School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 25/06/2021
Staying ConnectedAt St. Helen’s College we strive to stay connected with our alumni and encourage ex-pupils to become part of our alumni database so that we can keep them connected with the school, invite them to events and celebrate their achievements. It is also a great testament to the school that we currently have four ex-pupils on our staff: Mrs. McGee, the Ducklings Manager, Mrs. Rumney in the Upper School Office, Miss Cooper, one of our Year 1 teachers and Miss Stidder, one of our lunchtime supervisors. I love to hear them recount memories of their days as a pupil and share their photos from their past school days!
A few weeks ago I took time out to visit a local resident who lives on Sweetcroft Lane. She is 90 years old this summer and is one of our alumni - I was saddened that she has been so lonely throughout lockdown with no family around but reminded her that she is part of a very special big family - our St. Helen’s College community. Mr. Smith and Mr. Rizzo have since visited her to assist with some minor chores and her connection with the school remains strong.
We have also benefited from our alumni giving back to us to inspire the children with their successes and experiences. This week, we welcomed Kai Plummer-Walrond back to school to run a very special day of acting masterclasses with our Year 6 pupils who are in rehearsal for their end of year production ‘The Lion King’. Kai is currently studying at Arts Ed Drama School in Chiswick and spent almost two years playing the part of Young Simba in the West End whilst he was a pupil at St. Helen’s College. Kai inspired the Year 6 pupils throughout the day, leading them in warm up exercises which were used by cast members in The Lion King and refining many scenes with our cast members under the watchful eye of Mr. McLaughlin. I observed a 15 minute scene and was amazed at how Kai brought out more energy and dynamics in young Nala and Simba! The Year 6 pupils had an opportunity to have a Q & A session with Kai and were tickled when they found out that yes, he had been paid to be in The Lion King and that, in a recent McDonald’s advert he had appeared in, part of his payment was a year's free supply of chicken nuggets!! We are in for a treat next week when we finally get to see our Year 6 performance and Kai will be attending one of the evenings to encourage his fellow students.
Earlier this year yet another alumni, Miles Barrow, judged our remote Speech Competition. Miles is another successful actor who left St. Helen’s College to go on to perform in the West End in Aladdin and more recently in last year’s Christmas movie ‘Jingle Jangle’. It was wonderful to be able to have him give feedback to our Speech Competition finalists and encourage all of the children to continue performing in public and develop their poetry.
We also have members of our Governing Body who are alumni of the school who give back to us in so many ways - giving not only their professional but also their personal expertise, having known the school for so long. They also happen to be part of the Crehan family, so the family bond remains strong.
We always say to our leaving families, once a Helenian, always a Helenian! So if you know of any alumni, our ‘Old Helenians’, please do encourage them to contact us on email@example.com and if you are one of this year’s leavers make sure you also drop us an email to let us know how you are getting on. You will automatically be added to our alumni database and we will keep in touch with you all.
We are already starting to make plans for our grand centenary in 2024 - only a few years away and it would be wonderful to have many generations of Helenians present at some of our centennial events in what I am sure will be a momentous year for us all!
Posted on: 25/06/2021
Weekly News - Friday 25th June 2021Sports Days
We have enjoyed truly wonderful Sports Days this week for every year group from Nursery to Year 6. While many of these were forced into a different format from usual due to Covid restrictions, the enjoyment and determination on the children's faces was as evident as ever. There is no doubt that healthy competition builds character and that striving to improve one's own performance is a super skill to embed in our children. Very well done to all of the children who took part and thank you to all of the staff involved, too. You can see some photographs of the Pre-Prep Sports Days on our Galleries page here and photographs from today's Prep Sports Days will be uploaded soon.
We thank all parents for respecting the request to stay away so that we were able to run these events so smoothly for the children.
We are very much looking forward to the Ducklings Sports Day next Friday too!
Once again, Covid restrictions unfortunately thwarted our plans for our annual Musicians' Concert which is usually such a wonderful event at All Saints Church. However, our musicians have performed in school and we have put together an online 'concert' for parents to enjoy. You can watch this here.
Ark Farm Visit Ducklings!
