School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 15/11/2019
Weekly News - Friday 15th November 2019St. Helen's College Shortlisted for TES Awards!
The most outstanding individuals and institutions that the independent sector has to offer have been recognised in the shortlist for the 2020 Tes Independent School Awards and we are absolutely thrilled that St. Helen's College has been shortlisted in not one but two categories - an outstanding achievement!
We have been shortlisted for the Pupil Initiative Award for the wonderful work undertaken by our Junior Road Safety Officers, and for the Sports Award for our superb sporting provision.
Tes editor Ann Mroz said: “The Independent schools in this country are truly exceptional and those that have earned a place on the Tes Independent School Awards shortlist are a cut above the rest. We received an unparalleled number of entries this year, all of which were first rate. The schools that have been shortlisted should be proud - it's a remarkable achievement."
The winners will be revealed at a gala awards evening at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London on Friday 7 February 2020. So please keep your fingers crossed for St. Helen's College!
Author Visit - Anna Fargher
The pupils at Upper School were inspired on Monday when, alongside our Remembrance Day activities, they were treated to a visit from author Anna Fargher. Anna is the author of The Umbrella Mouse, an award winning adventure tale based on true stories of animals involved in World War II.
The children were shown how dogs carried medical supplies on the battlefield and how foxes would make lucky mascots for fighter pilots. We also learned about the history of the Dickin medal, awarded on one occasion to a courageous pigeon that saved many lives. After the charming presentation, Anna signed books for the children in the library. Catherine and Anish recited the Exhortation in the Upper School playground before everybody observed a two minute silence and Patrick played The Last Post beautifully on his trumpet as we remembered all the soldiers and animals who have fought bravely in war.
Fireworks (Years 1 - 6)
On Tuesday, all of the children from Year 1 to 6 took part in our termly school writing task. This time, the children had to write a description of a fireworks display. During assemblies, the children shared their experiences and looked at some helpful techniques before going back to classes to plan and write. Here is a selection of examples from work across the school:
'I heard a crash, whizz and boom. There were ten fireworks and everyone was amazed. They sparkled and lit up the sky with glitter. The fireworks were cherry red and sea blue. Suddenly one went BANG! and brightly filled the sky.' - Anna 2B
'I could smell hotdogs, onions and candyfloss. Incredible colours covered the sky such as violet, vermillion and tangerine. A joyous feeling filled my heart as the booming and banging filled my ears.' - Shruthi 4T
'The moment the display commenced, I was transported into another dimension where only fireworks and fun existed. A vivid explosion ripped through the air - a fluorescent contrast against the pitch black sky. Again, a spark shot out into the night, only to explode into a flower of a thousand varied shades.' - Anaiya 6M
Times Tables Rockstars
The children have competed in the National Maths Week Tournament for Times Tables Rockstars this week and we are so impressed with their results. They have fully engaged with the task and have made some exceptional progress as a result. Congratulations to 6RD who were the winning class for the school. St. Helen's College came 204th (at last checking) out of thousands of schools which applied.
Harry J in 6RD is the fastest player in Upper School and Sean R is the fastest player in Middle School. Lachlan J in 2H is the most improved Middle School player and Zain A in 6M is the most improved Upper School player this week.
Children in Need
This week, pupils have been busy raising funds for BBC Children in Need. The money raised will go to support vital projects across the UK including Hillingdon Carers, who provide opportunities and support to unpaid carers in the local area.
The Year 6 children organised a raffle and Jena J (Year 5) put together a 'guess the number of sweets in a jar' competition. Today, children dressed in spots or yellow and took part in the Joe Wicks 'Big Morning Move,' which included a special guest appearance at Upper School! The short group workout was a great way to energise for the day ahead and to raise money for those in need.
The raffle winners were:
Elisa K (Wrens) - Giant Pudseyâ
Selina A (1HC) - Blush Bear
Annabelle S (3B) - Giant Pudsey
Leo J (4KT) - Blush Bear
The winner of the 'guess the number of sweets in a jar' competition was Siyana M (4KT).
Thank you for your generosity in supporting the event.
St. Helen's College Pupils Feature In Steve McQueen Year 3 Exhibition
Steve McQueen Year 3 is a partnership between Tate, Artangel and A New Direction. Turner Prize-winning artist and Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen has this week unveiled one of the most ambitious visual portraits of citizenship ever undertaken in one of the world's largest cities. This epic portrait of the future of London captures thousands of local children in a milestone year in their development, and we are delighted that our current Year 4 classes are being featured as part of this piece of art, which includes 76,146 pupils from 1,504 London schools!
