School News and Head's Blog

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Posted on: 29/06/2018

Weekly News - Friday 29th June 2018

Wow! What a wonderful week of performances it has been, with the superb Year 1 and 2 summer productions and a lovely 3V assembly today. Year 1 Production - Hansel and Gretel With stellar solo performances and energetic ensemble numbers, the Year 1 performance would not have been out of place in the West End of London! Watching the children, it really was hard to believe that they are just 5 and 6 years old. The skills they showed in remembering all of their words (no prompts required!), in singing with enthusiasm and tunefulness, in moving about the stage and in engaging the audience really were verging on the professional. There were moments of comedy and of joy and the performance was enjoyed immensely by all who attended. Well done Year 1! Year 2 Production - The Emerald Crown Our Year 2 children entertained and educated us with a beautiful performance of The Emerald Crown, a play all about the rainforest canopy and the importance of protecting it. The stage was a riot of colour with, among others, brightly feathered birds, green creepers, bats, toucans, monkeys, an anaconda and even a jaguar! The message of the play - for us all to think about and mitigate the effects humans are having on our world's environment and eco-systems - was conveyed with grace, empathy and enthusiasm. There were some stunning solo and group singing performances and every child recited their lines and moved about the stage with confidence and clear enjoyment. Bravo, Year 2! 3V Assembly - St. Helen's Got Talent! This morning's assembly was great fun at Upper School as 3V presented their own talent show, complete with judges Miss Wallis and Mr. Lewis! The children showed some mature and well-practised performance skills, whether acting as presenters or judges, playing instruments, doing gymnastics, singing or performing magic tricks. Who knew that the children of 3V had so many talents! Well done to all involved. The Wizard of Oz 'The Wizard of Oz' will be performed by our Year 6 children at The Compass Theatre, Ickenham on Thursday 5th and Friday 6th July. Children at Upper School have had a preview performance in assembly this week to give them a taste of the show, and we know that many are eager to see the full production. Parents are permitted to take children out of school on Friday 6th July for the matinee performance and we would encourage you to do so if you can, so that the younger children can enjoy the performance and see the standard to which they will aspire by the time they reach Year 6! Please let us know if you plan to take your child(ren) out of school for the matinee performance. Tickets are sold on a first come, first served basis so please do not delay - the Year 6 play is always of exceptionally high quality and it is lovely for pupils in the younger years to go and see it with their parents. There are three performances: Thursday 5th July 7.30 p.m. Friday 6th July 2.00 p.m. matinee Friday 6th July 7.30 p.m. You may order tickets by following the link below. http://www.hillingdontheatres.uk/index.php/events/wizard-of-oz/ Please note that, for copyright reasons, parents will not be allowed to take photographs or use video recording devices during the performances. You can see some 'sneak preview' photographs of the cast in their costumes on our Galleries page. 2018 Leavers We are very proud of all of our Year 6 leavers this year, who have all achieved so much during their time at St. Helen's College. We are delighted that, between the 38 children, they were offered 10 scholarships or exhibitions to leading Independent Schools. As usual, the leavers are heading to a wide variety of schools, with 22 different destination schools this year from our 38 pupils. 14 children will be going to grammar schools 17 children will go to independent schools 7 children will be joining other schools It is with a great sense of pride that we will bid them farewell at the end of this term, confident in the knowledge that they are exceptionally well prepared for their next steps at senior school. Messages from the PA PA Summer Fete The summer fete has arrived and will be taking place in the Upper School playground from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday 30th  June).  Although there is no entrance fee, there will be donation buckets at the Parkway gate entrance, with any money raised being donated to Cancer Research UK.  In addition, a group of Year 4 entrepreneurial children will be selling origami products from their stall with all proceeds being donated to Cancer Research UK. Please do visit their stall (Dream Team) and give them some support. If you have any old uniform to donate, please do bring it along to the Fete and hand it to the PA uniform stall. Any uniform not sold after the fete is shipped to India, where less privileged school children are able to wear it. You can see photographs of pupils wearing SHC uniform on the Galleries page. The fete is a wonderful event so feel free to bring along your friends and family.  There will be a range of world food stalls where you can buy anything from Indian to mouth-watering hotdogs and burgers from our BBQ. We will also have lots of games for you to have a go at so, if you can, make sure you bring lots of change with you.  Any money raised on the stalls is reinvested into the school and this year the PA will be working with the school to bring improvements to the Lower School playground, which will complement the new setting.   Finally, one last plea for helpers. If anyone is available to help with set up on the day (from 8 a.m. or as soon as possible thereafter) or to help on any of the stalls, please do contact us at pa@sthelenscollege.com or fill your name in on the Google Sheet here. Thank you to everyone who has offered their support - this event would not be possible without your help and we really do appreciate it! Sports Days  The PA would like to thank all of those parents who donated items for the Sports Day refreshments stall - the donations were truly amazing and we are very grateful! Thank you also to those parents who came and bought items from the stall. We hope that you all enjoyed the events as much as the children did! Staff Farewells and Welcomes Miss Wallis (5W) has now started her maternity leave and awaits the arrival of her bundle of joy. 5W will be under the care of Miss Beckett until the end of term. We wish Miss Wallis all the best and hope that she enjoys some rest before the big event. Miss Toombs and Miss Martinez will also be leaving us at the end of this term.   Miss Toombs has a very exciting opportunity. Having been with us in the role of TALA for the past 3 years, she will be starting her teacher training in September. It is such a testament to the school that our staff go on to further their careers and although we are very sad to lose Miss Toombs, it is wonderful that she will be taking her career to the next level. Miss Martinez has been with us for one year and in this short time she has inspired the children with her Spanish throughout the school and run our Funtasia After School care. Alas, Miss Martinez has made a decision from the heart and will moving to California to join her partner and return to further study in the USA.   