School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 30/04/2021
Weekly News - Friday 30th April 2021General Knowledge Quiz Team Successes!
We are thrilled to let you know that three of our General Knowledge teams have made it through to the Prep School General Knowledge National Finals! Our Year 4 team, Year 5 team and Year 6 team all qualified from their heats and are now continuing to work on their General Knowledge, preparing for the national finals which will take place in June. Competition is fierce in this contest so the children have already done extremely well and we are very proud of them. We all wish them luck in the Finals!
The Big Pedal
Pupils, staff and parents at Lower School and Upper School have taken part in the national Big Pedal Week this week to promote physical activity and active travel to school.
Everyone was encouraged to include walking, scooting or cycling in their daily travel to and from school between Monday 26th - Friday 30th April and there was a challenge to see which class completed the most active journeys. At Upper School, 5A completed the most cycling journeys, 3M completed the most scooting journeys and 4T completed the most walking journeys. At Lower School, 1C and 1R were joint winners of being the most active travellers to school.
Every child from Nursery to Year 6 enjoyed Big Pedal/Push bike/scooter sessions in PE lessons this week, and we saw a great increase in the number of people actively travelling to school, whether on foot or using bikes and scooters. The children's proficiency in scooting and cycling was noticeably improved and we feel that this could be one of the benefits of the lockdown period, when so many of you took to the outdoors. It was great to see parents and staff travelling in different, more active ways too, and it was good to hear that many of you found the lovely new walking distance zone map that has been produced for us useful when planning your journeys. This map will remain available in the School Documents page of the website for the future and we hope that it will encourage you all to try to incorporate some foot travel into your school journeys.
Our Premises Manager Mr. Smith also took up the challenge. A keen cyclist himself, he undertook a long distance bike ride each evening and challenged the children to guess where he had got to before returning to school. Children were told which direction he was travelling each day (North, South, East or West) and the distance of the round trip. Photographs of his final destinations were shared daily and we hope that the children enjoyed trying to work out where he ended up each day! Mr. Smith has cycled over 250 km this week on his bike - an amazing achievement!
We hope that you all enjoyed your active travel this week and that you will all now keep it up, finding more active ways to travel to and from school for the rest of this term and into the future. You can see more photographs from the week on our Photo Galleries page.
Upcoming Author Visit - Baroness Floella Benjamin
On Tuesday 11th May at 10 a.m. pupils in Years 1-6 will have the privilege of joining a live online event with Baroness Floella Benjamin, a truly inspirational speaker. The Baroness is celebrating the publication of both her picture book Coming to England: An Inspiring True Story About the Windrush Generation, and the 25th anniversary edition of her ever-popular memoir Coming to England: two books that give a powerful reminder of how courage and determination can overcome adversity.
Parents and children have the opportunity to pre-order copies of these books if you would like to do so.
THE PICTURE BOOK for younger readers (rrp £6.99) - Suitable for Years 1 & 2
A story about the triumph of hope, love, and determination, Coming to England is the inspiring true story of Baroness Floella Benjamin: from Trinidad, to London as part of the Windrush generation, to the House of Lords. When she was ten years old, Floella Benjamin, along with her older sister and two younger brothers, set sail from Trinidad to London, to be reunited with the rest of their family. Alone on a huge ship for two weeks, then tumbled into a cold and unfriendly London, coming to England wasn’t at all what Floella had expected.
Coming to England is both deeply personal and universally relevant – Floella’s experiences of moving home and making friends will resonate with young children, who will be inspired by her trademark optimism and joy.
THE MEMOIR (25th anniversary edition) (rrp £6.99) - suitable for Years 3-6
With a foreword by the author and some additional historical information, this is the incredible story of Floella’s journey from Trinidad to London, as part of the Windrush generation, to the House of Lords.
Floella Benjamin was just a young girl when she, her sister and two brothers arrived in England in 1960 to join their parents, whom they had not seen for fifteen months. They had left the island paradise of Trinidad to make a new home in London – part of a whole generation of West Indians who were encouraged to move to Britain and help rebuild the country after the Second World War. Reunited with her mother, Floella was too overwhelmed at first to care about the cold weather and the noise and dirt from the traffic.
But, as her new life began, she was shocked and distressed by the rejection she experienced. She soon realized that the only way to survive was to work twice as hard and be twice as good as anyone else.
If you would like to buy copies of Baroness Floella’s books, please click on the link below to order
Important: as you go through the checkout, you will be given the option to have your book(s) delivered directly to the school, with no delivery charge. If you choose this option, please state your child's name and class in the 'Details Required For School Events' box, as this will ensure correct allocation of the book(s) to your child in school.
