School News and Head's Blog

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Posted on: 26/01/2024

Weekly News - Friday 26th January 2024

Month End Music Recital We were treated to another hour of musicality at the end of the day today, as children from Years 1 to 6 once again had the opportunity to perform vocal and instrumental pieces to parents, siblings and staff. This is always such a wonderful way to round off the week and the month. There is something very touching about watching a child summon up the courage to perform (sometimes for the very first time) and in seeing the pride each child takes in the achievement when they manage it. At St. Helen's College we know that these informal opportunities to perform are crucial in developing confidence and self-esteem. A big well done to everyone who took part today! Trunk Theatre Visit Y2 London's burning, London's burning!  Trunk Theatre made a special visit to Y2 this week to present a thoroughly entertaining production of 'The Great Fire of London'. Continuing classroom work on this topic, the interactive play was full of fun, bringing to life this momentous event in history. Beginning in Tom Farriner's bakery on Pudding Lane, and including recollections from the famous diarist Samuel Pepys, it was a riotous re-telling of the story, interspersed with songs, dances and games. The children loved joining in to sing and dance, and even fire a few water pistols!      1C Class Assembly  1C have been learning about significant explorers in their history lessons. On Thursday they performed a wonderful assembly about Neil Armstrong, who was the first man to step foot on the moon in 1969. They had lots of fun exploring his journey and finding out about the important people who contributed to this significant moment in history. The children had learnt so many interesting facts about the Apollo 11 mission and the moon. They delivered their lines with enthusiasm and confidence. The children sang with gusto, played musical instruments, had video clips of the children from the 1930’s (when the astronauts were born) and even had a quiz show! It was a thoroughly entertaining assembly that reflected the children’s enjoyment of their learning. Thank you and well done 1C!   6H Class Assembly It was inspirational this morning to see the children of 6H present their assembly all about the future and what they would like to be when they grow up. Many of them have interesting ideas for future careers in business, the medical professions, sports or the arts; some do not yet know what they want to do, and reminded us all that it is fine to decide later! Ms Drummond noted at the end of the assembly that there are many, many careers open to children now which did not exist when she was young; no doubt there will be even more new pathways by the time the current St. Helen's College children are adults. The children also reminded us, through a beautiful performance of the song 'SOS From The Kids', that we must all act now to look after our planet in order to safeguard their future and enable them to realise their dreams. This was a poignant, enjoyable assembly which got everyone thinking in the best way about the future and all it holds in store. If you would like to see a video montage of some of the children telling us what they want to be when they grow up, you can see this here and here. Year 4 Amersham Field Trip Year 4 experienced a fun trip to Amersham Field Centre this week. It was a beautiful, crisp, sunny day which allowed for plenty of time to explore and learn outdoors. The children thoroughly enjoyed soaking up the great outdoors and being in the natural environment. 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 afternoon was spent learning about the way animals conserve energy by creating well-insulated homes and how animals like squirrels try to survive winters by hiding their food.  The outing finished with a short walk looking for evidence of animal activities on the grounds, pointing out excrements from different animals and their footprints.  Every child has made great progress in their knowledge of one of our curriculum topics, as well as having a fun outdoor learning experience.  