We wish Miss Toombs and Miss Martinez all the best in their exciting new ventures. Mrs. Lawrence (Wrens) will be taking over the running of Funtasia After School Club, ably assisted as ever by Mrs. Beagley at Upper School and Miss Williams at Lower School.  Following rigorous selection and interview processes, we are absolutely delighted to be welcoming some new members of staff to the school in September and we know that you will wish to join with us in welcoming them into the St. Helen's College community. Miss Samantha Joiner will be a wonderful addition to the Lower School team as a Year 1 teacher. Miss Joiner has most recently been teaching a Reception class at Belmore Primary Academy, and is looking forward very much to joining St. Helen's College and to returning to teach Key Stage 1, having worked as a Key Stage 1 teacher for seven years previously. Mr. Celso Aguiar will be joining us to teach Spanish throughout the school. A native Spanish speaker, Mr. Aguiar has lived in London for sixteen years and has a wealth of experience teaching children from Nursery age through to A Level. Mr. Aguiar will also be running our Spanish clubs next year. Miss Sarah Ward will be joining us to teach PE/Games at Lower School. Miss Ward is a highly qualified and experienced PE/Games specialist who has most recently worked at Bushey Meads School, teaching PE across the school and acting as a Head of House and Form Tutor.  Miss Claire Heath will be joining the team as an Upper School Teaching and Learning Assistant. Miss Heath has lots of experience in the world of business and is no stranger to working with children - some of the girls may know her already from local Brownies groups, where she has been a leader for some years! She is currently spending some time at the school to get to know the children and routines ahead of a full time start in September. We are currently recruiting for an Early Years Teaching Assistant. Full details can be found on the Join The Team page of the website. Staff v Pupil Rounders You may have thought the big match this week was England vs Belgium at the World Cup! You would be wrong - the big match was in fact the annual staff v pupils rounders match held at St. Helen's College on Thursday afternoon. Our Sports Captains organised the Year 5 and 6 pupils into two teams the take on a team of staff in two matches. The event was good fun and the pupils were skilled players scoring many rounders; they also fielded well to get many of the staff out. Match scores were: A team vs staff - staff won 10.5 to 5.5 B team vs staff - staff won 12 to 9.5 Special thanks to Max, Ryeesa, Timi and Amrit for umpiring the matches so well and to Mrs. Kaura and Mrs. Field for supplying refreshments for everyone at the end of the match.  Sports Days Results We were entertained last week with four amazing Sports Days in the space of four days, which showcased the children's talent for sport and competition.  Ducklings started the sporting festivities off on Tuesday with their Sports Day. Our youngest Helenians took part in a range of fun activities and races and were cheered on by their enthusiastic parents, who also took the opportunity to throw an 'after party' in the Ducklings garden! Prep Sports Day on Wednesday opened with a fantastic opening ceremony in which our Head Boy and Girl teams welcomed everyone and we were then treated to a brilliant dance display by our Year 4 girls, who demonstrated some outstanding hula hooping skills. If anyone has a video of the dance we would love to have a copy for the school gallery - please get in contact if you do. New Prep Sports Day records set this year include: Year 5 girls' long jump - a 20 year old school record was broken by Hebe with a jump of 3.40m. Hebe also broke two more school records, in the Year 5 girls' 400m with a time of 1 minute 14 seconds and in the 70m sprint with a time of 10.31 seconds.  Year 6 Shot Put - new records in both boys' and girls' events. Abigail Y set a new record of 12.50m and Jed H set a new record of 14.90m. Fredericka T in Year 3 set a new 50m sprint record with a time of 8.44 seconds and new records were also established in the new format hurdles events this year. In Year 3 Riya and Adi, in Year 4 Raunaq and Taha, in Year 5 Jada and Feranmi and in Year 6 Ryeesa and Kai established the records for this new event format. Our Year 3 parents shone in the parents' races, with Mr. Sawant (Aditiya's dad) and Ms Haq (Zayd's mum) crossing the line first in two exciting parents' races over 50m.  On Friday morning in our Pre-Prep Sports Day our Year 1 and 2 pupils showed what a talented bunch they are with some super skills on the skills stations and excellent running on the track. This year our Year 2s demonstrated their hurdling skills too. In the afternoon it was Nursery and Reception classes who took to the field where, supported by staff and our Year 5 sports leaders, they were encouraged to try all the events with great enthusiasm.  Both Sports Days ended with the traditional 'tug o' war' parents' event where parents pull for their child's house. This fun event is always well supported with over thirty parents on each side pulling for the house team. This year honours were even with Windsor parents winning in the morning and Cambria parents winning in the afternoon.  Sports Day overall results Foundation Stage Sports Day - Windsor Champions Pre-Prep  Sports Day - Cambria Champions Prep Sports Day - Windsor Champions Year 3 - 6 Inter-house sports cup (awarded to the winning team for inter-house matches played throughout the year) - Windsor Champions A real sense of community was evident at all our Sports Days, with Year 5 pupils and Old Helenians participating as sports leaders to run events, parents helping as judges, our staff supporting the pupils and the PA keeping everyone refreshed!  Thank you to everyone involved. Summer School Due to the overwhelming demand for summer school places this year, additional places are now available as follows: Lower School Summer school (Nursery - Y1) - 2 places available Upper School Summer School (Y2) - 2 places available Upper School Summer School (Y3 - 6) - 7 places available Booking forms must be completed and returned as soon as possible. The booking form is available here. Lower School Development As you are all aware we have our very exciting Lower School project commencing on Saturday 7th July, with our current Nursery and Reception buildings being replaced. Please note that the Lower School will be completely closed after Friday 6th July thus if you have any queries please do contact Upper School. Holiday Club and Summer School for Lower School pupils will be located in the Upper School throughout the summer. Please note that on Friday 6th July, Funtasia After School Club will be held at Upper School for ALL pupils, including Nursery, Reception and Year 1.
Posted on: 29/06/2018

