School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 12/10/2018
Weekly News - Friday 12th October 2018It has been an incredibly successful and busy half term as ever at St. Helen's College and I wish you all a restful half term break and look forward to seeing all the children back at the end of October in their winter uniforms.
Lower School Update
We are delighted with the new Reception and Nursery classrooms and the children have well and truly made them their new homes in the last five weeks! I am sure that you all enjoyed having the opportunity visiting the classrooms during parents' evenings. Over the half term break our contractors will be completing the snagging list and moving the last of their equipment off site. Our new storage areas have now also been completed and the playground areas requiring attention will be re-tarred which will mean that the children will have full access to the playground after half term. We had hoped that we may also be able to repaint the playground but this may need to wait until a future date. The area of ground outside the Nursery classroom which has some artificial grass laid on it at present is being prepared for a permeable surface which we hope to have completed as soon as is feasible.
Lower School Parents' Evening
It has been wonderful to see so many parents over the past week or so at the recent Lower School parents' evening and to hear how happy and settled all the children are in their new classes. We have such a supportive parent body and it is with us all working together that your children will flourish best. Thank you for all the positive feedback.
Lower School Harvest Festival Assemblies
Wow! Well done to the children of Nursery, Reception and Year 1, who presented such confident and interesting Harvest assemblies this week. Thank you so much for all of the contributions which overwhelmed the Salvation Army and our local community will hugely benefit from your donations.
Zail in Year 4 led assembly on Wednesday enriching the learning of pupils from Years 4, 5 and 6 and staff with his wonderful experiences from his five week adventure to South America. It was clearly an experience that he will never forget and he most certainly is an ambassador for the South American tourist board! You can view his presentation here.
We were treated to a super assembly from 4KT this morning as they reminded us of the importance of 'co-operation' in their acting, recital and singing. Tremendous teamwork and co-operation from all - well done!
The School Bus service, running from Ruislip through Ickenham to school, will now be available for all children from Nursery through to Year 6. Parents of Nursery children should discuss with their form teacher (Miss Carmichael or Mrs. Mann) before booking their child onto the bus. Bookings are open for the second half of term and places should be booked through the SchoolsBuddy system.
We still have some spaces available in our new Coding Club, available to children in Years 5 and 6. We have slightly amended the timing of the club so that Year 5 children may attend after swimming. The club takes place after school on a Friday from 4.00 to 5.00 p.m. The children have heard all about coding in assembly this week and we hope that they have been inspired to learn more about coding, which is such an important skill in the world today. If you would like your child to join Coding Club for the six weeks of the second half of term, please email email@example.com. Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis and, once your place is confirmed, you will be asked to make payment in advance via SchoolsBuddy.
Cross Country Champion!
On Monday our girls' cross country team took part in the Hillingdon Borough cross country finals at Belmore Academy School. Over 70 girls who had qualified from across the Borough took part on a relatively flat course and the pace was fast. After the initial crowded start, it was Zoe K from Year 6 who lead from the front and held off a spirited challenge from a St. Bernadette's runner to stretch her lead over the latter part of the course, taking the title in style. The rest of our team, Chiara L, Hebe E, Rhea A-V, Jada P and Chloe W did very well too, helping the team to finish in 4th place overall. Zoe has now been invited to represent Hillingdon at the London Youth Games mini marathon in November at Parliament Hill. Congratulations to all of the girls and to Zoe in particular.
It has been a busy week for the Year 6 netball team. On Wednesday they took part in a friendly 7-a-side netball tournament at St. Mary's School. Six teams from five schools took part, including independent schools Heatherton House, St. Helen's School and St. Mary's. Our team played very well, showing a confident understanding of the game and solid tactical awareness. The team won 3 matches and lost and drew the other matches to finish in 3rd place.
The following day it was a league match and the format was Hi Five netball, the 5-a-side version of the game. Our opponents were local rivals Highfield School. The team dominated the play against a less experienced team to get their season off to a flying start winning 14 - 0. Well done to all the Year 6 girls who played this week: Hebe E, Rhea Sa, Zoe K, Wenru D, Mya S, Georgia M, Tamara A, Eshar S, Ionie M, Aaria K and Jada P.
Our Year 3/4 football players showed great individual ability in their match against ACS this week. St. Helen's College won the game 4-0, with every player making a good contribution. The two players of the match were Louis B (Y3), who scored 2 goals, and Adam O (Y4). The other goals were scored by Joban K and Adam K. We will now be looking to build on the strong individual performances and develop our teamwork over the coming weeks. Well done to all of the boys who played.
The Year 5/6 football team had a difficult week, losing 3-0 in both the league and cup games this week to St. Catherine's. St. Catherine’s have a very strong team and look set to do well this season, so these matches were great learning opportunities for the team. The boys should be commended for the resilience and sportsmanship they showed during these two tough games.
