School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 29/09/2023
Weekly News - Friday 29th September 2023Harvest Festival
Thank you to those parents who joined us for our Upper School Harvest Festival service at All Saints Church this morning. We hope that you enjoyed reflecting on this important time of year along with us. Our Year 5 pupils and Year 6 Pupil Leadership Team led the readings beautifully and we were delighted to hear from the Senior and Junior Choirs, as well as the Orchestra, so early in the year!
Many, many thanks to all those who sent in donations of food. These will be distributed by the Salvation Army to those in need in Hillingdon.
Lower School Harvest Assemblies will take place on Tuesday 10th October (Year 1) and Wednesday 11th October (Reception).
Month End Music Recital
Our first Month End Music Recital of the year was extremely well-attended today and it was wonderful to see so many of our young performers step up to show off their musical talents and hard work. Well done to all those who performed!
A Week Of Trips And Visits
It has been a busy week of trips, visits and workshops across the school.
On Monday, the Year 4 classes enjoyed an Ancient Greek Day to enhance their history learning. In the morning they met someone who was trying to become a time traveller and had to help her to answer some different challenges about Ancient Greece. The pupils 'travelled' with her, using laughter to make the time travel happen. They then met Jocasta, an Athenian noblewoman, and were treated to a great insight into her life. In the afternoon the children took part in workshops and learnt about what it would be like to live in Jocasta's house, where there were separate rooms for the males and females to relax and where she had slaves to do everything for her. It was an interesting and exciting day for Year 4.
On Wednesday, Year 6 visited Henry Moore's studio and gardens to explore some fascinating artwork by the war artist. This links to their studies in history where they are looking at the Second World War. In small groups, the pupils were taken on a tour of the fields of sculptures by well informed volunteer guides. The guides were impressed by how much knowledge the children retained about Moore's life and works. The statues are quite breathtaking and the children were impressed by their size. The afternoon gave the opportunity to sketch and take photographs of his work. We look forward to seeing the creations Year 6 will make based on Henry Moore's work over the coming weeks.
Also on Wednesday, Year 5 enjoyed a fabulous day at Hampton Court Palace, enriching their learning about The Tudors. The weather stayed dry, the children were full of enthusiasm and the staff were impressed with their behaviour. The pupils explored the outside grounds, the chapel and the impressive range of kitchens and had a tour of the Tudor state apartments. The children took part in a workshop with a costumed presenter about Elizabethan exploration and world trade. They thought about the different goods that were valuable at the time, being particularly amazed that the potato was such a prized possession! As part of this session, the children pitted themselves against the teachers in a race to be first to reach South America.
On Thursday, our Kingfishers and Owls Reception classes had a wonderful time at Odds Farm Park. It was fun to learn lots of information about how a real farm works and there were lots of opportunities to see and touch different breeds of sheep and goats, as well as a lovely Jersey cow named Posey. The children found it very interesting to see first hand how the farmer milks a cow and there was even time to meet some fluffy rabbits. The day ended with an exciting and rather bumpy tractor ride across the field. What a lovely time Reception had down on the farm.
Thursday also saw the Year 2 classes take a trip to the Chiltern Open Air Museum, where they learnt many interesting facts about the Stone Age. They are now very much looking forward to their Stone Age Day here at school next Wednesday and we will share photographs of their stone age activities in due course!
PA Quiz Night
The Parents' Association will be hosting a quiz night on Wednesday 11th October at The White Bear in Ruislip. These are always popular occasions so please organise your team (4-6 people) and book your table soon! Details are here and the link for ticket bookings is being sent out by the PA.
Individual Music Lessons
There are spaces available for woodwind, brass and singing lessons for children in Years 2-6. Please use this Google Form to register interest.
We have a few spaces left in Upper School co-curricular clubs, as follows.
Year 2/3 Recorder Club - Monday lunchtimes
Year 4/5/6 Spanish Club - after school
If your child is interested in joining one of these clubs, please contact Mr. Harrington at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Very well done to the St. Helen's College pupils who competed in the International Banzai Cup Championship in Berlin last weekend. Grace O'H, Daynan C, Rania Q, Avleen P and Nayia L put in outstanding efforts. They all delivered solid performances and in some cases, narrowly missed out on podium finishes.
Freya K secured a bronze medal in her kata event and a silver medal in her kumite event, while Aleya S clinched the gold medal in her kumite event. Both girls deserve special congratulations for their inspiring efforts!
From The PA: Christmas Card Project Reminder For Upper School Parents
Last week, forms and artwork sheets were distributed to each class for the children to complete their drawings at home. Please check with your child if they have received their materials.
Artistic guidelines: we encourage all children to create bright and bold drawings for the Christmas cards as these tend to work best. As a friendly reminder, please do not use collage or glitter on the artwork sheets.
Artwork submission deadline: to ensure the project's success and timely production, all completed artwork must be returned to the Upper School office by Tuesday, October 3, 2023.
Replacement forms: if you find that you need a replacement form, please do not hesitate to contact the Upper School office.
The artwork will be returned to the company and uploaded onto a portal. The PA will share login details for the portal so that you can go online, view your child's artwork and place an order.