Artificial Intelligence - School's Out For Ever?

Artificial Intelligence – School’s Out For Ever1? ‘We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task. I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: if machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do? We need to rise to the occasion and meet this challenge before human labour becomes obsolete.’ So said respected computer scientist Moshe Vardi in 20162. Perhaps his pessimistic forecast was prompted by a number of reports, such as the 2013 study at the University of Oxford by Frey and Osborne3 which predicted that some 50% of 700 jobs are under threat of automation in the next two decades. Ironically, Frey and Osborne’s report was partly generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) system! Toby Walsh, in his book Android Dreams – The Past, Present and Future of Artificial Intelligence4, throws us a lifeline by arguing that the alarmist newspaper headlines which followed the Oxford report were unjustified. For example, some jobs will be only partly automated, some automation may not harmonise with customer demands (pilotless airliner, anybody?) and new technology invariably creates new types of job. Some readers might be old enough to remember the excitement of the early 90s, when we all thought that computers would lead to a 3-day working week for all. (This was about the same time that we were anticipating the Peace Dividend that would surely follow the downfall of the USSR!) The part-automation of complex, skilled tasks promises huge benefits to society, and indeed is already beginning to impact upon a variety of professions. Yesterday’s Times and Telegraph newspapers reported that Babylon, a ‘chatbot’ which in some areas assesses patients who dial 111, achieved a high pass (81%) in the diagnosis exam set by the Royal College of General Practitioners (average mark 72%), and even outperformed a small group of experienced GPs (97% to 93%). GPs responded by saying that their ‘gut feeling’ helps them to care for patients – and I am certain that they are right. Experienced GPs build up, over thousands of consultations, an apparently intuitive ability (aka gut feeling) to identify unreported symptoms. Their huge knowledge base, built upon skills of social perception moulded over millions of years of evolutionary development, and their ability to communicate in the most appropriate way given the individual and the circumstances, provide them with professional skills which surpass those of Babylon. Babylon will be a useful tool to speed up diagnosis, and to assist those who cannot access a doctor directly, but there is more to diagnosis than self-reported symptoms, and more to medical care than diagnosis. At the London Festival of Learning this week, research was reported which looked at the effect of teachers using high-tech ‘Lumilo’ glasses, which allow them to check individual performance during lessons while simultaneously monitoring the class5. This claims to be the first experimental study which shows that pupils can learn more if the artificial intelligence of a maths tutoring programme, which provides students with step-by-step guidance and allows them to work at their own pace, is combined with support from human teachers. This is a super example of artificial intelligence working hand in hand with natural (teacher) intelligence. As Ken Holstein, lead author on the study, says, ‘Lumilo facilitates a form of mutual support or co-orchestration between the human teacher and the AI tutor.’ In this study the AI (an adaptive tutoring programme which continuously monitors the student’s progress and modifies the task accordingly) is coupled with new technology (glasses which present the teacher with visual data about individual student performance and motivation), helping the teacher to identify which students needed one-to-one help. Other AI innovations will impact on education sooner rather than later, and will become mainstream. It is my view that schools and teachers will need to adapt as AI becomes increasingly integrated into teaching and learning, but that neither is under threat of extinction. We are social beings and schools are more than places of academic learning. Schools inculcate values and encourage the exploration of interests and the development of talents; they foster friendship, teamwork and resilience; they are places where traditions, culture and experience can be shared; pragmatically, they provide childcare; and perhaps above all they are places where childhood can be celebrated and where children can experience the wonder, delight and awe of the world around them. It will be an impressive ‘bot’ which can replicate all of that. D.A. Crehan P.S. The Frey and Osborne report puts the probability that teachers will be automated at less than 1%! 1https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Oo8QzDHimQ 2www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/12155808/Robots-will-take-over-most-jobs-within-30-years-experts-warn.html 3Frey, C.B. and Osborne, M.A. (2013) The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation? www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf 4Android Dreams – The Past, Present and Future of Artificial Intelligence, by Toby Walsh (Hurst & Company, London)  5Student Learning Benefits of a Mixed-reality Teacher Awareness Tool in AI-enhanced Classrooms, by Kenneth Holstein, Bruce M. McLaren and Vincent Aleven (Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh)
Posted on: 22/06/2018

