. in All Saints Church. This event is always the most wonderful evening of musicality with a wide range of repertoires from the children and staff. Bikeability Well done to all our Year 6 pupils who have been attending the Saturday morning sessions which finish next week on Saturday 18th May.  It is good to know that our children are safe on their bikes and confident bike users.  Holiday Club - May Half Term Holiday Club bookings for May half term are now open. Please log in to your SchoolsBuddy account to make your bookings.  PA Summer Fete It’s that time of year when the PA are busy with “all hands on deck” preparations for our flagship event, the PA Summer Fete.  We would like to ask you to save the date: Date: Saturday 29th June 2019 Time: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Where: Upper School playground One of the aims of the PA is to encourage community, friendship and fun for our children, parents and guardians and the wider St. Helen's family. Over the years, the school fete has been a great event where the school community has come together by bringing their ideas, giving their time and providing much enthusiasm. The fete is organised by the PA committee which, at present, comprises eight full-time working mums, with amazing support from the PA Class Reps. If you are interested in joining the Committee, we always welcome new interest! We rely on your help for the fete and we will be putting out requests for help out via the newsletter in the next few weeks. However, there’s no time like the present so we are looking for immediate responses for the following: We Need You! At least 10 helpers from each year group to commit to helping on the day of the fete - we will start at 8 a.m. and finish clearing up at about 6 p.m. but you don’t need to do the whole stretch. If you can pledge help for all or part of the day, please do let us know. We need help on many levels such as running stalls, serving food, making tea and coffee, face painting, henna art, glitter tattoos, moving chairs and tables, putting marquees up, clearing litter, PA audio technicians and barbecuing. If you feel worried about taking on tasks yourself, why not get a team from your class together? Each class has a class rep, who will also be communicating with you. Donations We would be really grateful for donations of the following (NO BOOKS PLEASE): Nearly new, good condition soft toys - for the toy tombola Good condition used/new school uniform – for the uniform stall Brand new toys - for the raffle and toy tombola stalls New items or unwanted gifts - for the raffle If you work for a company who might like to donate anything to the fete please let us know. Fete collection bins will be put out at the entrances and exits on all three school premises after half term (Ducklings, Lower School and Upper School) for you to bring your donations, so please have a good sort out over half term.  We will empty the collection bins on a daily basis. Tuck Shop We run a tuck shop where we sell drinks, sweets, ice creams and crisps. If you own a shop or can get reduced/discounted rates, we’d love to hear from you! Food Stalls As in previous years, we will be having a range of stalls at the fete to cater for a variety of tastes. To help us make this happen, we are looking for volunteers to provide the cuisine - this could be anything from African to Mexican, Italian to Thai. We will also be looking for volunteers to man these stalls. If you are able to provide food for a stall or would like to volunteer to serve on a food stall (even if it’s only for an hour), please do get in touch.    If you have any ideas or suggestion for the fete, we’d love to hear from you and embrace these. We can only put this event on with your help so please do get in touch. It's an event that’s really enjoyed by the children and the whole St. Helen's College community. Contact us:  pa@sthelenscollege.com Thank you in advance for all of your help and support to make this year's fete a really special event for everyone!
Posted on: 10/05/2019

Head's Blog - Key To Success

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-48190126 It was with a sense of pride that I read this BBC article, entitled 'Well trained nursery staff key to good care'.  As all of our parents who have had children go through our Kindergarten and Early Years (Nursery and Reception) know, we have superb adult to child ratios to ensure that your children are exceptionally well cared for, but the high ratios also give our staff the opportunity to have those 1-1 conversations with your children to enrich their spoken word and develop their thinking and learning skills. "A better staff-to-child ratio leads to improvements in quality but staff qualifications and training is the most important factor.” Our staff ratios are excellent throughout the school and our staffing levels are exceptional form Ducklings to Year 6. It goes without saying that our staff are very well qualified but it is the dedication and commitment of the staff to ongoing professional development which is one of the most important factors at St. Helen’s College. This week, for example, while Year 1 - Year 6 teachers were meeting with parents for our parent conferences, the EYFS team were taking part in their own learning workshop, using the 10 squares to develop maths activities for the children.   There is a saying that every day is learning opportunity, but that is pertinent not only to the children but also the staff; it is always refreshing as I visit the many classrooms to overhear and see teachers sharing ideas and good practice with each other. Throughout the academic year our staff are highly invested in and supported to enable them to keep learning to improve the outcomes for our pupils. Not only do we invest in our staff, but it is the partnership we have with you as our parent body which is so important in ensuring that you are all able to support your children’s learning at home. Last year we ran very successful reading workshops and e-safety sessions and this term we have already had a superb evening for parents of our younger pupils on supporting phonics and early maths skills. Later in the summer we will be meeting with many of you for Information Evenings as we lead up to the transition of the children through the school, which I trust you will find interesting and informative, and for September we have arranged for an external speaker to hold a workshop for parents and staff, ‘Enabling parents to bring out the best in their children’, which we are very much looking forward to. Details on how to book tickets for this event will be published next half term. This week I have toured many potential candidates for the current positions which we have available at St. Helen’s College and I have to admit they everyone has been in awe of our school, the children, the staff and the sense of collaboration which we have with our parent body.  We truly are remarkable and I am confident that our new staff who we hope to appoint very soon will only add to the quality of what we offer here! Have a wonderful weekend! Mrs. Drummond

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