School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 3/11/2017
News - Friday 3rd November 2017Yesterday at the Houses of Parliament, our Year 6 children had a fantastic day exploring the home of British politics. They sat in on exciting debates in the House of Commons which sparked interesting opinions around the EU and Catalan independence. The children then had the opportunity to put their own manifestos together and hold a live vote in the parliament education centre. A representative of our local MP, Boris Johnson, came to see us and we were given some insight into the plans for Heathrow airport, HS2 and Hillingdon Hospital. There was also time for a tour of Westminster Abbey, exploring the lives of its famous inhabitants such as Michael Faraday, Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens and several past kings and queens of England before returning back to school. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and the staff at the centre were amazed by the knowledge the children displayed. Perhaps we have some future politicians among us!
Meanwhile, our Year 1 pupils had a 'whizzpopping' time at the Roald Dahl Children's Gallery. The 'snapper whippers' loved exploring the exhibits in the gallery. They even got to travel in the glass elevator and got shrunk so small that they could fit inside the television just like Mike TV!! Everybody made their own dream jars - imaginations really ran wild. It was a 'phizz-whizzing' day out!
This morning, our Robins and Wrens Nursery pupils enjoyed a trip to Playtrain, where they had great fun climbing, swiming, jumping and riding on the wide variety of soft play equipment. The children thoroughly enjoyed their first school outing; riding on a coach with all of your friends is an amazing experience.
All three year groups did a marvellous job of representing St. Helen's College in the wider community; accompanying staff received lots of lovely comments about how smartly the children were dressed, how beautifully they behaved and how intelligently and enthusiastically they engaged with the activities on offer.
You can see photographs of the trips on our Galleries page.
As usual at this time of year, we are now selling poppies ahead of the Remembrance events next weekend. Next Friday, pupils at all sites will join for a minute's silence at 11 a.m. and will hear in assemblies about the great sacrifices made by those who gave their lives in the World Wars to secure the freedom and opportunities which we enjoy today. We hope that all children, parents and staff will wear their poppies with pride.
Upper School Parents' Evenings
Thank you to all of the parents who attended parents' evening on Thursday this week. It was lovely to see you all and we hope that you found the evening informative and enjoyable. The next parents' evening will take place on Tuesday 7th November and we look forward to seeing many more of you then.
PA Christmas Fair
Please note that the PA Christmas Fair will take place on Sunday 3rd December (NOT Saturday 2nd December). Further details will follow in due course.
Cold Weather Reminder
With the cold weather now approaching, please ensure that your children have enough layers/warm clothing with them daily. In particular, please ensure that pupils wear tracksuits over PE/Games kits.
Posted on: 3/11/2017
Head's Blog - Our Inner Story And Other Interesting ReadsEvery holiday I manage to indulge in reading and this half term holiday gave me the opportunity to delve into two books which I had been waiting to explore.
The first book, Teaching Creative Thinking: Developing Learners Who Generate Ideas And Can Think Critically (Pedagogy for a Changing World), was an energising read which served to affirm all that we are doing at St. Helen’s College in our approach to learning and the way in which your children are being taught. There has been much debate in the educational world about what are the most important qualities or learning dispositions for education to cultivate in young learners. Research suggests that one of the key capabilities for learners, both at school and in later life, is the ability to think creatively and critically. The book provides a very user-friendly practical guide for educators with easy to use pedagogical strategies including problem-based learning, growth mindset, playful experimentation and the classroom as a learning community. Does any of this sound familiar?!
The second book, which I am still reading, is by the award winning psychologist Dr. Tim O’Brien. His book ‘Inner Story’ is for people who wish to understand their mind – it refers to the two stories inside your head; one about your life, the other ‘the inner story’ which controls you life. Not only am I finding this a fascinating read personally, but I can also appreciate, professionally, how this awareness may help to develop skills when working with other people.
I am grateful that Mindfulness is already a part of who I am and I already use practices to enable me to maintain balance and perspective in my life. However, I cannot recommend this book enough to all parents, to further assist not only in your own life but to help support your children in understanding how they have a choice about their ‘inner voice’.
The book assists in understanding our self-esteems (not a singular self-esteem) and helps us to understand behaviour as our main way of communicating what is going on inside our mind. If you are interested in becoming more successful, happier, confident, being a better leader and making your team a high performing team then this is a read for you. After all, don’t we all strive for this both in our professional lives and in our personal lives? What parent does not want their child to be successful, confident and happy!
I will leave you not with a book recommendation but a TEDx talk about neuroplasticity, which our Year 6 pupils learn about as part of their .b mindfulness course. Thank you to Mrs. Patel for sharing this link following our morning chat at the gate on Wednesday, as I had not seen this talk before by Dr. Lara Boyd – enjoy!
