School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 27/01/2023
Weekly News - Friday 27th January 20234L Assembly
We were all so impressed and inspired by 4L's class assembly this morning which was themed around poetry and truth. The children told us about poets including Robert Burns, Michael Rosen and Alan Ackroyd and recited several poems with confidence, understanding and joy, speaking both individually and in groups. Their performance skills were first class and their audience could not help but be engaged and feel their empathy for the words they were speaking.
There were also individual music performances on violin, 'cello and trumpet. What a talented group of young people!
On Thursday, the pupils of 1C presented an assembly all about Roald Dahl. They told us the story of this most inspiring of authors: how he joined the Royal Air Force and became a pilot, travelled to Africa, worked as a secret service spy and wrote screenplays as well as all of the novels and poems for which he is famous. The children also sang two beautiful songs to demonstrate Dahl's belief in kindness as the most important quality of all. We were also inspired by a visit from Shaylen P (3M) who performed a piano piece for the Year 1 children.
The 1C children spoke confidently and with real meaning, listened beautifully to each other and to Shaylen, and sang with gusto. Very well done to all those involved.
Month End Music Recital
We enjoyed our first Month End Music Recital of 2023 today in the Evans Hall. As usual, it was a joyous occasion and gave many of our young musicians a chance to perform in a less formal environment to support their confidence and skills in public speaking and playing. We were very proud of them all.
Year 4 Trip to Amersham Field Centre
Our Year 4 children visited Amersham Field Centre this week to enrich their learning about electricity and energy. Every minute of the day was used as an opportunity for learning which educated, inspired and allowed the children to have fun.
The day started by meeting ‘Michael Faraday’ and learning about electricity, its uses, dangers and how the substation in the vicinity works to provide power to our homes. The pupils took a walk around the perimeter of the substation, finding out why we can touch pylons and not get thousands of volts of electricity through us. They then continued in the classroom and made solar powered circuits.
The afternoon was spent learning about the way animals conserve energy by creating well-insulated homes such as a nest for a dormouse, and how squirrels try to survive winters by hiding their food. The day concluded with a short walk looking for evidence of animal activities on the frosty grounds and wooded areas, pointing out excrements from different animals and their footprints. Every child made progress in their knowledge of a curriculum topic as well as having the chance to enjoy learning in the outdoors.
Sick Child Training
We were delighted to have many parents attend Dr. Dharsi's Sick Child Training on Monday evening in the Evans Hall and we hope that those who attended found the session useful. Many of those who attended have signed up for follow-up CPR sessions, which Dr. Dharsi will be offering on Monday 20th February and Wednesday 1st March in the Evans Hall. We hope to run similar events in the future.
Our Welfare staff are always on hand at school to support you if you have worries over your child's health or particular symptoms. You can contact Mrs. Wilcock at Upper School at email@example.com and Ms Oakshott at Lower School at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Five Minutes of Fame!
We were delighted to hear that St. Helen's College got a 'shout out' on Capital FM this week. Mrs. Jarrett explains.
Everyday on our way to school we always listen to Capital FM and shout out the answers to their Mega Hard Super Quiz and we collectively always manage to do quite well!
For months Ryley, Eva and Aarlen have been asking me to text in to apply and on Thursday I was selected to take part! We were all very nervous but we parked up the car and we were on the radio! We were even more excited because we knew Chris Stark was presenting and we had to mention our St. Helen's College connection to his mum Mrs Stark!
Luckily, we made it to question 4 out of 5 (we had no idea who won BGT last year but it will be an answer we will never forget now!). So we did well and managed to win a prize!
We knew that Ms Drummond would be particularly pleased to know that Ryley and Eva were exceptionally quick on the question about Scotland’s capital city.
We were really happy and proud of ourselves for doing so well!
Ducklings, Nursery and Reception Parents' Evenings
Thank you to all of the families who attended parents' evenings at Lower School this week. The next set of Ducklings, Nursery and Reception parents' evenings will take place on Tuesday 31st January.