This link will be open until midnight on Thursday 13th May.
We are delighted that we are now able to offer Year 3 to Year 6 a residential day in the local area. Information about each year group's plans has been sent to parents this week. Please ensure that you read this as there is a lot of information. Some of the trips require parental support with transportation so please add the dates to your diaries now.
Posted on: 30/04/2021
ReadingA recent report published in the Times Educational Supplement was rather uplifting to read: finally we have the media reporting with less doom and gloom on the impact of lockdown upon children’s educational progress. The report, produced from research by GL assessment, states that there has not been a catastrophic reading decline for children during the Covid pandemic. However, they do report that there has been a dip in the standardised reading ages of children and that "Primary school children seem to have been affected a little more than secondary school students, but not significantly".
Here at St. Helen’s College, we are delighted that the reading ages of our children increased by a year or more in every year group (Y2 - Y6) in the year in which the first lockdown occurred. This was achieved through your commitment as parents and the continued reading provision from school across the curriculum. We use the GL assessment tool and were truly delighted with the analysis of our data on the children’s return to school.
However, it is not all about us using data to assess the progress of the children with their reading. Of utmost importance is how we all engage them each and every day to use their reading skills, not only to read for pleasure but as a key skill for them to be able to understand and engage with the world around them. We learn to read and then we read to learn!
As a parent of a young child, you are the most influential and most important teacher that your child can have. It is never too early to start reading with your child and your children’s journey with literature should be started when they are tiny little babies. This is a precious time for parents to snuggle up with your newborn, exploring the awe and wonder of each page you look at. The black and white books which are best in those first few months will encourage your baby to focus on lines and patterns in monotone as your baby starts to make sense of the blurry world they have been born into. By the time they are about four months old, your child begins to see the world around them in more colour and there is such a wonderful array of books available to stimulate interest and curiosity.
By the time your children start school or Nursery, books should already be a familiar part of their lives and I am sure that your children all have their favourites which they will love to read over and over. Such rhyme and repetition is important as they start to build their linguistic ability.
I still have such fond memories of my nightly snuggle with my daughter as we read and re-read her favourite book, ‘Time for Bed Little Ted’. We still have this furry-backed book on the bookshelf and even at the age of 21 she will pick it up and we have fun reciting each page, taking us back to those precious childhood days.
I am delighted that our children at St. Helen’s College are such passionate readers and, although our library may not be operating quite in the usual manner at Upper School, our committed school librarians, Mrs. Emanuel and Mrs. Smith, continue to provide the children with an array of exciting and inspiring reads and to encourage their love of reading for pleasure.
Another positive to come out of the pandemic is that adults also seem to have ‘rediscovered their love of reading’, with sales of non-fiction increasing by 16% in 2020. I hope that your love of books has been reignited and many of you may have revisited favourite books and found new books to enjoy. Please allow your children to see you engaging with books as often as possible. Reading for pleasure is so important and an activity we all need to allow ourselves to enjoy! So over this bank holiday weekend, I urge you to put down your mobile phone, close the computer, put your feet up with a good book and have your family join you in some quality family reading time!
Posted on: 23/04/2021
Weekly News - Friday 23rd April 2021St. George's Day
It was wonderful on the journey to school today to see so many St. George's flags flying. We hope that many of your children enjoyed discussing some of the traditions and activities linked to St. George's Day. Please do ask them at home about their St. George's day activities, and continue to celebrate the day with them.
Here are some of our Ducklings, who enjoyed making St. George's Day flags today!
World Earth Day and Climate Change Competition
Yesterday was World Earth Day 2021. Advik S, one of our Year 4 Eco Reps, has written this piece to explain more:
World Earth Day is an annual event that shows support for environmental protection. Every year it is held on the 22nd April. It was started by Senator Gaylord Nelson and Denis Hayes in 1970 which is approximately 51 years ago.
Every day around 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into the ocean and around 200,000 acres of rainforest are burned every year. Although humans have inflicted all this damage upon the environment, there is still time to make amends. Some of the things you could do are to use a cotton or fabric bag when you go shopping, use your own water bottle instead of buying bottled water as much as possible and lastly go on litter walks. You will be helping the environment and I know these changes might be small, but if we all contribute to it we will make the world a better place.
Many thanks to Advik for his commitment to educating others on this important topic.
To encourage more people to think about Climate Change, Hillingdon Council is running a Climate Change Competition, which is open to all St. Helen's College children. The closing date is Saturday 5th June.
Children are urged to get creative and take part in this borough wide competition to get everyone thinking about Climate Change, how it makes us feel and what can be done to do our part. Children are free to use any art form to express what Climate Change means to them, whether it be a musical composition, a drama scene, a poem, a piece of artwork or something else.