Uxbridge Junior Chess Club
If your child enjoys chess, then he or she might be interested in joining the Uxbridge Junior Chess Club, which is run by one of our parents, Mr. Knight. Sessions for new and experienced players aged 6-15 years are run on Wednesday evenings from 6 - 7.30 p.m. at the Ivy Leaf Club, 8 Wellington Road, Uxbridge, UB8 2AP. You can find full details at www.uxbridgejuniorchessclub.com. Your first session is free so why not go along and try it out.
Hillingdon Fire Station Open Day
There is an Open Day on Friday October 26th at Hillingdon Fire Station, between the hours of 12 p.m. - 5 p.m. This has been a great success in recent years and we would encourage you to take your children along if you have a free day. There will be a wide range of activities on the day such as giving the children a chance to get on board a fire truck, try on the gear and squirt some water at targets from the hoses. Children will gain an insight into what the Fire Brigade do on a daily basis through live fire safety demonstrations and there will be free fire safety advice. There will be a number of different fire trucks there on the day, all with special abilities. There will also be a variety of food stalls, including an ice cream van, and children will have a chance to meet Sherlock, the special fire investigation dog, as well as other guide dogs. There will even be a petting zoo! If you would like to take your bike along on the day, you can get it stamped for free by the police in order to help protect against theft.
Posted on: 5/10/2018
Reflections on the Heads' Conference - Head's BlogLast week I had the privilege of joining with 400 other Independent School Heads from all over the UK and overseas at the annual Head’s Conference. I spent three full days listening to interesting and thought-provoking speakers and having the opportunity to network with fellow Heads to discuss and share our expertise and experiences.
I must admit that on several occasions I did sit back and smile (I hope not too smugly) as some of the speakers highlighted key aspects for improving the education of young people and I reflected that, at St. Helen's College, we are already doing these things very well...
Harriet Marshall - Building a sustainable future and global citizenship for our children by promoting the United Nations Global Goals. This is our third year in supporting this at school and only on Tuesday of last week we revisited this with the launch of ‘The World’s Greatest Lesson’ in Upper School assembly.
Dr. Ruth Graham - Discussing future engineers in our school and promoting STEAM. Didn’t we just have our STEAM Day two weeks ago!
Julie Robinson - The importance of partnerships between the independent sector and state schools. We have numerous partnerships already in place, not only for pupils' benefit but also for staff professional development.
Chris Jeffrey - Developing and embedding a culture of wellbeing through mindfulness, positive psychology, time to talk, starting with the why and being human first…. Chris was 'preaching to the converted' here - in fact, we were one of the first schools to introduce these tools for ensuring the wellbeing of our children.
Lucy Crehan (yes, Mr. and Mrs. Crehan’s daughter Lucy was one of our keynote closing speakers!) - Discussing her book Cleverlands, Lucy looked at what the top performing schools around the world are doing and how this could impact our practice, including removing setting from subjects, deploying resources effectively and less one to one support which has very little evidential impact from research. At St. Helen's College, we began to implement these recommendations very early indeed and are constantly reviewing the effectiveness of educational techniques such as setting and support.
One speaker whose wisdom inspired humility and awe was Lord Dr. Michael Hastings of Scarisbrick, CBE.
He discussed the AI revolution and being ready for 2030. In his presentation he made reference to the World Economic Forum report and the vital skills which will be most desired by employers by 2020. These were listed as:
Coordinating with others.
Judgement and decision making.
Cognitive flexibility. This involves creativity, logical reasoning, and problem sensitivity.
I do believe that our curriculum and the opportunities pupils have here at St. Helen’s College are ticking every one of these skills! In the full report it discusses the skills which will be required but also those which will be in rapid decline. Emotional intelligence will be one of the top skills required, with active listening almost disappearing. ‘Robots may help us to get somewhere faster….but they cannot be more creative than we are’.
The CIA in the USA recently posted an advert in the Economist. The job spec stipulated: intellectual, curious adventurers. No work background was specified.
I am sure you can see where I am coming from…..your children are the future, so let’s keep supporting them in developing the correct skills through our academic and holistic curriculum to enable them to be ready for their futures.
I am signposting you to a Ted Talk by Lord Hastings..’The Empowerment of Purpose’.
Posted on: 5/10/2018
Weekly News - Friday 5th OctoberWe are delighted to announce that St. Helen's College has been shortlisted for the Independent School Parent Magazine Awards for Independent School of the Year 2018. This nomination is a particularly pleasing one, since it recognises pupil experience. A core belief at St. Helen's College is that children learn best when they feel happy, secure and loved, so we are delighted that we have been shortlisted as one of the best independent schools for pupil experience!