Artwork for Lower School is being completed at school.
Holiday Club - Half Term
Holiday Club bookings for half term will open at 4 p.m. today. Please log in to your SchoolsBuddy account to make your bookings. Please note that there will no longer be in-house catering for Holiday Club; parents will need to send snacks and lunches with children. Places must be booked in advance by Friday 13th October to enable us to arrange staffing in advance.
4T swimming all week
Monday 2nd October - Year 3 trip to St. Albans
Tuesday 3rd October - School At Work Open Morning
Wednesday 4th October - Year 2 Stone Age Day
Wednesday 4th October - Nursery coffee morning in Lower School Hall (8.15 a.m.)
Wednesday 4th October - Ducklings, Nursery and Reception parents' evenings (all at Lower School)
Thursday 5th October - Parents' Association meeting in Evans Hall (7.00 p.m.)
Friday 6th October - 4B coffee morning/class assembly (8.15 a.m.)
Toddler Play Sessions
Mr. Harrington's wife runs 'Mini Me Town' play sessions for children up to the age of six, which encourage exploration through play. She will be running a session at Lower School on Saturday 7th October from 10.30 - 11.30 a.m. If you are interested in attending with your child to encourage their imaginative play and meet other parents and children, you can visit the Mini Me Town website for further details and to book: www.minimetown.co.uk. Sessions are usually £9 each, but there is an introductory offer of £6 for the first session. Places are limited so please book early.
Posted on: 22/09/2023
Weekly News - Friday 22nd September 2023STEAM Day
Today we have all enjoyed a very busy and productive STEAM Day.
Lower School and Ducklings certainly steamed into the day with enthusiasm that knew no bounds! The day has been full of activities.
Ducklings enjoyed fizzing bath bombs and were amazed by the flight of their rockets.
At Lower School, Nursery enjoyed bubble making, designing a giant marble run and creating a wall out of shaving foam. Reception children shot their own rocket birds into the air, and created beautiful magic lilies and nature brushes. Year 1 became totally absorbed whilst painting to different styles of music and making tricky mazes. They also had fun coding Beebots.
At Upper School, classes enjoyed activities including a chrome music lab, creating beautiful spirograph designs, origami, investigating mobile forces, 'bristlebots', making paper sculptures, investigating bridge construction, designing organisms and water filtering systems and more!
It has been the most wonderful day of enrichment, and greatly enjoyed by all. Many thanks to our visiting parent helpers and to all of the staff involved in making the day such a success.
Robert Swan Visit
On Tuesday, we welcomed Robert Swan OBE for a truly memorable Upper School assembly. Robert is the first man ever to walk to both the north and south poles. His recent expeditions involve using solely renewable energy. His mission to inspire the next generation to take care of the planet has meant that he spends his time talking to world leaders and educators about what steps are needed to ensure we are protecting our environment both locally and globally.
Robert shared photos and videos of his first expeditions from 1984 to 1989, as well as one of his trips to Antarctica back in 2012, when Mrs. McLaughlin accompanied him. He described in detail the awe-inspiring story of his travels to the north and south poles with moments of great beauty and peril. He also spoke about his son Barney’s current mission in Australia where they are trying to restore the world’s oldest rainforest.
Teachers and pupils were left feeling inspired and wanting to do more to protect our beautiful planet. If there was one message to share with our St. Helen’s College community from Robert Swan’s visit, it would be his famous quote: “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”
The school has joined the 2041 Schools: Champions of Antarctica initiative to help educate young people about the need to protect the world’s last great wilderness beyond the current agreement date of 2041.
You can find out more about Robert Swan and his projects using the links below:
We plan to see Robert again in 2025 in a live-link assembly from his research centre in Antarctica, where he will be spending the whole winter using only solar, wind and biofuel!
St. Helen's College Receives Gold STARS Award
We are proud to report that St. Helen's College has, once again, been awarded the Gold STARS accreditation by Transport for London. This award recognises our ongoing work on School Travel And Road Safety.
Year 1 Maths And Phonics Evening
Thank you to all of the Year 1 parents who attended the Maths And Phonics Evening at Lower School on Wednesday. It is so important that families and school work in partnership to support the children in their educational endeavours, and we hope that you found the evening useful.
Whatsapp is the most widely used messaging platform on the planet, with over two billion users (forecast to become three billion by 2025), across more than 180 countries. The majority of those people (70%) open the app at least once a day – but what exactly are they seeing? Contact from strangers, fake news and convincing scams are all amongst the service’s well-documented hazards.
According to Ofcom, Whatsapp is used by more than half of 3 to 17 year olds in the UK (including one in three from the 8 to 11 age bracket), despite its 16+ age restriction.
National Online Safety provides this information leaflet for parents about the use of Whatsapp. We urge you to read it and retain it for your reference.
We would also like to remind parents that it is not appropriate for any child at St. Helen's College to have access to social media apps such as Whatsapp (which has an age rating of 16), Snapchat (which accounts for over half the online grooming the UK), Tiktok or similar. Primary school aged children are simply not mature enough to experience these apps safely, no matter how independent they may seem in other areas of their lives. This stance is shared by all online safety experts. While we educate the pupils at school about online safety, parents have a crucial part to play in keeping children safe online.