Centenary Challenge Don't forget that we are keen to see any photographs of your children completing the list of '100 things to do in our centenary year'! You can email these to Mrs. Smith at We are hoping to use these in school displays and/or the end of year school magazine. Year 6 Girls on Board The Year 6 girls have taken part in their first empowering Girls on Board sessions. This is a short and effective programme to support girls to understand and navigate the dynamics and complexities of friendships. We are piloting the programme with the current Year 6 girls, and hope to expand it in the Upper School in the near future. We feel the approach will help to equip the girls with some useful tools for managing and enjoying their friendships, now and in their transition to senior schools. For more information you can watch an introductory video here.  Atom Learning Gold Award Unlocks Discount For Parents We are delighted to share that St. Helen's College has reached the academic milestones to become an Atom Learning Gold School.  Parents wishing to extend their child’s personalised learning journey beyond the classroom may wish to consider Atom Prime’s home learning companion, Atom Nucleus. As a Gold School, St. Helen's College parents can now enjoy a 20% discount code across all Atom Nucleus subscriptions. Click here to access your discount code. Community Tree Planting Day Trees for Cities are hosting a community tree planting day on Saturday 3rd February in Court Park. There will be food and hot drink provided for volunteers and the aim is to plant a mix of both small and large trees in the park. The groups of small trees will increase the diversity and resilience of the existing woodland areas by adding new species and younger trees to the space. The new trees will eventually add depth to the northern border of the park and assist with drainage in the often waterlogged soil area. We hope that many St. Helen's College families would like to join in with this initiative, and we would encourage your children to wear their school PE kits on that day so that it is obvious which children are from St. Helen's College. We are so very fortunate to have this beautiful park on our doorstep and would love to show the community how much we appreciate it by taking an active part in improving it for the future. It is, of course, also a wonderful chance for the children to put their eco pledges into action and to learn or practise the skill of planting.  You can sign up to take part here: Welfare News Here are some seasonal reminders from our Welfare team. Please ensure that all children have gloves, scarves, hats and coats with them during cold weather and that all items are named. There are, as usual at this time of year, some winter bugs 'doing the rounds'. In order to limit the spread of these, please do not send your child to school: if they have a temperature;  within 48 hours of a bout of vomiting/diarrhoea; after giving them medication for cold/flu/sore throat/viral symptoms; if they have a persistently bad cough. If you do need to keep a child at home for health reasons, please remember to email by 8.30 a.m. with the reason for absence. Holiday Club The St. Helen's College Holiday Club will run at half term from Monday 12th to Friday 16th February. Please log in to your SchoolsBuddy account to make your bookings from 4 p.m. today. Next Week Monday 29th January - Active Travel and Road Safety Monday 29th January - Football v. St. Mary's Monday 29th January - Sick Child Course 7.00 - 9.00 p.m. Tuesday 30th January -  Year 2 and Year 5 tree planting workshop  Tuesday 30th January - Year 6 individual and class photos Tuesday 30th January - Netball v. Laurel Lane Wednesday 31st January - General knowledge quiz Wednesday 31st January - Netball v. Orley Farm School   Wednesday 31st January - Football v. Cowley St. Laurence Wednesday 31st January - Ducklings, Nursery & Reception parents' evenings  Thursday 1st February - Robins coffee morning and class assembly  Friday 2nd February - Natural History Museum visiting Nursery Friday 2nd February - 5G coffee morning and class assembly  
Posted on: 19/01/2024