Our brains are fascinating!
If you are interested in the books:
Posted on: 13/10/2017
News - Friday 13th OctoberThe half term has ended with some super, enriching experiences outside of school for the children.
Year 2 had a fantastic trip to Chiltern Open Air Museum this week. The children were transported back in time to experience what it was like to live in a Mesolithic Stone Age camp, learning to make fire (safely!), re-enacting hunting and gathering, and building shelters to name just a few activities. They also became archaeologists in another workshop, learning how to look for clues about the past. The staff at the museum were impressed by their knowledge and enthusiasm. It was a great day!
Our Year 3 pupils had a day out in St. Alban's Cathedral on Monday, where they had the chance to enhance their classroom learning by utilising their knowledge and skills in an abstract environment. The children had the opportunity to make their own mosaics, dress up as the Romans did and take part in role play. The children learnt about St. Alban and the important role he played during the Roman era. Year 3 were even lucky enough to meet with a real archaeologist and listen to some of the things he had found just outside St. Alban's Cathedral.
The Year 5 children enjoyed their visit to Hampton Court Palace on Thursday. They were blessed with super, sunny weather and they thoroughly enjoyed exploring the Tudor kitchens and re-enacting Henry VIII’s life story.
You can see some photos of the trips on the Galleries page.
Assemblies This Week
This week saw three outstanding performances from Nursery, Reception and Year 1 as we celebrated Harvest at the Lower School. The children's learning from the classroom was evident in all the assemblies, which conveyed heartfelt messages and sincere gratitude for the food we have. The children highlighted how we need to care for our world and think of others not as fortunate as us. There were wonderful singing and recitals throughout all assemblies - congratulations to all of the children and many thanks to parents for their support and generous donations, which the Salvation Army will thoroughly appreciate.
2B then performed their class assembly today, in which they reminded us all of the meaning of Diwali and the celebrations that occur during this lovely festival. The children were dressed in bright, beautiful colours and, without exception, they showed marvellous stage presence and confidence to deliver their lines clearly, with passion and with humour in places. Well done, Mrs. Belvoir, Mrs. Schlachter and the children of 2B.
Eurotalk Junior Language Challenge
Congratulations to Anisa W, who today attended the national finals of the Eurotalk Language Competition, having qualified earlier this term. Anisa has been learning Zulu and did extremely well in the finals today, reaching the last round where she finished with a score just a few points below the eventual winner of the whole competition! Anisa has done incredibly well to reach the very last stage of this prestigious national competition, which sees a vast number of children from all over the UK learn three different languages and compete at each stage. Well done, Anisa!
Borough Cross Country Results
Our girls' cross country team and Y6 pupil Timi O attended the Borough cross country competition this week, following their qualification in last week's District event. Running alongside over 200 pupils from schools across the Borough, our pupils performed very well. The girls' team finished in 7th place out of 12 schools, with Zoe K finishing in 4th and Abigail Y in 9th place. Timi O finished in 16th place in the boys' event. Well done to all our runners. â
The children from Middle and Upper School have had a bountiful harvest from the vegetable plot in the Zen Garden. Guided by Ms Gilham and our school groundsman, Mr. Rizzo, the children grew potatoes, carrots, borlotti beans and a number of herbs and ornamental plants. The children love growing and propagating plants, as well as eating what they grow. They will all be taking home some carrots and potatoes, and they will share the borlotti beans with the whole school as we are sure that our school chef will make a delicious bean salad.
Year 4 Dental Talk
On Thursday morning, we had the privilege to have Dr Bhanji visit the school to deliver a talk to our Year 4 children. The talk was about the evolution of teeth and Dr. Bhanji explained the significance of the changes in the skull, teeth and jaw and how we humans have evolved. There were also many fascinating animal facts, such as the snail having the most teeth in the animal kingdom, 14000 - 25000 teeth!
Being a dentist, Dr. Bhanji's most important take home message was for us all to brush our teeth twice a day and to remember that we are only allowed 6 teaspoons of sugar a day. A can of coke has 8 and a Muller Corner yoghurt has 6!
We are truly grateful to Dr. Bhanji for such a great opportunity, and would be delighted to hear from other parents who feel they have expertise they could share with the children to enrich their learning.
NSPCC Online Safety
Following their excellent, informative presentation to parents earlier this term, the NSPCC have now kindly provided copies of their booklet 'Your Child's Online World', which we have sent home to parents in book bags. Do take a look - the booklet provides useful tips about how to keep your child safe online and how to talk with them about their online activity. It is, of course, crucial that home and school work together to educate our children about how to stay safe and happy online.
Huge congratulations to Mr. Tovell, who has just received the news that he has passed his Master's Degree in Teaching and Learning.
We are delighted to be welcoming some new staff members to the St. Helen's College team after half term.