Weekly News - Friday 22nd June 2018

We have enjoyed superb Sports Days this week at all three sites. On Tuesday, our Ducklings had a wonderful afternoon of races, on their grassed area, followed by a lovely 'after party' organised by the parents. On Wednesday, the Prep School Sports Day at Hillingdon Stadium saw children in Years 3 to 6 compete in a full range of track and field events and today children from Nursery to Year 2 have competed in their events on the track and field at Court Park. As ever, the Sports Days have been the culmination of the year's sporting activities and it was really marvellous to see the Olympic and Paralympic values on display once again from the youngest to the oldest children. The children showed maturity, determination, perseverance, sportsmanship and real excellence throughout the events and there were some superb results, which we will report in full next week. We would like to extend thanks to all of the parents who attended the Sports Days and most especially to the PA who provided refreshments at the Pre-Prep and Prep Sports Days.  Charity Assembly Today the children in Years 3 to 6 heard from Meena Patel, the lady who co-ordinates the shipping of old St. Helen's College uniform to underprivileged children in India. Having visited India and identified the issues affecting these children, Meena was able to convey to our pupils just how lucky they are not to suffer from the same hardships. She was also able to show our pupils some photographs of Indian children wearing old St. Helen's College uniform, and a short clip of the children thanking our pupils. Year 1/2 Summer Plays - Key Information For All Year Groups The children in the Year 1 and Year 2 classes will be performing their Summer Concert plays at the Winston Churchill Hall in Pinn Way, Ruislip, on Thursday 28th June, at 1.30 p.m. (Y1) and 2.30 p.m. (Y2). Year 1 will be performing 'Hansel and Gretel' and Year 2 will be performing 'The Emerald Crown'. The key arrangements are as follows. The Dress Rehearsal will be on Wednesday 27th June. All children from Nursery to Year 4 will attend so that they can watch the Concerts. Please deliver your child(ren) to the Winston Churchill Hall on this date by 8.40 a.m. The children will return to school by coach. Please note that Year 5 will remain at school for normal lessons, as they are busy preparing for important exams later this year. However, if you have a child in Year 1 or 2 who has a sibling in Year 5, then please drop your Year 5 child at the Winston Churchill Hall by 8.40 a.m. too so that they may watch their sibling perform. The Year 5 siblings will also return to school by coach. On the day of the concert, Thursday 28th June, Year 1 and 2 children will have lunch at school as usual and will be taken by coach to the Winston Churchill Hall in time for their performances. Tickets are now available and are priced at £8 each. Parents should book tickets by following this link: ​https://sthelens.parentseveningsystem.co.uk/  If parents have children in both Year 1 and Year 2, you should buy tickets just for one of the shows and you will be able to watch both. PA Summer Fete Thank you to all parents who have been bringing in donations and volunteering time to help on stalls at the Summer Fete on Saturday 30th June. If you have not yet volunteered, please do return your slip to let your class teacher know when you will be able to help. Donations will continue to be most gratefully received throughout the week this week too. The Summer Fete is always a super event and we are looking forward to seeing you all there!  The Wizard of Oz 'The Wizard of Oz' will be performed by our Year 6 children at The Compass Theatre, Ickenham on Thursday 5th and Friday 6th July. Parents are permitted to take children out of school on Friday for the matinee performance and we would encourage you to do so if you can, so that the younger children can enjoy the performance and see the standard to which they will aspire by the time they reach Year 6! Please let us know if you plan to take your child(ren) out of school for the matinee performance. Tickets are sold on a first come, first served basis so please do not delay - the Year 6 play is always of exceptionally high quality and it is lovely for pupils in the younger years to go and see it with their parents. There are three performances: Thursday 5th July 7.30 p.m. Friday 6th July 2.00 p.m. matinee Friday 6th July 7.30 p.m. You may order tickets by following the link below. http://www.hillingdontheatres.uk/index.php/events/wizard-of-oz/ Please note that, for copyright reasons, parents will not be allowed to take photographs or use video recording devices during the performances. Cancer Research Relay for Life The school will once again be supporting the Cancer Research Relay for Life this year and a letter has been sent home separately with the details of the fundraising activities being run by various year groups. The first, the Year 5 cake sale, will take place on Monday 25th. Amishi K (Year 6) is also going to be running an individual fundraiser: 'Guess The Number Of JellyBeans In The Jar'. There will be jars full of beans at Upper School and Lower School. Entries will be £1 each so please do allow your child to bring in £1 (or more) and have a guess! School Bus We would like to remind parents that, in September, we will be launching a school bus service which will run daily during term time. The bus will be available to children in Years 2 to 6 and will run, initially, on a route from Ruislip through Ickenham and Hillingdon to school. You can see the exact route and timings, along with the booking form, here and these have also been published to the School Documents page of the website. There will be limited places on the bus and these will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. We would therefore encourage parents to complete and return the booking form as soon as possible if you know that you will require a regular place on a certain day, or certain days, of the week. Subject to availability, it will also be possible to book places on an ad hoc basis from September, by telephoning the school office by 4 p.m. on the preceding day. We have had several enquiries from parents about a school bus service, and we hope that the service will prove popular. If it does, then we may consider expanding the service to other areas/routes...so watch this space!
Posted on: 22/06/2018