More Karate Success!
Several St. Helen's College pupils and Old Helenians enjoyed success with the KML Karate Club at the UK International Championships held at Warwick University last weekend.
This prestigious tournament forms part of the club's preparation for the upcoming International Banzai Cup in Berlin. Out of the 35 clubs participating, KML Karate brought home the most medals and secured third place in the success chart.
Well done to all of the SHC pupils and Old Helenians who competed.
Our Upper School Harvest Festival Service will take place next Friday at All Saints' Church at 9.15 a.m. Upper School parents are warmly invited to join us if they are able to.
We would be most grateful for Harvest donations from Upper School parents ahead of the service. These should be dropped into the Upper School office on Wednesday or Thursday next week. We would really appreciate made up boxes/hampers filled with long-life food such as canned goods, rice, pasta, etc. If anyone has a few fruits, vegetables or flowers from their garden that could enhance the display in the church, that would be lovely (but please note that only a few would be needed and these are NOT suitable items for donations so should not be purchased!). All donations will be distributed by the Salvation Army to those in need in Hillingdon.
Lower School Harvest Assemblies will take place slightly later in the term and we will send the arrangements for these in due course.
Parents' evenings for Ducklings, Nursery, Reception and Year 1 will be held on the following days:
Wednesday 4th October (4.00 - 7.00 p.m.)
Thursday 12th October (5.00 - 8.00 p.m.)
To book your appointment, please use the following link. Bookings will be live from 12.00 p.m. on Monday 25th September.
When booking appointments, parents should use the following format for class names:
Here is a reminder of what is coming up next week.
Monday 25th September - Year 4 Ancient Greek Day
Wednesday 27th September - Year 5 Trip: Hampton Court Palace
Wednesday 27th September - Year 6 Trip: Henry Moore Studios & Gardens
Thursday 28th September - Reception Trip: Odds Farm
Thursday 28th September - Year 2 Trip: Chiltern Open Air Museum
Friday 29th September - Upper School Harvest Festival at All Saints Church (9.15 a.m.)
Friday 29th September - Month End Music Recital in the Evans Hall (3.45 p.m.)
Posted on: 22/09/2023
Why Art?Many of you may not be aware that Mrs. Pruce, our subject co-ordinator for art across the school, is also the national lead for art for the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS), an association of which we are members.
IAPS has 663 schools in membership (of which 47 can be found outside of the UK). The schools must reach a very high standard to be eligible for membership of IAPS, with strict criteria on teaching a broad curriculum, maintaining excellent standards of pastoral care and keeping staff members’ professional development training up to date.
Mrs. Pruce supports art teachers in IAPS schools as part of her role and has run several professional development days for other teachers at St. Helen’s College, when she has invited inspiring artists into school to run workshops for the staff. These include Darrell Wakelam and Emma Collins.
Mrs. Pruce’s ‘Why Art?’ blog appears on the IAPS website and I would like to share it with you (below). We pride ourselves on nurturing all of the arts and our enriched curriculum is a testament to the expertise of our staff at St. Helen’s College.
If you do not already follow the St. Helen's College instagram page for art then please do - it may inspire you to be a budding artist with your children!
Why Art? by Mrs. Nadine Pruce
“Every child is an artist,” said Pablo Picasso, and he’s right.
This September begins my fourth year at St. Helens College, Hillingdon, and what a few years it has been! Yet throughout, and since, the turmoil of Covid, our art has held classes together, united us in our joy for the subject and had us chuckling during online lessons, especially when dressed as royalty in crowns and tiaras with Year 2.
Art is all around us, not just in galleries but on TV, packaging, book covers, graphic design, the restaurant industry and stage and film to name a few. The career options are numerous, and it is a subject to be taken seriously.
The subject of art dates back thousands of years from all around the world. It adds to what we now know about history, from cave paintings to Henry Moore’s chalk work on the shelters during the war and Banksy’s political graffiti. Without these we can only guess at what really happened.
In itself, art can be a way of communication to express ourselves, heal our souls when troubled, tell a story or be an experience to share our thoughts and feelings or just to while away time.
For me personally, art has been something that I have only had the courage to embrace in the last 17 years or so. I say courage as I was the child at school who was too tall, stuck out like a sore thumb, and went easily red-faced when the art teacher told me that it wasn’t my best subject. That crushed all creativity I had for many, many years.
I promised myself that no child I teach would be made to feel this way about their own talents. The introduction of new skills at St. Helens College has proven that Picasso was definitely right. The child who can draw superbly may not be the best painter; the painter may not be the best sculptor, who in turn may not be the best print maker. But they are all good at something and seeing that realisation dawn on pupils' faces is what drives me on.
As teachers we have a role to play in encouraging our students, focussing on the good and inspiring the confidence to try. FAIL is the 'First Attempt In Learning' and even as adults we are still always learning.
