School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 16/10/2020
Weekly News - Friday 16th October 2020Romans Everywhere!
Well done to Class 3B, who presented a very interesting, informative and well-rehearsed assembly today all about Romans. Through a well-delivered script and performance, they taught us about Roman history: the life of a Roman soldier, the invasion of Britain and battles between Romans and Celts. We heard the stories of Caratacus, whose bravery was recognised by both Celts and Romans, and of Boudicca, including an explanation of why she is also known as Boadicea and why we shouldn't always trust what is written in the history books. There was plenty of humour, too - we learnt that Hadrian's Wall is not at the end of Hadrian's garden and that the saying 'Rome wasn't built in a day' doesn't mean that Rome was built at night time! 3B also presented a fantastic song about the Romans and led us in our assembly prayer. Very well done, 3B!
You can watch the video of their assembly here.
Music: Year 4's Body Percussion Sequences
Year 4 have been working very creatively in their music lessons this week. They have taken inspiration from sounds found in their own names to compose a body percussion sequence. You can see the videos here: 4L and 4T.
Water Pipe Challenge
Our Year 5 pupils got some hands on engineering experience in their geography lessons last week when they took part in the Water Pipe Challenge.
The challenge was to use what they had learnt about water infrastructure in lessons to construct a pipe system to transport one litre of water over a distance of three metres.
It was a wonderful opportunity for some outdoor learning and collaboration in teams to come up with designs which were successful and had no leaks!
This week Year 5 took part in more outdoor learning, with a 'water walk' during which they surveyed the Upper School site to investigate how water is used on site and where water might be used more efficiently. They even read the school water meter!
Junior Road Safety Officers
Our Year 6 Junior Road Safety Officers presented a wonderful assembly on Wednesday, entitled 'Be Bright Be Seen'. Their message was all about being safe pedestrians when the clocks change at the end of October and the darker mornings and evenings arrive. They shared a lovely story about how celebrations at this time of year such as Halloween, Diwali and Bonfire Night are a great time to be with friends and how we can be seen in the dark at these celebrations. Please see copies of the presentation and story in these links.
The JRSOs also told the children in Years 2-6 about a half term 'Be Bright Be Seen' competition in which they are invited to take part. The challenge is to design their own fluorescent or reflective piece of clothing or a fluorescent or reflective school bag. The closing date for entries is Tuesday 3rd November. Information about the competition can be seen here. We hope lots of the children at Upper School will take part and we will have a wonderful display of designer outfits when we come back to school after half term.
Inter House Sports Competition
Children in Years 3 - 6 took part in the inter house sports competition this week in their games lessons. Games and competitions were set up in netball, football, hockey and tag rugby sessions for the children and they all thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to play for their houses. Results were as follows.
4L Hockey - winners were Windsor
4T Netball - it was a draw
3M Football - winners were Cambria
3B Tag Rugby - winners were Cambria
5A Football - it was a draw
5G Netball - winners were Windsor
6M Hockey - winners were Windsor
6R Tag rugby - winners were Windsor
So Windsor lead the inter house sports competition after round 1. More inter house matches will be played next half term.
RHS Secret Garden Competition
RHS Campaign for School Gardening, in partnership with the Sky Film release of ‘The Secret Garden’, would like you to be inspired and join a competition! If you are a budding gardener and a keen artist, you can find yourself in a ‘secret garden’ of your own design! What would be in your dream garden? Why would it be special? Combine your knowledge and enjoyment of gardens with your artistic flair to come up with a drawing, a painting, a collage or a miniature model of your very own secret garden. If you would like to talk about your design or need help, please see Mrs. Pruce or Ms Gilham. Enjoy designing over the half term! All entries must be made by 19th November and children may submit their designs themselves or bring them to Mrs. Pruce or Ms Gilham, who will arrange to submit them directly from school.
All information can be found from the link below: https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/getmedia/6a85a4e8-9048-41eb-8d85-7d28fe562a17/RHS_Secret_Garden_A4_Childrens_Booklet-(web)
We hope the children have lots of fun imagining and creating their secret gardens!
