School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 28/01/2022
Weekly News - Friday 28th January 20221C Class Assembly
What a super assembly the children of 1C performed for us on Thursday, all about Queen Elizabeth II. They relayed all sorts of information about the Queen and her reign, performed the Changing of the Guard to a super song and sang the National Anthem with pride! It was clear how much they have learnt about our sovereign and how enthusiastic they all are about this topic - they are very much looking forward to their trip to Windsor Castle next month!
Every child spoke their lines with confidence and projection. There was a lot of humour and the smiles on the children's (and adults') faces showed how very much we all enjoyed the performance. Well done 1C!
6R Class Assembly
The pupils of 6R planned and created their own assembly which they performed to us today, entitled Our St. Helen's College Journey.
They used their assembly to look back and reflect on their journey through St. Helen's College over the years. They shared a brilliant piece of collaborative art, performed some wonderful poems that they had written themselves all about their experiences at St. Helen's College, and sang 'A Million Dreams' beautifully. There was hardly a dry eye in the house!
The children also guided us through a brief Mindfulness session.
Well done, 6R, on a first class assembly.
Month End Music Recital
Well done to the performers who entertained us at today's Month End Music Recital in the Evans Hall. We heard a variety of instruments and, as ever, it was lovely to see our young musicians take the opportunity to perform in an informal environment. It was clear to see that the pupils enjoyed it as much as the parents and staff did! Thank you to the families who attended to support our young performers.
The children at school have been discussing our value of Fairness this week and thinking about ways to be fair to themselves, to each other and to the world. Mrs. Hunt has written a guest Head's Blog this week which links to the value too - you can read it here.
On Tuesday we thought about Burns Night and the children at school had the opportunity to try some Scottish food. They really enjoyed sampling the haggis, neeps and tatties, orange cranachan and orange and lemon caraway shortbread. Thank you so much to our lovely chef Soula for preparing these extras on the day!
We are delighted to share the news that St. Helen's College has once again been named an 'Asthma Friendly School' by the North West London Health and Care Partnership.
This recognises all that the school does to support children with asthma. This includes our regularly reviewed Asthma Policy, frequent training for the entire staff body, monthly asthma audits and, of course, the first class care that is given to children in school every day. Mrs. Wilcock and Mrs. Beale, our Welfare staff, communicate regularly with parents before children join us and throughout their time at the school to ensure that asthma and other medical issues are managed effectively and sensitively.
Please also see the winter edition of our Welfare Newsletter here. This contains important information about Covid-19, sleep and healthy snacks as well as some fun facts. Thank you for your continued support in keeping children healthy and well so that they are best able to make the most of all the opportunities at school.
This week, the boys' football team won 5-0 against Whitehall School in a super display of teamwork and skill. The team now progress to the quarter finals of the cup and we wish them well in the next stage of the competition!
Thames Cavaliers - Free Basketball Tickets and Pizza for SHC Pupils
The Thames Valley Cavaliers have a home fixture this Saturday and they would like to invite St. Helen's College pupils (Y3-6) to watch the match for free. They also have free pizza for any St Helen's College students who go to the game! There will be music, entertainment, half-time competitions with prizes and also a chance to meet the team afterwards for some autographs.
Please see this flyer with all the details. There are also free pizza vouchers for your children.
They hope to see lots of you coming to the game to support the Cavaliers! It should be a great night of fun and entertainment.
Hillingdon Sports & Leisure Centre Swim Offer
As parents will know, St. Helen's College has a long-standing relationship with Hillingdon Sports & Leisure Centre, where we take Upper School pupils for swimming lessons as part of our PE/Games curriculum.
The centre are running a special promotion for children of partner schools, which will give parents a £10 discount for a course of Better Swim lessons for your child. Swimming is a vital life skill so we hope that many of you will take up this opportunity to receive a discount on further swimming lessons/practice for your child. You can find full details here.
