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Posted on: 14/02/2020

Weekly News - Friday 14th February 2020

Well-Being Week Our focus on well-being this week was kick-started on Monday with wonderful performances in assemblies from children who wished to share their talents with their peers.  We enjoyed singing, dancing, poetry recitals, trumpet playing and ballet to name but a few talents.  It was such a joyful start to the week! Well-Being Day Yesterday was a wonderful day throughout the school as the children from Ducklings to Year 6 participated in a wide array of well-being activities from making gratitude jars and well-being snow globes to listening ear crowns, yoga, mindful nature walking, a tree of life activity, reflective diary writing.... the list goes on! Do speak with your children and discuss what they did on the day. I am sure that many of the activities they did they would love to do again with their families. For those of you who were unable to attend last night's parent presentation and workshop evening, please see our booklet for information, some activities to do with your child and top tips to support your child's well-being.  Some children had the opportunity to take part in a session with 'Youth Fit' whilst others took part in other physical activity sessions during the day yesterday. The children thoroughly enjoyed themselves. If you would like to sign your child up for Youth Fit sessions outside of school, you can find out more information here.  Owls Assembly Happiness exuded from the Lower School Hall yesterday as the Owls class launched the Lower School well-being day by sharing their smiles and happiness with us all in songs and poems. Mr. Happy even managed to put a smile on Little Miss Miserable's face!!  They were all little rays of sunshine! Well done Owls.        5A Assembly 5A shared the love of Valentine's Day with everyone today, re-enacting the story of St. Valentine and reminding us that it is not all just about roses, chocolates and cards but in the ways that we can demonstrate our love towards each other, towards ourselves and to our community. Well done, 5A!         Soula and her team delighted everyone at lunchtime, continuing the Valentine's theme, with love-heart shaped strawberry cheesecakes. LOVEly! Asthma and Allergy Training All of our pupils from Year 4 to Year 6 participated in a superb training session this week from Rebecca, the asthma and allergy nurse from Hillingdon. The children now have a much better understanding of what asthma is, how it can affect people and how important it is that children and adults who are diagnosed with asthma follow the medical advice they are given and use their inhalers as appropriate. Rebecca also spoke to the children about the types of allergies people can have and the treatment that is given if someone has a reaction.  Our pupils at St. Helen's College really are equipped with amazing life skills.   Football News We travelled to John Locke on Wednesday afternoon after our win last week, when we beat St. Andrew's 6-0. Looking at the very uneven pitch, we thought we were in for a tricky game at John Locke and this proved to be the case. We managed a 1-0 win thanks to Adam K and the team showed great determination and desire to come out on top. This puts us in a very strong position in the league with two games to play against Heathrow and St. Matthew's. Winning both should see us crowned as champions! We entertain Oak Farm the week after half term in the Borough Cup, with kick off at 3.45 p.m. on Wednesday 26th February in Court Park. All support welcome! North Hillingdon Methodist Church - Worship KidStyle! The North Hillingdon Methodist Church are holding new church services especially for children on the third Sunday of every month, with the first one taking place this Sunday, 16th February. Why not take your child along to join in. You can see their Kidstyle poster here. Coronavirus and Half Term Travel  Many families might be travelling abroad over the half term break, so we would like to remind you that, as a school, we are following the advice issued by the government concerning the Coronavirus. This advice is being updated online daily at 2 p.m. and can be accessed at this link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public   All parents should check this advice and, if you are travelling abroad, please continue to check the latest government advice before, during and after travelling. During and after travel, please be vigilant for signs of illness in children or other family members, and comply with the latest advice issued if you have any concerns. 
Posted on: 14/02/2020

