School News and Head's Blog
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Posted on: 15/11/2019
Weekly News - Friday 15th November 2019St. Helen's College Shortlisted for TES Awards!
The most outstanding individuals and institutions that the independent sector has to offer have been recognised in the shortlist for the 2020 Tes Independent School Awards and we are absolutely thrilled that St. Helen's College has been shortlisted in not one but two categories - an outstanding achievement!
We have been shortlisted for the Pupil Initiative Award for the wonderful work undertaken by our Junior Road Safety Officers, and for the Sports Award for our superb sporting provision.
Tes editor Ann Mroz said: “The Independent schools in this country are truly exceptional and those that have earned a place on the Tes Independent School Awards shortlist are a cut above the rest. We received an unparalleled number of entries this year, all of which were first rate. The schools that have been shortlisted should be proud - it's a remarkable achievement."
The winners will be revealed at a gala awards evening at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London on Friday 7 February 2020. So please keep your fingers crossed for St. Helen's College!
Author Visit - Anna Fargher
The pupils at Upper School were inspired on Monday when, alongside our Remembrance Day activities, they were treated to a visit from author Anna Fargher. Anna is the author of The Umbrella Mouse, an award winning adventure tale based on true stories of animals involved in World War II.
The children were shown how dogs carried medical supplies on the battlefield and how foxes would make lucky mascots for fighter pilots. We also learned about the history of the Dickin medal, awarded on one occasion to a courageous pigeon that saved many lives. After the charming presentation, Anna signed books for the children in the library. Catherine and Anish recited the Exhortation in the Upper School playground before everybody observed a two minute silence and Patrick played The Last Post beautifully on his trumpet as we remembered all the soldiers and animals who have fought bravely in war.
Fireworks (Years 1 - 6)
On Tuesday, all of the children from Year 1 to 6 took part in our termly school writing task. This time, the children had to write a description of a fireworks display. During assemblies, the children shared their experiences and looked at some helpful techniques before going back to classes to plan and write. Here is a selection of examples from work across the school:
'I heard a crash, whizz and boom. There were ten fireworks and everyone was amazed. They sparkled and lit up the sky with glitter. The fireworks were cherry red and sea blue. Suddenly one went BANG! and brightly filled the sky.' - Anna 2B
'I could smell hotdogs, onions and candyfloss. Incredible colours covered the sky such as violet, vermillion and tangerine. A joyous feeling filled my heart as the booming and banging filled my ears.' - Shruthi 4T
'The moment the display commenced, I was transported into another dimension where only fireworks and fun existed. A vivid explosion ripped through the air - a fluorescent contrast against the pitch black sky. Again, a spark shot out into the night, only to explode into a flower of a thousand varied shades.' - Anaiya 6M
Times Tables Rockstars
The children have competed in the National Maths Week Tournament for Times Tables Rockstars this week and we are so impressed with their results. They have fully engaged with the task and have made some exceptional progress as a result. Congratulations to 6RD who were the winning class for the school. St. Helen's College came 204th (at last checking) out of thousands of schools which applied.
Harry J in 6RD is the fastest player in Upper School and Sean R is the fastest player in Middle School. Lachlan J in 2H is the most improved Middle School player and Zain A in 6M is the most improved Upper School player this week.
Children in Need
This week, pupils have been busy raising funds for BBC Children in Need. The money raised will go to support vital projects across the UK including Hillingdon Carers, who provide opportunities and support to unpaid carers in the local area.
The Year 6 children organised a raffle and Jena J (Year 5) put together a 'guess the number of sweets in a jar' competition. Today, children dressed in spots or yellow and took part in the Joe Wicks 'Big Morning Move,' which included a special guest appearance at Upper School! The short group workout was a great way to energise for the day ahead and to raise money for those in need.
The raffle winners were:
Elisa K (Wrens) - Giant Pudseyâ
Selina A (1HC) - Blush Bear
Annabelle S (3B) - Giant Pudsey
Leo J (4KT) - Blush Bear
The winner of the 'guess the number of sweets in a jar' competition was Siyana M (4KT).
Thank you for your generosity in supporting the event.
St. Helen's College Pupils Feature In Steve McQueen Year 3 Exhibition
Steve McQueen Year 3 is a partnership between Tate, Artangel and A New Direction. Turner Prize-winning artist and Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen has this week unveiled one of the most ambitious visual portraits of citizenship ever undertaken in one of the world's largest cities. This epic portrait of the future of London captures thousands of local children in a milestone year in their development, and we are delighted that our current Year 4 classes are being featured as part of this piece of art, which includes 76,146 pupils from 1,504 London schools!
Over the past week, class photographs have been popping up on over 600 billboards across London's 33 boroughs as part of a city-wide outdoor exhibition, and the gallery exhibition is now open in the Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain, from 12 November 2019 to 03 May 2020.
We do hope that many of you will take the opportunity to visit this exhibition with your families and reflect on the citizens of the future and all that is being done by schools and families to prepare them for what lies ahead.
