School News and Head's Blog

192 Blog Posts found - Showing 1-9

  1. First
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. ..
  7. Last
Posted on: 7/06/2024

Empathy

    Yesterday, Thursday 6th June, was marked as ‘Empathy Day’ and many schools across the country have been focussing on ‘empathy’ with their students. Our pupils at St. Helen’s College have all participated in assemblies and activities and the children have been encouraged to start noticing when they are demonstrating empathy and what it feels like. Please take a few minutes to watch this wonderful short animation which the children in Middle and Upper School watched together and then discussed - it is incredibly powerful for adults and children alike! I have followed the work of ‘Empathy Lab’ for many years and it is most definitely a wonderful resource for adults to dip into if you are looking for a book to support in developing ‘empathy’ in our youngsters. Empathy Day celebrates and grows empathy's power to create a better world. It shines a light on the role of books in raising an empathy-educated generation. What is Empathy? Empathy is our ability to imagine and share someone else’s feelings and perspectives. Research shows it is: a pivotal social/emotional competence: influential frameworks include empathy as a key factor; an essential ingredient in education: it builds the relationships pupils need to learn/feel safe (Settling Children to Learn, Bomber & Hughes, 2013) and a key factor in moral behaviour: Empathy, Justice, and Moral Behavior, Decety & Cowell, 2015 Empathy is made up of three elements: FEELING: where we resonate with other people’s feelings; THINKING: where we use reason and imagination to work out how someone else feels and  ACTING: where we are inspired to help others, having experienced what they are feeling For some people ‘empathy’ does not come easy and I am often saddened when I hear of and witness sometimes first hand when adults are not able to demonstrate empathetic behaviours towards each other.  American researcher Brene Brown has spent over twenty years studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. You may enjoy this very short video where she explains the difference between empathy and sympathy.  Parents, teachers, peers, society, and culture affect how people feel about kindness, empathy, compassion, and helping behaviours. Some conditions may play a role in a lack of empathy such as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), antisocial personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder (BPD).  We all have such an important role to play in shaping the young people around us to allow them to be immersed in an environment where empathy and kindness are consistently being modelled and recognised and even celebrated.   Our school values play an important role in your children’s daily life. Your children are encouraged to think for themselves, understand their place in the world around them, anticipate others’ needs and show confidence, determination, resilience, courage, love, empathy and gratitude. At Upper School the children will celebrate by taking time to write a ‘values spotter’ postcard and pop it into the values box - these recognitions are then celebrated in assembly. The children do not receive ‘rewards’ for this achievement other than standing up in assembly to gain the recognition of their peers. It is so important that we do not ‘reward’ children with physical gifts for behaving in a manner that as a society we expect. The fact that we take time to recognise the person who has noticed the kind behaviours and acknowledge both parties is reward enough.  Let’s see if we can continue to embrace and demonstrate ‘empathy’ at home and in school to help our children develop the characteristics and values for them to build a happy, wholesome future.   Happy weekend. Ms Drummond
Posted on: 24/05/2024

