School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 27/04/2018
The Positive Ps of PREP - Head's BlogPRACTICE *** PARTICIPATION *** PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
PARENT-CHILD RELATIONS *** PARENT-TEACHER COMMUNICATION
There have been years of debate in educational forums regarding the value of homework. In some maintained schools they have stopped giving pupils homework, claiming that it puts pupils who do not have support from home at a disadvantage. I am not about to be drawn into the debate as to whether children should or should not be ‘learning’ outside of school. I believe that children are naturally inquisitive and will learn if the learning is relevant, interesting and they are able to make connections to their prior learning or it prepares them for future learning.
Over the years I have worked in schools who have called ‘homework’ various things. ‘Home learning’ which perhaps takes the stigma of the labour of ‘work’ away from its name (work is something adults do to earn a living). In other schools it has been called ‘Prep’ - namely because it is ‘Preparation’ for the next day to further develop knowledge, understanding and skills.
Here at St. Helen’s College for pupils in Y3-Y6 we are now offering supervised ‘Prep’ as part of the Funtasia routine. The pupils have some down time after school, play with their friends, have some tea then go upstairs to one of the Year 6 classrooms where they have a calm, peaceful environment to ‘prepare’ for the next step of their learning, for the next day at school. Pupils have access to the chromebooks/laptops if needed and a member of our staff supervises and supports the pupils as necessary.
This week it was delightful to hear that some children had wanted to start their ‘Prep’ as soon as they arrived at Funtasia - so eager were they to continue their learning! On Tuesday I joined about 16 pupils during ‘Prep’ and was so impressed by their dedicated participation and by the pride they were all taking in their tasks. There were pupils writing their spelling sentences, researching WWII evacuees and making notes, using their flipped learning resource to practise some mathematical concepts….the tasks were wide ranging but each task was preparing the children for what lies ahead. ‘Prep’ at Funtasia is not compulsory; however, as a parent myself with a child in a Preparatory School some time ago, I know that it took a lot of pressure off us as a family. We would arrive home from our busy days and as parents we would still engage in what our daughter had completed in ‘Prep’ but we never had what can be for some families a ‘battle’ to start homework at perhaps 7 p.m. These situations are not constructive or useful to anyone!
For younger pupils, the Funtasia staff are always happy to hear the children read for some of the time too - but this does not replace the daily reading which is still expected at home between the adults and children.
'Prep’ should be completed in a quiet, calm environment. Do praise your child's efforts in their ‘prep’ but keep expectations high! If you know they really have not focussed or the task has been completed in a slapdash manner - do feel free to jot a note in their homework diary. (Mmm! Perhaps we need to rename them for next year to ‘Prep Diary’!)
You may find this blog of further interest:
Posted on: 27/04/2018
Weekly News - Friday 27th April 2018It was lovely to see so many of you at our Month End Music Recital this afternoon. Congratulations to all of the children who performed with such grace, confidence and musicality.
Superb Music Results!
We are delighted to announce some fantastic music results for the exams taken recently, as follows. Very well done to all of these pupils for their hard work and many hours of practice!
5W Wenru G8 Distinction
4A Anaiya G3 Distinction
5W Mya G3 Merit
3T Samir G1 Pass
6D Maddy G2 Distinction
4T Esha G1 Merit
â4A Jasmine G2 Merit
6D Jai G2 Pass
3T Zayd G2 Pass
3V Vandan G1 Merit
4T Rhea Prep Pass
3T Anaiya Prep Pass
We were most proud that one of our Year 5 students, Luke, was asked to speak at the ANZAC (Australian, New Zealand Army Corps) remembrance service on Wednesday. Luke took part in the prayer service in Westminster Abbey and spoke in front of a full congregation including Prince William, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The day is a national holiday in New Zealand and Australia to mark those soldiers who lost their lives in World War 1. Luke gave a super presentation to Upper School children in today's assembly too. You can see photographs of Luke at Westminster Abbey on our Galleries page.
A Marathon Effort!
Huge congratulations to Mrs. Rooney, who ran the London Marathon last weekend for the first time. After months of training in the rain, wind and snow, there was an unexpected heatwave last weekend. It made the run very challenging, but Mrs. Rooney says that it was an incredible day that she will never forget. Thank you to all parents, staff and pupils for all the support and donations, which were so much appreciated.