Head's Blog - Mindfulness For Very Young Children by Mrs. Crehan

Greetings to all from retirement! My life currently is dominated by the very young and the very old as I am caring for my 1 year old grandson, I visit two Homestart families (a charity based locally at All Saints Church that cares for families with young children who are struggling to cope) and I sing and teach Mindfulness to our 2 -3 year old St. Helen’s Ducklings. Also, at the other end of the age spectrum, I take out my ancient parents and visit two old people’s homes locally with a group of St. Helen’s College children, singing songs from the 1940s. Mrs. Drummond and I attended the Annual Mindfulness Conference on Saturday which was very inspiring. It showed how vital Mindfulness is to all ages but also how important it is to teach at an early age because thoughts are powerful and the longer one believes damaging ideas about oneself, the harder it is to stand back from them and not be affected by them negatively. At the conference there were quite a few young people who spoke of how close they had come to seriously affecting their health through anxiety and how learning Mindfulness had allowed them to calm themselves through daily meditation and through the ability to watch their thoughts and remember that thoughts are not facts and that they don’t have to believe them. There is a member of Parliament, Chris Douane, who has introduced the practice of Mindfulness to a large number of members of Parliament, who spoke at the conference about his intention to get Mindfulness taught in as many schools as possible and maybe introduce it into teacher training because there are so many young people who are suffering from negative mental health and anxiety in our secondary schools and sometimes at the top end of our junior schools and more teachers are needed to teach it. At St. Helen’s College, Mrs. Drummond has trained in the teaching of Mindfulness and continued the teaching of two different Mindfulness courses in Year 4 and Year 6, while I am inventing my own course for the Ducklings because there is nothing written by Mindfulness in Schools Project for this age group as yet. The age of two may seem quite early to introduce Mindfulness. However, I think that even if children don’t suffer from too many negative thoughts at this age, the regulation of their emotions is quite important as it is the beginning of their will developing and they can experience quite strong feelings, for instance, when their will is thwarted, otherwise known as the ‘terrible twos.’ I have two puppets: a monkey and a lion. The monkey is supposed to represent the agile mind, flitting everywhere, grabbing onto a particular thought or feeling and dominating one’s emotional realm. The lion is supposed to represent stillness and wisdom. I invent various scenarios where Monkey is unhappy or over-excited and experiencing all the different emotions. Lion advises Monkey how to feel happier by suggesting things such as slow breathing where one breathes out for a longer count than one breathes in, or shows him a snow shaker where the snow flurry represents the thoughts which eventually rest in stillness or finger-breathing where they run a finger from one hand up and down the fingers of the other hand in time with their inward and outward breaths. I believe that this last practice is now often used by some teachers in the early years to settle children down after they have come in from the playground. The Ducklings also have their own snow-shakers with a photo of their face inside which they can shake and watch as the flakes gradually settle, like their own thoughts or emotions. I have given each of the Ducklings their own monkey and shown them how to put it onto their chest when they go to sleep and watch the monkey go up and down as they breathe. This concentrates the mind on the breathing which calms the thoughts at bedtime and can help them go to sleep. So in a very simple way through various breathing practices they will begin to learn that when they experience an emotion it does not have to take over their whole being but they can begin to see it in a more detached way and thus have control over themselves. One parent of a current Duckling told me that her daughter is able to take herself off and sit still to calm herself when she is upset. The concentration on breathing has a dual purpose in that it takes the attention off whatever is dominating the mind but also it has a physiological function in that the slower breathing also slows down the heartbeat and the body calms down and de-stresses, which counteracts an over-emotional state. We have looked at the use of the senses in detail with fun games, launching it with a Spiderman toy with 'spidie senses', because awareness of each sense is a great way to access the present moment and thus a way to reconnect with the external world, away from the inward all-consuming thoughts and feelings. Having spent a session on each sense we had a great sensory walk outside today where the Ducklings were able to notice the sound of the birds and traffic, could smell the lavender and the herbs, could watch a spider spinning its web and could touch a cold rough wall or feel a smooth leaf. I’m sure we’re all aware how frequently we can walk without being aware of anything and are totally immersed in our thoughts. I should say that the Mindfulness teaching at Ducklings is only at the beginning of each session and we then sing songs that may be related in subject matter to whatever we have looked at with Monkey and Lion as well as singing traditional nursery rhymes. ‘If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands’ is a regular, and also our senses version, ‘If you look and if you see, use your eyes!’  We sometimes do a little yoga or mindful movement too. I am grateful to many parents of Ducklings last year and this year who have told me of the positive effect that the Mindfulness course has had upon their children and that it has given their children control over their moods and given them the tool of seeing that, if they are able to identify their mood, then they can step back from it and take the relevant positive action to feel happy again or at least be free from the dominating thoughts. If St. Helen's College children can learn to identify how they are feeling and take the steps necessary to alleviate the pain that can come from difficult emotions at this early stage, and with the Mindfulness and Positive Psychology that they will practise at school in Years 4, 5 and 6, it will spare them much heartache in the future as well as giving them the tools to help them to avoid the mental illness that seems prevalent in our young people today. They might be able to teach some Mindfulness to their parents too! Mrs. Crehan    
Posted on: 15/06/2018

Weekly News - Friday 15th June 2018

Six of our keen Year 3 mathematicians visited Edge Grove Prep School this week to take part in an invitation maths challenge workshop. Throughout the morning the children took part in three team challenges, developing their mathematical skills and confidence. They explored topics such as fractions and probability, 3D shapes using nets and cubes and mental arithmetic. Our pupils demonstrated resilience and great team work to be successful in each of the challenges. Well done to all those who took part: Sulaiman M, Jena J, Arjan D, Zayd K, Ben L and Vidhit N.  Assemblies This Week On Thursday, the children of Owls class presented a very touching assembly all about Fathers' Day. Every child had painted the most wonderful portrait of their daddy and we all admired the gallery! The children praised their dads with such warmth and love that there was not a dry eye in the hall. Happy Fathers' Day to all dads for this weekend. On Friday, 4T encouraged us all to reflect on the core values of Christianity and of St. Helen's College with a thoughtful assembly in which they re-enacted four of the Christian parables. With some excellent performance skills, they reminded us that Jesus taught forgiveness and respect and that these are two of the core values of our school today. They re-visited the school's mantra of 'Ready, Respectful, Safe' and linked this to the qualities taught through Christianity. There was some beautiful singing as the year groups joined together to sing 'Cross Over The Road, My Friend' and 'The Water Of Life'. We were left feeling nourished and inspired to carry such important values forward in our everyday lives.  Sports News - Tennis, Rounders and Upcoming Sports Days Terrific Tennis After being crowned Borough tennis champions last week, our Year 5 and 6 tennis team travelled to Redbridge Sports Centre on Thursday to represent Hillingdon at the London School Games finals, part of the London Youth Games. All thirty two London boroughs were represented at the event and initially our team had to play 4 singles rubbers each time against schools from Barnet, Merton, Bexley, Richmond, Hackney and Islington. All the team played very well, winning 4 matches and drawing 2 matches to win the group and progress to the semi finals. The semi final match, against a school from Westminster, was extremely close. Our boys narrowly lost their singles matches but our girls battled for every point to win their matches. As the teams were drawn 2 - 2, the number of points won were used to decide the winner and St. Helen's College missed out on going through to the final by just 1 point! The team then had to refocus to play off for the bronze medal position. Despite some great rallies, we were defeated by a strong team from Newham. The school should be incredibly proud of our tennis players; to finish in 4th place at the regional London finals is a terrific result. Many congratulations to Timi O, Rishi S-P, Ryeesa S and Zara S-P.  Rounders Round Up Our A and B teams took on Oak Farm this week in a friendly rounders fixture. We played several matches which gave every child a chance to enjoy themselves and develop their skills. Honours were fairly even between the schools and it was lovely to see the sportsmanship on display. This was the final warm up match for our pupils before they take on the staff team in our annual staff v pupils match later this month. Sports Days Our Sports Days are fast approaching and letters with full details (published last week) are available on the links below. Please ensure that you read these carefully. Ducklings parents will receive information separately about the Ducklings Sports Day. There are two letters for Pre-Prep Sports Day (N/R/Y1/Y2) - click here and here. There are two letters for Prep Sports Day (Y3/Y4/Y5/Y6) - click here and here. We still need sports leaders (ex pupils) and parent helpers. Please email Miss Walker at swalker@sthelenscollege.com if you are available to help. Younger siblings will be allowed to leave school early on Wednesday (20th June) to go with parents to the stadium to watch Prep Sports Day. Each year group will have a specific pick-up time for younger siblings, as they will be released immediately after they have eaten lunch; these will be noted on class weekly guides. Please contact your class teacher to request permission to take your younger child out on Wednesday afternoon if you would like to do this. Please note that, once collected from school, your younger child will remain your responsibility throughout the afternoon. Year 1/2 Summer Plays - Key Information For All Year Groups The children in the Year 1 and Year 2 classes will be performing their Summer Concert plays at the Winston Churchill Hall in Pinn Way, Ruislip, on Thursday 28th June, at 1.30 p.m. (Y1) and 2.30 p.m. (Y2). Year 1 will be performing 'Hansel and Gretel' and Year 2 will be performing 'The Emerald Crown'. The key arrangements are as follows. The Dress Rehearsal will be on Wednesday 27th June. All children from Nursery to Year 4 will attend so that they can watch the Concerts. Please deliver your child(ren) to the Winston Churchill Hall on this date by 8.40 a.m. The children will return to school by coach. Please note that Year 5 will remain at school for normal lessons, as they are busy preparing for important exams later this year. However, if you have a child in Year 1 or 2 who has a sibling in Year 5, then please drop your Year 5 child at the Winston Churchill Hall by 8.40 a.m. too so that they may watch their sibling perform. The Year 5 siblings will also return to school by coach. On the day of the concert, Thursday 28th June, Year 1 and 2 children will have lunch at school as usual and will be taken by coach to the Winston Churchill Hall in time for their performances. Tickets are now available and are priced at £8 each. Parents should book tickets by following this link: ​https://sthelens.parentseveningsystem.co.uk/  If parents have children in both Year 1 and Year 2, you should buy tickets just for one of the shows and you will be able to watch both.
Posted on: 15/06/2018

