School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 14/12/2018
Weekly News - Friday 14th December 2018It has been a busy term in the classroom and your children have worked very hard indeed. Particular mention must go to our Year 6 pupils, who have been striving for excellence throughout their 11+ preparation with many of our pupils now preparing for independent school examinations in January. We wish them all well and they should remember the advice given to them to be themselves...and keep reading!
As you are aware, no formal homework is set for students over the holidays; however, we would assume that every child will continue their reading journey throughout the holidays.
The festive holidays are a particularly good time to spend quality family time together, playing good old traditional board games such as chess, Ludo, Monopoly, card games, Pictionary etc. You may like to look at the Happy Puzzle Company (for Years 3-6) and Orchard Toys (for Ducklings - Year 3) for appropriate games and puzzles to enrich the pupils' learning while having fun together.
Enjoy visiting places of interest, talking to your children and remember to have some calm and peace over the festive season.
Christmas Events and Celebrations
It has been a most Christmassy week here at St. Helen's College as we have remembered the true meaning of Christmas and celebrated this special time of year through many events.
The week began with Nursery and Reception children putting on their nativity plays for their peers and parents; these were incredibly accomplished performances. It is astonishing to think, when watching these young performers, that they are only 3, 4 and 5 years old! Their ability to remember lines, move correctly around the stage and perform confidently in front of a large, enthusiastic audience was really very impressive indeed. As I commented at the end of the performances, we are in good hands with our leaders of the future.
The children of Ducklings and Lower School were really amazed on Thursday when they had a very special visitor. Yes, Santa managed to make time to come and see them! Mrs. Crehan also joined with Santa for some Christmas singing with the Ducklings. Sadly, Mr. Crehan was unable to join us as he was busy looking after reindeer for a friend!
Lower School children enjoyed their Christmas party afternoon and pantomime (performed by West End in Schools) on Thursday afternoon. The day before, all Upper School children had had a fantastic trip to the Theatre Royal, Windsor to see Dick Whittington.
Christmas lunch was served on Thursday for all, and it was a joy to see the children enjoy the festive lunchtime so much, with music, crackers and lots of good cheer! Special thanks must go to Andrew, our Chef, Soula, our Catering Manager and all the wonderful Accent staff who look after us so well in the dining hall all year round. Our Head Girl and Head Boy gave a heartfelt vote of thanks on behalf of the school.
Well done to our Christmas tree decoration competition winners. They were:
Ducklings - Aaria M
Wrens - Leo A
Robins - Armaanââ V
Kingfishers - Alexia C
Owls - Veer K
1HC - Riya S
1J - Rian M
2B - Milo M
2H - Saanvi S
3B - Deven D and Eshan N
3M - Anokhi B
4T - Maya S
4KT - Georgia S
5A - Ciaran R
5G - Anaiya B and Keaton P
6M - Mia N
6W - Hebe E
Thank you to all of the parents who attended our end of term Carol Service today. As ever, it was a poignant occasion with lovely performances from the choirs, orchestra and staff choir. We thank you all for your generosity in supporting the charities with the leaving collection.
Music and Sports Personality of the Term
An enormous well done to Xaviella F, who has been named Musician of the Term for her outstanding effort, commitment, dedication and achievement within the music department.
Xaviella has always worked conscientiously and demonstrated enormous enthusiasm over several years, in all aspects of music at St. Helen’s College. She has excellent music skills and applies and shares creative ideas successfully in class work. She began singing in the Lower School choir and has continued in the Upper School. Two years ago, she was selected to join the Chamber Choir and has already performed at two prestigious venues in London.
Xaviella is an asset to the music department and now holds the responsible position of Music Prefect. Instrumentally, she is a fluent recorder player, plays the violin in the school orchestra, has recently taken up the double bass and, as her crowning glory so far, has successfully achieved a distinction in her Grade 8 piano exam!
Well done, Xaviella. You are an inspiration to the young musicians of St. Helen's College and you thoroughly deserve this accolade.