Posted on: 27/01/2023
Inspiration by Mrs. SmithWe are all human, and we all get tired and jaded sometimes. I felt like that at the beginning of this week. It had been a busy, exhausting weekend with demands from family, worry about friends and perhaps one too many social events which, while enjoyable, allowed little time for rest.
When I’m tired, I sigh a lot. I noticed that on Sunday night: a constant exhaling, as if I wanted to get all the exhaustion out of myself. I needed filling up with something new. I needed inspiration.
Luckily, I work at St. Helen’s College.
The word inspiration comes from the Latin verb inspirare, meaning to breathe in. It is a taking in of the new, an invigoration. When those of us who practise yoga breathe deeply, we know that we are literally changing the chemical makeup of our bodies. And that’s what inspiration does. It changes you.
I have been inspired in so many ways at St. Helen’s College this week. Speaking to prospective parents who are making that huge decision to accept Ducklings, Nursery or Reception places, I have heard them speak of their deep love for and commitment to their children and their desire to do the very best for the next generation. Their values, their humility and their courage have inspired me.
Seeing Mr. Lewis develop a new IT system for managing our policies at school (alongside his day job), watching him tweak it and instigate a new, more efficient system in support of his colleagues and the school’s processes: this has inspired me.
Watching the staff who led the Year 4 trip to Amersham Field Centre this week, who were determined to put on an enriching and fun experience for the children, then seeing the children return, excited about their learning, enlivened by the day. That was inspiring.
Sitting at my desk and starting to proofread the children’s February reports, I took a deep breath and felt, through their written words, the teachers’ empathy, kindness and real hope for the St. Helen’s College children’s learning and progress. I read about the children’s personal qualities and how they brighten the teachers’ days. I was reminded that being around the children does that to me, too. At the same time, looking out of the window at after school football clubs, I was inspired by the dedication of those who genuinely change a child’s life in only an hour or two a week.
I was so inspired on Thursday when I visited Lower School to watch the 1C class assembly. It was themed around Roald Dahl, who was himself the most inspirational of people: not just an author but a screenwriter, a secret service spy, a wartime aircraft pilot and so much more. He believed that humour and kindness were the keys to life. As I heard the Year 1 children tell his story, I felt a fresh breath of air entering me. They sang ‘Count On Me’ by Bruno Mars as part of their assembly. Listening to them sing, I remembered that my colleagues and I made a video to that song during lockdown as a way of uniting the staff community and reminding the St. Helen’s College children and parents that, although not physically together, we were all together in spirit. I had tears in my eyes as I remembered how inspirational, although difficult, a time those Covid lockdown months were. I witnessed Mr. and Mrs. Crehan and Ms Drummond doing everything they could to lead the school successfully through that time; I saw parents take on homeschooling challenges with grace and patience; I looked after key worker children who understood that their parents were doing crucial work and that was why they were the only ones in school; I watched so many videos that pupils across the year groups made to demonstrate how their learning continued. I saw parents juggle home working, key worker roles and family management and I was so proud to see colleagues pulling together, taking on the strangest and most unfamiliar of roles and challenges. Lockdown was hard: we all saw illness and loss. But it was also an inspirational time, filled with patience, courage and hope.
We have come a long way since lockdown, but I think the important things that we have learnt from it persist. We know how important it is to take joy in the little things, how we must not take each other or our daily lives for granted. We have been reminded, too, of how crucial it is for our wellbeing to continue to inspire ourselves and others by trying new things, by being kind, and by sharing our learning, our happiness and our growth every day.
As I said, I am so lucky to work at St. Helen’s College where everyone strives tirelessly to do these things. I am so grateful to the community that inspires me on a daily basis.
I hope you have an inspirational weekend. I’ll be resting for most of this one!
Posted on: 20/01/2023
Weekly News - Friday 20th January 20235A Class Assembly
We all enjoyed 5A's excellent class assembly this morning, which focussed on Chinese New Year. The children spoke and sang beautifully and acted their parts with confidence. Well done 5A.
Drama 4 All at the Lower School
Children from Nursery, Reception and Year 1 took part in Drama4All sessions today. Naomi led the Circus themed sessions and the children eagerly involved themselves in the ‘big top’ activities. It was lovely to see all our thespians in action! If you would like more information about Drama4All sessions you can find this here.