Upper School Parents' Evenings - Bookings Now Open
Upper School parents' evenings will take place when we return from the half term break, on the following days:
Tuesday 3rd November (4.00 - 7.00 p.m.)
Thursday 12th November (5.00 - 8.00 p.m.)
We will be holding the appointments online, using the video conference function of our usual Parents' Evening booking system. To book your appointment(s), please use the following link. Bookings will be available from 4 p.m. on Friday (16th October).
We look forward to seeing many parents across the two evenings.
PA Forum Meeting and Class Rep Vacancy
The next PA Forum meeting will take place on Tuesday 17th November at 7.00 p.m. and will be held remotely using Google Meet. If you have any points that you would like to raise for discussion, please do share these with your class rep as soon as possible. Class representatives should send any points for discussion to Mrs. Smith by Friday 13th November at the latest please, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The PA have a vacancy for a class rep for Kingfishers class. If any parent in Kingfishers would like to become the class rep, please contact the PA at email@example.com.
Our pupil charity representatives have been meeting to discuss fundraising for the Autumn term and we will, as usual, be taking part in two nationwide initiatives: Children in Need and the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. Parents are often very generous when it comes to charity giving, and we know that many of you will wish to donate. This year, we are unable to accept cash donations in school but we have set up two JustGiving fundraising pages so that we can fundraise as a community - the links are in the relevant sections below. Some of our charity representatives have written these short pieces to introduce our fundraising for this term.
Children in Need - Friday 13th November
On Friday 13th November, children may come to school in their own clothes. The theme is Fluorescent and Reflective, so the children may like to wear something fluorescent, or perhaps to add funky fluorescent and reflective spots and stripes to their outfits.
This theme will link with our Road safety for Be Safe, Be Seen.
Families are asked to make their donations (suggested £2 minimum donation, but all donations gratefully accepted) online via this link:
The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal
This is a charity which helps raise awareness for the soldiers who unfortunately died during their work for our country during the war. It also raises money for the army and soldiers who have retired and are looking for career advice.
The war ended at 11.00 a.m. on the 11th day of the month of November (the eleventh month of the year). So that’s why on 11th November at 11.00 a.m. our school will have a 2 minute silence, during which we remember those who have died fighting courageously. Also we salute those who are thankfully still alive all because of their perseverance in World War II.
St. Helen's College cares about the soldiers too. This is why we are asking that you donate to this cause - even a really small amount is appreciated. You can donate by following this link:
This year poppies will NOT be on sale at school, but you can still bring your own poppies from home. So please on 11th November, when we stand and are silent, think about all those soldiers who risked their lives and think about all the nurses as well, some died too. Luckily, a lot of those soldiers are alive and we thank them for their bravery for England!
Just think about it, if these courageous soldiers had not existed then our country would most likely be in peril right now! So this will be our day to reflect on the selfless soldiers who went out of their way to help us become a better country!
(by Reece and James)
Early Years Virtual Open Morning
If you have a son or daughter who will be eligible for Ducklings or Nursery entry next September or subsequently, or if you have friends and family members who fall into this category, then you may be interested in our upcoming Early Years Open Morning. This will take place, online, on the morning of Friday 6th November. Mrs. Drummond, Mrs. Hunt and Mrs. Smith will all be available on the morning to present a virtual tour of our Early Years environment/provision and to answer questions about the application and entry procedures.
You can register for this event here, or by following the link on the homepage of the school website. Please do share this link and make sure your friends and family are aware of the event, so that they do not miss out on the opportunity to join us.
If you have a child born after 1st September 2017 and you have not yet registered him or her for entry at the school, please do so at your earliest convenience. The entry process for next year's Ducklings Kindergarten and Nursery intake is beginning now and all children, including siblings, must be registered in good time!
Today we said goodbye to two members of staff who will be greatly missed at St. Helen's College.
Mrs. Harker, one of our Lower School Teaching and Learning Assistants, is leaving us after eighteen years to move further away to a village near Preston and spend time with her family. She will be very sadly missed by all. The Lower School staff gave Mrs. Harker a wonderful send off today which was accompanied by a thoughtful and memorable 'So Long, Farewell' video featuring all members of the staff.