Christmas Cracker Concert Band
English Music Academy will be hosting a superb performance opportunity for young wind, brass and percussion players of Grade 3 - Grade 8 standard. They are inviting young musicians who are playing at this level to join them as part of their Christmas Cracker Concert Band on Friday 20th December at St. Peter's Church, Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill, London, W11 2PN. The day runs from 10.30 a.m. and pupils will rehearse seasonal popular music pieces during the day, showcasing their work in an evening performance at 6 p.m. in the church, which is free for parents, family and friends to attend. The music will include Let It Snow, Let It Snow, White Christmas and music from Frozen. The day costs £110 (with a £15 discount if you book before 22nd November) and the church is just a few minutes from Notting Hill underground station, with Portobello Market just around the corner. For more information and to book, please follow this link:
Our Year 6 netball players travelled to Langley Hall School this week for a friendly 7-a-side netball fixture. The team grew in confidence as the match progressed, retaining more possession and shooting with more success to win the match 13 - 7.
As we approach the mid-season break in the local schools' netball league, we are pleased to report that the St. Helen's College team are currently top of the table. League matches will resume in January.
On Saturday morning our football team took part in the annual Packham Cup Memorial Trophy. The team had three group matches, winning the first 3-0, the second 5-0 and the third with an impressive 1-0 victory over Hermitage. This meant that we finished top of the group. In the quarter final, we were drawn against Whitehall School and after extra time we were unfortunate to lose 1-0. This was an extremely tough draw for us as Whitehall went on to win the trophy. Mr. Dyson feels that, if the draw had been a bit kinder, we could well have been in the final ourselves. However, the team played superbly well, scoring many goals and should be very proud of themselves for strong performances on what was an extremely cold morning. Thank you to all of the parents for your ongoing loyal support. Team members were: Zail T, Patrick E, Joban K, Daniel G-J, Eli V-B, Harry J, Adam K.
At the halfway stage in the football league, we are currently sitting at the top of the division with four games left to play.
Children must not arrive unaccompanied at the school gates after 8.30 a.m. Registration takes place at 8.30 a.m. every day and it is important that your child arrives at school in good time to line up and go into registration without rushing. If you are unavoidably delayed and your child arrives after 8.30 a.m., then you MUST accompany your child to the school office and sign him/her in.
Posted on: 15/11/2019
Growing Initiative - Head's BlogThis week I have to admit that I jumped for joy, literally, when I heard the news that we have been shortlisted for the prestigious TES Independent School Awards in two categories: Student Initiative and Sport. We are incredibly modest about our achievements at St. Helen’s College and every week I pick up an educational journal only to read about what ‘initiatives’ other schools are discussing when often we have been doing many of these things for several years - e.g. P4C, Flipped Learning or Mindfulness. But this week I want to focus on the impact of what we do here at school with our pupils which enables them to show ‘initiative’.
Initiative is a self-management skill, and self-management is one of five key life and work skills for young people entering the workforce. Your children are nowhere near the age of entering the workforce but they are certainly proving that they are going to be an incredible workforce for the future!
‘Initiative’ is defined as 'the ability to assess and initiate things independently'.
There has been a plethora of activities recently in which we have seen our pupils stepping up to the mark, conceiving of and leading on some wonderful projects. The confidence, self belief and leadership qualities which the children possess are admirable and most definitely worthy celebrating. Our JRSO team and our Sports Leaders have been recognised by being shortlisted for the TES Awards, but it is true to say that pupils across the school are incredibly resourceful and enthusiastic in their self-led endeavours.
Examples of some of these activities are:
A Year 6 pupil designing an 'inside out sound box'. This is a very intricate project, which is worth a future blog in itself. The design and planning process is now complete and the build is in hand, so watch this space!
Year 6 boys setting up a ‘Times Tables Rockstars’ club. Inspired to improve their mental maths skills, this group of boys are eager to encourage other pupils form Year 4-6 to challenge and improve their mental agility too.
Year 5 girls running ‘Nature Club’, which has involved organising and sourcing resources and activities to bring joy to their peers through the exploration of nature.
Year 6 pupils holding maths clinics in the library at lunch and break times for younger pupils to have some peer tutoring in maths topics
Numerous charity fundraisers throughout the school; every class becomes involved in charity fundraising and all ideas are led by the pupils.
Another definition of ‘initiative’ is the power or opportunity to act or take charge before others do. Yet again we witness this on a daily basis at St. Helen’s College. Only yesterday at lunch, a Year 3 pupil told me that he would be applying for the position of Head Boy when he was in Year 6 as he has so many good ideas for me for the school and children! I shall not reveal his innovative ideas but I am sure this proactive young man will go places in the future. Even our youngest Ducklings were innovative in their thinking today as we discussed what to do with the toy cars in the garage which had missing wheels!
So, how can you support your young children at home to develop skills such as innovative thinking, problem solving and entrepreneurship? Below is a list of some tips recommended for toddlers and preschool children. If we can encourage our youngest pupils in this way, this will provide a great start to developing their confidence, self-belief and leadership qualities.
Praise your child’s efforts, not the result. “I know you worked hard to put the napkins on the table. Thank you.” “It took a lot of time to put all your toys away.”
When your child asks a question, if appropriate, respond with a question. “What do you think?”
When your child says, “I can’t do it,” instead of immediately helping, suggest other options depending upon the task. “Can you try doing it a different way?” “Tell me what you need to make it work.”
Allow your child to make decisions so he/she becomes comfortable doing so. Even a toddler can choose which clothes to wear when given options or between a cheese or ham sandwich. (This helps decrease frustration, too.)
Allow a little extra time so that your child can do things themselves, like putting on their shoes or coat, packing their bag or picking out a book to read in the car before you leave the house.
Provide opportunities for your child to have creative play – playing outdoors, playing with groups of other children in structured time, drawing, painting, making things or baking.