Mrs. Sharon Cargill will be joining us as our new School Business Manager. Mrs. Cargill has a long association with the school as a parent, shares the school's values and has a remarkable wealth of relevant experience and expertise.
Mrs. Catherine Copland will join the Lower School team as a Lunchtime Assistant, as we bid farewell to Mrs. Kaye. Mrs. Kaye has been with the school for many years and we wish her well for the future. Mrs. Asia Canas will also be joining the Lower School team as a Lunchtime Assistant, to provide maternity cover while Miss Shepherd is away.
Please do join us in congratulating Mr. Tovell and in welcoming our new staff!
New School Website
Following the publication of our new prospectus in September, the school website has been re-designed and re-developed and the new website will be launching over half term. Subscriptions to the School News Blog and Head's Blog will automatically be carried across to the new website, so parents do not need to do anything in order to continue to receive these. Parents should note that class blogs, including the Ducklings Kindergarten blog, are being discontinued. But please do not worry! Weekly guides and information will continue to be sent to all classes from Ducklings to Year 2 as they are now; they will come to you directly by email rather than via a blog subscription. Curriculum Notes for Years 3-6 will also continue to be sent out half-termly, by email rather than via blog subscription.
The new website has a 'Galleries' page which will carry photographs of school events, trips etc. and to which we will provide links from the news page. For residential trips, we will still post lots and lots of photographs for parents; these will be published to password-protected pages which we will direct you to at the time of the trip.
We hope that you will agree that the new website is fresher in design and that you will find it very user-friendly.
Posted on: 13/10/2017
Head's Blog - Self-Discipline: What Is It All About?I have used this phrase several times this half term with the students as we reflect on some of the standard etiquettes and behaviour expectations that we have at school. These include many simple things: lining up without talking, walking between classes calmly and with a sense of purpose, coming down the stairs in Upper School sensibly and quietly, entering the assembly hall without chatting and with a sense of occasion, crossing the road between Lower and Upper School with a sense of awareness, controlling the impulse to shout out in class, avoiding interrupting others’ conversations and taking turns in the playground when playing games. These are basic expectations, which I am sure you also hope that your children can fulfil consistently, but it is these simple requirements which, on occasion, can pose some children the greatest challenge.
So perhaps we should all ask ourselves: what is self-discipline? How can we help our pupils and how can parents help their children to develop self-discipline? To me, self-discipline is not a character trait, but more of a learned practice. I believe it is crucial that we all help young children to keep learning and that we give them ample opportunity to develop their self-discipline. We should model self-discipline, provide scaffolding and support and give children ample opportunities for practice, just as we do in any other area of learning.
Many recent studies by psychologists have shown that there is a correlation between self-discipline and academic success. In a study carried out by Duckwork and Seligman it was found that self-discipline was more important than IQ in predicting every outcome.
As parents and teachers, there are a few basics that can help us to help the children:
provide structure (have good routines)
be clear about what it is you want the children to achieve
if they are not displaying the behaviours you desire, describe the changes which may be required
implement appropriate consequences
praise good behaviour
be a good role model and model your own self-discipline!
We understand that it may take some children longer than others to learn how to be more self-disciplined and at St. Helen’s College we pride ourselves on focussing on the soft skills such as resilience, perseverance and self-discipline. Our pupils, in general, show wonderful self-awareness and a willingness to develop themselves personally for the benefit of themselves and their whole community. For any of our pupils to be successful in this, of course, it is crucial that home and school are working together to the same end. I also ask those pupils who do display super self-discipline to help those who are finding it more difficult to support the process for their peers to develop their behaviour.
Over the half term break I encourage you to observe your child. Are they demonstrating that they are developing their ‘self-discipline? Do they understand what it means? Are they becoming self-aware? Please do take time to talk about ‘self-discipline’ with your children. It is very different from having ‘discipline’ at home or at school – we want our children to develop appropriate behaviour because they understand why, because it makes sense to them and because they can see the advantages of having good self-discipline.
I wish you all a lovely half term and I will endeavour to practise my self-discipline as I will be reminding all the staff to be self-disciplined too; to make sure that we all do switch off from work, rest, have family time to enable us to recharge for the next very busy half term, leading up to one of my favourite times of the year!
Posted on: 6/10/2017
News - Friday 6th October 2017It has been another very busy week at St. Helen's College, with Prizegiving, Harvest Festival celebrations, special assemblies and school trips.
It was a pleasure to welcome back our Year 6 leavers for our annual Prizegiving Ceremony at the Winston Churchill Hall in Ruislip last night, and to celebrate their many and varied achievements during their time at St. Helen's College. We would like to extend our thanks to our Guest of Honour, Kevin Carson, who gave a most inspirational speech (see this week's Head's Blog), and to the Chamber Choir, who performed so beautifully. Huge congratulations to all of our prize winners, not only the Year 6 leavers but also the form prize winners from Years 3 to 5.