Our Ducklings children had a wonderful time yesterday when they were visited by Ark Farm. They spent time learning about and petting animals including a donkey, pig, goat, sheep, dog and duck. We were so impressed by how attentively they listened and how gently they handled the animals. You can see some photographs of their day on our Galleries page here.
Prospective Head Boy/Girl Speeches
Very well done to the Year 5 candidates who have put themselves forwards as potential Head Boys and Head Girls for the 2021-2022 academic year. On Monday and Tuesday, they gave speeches to the rest of the school about why they would be a good choice for these positions of responsibility. We were so impressed by how well they articulated their personalities and ideas. Pupil voting has been taking place at school this week; staff input will also be considered and the new Pupil Leadership Team will be announced at our final assembly on the last day of term, which will be live streamed for parents.
Online Chamber Choir Auditions 2021-2022
We invite students from Year 2 to Year 5 to audition for Chamber Choir by submitting a video entry. The following YouTube video may be used to learn the audition song "Give Me Oil in my Lamp" which is from 7 minutes and 10 seconds until 8 minutes and 3 seconds on the video:
Lyrics are below:
Give me oil in my lamp keep me burning
Give me oil in my lamp, I pray
Give me oil in my lamp keep me burning
Keep me burning ‘til the break of day
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna. sing hosanna to the king of kings
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna. sing hosanna to the king.
Children should sing looking directly at the camera at a distance of 1 metre away approximately. There is a piano accompaniment available which you can download here:
Please submit your child's video entry using the piano accompaniment and not the YouTube video by no later than Friday 2nd July 2021. We request that the subject of the email is clear, e.g "Chamber Choir Auditions: name of child and form group".
Please submit to both of the following:
Members will be selected and announced before the end of term. Best of luck!
PA Forum and PA Class Representatives
We had an enjoyable and successful PA Forum meeting on Wednesday evening, at which Mrs. Drummond, Mrs. Hunt, Mr. McLaughlin and Mrs. Smith met with the PA class representatives to discuss/feedback on issues raised by parents throughout the school. Minutes have been sent to all parents.
The PA will have vacancies for class representatives in the following classes for the 2021-2022 academic year:
If you would like to put yourself forward as a class rep for any of these classes, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
There will be collection bins outside both Upper School and Lower School for the last two weeks of term and the PA will be very grateful for any donations of uniform that you no longer need. They are hoping to run a second hand uniform shop outside of the school over the summer holidays, and more information will follow about this in due course.
Summer Holiday Club
Holiday Club bookings for the summer holiday open today for children in Nursery to Year 6. The Holiday Club will run at Upper School for all children and places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. We urge parents to make bookings as early as you can, so that you secure the dates you would like and so that we are able to plan our staffing and logistics with certainty. Please login to your SchoolsBuddy account to make your bookings.
Royal Institution Events
You might be interested in the events which are being planned by the Royal Institution for July. You can find out more details by following the link below.
St. Helen's College Trust
If any parents have not yet signed up with EasyFundraising and would like to do so, now is a good time as there is an extra promotion which means an extra £5 incentive for both you and the school. Don't forget, if you support our cause on EasyFundraising, you will raise money for the St. Helen's College Trust at no cost to yourself every time you use the app to shop online with over 5000 participating retailers. If you would like to sign up, please use the link below. If you need any support with signing up, please contact Mrs. Smith at email@example.com. We are very grateful for your support.
Sign up to support St. Helen's College Trust on #easyfundraising, and they will give you a £5 shopping voucher once you have raised your first £5 - PLUS we will get a bonus £5 donation, it’s win, win! It's simple to join and you can raise FREE donations whenever you shop online with over 5,200 retailers. Sign up here:
Please don't forget, also, that you can donate your unwanted textiles (clothes, paired shoes, bags, belts, sheets/pillowcases, curtains etc) to our textile recycling bank which is located outside 227 Long Lane. You can pull your car into the car park area there while you drop your textiles off, whether during term time or holidays. The textiles are donated to poor communities and/or recycled to make industrial cleaning cloths, so nothing ends up as landfill, and the St. Helen's College Trust receives a small donation per kilo of collected clothing. We are happy to receive textile donations from the wider community, so do feel free to share this with any local family and friends too.