Why I Ran The London Marathon by Sabe Karunananthan

This week we have a guest blog from Sabe Karunananthan, father of St. Helen’s College twins Naima and Noah. He explains why he ran the London Marathon this year to raise an incredible total of £7211 for Young Lives Vs Cancer.  This all started with a conversation with our Young Lives vs Cancer social worker, Rebecca, on the ward at Great Ormond Street Hospital. I’ve always wanted to run the London Marathon. I am a recreational runner at best having done two half marathons. I’ve entered the ballot for London for many years and never been successful. In my head it always seemed like a challenge I’d enjoy. Maybe I like pain. Rebecca regularly visited us on the ward, we had many conversations and on one occasion, I decided to ask for a charity place in the London Marathon and here we are. Dilly thought I was crazy and she was probably justified.  Noah and his twin sister Naima both started life like normal children. Noah became unwell at the age of 2, he wasn’t eating or drinking, eventually we had to take him to A&E. Naima and I had to stay at home. After a few tests, Dilly heard those dreaded words from the doctor: ‘It’s better if Dad is here too’.  The next 48 hours were a blur. Noah got diagnosed with ALL Leukaemia and was transferred to GOSH. In that whirlwind, I heard the strangest sentence from one our consultants: ‘If I had to give my child any type of cancer, I’d pick this one’. To be fair they were correct as ALL Leukaemia is the most researched cancer and one with the highest survival rate. During the first round of chemo, Noah developed a fungal infection that spread to his brain and caused a stroke. He was transferred to GOSH under blue lights for the second time in a month. There he spent the next seventy nights. For the first few weeks he wasn’t moving at all. We were at our lowest point and Young Lives vs Cancer really helped us and gave us the support we needed.  Originally, I was supposed to run the Marathon in 2023 but I got injured training, so I deferred to 2024. Noah still needed extensive rehabilitation. He spent eight weeks at The Children’s Trust, a charity St. Helen’s College knows well. Naima and I were again driving up and down to see them and I had to try fit in my marathon training. It was too early for me.  This time it was much better. A lot of very early Sundays running around Hillingdon; I particularly enjoyed Long Lane past the school as it was downhill. It only dawned on me that Hillingdon probably has that name due to the hills. I tried to avoid hills at all costs so you might have seen me running up and down the A40 as it’s flat. This went on for weeks. It consumed my life.  The BBC had picked up my fundraising, so they ran a story and asked me to stop for an interview on Tower Bridge. If you saw it, I may have looked composed but already I was broken. The rest of the run was brutal. I had so many mixed emotions. The crowd shouting Noah (and Naima), handing out sweets and the most tempting pint ever, which I did resist. I would cry, laugh and cry again. I was overtaken by a rhino, a lady carrying a fridge, a slow Sonic and a fireman wearing all his gear. There were so many inspiring people on the way. I had a decent tussle with a granny who in the end beat me. Eventually that last corner arrived and the crowd at this stage were incredible. The thought of doing an Usain Bolt like finish did cross my mind for a moment but I thought I’d save it for school Sports Day.  The money raised is a phenomenal number and the support I was given by everyone at the school has been incredible. Would I do again? The quick answer is no but I have entered the ballot for next year so who knows. I can see that strip on the A40 with my name on it!
Posted on: 17/05/2024

