School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 29/04/2022
Weekly News - Friday 29th April 2022Year 5 Residential Trip - Isle of Wight
Our Year 5 children return from the Isle of Wight today where they have spent five days on a residential trip. They have taken part in many exciting activities including climbing and high roping, taken a trip to learn all about the Mary Rose and undertaken coastal studies to enrich their geography learning. Five days and nights away from home has also enhanced their independence and cemented already very strong friendships. They return tired but happy!
Maths Quiz Club
The school entered two teams into the Quiz Clubs Inter School Maths competition this week, and our teams performed brilliantly, finishing 2nd and 5th. Both teams have qualified for the semi-finals which will take place on 14th June, and we wish them luck as they prepare for these!
The pupils of Year 2 have enjoyed their intensive swimming week this week at Hillingdon Sports & Leisure Centre.
The football team lost their quarter final 2-0 to Heathrow Primary School in a tough game on Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Harrington was pleased with the team's resilience and determination to keep going against tough opposition!
On Thursday, the U11 netball team played in a tournament at Newnham Junior School, progressing through the first round, which gave them some great experience and was very enjoyable too.
School at Work Open Morning
We ran a very successful Open Morning this week, during which our confident Year 6 guides enjoyed showing prospective families around the school. The families who came to look around were, as always, very impressed with our articulate, confident and enthusiastic pupils throughout the school.
Our very exciting Singing Competition final will take place on Friday 20th May 2022 this year.
The semi-finals will take place like last year with video entries for solos, duets and groups, with finalists being selected to perform live on 20th May, to our guest judge Sarah Hughes.
Only one solo entry per child is permitted (one additional group or duet entry may be made) and submitted by only one email, please.
Please submit your video entry by no later than Friday 6th May 2022.
For Middle School entries please submit to all of the following:
For Upper School entries please submit to all of the following:
The subject of the email should be clear, e.g. "Singing Competition: name of child, form group, name of song and composer" and it may be easiest to submit using your school Google drive (don’t forget to share the file).
The categories this year are as follows:
Middle School Competition: Year 2 Solo, Year 3 Solo, MS duet, MS group and Best Overall Performance.
Upper School Competition: Year 4 Solo, Year 5 Solo, Year 6 Solo, US duet, US group and Best Overall Performance.
Finalists will be chosen and announced by Friday 13th May 2022 on the school newsletter.
The following rules apply:
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, however we request a translation to be submitted with your entry.
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, Mrs. Garnes or Mrs. Hawkes.
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.
'Harmony at Home' Parent Practice Course
Some parents may remember Elaine Halligan from The Parent Practice, who ran a parent workshop here at St. Helen's College a few years back. Elaine is commencing her next 'Harmony at Home' course on Tuesday 3rd May and some of you may be interested in signing up for this. The course runs remotely from 8.00 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. for 6 weeks.
Free Parent Asthma Workshop
The Hilllingdon asthma nurses are offering another free parent workshop on May 13th from 4 to 5 p.m. We hope that many of you will take advantage of this opportunity to hear about asthma and its management. Full details are here.
Posted on: 22/04/2022
21st Century EducationAt the beginning of our summer term I felt that it was an ideal opportunity to remind us of the St. Helen’s College aims:
Love of Learning
We aim to inspire a lifelong thirst for creative, stimulating and rewarding learning, leading to the full development of every child’s academic potential.
We aim to instil core moral values, inspiring virtue, responsibility, resilience, independence, mindful self-awareness and a desire for continuing self-development.
Involvement and Challenge
We aim to inspire an ongoing desire to develop talents, nurture the widest possible range of interests, and contribute to society as confident, compassionate and responsible citizens and leaders of the future.
These aims also extend to our staff and many of you may be aware that as a staff we are also committed to be lifelong learners and it is by continuing on this path of professional learning that we can continue to inspire and challenge your children.
On Tuesday we welcomed a guest speaker to St. Helen’s College - Professor Guy Claxton. Guy is a world-renowned cognitive scientist and emeritus Professor of the Learning Sciences at the University of Winchester. He has influenced educational theory and practice across the world and I was delighted that he was able to attend our staff training day to share his views on education for the 21st Century. I do not intend to reiterate what Guy shared with us but I highly recommend that you read one of his blogs here.
Here is an extract from his blog:
“A few days ago I had a very thought-provoking and productive lunch with my friends Becky Carlzon and Adrian Bethune. Becky is the guiding spirit behind Learning Pioneers and co-author, with me, of Powering Up Children: The Learning Power Approach to Primary Teaching. Adrian is founder of Teachappy (“Happier Teachers, Happier Children”), and a great ambassador for mindfulness in education.