Avoid screen time! Time spent watching movies and playing video games decreases the need to be creative and take initiative.
And for us adults in the workplace! We all need to inspire the younger generation so here are a few tips for our further future success:
Never stand still.
Do more than is required of you.
Think as a team member, not an employee.
Speak up and share your ideas.
Consider every opportunity.
Always be prepared.
Regardless of the outcome at the TES Awards Ceremony in February next year, it is a huge testament to our school that we have been shortlisted for our achievements in the two categories. We need to remember that it is our staff and parents coming together to support the children in a safe and nurturing environment which enables our pupils to develop these most crucial skills which will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.
Posted on: 8/11/2019
Artificial Intelligence In The Classroom - Head's BlogI am writing my blog today (Sunday) in advance of returning to school after a wonderful half term break. Hopefully everyone is feeling as energised and as rested as I feel as we enter another busy and fruitful half term. I am on a school inspection this week, thus not in school Tuesday - Thursday, so taking the opportunity now to write the Friday blog! I would be most interested to hear parental views on this week’s topic.
I am sure that everyone is very aware of the momentum that AI is having in our society as systems become more automated in our daily lives. AI is something which we cannot ignore; we must embrace it and move with it as appropriate for our lifestyles. I am not convinced yet about the prospect of cashierless supermarkets (Tesco’s have already trialled this in one of their 'Express' stores), but I will watch with interest as Amazon Go plans and opens its first store in Oxford Circus.
So, how should we move with Artificial Intelligence in education? Could the teaching profession be threatened by AI - might we find robots in the classroom 30 years from now? Personally I do not think that this is a reality, but the benefit of using AI in education is that the technology can be used to personalise children’s learning as the work set is adapted according to data collected as the child moves through a task. This is known as adaptive learning.
The official definition of this is as follows: 'Adaptive learning is a technology-based or online educational system that analyses a student's performance in real time and modifies teaching methods based on that data. Think AI meets dedicated math tutor meets personalised engagement.'
Adaptive learning, also known as adaptive teaching, is an educational method which uses computer algorithms to orchestrate interaction with the learner and deliver customised resources and learning activities to address the unique needs of each learner.
There are many adaptive software learning apps available not only for children but also for adults. Mr. Crehan is already an avid user of a language app to assist him in his acquisition of Mandarin. This also inspired my use of Bussu to help me with my Spanish and there are numerous others on the market such as Duolingo or Babbel which are widely used by children and adults alike.
The UK unfortunately does seem to be quite behind in embedding AI as an integral part of a pupil’s learning in school. The US, India and China are way ahead of where we are and it will be very interesting to monitor the growth of AI in these countries and its impact. Whilst attending the IAPS Heads' Conference in September, I heard from the founder of CenturyTech - Priya Lakhani OBE. Priya’s company has established a successful adaptive learning platform for pupils in Key Stage 2 upwards in English, Maths and Science. Her presentation was inspiring and many UK based schools are now looking at how we may embrace AI further to enhance teaching and learning. At St. Helen’s College, our pupils use technology exceptionally well. They have excellent digital literacy and technology is used across the school in many curriculum areas. However, what more could we be doing?
Mr. Lewis and I are meeting with a CenturyTech representative for a demonstration of their learning platform tomorrow (Monday) and I am looking forward to hearing from their representative as to how this product may enhance the experiences and opportunities we offer your children.
If any parents have further insight or experience of AI in education - please do share! It is a very exciting and fast moving industry but should be approached with caution and with an awareness of who is developing the products and why. We do not wish to remove teachers from the classroom - adults still need to work with children to develop their soft skills and assist them in becoming creative independent individuals.
We need to prepare our children for the future but be well informed and confident that what we do offer them is right for them and us as a school.
You may enjoy reading this for further depth:
Posted on: 8/11/2019
Weekly News - Friday 8th November 2019Times Tables Rock Stars
The children at Upper School have been diligently practising their times tables this week ahead of National Numeracy week next week, when all children will be entered into the national Times Tables Rockstars competition. Prizes will be awarded to classes with maximum participation over the course of the week and we hope the children will all be able to participate.
There have been some changes in scores this week with Sean R (2H) becoming the fastest middle school player and Avantika G (2B) achieving the most improved player.
In Upper School there has been another fierce battle with Mohib F achieving a phenomenal 0.94 seconds per question and regaining his title as the fastest player in the school. Louis B (4T) is the most improved player in Upper School this week.
Keep up the good work!
Year 1 Trip to Roald Dahl Museum/Gallery
Our Year 1 children enjoyed a phiz-whizzing trip to the Roald Dahl museum/gallery on Thursday and have certainly been inspired to be even more creative in their creative writing work!
Nursery Trip to Playtrain
The Nursery children had a wonderful trip today to the Playtrain soft play centre and were very excited also to be getting on a coach at the beginning of their adventure!
Thank you to everyone who has supported the Poppy Appeal thus far. Children will be selling poppies on Monday morning in the playgrounds. We will be observing a two minute silence at 11 a.m. at Upper and Lower School and this year one of our Year 6 pupils will be playing The Last Post which he has been working hard to learn in his trumpet lessons.