Movement For Mental Health By Mr. Harrington

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme for 2024 is Movement: Moving For Our Mental Health. Regular physical activity is known to improve mental health, quality of life and wellbeing. There is a strong connection between our bodies and our minds, so looking after ourselves physically also helps us to prevent problems with our mental health.  Exercise releases “feel good” hormones which reduce feelings of stress and anger. It also helps us to feel better about our bodies. It can improve our sleep too, and boost our self-esteem.  At St. Helen’s College, children are provided with so many opportunities to exercise their bodies and minds through physical activity. We have a carefully planned PE/Games curriculum, taught by specialist teachers, throughout the school. All of the pupils from Ducklings to Year 6 have weekly PE and Games lessons where they are given the chance to develop skills in a wide variety of sporting activities, and where they learn to love sport through exercise. Children in Years 2 to 6 all take part in a week-long intensive swimming course as part of their curriculum. Swimming is an important life skill and we encourage parents to continue lessons outside of school. We encourage the enjoyment of team games and sportsmanship and all of the children from Years 3 to 6 have represented the school in at least one sporting fixture this year. In addition, over the course of the year there have been over 150 co-curricular clubs and activities offered to the children, with sporting and exercise activities including karate, tennis, cricket, football, netball, basketball and very many more! Over the past month, 100 pupils of all running abilities from St. Helen’s College attended the TCS Mini London Marathon where they ran either 1 km or 2.6 km. We also ran a Mini School Marathon this week in Court Park, in which another 100 pupils took part.  In order to encourage an active lifestyle in other ways, we run Bikeability courses at school for our Year 6 children and we encourage pupils throughout the school to walk, cycle or scoot to school wherever possible. As with all things, the consistency of messaging and modelling at both home and school is crucial. Although there are lots of ways your children are getting exercise at school, it is important that they continue to carry this on outside school. Children who see their parents participating in and enjoying sport or physical activity will pick up the message that this is a healthy, fun part of life. There are so many things that you can do together as a family to promote fitness and physical/mental health: walking, cycling or running together; games of rounders, cricket or softball in the park; dancing in the kitchen while you are cooking dinner; swimming and other water sports; countless other ideas! It doesn’t matter what it is - everyone likes different activities and sports - but it does matter, deeply, that you and your children find something active to enjoy. You can see some photographs of SHC children getting active on our Galleries page here. Five Top Tips For Exercise And Mental Health Get outdoors as much as possible Spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. Doing things like exercising can have lots of positive effects. It can improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger and help you to feel more connected to nature. Pick a team sport and join a club outside of school  Find a sport your child enjoys. There are hundreds out there to choose from, so if they don’t enjoy sport then they just haven’t found the right one for them. Playing a sport as part of a team requires persistence, practice and patience with yourself and others. If exercise involves other people, like being part of a team, a class or group we see regularly, that can also boost our mental health. Find out where the nearest Park Run is and sign up with your children  Studies show that regular running at a moderate or vigorous pace can improve your mental health and even your memory and ability to learn. Many of your children are already capable of running the children’s 2 km park run as they are doing this in school. Your child may surprise you and want to sign up for the 5 km run.   Sign up for an outdoor holiday club  If your child is in Years 3 to 6 then why not get them involved in our Summer School at PACCAR? The children are given the opportunity to spend the week outdoors doing activities such as climbing, abseiling, laser tag, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and much more. If your child is younger, you could sign them up to a sports activity camp. Pledge to walk part or all of the way to school  We understand that many families need to drive to school, because your home is not a walkable distance from the school gates and/or because you need to drop your child and go directly to work or somewhere else. It is still possible to leave a little earlier, park slightly away from school (perhaps in Court Drive or another nearby road) and start your day with a short walk through or around the park to the school gates. Children - and adults - who begin their day with a walk have the opportunity to clear their minds, warm up their bodies and notice the beauty of the world around them. Why not try it? I wish you all an active, happy weekend. Mr. Harrington Head of PE/Games/Co-Curriculum
Posted on: 10/05/2024

Environmental Sustainability Strategy by Mr. McLaughlin

On Tuesday 7th May, we all returned to school after the bank holiday weekend to a superb ‘One World Day’ at St. Helen’s College, co-ordinated by our sustainability education lead, Mrs. Briggs. The day involved a host of cross-curricular learning including making bug hotels and seed bombs, visits to a local food bank, green education workshops, climate justice, pollution, carbon sinks and smoothies powered by static bicycles! The children really enjoy learning about our planet and the impacts of the ongoing climate crisis. They are naturally so empathetic and open to change. I am positive that, in the future, many of them will go on to provide the kind of clean, renewable energy and conservation solutions required to help the world continue to thrive for many more generations to come.   We have been working on our climate education program for several years now. I am sure that you have seen in our exhibition days, the success of our Eco Warrior team, and the thread woven throughout our curriculum, how much emphasis we have put on what the United Nations calls ‘the defining issue of our time.’ You may have seen the recent reports that ocean temperatures have been at record high levels every day for the last calendar year, further highlighting the urgency of action and awareness.  In the 2021/22 academic year, all teaching staff (and many of our support and administrative staff) undertook a rigorous training course on climate education, organised by Mr. Lewis, who inspired others with his passion for sustainability. Since then, we have gradually added and replaced content throughout our curriculum to highlight this issue amongst our community. On the way, we have achieved the Eco Schools Green Flag Award, driven forward by Mrs. Mann at Lower School and Mrs. Reid at Upper School. We are currently planning the next steps to meet the merit/distinction levels in the near future and to truly establish ourselves as a leading eco school. To achieve that aim, we knew we needed to go further. So in 2023 we established a Sustainability Committee to track and lead our progress in this area. We have had input and support from all of the names mentioned already plus Mr. and Mrs. Crehan, Ms Drummond, Mrs. Hunt, Chef Soula and her catering team plus many more (including, of course, the pupils!). Mrs. Cargill, our Business Manager, and the premises team of Mr. Graddon, Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Smith have worked hard to adapt our environment to be more sustainable. We have made changes to our business processes to become more efficient and we have plans for on-site renewable energy sources. Sustainability really is a team sport at St. Helen’s College, from the pupils and their families to the whole staff team. We know that to excel in this area, we need everybody to pull in the same direction and support the initiative. Every member of staff has contributed to our progress so far through their work on the curriculum or the business side of the school. To help support this, we have written a three year strategy which breaks down our goals for that period into ten distinct areas. You can view the strategy here. We have already made good progress with our action plan and we are confident that our next strategy cycle can be more ambitious in scope.  If you, or somebody you know, is connected to the sustainability industry and you feel you could partner with us to provide an educational experience for the children or a good business opportunity for the school, please get in touch and help us on our journey to becoming a leading Eco School. Mr. McLaughlin amclaughlin@sthelenscollege.com
Posted on: 23/02/2024