Celebrating Learning

Over the past couple of weeks around the school there has been a constant celebration of pupils' learning. Traditionally this may have taken the form of high marks in exams, full marks in tests, pressure and public accountability for achieving highly but at St. Helen’s College the teachers and pupils have taken a more creative slant to celebrating success! As you are aware, we like to challenge our children in all that they do - we all need to feel the heat in our learning journey - feel the challenge, experience what it feels to be out of our comfort zone. Our pupils thrive on this and astonish us with their creativity in being able to demonstrate their tenacity and their ability to demonstrate what they have learnt in their own unique way.  In Science lessons I have witnessed pupils writing poetry, performing raps, composing and singing songs and creating the most incredible models. In all these forms of learning outcomes the pupils have taken risks in their learning. They have been individual; they have not followed the crowd; they have used their knowledge of subject matter to challenge themselves to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of concepts taught to them.   It is such a joy to engage with the children as they describe to me what they have been learning about. Taha (Year 6) was particularly animated last week as he exclaimed, ‘It was disgusting Mrs. Drummond - my hands were covered in blood but it was amazing...I could see the inside of the heart and lungs, all the tubes and other parts - it was great!”    I must add that it is a credit to all the pupils, the parents (for giving their permission) and to Ms Gilham (and her butcher) that we are able to extend the children's learning at such a young age to give them first hand experience of being able to dissect a sheep's heart and lungs to see for themselves the circulatory system which they have been studying. A recent article in the NACE (National Association for Able Children in Education) journal cited an article written by York St John titled ‘Perfectionism in more able learners; what do we know and what next?” I quote an extract below. “Recent research suggests that perfectionism has become a hidden epidemic among students over the last 30 years, with students now more perfectionistic than ever before. In addition, this complex characteristic has been found to explain a wide range of outcomes among students. On one hand, some aspects of being perfectionistic are related to better academic performance. But, on the other hand, other aspects of perfectionism have been found to be significant sources of psychological distress for students, including burnout and depression.” I am writing this blog on the eve of our Wellbeing focus day and it is with a sense of pride that I feel confident that our pupils at St. Helen’s College are given the correct classroom climate where there is healthy challenge and opportunity to revel in their success without the damage which can often be done where a culture of ‘perfectionism’ can exists.  Words that spring to mind every day when I listen and breathe in the culture of St Helen’s College are:  collaboration  mindset   creativity  excellence challenge  resilience  wellbeing  We have children of all abilities at St. Helens’ College and pride ourselves that we endorse a ‘Challenge for all' attitude to learning - all children are encouraged to do their best by parents and staff but it is by ensuring that our expectations and classroom culture are appropriate, that we do not allow the children to fixate on mistakes and errors. FAIL - that 'first attempt in learning' is so important. We celebrate success and effort by all.   I am sure your children will come home on Friday evening for the half term break revelling in the events of our Wellbeing focus day - but that I will keep for a future blog! Have a super half term break and look after your wellbeing! I leave you with one example of learning from Catherine in Year 6! Healthy Bodies Poem Ms Gilham, a science teacher, and amazing too, Taught us about living healthily to help beat the blues She’s told us about striving to eat a varied diet, To give us minerals and energy, you cannot deny it! But this is because it’s important to eat, Our 7 food groups: fibre, protein, vitamins,  fats, water and carbohydrates (including wheat!) We’ve learnt about Dr Livingstone who Found out about scurvy to help beat the flu, The sailors, who were suffering from scurvy onboard, Were found to lack vitamins but were soon restored, By eating 2 oranges and a lemon a day, They just needed some Vitamin C, hip, hip, hooray! But we know about alcohol, smoking, medicine and drugs We know they can cause harm, even a stomach bug, Though not all are damaging, there are one’s that help you, Like penicillin, Nurofen and many more too! Cocaine and nicotine are highly addictive, They can give you heart problems, that’s why they’re constrictive. Alcohol is permitted in small doses But drinking too much is bad as it poses Threats to your physical and mental state, That can sometimes, if you’re not careful, lead to your fate! Remember, please, to try not to smoke, It causes so many problems and can lead to a stroke, Turns your lungs a sooty black hue, And because I breathe the toxic air, it harms me and you! Taking blood from to the heart to the cells and back, Dealing with all things vascular and cardiac. Next up, we’ll talk about the arteries, They take blood from the heart where its gotta be, The biggest artery, the main transporter, Right next to the heart, It’s called the aorta.  
Posted on: 7/02/2020