Heath Robinson Museum 150th Anniversary Art Competition
The Heath Robinson Museum are running a competition for young artists to mark their 150th anniversary this year. Children are asked to produce a piece of art on the theme of 'What would Heath Robinson make of the world today?'. The deadline for submissions is 15th May and there are various age categories. You can find out more, and enter the competition, here. Shortlisted entries will be exhibited at the museum over the summer and there are prizes to be won too. We hope that you will encourage your children to enter - do let us know how you get on!
Perform's family musical Jungle Rumble is being performed at the Fortune Theatre over the February half term. You can see full details and purchase tickets here. St. Helen's College have worked with Perform in the past and we hope that parents will want to support them and that you will enjoy taking your children to see Jungle Rumble!
Lacrosse Easter Camp
Chiswick Lacrosse Club are running an Easter Camp which will be open to girls in Years 5 to 9. This would be a great opportunity for girls currently in Year 5 or Year 6 to have a go at lacrosse before moving on to senior school. If you are interested in finding out more, details are here.
Posted on: 28/01/2022
The Power Of SleepAre you a lark or an owl? Chronotype is the natural inclination of your body to sleep at a certain time. I’m definitely a lark; I wake up at 5.15 a.m. and visit my horse before getting ready for school, and I am happily at my desk by about 7 a.m. However, come 9.30 p.m. I am basically done and I’m ready for my bed! Now, I know that my advancing years may impact my early evening bedtime but I do strongly believe that having a good night's sleep is absolutely paramount.
I am not alone in this belief. Research tells us that good sleep is essential for the whole family, which is why we spend a third of our lives doing it!
Sleep is the foundation for good health. It affects every single part of our body, it affects our eating habits, exercise, hormones, immunity, learning, memory, creativity, decision making, mood and behaviour. While we sleep our brain is creating links and making memories. Put simply, sleep is replenishing and repairing.
We have been discussing our value of fairness this week and it has been fascinating to hear the children’s perceptions on what they feel is fair. Numerous children with older siblings have spoken about how they feel it is unfair that their sibling gets to go to bed later than them. I urge you not to succumb to your child bemoaning that their bedtime is too early and give sleep the kudos it deserves. By teaching your child/children to have a bedtime routine that precedes a good night's sleep, you are giving them a wonderful skill for life.
I refer back to my sleep routine. Yes, I get up early but I go to bed early too, meaning that I am getting the recommended 7-9 hours for an adult.
The recommended amount differs for children according to their age. For example, 5 year olds need 11 hours a night, while 9 year olds need 10 hours. You can see the NHS guidelines for recommended sleep times here:
Routine is key and doing the same relaxing things in the same order will greatly support your sleep pattern. For example, a warm bath, dimmed lights and a shared story. I am an advocate of mindfulness and will often practice the ‘body scan’ meditation just before I go to sleep. I have to be honest and admit that I often don’t get past my knees before I nod off!
Avoid screen time before bed. This wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t mention the perils of screen time at some point! But once again I am backed by research, so please do try to keep your bedrooms a screen free zone - ye,s I mean you too, mums and dads!
So, referring back to our current value - be fair to your family and yourself and never underestimate the power of sleep!
Posted on: 21/01/2022
Weekly News - Friday 21st January 2022Year 4 Trip To Amersham Field Centre
Year 4 enjoyed a wonderful field trip this week, exploring electricity and energy conservation. They toured around a national grid substation, learning all about how electricity gets to our homes. They generated electricity using wind power and water power and went on to power motors using solar panels. The children discussed renewable energy and energy conservation. They put their experimentation skills to the test, making predictions and drawing conclusions. Their final challenge was to build a suitable nest for a small mammal which would keep it warm. They measured the temperature of their dormice after some time in their nests and compared these to a control mouse out in the open. Their nests proved successful at conserving heat within a small mammal!