The Five Pillars Of Wellbeing

Health and wellbeing are of the utmost importance to us all. While it is absolutely normal for everyone to experience poor physical and/or mental health sometimes, generally keeping ourselves ‘well’ is most people’s goal. Parents often ask how they can best support their children’s academic and co-curricular endeavours, friendships and happiness. The answer is, focus on the five pillars of wellbeing, which are: Sleep, Nutrition, Exercise, Purpose and Connections. Pillar 1: Sleep No child will be able to enjoy life to the full, maintain their emotional equilibrium or reach their potential if they are chronically sleep-deprived. Every child therefore needs a regular, appropriate sleep routine. The NHS guidelines on how much sleep children should have in each 24 hour period are: Infants 4 to 12 months 12 to 16 hours including naps Children 1 to 2 years 11 to 14 hours including naps Children 3 to 5 years 10 to 13 hours including naps Children 6 to 12 years 9 to 12 hours Teenagers 13 to 18 years 8 to 10 hours A child’s bedtime routine should start at a consistent time each day, around 30-60 minutes before bedtime. Screens and other distractions should be avoided during this time; the focus should be on bathing, brushing teeth, reading, practising mindful breathing or simply cuddling/chatting. When bedtime comes, there should be no electronic devices in a child’s bedroom to distract them from sleep. If a child does rouse after their bedtime, they should be re-settled as quickly as possible. With consistency, all children can adopt a healthy and enjoyable sleep routine. Pillar 2: Nutrition NHS research shows that children who stay a healthy weight are fitter, healthier, better able to learn and more self-confident. They are also less likely to have health problems in childhood and later life. Children learn by example, so adults should model enjoying a balanced, healthy diet at regular mealtimes. We should all ‘eat a rainbow’ every day! When offering a balanced diet for children, adults may need to be patient. Children may need to try a certain food over and over again before they grow used to it. We can start off by serving children fairly small portions, giving more if they are still hungry after finishing. Just like adults, children should eat at least five portions of fruit/vegetables every day (fresh, tinned, frozen or dried fruits and vegetables are fine, but fruit juice and smoothies should be limited to a combined total of 150ml per day as these contain so much sugar). Starchy carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, bread and potatoes should make up around a third of a child’s diet and wholemeal/wholegrain varieties are best. With potatoes, skins should be kept on whenever possible as these are a good source of fibre. A child’s protein portion at each meal should be around the size of their palm. Meat, fish, pulses, beans and eggs are good sources of protein and the NHS recommends including one or two portions of oily fish per week and avoiding processed meats like sausages, bacon and ham. It is better to opt instead for lean meat or fish, limiting red meat. Children should have some dairy (cheese, milk, yoghurts) or dairy alternatives (e.g. soya drinks and yoghurts) as these provide protein, calcium and some vitamins. Ideally, these should be whole/natural versions and it is best to avoid flavoured yoghurts or fromage frais packed full of sugar.  When using oils/fats for cooking or in spreads, we should all choose unsaturated fats such as vegetable, rapeseed, olive and sunflower oils. For everyone, high sugar items such as cakes, biscuits or ice creams should be a ‘once in a while’ treat. The full NHS Eat Well guide is available here: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-guidelines-and-food-labels/the-eatwell-guide/ Pillar 3: Exercise Regular exercise is essential for keeping bodies and minds fit and healthy. There are many distractions in the modern world which might encourage children to stay indoors: televisions, computers, tablets and other screens, exciting indoor toys. It is up to adults to schedule time in the great outdoors for younger children and to inspire children to be active. This might include going for walks, using play equipment at local parks, cycling, skipping, scooting, swimming, trampolining or taking part in organised sports. Many traditional childhood outdoor activities are free, such as climbing trees, catching falling leaves, collecting rocks, pebbles or twigs, going on a bug hunt or jumping in puddles! Children will inevitably spend lots of time indoors too, and much of this can also be active. Rather than sitting