Weekly News - Friday 7th February 2020

1C Assembly - Brazil And The Rainforest The children of 1C took us on a journey to Brazil on Thursday and shared the delights of their culture, landmarks, traditions, football and of course the wonderful Amazon rainforest. Superb performances from all children - thank you!       5G Assembly Albert Einstein and Benjamin Bloom graced us with their presence this morning as 5G explained relativity, why the sky is blue and how to ask outstanding questions using Bloom's Taxonomy.  The children engaged their audience with their knowledge and understanding of critical thinking skills and performed the popular song from Matilda 'When I grow up'. I am sure that everyone present is confident that when our children grow up our world will be a very interesting place indeed!  Well done 5G.     Chamber Choir Tremendous congratulations to our Chamber Choir pupils who performed at the Children's Trust London Schools Concert in St. John's Smith Square on Sunday to a most appreciative audience of approximately 800 people. All the staff who attended and Mr. and Mrs. Crehan were so proud of the children.  Thank you to all the families who supported the event We wish the Chamber Choir well for this weekend, too, as they will be representing the school at a concert at St. John's Church, Royal Lane, Uxbridge on Saturday evening. The concert will begin at 6 p.m. and tickets will be available on the door at a cost of £5 each. Please do come along and support the Chamber Choir if you can! Mindful Sit Pupils from Year 2 - Year 6 and staff participated in the national Mindful Sit on Wednesday during assembly time in recognition of National Mental Health week.  Pupils were guided through a practice of noticing with their attention finally settling on their breathing. A wonderful start to the day as the children returned to their classes ready for the day ahead with a clear and calm mind. Pedestrian Skills/Road Safety Training Our annual pedestrian skills/road safety training programme has commenced for this year. Our Year 2 children received their training this week and other year groups will be taking part in training and/or workshops over the coming weeks. The children have really enjoyed wearing their new hi-vis jackets which we have been able to purchase for every child in the school, thanks to a grant from the London Borough of Hillingdon Road Safety Team. Sports News Our netball and our football teams remain at the top of their respective local leagues, having both won their matches this week. The handball tournament last Saturday was well-attended and most enjoyable. The St. Helen's College children played well in their matches and enjoyed putting the skills they have been learning at school into practice. Co-Curricular Clubs Led By Pupils It is always wonderful to observe our children using their leadership skills around the school.  Several clubs are running this term led by pupils. One such is the Coding Club, which began this week and is led by Michael K in Year 6.         World Book Day The school will be celebrating World Book Day on Thursday 5th March. The theme for Ducklings and Lower School is 'Enchanted' and the theme for Upper School is 'Harry Potter'. The children are asked to dress as a book character of their choice (which may of course link to the themes if you wish). It is sure to be a fun-filled day, celebrating the fantastic world of books and all the reading done throughout the year. The children are also asked to bring the book their character is from on the day so that we can share them together. World Cancer Day St. Helen's College staff have supported World Cancer Day this week by buying wristbands and donating money in return for staff room treats! Thank you to all of the staff who have contributed.  Uxbridge Library Exhibition - Hillingdon Geological Society Harrow and Hillingdon Geological Society will be holding a 'hands on' exhibition in Uxbridge Library from 12th to 28th February. Pupils might like to go along to explore the geology of our local area and discover, amongst other things, that Ruislip was once warm waters of a shallow subtropical sea! PA Forum The next PA Forum meeting will take place on Tuesday 25th February. If you have any points of school-wide relevance that you would like discussed at this meeting, please send these to your class representative as soon as possible. Class rep's should send any issues for discussion to Mrs. Smith by Friday 14th February please, just before we break up for half term. Robins Nursery class do not currently have a class representative - if you have a child in Robins and would like to volunteer, please contact Mrs. Smith as soon as possible. Mrs. Smith can be reached on susmith@sthelenscollege.com or by telephoning the Upper School office. As usual, we will circulate minutes from the PA Forum meeting to all parents after the meeting has taken place. School Arrival and Collection The safety of your children whilst they are at school is crucial to us all. Please note that pupils are not permitted to enter the Upper School via the Long Lane entrance after 8.30 a.m. when the door is closed. After this time, parents must accompany pupils to the Parkway entrance and sign them in as a late arrival. Parents are also reminded that they must not hold the gates/doors open for other parents or visitors to enter the school sites at any time. Parents using the 'drop and go' system on Parkway are reminded that your child must be ready to leave the car independently (with their belongings) as you pull up alongside the kerb, and that they must exist the car on the kerb side. Please then pull away promptly to allow other cars to move up and drop children off. Children should exit the car when their car is the first in the line (just before the barriers) and not further down Parkway. Parents using 'drop and go' should not exit the car or linger at the kerb after a child has exited; it is crucial that we keep traffic flowing at this busy time of day.  Many thanks, as always, for your support.
Posted on: 31/01/2020