Harvest Festival Celebrations
Thank you to our Year 5 pupils, who presented two entertaining and thought-provoking performances at the Upper School Harvest Festival celebrations at All Saints Church this week. The celebrations were attended by all pupils and staff in Upper School and many parents. We were all reminded of the importance of working together and sharing our bounty with those less fortunate. We were grateful for so many generous donations of food, which are being sent to Slough Homeless Our Concern and The Salvation Army.
Our Lower School Harvest Festival Celebrations take place next week. The Nursery will have their Harvest Assembly on Monday 9th October at 8.45 a.m. Coffee will be served in the Methodist Church Hall from 8.15 a.m. on this day.
Reception and Year 1 will perform their Harvest Assemblies on Tuesday 10th October at 8.45 a.m. (Reception), and 9.15 a.m. (Y1). The Infant Choir will perform on this occasion between the Reception and Year 1 assemblies, at approximately 9.10 a.m. Coffee will be served in the Methodist Church Hall from 8.30 on this day.
All Lower School children are asked to bring a donation of food on the day of their Harvest celebration. The most suitable food items are non-perishable items such as canned and packet goods with a long shelf life. Please do not send in fresh fruits or vegetables.
We were delighted to be visited again this week by Kartig from the organisation SEWA. In the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit, Sewa means Service – and a unique concept of service: Selfless Efforts for the Welfare of All. SEWA UK is a Hindu faith-based humanitarian non-profit service organisation. Kartik reminded us of the importance of everyone taking some time to be selfless in this busy world. SEWA is a universal concept, which involves performing an act of kindness without expectation of reward. It is performed selflessly and without ulterior motive. As a concept, SEWA in embedded in Indian traditions, and is actively promoted by different cultures and faiths – as the core belief is the same – to sacrifice your time and resources for the benefit of others without expectation of anything in return.
Many, many congratulations to Mr. McLaughlin and Miss Vig, who recently became engaged to be married! Mr. McLaughlin and Miss Vig plan to hold their wedding during 2018.
PA Bollywood Night - Tomorrow!
The PA Bollywood Night will take place from 7 p.m. at Baylis House tomorrow night (Saturday 7th October) and there are still a few tickets left. If you are interested in coming along, you can turn up at the venue and pay on the door. Tickets cost £26 for an adult, £12 for a child and children aged 2 and under go free. Food will be served at 7.30 p.m. (with adult starters and the children’s food coming out first) so make sure you arrive in good time. This promises to be a fantastic night of fun and we look forward to seeing you there!
Our Y4-6 cross country team took part in the School Games District cross country competition this week, held on the Vyners School playing fields. The boys raced first over the 2km course, with over 100 boys from across the Uxbridge district taking part. Timi O finished first in 10th place followed by Daniel C in 17th place and Ethan V-B in 41st place. Our Y4 and Y5 boys Adi S, Rishi S-P, Patrick E, Eli V-B and Michael K gave a very good account of themselves in their first cross country event, coming in 51st, 56th, 66th, 65th and 76th places. Overall the boys came 7th in the team competition.
The girls' race followed and our girls showed great strength in running over the 2km distance. Zoe K finished 2nd and gained a silver medal and Abigail Y finish in 4th place, narrowly missing out on a bronze medal. Chloe W, Maddy H and Grace R finished a very credible 40th, 41st and 42nd place respectively. In the team competition the girls finished in 4th place.
Well done to everyone who took part and trained hard in Court Park over the first few weeks of term. We are delighted to report that the girls team and Timi have qualified for the Borough cross country finals which will take place on Monday. Good luck to our runners!
Posted on: 6/10/2017
Head's Blog - Follow Your DreamsFor those who were not able to attend last night's Prizegiving ceremony, I would like to share the inspirational speech from our Guest of Honour, Mr Kevin Carson, Head of The Royal Masonic School for Girls. His own journey of following his dreams led him to become the successful, well rounded person he is now. Enjoy!
"It is a genuine pleasure to be invited to St. Helen's College this evening to join you for your Prizegiving, and to join in the celebration of the achievements and progress of so many fabulous students.
St. Helen's College is a school that shares so much with my own school, RMS for Girls. Some of our similarities occur through the distinctive curriculum that we each offer, such as a focus on .b and mindfulness, or our commitment to learning beyond the classroom, both of which we too view as important aspects of educating the whole child. Other links are in respect of staff, because Mrs. Drummond, as I am sure many of you here tonight are aware, was a key teacher for many years in the Prep School at RMS before she joined St. Helen's College. Most importantly, our schools are similar in respect of a strong ethos that we live by, and also through a commitment to a holistic education for our pupils, which is very much central to my own sense of what is important in the development of each individual child. And at RMS we too believe in responding to the talents and the contexts of each pupil before us, of allowing the children to develop and to pursue each of their talents and dreams. And it is that theme of encouraging the pupils here tonight to pursue and to follow what is distinctive, special and important to each of you that I will return to throughout my speech.