Visiting Author - Anna Fargher
On Monday we will enjoy a visit from Anna Fargher, author of 'Umbrella Mouse', the winner of the 2019 Sainsbury's Book Prize for Fiction, who will speak to children in Years 3 - 6. Information has been sent separately to parents. This will be particularly poignant on Remembrance Day as 'Umbrella Mouse' is a timeless tale of courage, resistance and friendship, drawing on the true stories of animals caught in the conflict of World War 2. Anna will also be joining us for the Remembrance silence.
Children in Need
Next Friday (15th November) is national Children in Need Day and we will once again be supporting this worthy cause. We would like to invite children to come to school dressed in yellow or spots on Friday, for a donation to the charity (we suggest a minimum donation of £2). Raffle tickets are being sold at Upper School, Lower School and Ducklings so please do allow your children to bring in some money to buy raffle tickets if they would like to be in with a chance of winning Pudsey and Blush Bears.
At Upper School, Jena J will be running a 'Guess the number of sweets in a jar' competition to raise money for Children in Need. This activity will start on Tuesday in the gazebo every morning from 8 a.m. and will cost £1 a go.
Thank you in advance for your generous support for this charity initiative.
On Wednesday our football team had their fifth match of the season against Highfield School, winning 7-1. Highfield weren't the strongest of opposition but the team were able to work on developing their skills, tactics and teamwork. Adam K scored his first goals of the season, netting 4 - quite an achievement for a Year 4 pupil - and Eli scored 2 and Harry 1. Hopefully we can take this form into the Packham Cup this Saturday and progress through the competition. Team members were: Zail T, Patrick E, Joban K, Reece G, Daniel G-J, Eli V-B, Harry J, Jack H and Adam K. Well done to all involved!
The Year 5 and 6 girls' football team were also in action on Wednesday, travelling to Denham United Ladies FC to take part in a tournament of sixteen local schools. Some of the girls were playing competitive football for the first time but they showed great skill and tenacity to win the group with one goalless draw and two victories. Rhea A-V captained the team, leading by example with two winning goals to help the team through to the semi finals. Unfortunately, they lost a competitive semi final against an excellent team but the whole squad can be very proud of an excellent performance. Congratulations, girls!
Posted on: 18/10/2019
Powerful Learning - Head's BlogThis week we have had the privilege of showcasing our pupils' learning to numerous prospective parents during our weekly individual tours but also at our Open Morning on Wednesday when the visitors were guided around the school by our current Year 6 pupils.
The feedback we had from our visitors this year was quite overwhelming and the sense of pride which we have in your children is immeasurable. The last port of call on the tours was to the Upper School Hall as the guides introduced their visitors to myself, Mr and Mrs Crehan and Mrs Smith. Every visitor paid our students the highest of compliments remarking on their confidence, communication skills, passion for their school and their learning and how they managed to answer all the questions but also enticed questions from their visitors.
What we do at St Helen’s is truly unique and it is through the dedication of the staff working so closely together to lay strong foundations for your children that they go on to be very successful young adults.
Our teaching and classroom environment empowers the children to be adventurous in their learning journey; strengthening their determination and imagination to become critical thinkers with the ability to reflect and collaborate to deal with difficulty and uncertainty to enable them to become more independent and resourceful learners.
One such example of powerful learning this week was in the Year 6 science lessons . The children have been studying microorganisms; they designed and planned an investigation to find out the various factors that affect respiration in yeast. A preliminary experiment was suggested by one of the children and from there, the whole year group was challenged to think of a ‘bigger’ experiment.
The result of the independent planning was that 5 main factors were to be investigated: temperature of water, acidity of substances, natural vs artificial sugar, amount of sugar, and various sources of sugar including vodka! (This was under lock and key but the children were definitely resourceful in their planning!) The children worked collaboratively and had to figure out and allocate certain jobs and responsibilities within each group. All resources were provided for the children which they had to organise and use effectively. They all worked out timings and the recording and collection of data. The children relied on the efficiency and cooperation of each group member to complete their experiment; some giving up their playtime to continue with the work.
The children achieved success in many ways. They all learned an important scientific concept in yeast respiration and mastered investigative skills by performing a full scientific enquiry in a fun and enjoyable way. It is also equally important to note that through hands-on experiences and activities in science such as this, collaborative learning took place and continues to be encouraged.
During lunchtime on Wednesday the Science monitors were discussing their learning with me in the Science lab and Shaina has kindly written up this wonderful report to share with you. I will leave you with Shaina’s words - it sums up the power of learning at St Helen’s!
In science this week, Year 6 did an experiment to see how yeast respires with liquids of different pH values.
Firstly, we had to plan what we wanted to include in the experiment. In our plan we had to include our prediction, our fair test (what we keep the same, what we change and what we are measuring), all the equipment we would need from the ingredients to the labels and bags and also our method in a way that we could then follow the steps in class making the experiment easier.
After this was completed, we gathered into groups and labelled the bags (lemon juice A and B, milk A and B…), got the sugar and yeast and beakers in case they leaked. We were all ready for the next day when we would conduct the experiment. Everyone was allocated a job. In my group we had some pairs and some people working alone as they chose to do so. Conducting the experiment along with me were Laura, Esha, Malaika and Ridhima were one pair and Catherine and Lily were another pair. Each person/pair was allocated two liquids to test; there were five liquids to test and ten beakers as we had A and B of every liquid to increase accuracy in our results.