Our netball teams played two matches this week.
On Tuesday the girls in our Year 3/4 netball club took part in a fixture against Reddiford School at home. In the very cold conditions they played two small sided games each and were able to maintain possession and score points using the skills they have worked very hard to improve. This was a great first fixture for the pupils.
On Wednesday the Year 5/6 Netball team played in a league netball match against St. Mary's School. St. Helen's College won 10-3, displaying great shooting and timing on the ball. They also showed how versatile they could be, rotating through positions throughout the match. We were very proud of their performance.
Pupils in Years 4, 5 and 6 will be participating in the annual SATIPS Challenge which is a General Knowledge paper of 100 questions. Many independent schools around the UK and overseas take part in this prestigious competition and we are looking forward to seeing how our pupils perform.
We pride ourselves on how well rounded and knowledgeable our pupils are. As parents you enrich their general knowledge by exposing them to so many opportunities and experiences. Maybe now is the time to ensure that your family subscribes to one of the superb current affair platforms/newspapers. Do take a look at the following:
The Week Junior
National Geographic Kids
Art History for Kids
Raising Dragons (STEAM)
iArt Competition 2023
Once again this year, St. Helen's College pupils will be invited to take part in the iArt Competition. We have a very good track record in the competition and are hoping that this year will see further St. Helen's College success.
The competition’s theme this year is The Environment.
We know that our pupils feel passionately about the environment and sustainability. Their competition entries might show what motivates them to feel like this and which projects and individuals they admire..
The subject of the artwork can be anything to do with the environment, for example:
An environmental concern, eg pollution, litter, mining, electricity generation, traffic, warming of the oceans, etc.
A simple landscape the pupil loves and which could be severely affected or disappear altogether if global warming is not tackled.
A project the pupil admires, eg litter-picking, beach cleaning, animal rescue, wind farms, tidal defences, etc.
A person the pupil admires, eg environmentalist, famous person passionate about environmental matters, etc.
Anything else they feel fits the theme!
Pupils can paint, draw, make a collage, create a model – anything that stimulates and interests them, as long as it relates in some way to the theme.
The school is permitted to submit its best four entries for the competition and all entries must be handed into form teachers or to Mrs. Pruce by April 24th at the absolute latest. Entries will also be displayed around the school.
Shortlisted entrants will not only receive vouchers to use at local independent bookshops but also have their entry pitched as a story to local newspapers, with the chance that the entry and a photo of the entrant will be published.
We wish the children happy creating!
World Book Day
World Book Day will take place on 3rd March this year and, as usual, we will be spending the day considering our favourite books and taking part in some exciting literary-themed activities. Children may wear their own clothes and the theme this year is pyjamas!
Holiday Club - February Half Term
Holiday Club bookings for the February half term week will open next Friday (27th January) at 12 p.m. Please login to your SchoolsBuddy account to make your bookings.
Baby Mindfulness Classes
Mrs. McLaughlin is currently running FREE Mother and Baby Mindfulness Classes in the Evans Hall on Wednesday mornings. If you have, or know of anyone with, a baby aged from birth to crawling and you would be interested in joining these classes, please email email@example.com. The classes are open to anyone, regardless of whether they have a child at St. Helen's College.
We would like to remind parents that the school has a textile recycling bank outside 227 Long Lane. You may use this to recycle any unwanted clothes, bed linen (not actual duvets/pillows), bags, shoes and accessories. Anything that can be used is donated to those in need and anything that cannot is recycled into industrial cleaning cloths so that nothing becomes landfill. The St. Helen's College Trust, a registered charity which supports children in the local area, receives a small donation per kilo of textiles collected.
Aimed at 5-9 year olds, Squash Stars is a new six week junior beginner programme at Hillingdon Squash Club starting on Saturday 4th February at the Brunel University Sports Centre. For just £42, your star will get six sessions and a kit bag which includes a racket, ball, Squash Stars t-shirt and a pair of goggles straight to your door.
Squash is suitable for children of all backgrounds, shapes and sizes and is an inclusive, indoor sport. By taking part in Squash Stars, your child will benefit in many ways:
They'll have lots of fun whilst being active and learning something new.