We adults have a lot to learn from our children, in school and at home. The artistic response to the pandemic blew my mind. The explanations given as to why pupils drew what they drew were clear, simplistic and openly honest. Arya in Year 2 with her “Rainbow Tree” and Riya, in Year 6, with “Breakout” were stunning examples that gave me goosebumps and tears in my eyes. Arya won her age group for the IAPS Online Art Competition in my first year here. Have you ever been reduced to tears by art in any form? Poetry, music or a piece of writing? My first glimpse of the Taj Mahal, from far away, actually made me cry, not an emotion I expected over the sight of a building.
The use of sketch pads at St. Helen's College has been changing and is changing further this school year. The desire to scribble out something not liked is natural but also pointless; we need to see our failures to perfect our abilities. In the book "The Dot" Peter H Reynolds shows us the power of one single adult's actions to change a child's life. “The book shows the importance of teacher-student relationships, and our connections as human beings. It shows how creative thinking on the part of a teacher can unlock a child's own creativity, confidence, and growth.”
So, however old you are, I encourage you all to go and enjoy whatever art form you would love to explore the most, and remember… in art you are never wrong.
Posted on: 15/09/2023
Head's Blog - Words From Pupils Present And PastRather than write a blog this week, I would like to share two things with you.
The first is the speech given by our new Head Boy and Head Girl, Aiden and Samara, at our St. Helen's Day assembly this afternoon. They wrote the speech themselves and delivered it beautifully, with enormous confidence.
The second is a poem, written by two of our Old Helenians and performed last night at our alumni centenary party and again today at our St. Helen's Day assembly.
I hope that you will enjoy these as much as we all did, and I hope you will agree that they show that the St. Helen' s College school values remain as strong as ever!
Head Boy And Head Girl Speech
Ladies and gentlemen, teachers, students and esteemed guests.
Today, as the Head Boy and Head Girl of St. Helen's College, we stand before you with great pride and gratitude as we celebrate a momentous occasion – the centenary of our beloved school. Over the past century, St. Helen's has been a beacon of light, shaping countless lives and instilling values that continue to guide us today.
First, let's say thank you to our wonderful guests for sharing their amazing stories with us all.
Let's start with a fun fact about the school. St. Helen’s College was founded in 1924, even before TV’s made their first appearance! Imagine a class with no smart board!
At the heart of St. Helen's College lie three core values that have remained unwavering throughout our journey: to strive for excellence, help others achieve, and care for one another.
Firstly, we are a school that strives for excellence. We set high standards for ourselves and constantly push the boundaries of our abilities. Whether it's in academics, sports, the arts, or any endeavour we pursue, excellence is not an option; it's our way of life. Let us continue to embrace the spirit of excellence, always aiming higher and achieving more than we thought possible.
The second fact of the day is this. During the Second World War, the school's first building got bombed. But guess what? Mrs. Hempstead, who was in charge at that time, didn't give up. She moved the school to a new place at 223 Long Lane, and they kept having classes even during the war. That's some serious dedication!
Secondly, St. Helen's is a community that believes in helping others achieve. We understand that our individual success is linked to the success of those around us. Whether it's lending a helping hand to a struggling classmate or volunteering in our local community, our commitment to lifting others up is what makes our school truly special.
Lastly, caring for others is a value that defines us. We are a family that looks out for one another, offering support and compassion when it's needed most. Let us carry this spirit of care beyond these walls and into the world, making a positive impact on the lives of those we encounter.
And for the third and final fact. In January 2017 Ducklings opened, just for little children who are 2-3 years old. That's where the youngest St. Helenians go to have fun and learn. That was before I joined the school!
As we celebrate this centenary milestone, let us reflect on the incredible legacy of St. Helen's College. Let us honour the generations of students, teachers, and staff who have contributed to its growth and success. And let us, the current attendants of this legacy, pledge to carry these core values forward into the next century, ensuring that St. Helen's continues to be a place of excellence, help, and care for all who pass through its gates.
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this remarkable journey. Here's to the next hundred years of excellence, achievement, and compassion at St. Helen's College. Thank you.
Mrs. Green and Mrs. Ruffle are sisters, who attended St. Helen’s College as children. More recently, they have been parents of pupils at the school, with Mrs. Green's daughter Charlee completing Year 6 in our centenary year. They wrote the following poem.
When we were asked to speak today,
We thought long and hard about what to say;
We discussed our memories for such a long time;
In the end we put them in a rhyme.
In the seventies the school was so much smaller.
For one thing the building is now so much taller.
A one storey building was all that we had,
But back then it didn’t seem all that bad.
In the morning we would start promptly at nine,
Mrs. Stockwell in charge of the bell that would chime.
We’d line up in height order and make our way
To get ready for morning assembly each day.
Classes 1, 2, 3 and 4
Lined up patiently at their class door.
It was only when we heard the head call
That we’d make our way into the hall.
Assembly took the same format each day:
Three hymns we would sing, a verse from Psalms we would say.
It was the one time of day the whole school was there
And we would always finish with the Lord’s prayer.
If you had something exciting to share,
The head would invite you to stand on a chair
To tell everyone your piece of ‘news’;
We were always encouraged to share our views.
Lessons were taught all morning long,
Reciting our tables or singing a song,
Reading our work that was written in chalk,
Full of concentration – no one dared talk.