The following day, we gathered our materials with speed because of our thorough planning. To each bag we added five millilitres of the given substance to ninety-five millilitres of water. When everyone was ready we added in our teaspoons of yeast and sugar at the same time and sealed the bag immediately afterwards. Every five minutes over a forty minute period, we took measuring tapes and measured the width of the bag. We did this because just as we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide so does yeast. This life process is called respiring. When the yeast breathes out carbon dioxide the bag inflates and therefore causes the width to expand. Having already created a rough table to record data findings, we simply wrote down the width of the bag every five minutes for each person’s/pair's findings.
In conclusion, we found out that substances with a pH of 7/8 (neutral or slightly on the alkaline side) worked best. Extremely surprisingly, we found that lemon juice, which is pH 3 and very acidic, also helped yeast respire, whereas vinegar of the same pH value did not help yeast respire at all. I don’t think this was a fair test because our bags kept opening, allowing carbon dioxide to escape and some yeast bubbled up into a froth, leaving the bag to have not expanded at all.
I thoroughly enjoyed this experiment because of the new things I have discovered. I did not know that yeast respires in the same way we do or that it grows but not in the same way we do - instead it multiplies many times. I also did not know that different temperatures or pH values can affect the way that yeast respires.
I think this experiment can be improved by not putting the liquids in the bags but instead in the tubes because they have lids and are leak proof, whereas in our experiment some of the bags leaked and/or opened. In the tubes we can measure the amount of froth as that is also carbon dioxide building up.
By Shaina A
Posted on: 18/10/2019
Weekly News - Friday 18th October 2019Month End Music Recital
Our October Month End Music Recital of the year took place in The Evans Hall this afternoon and was well attended. These informal recitals give those children learning instruments or having vocal tuition a chance to perform in an informal setting. Very well done to all of the children who performed; we were treated to a variety of pieces on the piano and violin from various year groups, including a duet. This was a lovely way to end the week and the half term! Well done to all those who performed.
Year 5 Trip to Hampton Court Palace
Year 5 had a great day at Hampton Court on Monday, despite the weather. The children were very inquisitive as they looked around the palace and were wowed by the size and magnificence of rooms such as the Great Hall, the Great Watching Chamber and the Chapel with its beautiful ceiling painted like a starry night sky. The children took part thoughtfully in their workshop with 'Edward, a member of the King's household'. They learnt about the different positions at court and about the 'great chain of being', which put everyone in the land into society groups. However, your position was not fixed and you could rise in society (like Thomas Wolsey did). You could also fall and the children learnt that the further up the ladder you went, the further you had to fall! In the end, most of the pupils were in agreement that it would probably have been safer to have been a servant in Henry's household rather than in a position of power.
Times Tables Rock Stars
This week has been another exciting week in Times Tables Rock Stars. Congratulations to Eva J (2H), who had the biggest increase in accuracy for Middle School and to Anokhi B (4T) who now holds the title of the most accurate player in the school.
There has been a hard fought battle at the top this week between two of our fastest boys in Upper School. Harry J just pipped Mohib F to the post with less than a hundredth of a second between the two to hold on to his title as the fastest player! Poppy H (3M) retains her title as the fastest Middle School player. Well done to all!
Year 6 Morning Tea Party
The school is very grateful to our wonderful Year 6 students, who were great ambassadors for the school on our recent open morning. The children enjoyed some morning treats to celebrate their achievement.
4T Assembly - How We Learn At St. Helen's College
Our 4T pupils presented a well-informed and research-based assembly this morning, as we were introduced to the ideas behind Carol Dweck's Growth Mindset.
The children also examined various ways in which they learn, including reflection, collaboration and always trying their best. They finished the assembly by treating us to a wonderful rendition of a song from The Greatest Showman. Well done, 4T!
STARS Character Competition
The Hillingdon Road Safety Team are running their annual road safety competition and we would like to encourage pupils in Years 3 - 6 to design an entry over the half term break. Pupils are asked to design a road safety character, and the four winning characters will be used in Hillingdon's printed road safety material.
You can see the full details and entry form from the Hillingdon STARS Team here.
This year the Parents' Association have asked the school to take part in designing Christmas cards as a school fundraiser. The children are all currently busy completing their designs ready for processing and they are all looking very exciting.
In addition, the Parents' Association have also expressed that they would like to give each child the opportunity to create their own family, birthday, or other occasion card. If you wish to take part, you will need to follow the instructions on the form which has been sent home today with your child, placing your order online first then bringing in your form and design back to school no later than Friday 8th November, ready for collection. Children should hand their designs to their class teacher or to Miss Dear directly.
We hope you enjoy taking part. We are sure your designs will look fantastic!
Half Term Holiday Club and Breakfast Club
Holiday Club and Breakfast Club will both take place at Lower School over the half term break. The children will make use of the facilities at both Upper and Lower School over the course of the week, but we would ask that you drop children off to Lower School and pick them up from Lower School at the end of the day. You can see more information about Holiday Club here.
We are now beginning the entry processes for Ducklings entry in September 2020 and Nursery entry in September 2020. If you have a child who is eligible for entry to the school next September, and you have not yet registered him/her with us, please do so as a matter of urgency so that you do not miss out on a place. You can register your child online here.
Children in Need Fundraising
On Friday 15th November we will be supporting the Children in Need charity to raise money for projects taking place all over the UK. To support this excellent cause, we will be holding a tog (non-uniform) day and children are asked to come to school wearing yellow and/or spots. In addition to this, we will have a raffle and a special live stream workout with 'The Body Coach' Joe Wicks. Many schools up and down the country will be participating in this huge event. We kindly ask that you send your child in with a suggested donation of £2 - any more will be gratefully accepted.
