School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 14/10/2022
Weekly News - Friday 14th October 2022Children's Trust Concert
We were filled with pride last Sunday when our Chamber Choir performed at the beautiful St. John's Smith Square at the Children's Trust Concert. They sang their two pieces with great confidence and musicality and certainly touched the audience.
The event organisers and the staff of many other schools commented on how smart and well-behaved the St. Helen's College pupils were, as well as how impressive it was that so many of our parents were in attendance. We are grateful to all of the families who came along to support the children and this very worthy charity.
Woodlands Care Home Visit
On Monday, a group of Year 5 and 6 pupils visited Woodlands Residential Care Home on Long Lane to spend time with residents there. Woodlands cares for elderly people who are living with dementia and/or other health issues. While there, our pupils spoke with the residents and performed some songs for them. Both residents and pupils enjoyed the get-together.
PA Welcome Event For New Families
It was lovely to see so many of the families who joined us in September at the PA Welcome Event on Saturday. The weather was kind and it was clear to see how much the children enjoyed having a play in the beautiful Evans Garden and how much the parents enjoyed getting to know other families. Many thanks to the PA Committee and helpers who put on this event.
Our Year 6 pupils have had a superb start to the academic year and have risen to their many leadership roles. They were excellent ambassadors this week as they toured prospective parents at our first Open Morning of the year and were rewarded with a surprise morning tea party on Thursday.
PA Christmas Card Project
Children will have brought home a sheet this week with an order form on one side (with instructions on how to pay) and a space for artwork on the other side. If your child has started their artwork at school but hasn't finished and you want to place an order for Christmas cards, they will need to complete the art at home over half term. If they have completed their artwork and you want to order something, you just need to complete the adjoining order form and then return it to school and also make the associated bank transfer. The artwork MUST be on the same sheet as the order form. Please make sure you include the child's name and class (clearly written) on the order form, return the form to school and make the bank transfer payment, all by Friday 4 November 2022 at the very latest. Unfortunately the PA will not be able to process any orders which have not had payments made, have missing order forms, or are missing the artwork by the Friday deadline. If anyone has any questions, please contact your class rep.
PA Christmas Parties
The PA will, once again, be running Christmas parties for the children of St. Helen's College. This year, these will take place on 27th November. Please see this Save The Date flyer for more details. Further details and a link to the booking form will be sent out to parents after the half term break.
Queen's Green Canopy
We are delighted to report that our Queen's Green Canopy tree planting has been uploaded to the Queen's Green Canopy map. We planted our trees at Lower and Upper School during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, as part of the initiative https://queensgreencanopy.org/get-involved/schools/.
Year 5 Visit to Hampton Court Palace
Year 5 enjoyed a fabulous day at Hampton Court Palace on Thursday, enriching their learning about The Tudors. The weather stayed dry, the children were full of enthusiasm and the staff were impressed with their behaviour.
Our pupils explored the outside grounds including the gardens, real tennis court, chapel and impressive range of kitchens and had tours of the Tudor state apartments.
The children thought about the impression Henry VIII was trying to make on his court and visitors, used their detective skills to find evidence of Henry’s wives and were wowed by the ceilings in particular. In a workshop with a leader from Hampton Court they used prior knowledge from school lessons along with their critical thinking skills to consider questions about Henry VIII and his reign.
2H Coffee Morning/Class Assembly
It was a pleasure to welcome the parents of class 2H into school for a coffee morning and class assembly this morning. In their presentation, the children of 2H magically transported us back to life in The Stone Age. They taught us all about trading, cave painting, jewellery making and even staying away from poisonous mushrooms. The children looked amazing in their costumes and the assembly was a great ending to their history topic on The Stone Age and thoroughly enjoyed by all!
TfL STARS Gold Accreditation
St. Helen's College has retained its gold accreditation through TfL STARS, which recognises the school's continuous work around Sustainable Travel And Road Safety over the last few years. The STARS team praised the commitment from the school, the children and the parents to continually improve sustainable travel and road safety in and around St. Helen's College.
Bookings open at 4 p.m. today for the Upper School (Year 2 - 6) parents' evenings which will take place after half term on Tuesday 1st November and Thursday 10th November. Parents should login and book appointments using this link.
Ducklings Two Year Progress Check meetings will be taking place on Tuesday 1st and Thursday 3rd November. Parents have booked their meetings and we look forward to seeing you all then.
The school will, as usual, be marking Remembrance Day in November. From 1st November, when we return from the half term break, we will have some items available for children to purchase in return for a donation. There will be poppies, a zip pull, a clip on reflector poppy, silicon wristbands and snap bands which double up as rulers. We suggest a minimum donation of £1 per item.
All pupils should return to school wearing full winter uniform after half term. Please note that woolly hats are only to be used in very cold weather conditions and they should not replace the boys' wool caps or girls' felt hats.