The boys and girls who will come on stage this evening to receive prizes have of course all now moved on to secondary school, have made that move from the family atmosphere of their prep school here at St.Helen's College to big school, to senior school. I know both from my own experiences when I was your age and through my years as a teacher that the move to senior school is not always straightforward to make at first, but to all of the Year 7 pupils here tonight I ask you to trust us that it gets easier with every week in your new school. If you have not done so already, you will very soon settle in and feel secure and happy in your new school.
And yet even when you have fully settled in and feel truly at home, in the larger environment of a senior school it is not always easy for you to be yourself, and to remain true to yourself, as I remember from my own school days as I tried to pursue my own dreams in secondary school.
I have, as you may have noticed, a slight accent. I grew up in a city called Liverpool. It is a city that to this day many people associate with two things other than having a funny accent: those two things most commonly are the pop music of The Beatles and football. More specifically, at least in my family, Liverpool Football Club. I was taken to my first football match on my 3rd birthday, to Anfield, the home of Liverpool FC. I was only a toddler, dressed in full kit yet barely aware of what football was, and so young that despite the noise and shouts of 40,000 fanatical supporters I fell asleep during that first match watching Liverpool. But from that game onwards I was taken regularly to watch Liverpool by my father, grandfather, uncles and aunties. And soon enough I also played football regularly as a boy, every day in fact, with my two brothers and our friends, with anybody at all who wished to join in and play. So by the time that I was your age, I knew in my heart that all I wanted to do, the one dream that I knew I had to try to follow, was to be a professional footballer and to play for Liverpool Football Club.
And because I played so much, because I practised all of the time, and was lucky to have some great coaches and the support of my family, I got better at playing football. In everything in life we improve through practice, through learning from our mistakes. So by the time I was your age I had got good enough at football to play in a boys’ team that played at Wembley, a team that had won national football tournaments, and even better than all of that, a team that had played at Anfield, Liverpool’s stadium. Working together we became good enough as a team to get the chance to meet the England manager at the time, Bobby Robson, and one day a scout came to watch us from a professional football team, a team called Bolton Wanderers, and asked some of us if we would like to have a trial at their professional football club. I was one of those boys asked to go along, and they liked me enough at Bolton to invite me to train with them every week. So from the age of 11 I travelled every Wednesday night with my father to Bolton and trained with their coaches. I practised really hard, got better at passing and tackling, heading and shooting. All I wished was to be offered what was called a schoolboy contract, because I was still convinced that if I could be offered a schoolboy football contract at Bolton then one day I might become a professional footballer for Liverpool. That was my first dream, hope, passion.
But even though I practised every day, and played in three or four matches every weekend, I was not offered a schoolboy contract by Bolton. Some of my team mates were offered a contract, and one even became a professional footballer, but Bolton decided after two years with them that I would no longer be invited to train there each week. So, at age 13, I began to realise that my dream of becoming a professional footballer for Liverpool was becoming less likely because no matter how hard I tried there were some extremely talented players who were simply better at football than I was. I can still remember quite strongly how very disappointed I was at the time. Team mates and friends of mine were still at Bolton, some had even moved on from Bolton to train with Liverpool, and it felt at the time like the end of the world that I was not going to be able to pursue my first childhood dream.
But now, looking back on my years playing football as a boy, I do not view them with the sharp sadness that I felt then. In fact, I am very happy that I pursued that dream. I have realised since then that the skills I learnt following my passion have served me really well in my life. Not the passing and tackling, or the heading and shooting - there is not so much use for those skills as a Headteacher. But the other skills that I learnt such as teamwork and of communicating really well with the other members of your team, or of working hard and of all working together with one shared aim. Developing each of those key skills, which I developed first and foremost from my years playing sport, make me thankful and appreciative that my family supported me in pursuing what was special and most important to me when I was 11 years old. It matters not that my dream did not come true.
In truth I soon enough got over my disappointment aged 13. One of the reasons I got over it and moved on was because by the age of 13 I had developed a new interest, a new passion: acting and performing. I had performed parts in school plays in my primary school, small parts when I was younger, larger parts by Year 6, and I had loved being involved in school productions, being part of a team again, all working together with one aim of putting on a great show. And then in Senior School, in Year 7, I was taught by the most wonderful Drama teacher, Mr. Robinson, who asked me to play a lead role in a play that he was entering for a Play Festival at a theatre in Liverpool. We rehearsed for weeks and performed our play at the festival, but we didn’t win first prize – you can’t always win in life. However afterwards an agent for actors approached me and my family and asked if he could send me along to an audition for a television commercial for Heinz Tomato Ketchup.