Mr. Barnard, one of our Premises team, has decided to make the move down to the West Country to join his daughter Mrs. Haar, who many will remember from her time with us at St. Helen's College! Mr. Barnard has been with us for two and a half years, driving the school minibus, working at Breakfast Club and assisting the Premises team with the upkeep and development of the school estates. We thank him for his work and wish him all the very best for his new life in Devon!
Posted on: 16/10/2020
What's All The Fuss About?
On 9 October, the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2020 was announced, recognising the outstanding achievements of people from across the United Kingdom. On this year’s list were 133 individuals who have been recognised for their services to education during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. These include teachers, head teachers and principals who have gone above and beyond to provide education to young people.
One Head who has very deservedly been recognised is Katharine Birbalsingh. Katharine is the Head and founder of the Michaela Community School, an 11–18 mixed, free secondary school and sixth form in Wembley, established in September 2014. I have followed the work of the school and Katherine’s social media presence over the years and sadly Katharine has, on several occasions, had to defend what she and her staff do at Michaela to inspire the pupils to be their best. I have always stood back and refrained from judgement; I feel that much of what her school stands for reflects what any good school should be doing.
For example, her school has a stringent behaviour policy which the pupils are expected to fulfil, the school has “family lunches” where staff sit with the pupils and the children are expected to make conversation, use their cutlery correctly, pour drinks, and clear their guests’ plates. The school asks children to walk on a particular side of the corridor when passing each other; the school asks children not to ‘loiter’ between lessons, arriving promptly for their next lesson, and the pupils are asked to memorise poetry by heart and recite it back.
Over the years of reading about Michaela and watching Katherine being interviewed I have reflected on life at St. Helen’s College. Many of the Michaela Community School routines and expected behaviours resonate so closely to what we expect of our children here at St. Helen’s College! So what is all the fuss about it being branded ‘Britain’s Strictest School’?
Our Ducklings may only be 2 years old but, with encouragement, they tidy up their toys, they sit beautifully at snack and lunch around their tables, they say please and thank you and they recite a little prayer and song of thanks for the food they receive.
Our Nursery pupils learn poems off by heart and recite these to their peers and parents in a special poetry assembly - the beginnings of our annual speech recitation event which, as you know, continues throughout the school.
Pupils at Lower School and Upper School walk calmly along corridors, with the Upper School children knowing that they stick to the left hand side on the stairs. At both Lower and Upper School the children understand the behaviour expected of them and the children sign a classroom pledge together to state that they will uphold the standards expected from them. Those who find it difficult to uphold these behaviours are supported appropriately and there may be the occasion for further actions if required. Ultimately, the children know that behaviour routines are based on our mantra of ‘Ready, Respectful, Safe’ and, as a school, we have taken the best aspects from UK behaviour specialist Paul Dix and embedded them into our daily routines with the children.
I truly believe that children enjoy structure and routines and they need consistency, but most importantly they need to feel safe and loved. I take my hat off to how the staff at Michaela Community School have weathered the social media storm over their routines and how the school is run - but I say keep up the great work!
I feel so blessed to have the most amazing staff here at St. Helen’s College and this half term has been a testament to their stamina and professionalism as they are back doing what comes naturally to them all - bringing out the best in your children. I also feel blessed to have the parent body we have! You are truly invested in St. Helen’s College and what we do TOGETHER brings out the best in your children!
Have a wonderful half term break with your children and do speak with them about the activities and lessons they have engaged with this half term but also discuss some of the routines which we have at school - I am sure that you will agree that your children - ‘our’ children - are not in the ‘strictest’ school, but that they feel loved, safe and are thriving in a school environment which has good solid routines and boundaries. And that is a good thing!
I leave you with an interesting article written back in 2016 by ResearchED’s Tom Bennett and his impressions of Michaela Community School some years ago in the early days - I would love to hear your impressions!