Weekly News - Friday 31st January 2020

1HC Assembly 1HC took us on a Roald Dahl journey during their assembly on Wednesday, reminiscing about their recent visit to the Roald Dahl Children's Gallery in Aylesbury. They reminded us all of the impact his books have on children and adults alike and the special message that kindness overrides everything. There was wonderful singing and presentation skills. Well done to the children and staff involved.       Year 1 Poetry Pupils in Year 1 were eager to share their acrostic poems on rainforest animals when Mrs. Drummond visited them in class this week. They delighted Mrs. Drummond by reciting their poems about a sloth and a howler monkey.             Year 4 Trip to Amersham Field Centre On Wednesday Year 4 had a fantastic experience at Amersham Field Centre. The day was designed to extend their knowledge about Electricity and Energy which they have been studying in science lessons. The children had the opportunity to conduct experiments using solar panels, a propeller and models of a wind turbine. They also had a tour of the substation as well as meeting Michael Faraday! The afternoon was spent outside building nests and hunting for chickpeas in the woods.   Staff News I am delighted to share the wonderful news with you that Mrs. Rance is expecting her second child in August. I am sure the children will all be very excited with the news of another forthcoming staff baby. Mrs. Rance should be with us until the end of this academic year when she will start her maternity leave.   Chamber Choir We wish our Chamber Choir well for this weekend as they will be representing the school at the London Schools Children's Trust Charity Concert.  Tickets are still available here. Parents' Forum The next PA Forum meeting will take place on Tuesday 25th February. If you have any points of school-wide relevance that you would like discussed at this meeting, please send these to your class representative as soon as possible. Class rep's should send any issues for discussion to Mrs. Smith by Friday 14th February please, just before we break up for half term. Robins Nursery class do not currently have a class representative - if you have a child in Robins and would like to volunteer, please contact Mrs. Smith as soon as possible. Mrs. Smith can be reached on susmith@sthelenscollege.com or by telephoning the Upper School office. As usual, we will circulate minutes from the PA Forum meeting to all parents after the meeting has taken place. Pupil Welfare Following the email sent to parents today, please note that if you or a family member is concerned about illness/exposure to the Coronavirus, the recommended action is to stay at home and call 111. Travellers or possible cases should not attend the GP or A & E clinic without speaking to 111 first.   Pupil Safety - Upper School Pupils must not be left unattended at the Windsor entrance in the morning prior to Mrs. Couto going on duty at 8 a.m.  An adult must remain with the children until the door is opened at the Windsor entrance at 8 a.m.  
Posted on: 31/01/2020

Mindfulness and Me

This week I am handing the Head’s blog over to a guest blog from Mr. Shah who has two daughters at St. Helen's College.  Last week I attended a ‘Reconnection Day’ in London with 50 other mindfulness teachers to reflect on how we were taking mindfulness into schools around the UK and overseas. It was only when we separated into smaller focus groups that I became fully aware of how much we do as a school, giving our children the opportunities to embrace just being; taking some time to appreciate our environment and community and bringing their attention to their breath. I cannot take any credit for St. Helen’s College being a frontrunner in the field of mindfulness as it was Mr. and Mrs. Crehan who were so forward-thinking and brought the paws b and .b training to the school. Mrs. Crehan also starts our young Ducklings off with their mindfulness journey with her weekly visits.   Year 6 are currently in their 4th week of the .b programme and Year 4 will soon embark upon their Paws b course. But it is our whole community who engage with ‘mindful moments’ as they choose ‘strong silence’ in assemblies and are given time to be in their bubble and appreciate the silence, conducting simple mindful practices at ease.  Our Mindful Ambassadors meet weekly and the commitment to mindfulness is admirable but they also recognise the benefits it has brought to them.  For those of you who may wish to find out more about mindfulness and would like to engage in a programme of mindfulness, the MISP (Mindfulness in Schools Project) are launching their next online course .begin: https://mindfulnessinschools.org/course/begin-5mar2020/.  At our Friday recital last week, Mrs. Shah delighted me as she told me how their family had embraced mindfulness - I shall allow Mr. Shah to tell the story! My Mind and Me  As a family we are surrounded by friends and family who actively practise meditation. This has rubbed off on the children and both our girls are quite enthused by the idea and are quite eager to practise and promote mindfulness at any given opportunity. In my opinion, it will still take me a lot of practice to bring my mind to a meditative state in any session, so the idea of mindfulness which I thought would give my mind the liberty to sense and feel the immediate environment was right up my street. I’ll share my experience of one such mindfulness session conducted by my 10 year old daughter. We agreed last week that we would have our dinner on time on Tuesday, after which, Krisha would lead a session on mindfulness. Come 8.00 p.m., we had tidied up after dinner and gathered in the lounge where we were allocated a chair, which is ideal as opposed to on the couch. Krisha explained why we had gathered and then put on a soothing piece of music. Feet flat on the floor and palms on the thighs is what we were advised to be the most effective position. We were then led through what she described as a pacifying journey. Mindfulness of one’s five senses Gently, Krisha led us through being aware of the immediate environment by using each of our senses. Noticing – really noticing – the sensation in a given moment, brought about by the sights, sounds and smells that ordinarily slip by without reaching our conscious awareness. We tuned into the physical sensations, from the gentle hum of the light bulbs over us to the way the body rested on the chair.  Breathing We were introduced to a  variety of breathing techniques. The first being ‘Flower-Breathing’. This technique is applied by mimicking the opening and closing of a sepal. Breathing in as the sepal opens, and breathing out as it closes. The other technique was that of tracing the index finger of the right hand over the fingers of the left hand. Breathing in as we trace the index finger going up the finger, and breathing out going down the finger. Only later did I realise that this not only made me feel aware of my external (flower) and personal (hand) environments, but also the harmony between the two. Mindfulness of one’s thoughts and feelings Being mindful of the environment soon transitioned to the awareness of thoughts and emotions. The relaxing background music helped me to recognise that fleeting thoughts and emotions could actually be harnessed, and as such don’t define either me or the way I behave or react. I felt a transition from a mind racing with a menagerie of emotions and feelings to that of a pretty transient state of awareness, bordering on deep relaxation to the point of drifting into sleep. This is how my meditation session almost always ends up, to be woken up by a sharp nudge on my arm. Throughout the session, not once did I realise that our 10 year old was conducting the session, such was the confidence and maturity with which she created the state of tranquillity and ambience. This state could easily have been plucked from our lounge and planted in an auditorium full of people. St. Helens College has been subtly instilling the idea of mindfulness into the children who, in turn, have been spreading the message outside. For this I am thankful because I was able to have a meaningful session of meditation, albeit mindfulness, after such a long time. Mr. Shah
Posted on: 24/01/2020

