School News and Head's Blog
187 Blog Posts found - Showing 1-9
Posted on: 9/02/2024
Mindfulness in SchoolsThere has been a lot in the news this week about the tragic murder of Brianna Ghey and the way in which her mother has responded. The BBC have reported that she has launched a local campaign in Warrington which has raised £50,000 to deliver Mindfulness training in schools, and is now backing a nationwide campaign which is calling upon the government to fund Mindfulness training for every school in England. You can read their report here and find out more about the Mindfulness in Schools Project here.
While it is enormously sad that it has taken such a tragedy to bring this issue to the fore, I could not agree with Brianna's mother more. There is an urgent need for all children, and school staff, to be taught Mindfulness principles and techniques, and to use these regularly.
Those who know St. Helen's College well know that we have been teaching Mindfulness to the children for many, many years. More than this, we have embedded Mindfulness as a school principle and staff and children practise Mindfulness daily, using a toolkit of techniques to combat the inevitable strains of modern, busy lives. Children here take on the role of Mindfulness ambassadors and over the last few years have led meditation sessions in assemblies and written about the effects of Mindfulness upon them.
This week, some of the Year 3 children have been talking about what being a part of a mindful school is like for them. They described how they have mindful moments in their classroom on Thursdays, when they lie down and put cucumber slices on their eyes. They also talked, unprompted, about liking how calm it is when they go into their classroom, about mindful moments in assemblies and about practising finger breathing to help them to stay calm and be in the present moment. One boy explained how our breath is always with us, and can be relied upon to calm us down if we can slow down and notice it. These ideas are clearly not unusual to St. Helen's College children, and it was obvious from the way they spoke that they do not see being mindful as something they have learnt, but as something they are. For children aged 7 and 8 to be able to articulate how and why Mindfulness is used in their day to day lives is wonderful and gives us all great hope for the future. I have no doubt that children throughout St. Helen's College feel the same, given that we have been embedding Mindfulness right from the start of a child's journey with us for so many years. This includes at Ducklings, our 2+ setting, where we use age-appropriate sessions such as teddy breathing to help our youngest children to experience and enjoy moments of calm self-awareness.
You might like also to read a piece that I wrote about Mindlessness v. Mindfulness from 2021 here.
There is no guarantee that Mindfulness training would have prevented Brianna Ghey's terrible murder. But there is certainly evidence that Mindfulness can help children and adults to push away negative thoughts and to embrace the positive, to ground themselves and to experience peace, self-awareness and acceptance. Mindfulness can help us all deal with impulses which may not be productive or good for ourselves or others, and give us time to examine and process our thoughts before acting upon them. I hope that Brianna's mother is successful in her efforts to bring Mindfulness training to all schools, and to all children, in the United Kingdom. Our love and thoughts go with her.
I wish you all a mindful, happy half term break.
Posted on: 2/02/2024
Fairness by Mrs. Kahol
Our school value over the past couple of weeks has been Fairness and we have had several opportunities in assemblies and around the school to discuss and see fairness in action and reflect on how we perceive fairness.
Many of you may know that I am an avid supporter of an organisation called WomenED and one of the key principles associated with this organisation is ‘fairness’. See the link here on the four WomenEd Campaigns.
I have had many conversations with parents regarding equality and fairness and I am aware that many of you are active proponents of this in your work places and home lives. I am delighted to share this blog written by Mrs. Kahol, a parent who works at GSK. It is written with the pupils as an audience but so relevant for us all.
As you start the new year, I wanted to discuss the important topic of equality with you.
Did you know that only around 100 years ago, women weren’t allowed to get a proper education? You might be surprised to know that the first college which allowed women to get into higher studies was the University of London, and that the first women ever to receive degrees got them in 1878. Education, which is now a basic right for all, wasn’t granted to girls in this country just one hundred years ago.
Unfortunately, in some parts of the world, these issues still exist. While the right to vote for women arrived in the early 1900s in the UK as a result of the suffragette movement, true equality for women is far from achieved, both in the UK and globally. Let me give you an example to explain more clearly. Two girls and two boys participate in an activity and receive the same score. Should they receive the same award for it – say two chocolates each? How would you feel if the boys were given three chocolates each and the girls were given only two? Would that feel fair? This idea of rewarding men and women differently for doing the same job is called Gender Pay Discrimination and it has been illegal in the UK for 45 years. But it still exists in some other parts of the world.
However if, in the above scenario, girls were asked to complete five more tasks in parallel to the tasks they have been given, they would of course take longer hours to complete the tasks, get more exhausted and likely leave the initial two tasks to the boys. This would lead to the boys getting all the chocolates. This is what is known as the Gender Pay Gap: because women still do more of the unpaid work of a family (e.g. childcare and housework) than men do, they have less time for paid work. The causes of the Gender Pay Gap are complex and overlapping. While some women may choose to work less and earn less, others may be forced into this situation and may not be happy.