Posted on: 9/10/2020
Weekly News - Friday 9th October 2020Prizegiving
It was super to see the children who left Year 6 this summer on Thursday evening, as we held our annual Year 7 Prizegiving event. This year we held the event online and were pleased that proceedings were able to run in the same way as usual, albeit virtually! As well as the presentation of the prizes, we enjoyed some pre-recorded music from the Chamber Choir and a thought-provoking story from Lucy Crehan, Educational Advisor to our Board of Governors, who inspired us all by asking one simple question: 'Why not?'. Mr. Crehan was quite right when, in his closing remarks, he commented on the potential that all of our children have to ask 'Why not?' and carve out their own path in life. Well done also to our new Head Girl, Jena, and Head Boy, Zail, who gave a confident and meaningful vote of thanks - a great start to their tenure!
It was delightful to see our Year 6 leavers in their new school uniforms and we are very proud of how they have all begun their senior school journeys. We congratulate them on their well-deserved prizes and wish them all the very best for the forthcoming academic year, during which we know they will use their well-established St. Helen's College values and work ethic to underpin further success.
On Wednesday we held a special Prizegiving assembly here at school, at which the form prizewinners from last year's Year 3, 4 and 5 were recognised. In every class, one child was awarded the Excellence prize, one child received an Effort prize, and two children received special prizes to recognise individual contributions and achievements. Mrs. Drummond presented children with their certificates and book tokens and every child recognised should feel very proud of themselves.
Artist of the Week
Each week, Mrs. Pruce chooses a child who has made a particular contribution to art lessons and recognises them with an 'Artist of the Week' certificate. However, this week, the standard of commitment and work has been incredible, making it difficult for her to choose. This week, therefore, the award goes to a whole class, 3M, for their wonderful still life studies. Well done, 3M!
It has been very exciting over the last couple of weeks to see our Year 5 and 6 children with their new ukeleles. They have been learning how to tune their own ukeleles, learning notation and composing their own pieces of music. We look forward to our first performances in due course.
Head Boy/Head Girl team
Mrs Drummond touched base with Jena and Zail this week to see how they were settling into their new roles thus far having already had two opportunities to speak on behalf of the school in public. Jena said, 'it feels good to represent the school and have a positive impact on the other children',while Zail noted, 'it's great to have more responsibilities and to be a role model to others'.
We are feeling exceptionally proud of all of our pupils this term; they have settled well into new routines and all have embraced being back together again.
Pupils from Year 2 - Year 6 participated in the Mindfulness in Schools Project 'Sit Together' today and managed to remain focussed for the full 6 minutes - quite a testament to our pupils at the end of a very busy week. They have all received a certificate in recognition of sitting together and I would recommend that you read this week's Head's Blog which has a link to an interesting article for you to enjoy.
Lower School Parents' Evenings
Thank you to all of the Nursery, Reception and Year 1 parents who attended our first ever video parent consultations this week. The new technology worked well and the evening ran very smoothly. The second evening will take place on Thursday 15th October from 5.00 to 8.00 p.m.
Mrs. Rooney and Mrs. Rumney Run!
Huge congratulations to Mrs. Rooney, who braved the wind and rain on Sunday morning to complete her second London Marathon, this one virtual!
Having only signed up six weeks ago, she was extremely pleased to gain a personal best of 5 hrs 11.
Mrs. Rooney tells us that running around the streets of Hillingdon, Ickenham and Ruislip gave her time to think about people that inspire her.
Mrs. Rumney also spent Sunday morning running, as she ran 15 miles alongside a friend who was running the virtual London Marathon in Oxford. Her friend, the Head of a school in Oxford, was accompanied by various friends and family throughout different sections of the 'race' and Mrs. Rumney ran further than a half marathon herself!
As with so many things during the current pandemic, this adapted way of running required extra determination and resilience as there were no crowds and no finish line to spur runners on. Well done indeed, Mrs. Rooney and Mrs. Rumney - you are an inspiration to us all!