Flu Vaccination - Action Required
Parents of children in all years from Reception to Year 6 are reminded that you MUST complete your flu vaccination form. This must be done whether your child will be having the vaccination at St. Helen's College or not. The link was emailed to parents via SchoolsBuddy last week.
Free Basketball This Weekend!
The first Thames Valley Cavaliers home game is on at Uxbridge College this weekend and all St. Helen's College pupils are invited to watch the Cavaliers take on Manchester Magic. It is FREE for pupils to enjoy the fun. Just state that you are from St. Helen's College at the door to get in free. There is also a special £1 price for pizza slices!
The flyer with all the information about the match is here.
Half Term Basketball Camp
The Thames Valley Cavaliers are running a basketball camp at Uxbridge College during the second week of half term for children aged 7 and above. If your son or daughter might be interested in attending this, you can find the details here.
Posted on: 14/10/2022
Enlightened EducationLast week I returned to my homeland in Scotland, to attend the annual Heads’ Conference in Edinburgh, which this year brought together 1000 Headteachers from IAPS (Independent Association of Preparatory Schools) and HMC (Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference) Schools. Returning to Edinburgh, where I spent four years studying at University, always fills me with great pride and nostalgia for a city which ignited my love for education and teaching.
The theme of the conference was ‘Enlightened Education’ and there was no better city to host a conference with such a theme. Edinburgh was very much regarded as a centre of enlightenment during the 18th century, when the New Town sprung up to provide changes in law, philosophy, science, literature, the arts, engineering and architecture. Observatories were built, advancements in medicine and microbiology were shaped and Edinburgh became a pioneering beacon of excellence in education. Schools - grammar and independent - were founded by mechant companies to encourage liberal thinking and intellectual curiosity. Edinburgh’s New and Old Towns now sit alongside one another to remind us of fusion, heritage and modernity.
The first keynote speaker of the conference, Marc Randolph, the founder of Netflix, articulated the purpose of education in the spirit of enlightenment. He wants young people to be energised to deal with the uncertainties of the world. As we know from the last few years in particular, we cannot predict the future. So, with a willingness to make mistakes (and learn from them) and a desire to see all problems as having solutions, our pupils will need to be real world ready.
Professor Gabriell Finn from the University of Manchester is leading a university-wide review of assessment and imparted the following key messages.
Factual recall is no longer the focus, and shouldn’t be. There is no link between this and preparing pupils for the real world.
There has been a 16000% increase in the number of students plagiarising their assignments.
GCSEs and A-levels are very far removed from where universities are starting to focus assessment: students collaborating and submitting their own websites rather than tests.
Technology, in particular AI, needs to be a dominant factor in any reform of assessment.
As fellow Heads discussed some of the points raised by the speakers, I felt so proud of what we are doing here at St. Helen’s College. We have a very balanced curriculum, skills and knowledge based, but our pupils' learning skills are far more in line with what universities wish to move towards. This was noted recently by one of our ex-parents who is a university lecturer as she reflected on what her daughter was already achieving with our flipped classroom model of teaching. She was somewhat overwhelmed at how efficient her daughter was as a learner in Year 6 in comparison with some of the first year university pupils she had encountered!
Over the years we have heard the word ‘tolerance’ being used when we discuss diversity. This word should now be replaced with ‘celebration of’. I truly believe that it is one of our defining features at St. Helen’s College that we are such a diverse community - and this extends to neuro-diversity too (a point which was emphasised by Rory Bremner in his most humorous after dinner address).
Baroness Tanni-Grey Thompson further emphasised this ‘celebration’, which 30 years ago would have been labelled as tolerance, as she recalled her experience of growing up as a wheelchair user (it was only because her Headteacher refused to adhere to the local authority guidelines that she was able to attend a mainstream school). She made the point that discrimination is taught and not a learned behaviour, and we must all focus on this - not just for the sake of our individual pupils but for humanity as a whole.
Sarah Brown, Founder and Chair of ‘TheirWorld’ and the Executive Chair of the Global Business Coalition for Education (also once inhabitant of 10 Downing Street) shocked delegates by reminding us that by 2030, half of the world’s young people will not have the privilege of attending school. This seems unbelievable, not least against the backdrop of the UN’s Sustaninable Development Goals, created in 2017 with the goal of achieving them all by 2030. Sarah emphasised that for pupils to be real world ready, there is a moral imperative for them to learn how to look after their world and each other.
Throughout the conference, keynote speakers emphasised that the fundamental aim of education should not be focused around end-point assessment, but the development of a child’s relationship with others, and, through this, the creation of powerful, ethical communities, focused around a force for good.
