School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 26/03/2021
Start With WhyI am sure that many of you have heard of Simon Sinek from his hugely popular TED Talk ‘Start with Why’ - it is the third most watched talk of all time. Simon is an optimist, who believes in a brighter future for humanity and our ability to build it together. He has studied how the greatest leaders and organisations think, act and communicate. I have followed Simon for many years on my leadership journey and have been inspired by his work, his TED talks and his numerous books: Start With Why, Leaders Eat Last, Together is Better, and The Infinite Game.
Simon is often described as a visionary thinker. He has a vision of a world which may not even exist yet: a world in which the vast majority of people wake up every single morning inspired, where people feel safe wherever they are and where people end each day fulfilled by the work that they do.
This is a world to which we would all like to belong, I imagine. Many people may feel that they are not there yet. However, I actually believe that here at St. Helen’s College we are so fortunate to have the most incredible work place, colleagues and, most important of all, we have our ‘why’ - your children! Educating your children is our purpose and it takes great expertise, skill and commitment to be the best we can be each and every day for the children.
Our staff are so committed and they impress me daily with how they navigate each day, each lesson, each question and each query from the children’s curious minds. In fact the staff at St. Helen’s are truly inspiring!
On this note I would like to take this opportunity to thank every member of our incredible community for what has been yet another turbulent term in this most unusual year.
As a school leader I have felt well out of my comfort zone in the past year on more occasions than I would ever have imagined. We have had to make difficult decisions, often with minimal or very hazy guidance! But it is the camaraderie and support from colleagues and parents that has made this journey inspiring and I am hugely proud of what we have achieved together.
I will leave you with one of Simon Sinek’s quotes from his popular book ‘Together is Better’....this resonated so strongly with me.
“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion”
Happy Easter everyone.
Posted on: 26/03/2021
Weekly News - Friday 26th March 2021Speech Competition
We all thoroughly enjoyed the finals of our annual Speech Competition, held on Monday this week. Miles Barrow, a West End and movie actor and alumnus of St. Helen's College, joined us live online to judge the event and he was hugely impressed by the performances delivered by the children across the school. Very well done indeed to the winners.
1C - Avleen P
1R - Shayla R
2B - Samuel H
2H - Evie J
3B - Sarab D
3M - Anna K
Year 1 winner - Avleen P
Year 2 winner - Evie J
Year 3 winner - Sarab D
Overall Junior Competition winner - Avleen P
4L - Inaya S
4T - Poppy H
5A - Rivan K
5G - Reiss D
6M - Reece G
6R - Adam O
Year 4 winner - Inaya S
Year 5 winner - Reiss D
Year 6 winner - Adam O
Overall Senior Competition winner - Adam O
HeartStart First Aid Training In Action
At St. Helen's College, we all know that a successful education blends academic learning and transferable life skills. One of the ongoing strands of our personal development programme is our HeartStart programme, through which we teach all children from Reception to Year 6 basic first aid and lifesaving skills.
We were sent sincere thanks this week from a parent whose son had, in a life threatening choking situation, stayed calm and responsive, remembering and using the Heimlich Manoeuvre he had been taught in HeartStart sessions at school. It is no exaggeration to say that the actions he took, in a panic situation, were potentially life saving.
I am sure all parents will be pleased to know that we remain absolutely committed to our programmes of education that develop the 'whole child'. While we are thrilled that our children achieve so highly academically, and proud of the excellent habits of learning we instil, we are equally proud of helping your children to grow into responsible, responsive young men and women.
Well done, Ariyan, for putting your HeartStart learning into action and for talking to us all about your actions in assembly this week.
Year 3/4 Quiz Club
Thursday saw the heats of the Year 3 and 4 Prep School General Knowledge Quiz, and our teams thoroughly enjoyed competing online in this prestigious competition. The questions were really tough, from a wide range of subjects, and our teams gave a very good account of themselves.
The Year 3 team got 27 out of their 30 questions right and ended the competition in joint 11th place. The team members were: Aaron B, Raiden B, Marco K and Tiya T.
Our Year 4 team got 28 out of their 30 questions right and ended the afternoon in joint 4th position. Very well done to the team: Annie L, Advik S, Arshvir S and Minaya W.
Both teams will now have to wait until all the heats are complete to see whether they have achieved enough points to go through to the finals as one of the next highest scoring teams after the automatic qualifiers.
We are sad to announce that Miss Walker will be leaving St. Helen's College at the end of the summer term, after 26 years with the school.
Miss Walker has, for many years, been the school's Director of Co-Curriculum, Head of PE and Subject Leader of Geography, as well as a highly valued member of the school's Senior Leadership Team. She is leaving us to develop her career even further as she will be taking up the position of Head of Upper School (Deputy Head Pastoral) at High March School, starting in September.
Miss Walker is a familiar face to generations of pupils and parents, as well as being well known across the local community for her involvement in local sports clubs and leagues. She has taught more or less every pupil who has passed through St. Helen's College over the last quarter of a century, and has had a big impact on so many young lives. We know that you will join us in congratulating her on her new post when you see her around school next term.
Mrs. McLaughlin will be returning from her maternity leave after the summer half term break and will return to her class, 3M, working three days per week. Mrs. Briggs will continue working with the class on the other two days.
Miss Davies and Mrs. Hunt will continue as the Owls class teachers until the end of this academic year, while Miss Joiner is away on her maternity leave.
Miss Angie Raja-Ross has joined our team of Teaching and Learning Assistants at Lower School and will be working with Wrens class.
Ms Amy Keenlyside will be joining us at Lower School next term, working as a Midday Supervisor.