'Tis the season to be jolly with all our wonderful forthcoming residential trips. We wish all the Year 5 pupils and accompanying staff a great time next week as they depart on Monday to travel to the Isle of Wight for five days of adventurous and exciting activities!
Walk to School Week
We have had a hugely successful week of walking/scooting/cycling to school this week. Thank you to all of the families who have supported this healthy venture. It is so wonderful to hear that many of you are intending to make this a more regular way of arriving at school each day. Our JRSOs will of course be continuing to promote the initiative through our weekly 'Walk on Wednesday' sessions throughout the summer term.
Lower School Building Project
We are in the very last stages of finalising our plans for an incredibly exciting project which is due to be undertaken over the summer holidays - the refurbishment of our Nursery and Reception classrooms. We look forward to sharing further information with the community in due course.
Upper School Parents' Evenings
The next Parents' Evenings for children in Years 2 - 6 will take place at Upper School on Tuesday 15th May and Thursday 17th May. The online booking system is now open (link below) and operates on a first come, first served basis, so please book your appointments at your earliest convenience. Bookings will close the day before each parents' evening.
We have now published the term dates for 2019-2020. You can find them on the School Documents page of the website.
If you have a child who will be eligible for entry to the Nursery at 3+ in September 2019, or to Ducklings Kindergarten at 2+ in September 2019 (that is, a child born between 01.09.15 and 31.08.17), and you have not already registered him or her with us, then now is the time to do so! As the summer moves on, we will start the entry processes for September 2019 and siblings should be registered early to allow us to allocate priority sibling places. You may register online by completing the registration form at
If you have any questions about admissions, please contact Mrs. Smith in the school office.
Drop and Go - Upper School
Please note that if cars are parked on Parkway across from the school, then we are unable to operate drop and go in the mornings. Parents must park in the car park and escort their children to the gate.
School Bus Service
From September, we will be trialling a morning school bus service. We are currently testing an initial route and will announce further details in due course.
We are now recruiting for various positions. Please do take a look at https://www.sthelenscollege.com/274/join-the-team and, if you know anyone who may be interested in working with us, do encourage them to apply!
Posted on: 20/04/2018
Weekly News - Friday 20th April 2018Welcome back one and all to what will be a busy and fun-packed summer term! Please don't forget to check the school calendar to see what is in store. We would like to remind you that, during the summer months, children should continue to wear their full school uniform into school. Teachers will ask children to remove ties/blazers in school for the day when the weather is very hot. All children should have their St. Helen's College sun cap with them at all times too, as these must be worn at playtimes and for games sessions outdoors in hot weather.
Congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. McLaughlin!
As you all know, two of our Upper School teachers had a wonderful wedding celebration over the Easter holidays and we wish Mr. and Mrs. McLaughlin a very long, happy and prosperous future together. Children in Middle School and Upper School had the privilege of hearing from the bride and groom in assembly this week as they shared their sentiments and reflections including photographs and a video from their special day. Thank you to them both for sharing this with the wider community. You can see some photographs of their special weekend on our Galleries page.
Good Luck to Mrs. Rooney!
Mrs. Rooney will be running the London Marathon this weekend to raise money for Phab Kids and we wish her well. She has shown huge commitment and determination in her training and will no doubt show the same spirit on the day itself. You can find out more about her chosen charity, and make a donation if you would like to, by clicking here.
We would like to remind parents that fees for individual instrumental/vocal tuition are due by the first lesson of term please. Payment should be made directly to the music teacher.
Our very exciting Singing Competition for Years 2 - 6 will take place on Friday 8th June this year. Children should decide which category they would like to enter and choose a song. Next, fill in a slip and put into the box - these can both be found at the front of the hall and entries must be submitted no later than Friday 4th May.
There is no set theme this year as we would like to hear songs from all different genres and perhaps a range of songs throughout musical history. Singing in other languages is permitted. The only restrictions this year are that we would like you to avoid singing pop songs and we would like to see only simple gestures and appropriate movements relevant to the performance. No dance moves please.
The categories are:
Best solo singer from each year group.
Best group - trios (3) or quartets (4) only.
