School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 24/04/2020
Weekly News - Friday 24th April 2020Staff News
We are sad to announce that Mrs. Rance will be leaving us at the end of the summer term. As many of you know, Mrs. Rance is expecting her second baby and she and her husband are now planning a move further away from the school, as her husband embarks upon a new job. She has therefore taken the decision not to return following her maternity leave this summer. Mrs. Rance has been with the school for 8 years and her dedication and enthusiasm have made her very popular with children, parents and colleagues. She will be greatly missed and we know that you will join us in wishing her well as she embarks on her new adventures.
Mrs. Stubbs has been with us for 3 years and has always enthused the children as a flute teacher and one of the Lower School music teachers. She has decided now to focus on family and reduce the number of peripatetic students she teaches. Mrs. Stubbs has been a super colleague and wonderful teacher and we will miss her very much. We wish her all the best for the next phase of her life.
Following rigorous recruitment procedures, we are delighted to announce some new appointments. The following new members of staff will be joining us from September.
Ms. Kyra Linton will be joining us as a Year 4 form teacher and Head of Maths. Ms. Linton, herself educated in the independent sector, is passionate about the benefits of a private education, and so, following her degree, she decided to undertake a PGCE to join the teaching profession and inspire a new generation of pupils. She is currently at the Van Gogh Primary School and will bring with her a great deal of independent school experience both as a pupil and a teacher, as well as great enthusiasm and excellent pastoral care.
Mr. Steve Roche will be joining our staff as Head of English. Mr. Roche is currently working at St. Margaret's Independent School in Bushey. Along with his considerable expertise and experience in teaching English in the independent sector, he brings a passion for mindfulness and is looking forward very much to contributing to the ethos of the school.
Mrs. Claire Fawbert will, from September, replace Mrs. Allery as Director of Music. Mrs. Fawbert is currently working at Slough Music Service as their Music Centre Co-ordinator, teaching in a wide range of primary and secondary schools in Slough and organising events for the Music Service. She is also a professional trumpet player and has already met some of our pupils.She will bring her enthusiasm and passion for music to the school and is already known to many of our peripatetic teachers in the musical world.
Mrs. Nadine Pruce will become our new Head of Art, replacing Miss Dear; Mrs. Pruce has been teaching art at the Royal Masonic School for Girls for the past 8 years and was in the midst of arranging a national exhibition for preparatory schools before the pandemic, at which many of our pupils' work would have been exhibited. Mrs. Pruce is looking forward to working with us and continuing to develop the passion and expertise that our pupils have in the subject. Alongside teaching art, Mrs. Pruce will be supporting the Teaching and Learning in her other role as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant.
Mrs. Victoria Briggs will join us in September as a Year 3 teacher, covering Mrs. McLaughlin's maternity leave. Mrs. Briggs and her husband are a military family who will be relocating from Suffolk over the summer. Mrs. Briggs has taught in many top independent schools around the world as she has travelled with her husband and will bring a wealth of teaching experience to the Year 3 classroom.
Home Learning - Parent Resources
Elaine Halligan, one of the Parent Practice founders, has invited parents of St. Helen's College to receive a free download of her '30 day to learn Parenting Cards'. These cards are superb for parents of children of any age and may be welcome at this testing time. You can access the cards at https://www.theparentpractice.com/signup.
The Parent Practice podcasts are also packed full of tips and great interviews which may prove useful for you as you support your children in their remote learning. You an access these here: https://www.theparentpractice.com/podcast/.
Feel Good Fridays
As we move into our new term with the school sites closed, we will be launching 'Feel Good Friday' with a different theme each week, to help keep children feeling connected to our school community and to boost their spirits!
Next Friday (1st May) will be our 'House Day' and we invite all the children to wear their Cambria or Windsor house colours for their day of remote learning. We also encourage pupils to create/design/make anything which represents their house. Ideas might include writing a poem, building a model, designing a coat of arms or other emblem, writing a house rap or song....pupils may be as creative as they like!