Every year each class did a play.
In the lead up to performance we would rehearse every day,
Learning our lines off by heart,
To make sure we did justice to our given part.
The costumes were a sight to behold:
Goblins, fairies, baubles made of gold;
Proud parents forced to watch one and all,
As we performed our shows at the Winston Churchill Hall.
We didn’t do much in the way of sport.
Now there so much extra curricular taught.
However, Sports Day was still a big deal
And the excitement we felt was definitely real.
The events were …. creative, let’s say!
The ‘slow bicycle’ race a highlight of the day.
The aim of the game was to cross the line LAST.
It was never about who could ride fast.
Honestly, the memories are too many to share;
Things you cannot explain, you just had to be there.
But one thing is certain, at the heart of all …
Was Mrs. Evans, the Headmistress of the school.
She was the one who ran the show,
Ensuring every pupil had the chance to grow,
She ran the school with a firm and fair hand:
Every lesson, show and Open Day meticulously planned.
Open Day was always an exciting event,
With hours and hours often spent
Painting our ‘Big Pictures’ to grace the walls,
All the way round the main school hall.
We would work all term long with enthusiasm and glee,
Mrs. Evans’ frustration not always easy to see,
But the pictures we left before the weekend
Were often doctored by her black felt tip pen!
‘My daughter, the teacher’ was a regular comment;
Her pride in her family was always apparent;
An inspirational woman who shaped many young minds,
Imparting her wisdom and dishing out lines.
So much is so different now, so much is the same,
But at the heart of the school core values remain.
Mr. & Mrs. Crehan then took on the challenge
To grow and expand the whole of St. Helen’s.
All we can say is they must have done okay,
As both of our daughters have thrived here in their own way.
All pupils leave confident and articulate children,
Blessed with a strong foundation of knowledge to build on.
So let's raise our glasses and give a loud cheer,
Talk to the back of the room – so everyone can hear.
To St. Helen’s the school and the memories it holds,
As we celebrate her being 100 years old!
Posted on: 15/09/2023
Weekly News - Friday 15th September 2023St. Helen's College Centenary
This academic year is the St. Helen's College Centenary year! We launched our centenary celebrations this week with two special events.
On Thursday evening, we hosted a reception for staff, former staff and alumni. The event was very well attended, with over 75 alumni and ex-staff returning to join the current staff body. We were treated to beautiful music from Mrs. Nash's string quartet and some super event catering from Soula and her Accent team. We all enjoyed hearing alumni share memories of their time with us, as well as speeches from Mr. Crehan and Ms Drummond and a vocal performance from Mrs. Crehan!
Staff and visitors browsed through a display of history boards, photographs and other memorabilia from as far back as the 1920s. So much has changed since then, but everyone agreed that much has stayed the same. St. Helen's College has, for 100 years, remained true to a set of aims and values which define our school culture and shape the lives of so many.
On Friday, we used St. Helen's Day to launch the centenary to the pupils. At Upper School, our pupils heard from two Old Helenians, Tito Oshewa and Georgia Emanuel, who are about to embark on new adventures at California's Stanford University and Cambridge University respectively. The pupils were also treated to a poem performed by Mrs. Green and Mrs. Ruffle, who are also ex-pupils. Mrs. Green is also the mum of Charlee! The displays of history and memorabilia were brought out into the Evans Garden so that pupils could find out about life at St. Helen's College in days gone by. We distributed our SHC values cards to our new Year 2 pupils and, for the first time, we all sang the school song with its new centenary verse.
We had other musical performances, too. Shayna C, Millie B and Alicia Z did a fantastic job as the string trio and Hana H, Zarifa D and Grace O'H gave a vocal performance. Mrs. Crehan also performed a song for the children.
Every child in the school has received a '100 Things To Do In Our Centenary Year' booklet and we very much hope that you will enjoy sharing these experiences as a family.
Next summer, as the academic year draws to a close, we will be hosting a centenary celebration event to which current parents will be invited. We hope that many of you will wish to join us - it is likely to be on the final evening of the year (Friday 12th July), with a centenary concert and art exhibition the evening before (Thursday 11th July). Please pop these dates in your diaries now and look out for further information as the year moves on.
Many congratulations to Ms Drummond, who graduated last weekend and is now the proud holder of the MEd in Educational Leadership and Management (University of Buckingham), alongside a Level 7 Senior Leader (Degree) with the Chartered Managers Institute.
Ms Drummond is living proof that a lifelong love of learning is a wonderful thing!
This week, Ms Porteous celebrated twenty years of working for St. Helen's College. During this time, she has cared for so many children at our After School and Holiday Clubs. She has made (and continues to make) a real difference to many young lives, and we thank her for her commitment to the school so far.
After a year's sabbatical, we are delighted to welcome Mrs. Bool back to the Finance Office. She has been joined by Mrs. Sonigra, who had most recently worked at St. Helen's School in Northwood. Thank you for bearing with us during the changes in staffing in the Finance department. Normal service has now resumed!
Co-curriculum activities will begin next week, from Monday 18th September.