Head's Blog - Which School Did You Come From?

It is such a great testament to St. Helen’s College when our ex-pupils and parents contact us when they have moved on to their new schools and let us know how they are getting on. ‘Which school did you come from?’ is a question which many of our alumni are asked by their new teachers. The reason for this question is that our pupils tend to be ahead in skills, knowledge and understanding in many subject areas in comparison to children of a similar age at their new schools. We are most fortunate to have teachers with very high expectations and our bespoke curriculum gives your children a depth of intellectual challenge as they develop their metacognitive skills throughout their St. Helen’s College journey.  Like building a house, good solid foundations are necessary for the house to stand strong and be extended in many ways! I could preach about every curriculum subject in this blog but I will focus my attention on two core subjects which often complement each other - maths and science. Our mathematics programme nurtures confidence in the children so that they are able to  work independently, take risks and persevere, and they will experience success. All mathematical learning needs to start with the children utilising concrete objects which will then enable them to move to pictorial form and finally they can apply their skills and understanding in a more abstract form. If pupils believe they are no good at mathematics, they are likely to give up before they have really tried. Research shows a strong link between confidence and achievement in mathematics. By the time our pupils reach Year 6 they are confident mathematicians and are able to access a KS3 curriculum which extends their problem solving and reasoning skills. They make links in their learning by reflecting back to what they have previously been taught. At the beginning of Year 6 many of our pupils will have completed the 11+ assessments and in their final year with us their mathematical skills are thoroughly embedded as they have the chance to consider more thoroughly the principles that underpin mathematics and which can be applied throughout their mathematical education rather than rote learning of methods to solve specific problems (which can happen in 11+ preparation!) The use of the flipped classroom also enhances the pupils’ progress as the key concepts are introduced to the pupils before the lesson, with classroom time then being used to deepen understanding through discussion with peers, problem solving activities and plenty of time to practise with the teacher on hand. The solid foundation in mathematics and the confidence the children have in their ability usually results in them being placed in top sets even in the most demanding of grammar or independent schools. The St. Helen’s College science curriculum has continued to evolve over the ten years that  Ms Gilham has taken on the leadership of the subject. At St. Helen’s College we have enriched the curriculum with a continuously developing scheme of work and its embedding is strengthened by exciting and applied scientific investigations. Children learn by conducting experiments which cater for all learners.  Our lessons are pitched higher than they may be in other schools. We have passionate teachers working as a team from the EYFS right through to Year 6, to support the delivery of the curriculum. We have focus days where science is fun and accessible to all. By the time the children reach Year 6, they have an appreciation of concepts such as  respiration during germination and the sheer fascination conveyed that a seed can do this because of science. Pupils are taught fun mnemonics or even dance moves to help them to remember complex concepts. For example, the five stages of a flowering plant: germination, growth, pollination, fertilisation and seed dispersal. (GGPFS - Good Girls Pay For Strawberries) or the fun dance moves of the water cycle! We are passionate that the children appreciate and know the ‘awe and wonder’ of science. As a research scientist, it is Ms Gilham’s goal to impart all manner of skills when performing experiments, drawing from experiences from her previous role such as extracting DNA from skin cells to explain what DNA is. In the past, Year 6 have extracted DNA from strawberries to link to their learning about ‘evolution and inheritance’. I visited an introductory lesson to this topic this week with a prospective family as we toured the school and they were quite overwhelmed by the children’s use of scientific vocabulary and  the complexity of the topic which they were clearly understanding and relating to. We encourage the children to talk and discuss their learning with their parents and other family members and make scientific terms part of their everyday language because everything we do can be explained and linked to science! It fills me with such a sense of pride when I speak with senior school heads and alumni to know that our pupils are so well prepared academically and socially as they move forward on their learning journey to senior schools.  Our Year 6 pupils are currently meeting with senior school staff and attending move-up mornings as part of their transition process and they feel secure and confident in the knowledge that they are so well prepared. Mrs. Drummond
Posted on: 8/06/2018