Posted on: 18/06/2021
Weekly News - Friday 18th June 20214L Class Assembly - Honesty
Wow! Well done 4L for presenting a super class assembly today all about one of our school values, Honesty. They performed the story of Moses for us and taught us that Honesty is not always easy - it can take strength of character and courage to tell the truth sometimes, especially if we have done something wrong. They also reminded us of Nelson Mandela's words: that the most important thing is to be honest with oneself. Each child spoke confidently and with understanding and their performance was both educational and enjoyable. Well done, 4L!
Upper School Assembly
For the first time since lockdown began in March 2020, we were able to gather the entire Upper School together in the playground, socially distanced in bubble groups, for an assembly on Monday morning.
We celebrated many of the children's recent achievements and even managed to sing a hymn together. It was really wonderful to gather again!
Year 4 Prep School Quiz General Knowledge - National Finals
Well done to our Year 4 quiz team, who took part in the Prep School General Knowledge National Finals yesterday. Competing against other prep school teams from all over the country, and tackling some really challenging questions, they acquitted themselves very well indeed, getting twenty five questions right out of thirty! St. Helen's College ended up in 11th place overall. Very well done to the team: Advik S, Annie L, Arshvir S, Minaya W.
TFL STARS Ambassador
Congratulations to Miss Walker, who this week was sent a certificate awarding her the status of STARS Champion in recognition of the work that she does to promote sustainable travel and road safety. This award is bestowed by TfL and the Mayor of London and we are very proud that Miss Walker's tireless work in this area has been so deservedly rewarded.
Reverend Sarah Smith
We are also extremely proud of Mrs. Sarah Smith (Year 3 Teaching Assistant) who has been working incredibly hard over the past years and will be ordained as a Deacon in Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday 3rd July. Alongside her work at St. Helen's College, Mrs. Smith will be serving as Assistant Curate in Iver Parish after her ordination. You can hear about Mrs. Smith's journey here:
Year 4 Arts Award
Year 4 have been working really hard this term, making percussion instruments out of "junk", learning about musicians who perform using everyday objects and homemade instruments, and performing to complete their Arts Award Explore.
In assembly on Wednesday morning 4L performed Samba Reggae and 4T performed Jazz Junk using their body percussion compositions and their homemade junk percussion instruments.
The Musicians' Concert will be recorded in school on Wednesday 23rd June, and a video will be made available for parents to watch. Students involved will need to remember their instrument and music on this day, and if a backing track or piano accompaniment is required please send this to Mrs. Fawbert before Monday 21st June.
Class Allocations 2021-2022
Class allocations for next year have been sent to all parents today by email.
Summer Holiday Club
Funtasia will be operating on Friday 9th July, the last day of term, and bookings for this session are now open - please book via your SchoolsBuddy account. We will also be running our Nursery - Year 6 Summer Holiday Club, based at Upper School, from Monday 12th July. Bookings will open next week and we will send an email to parents when you are able to book your places.
PA Forum Meeting
The next PA Forum meeting will take place remotely at 7.00 p.m. on Wednesday 23rd June. Please send any points for discussion to your class rep by the end of Sunday 20th June. Class rep's should forward these to Mrs. Smith by the end of Monday 21st June please.
Magazines for Children
We would like to remind parents that reading is the foundation for success in primary education and beyond. You might be interested in taking out a subscription to one of these excellent children's magazines/newspapers to encourage your child to read and to enhance their general knowledge and interest in current affairs.
The Week Junior
Eco Kids Planet
Climate Change Consultation
Today is Clean Air Day and to mark the occasion, Hillingdon Council have announced the results of their recent Climate Change Competition. Many congratulations to Advik S (Y4), whose entry was commended and who will be receiving an Amazon voucher from Hillingdon Council to recognise his work!
St. Helen's College continues to actively promote climate action and sustainability, which are closely linked with the active travel and air quality benefits that Hillingdon Borough aim to encourage within schools.
Parents might be interested in Hillingdon's Climate Change Consultation, which closes this Sunday, 20th June. This gives you the opportunity to have your say by completing the survey, to help Hillingdon become the greenest London borough, protect and enhance the environment, and provide a brighter prospect for future generations. If you would like to complete the survey, please follow the link below.