Your child may wish to bring some extra money into school for raffle tickets, which will be on sale throughout the week in the mornings at Lower School and Upper School. There will be a giant Pudsey Bear and a smaller Blush Bear as prizes at Lower School and Upper School. Ducklings children may also buy raffle tickets for the Ducklings raffle; the prizes at Ducklings will be a smaller Pudsey Bear and smaller Blush Bear. We wish the children luck in the raffles and thank you, in advance, for your support of this charity.
St. Helen's College Parent Parking Pledge
We would like to remind parents of our Parent Parking Pledge which aims to manage congestion and improve safety near our school at busy times. The idea is simple: in return for agreeing to follow some basic principles, your car can carry a sticker that tells the world you are doing your bit to make a difference.
Parents at schools across Hillingdon are agreeing to:
• Help my child/children travel actively at least once a week
• Drive with consideration for others
• Park away from the school gates
• Never block a driveway
• Turn off my engine when parked
In addition we have three pledges that apply here and trust that you will agree to:
• Follow the St. Helen's College parking regulations
• Use the 'Drop & Go' and 'Pick Up & Go' zones safely and efficiently
• Respect and adhere to the parking restrictions in operation around all our school sites
If you are happy to make the Pledge, please follow the link and complete the form. Once submitted, you will get your car sticker that will show others your commitment to pupil health and safety.
Thank you and please remember to display your car stickers with pride!
PA Class Representatives
Many thanks to those parents who have volunteered to become (or continue as) PA class representatives. We are still seeking a class rep for 4T. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to take on this role.
Children should return after the half term break wearing full winter uniform. The only winter coats that should be worn are the school 3-in-1 coats.
Upper School parents' evening is on Thursday 7th November and appointments can be booked in the usual way. We look forward to seeing parents then.
PA Christmas Parties
The PA Christmas parties for children will take place on Sunday 1st December 2019 at Richings Sport Park, Wellesley Avenue, Richings Park, Iver, SL0 9BN. Tickets will cost £11 per child which includes food, entertainment and a visit and gift from Father Christmas!
Timings of the parties will be:
10 a.m. - 12 p.m. Nursery and Reception
12.30 - 2.30 p.m. Years 1, 2 and 3
3 p.m. - 5 p.m. Years 4, 5 and 6
Please look out for details of how to book, which will be sent out via your class WhatsApp group. Please note that bookings must be made by the deadline as we will not be able to add children after this date. Don't miss out - pencil the date into your diary now! The flyer is available here.
Posted on: 11/10/2019
Golf: A Game Of Life - Head's Blog
Last weekend I had hoped to attend a conference in Sheffield - the 4th annual WomenEd Unconference (it is called unconference for a reason - but this is not relevant to my blog!) However, I made a decision to put my own wellbeing first - take the foot off the gas so to speak and spend time with my husband - on the golf course! (I hear the chuckles already!)
Some of your children whom I have taught mindfulness to will already know that I am a keen golfer - but sadly do not get to play half as much as I would like to. As a youngster growing up on the west coast of Scotland I would spend every hour possible on the local golf course from about the age of 6 to 15. I attended golf summer school every year and was coached by the local professional, my parents were both avid players and my dad who once played off a handicap of 2 was a great teacher; I am so grateful for his patience as I tagged along weekend after weekend with my tiny clubs - the round of golf which should have taken 3 hours was often a day’s excursion as we waved players through! Juniors in Scotland were very much tolerated! (I am very proud to state at this point that there were only a handful of girls who played golf in the late 70’s early 80’s in my hometown - it was very much boys who were in the junior clubhouse - the lack of girls did not bother me - I loved the sport!) Thankfully the presence of girls and women in sport has somewhat escalated and last weekend there were numerous girls on the driving range practising as we finished our round.
So back to last weekend - as I watched my husband prepare for his first tee shot I could not resist but smile as I could see the tension on his face, his shoulders tighten and the look of determination for him to execute the best shot ever! He hooked his first shot…...(He plays much more than I do these days and I had not swung a club since the summer of 2018!!) I stepped up - took my stance - looked ahead - relaxed my body, inhaled - exhaled - kept my head down - and enjoyed the sound of the ball being driven down the first fairway! ‘You’ve still got it!’ was his comment - now that is praise of the highest!
Now for a bit of background ...my husband had never played golf until our honeymoon back in 1998 where we stayed on a beautiful golf resort in Malaysia (of course I chose the resort for a reason!!) Over the duration of two weeks he went from a spinning cartoon character attempting to tee off to someone who showed potential as a golfer… Fast forward 21 years and he usually beats me now! However, last weekend I have to admit to laughing out loud as he allowed his frustrations to show at some of his poor shots! (I had many too)
As I walked around the course my mind kept making analogies of how we can compare the game of golf to life and I knew that there was a blog to be written! To those of you who are non-golfers I shall try to explain how controlling a little white ball can be so relevant!
Swing Hard and Pray: I will give my husband a break for now but for many people who start golf this is the thought process - alas there really is no correlation between how hard you swing and how far the ball will go. With experience one learns that there is so much more to the game. By slowing down, having more focus, making good contact, the ball may travel further. Sheer force does create action, but it’s often negated by a lack of strategy.