Weekly News - Friday 8th June 2018

We are delighted to announce that, in September, we will be launching a school bus service which will run daily during term time. The bus will be available to children in Years 2 to 6 and will run, initially, on a route from Ruislip through Ickenham and Hillingdon to school. You can see the exact route and timings, along with the booking form, here and these have also been published to the School Documents page of the website. There will be limited places on the bus and these will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. We would therefore encourage parents to complete and return the booking form as soon as possible if you know that you will require a regular place on a certain day, or certain days, of the week. Subject to availability, it will also be possible to book places on an ad hoc basis from September, by telephoning the school office by 4 p.m. on the preceding day. We have had several enquiries from parents about a school bus service, and we hope that the service will prove popular. If it does, then we may consider expanding the service to other areas/routes...so watch this space! Singing Competitions We were treated to two quite fantastic competitions at school this afternoon. The standard of singing at both the Middle School and Upper School Singing Competitions was really wonderful and our visiting judge was most impressed! We would like to extend congratulations to every child who entered the competitions and especially to those who delighted us with their singing today. 4A Assembly - Flatford Mill Well done to 4A, who confidently presented a fun and interesting assembly today about their recent residential trip to Flatford Mill. We were all interested to see the beautiful surroundings and buildings in which they stayed, and to hear about the many exciting and educational activities they undertook. The children spoke with passion and great expression and no doubt the Year 3s cannot wait to follow in their footsteps next year! Mrs. Drummond - A Founding Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching We are delighted and proud to inform you that Mrs. Drummond has been appointed a Founding Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching. The Chartered College of Teaching has been established to improve the quality of education for children and young people by supporting teachers, championing great teaching and raising the status of the profession, with a professional role comparable to the Law Society, General Medical Council and Royal Institute of British Architects. To be appointed a Founding Fellow is a great honour for Mrs. Drummond (and for the school!) and we know that she will be a leading light in the development of the CCT into the pre-eminent professional body for the promotion of excellence in British education. In Mrs. Drummond’s appointment letter, the appointments committee wrote, ‘Fellowship is an honour and a mark of your achievements and commitment to the teaching profession. We were impressed by the strength of all applications and in particular your experiences and what you would bring to the Fellowship as a Founder.’ Many congratulations to Mrs. Drummond, for whom this honour is so well-deserved. World Environmental Day The children have been very environmentally aware this week as we have undertaken several activities linked to World Environmental Day. There was an assembly to introduce the day and all children have been busy decorating their handprints and writing their pledges to beat plastic pollution. In addition, our Eco Reps have been out litter picking in Court Park. Tennis Borough Champions Many congratulations to our Y5 and Y6 tennis teams, who took part in the Borough Tennis Tournament this week and were crowned Champions! They were able to match the achievement of Year 3 and 4 who were also crowned Borough Champions last month.  The event, held at Tripletts Community Tennis Centre, was attended by 12 teams from schools across the borough. Each team was made up of two boys and two girls and St. Helen's were able to field three teams as tennis is such a popular sport at school, with many pupils playing to a good standard. Each player in the team played a singles rubber in each match. In a fantastic display of tennis, all three of our teams came through the group stages to reach the quarter finals. Our A team progressed to the semi finals after beating Hayes Park school and in their quarter final, our C team beat our B team to reach the semi final to play our A team! Everyone played very well but the A team prevailed to reach the final to play Dr. Tripletts school.  Our A team played consistently and confidently in the final to win 3 - 1. The team will now go forward to the London School Games Regional finals to represent Hilingdon against other London boroughs.  Thank you to all the parents who supported the team from the side lines and well done to all our players: Timi, Rishi, Ryeesa, Zara, Max, Aditya, Amishi, Hebe, William, Amrit, Grace, Zoe. You can see some photos from the event in the gallery.  Rounders This week our rounders team played St. Andrew's School in a friendly match. Our team took some great catches and struck the ball well when batting to win the first innings 4.5 to 3.5 and the second innings 5 to 4.  Team members were: Abigail, Ionie, Amishi, Zara, Ryeesa, Amrit, Rishi, Timi, Jed and Lincoln. Sports Days Our Sports Days are fast approaching and letters with full details are available on the links below. Please ensure that you read these carefully. Ducklings parents will receive information separately about the Ducklings Sports Day. There are two letters for Pre-Prep Sports Day (N/R/Y1/Y2) - click here and here. There are two letters for Prep Sports Day (Y3/Y4/Y5/Y6) - click here and here. We need parent helpers for both Sports Days. Please email Miss Walker at swalker@sthelenscollege.com if you are available to help, letting her know on which day(s) you are available. The Wizard of Oz 'The Wizard of Oz' will be performed by our Year 6 children at The Compass Theatre, Ickenham on Thursday 5th and Friday 6th July. Parents are permitted to take children out of school on Friday for the matinee performance and we would encourage you to do so if you can, so that the younger children can enjoy the performance and see the standard to which they will aspire by the time they reach Year 6! Please let us know if you plan to take your child(ren) out of school for the matinee performance. Tickets are sold on a first come, first served basis so please do not delay - the Year 6 play is always of exceptionally high quality and it is lovely for pupils in the younger years to go and see it with their parents. There are three performances: Thursday 5th July 7.30 p.m. Friday 6th July 2.00 p.m. matinee Friday 6th July 7.30 p.m. You may order tickets by following the link below. http://www.hillingdontheatres.uk/index.php/events/wizard-of-oz/ Please note that, for copyright reasons, parents will not be allowed to take photographs or use video recording devices during the performances. â€‹ Year 1/2 Summer Plays - Key Information For All Year Groups The children in the Year 1 and Year 2 classes will be performing their Summer Concert plays at the Winston Churchill Hall in Pinn Way, Ruislip, on Thursday 28th June, at 1.30 p.m. (Y1) and 2.30 p.m. (Y2). Year 1 will be performing 'Hansel and Gretel' and Year 2 will be performing 'The Emerald Crown'. The key arrangements are as follows. The Dress Rehearsal will be on Wednesday 27th June. All children from Nursery to Year 4 will attend so that they can watch the Concerts. Please deliver your child(ren) to the Winston Churchill Hall on this date by 8.40 a.m. The children will return to school by coach.  On the day of the concert, Thursday 28th June, Year 1 and 2 children will have lunch at school as usual and will be taken by coach to the Winston Churchill Hall in time for their performances. Tickets are now available and are priced at £8 each. Parents should book tickets by following this link: ​https://sthelens.parentseveningsystem.co.uk/  If parents have children in both Year 1 and Year 2, you should buy tickets just for one of the shows and you will be able to watch both. Summer Holiday Club Bookings Now Open The booking form for Holiday Club is now available on the School Documents page of the website. Forms should be completed and returned to school by Friday 22nd June please. Class Arrangements for 2018-19 We are pleased to announce the classes and staffing arrangements for the academic year 2018-19, as follows: Robins class will become Kingfishers with Ms Matthews Wrens class will become Owls with Miss Malik Kingfishers class will become 1HC with Mrs. Hunt and Miss Cooper Owls will become 1J with Miss Joiner 1HC will become 2B with Mr. Bustard 1S will become 2H with Mrs. Hussein 2B will become 3M with Mrs. McLaughlin 2H will become 3B with Mrs. Belvoir 3V will become 4KT with Mrs. Thompson 3T will become 4T with Mr. Tovell 4T will become 5A with Mrs. Allery 4A will become 5G with Mrs. Gilham 5W will become 6D with Miss Dear 5G will become 6M with Mr. McLaughlin Later this term, pupils from Nursery to Year 4 will have an opportunity to visit their new classrooms and meet their new teachers. Year 5 children will visit the Nursery on that day since the Year 6 teachers will be at the Compass Theatre with the current Year 6; however, the Year 5 children do already know Mr. McLaughlin and Miss Dear and will have an opportunity to speak to them during the second half of term. We also run a programme of 'Meet the Teacher' evenings for parents, at which we introduce the routines and expectations for the new year and at which you can meet your child's new teacher. These evenings will take place as follows. New Ducklings, Nursery and Reception evenings are on Tuesday 3rd July.  New Year 1 and Year 2 evenings are on Thursday 28th June. New Year 3 and Year 6 evenings will be on Thursday 13th September. New Year 4 and Year 5 evenings will be on Thursday 20th September. Please do make a note of these dates. Timings for meetings are available on the calendar. We have already published the uniform and equipment list for next year to the School Documents page of the website. Second hand uniform is usually available to buy at the PA Summer Fete so you might wish to make a note of anything you will need before then.
Posted on: 8/06/2018