Our Sports Personality of the Term trophy was also awarded today. This term, the trophy went to Zoe K, a young lady who represents the school in many sports and always works hard to contribute to team success.
Zoe was a member of the football, tag rugby, sports hall athletics and cross country teams this term and also regularly plays in the netball team as well as representing a netball team outside of school.
Zoe was a double champion this term, winning both District and Borough cross country titles and she went on to represent Hillingdon at the London Youth Games cross country championship.
A fantastic WELL DONE to Zoe.
Year 4 and 5 children enjoyed the first ever Cookery Club in Upper School this half term. It was such an exciting and fun club for them, as shown by their Cheshire Cat grins and gleeful little leaps as we announced the recipes for the sessions!
The children started each session by putting on their chef hats and aprons and issuing a warm greeting to Soula, our chef. They were shown good hygiene practices and all the necessary health and safety rules in the kitchen as they were shown around how the school kitchen works. At each session, the children prepared and cooked/baked different recipes which included smoothies, apple crumble, savoury mince pasty, vanilla sponge cupcakes and even a festive Christmas Tree chocolate sponge cake. The children learned food preparation and cooking techniques but, equally importantly, they experienced the joy and love of cooking and food, which is essential as a life skill. Many thanks to Ms Gilham and to Soula for running the club.
Spring Term 2019
The lunch menu for the spring term has been published to the School Documents page of the website and is available here.
Co-curricular clubs will begin the week commencing Monday 14th January. Thank you for submitting your selections; final allocations will be sent to you in due course. Please make your payment via SchoolsBuddy to confirm your child's place at your allocated clubs.
Breakfast Club bookings for next term should be made via your SchoolsBuddy account. Please note that you must book your Breakfast Club places through SchoolsBuddy or your child will not be able to attend; places are limited and are allocated on a first come, first served basis. Subject to availability of places, you may book a place at Breakfast Club up until 7.30 a.m. on the day of attendance. You can do this using a computer or mobile device, including smart phone. If you are unsure of how to do so, please see a member of the office team at your earliest convenience.
Posted on: 7/12/2018
Christmas by Mrs. SmithWhatever your religious beliefs, Christmas is such a huge part of British culture that it’s almost impossible not to take part. It is most special as an opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends and to reflect upon how lucky we are to have so much love and warmth in our lives.
Your children have worked very hard at school this term; they have had to adapt to new year groups, routines and academic demands. They have completed a lot of learning, inside and outside of the classroom, and have stretched themselves intellectually. They have made new friends, established relationships with staff members they hadn’t come across previously and embraced new, interesting and challenging concepts at every turn. They have been busy outside of the classroom too, taking part in co-curricular clubs, playing sports and games, learning musical instruments and giving performances. So we hope that Christmas will be a time of rest and relaxation for them and for you, too. In the hope that you will have the chance to spend some quality time together, I would like to share with you some suggestions for things to do together which should help to make the most of your Christmas family time, while keeping your children’s intellectual and creative curiosity alive. You may already have planned to include some or all of these into your Christmas holiday – I hope so!
Visit some Christmas lights
The UK lights up at Christmas and it can be a magical, peaceful experience to visit Christmas lights. You might like to visit ‘Kew at Christmas’, the Enchanted Woodland at Syon Park, London’s South Bank or the Oxford Street/Regent Street lights. Or you might simply walk around your own neighbourhood, appreciating the effort your neighbours have put into lighting up the world! Why not get creative and make Christmas lights pictures back at home afterwards, using paints or colouring materials, glitter, sequins or anything else you can find.
Help your children to buy Christmas presents
It is lovely for young children to experience the joy of thinking of others and giving gifts, and to learn to budget, by choosing Christmas presents for their family. You could give your child a small budget and help them to divide it up into a budget amount per recipient, and then to work out how much they will spend in total and how much change to expect. Help them to wrap their own gifts and write their own gift tags (don’t worry if they don’t look perfect!) – wrapping can be a tricky skill to master and doing it for themselves will help children to develop their fine motor skills, as well as being such a happy and loving experience. They might even like to make their own wrapping paper by stamping plain paper with Christmas shapes, or drawing a pattern.