You can find out more information about the competition here, including how to enter and of course what prizes are on offer! We hope that many of your children will create entries for this competition and that, in doing so, they will think deeply about climate change and what it means for all of us.
iArt Competition Winner!
Enormous congratulations to Arya A (Year 2), whose ‘Rainbow Tree’ piece of art came first in the Year 1-2 category of the prestigious iArt competition.
The competition had a record number of entries this year: 168 in total and over 30 entries in the Year 1-2 category (the biggest entry ever). So a huge well done to Arya, whose beautifully framed piece of art is currently hanging in Mrs. Drummond's office where it is being admired by all who visit.
Arya will be presented with a certificate and Amazon gift voucher, and her artwork is being turned into a picture that will hang on the wall of IAPS HQ for a year too.
The Big Pedal Week
We would like to remind parents that we will be taking part in the national Big Pedal Week next week to promote physical activity and active travel to school.
We encourage all pupils and parents to include walking, scooting or cycling in their daily travel to and from school between Monday 26th - Friday 30th April. Pupils will also have the opportunity to take part in a Big Pedal activity in one of their P.E lessons next week.
We would also like to draw parents' attention to this lovely new walking distance zone map that has been produced for us in association with The Big Pedal Week. This will remain available in the School Documents page of the website for the future and we hope that it will encourage you all to try to incorporate some foot travel into your school journeys.
In-School Peripatetic Music Lessons Resume
We are delighted to hear the musicality of our children throughout the day at school once more, as individual instrumental lessons have resumed in person, after a prolonged remote teaching period. Thank you to all of the parents and teachers who maintained the children's musicality throughout the lockdown period.
Upcoming Author Visit - Baroness Floella Benjamin
At 10 a.m. on Tuesday 11th May, Years 1 - 6 will be joining a virtual event with Baroness Floella Benjamin. She is a captivating presenter with a powerful story to tell. Her memoir, Coming to England, is already a classic and will soon be available in two new paperback editions: a picture storybook for children in KS1, and a revised and re-illustrated memoir for children in KS2. We have ordered some copies of both for the school and will send out an order form nearer the time for parents, should you wish to order one or more for your child or as a gift.
Before the event, pupils will be shown the following reading of the picture storybook. We encourage parents to watch this too. As well as being a great reading of the story, it adds some historical context to Baroness Benjamin's life and will help you to discuss the event with your child(ren).
Our very exciting Singing Competition final will take place on Friday 11th June 2021 this year. We had our first online solo competition last year, judged by Mrs. Crehan, and this was very much enjoyed by all. Both the semi-finals and the final round will take place like last year, with video entries. This year we have a guest judge and we will share this information with you on the day of the final.
In order for the competition to go ahead, we request that video entries are submitted for the semi-finals. Due to the current circumstances, we can only hold a solo competition again this year. Only one entry per child is permitted and on only one email, please. Please submit your solo video entry by no later than Friday 14th May 2021.
There is no set theme this year and we would like to hear songs from all different genres and eras. Singing in other languages is permitted. All songs must be age appropriate, melodic and have appropriate lyrics and themes. If you are unsure whether your choice is appropriate, please check with Mrs. Belvoir, Mrs. Fawbert or Mrs. Garnes (email addresses below). We would like to see only simple gestures and appropriate movements relevant to the performance - no dance moves please. A backing track is required (without words) for the performance. A child may play the piano/guitar etc. as part of their performance.
For Middle School (Year 2 and 3) entries please submit to both of the following:
For Upper School (Years 4, 5 and 6) entries please submit to both of the following:
The subject of the email should be clear, e.g "Singing Competition: name of child, form group, name of song" and it may be easiest to submit using your school Google drive.
Finalists will be chosen and announced by Friday 28th May 2021 on the school newsletter. Good luck to all!
Parents' Evening Bookings Years 1 - 6
Our next parents' evenings for Years 1 - 6 will take place on:
Tuesday 4th May from 4.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m.
Tuesday 11th May from 5.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.
Once again, we will be running these remotely due to Covid restrictions. Bookings are now open so please follow this link to book your appointments.
Virtual Open Morning
This term's Virtual Open Morning for prospective parents will take place on Friday 21st May at 10.00 a.m. These events are a lovely opportunity for prospective parents to meet Mrs. Drummond and other school staff and to hear about our provision, ethos and aims. Parents are able to ask questions and really get a feel for the school. If you do have friends and family who might be interested in their children joining us now or in the future, please do encourage them to register and join us on 21st May. The registration link is here.