Embrace Failure: FAIL -First Attempt in Learning. Golfers can be temperamental! Two bad shots and they give up on that hole or even worse walk off the course. We need to learn to embrace failure, analyse, learn, and move on - reflect on the shot, and use the positive mindset that the next shot or hole will be better.
Practice -the primary driver of consistent success is practice. You must try, fail, adjust, and try again. Last weekend I still played relatively (I use the term loosely) successfully and I am confident that this is due to the solid foundations of good habits, hours of coaching, more hours of practice over the course of many years of my youth which has secured my knowledge and skill level. Many of you may have heard about the 10,000 hour rule; the principle that 10,000 hours of "deliberate practice" are needed to become world-class in any field. I am certainly not world class in how I play golf but the fact that I was taught complex skills and technical aspects of the game at such a young age may be an important factor in my ability to engage with golf as infrequently as I now do and enjoy it as much as I do. Of course there are specific shots that still need refining and much more practice to be had - but could how I was nurtured also be part of the success - I was encouraged to play golf - the language of golf floated around our household (much to the horror of my older sister who to this day has managed to never play a round of golf - but has married into a golfing family!! Oh the irony!)
Mentorship Matters; Having a good mentor/teacher/coach is crucial. I have already spoken about how fortunate I was in my early golfing years. Even the top pros are coached on a daily basis. It is important to remember that asking for advice isn’t a sign of weakness, but instead a sign of maturity. You’ll never know what you don’t know unless you ask.
Lifelong Learning: One day, in my retirement (in a couple of decades!) I will aim to improve my game of golf and will seek out more lessons, a good teacher to help me refine my game - in the meanwhile I will allow my husband to do this!! But lifelong learning is exciting - we all have so many opportunities to learn and I for one have have a thirst for learning. I enjoy challenges, meeting people who will challenge me in my thinking and who will teach me new skills.
Fear: One cannot even consider playing golf if we fear how the next shot may unfold! Allowing fear to overcome us can only cause bad results. Fear can drive poor decisions, can cause paralysis, and debilitates us. When teeing off, yes bad things may happen, but one must focus on executing the best shot possible, it is likely it will go well if one focuses on the positive!
Self-Awareness: It is with experience and maturity that I have come to realise how important that self-awareness is. The art of self-reflection allows us to analyse our own motivations, our emotions and helps us to understand how others see us. Practising mindfulness has helped me to become more self aware and as I played golf last weekend I used my mindful practices not only execute the game but I allowed myself to enjoy the great outdoors, appreciate what surrounded me and was so aware of how fortunate I am to have the family, friends, job...the life that I have.
Like golf, life is a humbling game that can only be played well if we understand our own weaknesses and tendencies.
Like golf, life is an intricate game. Play it well!
Posted on: 11/10/2019
Weekly News - Friday 11th October 2019Harvest Festivals
Once again, pupils and parents have been enormously generous in their giving and the food donated at our Lower School Harvest Assemblies and Upper School Harvest Festival Service has now been distributed to the Salvation Army. They have sent a lovely message of thanks, letting us know that these donations will help to supply many Christmas food parcels for families in this area who will appreciate this type of assistance over what can be a particularly difficult time.
Some of the food will also go to supply the Food Bank at Yiewsley, as the Salvation Army issue many Food Bank vouchers throughout the whole year to local people who need a little extra help.
The Salvation Army asked us to convey sincere thanks to all who contributed in the collection and assure you all that your kindness will make a difference to many people in the local community. Thank you!
Our pupils from Nursery to Year 1 performed wonderfully in their Harvest Assemblies. It was a joyous occasion and the confidence that exuded from the children was quite overwhelming. Well done to all of the children and staff involved. You can see photographs on our Galleries page.
Times Tables Rock Stars
The children have been very busy with their Times Tables Rock Stars this week.
Tiya T in 2H was the most accurate player in Middle School and Harry J in 6RD was the most accurate player in Upper School. Harry also gained the coveted Rock Hero status and takes the crown from Mohib as the fastest player in the school. Poppy H in 3M remains the fastest player in Middle School.
Well done everyone!
Trips This Week
Our Year 2 children had a super day out at the Chiltern Open Air Museum this week, where they were transported back to the Iron Age.
Year 3 pupils visited St. Albans Cathedral where they re-enacted the story of St. Alban and created beautiful mosaics.
On Wednesday our football team had their third match of the season away at Laurel Lane. The team performed very well in difficult conditions, with long grass and a very windy day. Goals from Harry J, Jack H and Patrick E secured us a 3-0 win. Mr. Dyson feels that the team is progressing very well and hopefully this can continue when we entertain Cowley St. Lawrence at home this coming Wednesday.
Well done to the netball team who played their first match this week with an outstanding win of 12-0 against St. Mary's. The girls passed extremely well and their teamwork and co-operation has put them in a very strong position this early in the season.
Pupil Fundraising Efforts
Grace O'H, one of our class charity representatives, will be running the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) 5k again this year, on Saturday. She has raised over £400 for the cause so far. Good luck Grace, we will be thinking of you! It has been noted that many of our pupils are now taking part in weekly fun runs.
A reminder to all parents that any snack provided for your child must not contain traces of nuts and must be healthy. Suitable snacks are fresh or dried fruit and vegetables or plain biscuits. Crisps, popcorn, mini cheddars etc. are not suitable snacks.