It’s an opportunity to make friends outside of school.
They can put their new skills into practice and head to the court as a family, giving you an opportunity for extra quality time together.
The sessions boost confidence and encourage them to reach for the stars.
Parents can find out more and sign children up at squashstars.co.uk
Posted on: 20/01/2023
Year 5 STEM AmbassadorsAt St. Helen’s College we are always working to ensure that our curriculum is balanced, dynamic, forward-looking and, most of all, memorable and engaging. We guide the children to learn in many different ways and enjoy setting tasks that develop skills across the curriculum so that they may hone knowledge and skills in several subjects at once. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) is a huge area and one on which we focus in order to prepare our children in the best way for the ever-evolving world ahead of them. We are also careful to embed themes of Climate Change and Sustainability throughout the children’s learning so that they can work to make sure that our world survives for future generations.
We are proud that our pupils learn to work independently from a young age and, while we have a large staff of enthusiastic, specialist teachers who love nothing more than to be involved with the children, we guard against over-reliance on adults in the classroom. One of the ways in which we encourage both independence and teamwork is through requiring children to work collaboratively so that, through discussion and thoughtful teacher facilitation, they may direct their own learning.
Recently, guided by Ms Gilham, our Year 5 children have been working on a project that embodies these philosophies. Ms Gilham explains:
The Year 5 children were set a challenge (from stem.org) to build a flood-proof house on Watu Island. They were required to design their house, build it and pitch their house to the rest of the group at the end of the project.
Their ‘hook’ was a picture of social injustice as one of the many impacts of climate change: a family stuck on a corrugated iron roof with rising flood waters around them. Rising sea levels mean that families from developing countries suffer greatly, losing homes and livelihoods, an injustice caused by CO2 emissions (largely from other parts of the world) which bring about global warming.
In teams, the Year 5 children reflected on this in order to understand the need for building cost-effective, sustainable and flood proof houses. They followed this process as the project went on:
Design And Build - together, we looked at typical houses and how to adapt these into structures that could float. The children undertook a survey of Watu Island, taking into account amenities and location and likelihood of flooding. This brought into play their art and geography skills and enhanced their decision making on matters of practicality.
Testing And Evaluation Of Materials - we considered the suitability of various materials, thinking about their properties including strength and how water proof and flood proof they might be. This required scientific evaluation, prediction and investigation.
Costing The Build - each material was assigned a different cost and the children had a budget to which they had to stick. In order to ‘purchase’ the materials they required to build their house, they needed to practise their maths and learn to make smart decisions on the sustainability of materials, also taking into account the manufacture and transport of those materials.
Reflection On Values Learned - the children thought about their outcomes, including their own contribution to their team’s work and the determination, creativity, decision making and problem solving they had practised and developed.
The project experience highlighted the strengths of each team member and of each team as a collective. Weaknesses were also identified and, through collaboration and problem solving skills, were addressed. This process helped the children to develop skills and knowledge across the STEM subjects.
Testing the children’s completed houses in simulated flood conditions was so much fun! The children watched anxiously to see how their own houses would fare and were encouraging to other teams as their houses attempted to survive flood and cyclone conditions. They then considered why one house turned out to be more flood-proof than another.
The Winning Team!
Here are some examples of the pupils’ learning shown through their reflections, opinions, thoughts and the presentations in which they pitched their houses to their peers. At the end of the process, the children evaluated each presentation, rated the houses based on the four main points and voted for the best house.
Golden Nuggets Presentation
House Test Video
Ali’s what I’ve learnt so far
Final thoughts from Tiya
As a practitioner and as Science Subject Leader, I am always working to develop the science curriculum in a fun and practical-based way as well as to make it challenging for the children. I believe that we achieved these aims in this project. In reviewing the children’s pictures, videos, written work and in conversations with them, it was clear to see that they were engaged and excited learners, that they developed several skills and acquired a lot of important knowledge and that they were able to reflect on their learning in order to use it as a springboard for the future. Like the pupils and like the other teachers here, I too constantly reflect on what happens in the classroom and use what I have learnt to refine and improve my practice.