Write thank you letters
It can be tempting nowadays to send emails, texts or messages on social media to thank family members for presents. But if you encourage your children to sit down and write thank you notes/letters by hand for any gifts they receive, you are helping them to develop their handwriting, their English and communication skills and their presentation skills. I still remember the ‘formula’ my mother taught me for thank you letters:
1. Thank the person for the gift and tell them why you love it/what you will be doing with it.
2. Tell them what a lovely Christmas/birthday/event you had and what made it special.
3. Express your wish that they have also been having a great time and that you will see them again soon.
Being able to plan a letter or simple piece of writing is a great skill and writing thank you letters is a great way to practise! As children grow older, their letters can become longer and more sophisticated.
Bake Christmas goodies together
Gingerbread, Christmas cookies, mince pies, sausage rolls, trifle….there are many, many treats to make at this time of year and cooking them together can be great fun! Weighing and measuring skills, creativity/artistic skills, practising telling the time and working out how much time is left, fine motor skills…all of these are developed during baking. And if you pop on some Christmas music while you bake, you can have a sing song together too (or maybe even encourage your children to practise their recorder or other instrument while the baked goods are in the oven!). Your children might like to write out recipes or create a homemade recipe booklet, practising their handwriting, spelling and creative skills. You could even gift baked goods, with handwritten recipes, to friends or neighbours (see below). If you haven't yet tried making 'stained glass' biscuits, which involve melting a boiled sweet into a cookie, why not try those this year - there's a recipe here and these look brilliant hung on the Christmas tree!
By giving your time selflessly to help others, you can show your children the true meaning of Christmas. You could offer to volunteer with a charity, or perhaps take an hour one morning, with your children, to go through your kitchen cupboards and take out a few items to donate to your local Foodbank. There are collection points now in many major supermarkets, or you can find details of your local Foodbank online. If you have an elderly neighbour, why not knock on their door and ask them if they need any assistance with shopping, cooking, decorating etc. in the run up to Christmas. Small acts of selfless service can be incredibly meaningful and rewarding.
Play board games, Charades etc.
Board games are the perfect way for a family to spend time together. There are many superb family board games available; my favourites are the traditional ones like Snakes and Ladders, Frustration, Monopoly (and there is an excellent card version, Monopoly deal) and Cluedo, all of which develop counting/maths skills, gameplay and critical thinking skills. There is a really wide choice of games on the market for all ages and many are educational as well as fun. If your children enjoy puzzles, Christmas is a perfect time to do a really big one together as a family. Charades is another great family game to play at Christmas. You don’t even really need to buy a game. Just think of songs, films, books, plays and television shows that all of the family will know, and write them on pieces of paper. Stick them in a hat and take it in turns to mime them to each other without speaking.
‘Twas The Night Before Christmas
If you do one thing with your children this Christmas, I urge you to read them ‘'TwasThe Night Before Christmas’, a traditional poem about St. Nicholas visiting a home to fill stockings with gifts. This poem, suitable for children of all ages, is responsible for many of our modern day ideas about Santa Claus and Christmas gift-giving.
If you have older children who already know ‘The Night Before Christmas’, you might like to read them Carol Ann Duffy’s superb modern re-imagining of the poem, ‘Another Night Before Christmas’.
Reading together is the most important thing you can do with your child. We hope you will read to them and with them every day over the Christmas holidays, and that they will see you reading lots of books/newspapers/magazines/journals too. Do pop a few books on those Christmas lists, if you haven’t already.
Merry Christmas one and all!