Weekly News - Friday 24th January 2020

Month End Music Recital Wow! Our first Month End Music Recital of the term saw several children perform on many different instruments. This was probably the biggest of these recitals so far: there were solo performances on various instruments, including some from Lower School, a flute duet and a string ensemble! We were also treated to some fabulous singing. Very well done to all of the children who performed, and thank you to Mrs. Nash, Mrs. MacLean and, in particular, Mrs. Allery who was put on the spot for some sightreading too! Children's Trust London Schools Concert - Sunday 2nd February The St. Helen's College Chamber Choir will once again be performing at the Children's Trust London Schools Concert this year. This event takes place from 2 - 4 p.m. on Sunday 2nd February at the beautiful St. John's, Smith Square in London. All St. Helen's College families are welcome to book tickets, whether your child is in the Chamber Choir or not. This is a really special event in beautiful surroundings and we would appreciate support from families across the school. You can purchase tickets via the following link. https://thechildrenstrust.digitickets.co.uk/category/24930#cart-summary St. John's Church Concert - Saturday 8th February The Chamber Choir will also be performing publicly more locally in February, taking part in an evening concert at St. John's Church, Royal Lane, Uxbridge on Saturday 8th February. The concert begins at 6 p.m. and tickets are available to all (£5 cash payable on the door). Through ticket sales, the concert will raise funds for renovation of the church and for two animal charities in South Africa which promote animal welfare, one of which is run by an ex-Hillingdon vet.  We would be delighted to have as many St. Helen's College families as possible supporting the event, so please do come along if you can. The concert will last from approximately 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., with tea/coffee/cake available in the interval. Our Chamber Choir will be performing in the first half of the event, and several other local bands and artists will be performing too. We hope to see you there! Sports News Gymnastics Well done to our gymnastics teams from Years 3/4 and Years 5/6 who took part in the Borough Gymnastics Competition held at Botwell Green Leisure Centre this week. Each of our gymnasts completed a floor routine, a body management routine and two vaults in front of panels of judges.      Our pupils performed with precision and flair, showing great skill. Our Year 3/4 team finished in 8th place and our Year 5/6 team finished in 5th place. Team members were Mark R, Marvin R, Charlotte M, Poppy H, Krish S, Jasmine B, Daniel G-J.         Multi Skills Festival Some of our Year 1 and Year 2 pupils took part in a friendly multi skills festival hosted by St. Mary's School in Gerrards Cross this week. Senior school sports leaders from St. Mary's organised different skills stations to challenge the teams taking part from St. Helen's College, Dair House and St. Mary's. Our children thoroughly enjoyed taking part and representing their school in a sports event. Many thanks to Miss Ward for organising this for our pupils.  Netball Match Our Year 6 netball team resumed matches in the local schools' league this week.  In a very close match against St. Andrew's, our team rose to the challenge and maintained a high standard of play throughout the game. Our team remains top of the table with two matches to go!  Holding Area Holding area at Upper School will now take place in the school library each night and will be separate from Funtasia. Holding Area is only for younger siblings at Upper School to use until their older siblings are released and come to collect them. This is one of the methods we use to help reduce congestion outside the entrance during home time. Staff News Sadly, Miss Dear will be leaving us at the end of this academic year as she moves to work closer to home to enable her to spend more time with her family. Miss Dear has been with us for nine years and has worked at both Lower and Upper School as well as leading Art for several years. She will be much missed. We must also share the news that Mrs. Allery will be stepping down as Head of Music from September in order to free up more time to spend with her family. Mrs. Allery has been with St. Helen's College for 20 years and, happily, is not leaving us entirely but will be relinquishing some of her many musical duties.  We will shortly be advertising for teaching staff to join us from September in various roles, including maternity cover and other teaching roles. If you know of anyone who might be interested in joining our team, do direct them to the school website! Parents' Forum The next PA Forum meeting will take place on Tuesday 25th February. If you have any points of school-wide relevance that you would like discussed at this meeting, please send these to your class representative as soon as possible. Class rep's should send any issues for discussion to Mrs. Smith by Friday 14th February please, just before we break up for half term. Robins Nursery class do not currently have a class representative - if you have a child in Robins and would like to volunteer, please contact Mrs. Smith as soon as possible. Mrs. Smith can be reached on susmith@sthelenscollege.com or by telephoning the Upper School office. As usual, we will circulate minutes from the PA Forum meeting to all parents after the meeting has taken place. Bus Route 278 There is a new TfL bus route running daily in both directions between Heathrow and Ruislip and stopping along Long Lane just outside both Upper and Lower School. We know that some parents are already using the bus for their school run journeys and, as part of our ongoing efforts to ease congestion and pollution, we would encourage others to do the same! As the new route will mean increased bus traffic along Long Lane during drop and go/pick up and go times, we would like to remind parents not to idle in these areas (and, particularly, not to stop cars in the bus stop areas). You can see more information about the new bus route here: https://tfl.gov.uk/bus/route/278/ Half Term Holiday Club Bookings are now being taken for Holiday Club during the February half term. Please log into your SchoolsBuddy account to make your bookings. 
Posted on: 24/01/2020