Thank you, Ms Gilham, for guiding the children through such a well-planned, well-executed, interesting and important project.
For me as Head, what is perhaps most exciting is that this Year 5 project is just a snapshot of the enormous variety of learning opportunities offered to children throughout the school each day. St. Helen’s College is a place filled daily with those ‘lightbulb moments’ where children discover something new about the world and themselves. It is a pleasure and a privilege for the staff here to guide your children’s learning. Do keep asking them each day what they have done, what they have learnt and what they are looking forward to next. Your engagement with their learning will make a huge difference too.
Posted on: 13/01/2023
Weekly News - Friday 13th January 2023Year 6 Visit The Houses of Parliament
On Tuesday, our Year 6 classes enjoyed a visit to the Houses of Parliament. They were given a tour of the houses, which included using the Queen's/King's entrance and sitting on the benches of the House of Lords. They walked through Westminster Hall, the site of many historical moments such as the trial of King Charles I and the recent lying-in-state of Queen Elizabeth II.
After the tour, all of the children took part in a workshop on voting and representation, then headed across to Westminster Abbey. Here they saw the Coronation Chair and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior before walking through the tombs of the Tudor monarchs and exploring Poet's Corner. It was a great day out full of history and heritage.
Ducklings/Nursery/Reception Parents' Evenings
Our Ducklings, Nursery and Reception Parents' Evenings will take place on the following dates (all in person, at the Lower School):
Thursday 26th January (5.00 - 8.00 p.m.)
Tuesday 31st January (4.00 - 7.00 p.m.)
To book your appointment, please use the following link.
Free Parent Webinar - Every Mistake Is A Teachable Opportunity
The Parent Practice, with whom St. Helen's College has worked for many years, are running a free webinar for parents next Wednesday (18th January) entitled 'Every Mistake Is A Teachable Opportunity'. All parents are invited to join the webinar, where you will learn:
How we can teach our children to take responsibility for their actions.
To forgive themselves and to learn something from the experience that will make it less likely that it will happen again.
To not be afraid of making mistakes.
To accept that with every mistake can always come a repair.
You can find further details and register for this webinar here. We hope that many parents will choose to attend.
We have many eager young chess players at St. Helen's College. If your child is enjoying their chess and would like to enter a local tournament, there is one being held on Sunday 29th January in Uxbridge. You can find full details, including information on how to register, here.
Posted on: 6/01/2023
Does It Add Up?Happy New Year to you all! The children have very excitedly settled back into their learning and the buzz of excitement around the school is tangible!
I am sure that many of you were interested to hear of Rishi Sunak’s proposal that pupils in England will study maths up until the age of 18. Currently pupils in England are only required to study maths up to the age of 16. Mr. Sunak has stated that we need to "reimagine our approach to numeracy".
At St. Helen’s College we pride ourselves on our approach to the teaching of maths and our ‘challenge for all’ mantra encourages all pupils to achieve highly. But what is fundamental in our lessons is that the children really understand number and its application from the concrete models of numbers to being able to apply their knowledge of maths to more abstract problems and to use this knowledge and understanding across other subjects.
Since Mr. Sunak’s announcement there has been much debate about why there are such issues surrounding how maths is taught to children, with some stating that children should be taught more advanced concepts like multiplication and algebra at a younger age. St. Helen’s College pupils are already exposed to such concepts at a young age and it was inspiring to hear from one of our current Year 6 pupils that her favourite subject was maths because she is able to use it across so many other subjects. Our pupils are aware that they will be required to use data and number in a wide variety of situations and to see the benefits of mathematical understanding as they use data analysis skills in their other learning such as science and geography (tables, graphs, charts). Their analytical skills are certainly being developed at an early age.
I am currently preparing some of our Year 6 pupils for their Year 6 senior school interviews and in a group session we discussed Rishi Sunak’s proposal as any changes may affect them post 16. I was so delighted when one of the pupils responded that she thinks that they should continue to study maths after their GCSEs as they will need maths skills in later life; she went on to give me examples such as buying or planning/designing a house, cooking, measuring, converting money if travelling, having a bank account and more.