Nicola Benedetti, world renowned violinist, Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Festival and founder of the Benedetti Foundation, used the impact of choirs and ensembles to illustrate this point. Within an orchestra or choir, there is no hierarchy and, in creating music together, people are sharing in one humanity. Music played a role throughout the conference and reminded us of the transformational impact of music in everyone’s lives. There is a moral obligation for all young people to be exposed to this form of deep connection and communication.
I hope you can see how passionate I am feeling about many of the topics discussed at the conference. As I reflect on this first half term of St. Helen’s College life I am sure that you will agree that our pupils have demonstrated their own contribution to an enlightened education in so many ways, including:
the wonderful Harvest assemblies and donations;
the musical recital;
the many sporting fixtures;
the various school trips to interesting venues;
âThe Children’s Trust Charity Concert where our Chamber Choir performed;
the TCS Mini London Marathon;
the visit to the Woodlands Care Home by a group of our musicians;
STEAM Day and
St. Helen’s Day.
I could keep listing - there is more, much more!
Thank you for all your support during this first half term. It has been a wonderful beginning to this academic year and I wish you all a restful and energising half term holiday!
Posted on: 7/10/2022
Weekly News - Friday 7th October 2022TCS Mini London Marathon
What an amazing day it was last Saturday, with well over 200 St. Helen's College pupils, parents and staff taking place in the TCS Mini London Marathon. The sun shone, there was a real community spirit and we were so proud of everyone who competed in the race and gained a London Mini Marathon medal!
Daya R (Year 4) was interviewed by BBC Sport and several more of our pupils featured in media coverage of the day. It was clear to see that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the event.
We are delighted that so many families took up the opportunity to be involved in this special day and hope that many young runners have been inspired for the future.
Lower School Harvest Assemblies
It was super to see our Nursery children perform this week at their harvest assembly on Wednesday. The children of Robins and Wrens sang their harvest songs enthusiastically and were all very brave to perform in front of such a packed room of adults for the first time!
On Thursday, the Reception classes (Kingfishers and Owls) presented their harvest performance. They reminded us how lucky we are to live in a country that is able to produce so much food through farming, and how grateful we should be to the farmers at this harvest time of year. They then went on to consider the importance of thinking of others less fortunate and of sharing our food with them. Each child spoke individual lines and there were group poems and songs performed with gusto.
Today, Year 1 finished off the Lower School harvest assemblies with their confident and tuneful performance all about the word HARVEST. They noted that the letters of HARVEST can also be used to make the words STARVE and SHARE, reminding us that we should be thankful for our own food and be sure to share it with those who do not have enough. The singing in this assembly was particularly impressive.
Very well done to all of the children involved and a big thank you to all of the families and staff who gave such generous harvest donations. These are being distributed by the Salvation Army to those in need in our local area.
Year 2 Stone Age Studies
Our Year 2 children had a wonderful immersion day all about the Stone Age on Tuesday to enhance their understanding of their history topic. They all came to school dressed in amazing homemade Stone Age costumes and took part in many activities such as cave painting, foraging in the park, collage making, pebble painting, mystery food tasting, using clay and even Stone Age maths!
On Wednesday, they further enriched their learning with a visit to the Chiltern Open Air Museum, where they took part in shelter building, bracelet making, charcoal face painting, lighting fires and den building. We were proud to receive very positive praise from the Chiltern Open Air Museum for the children's exemplary behaviour during the trip.
You can see some photographs of Year 2 enjoying their Stone Age studies on our Galleries page here.
Year 6 Trip to Denham Country Park
Year 6 enjoyed a beautifully sunny day for their geography trip on Thursday and enhanced their learning about rivers by river dipping and measuring different river data.
They also enjoyed a scenic walk in Denham Country Park and were able to identify rural and urban features of the park. The children found freshwater shrimp and a variety of invertebrates in the river and identified them using magnifying glasses. Everyone got wet, had fun and learnt lots about the geography topic!
On Monday every pupil in Years 5 and 6 represented St. Helen's College in either netball or football in friendly fixtures at Highgate School. This was a lovely opportunity for every child to engage with representative sport for the school.
Our Year 4 children have thoroughly enjoyed their week of swimming. Their confidence in the water has been a joy to behold. Year 3 children will be swimming each afternoon next week.
School At Work Open Morning - Wednesday 12th October
Next Wednesday is our first Open Morning of the year for prospective parents. Our Year 6 children will be guiding tours at Upper School on this day. There are now very limited appointments left available. If you know of any family who may be interested in visiting us on the day, please ask them to contact us to book in for an appointment, either by telephone or by email at email@example.com.
Recipe Cards - Orange
This year, the children of St. Helen's College will be encouraged to 'eat a rainbow', with a monthly colour theme on displays in dining areas. October's colour is Orange and Soula, our chef, has provided these recipe cards for parents in case you would like to make some orange food at home with your children!