From Monday, Upper School pupils will be able to replenish their water bottles at break time with fresh fruit-flavoured water. Milk will still be available.
We would like to remind parents that the gates at the three entrance points to the school (Lower School, Long Lane and Parkway) close at 8.30 a.m. promptly. If your child arrives after 8.30 a.m., then a parent or carer will need to accompany the child to the school office to be signed in, and their arrival will be recorded as a 'late'. There is a significant amount of administration to be completed by teachers in the early morning before assemblies, including taking the register and completing lunch orders, and it is therefore crucial that children arrive to school by 8.30 a.m. at the latest.
School Drop Off and Pick Up
Those of you who have been following the news will be aware that idling cars have been a hot topic recently. Please do not leave your car engine running if you are parked up on Long Lane, in Court Park or in any of the surrounding roads. Those parents who do use the Pick Up & Go or Drop & Go facility, please remember not to exit your car and to move off swiftly.
Data Collection Forms
Data collection forms have been sent home with each child this week in your child's book bag. Please check the form very carefully and return it to school. You must sign the form even if there are no changes to confirm that the information we hold for you and your child is correct. If there are any changes to the information we hold, please note these clearly on the form when you return it to us. Please return your forms as soon as possible, and by Friday 18th October at the latest.
Posted on: 4/10/2019
Bringing Out The Best In Your Child - A Parent's Perspective by Mrs Dillon Reflections on "Bringing out the best in your child"
On a wet Tuesday 24th September parents of students from nursery through to year 2 were invited to attend a talk led by Elaine Halligan of the Parent Practice, and author of “My Child’s Different”.
As a mother of two boys (Arjan in year 5 and Sarab in year 2) I was intrigued by the title of this talk – “Bringing out the best in your child”. My expectations were that this talk was going to share how to encourage your child to be the best “academic” and I was also secretly hoping to learn how I could get them to want to do their homework!
Instead what we were gifted with was something far more relevant and thought provoking. Elaine is a very engaging presenter who started by discussing her neuro-diverse son who had struggled at school as a young child but is now a very successful adult. She attributes this success down to changes she made in interacting with him, specifically by encouraging a greater self-belief and confidence in himself.
Elaine reinforces the importance of how we talk to our children and the respect that we give them. She conveyed this message very well by role playing a provocative scene whereby we (as the audience) were the child and she was the parent. The way that she talked to us, as the child was patronising and demeaning and I’m sure many of us as parents could relate. She went on to explain that by conversing with our children in this manner we are actually having a detrimental impact on their self-esteem and confidence. These crucial interactions over time are then likely to lead our children to experience an awkwardness in their own skin, which is something none of us wants to do!
Elaine touched on the fact that by only focussing on the “negative” (ie. 1 spelling mistake out of 14 etc.) we minimise the positive. I have to say that she demonstrated this particularly well. She showed us a “Reticular Activating System” which illustrated that if we only focus and notice negative behaviour then that is all we will see and we will miss all the good and positive behaviours that our children are demonstrating (see this video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=101&v=IGQmdoK_ZfY). She goes on to explain that for every negative feedback a child is given, they need at least 5 positives to balance this out.
Arguably, what most of us as parents are good at is evaluative praise which is along the lines of “I am so proud of you”, “good girl/boy” etc. This is too nondescript and over time will become meaningless to your children. As such she emphasised the impact that descriptive praise can have (ie. “you should be proud of yourself” etc). This praise needs to focus on effort, attitude and strategies that the child is using and by doing this we can get our children to focus on the journey and not overly focus on end results or achievements. This will help them develop a positive growth mindset and promote good mental health.
Elaine shared several practical ways to encourage this and a few of the ones that resonated with me are highlighted below-
“Book of Gold” or “Golden Book” – this is an A5 book per child that has been decorated by the child. The parent has to write 3 descriptive phrases every day about each child. These phrases can take the form of acknowledging their effort, praising an absence of a particular negative behaviour or simply pointing out a quality that they demonstrated that day. Elaine suggested reading these to them every night but having put this into practise now, I have found that I need time to write these in the evening and they actually enjoy reading them after breakfast (and I’ve noticed that it really puts a pep in their step in the morning). My experience (having done it for 5 days now!) is that it is tough to get started but it has made me refocus my attention to recognise more positive behaviours that I realise I hadn’t been acknowledging as much before. I did ask the boys how they feel about their “books of gold” and they absolutely adore them and it makes them so happy. What more could I ask for!
Choose a quality (or use the value from school) and put this up on the wall and discuss it regularly. This discussion could be in the form of the children giving examples of how they lived that quality that day.
“Pasta Jar” – Using a small pasta jar, for each positive action fill up the jar with large pasta pieces (Note – pasta can’t be too small and the jar can’t be too big as the aim should be to fill the jar within 3 or 4 days). When the jar is full the child is rewarded with something extra special. This reward should be non-material and non-time consuming. (eg. playing a game or lego, lighting a candle etc – basically anything that they love to do). There are two important rules here: do not take pasta out of the jar for misbehaviour and only one pasta jar per household (otherwise it becomes very competitive!).
The key take home message for me was to be respectful to your child, engage with them and catch them doing “good” things. It sounds simple but we all need a reminder of this and ways to implement this in our schedule with our children. Ultimately our children do their best and we want them to feel good about themselves. I would truly recommend attending any of Elaine’s future talks as it’s all extremely relatable and encourages you to be the best parent you can be for your child.
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