One of the statistics being reported is that only four in ten children and young people say they have had some financial education at school. This is an aspect of ‘life skills’ which schools (particularly secondary schools) need to address. But as parents we also have a responsibility to start these life skills in financial education at home at a young age. Children need to learn about money and its value and importance for living. Sadly some children rarely have the opportunity to handle money now and some are not aware of how we ‘earn’ money. So if the penny drops that this may be your child (no pun intended), please take the opportunity to ‘play’ with your children - take them shopping, let them earn pocket money in return for doing chores around the house and let them save for something special. Talk to them about what bank accounts are; as they get older they will be more inquisitive and there is so much learning which can be instigated at home. Many banks now give great support for financial education for parents in how to help their children - see the link here from HSBC, for example.
Our children are not set into ability groups for maths unlike at many other schools; I am sure that we can all remember the stigma attached to being in the ‘top set’ or the ‘bottom set’. We believe that it is every child’s right to be exposed to the same advanced maths language and concepts. Many experts have shared their views on ‘setting’ in maths and one of these is educational consultant David Didau - you can read his views here. As the pupils move through Key Stage 2 here at St. Helen’s College they will have already had time to ‘own’ their learning of mathematical concepts via their ‘Learning Logs’. These are instrumental for teachers for their planning and assessment of learning and, ultimately, for the pupils to identify their strengths and areas of mathematical skill and application.
I am very proud of how our pupils are prepared for their lives ahead and have such an awareness of why we teach what we teach and how we teach it. It is so important that school and home empower our children to enjoy maths, to understand why we learn maths and to give them opportunities to use their mathematical skills and knowledge not only in their other subjects in school but in their everyday lives.
Posted on: 6/01/2023
Weekly News - Friday 6th January 2023
Siara R (1R) was runner up in the Christmas card competition and her design was printed on the back of Boris Johnson's Christmas cards. Well done on your lovely artwork Siara!
Congratulations to Zakariya M (5A) who has achieved a merit in the UK Mathematics Olympiad. It is an outstanding achievement for one of our students to have been recognised in such a prestigious event, in which he competed against the country's top mathematicians aged 16+.
We are delighted to report that collections at the end of term performances and carol service raised a total of £352.81 for Vidya Dhan, the global charity we are currently supporting. Many thanks indeed to all those who donated to support the education and empowerment of girls and women in India.
One World Day - Friday 10th February
On Friday 10th February we will be celebrating One World Day to celebrate our different cultures and find out more about our wonderfully diverse school community. This will be a fun and informative day for us all. On this day, children should come to school in clothing which represents their own culture.
Thank you to those parents who have already volunteered to come to school on One World Day to share something from your culture. We would love to hear from any other members of our school community who would be willing to give up some time to come into school and work with the children. Ideally we will have representatives from as many cultures as possible. Please note that due to our school community's kindness we have enough parents talking about India. If you can offer an activity based on somewhere else, that would be fantastic. Activities/workshops offered so far include dance, a talk about trekking to Everest Base Camp, games, quizzes and presentations.
Please complete this form if you would like to contribute to the day’s activities.
Many thanks for your support.
FREE Baby Mindfulness Classes
Our next FREE Mother/Baby Mindfulness course begins next week, with the first session on Wednesday 11th January at 9.00 a.m. in the Evans Hall at Upper School.
The class is run by Mrs. McLaughlin, a St. Helen's College teacher and qualified PAUSE Baby Mindfulness trainer. The aim of the class is to provide a mindful 'breathing space' for mums and to support mums to support babies. There will be six sessions on Wednesdays, lasting approximately 45 minutes each, with optional tea/coffee served afterwards.
We still have some spaces available so if you have a baby from birth to crawling please do come along, and please encourage friends or family with babies of a similar age to come too! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your place.
Eat The Rainbow - January Recipes
Our catering company Accent are continuing with their theme of 'eating the rainbow' as we enter the new year. As part of this they provide recipe cards for parents to try making at home. You can find January's 'Green' recipes here. We hope that you will have fun trying out some of these with your children.