There should be just one solo entry per child but they may also participate in either a duet or a group. No choir songs please!
A backing track is required (without words) for performance on the day; CD or Ipod only. No piano accompaniments will be used this year, unless a child is playing the piano as part of their performance.
All winners will be invited to sing at the Singers’ Concert on 12th June.
Should the number of entrants be high, preliminary rounds will take place before half term.
Walk to School Week
Next week is ‘Walk to School Week’ at school and we would like to encourage as many pupils as possible to take part.
The theme for this year is ‘City to Seaside’ and over the week as a whole school we will be trying to walk to distance from Hillingdon to Brighton beach. That’s 69 miles! The children will earn badges and prizes for themselves and their class, just for walking to school! In assemblies today the benefits of walking to school and been highlighted to children. Walking to school is healthy for us, healthy for our environment and helps us to learn about road safety. Also, we can meet our friends and have a chat on the way!
We understand that it may not be possible for all pupils to walk the whole way from home to school and so we recommend a 'Park and Stride' approach. This is where you park your car a 10 minute walk away from the school gates and walk the last bit. You could walk through Court Park to get to school!
All pupils have been issued with a ‘Walk to School’ record card which can be coloured if they walk, even just some of the way, to and from school each day next week. Coming to school on a bike or scooter also counts!
Our team of Junior Road Safety Officers (JRSOs) will be out and about next week spotting those of you who are doing a great job! The week will launch a term of 'Walk on Wednesday' which will start from 25th April so you can keep walking to school each week this term. A walking route to school will be supervised by staff and our JRSOs every Wednesday. The route will start from Court Drive coming through Court Park and will be staffed from 8 – 8.30 a.m., so that pupils can safely participate in walking to school each week.
We suggest the following use of the safe walking route:
Children in Years 3 – 6 may be dropped at the drop off point in Court Drive and the children can walk along the route in small groups. Parents are welcome to walk too.
Parents of pupils in Nursery – Year 2 must park carefully in Court Drive and walk with their children along the route. Young children will not be permitted to use the route unaccompanied by an adult.
World Earth Day
World Earth Day is on Sunday 22nd April with the focus to end plastic pollution.
As a school we have been discussing in class/assembly the importance of looking after our planet and what we can do to help 'end plastic pollution'.
The link to the World Earth Day site can be found here.
A link to an Earth song can be found here.
As a school we will be focusing on World Environmental Day on Tuesday 5th June.
PA Quiz Night - Saturday 12 May 2018
Don’t forget that the PA Quiz Night will be taking place at 7 p.m. on Saturday 12th May 2018 (adults only). So gather up some other parents in your child’s class, friends and family members, fill in the reply slip that was circulated before the Easter holidays and drop it off at the school office. Completed forms need to be submitted by Friday 27th April 2018 - if you need a new one, your PA Class Rep will be able to forward you an electronic copy. Tickets cost £10 each and will include a chip shop supper and you can bring your own drinks. Places are limited so get in early to ensure that you don’t miss out. We look forward to seeing you there!
Tennis team trials will be taking place next Wednesday, 25th April, after school from 3.50 - 5 p.m. for boys and girls who can play mini tennis and wish to play in the school Year 3 and 4 tennis team in the forthcoming Borough tournament on 16th May. The school has a great record in competitive tennis and are current Borough Champions! If you would like your child to come along, please ask your child to sign up on the sheet on the PE notice board. Please note that team practice for successful applicants will take place on Wednesdays after school each week in the lead up to the Borough tournament.
Tag rugby team trials for Year 5 children will be taking place on Wednesday afternoons until 4.30 p.m. Your child has already indicated whether he or she would like to attend.
Tennis for Kids is a LTA initiative happening this summer offering TENNIS TASTER courses for children aged 4-11 who are new to tennis. The course includes six coaching sessions, a Babalot racket and ball set and a personalised t-shirt – all for £25.
Courses are starting soon at our club/school link venues but places are limited and are going fast. Please use the links below to find a course and book a place for your child.