Value of the Week - Cleanliness
Pupils at the Upper School were introduced to the concept of cleanliness as the value of the week. We discussed the moral aspect of cleanliness of spirit as well as personal hygiene and looking after our environment. It has been wonderful to see the children being extra vigilant around the school looking after the school grounds and taking responsibility for their personal belongings. We hope that this continues at home for you!
We are proud that the pupils of St. Helen's College display cleanliness of morals in their day to day lives too. Their spiritual awareness, willingness to help others and sense of collegiality shine through every day.
Month End Music Recital
Next Friday (28th January) we will have our first Month End Music Recital of 2022. Please join us in the Evans Hall from 3.45 p.m. where many of our young musicians will perform in an informal and friendly setting.
Individual Music Tuition
There are spaces currently available for trumpet, flute and singing lessons. If you wish to begin learning one of these instruments please complete this form to register.
The form can also be used to register your interest to be added to the waiting list for other instruments taught in school (including Violin, Cello, Piano, Guitar and Singing).
Please note that we only currently offer lessons on Violin and Cello to students in the Lower School. All of the instruments mentioned are available from Year 2 upwards.
We would also like to remind parents that a half term's notice is required if you would like to cease individual instrumental or singing tuition. You should give notice by emailing our Director of Music, Mrs. Fawbert, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blaze Netball Club
If you have a son or daughter in Years 2 -5 and they would like to develop their netball skills, you might be interested in Blaze Netball Club which runs at Douay Martyrs School on Saturday mornings. Full details are available here.
Posted on: 14/01/2022
Staying SafeWe pride ourselves at St. Helen’s College on ensuring that your children are well looked after and remain safe in our care. However, we also have the responsibility, along with you as parents, to ensure that the children understand how to stay safe when they are not under our supervision and that we are preparing them for life.
The simple definition of safety is being ‘free from harm or risk: unhurt or secure from threat of danger, harm, or loss.’
There are many aspects of our curriculum which build upon this and our school behaviour mantra ‘Ready, Respectful, Safe’ helps to embed the principle of safety. We ‘teach’ road safety, first aid and water safety (as part of the swimming programme). We encourage a healthy lifestyle with good nutrition and physical exercise and our PSHCE curriculum promotes well-being and good mental health, incorporating aspects such as stranger danger, inappropriate touching, mindfulness, positive psychology and peer support.
As you are all aware, online safety is an increasingly important aspect of safety, in which it is crucial that home and school are supporting children from a very young age. As part of our ‘Pre-Parenting Programme’ for preschoolers we have focussed one of our Teddy Talks on digital awareness - it can be viewed here.
On Tuesday this week, we welcomed Paul Hay back to St. Helen’s College. Paul is an Internet Safety Consultant (Paul’s website can be viewed here) and he has trained with CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) as a training ambassador. This was Paul’s fifth visit to St. Helen’s College and pupils, staff and parents yet again benefitted from his expertise. Paul’s visit is part of our ongoing programme to help keep children safe online. Although we have software to control internet access at school and children work under supervision, it is through education that we can keep the children safe wherever they are. Rather like road safety, we need to hold children's hands when they are young but teach them how to be safe when we are not there. We discuss safety and well-being in PSHCE and computing lessons every year and in Year 5 the children build their own websites on the subject. Topics covered include stranger danger and keeping information secret but of equal importance is the children’s own behaviour online and ensuring they are as kind and honest online as they are in the playground.
Reception and Year 1
Paul shared the story of ‘Smartie the Penguin’ to capture the children’s attention and taught them a short snappy song about what to do if they came across something that troubled them on the internet - you may wish to view the story here.
The words of the song are a simple ditty for pupils and parents to share:
“Before you tap and click….
You need to stop and think…
And TELL someone!”
Years 2, 3 & 4
In advance of Paul’s visit the class teachers had shared a video with the pupils on ‘Playing Games’ - the video can be viewed here.