Please note, however, that Karate Club will not begin until the following week (and will instead run a session in the final week of term). This is because Mr. Kumedzina, our Karate Coach, will be joining the Higashi national squad for the Banzai International Cup in Berlin next Friday. We wish the squad much luck!
We still have a few vacancies for the following clubs. Please contact Mr. Harrington at email@example.com if your child would like to join one of these:
Y2/3 Taekwondo - Tuesday 12.20 - 1.00 p.m.
Y2/3 Taekwondo - Thursday 12.20 - 1.00 p.m.
Y4/5/6 Taekwondo - Thursday 1.00 - 1.45 p.m.
Y5/6 Tennis - Thursday 1.00 - 1.45 p.m.
Monday 18th September - Individual pupil photographs at Ducklings
Tuesday 19th September - Individual pupil photographs at Lower School (siblings from 7.40 a.m.)
Wednesday 20th September - Maths and Phonics evening for Year 1 (1C at 6.00 p.m., 1R at 6.45 p.m.)
Thursday 21st September - Individual pupil photographs at Upper School (siblings from 7.40 a.m.)
Friday 22nd September - STEAM Day
Open Morning - Tuesday 3rd October
Our next 'School at Work' Open Morning for prospective parents will take place on Tuesday 3rd October. If you know of anyone with a 0-3 year old who might be interested in finding out more about St. Helen's College, please ask them to reserve an appointment via our website or to contact Mrs. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are just a few slots left now!
2024 Entry - Ducklings and Nursery
If your St. Helen's College child has a sibling born between 01.09.20 and 31.08.22, and you have not yet registered them for entry to the school, please do so as soon as possible. The entry processes for Ducklings 2024 and Nursery 2024 will begin shortly. You can access the online registration form here.
Old Helenian To Run The London Marathon!
Mrs. Lawrence's son James, who is a former St. Helen's College pupil, will be running the London Marathon 2024 for his father and the thousands of other men affected by prostate cancer every year.
The Lawrence family have been valued members of the St. Helen's College community for many, many years and we wish James all the very best for his training and for the Marathon run itself.
You can find out more information about why James has chosen to run, and sponsor him by donating to support prostate cancer research, at the link below. Many thanks indeed, from the whole Lawrence family, for your generosity and support.
Homestart Hillingdon are a charity based at All Saints Church Hall. They do very valuable work, recruiting, training and co-ordinating volunteers to help struggling families with at least one child under the age of 5, across Hillingdon borough.
All parents know how relentless and difficult (as well as joyful!) parenting small children can be,even without other challenges. Homestart help families with issues including post-natal depression, isolation, multiple birth, disability and managing difficult personal circumstances.
Homestart volunteers need to be parents (or grandparents) and have at least half a day a week (during normal working hours) to commit to the role, as well as attending Homestart's Volunteer Training Course (9 sessions during school hours). The next course will run on Mondays, starting on the 9th October.
Some of the team from Homestart Hillingdon will be at St. Helen's College on Friday 22nd September to introduce themselves and their work to parents, in the hope that some of our community might be interested in volunteering with them. You can find them next Friday at:
7:50 - 8:45 a.m. - at the Lower School Entrance (beside the Methodist Hall)
3:10 - 4:00 p.m. - at the Upper School Entrance (on Parkway)
You can find out more at www.homestart-hillingdon.org.uk.
Thames Valley Cavaliers Basketball Sessions For Girls
Thames Valley Cavaliers have launched an all-girls basketball session, which is now taking place every Saturday at Uxbridge College from 12 - 1.30 p.m. The session is open to girls aged 7-17 and all abilities are welcome.
TVC want to see girls' basketball within the Borough of Hillingdon grow and participation increase. They are also looking to develop a girls' basketball team to represent the Borough in the London Youth Games for the first time in several years.
There are coaches running the session who play on the Thames Valley Cavaliers WNBL women's team, and pupils will have an opportunity to watch them compete in a league fixture on the home court after the session.
Full details, including how to sign up, are available here.
The safety of our children and the members of the local community is of paramount importance to us all. Please could we remind all drivers to observe speed limits around the school site and to adhere closely to the school parking regulations, which are published here.
As well as being crucial to protect the safety of other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, following these regulations closely will ensure that the St. Helen's community remains mindful of our neighbours and helps to promote the school's reputation within the local community.
Posted on: 8/09/2023
Weekly News - Friday 8th September 2023It has been an exciting and busy first few days back at school, as the pupils have entered their new year groups and we have welcomed all of our brand new children.
Meet The Teacher Evenings
Following on from our Early Years and Key Stage 1 'Meet The Teacher' evenings last term, we held successful 'Meet The Teacher' evenings for all Key Stage 2 classes this week. It was lovely to see so many families and we hope that you found the meetings useful. Open, frequent communication between home and school is essential to support the pupils' education and well-being, so please do keep in touch with your class teacher as we move through the term and the year.
Year 2 Coffee Morning
The transition from Lower School to Upper School has gone well for our Year 2 pupils and we were delighted to welcome their parents into Upper School today for a coffee morning too.