Guess The Place
Congratulations to the winners of the last 'Guess the Place' photo challenge this term. The Natural History Museum was correctly identified by Evie and Ashvika in Year 2 and Millie and Riyan in Year 1. Well done also to Pavan, Hana, Sean and Tiya in Year 3, Eshanvi in Year 4, David, Rivan, Chrissy, Natalia, Luka, Kylah, Siyana, Eshan, Oliver, Shruthi, Riddhi and Charlotte in Year 5, Vidhit and Zail in Year 6 who all used their detective skills to discover that our other photo was of Brosgrove Mill on the Norfolk Broads.
Guess the Place will start again after the Easter Holiday and Miss Walker would be delighted to receive photos of places our families might visit over the Easter holidays or have visited in the past to challenge everyone to 'guess the place'. Please submit your photos with the name of the place to Miss Walker at
Musician of the Term
A big well done to Riya C, who has been named the spring term Musician of the Term. Riya has always worked conscientiously and demonstrated enormous enthusiasm over several years in all aspects of music at St Helen’s College.
Riya has excellent music skills and applies and shares creative ideas successfully in class work. She is a member of the Senior Choir and Chamber Choir and is an excellent role model within the music department as a music prefect. She regularly performs at assemblies and recitals and, as well as playing the ukulele, she also sings. Riya has exceptional musical talent, and has recently taken her Grade 2 Musical Theatre Singing exam.
The pupils of Windsor and Cambria Houses have been working hard to gain house points despite being in lockdown and we are delighted to announce that this term's winners are Cambria. There are only 70 house points between the two house's totals at the moment - so there is all to play for in the summer term!
Royal Academy of Arts Exhibition - Submissions Now Open
St. Helen's College has registered with the Royal Academy of Arts so that children may submit their artwork for exhibition at the Royal Academy! Submitting artwork is completely free and should be done online by the deadline of 26th April. For pupils aged 12 or under, a parent/guardian will need to enter the artwork on the pupil's behalf; children aged 13 or over may submit artworks themselves.
Each student can submit up to three artworks of any type and there is no theme. You will need to supply images of the artwork plus some information about the piece such as title, size, and a little text about the artwork. Each piece of artwork will be seen by a panel of judges and the selected pieces will be shown in our online exhibition. Some of the artworks will also be shown at the Royal Academy of Arts.
We have many budding artists at St. Helen's College and we hope that you will support your child in submitting work. We look forward to hearing of any success!
PA Easter Prize Draw
The PA has again donated prizes for a free draw for the children this Easter. All of the children were included in this free Easter draw, with one prize drawn for each class. The PA hope that the lucky winners enjoy their prizes and that they all have a wonderful Easter break!
Upper School Library
The Upper School Library remains busy delivering weekly boxes of books to each classroom at Upper School. Classes have enjoyed uncovering "mystery books" wrapped in paper and ribbons, whilst others have been tucking into books by visiting authors Cressida Cowell and Ross Welford. Many children will be choosing books this week to bring home for the holidays and the Library invites you to enjoy these with your children!
Why not read your stories aloud to each other at bedtime, sat together on a picnic or even tucked into a reading den of blankets? The artistic amongst you might like to design your own version of the book cover and draw your favourite scene. As these Easter holidays are spent at home, consider an apposite quote from the author Jhumpra Lahiri "That's the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet."
Please also take the opportunity to search out any overdue books and return to school, particularly if your child is in Year 6. May we remind parents of our school policy that, in order to maintain the library for all, we may ask for a payment to replace any damaged or non-returned books.
Author Events - April
There are several interactive author events being run by our partners Chorleywood Bookshop during April which might be of interest to you and your children to keep their enthusiasm for reading high! You do need to book for these events - bookings links are included below.
Just after Easter, there is a brilliant draw-along event with the creative star Rob Biddulph, author, illustrator and #DrawWithRob internet sensation at 9.30am on Wednesday 7th April.
Children can pick up their pencils at this event and learn how to build their own story, and even create their own book, step-by-step! Rob will be encouraging children of all ages to draw along and he’ll be reading his brand-new, wonderfully waggy story of one dog day afternoon.
Every dog has his Dave (or otherwise-named human)... but, on a walk in the park, the adorable Teddy the pug loses his! And when Teddy finds himself at the shed of the TERRIBLE TROLL in the woods, he might find more than he bargained for... a new friend. Packed with delight, dogs, and even a Dave, this hilariously funny and exquisitely illustrated new book from the incredible Rob Biddulph, will have you panting for more! This is the perfect story for boys and girls of 4+, and dog-lovers everywhere, to share with their families! Roll around in the rhymes and enjoy Rob Biddulph's trademark warm-hearted humour. Event tickets: from £10, bookable here.
Two days later (Friday 9th April at 10 a.m.), for all those budding authors, there is a Creative Writing Workshop with Francesca Gibbons, author of A Clock of Stars, a thrilling and timeless fantasy adventure with a race against time, lovable characters and a magical kingdom. During the 75-minute workshop children will be creating their own magical kingdom, and dreaming up adventures and characters of their own.
With all the magic of Narnia and the humour of Mary Poppins, this is a future fantasy classic - and the beginning of an unforgettable journey... Imogen should be nice to her little sister Marie. She should be nice to her mum's boyfriend too. And she certainly shouldn't follow a strange silver moth through a door in a tree. But then... who does what they're told? Followed by Marie, Imogen finds herself falling into a magical kingdom where the two sisters are swept up in a thrilling race against time - helped by the spoiled prince of the kingdom, a dancing bear, a very grumpy hunter... and even the stars above them.
Event ticket: £30, which includes access to the live stream event, a copy of Clock of Stars: The Shadow Moth (RRP £7.99) and a £5 voucher to spend in Chorleywood or Gerrards Cross Bookshops. Book for this event here.
There is also after school fun on Thursday 22nd April at 4.30 p.m. with Dermot O’Leary, one of the nation’s best-loved broadcasters and children’s authors. Dermot will be talking about his latest ninja adventure story, ‘Toto the Ninja Cat and the mystery Jewel Thief’, and his very own rescue cat who inspired him to write these best-selling, hilarious stories.