So I travelled down to London with my mother, auditioning against talented children who attended drama school and who had already acted on stage and screen. And on this occasion I was fortunate enough to be chosen for the part. Heinz decided that they wanted a squeaky voiced boy with a Liverpudlian accent to sell Heinz sauce in a new squeezy bottle. I had to say lines such as “This new Heinz squeezy ketchup is really neat because now I can put it right where I want”. So that was fun, an enjoyable and different experience. And in acting, as a child, once you have shown that you can perform one part reliably and behave yourself on set, it becomes easier to be cast in other roles. So, soon after the sauce advertisement, I was involved in a BBC drama, working with some fabulous actors. And then, at age 13, not too long after my disappointment as a budding footballer, I was cast in a role as a family member on a soap opera on television at the time that was called Brookside. Your parents will remember it even though you will not know it as Brookside is no longer shown on television today.
I played the part of a character called Geoff Rogers, who was also known by the unflattering nickname of Growler, for over four years. Working on a weekly television show was a wonderful experience for me as a child. I didn’t always have to go to school, which at the time felt very nice and special. Once again I was working with wonderful actors, and also getting to know wonderful directors and writers such as Jimmy McGovern and Frank Cottrell Boyce, who you might have read as the author of novels such as Millions or The Astounding Broccoli Boy. Through acting on Brookside, I enjoyed lots of other opportunities such as travelling around the country, meeting Ronald Dahl because my character suffered dyslexia, and appearing on other television and radio shows such as Children in Need and BBC Radio 1. All lots of fun, but importantly following this new passion of mine allowed me to develop more skills that have served me well to this day: the importance of rehearsal and preparation, improving my presentation and communication skills, and once again, learning to work well as part of a team alongside lots of very different types of people.
In many ways, it is true to say that working as an actor on Brookside changed my life. But not in ways that you might expect. I certainly didn’t enjoy being recognised wherever I went around Liverpool, and I realised over time that unlike all the other actors on the show I didn’t burn with a passion inside me to wish to be an actor and to do whatever was required to be an actor for the rest of my life. I enjoyed every day there, but over time I learnt through pursuing this passion that it wasn’t a new childhood dream. Instead of any of this, working on Brookside changed my life because it opened my eyes to a world beyond that which I had known growing up in Liverpool. I realised just how many exciting and interesting jobs there were out there, creative and inspirational jobs that I might want to do, now that I had learned I did not wish to be an actor. So, once again, I do not regret being allowed to pursue my interest in acting from the age of 11 to 17; in fact I am really appreciative of everything I learnt from those years and that I make use of in my life each day.
One other benefit that came from being on Brookside that I was paid, which was certainly a novelty as a small teenage boy. My parents allowed me to spend a small allowance each month and the best thing about having a little financial independence was that it allowed me to pursue other interests, new passions that were developing throughout my time in secondary school. My love of music developed and I learnt to play the guitar, playing in bands with friends at school and university, which I enjoyed very much. As I got older, I was able to travel more, learn more about the world beyond Liverpool and England, which I still to this day value greatly. And I was allowed throughout my time at Senior School to develop my love of reading, of reading and studying English Literature. This only happened seriously from the age of 14 onwards, due to another inspirational teacher, Mrs. Woodhouse, but soon I was buying as many books as I could read each week, devouring the ideas and stories of the best writers throughout history.
By the age of 16 I knew without any doubt that studying literature was very much the thing I wished to do; I wasn’t at all sure where it would lead yet, but I knew it was the passion burning inside me that I had to pursue. And so I asked to leave Brookside because I wanted to study A Levels and go to university. And I should thank my parents at this point – it is always good and right to thank your parents - because my parents were hugely supportive of a decision that to others did not make the best sense or at least not the best financial sense. Their response to such questions was that you should always celebrate and love the child before you, which is no bad message for parents and teachers alike.
And as with my earlier dreams, my passion for reading and thinking about literature was both fun in itself and also developed skills that I try to apply each day of my life. With reading literature these lessons were mostly about trying to gain a better understanding people who had led very different lives to my own, and also about trying to be a good, kind and caring human being.
So I did go on to study English Literature at university, and I was fortunate enough to study at Cambridge University, where in time I finally realised that the one constant throughout my whole life, the one thing that I had benefitted most from when pursuing each of my different passions, was great teachers. Truly great teachers. And so I set out on a path to try to be one of them too. This particular passion is one I have not stopped pursuing yet. And, over many years it is this passion which has brought me here to you all this evening, celebrating a school full of great students with a wonderful attitude to learning, and also their fabulous, dedicated teachers.