Best Ambassadors

Over the past few weeks we have had many prospective parents visiting the school and on every tour we are always so proud of our current pupils. They truly are the best ambassadors of the school and it would, in fact, be easy for the children to conduct every tour themselves!  In classrooms, corridors and around the school our pupils greet visitors with a friendly smile, from Ducklings all the way through to Year 6, and many of them will stop to chat - only this week our Head Girl welcomed a family and had a long conversation in Chinese, which I was reassured was all complimentary!   Upon entering classrooms, the children are eager to share what they have been learning, reading examples of their work, explaining the importance of place value, highlighting the features of persuasive writing (with FATHORSE - facts, alliteration, triples, humour, opinion, rhetorical questions, similes, emotive language or exaggeration) or demonstrating their coding ability. The captured moments of learning on a school tour are endless and it is no wonder that our prospective parents are often left speechless! This week we found it hard to leave the 2H classroom, as child after child wanted to share something special with our visitors! Their science investigation was clearly a highlight of their day.  I only wish that our current parents could see for themselves how their children engage with new adults they meet with such ease and confidence, showing such pride in talking about school work and other achievements.   I visit many schools throughout the year in my role as Head, including feeder senior schools and other Prep schools within our IAPS group. I also visit schools in my role as an ISI inspector and although I am clearly biased about St. Helen’s College, we really do stand out from the crowd in terms of pupils' personal development and engagement with their learning in all areas.   Mr. Crehan spent time in school on Tuesday and managed to visit every class in the Lower School and Upper School. He too was delighted with what is going on around the school and he revelled in being back in class with the children! I am sure that many of you remember your first tour of the school when you visited as prospective parents. I may have shown you around, or you may have been toured by Mr. or Mrs. Crehan, Mrs. Hunt, Mrs. Smith or Mrs. Stark. I am sure that you recall what left a lasting imprint on that tour - and I suspect that, for most if not all of you, it included the children! I would love to hear from any parent who remembers something specific about meeting pupils on their tour...please do feel free to share your memories with me around school or by email. Finally, please do congratulate your children on their marvellous ability and willingness to interact with visitors with confidence, honesty and joy - we are so proud of them each and every day!  Have a great weekend. Mrs. Drummond
Posted on: 17/01/2020