Entries should be photographed, recorded, scanned and emailed to Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Drummond. Entries will be shared on our website gallery and there may even be prizes!
Remote Learning and Easter Holiday News
St. Helen's College children have been busy creating their own rainbows to add the the 'Rainbow Trail', displayed in the windows of houses all over the country. You can see some of their creations on our Galleries page here.
There has also already been some fantastic online learning going on. Ollie T (4T) made and shared a super science video to explain the conclusion for his experiment, which you can see on the school Youtube channel here:
Xavier B (3M) has been creating the most amazing marble runs at home to test how fast and far marbles will run! In his second attempt, he even runs marbles down from his bedroom window on the outside of the house!
Pavitar (5G) and his father played on the Dhol on their street to show their family support to the NHS and all the key workers. Bravo!
During the Easter break in one of the Friday messages Mrs Drummond challenged the children to create something from a simple piece of wire. Some of the children's creations can be seen on the Galleries page.
Since returning to school on Wednesday, Year 2 have done some amazing talks on Google Meet. The pupils worked on them over the Easter holidays and have spent the last two days sharing them with the class. Topics have included swimming, family, skiing, Scotland, cats, foxes, staying healthy, cars and many more. Some children even presented their screens! Well done, Year 2.
If you have not yet been watching Mrs. Hunt and Mrs. Drummond videos and messages, please do take a look - there is a link on the home page of the Learning Portal. These have been posted throughout the Easter holidays. There is a mixture of stories, songs, messages and short clips to lift the spirits! You might like to take a look at this 12 second clip of Mrs. Drummond, Mr. Smith, Miss Baldwin, Roshni and Ajit dancing at Lower School over the holidays for a start!
We would like to encourage our pupils to keep up to date with current affairs while they are learning from home. The school has a subscription to First News, the excellent newspaper for primary school children, and many pupils usually read this when they are visiting the library at school. For now, First News are publishing digitally and making their content available for free download. Please do encourage your child to subscribe digitally and to read First News each time it is published. Further information on how to do so is available here.
We are thrilled to announce the results of the ABRSM examinations taken at the end of last term:
6M Keaton P Grade 1 Distinction
6M Dhiya K Grade 4 Merit
6RD Esha T Grade 2 Merit
6RD Laura B Grade 3 Distinction
4T Shruthi T Grade 3 Distinction
6M Jasmine B Grade 5 Merit
4KT Chrissy S Grade 1 Merit
4T Ria M Grade 1 Merit
6RD Catherine L Grade 6 Pass
2B Senna G prep pass
3M Xavier B prep pass
5A Jessica L Grade 1 Distinction
5G Vidhit N Grade 2 Pass
2B Emily S Initial Grade Distinction
1C Aanya C Initial Grade Distinction
4KT Layla O Grade 1 Merit
6M Ibraheem F Grade 3 Pass
6RD Kaixin F Grade 1 Merit
5A Aaran P Grade 1 Pass
4KT Luka K Grade 1 Pass
3B Dominic M Grade 1 Pass
This is a fantastic set of results and we are very proud of all of the pupils involved, who worked so hard last term to practise and prepare for their music examinations alongside their other daily work and activities.
For the time being, individual instrumental and vocal lessons are being delivered remotely. Timetables for the summer term have been posted to the website and are available here.
From September, due to Year 6 pupils leaving and creating some vacancies, we will have spaces for children to learn flute. Some of our talented flautists will be playing in Friday assemblies over the next few weeks so do encourage your children to watch - hopefully they will be inspired to want to learn the flute themselves! Spaces are allocated on a first come, first served basis and you should email Mrs. Allery directly if your child would like to learn the flute: email@example.com
The London Borough of Hillingdon STARS Team are running a 'Design your Dream Bike' competition, which closes on Thursday 30th April, and we would like to encourage children to make an entry.
Children should draw what their dream bicycle would look like. It doesn’t have to be a conventional two-wheel bicycle - the bike can be as wacky and inventive as they want. The more creative the better! Think wings and rockets and you are on the right track! Children are encouraged to use their imagination and whatever medium they have to hand. Paints, pencils, crayons and pens are all totally acceptable!