According to the Women in Work Index 2021, at the rate the Gender Pay Gap is currently closing, it will take more than 50 years to reach gender pay parity. For every 100 men in the workforce, 69 women are in the workforce in the UK. That number is much lower for developing nations. Currently in the top 500 companies of the world (Fortune 500) only 9% of the CEOs are women. This equates to fewer role models for women which may lead women to have lower aspirations overall for their careers, a phenomenon called The Glass Ceiling.
Inequality like this between men and women at work may have a negative impact not only on women but on men too. It boxes men and women in to assume that they want to take on gender roles as they were defined centuries ago, with women staying at home and men outside. Things have changed in the last few centuries. Both men and women can work now if they want to, they can take care of a family together and support each other. Financial freedom is no longer limited by gender.
Boys and girls, you all have the opportunity to change this world. Each one of you can help in continuing to close this gap. It is important that the pupils of St. Helen’s College study hard and have equal opportunities to make names for themselves in fields of their choice in the future. Don’t let stereotypes box you into gender roles. You are the future and a good education from an esteemed school such as St. Helen’s College puts you in a great position to make your dreams come true. The world needs role models like you, prepared to call out any discrimination you see around you.
Posted on: 19/01/2024
School InspectionI am sure that many of you have read articles and reports in the media regarding the fallout from the tragic death of Headteacher Ruth Perry following her school’s Ofsted Inspection. Ruth took her own life in January 2023 before the publication of an inspection report rating Caversham Primary School in Berkshire ‘inadequate’.
The chief coroner concluded that the inspection 'lacked fairness, respect and sensitivity' and was at times 'rude and intimidating'.
Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills, inspects and reports on anywhere that provides education for young people in England, including schools, nurseries and childminders. Schools or organisations are inspected every four years or 30 months depending on their status, and are then graded accordingly:
1 - outstanding
2 - good
3 - requires improvement
4 - inadequate
Many parents rely on Ofsted ratings to help them choose a school or nursery for their child. As at November 2022, 88% of schools in England were rated either outstanding or good.
As an independent school and part of the association IAPS (The Association for Preparatory Schools), we are inspected under a different inspection body: ISI (The Independent Schools Inspectorate).
Ofsted are contracted by the Department for Education to conduct and report on inspections of organisations such as schools (both maintained and academies). The Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) are contracted to do the same but for Independent Schools.
ISI is a Government approved inspectorate and the quality of its service is monitored by Ofsted on behalf of the Department for Education. Every year, Ofsted prepares a report for the Education Secretary about how the ISI has carried out its work. Overall Ofsted is satisfied but will normally comment on an area for ISI to consider.
Both ISI and Ofsted report on independent schools’ compliance with the DfE Education (Independent Schools Standards) Regulations. These are the statutory rules the DfE imposes on independent schools against which ISI inspects. But ISI and Ofsted use a different framework and criteria for judging school quality, and they use different judgement words too. For example, up until last year ISI used 'excellent, good, sound and unsatisfactory', while Ofsted uses 'outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate'.
Another difference is that ISI inspection teams largely consist of practising senior leaders currently working in independent schools, whereas Ofsted inspectors have not necessarily run a school. This means ISI inspectors are realistic and knowledgeable about the challenges for individual schools and their reports are more nuanced. For example, ISI inspectors evaluate independent schools against the higher standards of academic achievement and extracurricular activities in the sector as a whole as well as against national norms.
The National Education Union (NEU) has urged school leaders to refuse to work as Ofsted inspectors until a health and safety assessment of the system is carried out. Ofsted inspections have been frozen and as well as calling for a freeze of inspections and the abolition of Ofsted, the motion instructed the union to 'call on all NEU leadership members to refuse to participate as inspectors in any further inspections until a full health and safety assessment of the inspection system is conducted'.
Educational leaders in both the maintained and independent sector can only see the positive in this but sadly it is too little, too late for Ruth Perry.
Many of you will know that I am a practising inspector for ISI and I am privileged to conduct regular inspections each year in other independent schools.
As an independent sector we also now have a new framework for our inspection process and ISI will now NOT give an overall judgement, and have abolished the four gradings of excellent, good, sound and unsatisfactory. Instead, they now focus on ‘nuanced reporting‘ within the report itself.
The new framework places a strong emphasis on promoting the wellbeing of pupils.
Pupil wellbeing is defined in section 10(2) of the Children Act 2004 as:
physical and mental health and emotional wellbeing;
protection from harm and neglect;
education, training and recreation;
the contribution made by them to society and
social and economic wellbeing.