Weekly News - Friday 17th January 2020

Lower School and Ducklings Reading and Phonics Evening Thank you to all parents who attended last night's workshops. We hope that you have taken away some very useful tips on how to support your child's development in reading and writing and that you now understand more fully how teaching staff are developing these skills. Please do speak with the class teachers if you would like to  follow up on any points discussed. Upcoming Music Events - All Welcome! Month End Music Recital Our next Month End Music Recital will take place this coming Friday (24th January) from 3.45 p.m. in the Evans Hall at Upper School. All are welcome to this informal event, which gives our instrumentalists and singers a chance to practise performance in a friendly and encouraging environment. Do come along! Children's Trust London Schools Concert - Sunday 2nd February The St. Helen's College Chamber Choir will once again be performing at the Children's Trust London Schools Concert this year. This event takes place from 2 - 4 p.m. on Sunday 2nd February at the beautiful St. John's, Smith Square in London. All St. Helen's College families are welcome to book tickets, whether your child is in the Chamber Choir or not. This is a really special event in beautiful surroundings and we would appreciate support from families across the school. You can purchase tickets via the following link. https://thechildrenstrust.digitickets.co.uk/category/24930#cart-summary St. John's Church Concert - Saturday 8th February The Chamber Choir will also be performing publicly more locally in February, taking part in an evening concert at St. John's Church, Royal Lane, Uxbridge on Saturday 8th February. The concert begins at 6 p.m. and tickets are available to all (£5 cash payable on the door). Through ticket sales, the concert will raise funds for renovation of the church and for two animal charities in South Africa which promote animal welfare, one of which is run by an ex-Hillingdon vet.  We would be delighted to have as many St. Helen's College families as possible supporting the event, so please do come along if you can. The concert will last from approximately 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., with tea/coffee/cake available in the interval. Our Chamber Choir will be performing in the first half of the event, and several other local bands and artists will be performing too. We hope to see you there! Pupil-Led Learning Well done to Manisher L (Y5), who is certainly taking her learning into her own hands. Last week, she proudly brought a scale model of the solar system into school, which she had created at home with her father over the Christmas holidays. Here is the piece she wrote about her creation: Over the Christmas holidays, I was asking my Daddy how big our solar system is and that's when he said, “Why don't we make our own scale model of the solar system!”  It took us approximately 3-4 hours to collect the measurements, divide the length by 34 billion and find out more information about each planet, for example my age on each planet. The following day my Daddy had ordered a 200 metre long roll of paper and 200 metre tape measure so that I could be 100% accurate.The next day the equipment arrived. It took a while to measure out all of the planets, because the distance from the Sun to Mars is relatively close but the distance from the Sun to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto is astronomical! When I finally finished my scale model of our solar system it was 169 meters of paper from the Sun to Pluto! Fun Facts: The full length of our solar system is 6 billion kilometres. The day in Venus is shorter than the year. It takes 365 days to complete a year or a full orbit on earth. Pluto is not actually classed as a planet - it is classed as a dwarf planet. Scientists are not 100% sure that Pluto orbits the Sun. They are thinking that Pluto orbits another planet. ABRSM Music Results In addition to the excellent set of results announced last week, we are also delighted to let you know the following result for an ABRSM exam taken last term: Violin Krisha S - Grade 2 Merit Acts of Kindness Our school community continues to inspire pride. We were delighted to hear this week of further acts of kindness by two Upper School pupils. Samir (Y5) and Hana (Y2) are regular visitors to their grandpa's social group; the children regularly sing, play the piano and bring joy to the older people with their presence. Hana also helps out at a toddler and baby group run by her grandmother. Well done Samir and Hana - this is yet another example of how our pupils really are living the St. Helen's College values and ethos. Co-Curricular Clubs It has been wonderful to see the engagement of the children in the first week of our spring term programme of clubs. We have an additional pupil-led club which will commence next week; a group of very enthusiastic Year 6 pupils (Harry, Taha, Lakhi, Eli, Mohib, Jai and Dhian) will be running a 'Mathletics and TimesTables Rock Stars' Club commencing next Thursday lunchtime for Y4-6.  Pupils can sign up on Monday. Pupils are aware that if they have already committed to another Thursday club then they must attend the club that they were allocated.    News From The School Kitchen Chinese New Year - Special Themed Menu Please note that we will have a special, Chinese-themed menu on Thursday 23rd January, to celebrate Chinese New Year. You can see the menu here. February's Spice of the Month - Recipes for Parents At school we are always working to stimulate your children's taste buds and encouraging them to try new flavours. February's 'spice of the month' is ginger and we are delighted to share with you these recipes, all including ginger, which you might like to try cooking at home with your children. Do let us know how you get on! Pick Up and Go We would like to remind parents collecting children from the Parkway entrance at Upper School that you must move to the car park if your child is not visible at the gate at the end of the day. This week there has been congestion along Parkway due to some parents remaining at the pick up and go area. Mrs. Hunter does her best to keep the traffic moving and we work hard to maintain our relationships with our neighbours; we ask that parents work with us to do the same. Teachers try hard to ensure that the classes are out on time; however, there may be the odd occasion when a class is delayed for some valid reason and we ask, on such an occasion, that you move to the car park to enable traffic to move freely on Parkway.
Posted on: 17/01/2020