Toto and her friends are due to be looking after the French ambassador on a day of sightseeing, finishing at the Tower of London to see the animal world's crown jewels: a sacred diamond cat collar. But when they arrive, the collar has disappeared - and what's worse, it looks like Toto's boss Larry is responsible, with Toto as his accomplice! Toto is almost arrested, but she escapes to try and get to the bottom of the mystery and clear her name.
Event ticket: £12, which includes access to the live stream event and a copy of 'Toto the Ninja Cat and the Mystery Jewel Thief'. Book your ticket here.
I am sure that you are as keen as we are for the children to make the most of the nicer weather to come and get out and about and active once more. Lockdown has restricted opportunities for physical activity, social interaction and team play, so we encourage you to think now about exploring new sports clubs or other active opportunities for your child.
Ickenham Cricket Club will be re-launching training sessions for children aged 5-11, beginning from Sunday 25th April. Sessions run from 10.30 a.m. to 12.00 p.m. If your son or daughter would like to try cricket for the first time, or develop their cricket skills, we would encourage you to try out this lovely, friendly cricket club. You can find full details here and at www.ickenhamcc.co.uk.
Blaze Netball Club in Uxbridge run sessions after school during term times for children in Years 4, 5 and 6. If you have a child who might be interested in joining the club, you can find full details here.
You might like to visit some canals or rivers with your children over the holidays. The Canal and River Trust have some great resources to encourage families to enjoy our waterways - do take a look by following the links below:
Main Activities Page
Virtual tours, games and puzzles
Perform Drama Workshops
Perform will be running holiday courses over the Easter Holidays for 4-10 year olds.
Based on Beauty and the Beast, these fun drama, dance and singing courses will run from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. each day. Further information is available here: https://www.perform.org.uk/classes-courses/holiday-courses/beautyandthebeast
NextGen Enterprise is a practical entrepreneurial course with a mission to introduce the next generation of entrepreneurs to a world of innovation, collaboration, and creativity. The course is delivered online in an interactive environment and is suitable for ages 10-18. NextGen offer three unique courses where students develop fictional business ideas in their teams and are guided by a dedicated NextGen Coach - an experienced entrepreneur. Along the journey, students learn key entrepreneurial skills and then present their business plans to an expert panel and a wider audience. For more information on NextGen Enterprise, please visit www.nextgenenterprise.co.uk or call 0207 117 2965.
Computer Xplorers Easter Camps
Our partners Computer Xplorers will be running some online Easter camps that might be of interest to your children.
An Intro to Python Coding (Age 10+)
Tech giants such as Google, NASA and YouTube all use Python within their businesses. Are your children up for a new challenge? Now is your child's chance to learn some real-world coding skills in online Python classes! Click on the link below to register
Easter Arcade Game Design (Age 8+)
Children will learn to design, code and build their very own arcade games to keep and play with their family. This is a great class for budding game designers and tech enthusiasts. Are your children up for a new challenge? Now is your child's chance to develop coding and programming skills in our online Arcade Game Design classes! Click on the link below to register
Easter Roblox Game Design (Age 9+)
Do your children love to play #Roblox? Through these online classes, your children can gain knowledge on #gamedesign and #programming concepts while having fun creating their very own obstacle course in Roblox using Roblox Studio. Click on the link below to register
Covid Rates in Hillingdon
Infection rates in the west London area haven’t fallen as low as other parts of the capital, so the London Borough of Hillingdon Education Team have asked us to remind our community that it is vital that we all do our bit to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Every action we take will help to keep us all safe. So please continue to:
Wash your hands
Cover your face
Keep a safe distance
Take your vaccine when offered
Thank you for all of your ongoing efforts to reduce the spread of the pandemic. We hope that you all stay safe over the Easter break.
The summer term begins on 21st April. Please remember to send your children back to school in their summer uniform. We respectfully remind parents that tights are NOT permitted with the summer dress - girls should wear white knee length or ankle socks only, please. To continue to reduce items brought into school, no caps or summer boaters will be required, but children must bring St. Helen's College sun hats to wear in hot weather. Please remember to apply sun cream at home before school when the weather is warm. The summer term lunch menu will be published to the Parents section of the website before the children return. Please do discuss the menus with your child prior to coming to school each day to ensure that they understand what is available.
The pandemic is still ongoing and we will therefore be adapting the summer term programme as we continue to adhere to Covid protocols and risk assessments. While large events and external sports fixtures will not be taking place, we will be doing our utmost to provide a busy and enriching term for the children. As you know, our co-curricular programme will be starting up again and club allocations will be confirmed at the start of next term, with activities beginning the week of 26th April. We will be running in-school sports fixtures and competitions, including our annual Singing Competition, and there will be year group Sports Days. For Years 3-6 we will be arranging residential days for the children to offer many of the experiences they would have had on their residential trips. We will also be producing class assemblies to broadcast to parents and our Year 6 children will of course be busy as they prepare their end of term Year 6 musical production. Further details about these events will be shared in due course.
The school calendar has been updated with summer term events, so please do take a note of these now for your diaries. You can access the calendar, as always, here.
We would like to remind parents of the procedure for reporting a child's absence or requesting absence for a child for any reason. Please do not contact your class teacher about this, or telephone the school office unless a particular conversation is necessary; please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org clearly stating your child's name and class and the reason for absence. Your child's class teacher will be informed and requests for absence will be processed.
Posted on: 19/03/2021
Weekly News - Friday 19th March 2021Red Nose Day
The school has been painted red today as we have all worn our own clothes, mainly red, to celebrate Comic Relief Day. We have kept each other laughing by telling jokes and finding the joy in everything, and we are very proud that the school community is raising money to support Comic Relief's work. You can see photographs of the fun we have had today on our Galleries page here.