The key tips from Paul’s session following discussions with the children were:
1. People online may be not be who they say they are.
2. Be nice to people online.
3. Do not share private information.
4. If you are worried - tell an adult.
Years 5 & 6
The pupils took part in a ‘Private Information Exercise 2021’ which highlighted to the pupils the importance of not sharing personal information and revisited them being aware of ‘strangers’ online and the importance of speaking to adults if they feel uncomfortable about any activity they have online.
All our teaching staff also participated in a session after school with Paul and it was reassuring to know that all that we do as part of our normal routines was ratified by him in his talk to us. Paul was pleased that staff and parents have access to the National Online Safety website with training and weekly updates. If you have not already registered with NOS (National Online Safety) please do so here and you will be able to self register as part of the St. Helen’s College membership. I attach at the end of this blog the jpeg of one of December’s weekly updates on age-appropriate content. Each week there are very useful updates - this week’s happens to be all about ‘Fortnite’.
It was great to see so many of our parents attending the evening session with Paul via Zoom and we are grateful for your continued support in keeping your children safe online. At school our systems are very secure and the children are not able to access content which is not suitable. It is equally important that parents are doing their best to ensure that your children’s online activities are as safe as possible. Paul’s website (here) has lots of superb links and help and he is more than happy for parents to email him with any questions which they may have. Please feel free to email him on email@example.com.
For those of you who were unable to attend the parent session we have a recording of the talk which may be accessed here.
As always it is gratifying to know that home and school are all striving to do our best to keep the pupils of St. Helen’s College safe but also to prepare them for this digital world which is ever changing but such an exciting world to be part of!
Posted on: 7/01/2022
Weekly News - Friday 7th January 2022ISI Inspection Report
We hope that all parents have now had an opportunity to read the report from the ISI Educational Quality inspection which took place towards the end of last term. We are sure that, in doing so, you share our pride in the pupils, staff and parents who make St. Helen's College such an amazing community. We were delighted that the inspectors found so much evidence of the superb work and excellent pupil progress at St. Helen's College, and were equally delighted that they were able to include so many examples in the final inspection report. The report is available on the website here and has also been featured by IAPS, ISC and Attain magazine.
We will be producing a printed booklet containing the inspection results and will send one home to each family when this is ready. If you have a local business or anywhere else to share more booklets with the community and would like some more copies, please just let us know by contacting the school office and we will be pleased to provide more.
Internet Safety Day Information
Next Tuesday, 11th January, will be an Internet Safety Day here at St. Helen's College. We will be joined at school once again by Paul Hay from PCLS Training. All classes from Reception to Year 6 will have specific lessons/workshops on Internet Safety, staff will receive a twilight training session and there will be an evening Zoom session for parents too. Information about this has been emailed directly to parents and is copied below.
Keeping your Child Safe Online
Tuesday 11th January 2022 7.00 p.m. – 8.00 p.m.
Our children live in the Internet Age. They love to use technology and play the latest games. However, it is not always easy for parents and carers to understand what they are doing and how we can help to do the right things to keep them out of danger.
It is important that parents are also involved so they are able to help their children when they are at home. We would like to invite you to an online talk, which will be delivered by Paul Hay, a specialist in internet safety. Paul will be spending the school day with the children and staff and will then present to parents in the evening.
He will tell you :
How young people use the Internet.
Show how children use programs such as Moshi Monsters, Minecraft, Roblox, Instagram, SnapChat and Tik Tok.
Describe how information young people post can be misused by people who are not their friends.
Explain what you, as parents, can do to help keep them safe.
Above all it will give you as parents and carers the confidence to help your child get the most benefit and enjoyment from the internet while keeping safe.
Topics will be discussed in language we as parents understand. No technical or computer knowledge is required or expected.
To attend this session, please join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 850 6989 0558 Passcode: 813801
We look forward to you joining us. You may join on the night but it would be useful if you could complete this short form if you intend to attend.