Posted on: 7/12/2018
Weekly News - Friday 7th December 2018Many thanks to Mrs. Patricia Adams, the Head of St. Mary's School in Gerrards Cross, who visited us this afternoon to run an interview workshop with our Year 6 children, many of whom will have senior school entrance interviews early next term. Mrs. Adams gave our pupils some great advice and we hope that they will have taken her two most important messages to heart: that 'over-preparation is the foe of inspiration' and that 'magic happens when you believe in yourself'.
Masterclasses like this are the cherry on the cake of preparation for interviews and public speaking in general, which begins at St. Helen's College from the very earliest years. Our pupils perform publicly regularly and the many and varied opportunities they get at school to challenge themselves intellectually and to get involved in all sorts of activities, sports and music give them plenty to speak confidently about!
We wish our Year 6 pupils all the very best in the various interviews they will be attending next term.
Assemblies This Week
Wow! Well done to Year 1 for a fabulous Christmas assembly today. The children sang with confidence and real rhythm, and without exception they spoke their lines with excellent clarity and projection. It was super to hear some of the history of Christmas, including how Christmas trees and Christmas cards originated, as well as to consider the true meaning of the Christmas story. Very well done to everyone involved.
3M performed their Christmas-themed assembly today too, which incorporated both an alternative and a traditional Christmas story and ended with an interactive carol involving staff and pupils, with a lyrical twist! The pupils' delivery of their (many) lines was flawless and the acting was first class. The children managed to combine humour with poignancy, showing great maturity in their performances. Well done indeed, 3M.
Christmas Is Coming!
Thank you to all of the many parents who visited school today to hear the Infant Choir perform Christmas songs this morning, with a special guest visit from the Mayor of Hillingdon, and to join us for our annual Carols Around the Tree this afternoon. It was super, as always, to bring our community together in this way to look forward to the joy of Christmas. Please read on below for details of Christmas events next week and the end of term arrangements.
Monday 10th December
8.45 a.m. Nursery Christmas Assembly at Lower School
All Nursery parents are warmly invited to join us to watch the children perform their Christmas assembly. Coffee will be served in the Lower School Hall from 8.15 a.m.
Tuesday 11th December
8.45 a.m. Reception Christmas Assembly at Lower School
All Reception parents are warmly invited to join us to watch the children perform their Christmas Nativity. Coffee will be served in the Lower School Hall from 8.15 a.m.
Children from Nursery, Year 1 and Year 2 will have had the opportunity to watch the Reception dress rehearsal on Monday 10th December.
Wednesday 12th December
Upper School (Years 2-6) Pantomime trip to see Dick Whittington at Theatre Royal, Windsor. Please note that details will be sent to parents separately.
Thursday 13th December
Christmas lunch for Nursery to Year 6, followed by a pantomime performance for Nursery to Year 1 at Lower School by West End In Schools.
Friday 14th December
11.00 a.m. Carol Service at All Saints Church (Years 2-6).
All parents are warmly invited to join us for our annual Carol Service at All Saints Church.
End of Term - Half Day (12.00 N/R, 12.10 Y1/2, 12.20 Y3/4, 12.30 Y5/6). Holiday Club running p.m. only.
Holiday Club will then be running from Monday 17th to Friday 21st December. Please remember that all bookings must be made through SchoolsBuddy.
Monday afternoon's chess match against St. Bernadette's was good fun and closely fought. The atmosphere was competitive but friendly and it was great to finish the term's chess on a high in what has become a regular and most enjoyable fixture. St. Bernadette's team won by a margin of the result on just one board. Well done to those who played.
There are a few clubs which will run an extra session next week to make up for a session missed earlier in the term; parents whose children attend these clubs have been emailed directly. All other co-curricular clubs for the Autumn term have now finished.
The co-curricular programme for the Spring term will be published on Monday via SchoolsBuddy. Please note a change to our booking procedures. In order to protect some time for the children to play with their peers and, particularly in Upper School, for staff to be able to catch up with children regarding their school work, we are restricting the number of clubs children may attend at lunchtimes to three per week. I trust that you understand that the well-being of the children is paramount. There will be no restriction on after school clubs.