Thanks to donations, Comic Relief continues to make a difference to the lives of millions of people across the UK and around the world, working for a just world, free from poverty. Comic Relief partners with local projects and organisations that are working to tackle four of the biggest challenges society faces today:
Improving Mental Health
A Safe Home for Everyone
A World Where Children Can Survive and Thrive
Freedom from Fear, Violence and Discrimination.
In each of these areas, the Covid-19 pandemic has made people’s lives even harder, so your support is as important as ever. If you have not already made a donation to our St. Helen's College Comic Relief fundraising, we suggest a minimum donation of £2 per family, but of course all donations are most welcome. You can donate, and see the latest total raised by the school, by following this link.
Hillingdon STARS Competition Success!
The STARS team at London Borough of Hillingdon have asked us to thank all of the parents and pupils who got involved with the KS1 Captain Safety drawing competition and the KS2 Road Safety Invention competition.
We are thrilled to announce that St. Helen's College children did very well indeed in the competition and the following children were winners in their categories:
KS1 Captain Safety Competition
Page 3 - Alyssa P (Year 1)
KS2 Road Safety Invention Competition
1st Place - Joe T (Year 3)
Joint 2nd Place - Riya S (Year 3)
Special congratulations to Alyssa, Joe and Riya!
The STARS team were very impressed with the drawings and incredible designs and concepts that the children came up with. All of the children who entered will receive a certificate which will be presented in a school assembly in due course.
Prep School Quiz Club Heats
Our Year 5 and Year 6 Quiz Club teams took part this week in the national heats for the annual Prep School Quiz Club Competition. The heats took place online and included questions on Geography, Science, History, the Natural World, Maths, English, Religion and much more. Some of the questions were very challenging indeed!
Our teams acquitted themselves very well. Our Year 6 team (Zail T, Arjan D, Ben L and Vandan V) moved quickly up through the leader board during the first few rounds, and finished the competition in joint 7th place out of 50 teams, beating many excellent prep schools from the local area and across the country. They should feel very proud of themselves. The top six teams qualified automatically for the national finals, and our Year 6 team must now wait until all heats are complete to find out if they have qualified as one of the next highest scoring teams.
The Year 5 team (Anjika G, Shruthi T, Zacahariah F and Aryan B) also performed well, moving up through the leader board to finish in joint 8th place out of 48 teams. Very well done to the children and staff involved.
Please do keep encouraging your children to expand their general knowledge by reading newspapers, watching news-based programmes or reading non-fiction books.
Many congratulations to all of the children who created entries for the IAPS (Independent Association of Prep Schools) iArt competition. Mrs. Pruce and Mrs. Drummond were so impressed by the high standard of art work, which made the judging incredibly difficult. They have, however, made a final decision on the three artists whose work will be put forward to represent St. Helen's College for this prestigious national competition. Very well done to Riya C (Year 6), Tiya T (Year 3) and Arya A (Year 2). You can see their beautiful entries below.
Pencils and pens
30cm X 21cm
"I found this lockdown really hard and frustrating, I was desperate to escape and this is me, breaking through the tape keeping me in my room to get outside and be free."
30cm X 21cm
"I took inspiration from our Henri Rousseau art project in school to express the weather outside on the day and the storm we are in at the moment. I love his oversized flowers."
Watercolours and soft pencils
Pointillism and fine art
59cm X 42cm
"I decided to draw and paint a rainbow tree because in my garden we have huge trees and during lockdown saw two rainbows over the trees which always made me smile and happy."
Easter Holiday Club
We are looking forward to relaunching our Holiday Club provision this Easter
and we are delighted that so many families have booked in already. The booking system has now closed but we do have a very limited number of places still available on some days for pupils in Years 2 - 6. If you would like to check availability and book a place please contact Mrs. Rooney at email@example.com.
Guess the Place
Well done to the following Year 3 - 6 pupils who correctly guessed that this week's place was the iconic Library of Birmingham building:
Tiya, Grace, Joseph, Sean and Hana (Year 3).
Shruthi, Riddhi, Charlotte, Shakira, Siyana, Chrissy, Natalia, Kylah, Anjika, David and Luka (Year 5).
Zail and Samir (Year 6).
Our London landmark this week was a little bit tricky for our pupils in Nursery - Year 2, but many congratulations to Millie and Riyan in Year 1 and Evie in Year 2, who correctly named the place as Regent's Park.
PA Forum Meeting
The next PA Forum meeting will take place at 7.00 p.m. on Wednesday 24th March. Parents are encouraged to send points for discussion onto class representatives. Class reps should send points for discussion to Mrs. Smith by Monday 22nd March at the very latest please: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Home Self-Testing Service Launches in Hillingdon for Households with School Children
Households and families with school-aged children can now access COVID-19 home testing kits. The 'community collect' service launched this month to households with primary and secondary school and college age children, as well as those providing childcare and in support bubbles. Testing kits are to be used twice weekly, meaning people can self-isolate faster if they test positive.
Home-testing kits can currently be ordered online for home delivery at www.gov.uk/coronavirus or can be collected from Topping Lane PCR test site near Brunel University. Kits will also be available for collection shortly from the borough's seven asymptomatic testing sites. Find out more at www.hillingdon.gov.uk/community-testing.
Thank you to those of you who have already made donations into our new textile recycling bank, which is located alongside the path outside 227 Long Lane. Please do not forget that we can accept all clothing, paired shoes, belts, bags, curtains, bed linen and towels. Items that cannot be put into the bank are branded school uniform items, duvets/pillows/cushions and rugs/carpet off cuts.
The Lynne Chilver School of Dance
The Lynne Chilver School of Dance run sessions at the North Hillingdon Methodist Church, Long Lane (at the front of Lower School), as follows:
Ballet and Tap: Saturday mornings from 9.00 a.m.