Once the top 3 winning designs from each key stage have been selected, they will be sent to a graphic designer to be turned into a piece of art - digitising the design and adding colour and backgrounds to the print, which will then be mounted and framed for your child to keep.
Prize breakdown (for each KS1, KS2, KS3, KS4):
1st Place will receive a £50 Amazon Voucher and an A3 framed print of their bike
2nd Place will receive a £30 Amazon Voucher and an A4 framed print of their bike
3rd Place will receive a £15 Amazon Voucher and an A5 framed print of their bike
In addition, work will be exhibited at a local library, subject to changes to the current lockdown conditions.
Here is a template that could be printed out and used by your child; however, if you don't have access to a printer then please feel free to use any piece of paper and art supplies you have! When your child's design is complete, please e-mail a photo of the design including the child's name, school and year group to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries must be received by Thursday 30th April 2020. The STARS team will then contact the winners by email.
Good luck, everyone!
Posted on: 24/04/2020
AdaptabilityA quick internet search for ‘adaptability’ and ‘employers’ brings up article after article from the broadsheet press, from employment agencies and recruitment websites, and from the websites of top companies, citing adaptability as the key quality that today’s employers are looking for in new hires, including new graduates. Many high level employers have actually devised ways to test for adaptability as part of their recruitment processes.
Adaptability is defined as ‘the quality of being able to adjust to new conditions; an ability or willingness to change in order to suit different conditions’. The specific adaptability that employers are looking for has, perhaps, a slightly wider definition: they might add the words ‘effectively’, ‘successfully’, ‘quickly’, ‘independently’ or ‘good naturedly’ to this definition. Certainly, a key ingredient for success in the adult world into which our current pupils will enter is likely to be the ability to adapt oneself to an ever-changing and sometimes totally unprecedented environment… like the one in which we all find ourselves now!
This might sound a big ask, but it is surely going to be second nature to St. Helen’s College children and, perhaps more widely, to the younger generation in general. When, on March 20th, schools were ordered into lockdown by the government, our pupils had to come to terms, almost overnight, with the idea that they would, for the foreseeable future, be unable to see their friends, teachers and other support staff in person. They had to adapt, with speed and good humour, to learning and communicating online, to working more independently and to finding their place in a household that most likely suddenly became more full of people than ever before. They had to understand, very quickly, that it was their own responsibility to develop and feed their enquiring mind and they had to do all of this while attempting to understand the wider local, national and international implications of the threat of the pandemic in which we find ourselves.
Wow! That is a lot to expect of adults, but for children it feels impossible. However, as Audrey Hepburn said, there is no such thing as ‘impossible’ – the word itself is ‘I’m Possible’. What our children have certainly discovered over the last few weeks is that they themselves are the key to their success. HOW they approach their learning, their relationships and their health is key. The success criteria in a new situation, even an unprecedented one, are the same as in any situation: being willing to listen, learn and think creatively; being able to try, fail and learn from failures; being ready to reflect, be still and find the voice within. Our values are what allow us to do these things effectively in new situations. If we have a strong personal core – if we know who we are and what we believe in – if perseverance, honesty, determination, kindness and the pursuit of excellence are embedded in our very being – then surely we are well-placed for success no matter what the outside world might throw at us. Moreover, if we have our own interests and a willingness to try new things and keep ourselves busy, active and learning in new situations, then our mental and physical health are likely to be maintained even in restrictive circumstances.
This is why the St. Helen’s College aims, and our values-based education system, are given such a high priority at the school, and are referred back to in everything that we do. No matter what the ‘crisis’, no matter what the new demands, no matter what our physical restrictions, we continue to aim for excellence and to nourish a love of learning, to encourage children to discover their own talents and interests by taking part in a wide range of activities, and to instil core Christian values so that children develop integrity, self-awareness and resilience. It has been a joy to hear how our pupils are embodying these aims in lockdown, from keeping busy writing songs, creating art, building marble runs, taking up new sports and hobbies to adapting and persevering in using online systems that might be new to them. We are sure that, having had the opportunity to practise adaptability and reflect upon it in such a major way, they will be high on the list of desirable candidates for any future employer!