Posted on: 9/10/2020
Does It Matter?For those of you interested in Mindfulness, I am linking below a super article which has recently been written by Claire Kelly, the Director of Curricula and Training at the Mindfulness in Schools Project.
The article resonated with me, since we frequently hear the notion of Mindfulness or the word ‘mindful’ bandied around, but it is often misunderstood.
I am delighted that, at St. Helen’s College, our children are increasingly becoming more aware of what exactly Mindfulness is and is not. Today in assembly the children were led through a Mindfulness practice by one of the MiSP (Mindfulness in Schools Project) experts, Niamh. They were encouraged to notice what was going on in their body, in their mind, and eventually to bring attention to their breath.
What the pupils participated in may have been really challenging for some of them. Do ask them about the experience which they had in assembly today and ask if they will strive to take time to pay attention to their breath at least once a week.
The number of St. Helen’s College staff who have participated in training to spread our mindfulness education around the school is also increasing; we now have Mrs. Crehan, myself, Mrs. McLaughlin, Mrs. Hunt and Mr. Roche, with more staff showing an interest in taking the next steps to becoming a qualified Mindfulness teacher.
I will leave you with this quote from Jon Kabat Zin, a Mindfulness Master, as he explains what Mindfulness is...
“… a way of being in wise and purposeful relationship with one’s experience both inwardly and outwardly. It is cultivated by systematically exercising one’s capacity for paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally, and by learning to inhabit and make use of the clarity, discernment, ethical understanding, and awareness that arises from tapping into one’s own deep and innate interior resources for learning, growing, healing and transformation, available to us across the lifespan by virtue of being human.”
Please do read the article. Namaste.
Posted on: 2/10/2020
Weekly News - Friday 2nd October 2020Harvest Assembly
Thank you to our Year 5 pupils who today reminded us of the significance of Harvest Festival, performing a remote assembly with an important message. Sadly we are not accepting physical donations for Harvest this year, but we know that many parents, pupils and staff would like to make a donation as usual. Hillingdon has a website for Food Banks which highlights where to donate food and when:
It was wonderful to have the re-launch of Chamber Choir today, with our Year 6 pupils singing in their separate bubble groups.
Covid-19 restrictions mean that we will not be able to hold our normal Prizegiving this year but our Year 6 leavers, now Year 7, will be joining us remotely next Thursday for a celebration of their St. Helen's College achievements. Next week in assembly there will be additional commendations presented to our Year 4 - Year 6 pupils for their achievements during the last academic year.
After 18 committed years at St. Helen's College, Mrs. Harker, one of our Lower School Teaching and Learning Assistants, will be leaving us at the end of this half term. Mrs. Harker has worked with so many children over the years and will be greatly missed. We wish her well as she relocates to Chipping, near Preston.
Miss Eaver will also be leaving at Christmas as she relocates to Dorset to be with her family. Miss Eaver has worked in Nursery and Funtasia for the past 5 years.
Mr. Barnard, who has worked with us for the past 2 years as part of the maintenance team, is also relocating to Devon to be with his family and his last day with us will be Friday 16th October.
We are delighted to welcome some new staff to the team.
Mrs. Chesworth has joined us working in Reception (Kingfishers) in the absence of Mrs. Neri.
Miss Freegard will replace Mrs. Harker in 1C from 2nd November.
We were absolutely delighted to hear of the wonderful news of a new arrival, baby Thomas, who is the first grandson for Soula and her family. Congratulations Soula!
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation we have taken the decision not to run any co-curricular clubs this term, as our priority must be the safety and wellbeing of the children. There are, however, still many opportunities to try new activities and learn new skills outside of school. We would encourage our parents to look at some of the suggested activities and links below, many of which are from our existing club leaders, for online or socially distanced activities outside of school hours.
Computer Xplorers Middlesex, who provide our Minecraft Club, are offering St. Helen's College pupils the opportunity to join a remote online Game Design Club in October. Information can be found here.
Mr. Foale, our chess coach, has forwarded information about the online Delancey Chess Challenge and online Weekly Chess Activities.