So I said at the start of this speech that my main theme would be encouraging the pupils here tonight to pursue and to follow what is distinctive, special and important to each of you. That is not a bad message, but it is a common message, one I am sure you have heard before. And so, as with many great books, there is a slight twist at the end of my talk this evening. That is because I believe that passion can be a double-edged sword in learning. When we’re told to develop our passion and to follow our dream, often that means to develop what we’re already good at. And the truth is that some things take longer to get really good at than others.
So the most important message that I would wish to make to you as you each go through the next stage of your education is: don’t just follow your passions, but also broaden your passions. Broaden your passions because then you can be certain that you will be doing a lot of really great learning - and lots of really great learning means you will go on to lead really great lives."
Posted on: 29/09/2017
News - 29th September 2017On Monday this week, STEAM Day saw pupils engage in a diverse programme of exciting activities to investigate Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Maths. Visiting companies, staff and parents provided workshops to help children learn through memorable hands-on experiences. From designing a water delivery system with Affinity Water, to designing and testing wind tunnels; from building bridges and rafts to making cheese and honeycomb, pupils (and staff) enjoyed challenging themselves. Wildgoose developed a bespoke app for the school, using gamification for learning; there were Maths challenges including puzzles, codes and rotational symmetry designs; children made lava lamps, marble runs and umbrellas and pupils took part in orienteering sessions. The children at Upper School were visited by representatives from Tesla, who brought along two Tesla cars and demonstrated self-drive technology. The children will, no doubt, never forget seeing the cars in action! You can see the photos from STEAM Day here.
STEAM Day and last week's St. Helen’s Day are two examples of the creative and enriched curriculum we offer the children here at St. Helen's College. The school’s philosophy is that children learn best when they are happy, secure and valued, and when each child is challenged to extend their learning in exciting and varied ways. Listening to the pupils themselves reflecting on their experiences during these two days, it is clear that the last week has enhanced their education in quite special ways. We would like to say an enormous THANK YOU to all of the parents who supported these events by helping your children dress in 1920s dress and, especially, by running or assisting at workshops on STEAM Day. We know how lucky we are to have such a supportive and involved parent community and we hope that you have enjoyed hearing about your children's experiences at home too!â
6M Assembly - National Languages Day
As inspiration for their class assembly this week, 6M looked to National Languages Day. The children presented a performance looking at the importance and benefits of learning different languages, from challenging oneself to being able to understand and appreciate cultural differences in our world. During the assembly, the pupils spoke in an astonishing array of foreign languages, including Dutch, Urdu, Mandarin, Spanish, Norwegian, French, Swahili and many more! They also looked ahead to their Year 6 residential trip to France, during which they will immerse themselves in French language and culture, and recited a multi-lingual poem as well as singing 'Hakuna Matata' with a linguistic twist. Well done indeed, 6M, on an interesting, informative and fun assembly.
All parents are warmly invited to our Harvest Festival celebrations in October. Arrangements are as follows.
The Upper School (Years 2-6) Harvest Festival will take place at 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday 3rd October, at All Saints Church.
The Nursery will have their Harvest Assembly on Monday 9th October at 8.45 a.m. Coffee will be served in the Methodist Church Hall from 8.15 a.m. on this day.
Reception and Year 1 will perform their Harvest Assemblies on Tuesday 10th October at 8.45 a.m. (Reception), and 9.15 a.m. (Y1). The Infant Choir will perform on this occasion between the Reception and Year 1 assemblies, at approximately 9.10 a.m. Coffee will be served in the Methodist Church Hall from 8.30 on this day.
All children should bring a donation of food on the day of their Harvest celebration. The most suitable food items are non-perishable items such as canned and packet goods with a long shelf life. Please do not send in fresh fruits or vegetables.
Food donations will be given to the Salvation Army and to local charity SHOC, which supports homeless people in Slough. Slough and the surrounding area is a region badly affected by homelessness and social exclusion. It is an urban area of extremes and great diversity. While the town itself is home to a large number of successful international companies, around 15% of Slough’s residents live in communities that are among the 20% most deprived income areas in the country. SHOC (Slough Homeless Our Concern) is a day centre which provides care for the homeless in Slough and those at risk of becoming so. It is the only centre within a 20-mile radius which offers the homeless both crisis care and long term, transformational help towards independence.
âWe hope that you will join with us to generously support these two charities.
Kai Joins Lion King Cast As Simba!
We are delighted to announce that Kai P-W (6M) has been cast as the young Simba in Disney's Lion King on the West End stage! Kai will join the cast for rehearsals from mid-October and will be performing as the young Simba from November through to May 2018. We will share dates for his performances when exact dates are confirmed, as many pupils, parents and staff will no doubt wish to go and see him perform. Well done and best of luck, Kai!