Weekly News - Friday 19th January 2024

5R Class Assembly  As part of our Centenary celebrations in 2024, each year group is researching a different decade over the past 100 years. Pupils are finding out about important historical events and influential people who have contributed to significant scientific or cultural breakthroughs which have paved the way for change.   5R have been researching the 1930s and today presented a brilliant assembly about the trailblazing aviator and adventurer Amelia Earhart. We learnt how this intrepid explorer became the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic and set many other records throughout her remarkable life. Pupils confidently shared reimagined extracts from Amelia's diary and delivered their own poetry about 'flying high'. They also took us on a whistle stop journey around the world with flags and interesting facts from the equatorial countries Amelia flew across as she circumnavigated the globe. Amelia's inspiring story demonstrates determination and perseverance, key school values that we encourage in school every day.  Year 6 French Pen Pals  Year 6 recently wrote introductory letters to pen pals in France and were very excited to receive their first replies! The return letters are from a school close to Château de la Baudonnière in Normandy and will be the first of many letters crossing the channel before Year 6 visit the region for their residential in the summer term. Pupils will then have the opportunity to meet their pen pals in person, joining them for activities at their school and more fun back at the Château!   House Mottos We have a thriving House system here at St. Helen's College and run a programme of fun, competitive challenges where every child has the opportunity to be involved and to win valuable House points. The latest challenge is for the children to create new mottos for their Houses: Caledonia, Hibernia, Windsor and Cambria. They can post their suggestions on their House Google Classrooms in time for the next House assembly in March. The House motto should reflect the values of the school that each House strives for in everything they do. The chosen mottos will be revealed at Exhibition Day on March 16th, good luck everyone! Royal Academy of Arts Young Artists' Summer Show Calling all budding artists! The prestigious Royal Academy of Arts is calling for submissions for the annual Young Artists' Summer Show. This is a free, open submission exhibition for students aged 4 - 19 studying in the UK. Judged by a panel of artists and art professionals, selected artworks are displayed online and on site at the Royal Academy of Arts.   We have some amazingly talented artists here at St. Helen's College and this is a wonderful opportunity for pupils to show artwork at one of the most influential art venues in the world. Information on how to register can be found here. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 27th March 2024 at 5 p.m. We hope that this piece of artwork by Tiya T (Year 6) will inspire many pupils to enter! Kitchen Retains 5 Star Rating Following an unannounced spot inspection today, we are delighted to report that our school kitchen has once again been awarded a 5 star rating for food hygiene from the Health & Safety Inspectorate at Hillingdon Food Standards Agency. Well done to Chef Soula and all the Accent team! 2+ Entry - September 2024 We are now allocating places for entry to Ducklings Kindergarten in September. If you have a child who will turn two before the end of August, and you would like them to join Ducklings in September, please contact Mrs. Smith at as soon as possible. Please alert any family and friends too! Bedtime Connection Resource Helping children to wind down at bedtime promotes a healthy sleep routine and can also be a valuable opportunity for parents to connect with their children after a busy day. Here are some simple and enjoyable ideas to build connection with your child at bedtime.  Beaconsfield School Half Term Camp There will be a holiday camp at Beaconsfield School over the February half term for children aged 5 - 12, which offers the opportunity for children to try new activities. Details are here. Next Week Wednesday 24th January - Trunk Theatre Company visiting Y2 Wednesday 24th January - Y4 Trip to Amersham Field Centre  Thursday 25th January - 1C Coffee Morning and Class Assembly  Thursday 25th January - Ducklings, Nursery and Reception Parents' Evenings Friday 26th January - 6H Coffee Morning and Class Assembly Friday 26th January - Month End Music Recital Friday 26th January - Girls Football Festival at Radlett Prep Y3/4/5/6  
Posted on: 19/01/2024