I came away fired up about how important it is to build education around a clear specification of the kinds of young people we are aiming to develop: what do they really need to know; be able to do; and be like in their attitudes and mindsets? And saddened, yet again, at the astonishing level of intellectual lethargy displayed by society at large. Where are the urgent debates about what an education fit for the 21st century should be like? Almost nowhere. (Even Radio 4 only dips a superficial toe into this shark-infested water every now and again.)
So on the train back to Sussex I bashed out the following. What do you think?
What we need is a shared vision of education as empowering young people with the knowledge, values, capabilities and character strengths to be a force for good in the world, and thus find the continuing fulfilment of a life well lived. This means:
Giving young people opportunities to explore many different potential avenues of excellence (both within 'school' and beyond),and discover the interests and occupations that may give their lives purpose, meaning and the kind of quiet happiness with themselves that is so different from complacency.
Giving them a diet of escalating challenges that will engage their energy and effort, the exercise of which will naturally lead them to develop a background 'mindset' of generalisable character strengths (aka 'positive learning dispositions' or 'qualities of mind') such as these "12 Pillars of Fulfilment":
presence - being alive to all the features and complexities of significant situations
discernment - having a reliable moral 'nose' for that which is fulfilling, nurturing and 'wholesome'
self-care - creating their own social and physical ecology - habits of rest and recreation, sources of nurturance, support and advice - so that they can bring their full energy and intelligence to the pursuit of their passions
critical thinking and ‘fake news’ detection - discerning and calling out that which is sham, shallow, specious or seductive (a la Greta Thunberg)
self-awareness - an honesty and vigilance about the habits, beliefs and insecurities that might be their Achilles Heels or lead them astray
craftmanship - being dissatisfied with anything but their best; willing to practise, draft, revise and respond to feedback
adaptability - having the awareness and resourcefulness to change tack and adjust as they go along
collegiality - having a friendly and open attitude that makes it easy for them to find and join teams and communities that support their core purposes
buoyance and resilience – being able to bounce back from frustration and setbacks and recommit to their goals
self-discipline - prioritising and devoting energy and perseverance to that which is truly important to them
curiosity - a judicious keenness to engage with and investigate novelties, challenges and uncertainties that bear on their values and projects
imagination - the ingenuity to create fresh possibilities of thought and action that further their purposes
I see these as constituting the trunk – the ‘common core’ of a viable character - out of which can grow all the varied branches – the interests, passions and idiosyncrasies that make everyone unique and special.
Seeing mindfulness-like practices as on-going practical supports for developing all these qualities of mind – as the evidence indeed suggests it is. Organisations like the Mindfulness in Schools Project need to present mindfulness as much more deeply valuable than just helping to reduce stress. It is an all-purpose fertiliser for the growth of a strong and supple mind.
Equipping youngsters with the starter kits of knowledge and skill that will enable them to make progress as both actors and learners. This is hard but vital. Why Trigonometry rather than Neuroscience? Why the Tudors rather than the critical analysis of Fake News?
Enabling teachers to embrace their role as coaches and guides, and to develop their own resources and sensibilities, in the service of their students' journeys. An army of teachers who were keen to grow and extend their skill and insight day-by-day would transform children’s experience of school.
Enabling teachers and school leaders to harness (and if necessary resist or subvert) external pressures and requirements on them and their students that threaten to derail this vision. Innovation will come from brave and ingenious school principals and their staff, not from Whitehall.”
Don’t you think that the pillars of fulfilment sound very similar to what we here at St. Helen’s College aspire to achieve with your children? Much of what Guy discussed with us enabled us to reflect on our pedagogical practices and as a teaching team we will be continuing to review our curricula and practices in order to prepare our children for their futures.
Last night we held a meeting for parents of our current Year 3 and Year 4 pupils as they begin to think about the next step in their child’s educational journey. The aim of the evening was to lay out what we do at school to prepare your children for senior school transition and assessments. Pupil wellbeing is crucial to their ability to learn and flourish and we hope that the information shared has been food for thought for all who attended.
It is so important that we do not compare children with each other but allow them to develop their interests and talents and recognise that they all make progress at different rates but also may need different input to enable them to unlock understanding and hone their skills.
I will leave you with a wonderful analogy I heard in the staffroom this morning:
For a plant to flourish to its magnificent best, it needs to be nurtured and grown in the right conditions. All need light, water and nutrients but some need shade and clay soil whilst others need sun and sandy soil. People, too, thrive in different conditions. We need to provide the conditions in which children will flourish. The type of school that best suits one child may be entirely wrong for another. The route to finding a place where a child will grow and excel is not to look for the most prestigious school and expect the child to adapt to that school but to find the school that best fits a child.