Over the past week, class photographs have been popping up on over 600 billboards across London's 33 boroughs as part of a city-wide outdoor exhibition, and the gallery exhibition is now open in the Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain, from 12 November 2019 to 03 May 2020.
We do hope that many of you will take the opportunity to visit this exhibition with your families and reflect on the citizens of the future and all that is being done by schools and families to prepare them for what lies ahead.
Christmas Cracker Concert Band
English Music Academy will be hosting a superb performance opportunity for young wind, brass and percussion players of Grade 3 - Grade 8 standard. They are inviting young musicians who are playing at this level to join them as part of their Christmas Cracker Concert Band on Friday 20th December at St. Peter's Church, Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill, London, W11 2PN. The day runs from 10.30 a.m. and pupils will rehearse seasonal popular music pieces during the day, showcasing their work in an evening performance at 6 p.m. in the church, which is free for parents, family and friends to attend. The music will include Let It Snow, Let It Snow, White Christmas and music from Frozen. The day costs £110 (with a £15 discount if you book before 22nd November) and the church is just a few minutes from Notting Hill underground station, with Portobello Market just around the corner. For more information and to book, please follow this link:
Our Year 6 netball players travelled to Langley Hall School this week for a friendly 7-a-side netball fixture. The team grew in confidence as the match progressed, retaining more possession and shooting with more success to win the match 13 - 7.
As we approach the mid-season break in the local schools' netball league, we are pleased to report that the St. Helen's College team are currently top of the table. League matches will resume in January.
On Saturday morning our football team took part in the annual Packham Cup Memorial Trophy. The team had three group matches, winning the first 3-0, the second 5-0 and the third with an impressive 1-0 victory over Hermitage. This meant that we finished top of the group. In the quarter final, we were drawn against Whitehall School and after extra time we were unfortunate to lose 1-0. This was an extremely tough draw for us as Whitehall went on to win the trophy. Mr. Dyson feels that, if the draw had been a bit kinder, we could well have been in the final ourselves. However, the team played superbly well, scoring many goals and should be very proud of themselves for strong performances on what was an extremely cold morning. Thank you to all of the parents for your ongoing loyal support. Team members were: Zail T, Patrick E, Joban K, Daniel G-J, Eli V-B, Harry J, Adam K.
At the halfway stage in the football league, we are currently sitting at the top of the division with four games left to play.
Children must not arrive unaccompanied at the school gates after 8.30 a.m. Registration takes place at 8.30 a.m. every day and it is important that your child arrives at school in good time to line up and go into registration without rushing. If you are unavoidably delayed and your child arrives after 8.30 a.m., then you MUST accompany your child to the school office and sign him/her in.
Posted on: 15/11/2019
Growing Initiative - Head's BlogThis week I have to admit that I jumped for joy, literally, when I heard the news that we have been shortlisted for the prestigious TES Independent School Awards in two categories: Student Initiative and Sport. We are incredibly modest about our achievements at St. Helen’s College and every week I pick up an educational journal only to read about what ‘initiatives’ other schools are discussing when often we have been doing many of these things for several years - e.g. P4C, Flipped Learning or Mindfulness. But this week I want to focus on the impact of what we do here at school with our pupils which enables them to show ‘initiative’.
Initiative is a self-management skill, and self-management is one of five key life and work skills for young people entering the workforce. Your children are nowhere near the age of entering the workforce but they are certainly proving that they are going to be an incredible workforce for the future!
‘Initiative’ is defined as 'the ability to assess and initiate things independently'.
There has been a plethora of activities recently in which we have seen our pupils stepping up to the mark, conceiving of and leading on some wonderful projects. The confidence, self belief and leadership qualities which the children possess are admirable and most definitely worthy celebrating. Our JRSO team and our Sports Leaders have been recognised by being shortlisted for the TES Awards, but it is true to say that pupils across the school are incredibly resourceful and enthusiastic in their self-led endeavours.
Examples of some of these activities are:
A Year 6 pupil designing an 'inside out sound box'. This is a very intricate project, which is worth a future blog in itself. The design and planning process is now complete and the build is in hand, so watch this space!
Year 6 boys setting up a ‘Times Tables Rockstars’ club. Inspired to improve their mental maths skills, this group of boys are eager to encourage other pupils form Year 4-6 to challenge and improve their mental agility too.
Year 5 girls running ‘Nature Club’, which has involved organising and sourcing resources and activities to bring joy to their peers through the exploration of nature.