Head's Blog - Quality Early Years Provision

Many parents I am sure will have read the damning reports in so many newspapers from Amanda Speilman, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, when she addressed hundreds of Early Years leaders and teachers at the Pre-School Learning Alliance's national conference on Friday 1st June.  Ms Speilman recognised the increased need for parents to have early years childcare with so many families now having both parents working full time, but she criticised parenting skills and commented on the rising number of children who enter schools with poor language skills due to the lack of involvement and interaction of some parents with their pre-school children.  One Early Years specialist even went on to blame the era of the mobile phone for the lack of engagement between parents and children.  I have linked at the end of this the government’s official blog for your perusal - a very modified and edited version of some of the Twitter discussion and reports I have read! As I read a range of tweets and articles over the weekend, I could physically feel the tension building in my body. I felt angst for those parents who might be sending their precious children to an environment where perhaps the care is not as one would expect, but also a sense of angst and sorrow for those parents who might not quite understand the huge importance of their children’s early years in their development. I myself was a full time working mum and had to hand over my precious baby at only 10 weeks old (in Japan we only had 10 weeks maternity leave!).  My husband and I chose our nursery very carefully and visited so many different ones - we opted for one where nobody spoke English! However, the love and care that was given to our daughter was outstanding.  They helped to wean her onto solids and with a staple diet of fish paste and tofu it is now no wonder that she will eat absolutely anything!  On return to the UK the search started again for a nursery school where I felt confident that Kiera’s care and development would be outstanding - and luckily we chose well.  However, many families are not quite so fortunate. I have visited settings over the years where the nursery staff stood back from the children, never engaging in their play or discussions. I even took my mobile phone out in one setting and asked if I could make some notes on my app which was allowed by staff, even though this should be a complete No! in any Early Years setting! I have almost cried when leaving some settings as I watched the young children occupy themselves. I am so thankful to Mr. and Mrs. Crehan for their deep rooted love of education and for understanding that there is such a need for outstanding provision for the younger years.  Setting up our Ducklings back in January 2018 has ensured that even more families are able to benefit from the unique care that we provide, and also from the support that we give our families in understanding how parents and school can work hand in hand to give children the best start in life. Our pupils start their formal schooling (in their Reception year) having experienced one if not two years of exceptional nurturing. All our staff in Ducklings, Wrens and Robins give your children an exceptional start in life but of course this is only possible if home and school are working together. As a school we work in partnership with you all to ensure that there is consistency and continuity in your child’s development and learning.  I know that Mrs. Haar and the Ducklings staff are working very closely with Ducklings parents as they go through the toilet training transition in preparation for starting nursery (an area of great discussion with Amanda Speilman!). The introduction of our online platform Tapestry also gives parents of the EYFS children a greater understanding of what we are trying to achieve within the seven prime areas of learning and staff and parents can all work to the same end goal. Communication lies at the heart of all learning - with clear communication skills relationships are built (this is true of children and adults!) Children will learn to read in their own time but the most precious thing that parents and carers can do for children is talk to them, read them stories, encourage children to ask and answer questions.  We will soon be meeting our new Ducklings and Nursery children and parents who will be joining us as part of our St. Helen’s College family from September and I know that they will be welcomed into our community and I cannot wait for another little brood to join us! https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/parents-ofsted-amanda-spielman-nursery-children-toilet-potty-a8379046.html https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/amanda-spielman-at-the-pre-school-learning-alliance-annual-conference Mrs. Drummond

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