School Inspection

I am sure that many of you have read articles and reports in the media regarding the fallout from the tragic death of Headteacher Ruth Perry following her school’s Ofsted Inspection. Ruth took her own life in January 2023 before the publication of an inspection report rating Caversham Primary School in Berkshire ‘inadequate’. The chief coroner concluded that the inspection 'lacked fairness, respect and sensitivity' and was at times 'rude and intimidating'. Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills, inspects and reports on anywhere that provides education for young people in England, including schools, nurseries and childminders. Schools or organisations are inspected every four years or 30 months depending on their status, and are then graded accordingly: 1 - outstanding 2 - good 3 - requires improvement 4 - inadequate Many parents rely on Ofsted ratings to help them choose a school or nursery for their child. As at November 2022, 88% of schools in England were rated either outstanding or good. As an independent school and part of the association IAPS (The Association for Preparatory Schools), we are inspected under a different inspection body: ISI (The Independent Schools Inspectorate).  Ofsted are contracted by the Department for Education to conduct and report on inspections of organisations such as schools (both maintained and academies). The Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) are contracted to do the same but for Independent Schools. ISI is a Government approved inspectorate and the quality of its service is monitored by Ofsted on behalf of the Department for Education. Every year, Ofsted prepares a report for the Education Secretary about how the ISI has carried out its work. Overall Ofsted is satisfied but will normally comment on an area for ISI to consider. Both ISI and Ofsted report on independent schools’ compliance with the DfE Education (Independent Schools Standards) Regulations. These are the statutory rules the DfE imposes on independent schools against which ISI inspects. But ISI and Ofsted use a different framework and criteria for judging school quality, and they use different judgement words too. For example, up until last year ISI used 'excellent, good, sound and unsatisfactory', while Ofsted uses 'outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate'. Another difference is that ISI inspection teams largely consist of practising senior leaders currently working in independent schools, whereas Ofsted inspectors have not necessarily run a school. This means ISI inspectors are realistic and knowledgeable about the challenges for individual schools and their reports are more nuanced. For example, ISI inspectors evaluate independent schools against the higher standards of academic achievement and extracurricular activities in the sector as a whole as well as against national norms. The National Education Union (NEU) has urged school leaders to refuse to work as Ofsted inspectors until a health and safety assessment of the system is carried out. Ofsted inspections have been frozen and as well as calling for a freeze of inspections and the abolition of Ofsted, the motion instructed the union to 'call on all NEU leadership members to refuse to participate as inspectors in any further inspections until a full health and safety assessment of the inspection system is conducted'. Educational leaders in both the maintained and independent sector can only see the positive in this but sadly it is too little, too late for Ruth Perry. Many of you will know that I am a practising inspector for ISI and I am privileged to conduct regular inspections each year in other independent schools.  As an independent sector we also now have a new framework for our inspection process and ISI will now NOT give an overall judgement, and have abolished the four gradings of excellent, good, sound and unsatisfactory. Instead, they now focus on ‘nuanced reporting‘ within the report itself. The new framework places a strong emphasis on promoting the wellbeing of pupils. Pupil wellbeing is defined in section 10(2) of the Children Act 2004 as: physical and mental health and emotional wellbeing; protection from harm and neglect; education, training and recreation; the contribution made by them to society and social and economic wellbeing. This definition is used as a starting point for ISI’s approach to school evaluations, making it vital that all school leaders keep this at the forefront of their minds when updating policies and reviewing their curriculum and values. The new framework places an overarching responsibility of the school’s leadership, management and governance to 'actively promote' these five aspects of pupils’ wellbeing in all aspects of school life. Governors are reminded of their responsibilities to ensure their school is fully compliant and aware of the measures they need to take in order to mitigate against the particular issues their school faces. At St. Helen's College, we are approaching the end of our three year cycle and are due to be inspected hopefully by the end of 2024 under the new framework. The new framework emphasises that schools need to actively seek and take into account pupils’ views, wishes and feelings about their school experience. School leaders should enable pupils to communicate, develop positive relationships with staff, and make their views known. Parent and staff views are also taken into account and questionnaires are sent out from ISI at the onset of the inspection process to assist the team in their evaluations.  Safeguarding continues to be at the forefront of inspections. Inspectors will check to verify there are arrangements in place to safeguard and promote the welfare of pupils and meet the expected standards and provisions as set out in the relevant legislation and statutory guidance. The new framework specifically mentions the need for schools to have effective arrangements to ensure that pupils know how to stay safe online and that these are regularly updated and reviewed. Schools can ensure they meet these criteria by having an effective PSHE curriculum in place as well as an Online Safety Policy (either stand alone or incorporated into the Child Protection and Safeguarding policy), which is appropriate for the ages and needs of the pupils. It should cover all aspects of staying safe online and must include appropriate provision to have monitoring and filtering systems in place.  I am proud to be part of the ISI inspectorate and how we as a body work together with schools to evaluate their provision to celebrate strengths but also to recommend areas of improvement to ensure that as a sector we are the frontrunners in our educational provision for your children.  You may wish to read more information about our inspection process here.
Posted on: 12/01/2024