Tap: Mondays from 4.00 p.m.
Modern and Freestyle: Wednesdays from 4.00 p.m.
Acro and National returning soon.
Children are prepared for recognised exams (IDTA RAD ISTD) and entered when they have reached the required level. Every two years they take part in a show held at the Beck Theatre during February half term. All lessons have been made Covid secure.
The dance school runs other events, such as an annual Summer School and Christmas workshops. They also hold adult classes in Zumba, Ballet and Tap.
Fees for children's classes start from £60 per term (12 weeks). All classes should be booked directly through the dancing school.
More information and contact details are available on their website: www.lynnechilver.co.uk
Uxbridge Library are running weekly Once Upon a Bump sessions via Zoom. These sessions are for expectant and new parents to get together online for singing, stories and a chat. You can see details here.
Hillingdon Libraries also have several weekly online Tiny Tales story time sessions for families with pre-school children. These are run by different libraries within the Borough and information about the dates and times of these are uploaded weekly to the library Twitter feeds (@Hill_Libraries) and Facebook feeds (@HillingdonLibraries).
Posted on: 19/03/2021
Laughter Is The Best MedicineToday we celebrated Red Nose Day for Comic Relief and the school was an abundance of red as we all joined together to raise money for this super charity which supports people who are living incredibly tough lives. Celebrities all over the UK have joined together to encourage us all to turn laughs into lasting change. We thank you for all your donations and hope that the children enjoyed their day.
It is certainly not just on Red Nose Day once a year that we embrace the power of fun and laughter at St. Helen’s College! The adults at school have the privilege of having the best medication available on tap every day and that is the power of your children’s laughter.
Through this incredibly difficult past year, your children have brought us all joy, whether that has been in school as part of our critical worker groups or face to face when we have been together as a community.
Laughter is on the curriculum, the co-curriculum, on the lunch menu, in the playground - it leaves a trail of happiness and a sense of wellbeing and can even lead to sore stomachs for those of us who have had a really hearty serving of it! I am even contemplating a new business model: bottling up the laughter of your children and selling it at a prime price - SHC & tonic! The most refreshing and invigorating way to boost your immune system!
During the last lockdown period, on duty at Lower School in the mornings, I was treated to a daily joke from one of the children. Her ability in telling jokes is truly remarkable, but it reminded me of why I never try to tell jokes - I always forget the punchline! Please do not let me think that I am alone in this? But it is not just telling jokes which brings so much laughter to our school - it is the authenticity of the pleasure and fun that your children have in being part of our unique community. I certainly do not remember laughing so much with my teachers when I was a child, but as I visit the classrooms around the school there truly is a sense of fun, pride and incredible humility in the relationships between the children with each other, the children with the adults and the adults with each other. Don’t get me wrong - we do take learning very seriously - but we make learning enjoyable and that even leads to children laughing when they are learning! We have the recipe and ingredients just right to create happy, successful, confident and inquisitive children.
Some of the children have been writing recipes for ‘happiness’ and they used phrases such as a sprinkling of laughter, a dollop of laughter, a chuckle of laughter…..Your children are very astute and know that laughter is important to their wellbeing.
But now to you as parents - I hope that each day in your work and personal life that you are as privileged as the adults at St. Helen’s College are with your daily dose of laughter. How is your laughter gauge looking?
Even in the most difficult times in our lives, we must not lose sight of the power of laughter and the therapeutic value it brings. I will share with you a very personal moment - my father sadly passed away back in 2002 when he was only 62 after a long battle with cancer. He was incredibly proud and organised and had put everything in place for when he finally had to leave us. The day after he died we had to access certain documents and he had put everything together in a new filing cabinet which he had been meticulous in organising. However...he omitted to tell us where the key was! I shall say no more...but the laughter between my sister, mum and I that day was the tonic we all needed - he certainly had the last laugh! Some twenty years on I still smile and chuckle when I recall the scenario!
We must not lose the ability to laugh nor feel guilty about laughing when life has been really difficult, for it is a physical human reaction to an internal or external stimuli and can often be what is needed.
Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
I will leave you with this simple poem:
Laughter is infectious.
It is a joyful sound that,
Once it starts ringing,
Passes all around.
Laughter is infectious.
Some folks have no clue
As to what another’s laughter
Could do unto you.
Laughter is infectious.
You can get it on a whim,
But chances of it harming
Are very, very slim.
Posted on: 12/03/2021
NeurodiversityI am so delighted that St. Helen’s College will be taking part in our first Neurodiversity Celebration Week which will be celebrated from March 15th to March 21st in the UK. We will be joining over 1,100 other UK based schools (over 700,000 children) to celebrate the neurodiversity of our incredible brains.
For so many years there have been negative stereotypes and misconceptions about children and adults whose brains may just be wired slightly differently, meaning that they learn in a slightly different way. It is our responsibility that we educate the children to accept everyone in our society and for them to understand that we all have skills and talents which make us all amazing!
Neurodiversity is a viewpoint that brain differences are normal, rather than deficits. The idea of neurodiversity can have benefits for children with learning and thinking differences.
18 year old Siena Castellon, who is herself dyslexic, autistic and dyspraxic and has ADHD, has launched this celebration week to further educate pupils and adults to recognise the many strengths of neurodivergent students.
In the presentation we will be sharing with the children from Year 1 - Year 6 next week, we will discuss the brain and how all brains are different. ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), dyslexia and ASC (Autistic Syndrome Condition) will be outlined, along with how they can affect someone, and we will be celebrating the wonderful achievements of prominent people in our society who the children will recognise. For example, Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, Chris Packham, the presenter of Spring Watch and Anne Hegarty, quiz master from the Chase, are autisitic. Richard Branson and Will Smith both are dyslexic. Emma Watson (actress - Hermoine Granger in Harry Potter) and Robbie Williams both have ADHD. Considering these high profile people will help us to understand that having a neurodiverse brain does not limit people’s opportunities or achievements.