Venue: Tripletts Community Tennis Centre, Hayes click here
Venue: Wayfarers Tennis Club, here
Drop Off and Go and Pick-Up and Go at Lower School and Upper School
The school's parking regulations are available here. Please can we remind parents of the importance of following our procedures each day to enable ease of flow of traffic and due consideration to other parents. This week many parents have been observed getting out of cars and unpacking the boot of the car etc. This only delays cars behind and causes frustration. We have also had parents tooting horns, which causes disturbance to the local neighbours.
Pupils should also not be allowed to use the pedestrian crossing on Long Lane unless accompanied by an adult.
At pick up time please can parents refrain from parking across from school outside of the medical centre as this also obstructs traffic and we cannot operate the pick-up and go system effectively.
Today, pupils at the Upper School site had their first fire drill of the term. Although all pupils lined up correctly and were accounted for in a timely manner, I am sure they will share with you my disappointment at the noise level during evacuation and line up. It would be much appreciated if families would discuss at home the importance of following fire procedures to ensure that everyone is safe, and the reasons for remaining calm and quiet in these situations. It may be an opportunity for you to discuss what the fire evacuation procedures would be in your own home too.
Posted on: 19/04/2018
Nurturing The Love Of Writing - Head's BlogThere has been recent debate in the news on the detrimental effects of touch screen devices on the development of young children’s handwriting skills.
Over the past ten years there has been a rapid increase in the use of ipads and other touch screen devices and young babies and toddlers are amazing parents with their incredible use of swiping actions as they navigate the apps on their parents’ phones or tablets.
Personally, I am saddened when I see youngsters in restaurants glued to tablets while the adults engage in social conversation. Don’t get me wrong – I am not against the use of technology! Indeed, some of the games and apps being developed for young children are super for encouraging the development of certain skills. However, recent research has seen a decline in children’s handwriting skills caused by the lack of dexterity and movement skills needed to hold a pencil.
Traditional craft activities such as playdoh, drawing, painting, cutting and sticking, threading beads or doing jigsaws seem to be disappearing with the influx of technology. These activities can play a crucial part in developing the fine motor skills needed by children as they grow, including their handwriting skills.
Handwriting skills are important and I am sure that many of you will fully support me in this. There are some people who feel that it does not matter if you are able to have good handwriting or not as the use of technology increases. However, I am pleased to say that here at St. Helen's College we pride ourselves on teaching the children handwriting skills and there is great excitement as they work towards gaining their ‘pen licence’ in Middle School. I am sure many of you were impressed at the quality of the handwriting and writing on display at Exhibition Day recently.
Over the Easter holidays I was touched as I received several postcards from children who had written to their classes from their holiday travels. I urge you as parents to continue to encourage all of your children to take pride and joy in the art of handwriting. I hope that many of our children still write thank you letters to family and friends for gifts that they receive on special occasions. You could also encourage your children to keep a diary and/or reflections book, to compile written fact files or to have a go at writing stories...writing should be enjoyable, relevant and fun!
Our Year 3 pupils and Year 6 pupils have the opportunity to write penpal letters to children in Spain and France – and so practise not only their handwriting, but also writing in a foreign language!
I have fond memories of writing activities as a child. I kept a diary from about the age of 8 right through to my teenage years! I recently found these in my mother’s attic and spent hours reminiscing, laughing and cringing about some of what I had written!
There was a magazine called ‘Blue Jeans’ which had penpal pages and for over three years I wrote to a lovely girl in Zambia who lived in a convent school. Sadly I have lost touch with her but the joy of receiving her air mail letters I still remember. I was fortunate to keep in touch with my childhood French penpal and met up with her and her family on a holiday to France some 20 years later.
My husband seems to have forgotten that we spent several months in different countries many moons ago when we were dating – but I still have all the lovely handwritten letters we wrote to each other!
These are all examples of such special memories, all kept on paper for years to come, and of relationships built by the power of the pen. And all this before the influx of technology.
Last term we discussed how we need to model reading to children and to be seen by our children reading a book for pleasure, relaxing and enjoying texts. The same could also be said for writing.
So this term, I challenge you all to share the love of writing and to show your children that you still value the skill of handwriting. Write a letter to someone who you have not seen for a while, start a reflective journal (these are really useful for the work place!), or write with your children on a shared writing activity: a poem, a shared family travel journal over the duration of a holiday, or a story/play that you create together.