You may wish to watch this video here where Guy discusses the concept of ‘Learning being Learnable’. I have been inspired by how the St. Helen’s College staff embrace every opportunity to connect with your children and how committed they are to the continuous learning process for not only your children but for themselves too! What an amazing community we have!
Here’s to a wonderful summer term ahead!
Posted on: 22/04/2022
Weekly News - Friday 22nd April 2022Earth Day
Today is 'Earth Day', a day during which we are all encouraged to celebrate our Earth and explore how we can look after our Earth. Children have thought about this at school today and we hope that you will encourage them to keep exploring at home.
You can find out more about Earth Day by following these links:
To celebrate Earth Day, our Nursery children children planted beans which they had grown from the bean.
They have also each created their own 'handprint' earth and made a pledge of something they are going to do to help look after Earth.
Plastic Free Schools - Objective Met!
We are pleased to announce that, in our quest to become a Plastic Free School, St. Helen's College has now successfully completed Objective 2: TRASH MOB!
Picking up plastic pollution from playgrounds, parks and streets stops it from getting into rivers and eventually into our oceans. With 12 million tonnes of plastic entering oceans each year, it is great that our Trash Mob has prevented even more from getting there.
We will now move onto Objective 3, which is Challenging the Government. Pupils will write and send letters to the local politician outlining their campaign, their findings in the school and asking the politician for help to tackle the issue.
Red Nose Day Fundraising
The final total raised by the St. Helen's College community in support of Comic Relief/Red Nose Day was a fantastic £1196.02! Thank you to everyone who supported the fundraising effort for this very worthy cause.
Our pupil Charity Reps were excellent in their work driving this initiative. They worked hard on making an exciting sports quiz for everyone and selling wristbands. A special well done to:
Year 2 - Shayna, Aakash, Shaylen, Avleen
Year 3 - Amelia, Isaac, Reet, Mufaddal
Year 4 - Roha, Arjun, Jeena, Nya
Year 5 - Matthew, Dylan, Albert, Anaiya
Year 6 - Ryan, Sahib, Avaani, Diyan
Year 4 Music
In music lessons, last term, Year 4 created artistic and poetic responses to a piece of music. They listened to "Storm" from Benjamin Britten's "Peter Grimes" opera, and created a stormy picture and a descriptive poem in response to the music.
You can watch and listen to their work here:
Year 5 Residential Trip to Isle of Wight
We wish our Year 5 children well for their trip to the Isle of Wight next week. They will be taking part in many exciting activities and we will report on their experiences when they return!
Co-Curriculum and PE/Games
There are spaces available in Karate Club on Mondays after school for Year 5 and 6 from 3.50 p.m. to 4.50 p.m. We are now also opening this club up to Year 4 as well.
We also have spaces in the Year 3 Taekwondo Club on a Tuesday lunchtime from 12.20 to 1 p.m.
Both clubs are run by fantastic experts in their field and provide lots of benefits for your children.
Please get in touch with Mr. Harrington if you are interested in your child attending either of these clubs. Remaining spaces will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Year 6 Bikeability is starting this weekend and details have been sent separately to Year 6 parents. Please ensure that your Year 6 child is there, on time with the correct equipment.
Our Year 2 classes will undertake their intensive swimming programme next week.
For the summer term, please remember that your child should have the correct summer PE and Games kit (white PE technical polo shirt, no green shirts or socks to be worn this term).
Jubilee Flag Competition
With the Queen's Platinum Jubilee approaching, we have an exciting opportunity for three pupils to leave a lasting legacy here at St. Helen's College.
We would like pupils to design a flag in honour of the Jubilee. Flag designs may be themed around all things royal such as crowns, the Queen's portrait, corgi dogs, horses or a combination of The Queen and our school.
The only element that each flag must include is the fact that it is the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, or celebration of 70 years on the throne.
The winning designs (one for Ducklings, one for Lower School and one for Upper School will be made into a real flag and be raised above our three school sites!
Entries should be made on A4 landscape paper and be given to your form teacher or directly to Mrs. Pruce by Friday 20th May. Mrs. Drummond and Mrs. Hunt will judge the winning designs.
Congratulations to Grace O'H and Verity S (Y4) who held a bake sale on the day of our second hand uniform sale and raised £48. The money is going to an organisation in Kerala that promotes elephant welfare to prevent their torture and abuse. It is always wonderful to see our pupils embracing social responsibility.
We are delighted to share the news that Abhay K, who was Head Boy at St. Helen's College several years ago, has been named the new Head Boy of Royal Grammar School Wycombe. Congratulations to Abhay!