PA Welcome Event
A reminder that the PA Welcome Event will take place in the Evans Hall at Upper School tomorrow from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. There will be refreshments and an opportunity to meet other parents and children. We hope that families who are new to the school will come along to meet others, and for the first time this year the event is open to all existing families too!
Bookings for autumn term co-curricular activities open TODAY at 4 p.m. and close on Sunday at 11.59 p.m.
Please log in to your SchoolsBuddy account to submit your child's preferences.
It is essential that you discuss choices with your child before submitting them; once clubs are allocated they cannot be changed and it is important to everyone that your child takes part in clubs that they enjoy and want to attend.
We are delighted with the new building that was installed at Lower School over the summer to house the Lower School library and welfare room, by local company Blyss Garden Rooms. Here you can see the Blyss workers in front of the building! We know that our Lower School children are going to appreciate and make the most of their lovely new library.
At Upper School, it is super to have the library full of readers and inquisitive minds once more. We welcomed 2H and 2R to the Upper School Library for the first time this week. Many books were borrowed and many excellent questions were asked by the curious children. The library is open every lunchtime for the children, and in addition Year 2 will have a timetabled class visit.
The Chiswick Book Festival runs from the 6th to 13th September. There will be lots on offer for families and adults at various locations, with many well known faces taking part. Children's workshops are concentrated mainly on the Saturday and are still bookable at this link: Festival events.
The Parents' Association are now using Class List to communicate with parents. The app has a wealth of features - parents can communicate with each other in class and/or year groups, find other families for car shares, sell second hand uniform and more. If you have not yet signed up, please do so as soon as possible. Your PA Class Rep will be keen to help should you need them and you can always reach the Parents' Association committee at email@example.com. As usual, the Parents' Association are busy planning some lovely social events and other initiatives for the forthcoming academic year and we urge all parents to support them in enhancing our wonderful parental community spirit!
Over the weekend, several St. Helen's College pupils and Old Helenians competed in the British Karate Federation International Championships at Sheffield Ponds Forge stadium and there were some impressive achievements.
Freya and Aleya won silver medals in pairs kata.
Freya, Aleya, Naiya, and Rania won bronze medals in team kumite (fighting).
Rania and Naiya won bronze medals in pairs kata.
Myla, Inaya, and Grace won bronze medals in team kumite.
This tournament was a fantastic opportunity and served as perfect preparation for the major international championships in Berlin in a couple of weeks. We send good luck wishes to the St. Helen's College pupils and Old Helenians who will proudly represent the Higashi Karate Kai national squad there!
We have received news of an additional music examination result from the summer term. Congratulations to Hana H, who achieved a pass in her Grade 2 flute!
Individual Music Lessons
There are currently spaces available for Violin, Cello, Trumpet, Flute and Singing lessons. To register your interest please complete this Google Form.
Toddler Play Sessions
Mr. Harrington's wife runs 'Mini Me Town' play sessions for children up to the age of six, which encourage exploration through play. If you are interested in attending with your child to encourage their imaginative play and meet other parents and children, you can find details on the poster here and/or visit the Mini Me Town website for further details: www.minimetown.co.uk.
Posted on: 8/09/2023
Exploring The Essence Of School CultureEvery term, our staff meet prior to the children returning to school for preparation and training days. Earlier this week, as well as rigorous Safeguarding, Cyber Security and Health And Safety training, we had a superb session on ‘Culture And Behaviour’ led by Mr. McLaughlin. The session was very thought provoking and inspiring. It also led me to ponder how much you, as our parent body, had deeply thought about our school culture and the behaviours and expectations we set for not only the children but also the adults supporting them (both staff and parents). This short blog below may give you food for thought. I would love to hear your reflections on our school culture and, as always, any feedback from our parent body is appreciated.
Schools are more than just bricks and mortar; they are dynamic ecosystems that foster the growth and development of our future generations. At the heart of any educational institution lies its "school culture." But what exactly is school culture, and why is it so essential?
In this blog, I will delve into the concept of school culture, exploring its components, significance, and the impact it has on the pupils, teachers, and the entire learning community.
School culture can be likened to the personality or character of a school. It encompasses the shared beliefs, values, traditions, and practices that shape the daily life and interactions within an educational institution. It's the intangible essence that defines what a school stands for and what it aspires to achieve.
Key Components Of School Culture
Shared Values and Beliefs:
A strong school culture is built on a foundation of shared values and beliefs. These could include a commitment to academic excellence, respect for diversity, a focus on character development, or a dedication to community service.
Our aims at St. Helen’s College are:
Love of Learning - We aim to inspire a lifelong thirst for creative, stimulating and rewarding learning, leading to the full development of every child’s academic potential.
Personal Growth - We aim to instil core moral values, inspiring virtue, responsibility, resilience, independence, mindful self-awareness and a desire for continuing self-development.
Involvement and Challenge - We aim to inspire an ongoing desire to develop talents, nurture the widest possible range of interests, and contribute to society as confident, compassionate and responsible citizens and leaders of the future.
St. Helen’s College inspires academic excellence, mindful self-awareness and creative self-development in pupils and staff alike. It is an inclusive, happy, vibrant community of pupils, staff and families, where love, respect, teamwork and teaching by example prevail. At its heart are our core values: love, harmony, spirituality and growth.