I urge you to read the fascinating Harvard Business Review article here, which outlines how neurodiversity has been seen as a competitive advantage in many workforces and still remains a talent to be tapped into. Companies who have adapted their HR and recruitment processes and taken time to get to know individuals and how they best work are reaping the benefits of their strengths.
I am certainly not an expert on neurodiversity and would never claim to be. However, I am sure that you agree that the more we can educate the pupils at St. Helen’s College about neurodiversity, the more accepting and understanding of each other they will be - not only here at school, but also in developing relationships with people in the future who may have previously had to battle with the stigma which historically was associated with people who are differently abled.
If you would like to find out more about the Neurodiversity Celebration Week then please do watch some of the superb videos in the link here. It really is our duty to our children and to ourselves that we are more knowledgeable and that we understand more about our amazing minds!
Posted on: 12/03/2021
Weekly News - Friday 12th March 2021Eco School
We are delighted that our eco school flags have arrived, which recognise our commitment to sustainability and improving the environment. We will be finding somewhere suitable to display them...do look out for them in due course!
To further promote sustainability, a new textile bank has been installed alongside the path outside 227 Long Lane (Windsor).
Please feel free to donate your unwanted clothes, shoes, accessories, belts, bags, bed linen and soft toys by posting them into the bank. These textiles are either sent to poorer communities across Europe, or recycled into industrial cleaning wipes so that nothing ends up in landfill and the school will be paid a small amount per kilo for items donated. Please note that items that CANNOT be accepted are duvets, pillows, cushions, carpets, rugs, workwear and textile off-cuts.
We hope that this will be a useful service for families, especially as charity shops are not currently open, as well as encouraging us all to be more eco-friendly by recycling more and sending less to landfill. Please feel free to pull into the car park outside 227 Long Lane at weekends if you have items to donate.
St. Helen's College Instagram
Many parents already follow our St. Helen's College Art Instagram account. We would like to encourage you also to follow our main St. Helen's College Instagram account here. Please do sign up to follow us!
Red Nose Day - Friday 19th March
We will be supporting Comic Relief on Red Nose Day next Friday and have set up a 'Just Giving' page on behalf of the school.
Children should come to school on this day wearing red and/or with any of the Comic Relief merchandise such as red noses, boppers, t-shirts etc. We ask that each family makes a donation in order for their child to come in their own clothes. We suggest a minimum donation of £2 per family, but of course all donations will be most welcome for this very worthy cause. You can donate by following this link.
There will be a slightly altered special menu for Red Nose Day. You can see this here.
National Online Safety have published useful guides about social media apps including Whatsapp, Snapchat and Tiktok. We encourage all parents to read these and, in particular, to note the ages at which these accounts are permitted for children. For example, the age at which Whatsapp is permitted in the UK is 16.
NoS have many other useful resources. If you have not already done so, please register here as a St. Helen's College parent to see similar weekly guides and other useful information on online safety.
Music - Assembly Performances
If your Upper School child would like to perform their instrument or sing during a Friday assembly slot this term, please contact Mrs. Fawbert at email@example.com or let your class teacher know. Performing in this way is a great opportunity for your child to gain confidence, whethr or not they are currently preparing for a grade exam. While assemblies are taking place remotely, the children perform in the Evans Hall with Mrs. Fawbert, with their performances broadcast live to the rest of the Upper School. Their peers are always generous with their applause and kind comments!
Guess The Place
Congratulations to our pupils in Upper School who correctly guessed last week's place was the White Cliffs of Dover. Well done to Penelope, Samara, Avantika, Grace, Kal-El and Hana in Year 3, Poppy and Advik in Year 4, Shakira, Diyan, Charlotte, Natalia, Oliver, Amber and Anjika in Year 5 and Sophia, Pavitar, Zail, Samir and Vidhit in Year 6.
Congratulations too to our pupils in Year 2 and Lower School who correctly guessed that the place in London last week was the Cenotaph. Well done to Phoebe in Nursery, Millie and Riyan in Year 1 and Simar, Evie, Alexia and Avar in Year 2.
Continuing Professional Development
At St. Helen's College, we pride ourselves on developing not only the children but the staff too. We are delighted that Mrs. Reid (formerly Miss Heath), one of our Upper School Teaching and Learning Assistants, will commence teacher training from September 2021. Mrs. Reid will remain with us while she is training and we know that she will be an asset to the teaching team.
We are very proud to announce that Mrs. Smith has just been awarded a distinction in her AMCIS (Association of Marketing & Communications in Independent Schools) diploma. We are very fortunate to have her expertise and high level of professionalism at the school.
We are also thrilled that Mrs. Cargill has successfully completed her Diploma in School Business Management and is enjoying putting her learning into practice each day at St. Helen's College.
All of this continuous professional development is a testament to the commitment of our staff to self-improvement, which will no doubt have an impact on the future of St. Helen's College and your children.
Pick Up And Go - Parkway
As is often the case when children first return to school after time away, Parkway has been very busy at drop off and pick up times this week. This has prompted a complaint from a neighbour about cars queueing along the length of Parkway.
We have reminded teachers that pupils must be brought out for collection promptly at their end of day time. We would like also to remind parents not to arrive early to pick up your child. If you arrive and there is already a queue of more than two or three cars for pick up and go, please drive past them to the car park, park your car and walk down to collect your child. If you are using pick up and go, please remind your child to enter the car promptly and fasten their seat belt immediately so that you may safely pull away without delay. The same applies at 'drop and go' in the mornings - please encourage your child to have all that they need ready so that they can exit the car promptly when you pull alongside the kerb, and please then pull your car away as soon as it is safe to do so.