This definition is used as a starting point for ISI’s approach to school evaluations, making it vital that all school leaders keep this at the forefront of their minds when updating policies and reviewing their curriculum and values.
The new framework places an overarching responsibility of the school’s leadership, management and governance to 'actively promote' these five aspects of pupils’ wellbeing in all aspects of school life. Governors are reminded of their responsibilities to ensure their school is fully compliant and aware of the measures they need to take in order to mitigate against the particular issues their school faces.
At St. Helen's College, we are approaching the end of our three year cycle and are due to be inspected hopefully by the end of 2024 under the new framework.
The new framework emphasises that schools need to actively seek and take into account pupils’ views, wishes and feelings about their school experience. School leaders should enable pupils to communicate, develop positive relationships with staff, and make their views known. Parent and staff views are also taken into account and questionnaires are sent out from ISI at the onset of the inspection process to assist the team in their evaluations.
Safeguarding continues to be at the forefront of inspections. Inspectors will check to verify there are arrangements in place to safeguard and promote the welfare of pupils and meet the expected standards and provisions as set out in the relevant legislation and statutory guidance. The new framework specifically mentions the need for schools to have effective arrangements to ensure that pupils know how to stay safe online and that these are regularly updated and reviewed. Schools can ensure they meet these criteria by having an effective PSHE curriculum in place as well as an Online Safety Policy (either stand alone or incorporated into the Child Protection and Safeguarding policy), which is appropriate for the ages and needs of the pupils. It should cover all aspects of staying safe online and must include appropriate provision to have monitoring and filtering systems in place.
I am proud to be part of the ISI inspectorate and how we as a body work together with schools to evaluate their provision to celebrate strengths but also to recommend areas of improvement to ensure that as a sector we are the frontrunners in our educational provision for your children.
You may wish to read more information about our inspection process here.
Posted on: 1/12/2023
Broadening Our ThinkingRecently Ms Gilham, our Head of Science and Challenge and Enrichment Co-ordinator, noted that when the children were asked to research a key scientist, they tended to name a European or American scientist such as Newton, Einstein, Fleming or Edison. It struck her that their knowledge of scientists seemed quite narrow in this global world that we live in.
Ms Gilham had already noted that Iron Age and Bronze Age scientists were mostly from other parts of the world, perhaps of Arabic, Indian or Babylonian origin. It was this that inspired her to broaden the children’s thinking and she tasked them to research names with a broader geographical and historical approach. The children were encouraged to discuss this at home and to think about people they knew who were in the world of science, including female scientists and scientists who worked or lived in places other than Europe or America. The results from Year 6 have been quite astounding and they have all learnt so much from the task, as have the staff!
The pupils’ research revealed a great deal about a diverse range of scientists from across history and across the globe. The children certainly broadened their scientific knowledge and simultaneously learnt to take a global approach when tasked with independent research. Their thirst for knowledge also led them to research their own families and revealed some facts closer to home, including these.
A Year 6 girl’s aunt is a gynaecologist currently working towards a PhD and her research aims to find out why childbirth is more straightforward for some women than for others.
A Year 6 boy’s parent is a GP who used be a surgeon but found it too messy!
A Year 6 girl’s great grandfather was a professor named Dr. Drabu, who was born in Kashmir and qualified as one of the first General Practitioners in Pakistan. He worked in refugee camps after bearing witness to the partition of the Indian subcontinent.
The children also discovered that our very own Ms Gilham (nee Emily Capulas) was a researcher at Sussex and Brunel Universities. For those interested, some of her research papers can be seen here: https://www.researchgate.net/scientific-contributions/Emily-Capulas-33881681
Parents who are interested in broadening their own knowledge of scientists through the ages and across the world might like to start with this timeline:
Have a super weekend.
Posted on: 17/11/2023
Kindness/Anti-Bullying Week 2023Throughout Anti-Bullying Week at St. Helen’s College, we have dedicated our time to educating one another on the importance of taking a stand against bullying.
The word ‘bullying’ at our school is one which we rarely hear, as our children are aware of how to treat each other and what to do if they feel uncomfortable or upset about something which happens to them or a peer. However, it is important that as a community we share with our pupils what other children around the UK are discussing in their schools this week. On Monday it was World Kindness Day and what a great way to introduce our new value of the week, kindness, and to remind our pupils of ‘kindness’ and how it looks at our school. It is with us all being mindful of ‘kindness’ that we can alleviate the behaviours which may lead to bullying. The AntiBullying Alliance has a wealth of resources to help schools and parents and I would recommend that parents use these tools to assist you in supporting your children.
As you know, we take a preventative approach in our behaviour policy and our mantra of ‘ready, respectful and safe’ resonates around the school, encouraging all pupils to be the best version of themselves every day.