Year 6 pupils holding maths clinics in the library at lunch and break times for younger pupils to have some peer tutoring in maths topics
Numerous charity fundraisers throughout the school; every class becomes involved in charity fundraising and all ideas are led by the pupils.
Another definition of ‘initiative’ is the power or opportunity to act or take charge before others do. Yet again we witness this on a daily basis at St. Helen’s College. Only yesterday at lunch, a Year 3 pupil told me that he would be applying for the position of Head Boy when he was in Year 6 as he has so many good ideas for me for the school and children! I shall not reveal his innovative ideas but I am sure this proactive young man will go places in the future. Even our youngest Ducklings were innovative in their thinking today as we discussed what to do with the toy cars in the garage which had missing wheels!
So, how can you support your young children at home to develop skills such as innovative thinking, problem solving and entrepreneurship? Below is a list of some tips recommended for toddlers and preschool children. If we can encourage our youngest pupils in this way, this will provide a great start to developing their confidence, self-belief and leadership qualities.
Praise your child’s efforts, not the result. “I know you worked hard to put the napkins on the table. Thank you.” “It took a lot of time to put all your toys away.”
When your child asks a question, if appropriate, respond with a question. “What do you think?”
When your child says, “I can’t do it,” instead of immediately helping, suggest other options depending upon the task. “Can you try doing it a different way?” “Tell me what you need to make it work.”
Allow your child to make decisions so he/she becomes comfortable doing so. Even a toddler can choose which clothes to wear when given options or between a cheese or ham sandwich. (This helps decrease frustration, too.)
Allow a little extra time so that your child can do things themselves, like putting on their shoes or coat, packing their bag or picking out a book to read in the car before you leave the house.
Provide opportunities for your child to have creative play – playing outdoors, playing with groups of other children in structured time, drawing, painting, making things or baking.
Avoid screen time! Time spent watching movies and playing video games decreases the need to be creative and take initiative.
And for us adults in the workplace! We all need to inspire the younger generation so here are a few tips for our further future success:
Never stand still.
Do more than is required of you.
Think as a team member, not an employee.
Speak up and share your ideas.
Consider every opportunity.
Always be prepared.
Regardless of the outcome at the TES Awards Ceremony in February next year, it is a huge testament to our school that we have been shortlisted for our achievements in the two categories. We need to remember that it is our staff and parents coming together to support the children in a safe and nurturing environment which enables our pupils to develop these most crucial skills which will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.
Posted on: 8/11/2019
Artificial Intelligence In The Classroom - Head's BlogI am writing my blog today (Sunday) in advance of returning to school after a wonderful half term break. Hopefully everyone is feeling as energised and as rested as I feel as we enter another busy and fruitful half term. I am on a school inspection this week, thus not in school Tuesday - Thursday, so taking the opportunity now to write the Friday blog! I would be most interested to hear parental views on this week’s topic.
I am sure that everyone is very aware of the momentum that AI is having in our society as systems become more automated in our daily lives. AI is something which we cannot ignore; we must embrace it and move with it as appropriate for our lifestyles. I am not convinced yet about the prospect of cashierless supermarkets (Tesco’s have already trialled this in one of their 'Express' stores), but I will watch with interest as Amazon Go plans and opens its first store in Oxford Circus.
So, how should we move with Artificial Intelligence in education? Could the teaching profession be threatened by AI - might we find robots in the classroom 30 years from now? Personally I do not think that this is a reality, but the benefit of using AI in education is that the technology can be used to personalise children’s learning as the work set is adapted according to data collected as the child moves through a task. This is known as adaptive learning.
The official definition of this is as follows: 'Adaptive learning is a technology-based or online educational system that analyses a student's performance in real time and modifies teaching methods based on that data. Think AI meets dedicated math tutor meets personalised engagement.'
Adaptive learning, also known as adaptive teaching, is an educational method which uses computer algorithms to orchestrate interaction with the learner and deliver customised resources and learning activities to address the unique needs of each learner.
There are many adaptive software learning apps available not only for children but also for adults. Mr. Crehan is already an avid user of a language app to assist him in his acquisition of Mandarin. This also inspired my use of Bussu to help me with my Spanish and there are numerous others on the market such as Duolingo or Babbel which are widely used by children and adults alike.
The UK unfortunately does seem to be quite behind in embedding AI as an integral part of a pupil’s learning in school. The US, India and China are way ahead of where we are and it will be very interesting to monitor the growth of AI in these countries and its impact. Whilst attending the IAPS Heads' Conference in September, I heard from the founder of CenturyTech - Priya Lakhani OBE. Priya’s company has established a successful adaptive learning platform for pupils in Key Stage 2 upwards in English, Maths and Science. Her presentation was inspiring and many UK based schools are now looking at how we may embrace AI further to enhance teaching and learning. At St. Helen’s College, our pupils use technology exceptionally well. They have excellent digital literacy and technology is used across the school in many curriculum areas. However, what more could we be doing?