The systems do generally work very well and we are sure they will continue to do so, if we all work together to make drop off and pick up as smooth as possible! Many thanks for your support in this.
Asymptomatic Covid Testing for Parents
Please note that voluntary asymptomatic testing is available for adults in households with school aged children (as well as in childcare and support bubbles). As a school we are not able to provide tests to families but please see below the information from the DfE about this scheme and how to access tests.
There are different ways for a household, childcare or support bubble to collect their test to take at home, twice-weekly:
through your employer, if they offer testing to employees
by collecting a home test kit from a local test site - anyone aged 18 or over can collect two packs of seven tests
by ordering a home test kit online; please do not order online if you can access testing through other routes - this frees up home delivery for those who need it most.
Posted on: 5/03/2021
Patience by Mrs. SmithI would have loved to have written a blog about our value of Patience this week, but I have been rather caught up in the crucial work of updating the school's comprehensive Covid risk assessment. I therefore invited Mrs. Smith to write on the theme of Patience for us this week. Enjoy!
Our value of the week this week is ‘Patience’, and we discussed this in our assemblies today. At Lower School and Ducklings, Mrs. Hunt showed the children this very short video as a prompt to discuss what patience is and how to practise it. At Upper School, we watched a video of some children telling us, in their own words, what they thought patience meant. They came up with some very good ideas, like ‘waiting for something’ and ‘holding back your anger or frustration’.
The dictionary definition of patience is actually this: ‘the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious’.
I find these words beautiful, because they neatly encapsulate what we all probably instinctively know: that being patient is a capacity, not a genetic quality. While it is true that some people naturally have more patience, for others (myself included) this quality does not come easily. The good news is that, like our capacity for love, for empathy, or for resilience, our capacity for patience can be increased through self-awareness, determination and practice. So, how do we cultivate patience and why is this quality – or value – so very important in our lives?
The simple answer is that we cultivate our capacity for patience through practising being patient. To do this, we need to exercise our self-control and push away feelings of annoyance or anxiety that arise when we are experiencing a prolonged delay in waiting for something. We need to remind ourselves that the thing we are waiting for will eventually come – and sometimes, we need to remind ourselves that, even if it doesn’t eventually come, we will nevertheless be ok. We all practise patience on a daily basis: the parent who feels frustrated waiting for a child to get dressed; the child who longs for break time when they can get out into the playground with their friends; the adult who is thirsty during a meeting and has to wait until they can have a drink; the teacher who is ready for lunch at 11.00 o’clock and must wait until lunch time! These are small, manageable, daily examples. Exercising patience can be done in these situations partly because it has to be done, and partly because it has been done before.
However, there are also times - this year in particular – when we can practise patience on a larger level. Since last March, we have lived with more uncertainty than ever before, and we have had to manage our anxiety and learn to accept and tolerate delay, problems and suffering in a whole new way. We have waited to find out what the latest government advice will be, waited to hear the latest data on the spread of the virus, waited to give our loved ones a hug, to go to the gym again, to go shopping, to get our hair cut and to go back to school. Many, many people across the world have waited anxiously and unhappily to find out whether a sick friend or relative will make a recovery. There has been a lot of talk about the resilience we have all developed during this pandemic, and patience is at the root of that resilience. I think that we all understand now, more than ever, that there are things outside of our control, and things inside of our control. If we can keep our focus on those things we can control – our capacity to keep ourselves positive and to be patient in the face of uncertainty and adversity – we can better support ourselves and those around us.
At St. Helen’s College, children of every age have practised patience in waiting for school to re-open, waiting to be re-connected with friends and teachers and waiting for clubs and sports to resume. For such young pupils, this cannot have been easy. No doubt, as parents, you have found yourselves providing a lot of support and perspective for the younger generation during this time. You, and your children, should feel very proud of your newly expanded capacity for patience and controlling your anxieties and frustrations. Mrs. Drummond has asked me to mention, in particular, our Year 6 children who, this year, have had to cope with uncertainties over whether and when 11+ exams and entry procedures would go ahead. They (and their parents) have then also had to exercise great patience while waiting for results that, in many cases, decided their future paths. We are enormously proud, of course, of their amazing academic achievements and of their success in securing places at the senior schools of their choice. However, we are all equally proud of the patience they have shown, both in persisting in their endeavours in the face of uncertainties, and in managing the inevitable anxieties while waiting for their results. These are truly brave, resilient and patient young men and women, whose personal qualities, as well as their excellent knowledge and skills, make them very well placed for future success at their senior schools and beyond.
We have always lived in an uncertain world, and we always will. Other illnesses, natural disasters, economic problems and accidents will no doubt beset us during our lifetimes. It is our inner qualities that are our biggest defence and protection against these unforeseen difficulties. The main one is no doubt our human capacity for love and kindness, and for building families and communities that support us in troubling times. But second, I think, even above resilience, is our astonishing and ever-developing capacity for patience.
Parents do often know best, so I will give my wonderful mum the last word here. One of her favourite sayings as I was growing up was, ‘Patience is a virtue’. Another was, ‘Virtue is its own reward’. Added together, these proverbs are saying that, if we can cultivate patience, we will be better people and that, in becoming better people, we will improve our own lives as we reap the benefits of our own goodness. That seems to me to be a very good thing.
Posted on: 5/03/2021
Weekly News - Friday 5th MarchWorld Book Day
What an amazing day we had yesterday, celebrating World Book Day 2021.
Children from Ducklings to Year 6 dressed up in special clothes to represent our theme of 'magical worlds', and enjoyed thinking about their favourite books and characters.