Ducklings/Nursery/Reception Parents' Evenings
Parents' evenings will take place for Ducklings, Nursery and Reception on:
Thursday 27th January 2022 (5.00 - 8.00 p.m.) - remote.
Tuesday 1st February 2022 (4.00 - 7.00 p.m.) - in school.
To book your appointment(s), please use the following link: https://sthelens.schoolcloud.co.uk/
Bookings will go live from 6.30 p.m. on Friday 14th January 2022.
For parents who chose to have a remote meeting last time, it would be lovely to see you face-to-face in school this time if you can make it.
Full class names should be used to access the system: Ducklings Kindergarten, Robins Nursery, Wrens Nursery, Owls, Kingfishers.
Year 5 Transfer Meetings
Mrs. Drummond will be holding individual meetings with Year 5 parents next week to discuss senior school transfer. If you have a child in Year 5 and have not yet booked an appointment with Mrs. Drummond, you can do so by following the link on the email sent out this week via SchoolsBuddy.
Co-Curricular Activities - Spring Term
Co-curricular activity sessions for spring term clubs will begin from Monday 10th January, apart from any clubs which take place outdoors at the end of the school day. These will begin from Monday 17th January (which will allow for more daylight as the days get longer).
RSPB Bird Watch Week 2022
We continue to encourage families to enjoy the outdoors and sign up for the annual Big Garden Bird Watch which will be running from 28th - 30th January 2022. Please see the link here on how to sign up.
Happier January Calendar and Happiness Jars
As per the Head's Blog this week please see the link here to download your Happier January Calendar. We look forward to hearing about the 'happiness jars' that your children are creating at home. You may wish to join them in this lovely gratitude/happiness activity.
We will not be having our usual annual Exhibition Day this year but instead parents will be invited to to view pupils' work back in the classroom following your child's class assembly. You may therefore wish to schedule in a little more time to spend at school on the morning when you attend your child's class assembly.
Covid-19 PCR Tests
Confirmatory PCR tests following a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test result are to be temporarily suspended from Tuesday 11th January. This will mean that anyone who receives a positive LFD test result will be required to self-isolate immediately and will not be required to take a confirmatory PCR test.
Posted on: 7/01/2022
Perseverance leads to HappinessHappy New Year to one and all! It is a joy to be back at school with our pupils and staff. The cold, crisp, blue skies of recent mornings have been such an invigorating start to this new term.
In the first assembly of this term our new school value of ‘Perseverance’ was introduced to the children along with the Action for Happiness calendar for January (feel free to download).
We are encouraging everyone to focus on small steps to try to boost happiness - for ourselves and others around us - to spread kindness and hopefully inspire others to do the same. Some days this may not be as easy as it sounds and perseverance is required. It is often easy to feel frustrated when we are challenged by something or someone, easy to give up, walk away or even respond in a negative way. However, if we can all nurture the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult, by persevering it can often lead to ‘happiness’. Happiness is an emotional state characterised by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfilment. While happiness has many different definitions, it is often described as involving positive emotions and life satisfaction. Happiness is generally linked to experiencing more positive feelings than negative.
To help us all become more aware of our happiness the children have been challenged to create their own ‘Happiness Jars’. A happiness jar is quite simply a container in which you put a daily or weekly note of gratitude. On a piece of paper, write down one good thing that has happened or one thing you are grateful for that day, fold it up and pop it into the jar. My empty ‘Percy Pig’ jar has made a superb ‘happiness jar’ and I have already popped my first gratitude note for what made me happy in my jar. As I explained to the children in assembly, I will choose when I need to dip into my happiness jar to reflect on my happy moments to savour the gratitude and joy I experienced. It may be that I choose to do this regularly or wait until the end of the year to reflect upon my happy moments of 2022. We can choose when we may need to be boosted and reminded of the good things in our lives.
I wish you all a very ‘Happy’ start to 2022 and good health as we take steps into the next phase of our turbulent journey through this pandemic time we are living in. Let us take time each day to be grateful for our families, friends and each other.