Climate change consultation - Hillingdon Council
Big Bee Competition
We would like to encourage children aged 6-12 to enter the Big Bee Challenge, which is Radio 2’s brand new competition for children, in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society. It’s a fun and creative way to learn more about bees and other insects that help provide much of the food we eat, and are essential for a healthy environment.
Children are asked to design a bright, buzzy garden that will attract bees and other pollinating insects. The winner’s design will be built by the RHS at an NHS Trust site which is used by children and young people with mental health needs, and the lucky winner will be invited to open the garden at an outside broadcast of The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show on Friday 20 August 2021! They will meet lots of guests, receive a professional illustration of their garden design and go home with a box of goodies to help turn their own outside space into a wonderland for bees.
Each shortlisted finalist will also receive an array of bee themed goodies.
The closing date for entries is 5th July and full details can be found by following the link below. Good luck everyone!
St. Helen's College Art
Nya P (5A) has been spotted by professional artist Lucy Tiffany on Instagram with her large scale piece which she created in Art Club this week. If you have not yet followed St. Helen's College Art on Instagram please do so - it is such a great showcase of your children's work.
Posted on: 11/06/2021
Weekly News - Friday 11th June 2021Singing Competition
What a fantastic Singing Competition we enjoyed this afternoon! The children in Years 2 - 6 had obviously prepared and rehearsed their songs with dedication and the standard of performance was, as always, very high indeed. Gemma Cross was our guest judge and she was very impressed by the musicality and confidence of the children. Many congratulations to all those who took part and, in particular, to our winners, who were:
Zinnia M - Y2 Winner
Samara P - Y3 Winner (and Middle School Winner)
Eshanvi A - Y4 Winner
Shruthi T - Y5 Winner
Maya T - Y6 Winner (and Upper School Winner)
Winners' trophies and certificates will be awarded in Monday's assembly.
4T Assembly - Gratitude
We were treated to a wonderful class assembly by 4T this morning, whose focus was on Gratitude. They explained what Gratitude is and gave us lots of examples of what we might choose to be thankful for. They performed a lovely story about an old woman who was never satisfied, showing us how contentment comes from the heart and not from external possessions or surroundings. Finally, they sang their Gratitude song with real gusto and accomplishment, and led us in prayer. Well done, 4T, for conveying such an important value so enjoyably. We all now know that by being grateful for our troubles, we can turn them into blessings - which is a wonderful skill to have.
The Whale Company Assembly and Eco Work
On Monday we virtually welcomed Carolyn Newton, co-founder of The Whale Company, to be a guest speaker at our assembly. The Whale Company is an environmental organisation that connects people to nature by inspiring action and innovation through stand up paddle boarding, upcycling workshops, expeditions and campaigns.
Carolyn talked to us about the global problem of plastic waste on our planet and showed us some very impactful photos of the effects that this waste has on the world's oceans and rivers. Carolyn also played a video of a paddle board she and her husband had made reusing plastic drink bottles, which they used to travel down the River Thames, litter picking and educating people on plastic waste enroute. This paddle board really impressed us all and became a talking point for the rest of the day!
We learnt several thought provoking facts from this assembly and one that really stood out was that there is more micro plastic in the world's oceans than stars in our galaxy! There was a clear message that we urgently need to rethink how we use plastic and what small things we can do to help. The assembly ties in with our current school eco mission in taking steps to become plastic free. Each day our Eco reps have been collecting plastic litter in the playground and spreading the message that rubbish belongs in the bin and not on the floor! We hope this assembly, along with our eco mission, will encourage everyone to take actions, however big or small, to remove plastic pollution and help our environment. For more information about The Whale Company and what they do, please visit the following link.thewhalecompany.org
End of Term Events
The school is busy planning and adapting our programme for several end of term events, including Sports Days for all year groups, the Year 6 play, Prizegiving and transfer meetings for parents. With the Covid restrictions due to be reviewed next week, we are not yet able to confirm whether we will be able to welcome parents to these events in any 'normal' way. We are sorry for the uncertainty but we know you will appreciate that we have to follow the government guidance rigorously at every step.