The children from Ducklings to Year 2 were treated to a wonderful virtual visit from author Emily Gravett. She showed us all around her studio, which included her cute dog Dilys! It was amazing to see how she creates her illustrations, beginning with pencils and paints and then using computers and scanners. We were fascinated to listen to her funny stories and discover how she became such a successful author and illustrator. We also had fun taking part in many book related activities such as a book scavenger hunt and filming our book reviews!
At Upper School, a special assembly led by Mr. Roche told us all about the benefits and joys of reading. We were lucky to have a virtual author visit from Ross Welford. Speaking to the children in Years 3-6, he demonstrated his love of magic and walked the children through writing the first chapter of their very own novel. We hope that they feel inspired to carry on and complete their books!
As part of this special day, children in all year groups were challenged to create their own 'reading den' - a special place, decorated however they like, that they can use anytime for reading. Research shows that reading helps to reduce stress levels, so even a few minutes a day spent in these special places will be a great benefit! The children adopted this task enthusiastically (assisted at home by their parents, we are sure!). You can see some photographs of their wonderful reading dens on the Galleries page.
Don't forget that our virtual book fair is still running until the end of today. You and your children can enjoy browsing a wonderful selection of children’s books in the comfort of your own home and raise money for the school at the same time if you make purchases! 20% of sales will be donated to the school so that we can buy more books for our library and classrooms. The books have been carefully selected to ensure that you can choose from the most recent and most popular titles of the highest quality, as well as some much-loved classics. All you need to do is click this link and get shopping!
All orders will be delivered direct to the school (unless you select to collect them from Chorleywood or Gerrards Cross Bookshops).
Happy browsing, happy shopping and many thanks indeed for your support in encouraging your child with their reading and supporting the school's library resources!
A SAFE Return to School
We are all looking forward so much to coming together fully, in person, as a community again from Monday. Ahead of the return to school, we would like to set the children a little challenge, to design an A4 poster relating to our SAFE acronym:
S - stay a sensible/good/2m distance from each other
A- always wash our hands correctly and when we need to
F - free to talk with the adults about how we are feeling
E - enjoy each day together
Pupils should bring their designs to school on Monday and the best designs will be laminated and displayed around the school. Happy creating!
Our school Risk Assessment for Full School Re-Opening has been updated for the return to school on 8th March, and is available for all parents to read on the School Documents page of this website here. It will be updated weekly, with the first review taking place on Monday 8th March.
Thank you so much to the children who, inspired by our assembly with the fabulous Radio 1 DJ Chris Stark, have contributed to our school Wellerman video. Mrs. Fawbert had quite a task to put the video together, with so many different instruments being played and people singing and doing actions! She was extremely proud of everyone who contributed. You can see the finished video here.
We know that parents will wish to join us in wishing our Owls Reception teacher Miss Joiner well as she embarks on her maternity leave, a little earlier than planned due to the Covid situation. We would like to thank Miss Joiner for all her work with Owls this year in such challenging circumstances, and we wish her well with the rest of her pregnancy. Take care, Miss Joiner, and we will look forward to seeing you back in school with your new addition in due course!
Road Safety Assembly - Petition Success!
Well done to our amazing Junior Road Safety Officers, who gave a confident, informative presentation in assembly on Monday to report back on the action already taken by the local council following the petition that they organised to improved safety around the crossing on Long Lane.
Our school petition asked the council to consider replacing the existing zebra crossing with a pelican crossing. This option is being investigated but, in order to improve safety at the crossing immediately, the council have already installed very, very bright 'zebrites' at the crossing to deter vehicles from travelling too fast towards the crossing.
Representatives from the London Borough of Hillingdon STARS team joined us for this special assembly and were so impressed with the presentation and with the ongoing St. Helen's College commitment to road safety.
Free Asthma Workshops for Parents
Hillingdon Health are running a free asthma workshop for parents on Friday 26th March, from 2 - 3 p.m. This workshop, run by a qualified asthma nurse, will cover inhaler techniques, common triggers, asthma myths and what to do if your child is having an asthma attack. Full details, including how to sign up, can be found by following this link.
Guess The Place
Congratulations to all those who correctly guessed this week's places.
The Lower School place was the Globe Theatre, famous for William Shakespeare's plays, and the following people guessed correctly:
Nursery: Phoebe, Sikhya.
Reception: Dev, Arup.
Year 1: Amara, Millie, Alyssa, Aakash, Shayla, Yuvraj, Armaan, Rania, Riyan, Rohaym.
Year 2: Simar, Evie, Alexia, Aaran, Diya.
The Upper School place was the Albert Docks in Liverpool and the following people guessed correctly:
Year 3: Raiden, Joseph, Aleyna, Grace, Sean, Verity, Tiya, Sarab, Penelope, Hana.
Year 4: Oliver, Myla, Yousra, Karan, Marvin, Dylan, Inaya, Dominic, Xavier, Eshvani, Annie.
Year 5: Riddhi, Natalia, Anokhi, Deven, Diyan, Charlotte, Anjika, Oliver.
Year 6: Zail, Samir.
EasyFundraising for St. Helen's College
If you are not already raising funds for St. Helen's College Development Fund when you shop online, please do consider signing up! It is completely free to you and the school's development fund will receive donations whenever you shop online at many, many retailers.
To sign up, just click the link below to create your account and then download the EasyFundraising app to your mobile phone and/or tablet, and/or allow EasyFundraising to add the donation reminder to any desktop computers you use. Then simply use the app or the online reminder to raise money when you shop online. Many parents and staff are already doing this and, although each donation seems small, if we all remember to use EasyFundraising we will be able to raise a meaningful amount for the Development Fund. We are hoping, gradually, to build a meaningful enough fund that we can then use both to support our school and to support charitable educational projects in less developed countries.
Many, many thanks to those parents are already signed up and to those who will sign up now! Please don't forget, in particular, to use EasyFundraising for those big ticket items, like hotel/holiday/flight bookings or when you are switching insurance suppliers.