Breast Cancer Now
I am so proud of one of our Year 6 pupils, Amar, who delivered a very poignant and informative assembly to Year 4-Year 6 this week. I am sure many of you read the Head's Blog last Friday - this young man really has helped a lot of children to talk both amongst themselves and with adults on a very important topic. Please do take the time to watch the presentation here: https://youtu.be/WjIXuWK23N4
Thank you to all the Upper School pupils and parents for attending the service on Tuesday and for all the most generous donations. The Salvation Army were overwhelmed by your generosity. I am sure you will agree that the pupils gave us the most delightful harvest service with song, poetry and prayer. Well done to everyone!
Our Lower School Harvest Assemblies will be taking place on Monday 8th (Nursery), Tuesday 9th (Reception) and Wednesday 10th (Year 1). Each assembly will begin at 8.45 a.m. and parents are warmly invited to watch children perform. The Infant Choir will perform after the Reception assembly and again after the Year 1 assembly.
Many thanks to those of you who attended Prizegiving last night, either as parents of prize winners or as parents of Chamber Choir children. As ever, it was a magical event at which we celebrated the academic, sporting, musical and dramatic achievements of our prize winners, as well as their personal qualities and contributions to the school. Our Guest of Honour, Jonny Taylor from Merchant Taylors' School, inspired the audience with his entertaining and thought-provoking speech and did a wonderful job of handing out the prizes.
Lower School Parents' Evening
It has been wonderful to meet with so many of our parents in Nursery, Reception and Year 1 this week at the recent parents' evening. It is heartwarming to hear from you all how well your children are settling into a new year group and enjoying the new academic year. Please do remember that if you would like to speak to the teachers for longer then you can make an appointment directly with your teachers.
The District Cross Country event took place on Thursday evening and St. Helen's College children gave a very good account of themselves. There were over 100 runners in both the boys' and girls' races, so the competition was tough. However, Zoe K was crowned the Borough Champion for the girls, finishing in 1st place, Chiara L finished in 8th place and our girls' team finished as bronze medallists. Very well done to the girls: Zoe K, Chiara L, Hebe E, Jada P, Chloe W and Rhea A-V. All of these girls have qualified for the Borough Finals on Monday. Our boys' team finished in 10th place, with Alex C the best placed individual in 24th place overall.
Last week, our football team got their competitive season off to an impressive start, beating Highfield 4-0 even though the team has not yet had much time together. Very well done to Harrison J, who scored all four goals! This week, the team lost 1-0 on Wednesday to St. Bernadette’s. The team played well and were unlucky not to get a draw on this occasion.
Half Term Holiday Club - Bookings Now Open On SchoolsBuddy
Bookings are now open for Holiday Club which will be running throughout the half term, with optional Breakfast Club each day. Please make your bookings through your SchoolsBuddy account as soon as possible, and by next Friday (12th October) at the latest. Places are allocated on a first come, first served basis. A day session runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and this includes a cooked lunch and afternoon tea. Tea will be served at the earlier time of 3.30 p.m. so that, if parents are collecting children early, they will still be able to have tea. The optional Breakfast Club sessions run from 7.30 a.m.
Please note that you may pay by card or select 'voucher payment' which tells us that you are paying by Childcare Voucher or Tax Free Childcare Account. If you would like to pay for some sessions using card, and for some sessions using voucher payment, then you will need to make separate bookings for these - for example, book Monday/Tuesday sessions and pay by card, then book Wednesday/Thursday/Friday sessions and pay by childcare voucher. We hope that you will find the new online booking and payment system easy to use but if you experience any difficulties, please do contact the school office who will be pleased to help.
School Bus and Breakfast Club Bookings Now Open Via SchoolsBuddy
Bookings for the morning bus service and Breakfast Club for the second half of term are also now live on SchoolsBuddy. Please note that, even if you have been a regular user of these services before, you must now book and pay online on SchoolsBuddy to secure your places going forward.
When you log in to your SchoolsBuddy account, go to the Bookings tab and book the services/sessions you require.
For Breakfast Club, you may pay by card or select 'voucher payment' which tells us that you are paying by Childcare Voucher or Tax Free Childcare Account. If you would like to pay for some Breakfast Club sessions using card, and for some Breakfast Club sessions using voucher payment, then you will need to make separate bookings for these - for example, book Monday/Tuesday sessions and pay by card, then book Wednesday/Thursday/Friday sessions and pay by childcare voucher. We hope that you will find the new online and payment system easy to use but if you experience any difficulties, please do contact the school office who will be pleased to help.
Childcare Vouchers/Tax Free Childcare Account payments may not be used for School Bus bookings, since by its nature this 'extended care' does not happen on the school premises.
Please may we request that, when parents are crossing the Upper School Playground, you use the pathway around the outside of the playground instead of cutting across the playground. If you are waiting for Upper School children to be dismissed and have come across from Lower School please may we ask that you wait on Parkway - this alleviates congestion outside the school office.
Parents are reminded to supervise younger pupils at the Upper School entrance and to be particularly vigilant of the car park areas and the gardens which are cared for so well by Mr. Rizzo.