Diversity

  Last Saturday, I attended the annual Diverse Leaders Conference, which happened to be hosted by Upton Grammar School in Slough. The event is in its third year and is organised by a close friend of mine, Hannah Wilson, who is currently Head of Secondary School Teacher Training at the University of Buckingham. It brings together leaders and educators from all areas and phases of education who are passionate about supporting professionals and pupils within the education system who are underrepresented but with particular reference to educational leadership in our schools.  There was representation from the BAMEedNetwork (Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic Educators), the LGBT network, Disabled leaders,  WomenED (women in education) and the HeforShe movement. The opening keynote speaker, Diana Osagie, who stands at 6ft 2, inspired the delegates by asking us this question: ‘Are you fulfilling the expectations of your life?’  Can I? Will I? Am I? Her call to arms for us to fulfil expectations in life was a powerful reminder to find and serve our purpose.   Several leaders that day reflected on the struggles they have had in their careers and on the resilience and courage that it took, for many reasons, to climb the ladder and be recognised for their contributions. Sadly there were devastating stories of leaders who had been pushed out of their schools: James Pope, who last year featured on the BBC2 documentary ‘School,' spoke eloquently but emotionally about his experiences and how he now supports other Heads who may find themselves in this very vulnerable and stressful situation (I have linked the moment in the documentary where James had to tell his staff he was leaving).  Ofsted (the regulatory body which inspects maintained schools) can make or break a dedicated Head’s career and I am somewhat grateful that as an ISI (Independent Schools Inspectorate) inspector, the approach that the Independent Schools Inspectorate takes is to celebrate the achievements and outcomes of schools and support them in areas where improvement may be required - not to push dedicated Heads from their schools.  One inspirational Head, Jo Lawrence, whom I have known on social media for several years, shared her courageous journey through being diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer just 18 months into her Headship and how she coped with handing over the reins to an interim Head but keeping in touch with her staff and school community throughout her treatment (I have linked Jo’s blog prior to her cancer diagnosis). She stood proud on Saturday, although still suffering from severe bone pain, and with a fantastic new look cropped hair do. It was my first time actually meeting Jo in person despite our many communications on social media - the warm embrace we gave each other spoke volumes and I only hope that not many of us have to endure what she has been going through.   Mark Pritchard, the Head of Upton Grammar, reflected on how we need schools to be diverse; complex problems needs people who think differently and collective intelligence is determined by our cognitive diversity. He reminded us of the detriment of homophily amongst leadership teams and the HIPPO style of leadership (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion!). Thankfully over my years in education I have only experienced this type of leadership on two occasions and stayed strong to my moral compass and moved to pastures new where colliding perspectives and risk taking was welcomed and staff and leaders were developed and nurtured.  I could continue sharing my reflections of the many other inspiring leaders I heard from on Saturday but I will end with Karen Giles, who has been Headteacher of a co-educational primary school in Brent for 16 years. Karen spoke about the learning behaviours of boys versus girls in her school and how she has worked with her staff to ensure that they are inspiring girls to become strong, confident leaders for the future - they tackle stereotypes and support equality of education. Karen has 960 children in her four form entry school, pupils are from the immediate local area and the school is incredibly diverse in culture, faith and languages. Karen highlighted the charity and the film  ‘Girl Rising’  and shared the ‘Nepal Chapter’ with us. I urge you all to take the time to watch (12 minutes) - this is a simple reminder of how far equality of education for girls has come, but also of how much there still is to do in this area. As we left the conference, we were asked to make a pledge to ourselves as we return to our own schools on Monday. The first couple of weeks back at school have been incredibly positive and Mr. McLaughlin has been handed the baton by Mrs. Stark and has stepped up to his new leadership role as Deputy Head with commitment, confidence and energy. With a new Deputy Head in place I am excited for the future - I pledge to continue giving my best to lead St. Helen’s College with the staff team, the pupils and parents to give the children the best possible education and to prepare them for life in the 21st century (whatever this future will look like). I will work my hardest with the amazing staff at St. Helen’s College to fulfil the expectations of the parent body, Principals and Governing Body and will be honest, resilient and courageous but will lead with grace, love and compassion.  Mrs. Drummond

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