There was a time where we would hear the phrase, ‘Oh, it was only banter.’ However, many educators are now rightly dismissive of ‘banter’ being a fun means of communication as it can often lead to bullying behaviours. Any form of ‘banter’ is well avoided. Martha Evans, Director of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, says, “Banter is a fun part of communication, but too often bullying behaviours are dismissed as ‘just banter’. Recognising the fine line between banter and bullying is crucial for the development and emotional well-being of our children. We want to see schools having these conversations with pupils this Anti-Bullying Week. We must empower educators with the confidence to support children, fostering an environment where every child’s voice is heard and respected, and we hope Anti-Bullying Week 2023: Make A Noise can help achieve this.”
On Monday, pupils in our Upper School assembly were very articulate in their discussions regarding bullying behaviours and being kind. They shared their views:
Treat others as you would like to be treated
Do not say something or do something to anyone if you would not like it said or done to you
If you see a friend looking upset or sad ask them if they are ok
Tell a grown up if you see or hear anything unkind happening
Stand up to someone if they are being mean to you or your friends
These were the thoughts of our children and it was followed up during the assembly with some key points for us all (adults and children) to think about in order to support and care for those around us:
Be Kind: A simple act of kindness can change someone's life.
Speak Out: If you see bullying, don't ignore it. Stand up and speak out. Your voice will always matter. #makeanoise
Embrace Our Differences: Our uniqueness is what makes us so special. Celebrate diversity and appreciate everyone’s differences.
St. Helen’s College takes pride in being a school that nurtures, supports and uplifts every person that we welcome through our doors.
#AntiBullyingWeek #BeKind #NoMoreBullying
How are you going to share your ‘kindness’ this weekend? Happy weekend!
Posted on: 3/11/2023
Making Time For UsAs you all know, here at St. Helen’s College we put pupil well-being at the core of everything we do. If we have happy and healthy children attending school, they will go on to thrive surrounded by loving parents and our supportive school environment with all that we offer.
Staff well-being is also core to us and I hope that any member of staff to whom you speak would testify that we look after and look out for every member of staff, to enable them to give their best to your children every day.
It is more difficult to reach every parent to ensure that your well-being is in a good place to enable you to be the best version of yourself each and every day. Our parent body is incredibly diverse and you all have many, varied commitments as part of your lives. We all live very busy lives and sometimes, in our commitment to our families and our work, we adults can forget about ourselves.
I enjoyed talking about adult well-being with parents at this week’s PA coffee morning and with staff on our return to school following half term. It was gratifying to hear that many of us are making time to look after our own well-being, perhaps away from partners and children. Spa days, weekends away with friends, attending yoga sessions, going swimming and morning runs before work are just a few ways that some of us make time for ourselves.
Many parents have taken advantage of some of the provisions we offer from a school’s perspective. Our Teddy Talks, for example, were put together in response to a parent survey about which areas of parenting you would like some support with. Our team were very brave in embarking upon this and we created a series of videos on a range of topics including early speech and language development, growing a love of reading and supporting healthy eating to name but a few. Do take a look, following the link, if you have not seen these short videos. Any further suggestions for future talks are most welcome.
Other parents have signed up for the Mindfulness in Schools course ‘.begin’ to give them a further understanding of how they may embed a more mindful approach to life’s challenges. See the link here for future course information.
Many families are enjoying ticking off the list of '100 Things To Do In Our Centenary Year', which we sent home with each pupil earlier this term. Do let us know how you are getting on with this and feel free to share photographs of you and your children enjoying any of the activities. The list was written by Mrs. Smith to enhance our well-being by encouraging us all to spend time appreciating the world around us, especially the great outdoors. I know that staff are enjoying working their way through the list with their families too!
This week was Mrs. McLauglins’s first week of running the next block of our ‘Baby Mindfulness’ sessions. The sessions are a bespoke six week course for mothers and babies, which we have been running at St. Helen’s College since 2021. You can click here to read a blog written last year by one of our current parents who attended with her newborn baby. Mrs. McLaughlin loves running these sessions and they are open to anyone in the local community, not just St. Helen’s College parents. (The Teddy Talk where Mrs. McLaughlin explains her classes is here). This course is unique and there are no other such classes available to new mums in the Hillingdon area. If any of you are currently expecting a baby or know of new mums who you think would benefit from this class then please do contact Mrs. McLaughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
It is so important that we adults look after our own well-being and make time to gather our thoughts, re-energise and just be ourselves - not someone’s parent, not an employee or boss, not a husband or wife - just us! It is when we give ourselves permission to take this time that we may become the best version of ourselves and this can only benefit everyone around us.
Enjoy and cherish that time!
Have a great weekend.
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!
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