There is not time now to discuss the amazing adaptability shown by parents and school staff in the current situation…perhaps that will be for another blog…but please rest assured that we know how very adaptable parents are having to be, and that we are amazingly proud of the flexibility, commitment and great integrity that our whole community is showing during this strange time.
We look forward to practising our adaptability again when we are able to adjust back to some sort of normality – hopefully sooner rather than later!
Posted on: 3/04/2020
#AdventureI have joined a group of fellow educators this week to participate in a daily writing challenge. Today’s 500 word challenge struck a chord with me, following my conversations last night as I joined my community for the second week to clap for our NHS workers and other carers.
The word we were encouraged to blog about today is ‘Adventure’.
An adventure is often defined as exciting, involving an element of risk and unknown outcomes. When we hear the word, we think of adventure stories and films, in which the heroes and other characters undergo challenges, often making a journey of self-discovery as they do so and, almost always, working through difficulties and risky situations to positive endings.
I do not think that any of us could have anticipated what our NHS workers are currently up against, and we certainly would not glibly define their vocation as an adventure during this COVID-19 crisis. But there are similarities: every day these workers are most certainly at risk, their daily outcomes are most certainly unknown and they are embracing their roles with courage, stoicism and grace.
Yesterday, the Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nursing, Dame Donna Kinnair, spoke out on behalf of thousands of nurses who felt that NHS staff were being let down and put at great risk by the lack of personal protective equipment for nursing staff, including those in hospitals, GP surgeries, care homes and hospices, as well as community nurses visiting people in their homes. In a letter to the Health and Safety Executive, she called the situation ‘unconscionable’ and called upon the HSE to intervene.
My sister has been in despair for weeks; she is a District Nurse Team Leader and a National Clinical Lead for Nursing and has been deeply concerned about how ill-equipped her district nurses have been on a daily basis. She has been handing out insubstantial face masks to her team - one mask per nurse per day - and felt this was an insult to their professionalism as they continued to put their own safety and wellbeing at risk for the greater good. We now hear that, at last, teams of NHS workers will become protected and will be able to fulfil their roles without the fear of becoming infected themselves or infecting a vulnerable person. NHS worker testing is another dilemma which we hope to see resolved soon.
Late last night I checked in on another friend, who is currently working 12 hour shifts at a London hospital as an Intensive Care Unit nurse. Her world, and that of all of her colleagues, has been turned on its head. She is drained, exhausted and anxious, but is coping with her anxiety admirably and has documented her experiences in a blog - her way of dealing with the reality of the situation.
Schools, including St. Helen’s College, are doing their bit by remaining open over the Easter holiday to look after the children of key workers. We are grateful to be able to help our key worker parents in this way, who are crucial to supporting this crisis and we thank all of our parents for playing your part, in critical key worker roles, as NHS and other volunteers, as supportive members of your local and wider community and, by no means least, in supporting your children and wider family during these challenging times.
The young children we have in school at the moment may regard having the school to themselves as a bit of an ‘adventure’ too - there are very few of them with us, and the school must seem strange and empty to them without their friends around them. Luckily, our amazing staff see it as an adventure too and are helping to fill those children’s days with love and structure. Our children most likely cannot understand the enormity of the crisis that we find ourselves in as they live through it. I hope that, one day in the future, they will read blogs and listen to stories from parents and others who are on the front line at the moment.
We will get through this moment in our history, and perhaps one day we will be able to see it as one of the great ‘adventures’ of our lives, in the strictest of senses - not a fictional story but a very real time of the unknown; a time of the unthinkable, but a time during which we all found great courage and self-awareness, and during which we cemented our roles in our families, communities and society as a whole.
Thinking of you all; stay safe, stay connected, stay strong.