Weekly News - Friday 12th January 2024

It has been a super first week back at school! The children have been very busy with their learning indoors and out. If you would like to keep in touch with what is going on at school, please follow us on your preferred channel(s) by clicking the links below.         Barnardo's National Choral Competition Final Tickets We are delighted that The Chamber Choir have once again reached the final of the prestigious Barnardo's National Choral Competition. The final will be held on Tuesday 5th March at Birmingham Symphony Hall. The competition will take place between 9.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. with an evening performance at 6.00 p.m. If you would like to attend the evening performance, tickets can be purchased here. There is a group rate available if 4+ tickets are booked together. Once you have added the tickets for the evening concert to the basket, there is an option to purchase a daytime ticket for £5 which allows you access to watch the competition, if you wish to do so. Please ensure that you book early; tickets are sold directly by the venue and we have no access to additional tickets once they are sold out.  100 Things To Do In Our Centenary Year We hope you are enjoying working your way through the list of '100 Things To Do In Our Centenary Year'! For the school magazine, we would like to collate photographs of pupils/families doing these activities. Mrs. Smith would be grateful if you would share photographs of your children/family enjoying some of the activities with her. You may email photos directly to Please feel free to send photographs throughout the year as you complete each activity. Library Books Libraries are a brilliant expression of community recycling - books and resources are borrowed, read, and returned to be shared again and again! By enjoying their library books and returning them to the school library on time, St. Helen's College children are part of this sustainable cycle in our school community.  Happy readers are the best way to promote reading, and the Upper School library is often busy with children asking for the books they have seen their friends enjoy! So please support sustainability and help to promote reading by encouraging your child to choose a particular place to keep their library books safe, and return them to school promptly when they are finished so that the books are available for another child. Books are loaned for up to two weeks and may be renewed for "another turn" by visiting the library. Books which remain overdue since before Christmas will be assumed lost, and parents may be asked to replace these.  Court Park Wood Carvings One of our staff members came across this beautiful wood carving from a fallen tree in Court Park. We are so lucky to have access to the park for our pupils for sports and more. To take a look for yourselves follow these directions: walk through the park past the tennis courts and children's playground into Court Drive. Walk straight up the road to the top of the hill where the path starts then walk around the perimeter of the park. You will see the carving on the right hand side. What a good excuse to walk or scoot to school, or to visit the park for a bracing winter walk!    Parents' Evenings Ducklings, Nursery and Reception parents' evenings will take place on Thursday 25th and Wednesday 31st January. Bookings are now open; information has been sent directly to parents by email. Alumni News Esme Stallard is an Old Helenian who is a science and climate reporter for the BBC. This week, she has written on the likelihood of Norway becoming the first country to approve commercial-scale deep sea mining. You can read her piece here. Sports News 5G have enjoyed a week of swimming lessons this week at Hillingdon Sports & Leisure Complex. Sporting fixtures will resume next week; please ensure that all children come to school with plenty of layers to keep warm during outdoor sports in this cold weather.  Free Basketball Tickets: Euro Cup Women London Lions Women v Lointek Gernika Bizkaia St. Helen's College pupils are being offered free tickets to the Women's Euro Cup basketball match between London Lions and Lointek Gernika Bizkaia on Thursday 18th January at the Copper Box Arena, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. To take advantage of this offer, simply follow the link below and use the promotional code LYG783. Next Week Monday 15th - Friday 19th January - 5R swimming all week Tuesday 16th January - Year 5 transfer meetings with Ms Drummond (5 - 8 p.m.) Wednesday 17th January - Reception entry meetings (for September 2024 entry) Wednesday 17th January - PA meeting in The Evans Hall (7.30 p.m.) Friday 19th January - 5R coffee morning (8.15 a.m.) and class assembly (8.40 a.m.) Dates For Your Diaries As always, there will be lots of opportunities this term for parents to see children's work and activities, and meet with staff. Important dates for parents for this term include: Friday 19th January - 5R coffee morning/class assembly Thursday 25th January - 1C coffee morning/class assembly Thursday 25th January - Ducklings/Nursery/Reception parents' evenings Friday 26th January - 6H coffee morning/class assembly Friday 26th January - Month End Music Recital in Evans Hall Wednesday 31st January - Ducklings/Nursery/Reception parents' evenings Thursday 1st February - Robins coffee morning/class assembly Friday 2nd February - 5G coffee morning/class assembly Thursday 8th February - Wrens coffee morning/class assembly Friday 9th February - 6L coffee morning/class assembly Tuesday 20th February - PA coffee morning Thursday 22nd February - Owls coffee morning/class assembly Friday 23rd February - Month End Music Recital in Evans Hall Thursday 29th February - Kingfishers coffee morning/class assembly Tuesday 5th March - Chamber Choir performing at Barnardo's National Final (Birmingham Symphony Hall) Wednesday 6th March - 1R coffee morning/class assembly Thursday 7th March - Year 3 play performance at Compass Theatre Tuesday 12th March - Year 4 parents' Senior School Transfer Meeting Friday 15th March - Half Day (NO AFTER SCHOOL CLUB AVAILABLE) Saturday 16th March - Centenary Exhibition Day Tuesday 19th March - Nursery/Reception Poetry Recitation Tuesday 19th March - Year 5 Isle of Wight Information Evening for parents Thursday 21st March - Speech & Poetry Competition Y1-6 (parents of finalists will be invited) Thursday 21st March - Year 3 PACCAR Information Evening for parents Friday 22nd March - Year 2 - 6 Easter Service at All Saints Church (11 a.m.) Easter Camp MiniMe Camps will be running an Easter Camp at PACCAR for 6-11 year old children from 8th to 12th April, which will include activities such as zip wire, abseiling, laser tag, giant swing and more. A flyer can be found here and bookings should be made here.  
Posted on: 5/01/2024