Mr. Stidder, our school tennis coach, has provided information about tennis activities happening locally in Hayes and Ickenham. You can find Tripletts Community Tennis Centre term time information and half term information here.
Wayfarers Tennis Club term time information is here and half term information is here.
Other clubs which might be of interest include Mother Nature online science clubs.
Club Hub provides many links to a variety of online clubs and activities currently being offered in the London region too.
We would really encourage our children to keep trying new things and to develop their skills as much as they can, even during these challenging times.
We encourage children to wear watches to school, to support them in learning to tell the time correctly. However, please note that Fitbits or similar devices are not permitted. Children seen wearing these devices will be asked to remove them.
If you have not yet completed the ISC (Independent Schools Council) Coronavirus survey, we would encourage you to do so. Please simply follow the link below and answer the questions - this information is being collected from all ISC member schools.
Posted on: 2/10/2020
Mrs. Sal Cheema
On Tuesday this week, our community came together as staff and parents paid tribute to Mrs. Sal Cheema, who made her final journey from Parkway surrounded by family and friends. Mrs. Cheema very sadly passed away last week, having lived with cancer for many years. She and her family have been members of the St. Helen’s College community since their oldest son Suraj joined us back in September 2008, with their youngest son Amar joining the school a few years later in September 2011.
Mrs. Cheema was one of the most inspirational women I have ever met and I know that everyone who knew her has been touched by her courage and selflessness over the years. She embraced every day to ensure that her boys were happy and she and Mr. Cheema are such amazing role models to us all in how to live alongside cancer and not allow a disease to take over one’s life.
Back in September 2018, Mr. and Mrs. Cheema joined with five other couples to work alongside the national Breast Cancer Now campaign and they raised awareness through sponsorship with Marks and Spencer, appearing on posters in store and nationwide via social media. Amar, then in Year 5, delivered the most heartwarming assembly to the Upper School children about his experience of his family living with cancer. The sense of pride he showed that day in assembly as his mum filmed him from the side of the hall will never be forgotten.
Mrs. Cheema also started to blog about her life online, in a blog very aptly named ‘My Beautiful Life’, which carried a strap line encapsulating both her upbeat attitude and her intrinsic values:
If the risk of getting cancer in a lifetime is 1 in 2 and I have had cancer twice, I believe I have taken one for the team. You are very welcome!
Her blog is raw and emotional but also joyful and always full of hope, with her boys and husband an integral part of her writing. I have shared Mrs. Cheema’s blog with many family members and friends over the past few years; she brings a sense of reality to those who read it and an appreciation for the gratitude we should all feel. Her words and her attitudes remind us to live every day in the best way we can.
Mrs. Cheema was also involved in other fundraising activities throughout her illness. She supported the Willow Foundation back in 2016 and then in 2018 raised the profile of the Noah’s Ark Hospice. Most recently, in September 2019, she organised a 12 hour walk around Hillingdon Athletics Stadium to raise money for AMMF, the UK’s only bile duct cancer charity. Family, friends and staff joined together on this day and, yet again, Mrs. Cheema’s endless positivity and stoicism shone through.
Mrs. Cheema was also Chair of the Parents’ Association at St. Helen’s College and the family were always keen supporters of school events. In the summer of 2019, we were delighted that Mr. and Mrs. Cheema joined us as our Guests of Honour for Amar’s last Sports Day at St. Helen’s College. It was a wonderful day, during which Mr. and Mrs. Crehan and I were able to reminisce with them about the boys’ days at St. Helen’s College and to thank them for all that they had done to support the school over the years. It took a lot to stop Mrs. Cheema from participating in the mums’ race, but thankfully she had forgotten her running shoes! The photographs I have shared above are from that wonderful day.
Mr. Cheema has now launched a just giving page in memory of his wife to raise funds for the Michael Sobell Hospice. If you would like to join the community in donating in memory of Mrs. Cheema please follow the link here.
Mrs. Cheema’s values have always been the shared values of our school community. She will be dearly missed by us all and our heartfelt condolences go to her whole family. She has taught us all so many life lessons and her memory will live on through her wonderful boys and husband.