Mr. Lewis and I are meeting with a CenturyTech representative for a demonstration of their learning platform tomorrow (Monday) and I am looking forward to hearing from their representative as to how this product may enhance the experiences and opportunities we offer your children.
If any parents have further insight or experience of AI in education - please do share! It is a very exciting and fast moving industry but should be approached with caution and with an awareness of who is developing the products and why. We do not wish to remove teachers from the classroom - adults still need to work with children to develop their soft skills and assist them in becoming creative independent individuals.
We need to prepare our children for the future but be well informed and confident that what we do offer them is right for them and us as a school.
You may enjoy reading this for further depth:
Posted on: 8/11/2019
Weekly News - Friday 8th November 2019Times Tables Rock Stars
The children at Upper School have been diligently practising their times tables this week ahead of National Numeracy week next week, when all children will be entered into the national Times Tables Rockstars competition. Prizes will be awarded to classes with maximum participation over the course of the week and we hope the children will all be able to participate.
There have been some changes in scores this week with Sean R (2H) becoming the fastest middle school player and Avantika G (2B) achieving the most improved player.
In Upper School there has been another fierce battle with Mohib F achieving a phenomenal 0.94 seconds per question and regaining his title as the fastest player in the school. Louis B (4T) is the most improved player in Upper School this week.
Keep up the good work!
Year 1 Trip to Roald Dahl Museum/Gallery
Our Year 1 children enjoyed a phiz-whizzing trip to the Roald Dahl museum/gallery on Thursday and have certainly been inspired to be even more creative in their creative writing work!
Nursery Trip to Playtrain
The Nursery children had a wonderful trip today to the Playtrain soft play centre and were very excited also to be getting on a coach at the beginning of their adventure!
Thank you to everyone who has supported the Poppy Appeal thus far. Children will be selling poppies on Monday morning in the playgrounds. We will be observing a two minute silence at 11 a.m. at Upper and Lower School and this year one of our Year 6 pupils will be playing The Last Post which he has been working hard to learn in his trumpet lessons.
Visiting Author - Anna Fargher
On Monday we will enjoy a visit from Anna Fargher, author of 'Umbrella Mouse', the winner of the 2019 Sainsbury's Book Prize for Fiction, who will speak to children in Years 3 - 6. Information has been sent separately to parents. This will be particularly poignant on Remembrance Day as 'Umbrella Mouse' is a timeless tale of courage, resistance and friendship, drawing on the true stories of animals caught in the conflict of World War 2. Anna will also be joining us for the Remembrance silence.
Children in Need
Next Friday (15th November) is national Children in Need Day and we will once again be supporting this worthy cause. We would like to invite children to come to school dressed in yellow or spots on Friday, for a donation to the charity (we suggest a minimum donation of £2). Raffle tickets are being sold at Upper School, Lower School and Ducklings so please do allow your children to bring in some money to buy raffle tickets if they would like to be in with a chance of winning Pudsey and Blush Bears.
At Upper School, Jena J will be running a 'Guess the number of sweets in a jar' competition to raise money for Children in Need. This activity will start on Tuesday in the gazebo every morning from 8 a.m. and will cost £1 a go.
Thank you in advance for your generous support for this charity initiative.
On Wednesday our football team had their fifth match of the season against Highfield School, winning 7-1. Highfield weren't the strongest of opposition but the team were able to work on developing their skills, tactics and teamwork. Adam K scored his first goals of the season, netting 4 - quite an achievement for a Year 4 pupil - and Eli scored 2 and Harry 1. Hopefully we can take this form into the Packham Cup this Saturday and progress through the competition. Team members were: Zail T, Patrick E, Joban K, Reece G, Daniel G-J, Eli V-B, Harry J, Jack H and Adam K. Well done to all involved!
The Year 5 and 6 girls' football team were also in action on Wednesday, travelling to Denham United Ladies FC to take part in a tournament of sixteen local schools. Some of the girls were playing competitive football for the first time but they showed great skill and tenacity to win the group with one goalless draw and two victories. Rhea A-V captained the team, leading by example with two winning goals to help the team through to the semi finals. Unfortunately, they lost a competitive semi final against an excellent team but the whole squad can be very proud of an excellent performance. Congratulations, girls!