Norms and Expectations:
Every school has its own set of norms and expectations, which guide behavior and interactions. These could involve rules for conduct, academic standard or even dress codes.
We pride ourselves on our high expectations for how the children conduct themselves and it is important that, at the beginning of term, we remind them of our expectations. Children love routine and structure and over the course of this week we have introduced them and reminded them of our norms and expectations, including how they line up and move around school, playground etiquette, dining room etiquette and classroom routines. Ensuring that there is consistency in what we are all expecting from the children is key.
Traditions and Rituals:
Schools often have traditions and rituals that help to build a sense of belonging and identity. These might include assemblies, house events, plays, or annual events that bring the school community together such as our STEAM Day, Sports Days, Speech Competitions etc. This year we are very excited to be celebrating our centenary and over the course of this academic year there will be many events arranged for us all to celebrate ‘St. Helen’s College’.
Leadership and Role Models:
The leadership within a school plays a significant role in shaping its culture. Principals, Head, teachers and staff members serve as role models, influencing the attitudes and behaviours of children. I also include all parents as key to influencing the attitudes and behaviours of the pupils; this is why it is so important that you understand our expectations and fully support the school in its endeavours and all adults act as a team around the child, singing from the same hymn sheet so to speak.
The level of pupil engagement in school activities, clubs, and sports can also contribute to the overall culture. A vibrant extracurricular scene can foster a sense of enthusiasm and school spirit. We pride ourselves on our co-curricular provision at St. Helen’s College and your children are exposed to such a wide range of activities to enrich their opportunity and experiences.
So what is the significance of ‘School Culture’?
A positive school culture can enhance academic achievement. When pupils feel connected to their school and believe in its values, they are more likely to be motivated to excel academically. This goes without saying here at St Helen’s College and our pupils achieve significant academic excellence during their time with us - all pupils make excellent progress and our Year 6 leavers’ destinations are testament to this.
Social and Emotional Well-Being:
School culture has a direct impact on the emotional well-being of students. A supportive and inclusive culture can help students feel safe, accepted, and valued. I am sure that one of the main reasons for you choosing St. Helen’s College is the strength of our pastoral care and strong well-being emphasis, which is a golden thread throughout the school.
Teachers who work in schools with a positive culture tend to be more satisfied and motivated in their roles. This, in turn, can lead to better teaching practices and improved student outcomes. We have such an excellent staff team here at St. Helen’s College - there is superb collegiality and a recent staff well-being questionnaire affirmed this. Staff retention is very strong.
A strong school culture often extends beyond the school gates, involving parents and the wider community. This collaboration can lead to enhanced support and resources for the school. We have many links forged between parents and the wider community and it is an aspect of the school which we need to continue embracing and growing.
Preparation for Life:
School culture plays a vital role in preparing pupils for life beyond the classroom. It instils values, ethics and skills that are crucial for success in the real world. We are developing our ‘Life Skills’ programme over the course of the next couple of years but the children’s independence and acquisiton of life skills is dependent on school and home working together to enable their life skills to develop.
Creating and nurturing a positive school culture is an ongoing process that involves the entire school community.
Some key strategies include:
Effective Leadership: School leaders should lead by example, promoting the values and beliefs of the institution - we hope that you agree that our leadership at St. Helen’s College is as such.
Open Communication: Encourage open and transparent communication between all stakeholders - pupils, teachers, parents, and all other staff members. We are a large community and do our utmost to ensure good communication channels. Our recent ‘Meet the Teacher’ evenings are one aspect of this. We also hope that each year group will embrace the new communication app being set up for parental communication, ‘Class List’, and continue to maintain open and transparent communication in the parent body.
Inclusivity: Promote an inclusive environment that celebrates diversity and respects individual differences. We have undertaken so much work over the past few years on Diversity/Equality/Inclusion and this continues but we also appreciate parental involvement to keep improving this aspect of school culture.
Celebrating Achievements: Recognise and celebrate the achievements and contributions of students and staff. This is one aspect of our school culture which I feel is embedded at St. Helen’s College and we appreciate that parents also inform us of the children’s achievements from outside of school and even when they have left us and moved on to senior schools and beyond.
Continuous Improvement: Regularly assess the school culture and make adjustments as needed to align with the school's mission and vision. We are constantly reflecting and evaluating what we do, why and how. It is through this approach and gaining feedback that we can continue to make improvements to what already is an incredible school!
In conclusion, school culture is the heartbeat of any educational institution. It sets the tone for learning, shapes character and prepares pupils for the challenges of the future. By understanding and actively nurturing a positive school culture, we can create an environment where students thrive academically, socially, and emotionally, ensuring that they are well-prepared to become tomorrow's leaders and responsible citizens.
Thank you all for being part of this unique community. At the staff training day I spoke to the staff about how, after 34 years in education, I still feel the ‘wiggles’ the night before we return to school each term and especially at the beginning of a new academic year. Those wiggles are excitement, adrenaline, the anticipation of what lies ahead! I hope I never stop ‘wiggling!’. Wishing us all a superb new academic year.