still while staring at a screen, children could build indoor dens, do some cooking, try a bit of yoga or other stretching, or take part in active online games such as those based on sports or dancing. Tidying up, laying the table or helping to hang clothes on the line or put the laundry away are activities which inspire responsibility as well as movement! Gardening is good for the soul and it is never too early for children to learn how to plant, water and care for growing things. When a child is tired, even worn out, by being active, they - and their adults - can really appreciate the still, quiet times. There is something special about curling up after an active day to read a book, watch television, listen to music, do puzzles or simply sit and focus on our breath. Being active will also support children in getting enough sleep, as a tired child is more likely to sleep soundly. Pillar 4: Purpose Children are physically and mentally supported by a good sleep routine, a balanced, healthy diet, and a good amount of activity. The two final pillars of wellbeing are purpose and connections. If sleep, diet and exercise are the ‘hows’ of our lives, purpose and connections are the ‘whys’. Giving a child purpose is not as daunting as it might sound; here are some tips. Adults can help children to discover the joy of creativity with activities such as drawing, painting, learning to sing or play music, planting and nurturing a seed, building Lego structures or car/train tracks, making up stories or doing some cooking. Creating home-made items such as birthday cards and wrapping paper are a great starting point even for very young children. We can also inspire children’s curiosity, the basis for their lifelong learning, by talking with them about the world around them. For children, everything is a question. Why is the sky blue? What’s that girl doing? What makes the bubbles in water? Why do bees buzz? Adults might help children to uncover the answers for themselves, or perhaps join them on the journey of discovery! A curious child is likely to enjoy their educational journey and enjoying something is likely to make us do well at it. Children should be encouraged to find inspiration and wonder all around them. From the beauty of blossom to the enormity of elephants, from how sand feels between toes to the smell of freshly cut grass, there is always something to notice and appreciate. Adults should help children to recognise the beauty and wonder in the world, such as the new shoots in spring or the beauty of freshly-fallen snow, so that children may develop a sense of the wider world and of spirituality, awe and faith. Pillar 5: Connections This should, perhaps, be Pillar 1, because with strong and healthy connections, everything else becomes easier. Connections are relationships and our earliest relationships form the blueprint for healthy relationships throughout the rest of our lives. Relationships are not perfect all of the time, and we should not expect them to be. We should aim not to be perfect, but to be ‘good enough’. Healthy relationships are formed and enhanced by showing kindness, respect and patience, by listening attentively and communicating clearly. It is also important to set and maintain the right boundaries for both participants’ wellbeing. Between adults and children a crucial boundary is this one: ‘I am the adult, you are the child. I have knowledge and experience that you do not yet have. So, while I will listen to you with respect and kindness, I may not be able to grant your every wish.’ Helping a child with building their five pillars of wellbeing is not always an easy job. Often adults must spend time explaining the reasons for their decisions or justifying the boundaries they set. The good news is that if we can consistently ensure that children get the right amount of sleep, good nutrition, enough exercise, a sense of purpose and healthy connections, we will be enhancing their mental and physical wellbeing not just during their childhood but for their entire life. Which is, perhaps, the best gift of all.  
Posted on: 9/02/2024

Mindfulness in Schools

There 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.  Ms Drummond   Dear Pupils, 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. Mrs. Kahol
Posted on: 19/01/2024

School Inspection

I 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 Thinking

Recently 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: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_scientific_discoveries Have a super weekend. Ms Drummond

192 Blog Posts found - Showing 1-9

  1. First
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. ..
  7. Last