Weekly News - Friday 5th January 2024

Happy New Year to the St. Helen's College Community! We hope that you have all had a good break. We have been busy in school for the past two days with staff training and preparations for the new term, and are looking forward very much to welcoming the pupils back on Monday. Please ensure that your child arrives at school in good time each morning, by 8.25 a.m., so that all pupils may enjoy a calm, purposeful start to the day.  Buy Nothing New Month St. Helen's College is taking part in Buy Nothing New Month during January. This initiative, run by Keep Britain Tidy, is about moving beyond simply recycling to reduce the amount of new 'stuff' that we buy, and by extension, the amount of waste that we create. It is about cherishing the things we already have, repairing things rather than sending them to landfill, and finding new homes for the things we no longer need. It is sobering to think that, if everyone in the world lived like people in the UK, we would need over two and a half planets to regenerate and absorb our waste. As a society, we need to move to a circular economy that wastes less and puts more value on the things we already have. The 'Buy Nothing New' initiative is not just good for the planet; it is an opportunity to save money too. Last year, 65% of those who took part bought nothing new for a whole month, and an additional 31% bought less than they usually would. We hope that you will join us in trying to buy nothing new this month. Uniform And Equipment Please double check that your children have the correct uniform and equipment and that everything is clearly named. It is essential that every child brings a waterproof St. Helen's College coat/raincoat with them each day. Travel And Parking Reminders We urge parents and children to travel to school by foot (or bicycle/scooter) wherever possible. Doing so is environmentally friendly and good for physical and mental health. For those who must drive, we would like to remind all parents that it is your responsibility to adhere to the school's travel and parking regulations, and to ensure that anyone delivering or collecting your child to school does the same. The regulations are permanently published to the school website and are available here.  It is inevitable that there will be some congestion at school run times, and those who drive should allow for this when planning journeys. As a school, we work hard to maintain good relationships with neighbours, promote sustainable travel, ease congestion for parents and make the drop-off and pick-up as easy as possible. The measures we take include the following. An optional Breakfast Club daily during term time, so that your children may be dropped off at 7.30 a.m.  Staggered arrival times between 8.00 and 8.30 a.m. (with school staff providing supervision of children during these times). A 'drop and go' system in the mornings, overseen by school staff, so that children may be dropped off without adults needing to park and exit their car. Staggered departure times at end of day, between 3.00 and 3.50 p.m.  An optional After School Club daily during term time, so that children may stay at school up until 6 p.m. if needed. A variety of after school co-curricular activities which further disperse departure times at the end of day. Promotion of 'walk to school' initiatives and safe bicycle/scooter storage at school for children's bicycles and scooters. Requiring parents to adhere to our school travel and parking regulations. We are always interested to hear if you have any further ideas for easing congestion and promoting safe and sustainable travel. Next Week - Reminders Monday 8th - Friday 12th January - 5G swimming all week Wednesday 10th January - Nursery entry meetings (for 2024 entry) Wednesday 10th January - Year 5 transfer meetings with Ms Drummond Thursday 11th January - Nursery entry meetings (for 2024 entry)

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