You can see all of the proposed events listed on the school calendar. For now, we encourage you to save the dates if you would like to attend these events and meetings - but with the caveat that we will send out further information when we can, and that all plans are subject to change.
There is further information about this year's Sports Days via the links below. This has also been sent out by email to parents today.
Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 Sports Day
Year 3 - 6 Sports Day
It was wonderful to see all the children back in full summer uniform for our class photographs. Please can you continue to send Upper School children to school in full summer uniform, which includes blazers, and the panama summer hats should now also be worn. It was noted that many pupils had to borrow blazers for the photographs thus please do ensure that your child has one.
The PA are hoping to set up second hand uniform sales at the Sports Day events. Further details to follow pending government guidance.
Primary Mathematics Challenge
We are delighted that six of our Year 6 pupils have been recognised in this National Challenge, achieving Silver and Bronze awards. Congratulations to Ben L and Reece G for achieving Silver and Riya C, Aaron S, Arjan D and Pavitar D for achieving Bronze.
The National Quiz Club Finals are approaching with the Year 4 final next Thursday 17th June and the Year 5 and Year 6 finals on the 24th June. We wish all our teams well.
CRUK - Cancer Research UK
For many years now the school has been part of the Relay for Life Harrow event to raise much needed funds for Cancer Research. Unfortunately the event will not go ahead this year but as a school we will continue to support this most worthwhile charity which helps so many of us as the statistics show that one in every two of us will get cancer in our lifetime. In our final week of term the children in each class will participate in a range of fun activities and we will be asking you to make donations to our 'Just Giving' page. Further details will be shared nearer the time but he week will commence on Monday 5th July with a non-uniform day for all the children.
Posted on: 11/06/2021
GratitudeLast night I had the pleasure of meeting many of our new Nursery parents as they visited Lower School to have their individual meetings with either Miss Carmichael or Mrs. Mann.
Throughout the evening I had wonderful conversations discussing the events of the past 16 months and listened to how different families have experienced the journey of the pandemic so far. What really struck me was the joy that so many parents expressed in being able to spend time with their children - despite mums and dads working from home and juggling work commitments, there really has been genuine joy in what these turbulent times have brought about. We often get lost in the sadness and fear that has been reported, but for so many families there has been new found family time and experiences which will never be able to be replicated under ‘normal’ working patterns for parents.
There was so much gratitude expressed from our Ducklings parents for the love and care that their children have had since joining us in September 2020. Parents are genuinely in awe of the all round development of their children, and in particular their oracy skills and levels of independence and confidence. I listened with great pride and shared all the parents' excitement as we prepare to welcome so many new families to our school. We have our new Ducklings intake, new Nursery children and many other families joining us throughout the school in September.
However, before the new academic school year I know that so many of you will be taking time this summer to reap the benefits of living on this incredible island! Our British coastline will be the busiest it has ever been as overseas travel is so restricted.
Many of us will be taking to the coast and I for one need my frequent intake of coastal sea air! The West Coast of Scotland, Oban and the Isle of Mull are my go to places and I am looking forward to catching up with family and friends. The beauty of the area and coastal scenery brings me great peace and pleasure.
Over half term I managed yet another visit to the Kent coastline, as my daughter is currently in university in Canterbury. This time I found a beautiful Airbnb apartment near to Deal. Since she moved there, we have discovered an area of the UK which we absolutely love with the most stunning beaches: Whitstable, Broadstairs, Deal, Herne Bay, Ramsgate, Margate...each area has their own identity and the area is becoming very popular with ‘those from London’. Who knew that Margate was home to the Turner Contemporary art gallery!
The attraction of the seaside here in the UK, regardless of what part of the UK, is special. The traditional piers, rugged coastline, undeveloped beaches, natural defences, the sea life, flowers and fauna really are unique to the UK - let alone the fish and chips and Mr Whippy!!!
The UK coast brings me great spiritual support too and I find being by the coast refreshing, reinvigorating and relaxing. Our seas are mysterious and powerful and we must all respect this and be grateful for our proximity here in the UK to such incredible coasts.
Wherever you are planning to visit this summer within the UK - I hope that some time near the sea is on your agenda.
Deal beach last Saturday!