School Games Gold Mark
Once again, St. Helen's College has been awarded the School Games Gold Mark to recognise the breadth and quality of the sporting provision here at school. This is the fifth year in a row that we have been awarded the Gold Mark, and we are now eligible to apply for the Platinum Mark next year! As part of our application, we were asked to fulfil criteria in the areas of participation, competition, workforce and clubs, and we are delighted that the hard work of everyone at our school has been rewarded this year.
Half Term Holiday Club
Bookings for the half term Holiday Club are now open. The booking form has been posted to the School Documents page of the website.
PA Bollywood Night
Just one week to go and there are only 20 tickets left for the PA Bollywood night to be held on Saturday 7th October. So if you want to come, now is the chance to grab the last few tickets! Not every PA event is about fundraising and the price you pay for the ticket is for food only. The rest of the evening's entertainment is courtesy of the PA! The famous dancer, Jay Kumar, will be there to perform and teach everyone some Bollywood moves and a DJ will be on hand to keep the music playing (Bollywood and current) so that we can party the night away! Remember, we only have 20 tickets left. Tickets are £26 per adult, £12 per child and children aged 2 and under go free. So come along to what promises to be a fantastic night of fun. To purchase tickets email email@example.com. Don't miss out, do it now! Thank you to everyone for your support.
Posted on: 29/09/2017
Head's Blog - Annual Heads' ConferenceThis week's blog will be a rather short one, as I need time to reflect in greater depth on the range of seminars I have attended and keynote speakers I have listened to this week at the annual Independent Association of Preparatory Schools Heads’ Conference. Along with 600 other delegates from UK and overseas prep schools, I have heard from a diverse and fascinating range of speakers.
In his keynote speech, 'Rethinking Education: Essential Skills for People Working in the Machine Age’, Dr. Harvey Lewis posed several questions. Why do we educate our children? Do we think there will be jobs for our current 4 year olds when they are ready to join the workforce? Are robots really coming for our jobs?
Dr. Barry Hymer, educational psychologist and researcher, then reaffirmed everything that we are currently doing at St. Helen’s College in his talk discussing learning theory in the areas of motivation, mindset, talent development and independent learning. He has written a super book, 'The Growth Mindset Pocketbook'. It is a must for every teacher and is also recommended reading for parents to understand how schools are now approaching education. If you are interested in buying your own copy, the link is below.
These are only a snippet of the many sessions attended and I look forward to reflecting on what I have learnt this week and to discussing it with the staff, so that together we may keep enriching the experiences your children have at school. I will, of course, continue to share my thoughts with you in next week's blog!
Posted on: 22/09/2017
News - 22nd September 2017What a wonderful trip to the past today has been! The children and staff dressed up in 1920s style outfits and lessons investigating the past were delivered. Pupils had traditional sewing and handwriting lessons, using chalk and slate. They learnt about old money and converted pounds, shillings and pence into today's money, practised times tables by rote learning chants, compared 1920s maps of Hillingdon with today's maps, discovered the art deco movement and its influence on fashion and learnt some traditional folk songs. Typing and dictation skills were practised, and children also learnt about the commercial use of telephone and made their own string telephones. They also investigated life in Britain and Spain in the 1920s. At break times, old fashioned playground games were played. The children at Upper School took part in a PE drill lesson led by Year 6.
Our Lower School pupils were fascinated to discover that the first television was produced in the 1920s, and that votes for women and the discovery of penicillin were two of the big topics of the time. The history of St. Helen's College in the 1920s was brought to life in Upper School assembly. The children discovered how Hillingdon changed in the 1920s, how the school came to be founded by Dorothea and Mary Watson in 1924 and where the original school house was on Long Lane. It was fascinating to learn so much about the school and parents may be interested in seeing the presentation used in the Upper School assembly today which is here. In the afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Crehan came to visit. They watched the whole school PE drill and spoke in an afternoon assembly about their memories of St. Helen's. Our Year 2 pupils were awarded their St. Helen's College value cards by our senior pupil team in a short ceremony and the school song was vigorously sung by all.
Thank you to all parents for dressing the children in such wonderful outfits today. It has been a great St. Helen's Day!
Ducklings and Nursery Entry 2018
The admissions procedures for entry to St. Helen's College in September 2018 are now beginning. Last night we held a very successful meeting for parents of children who are eligible to join Ducklings next September, and we will soon be contacting parents of registered children to invite them in for our Ducklings 'Stay and Play' entry meetings in January. Likewise, we will shortly be contacting parents of registered children who are eligible for 3+ Nursery entry next September to invite them in for their entry meetings in January.
If you have a child who was born between 01.09.15 and 31.08.16 and you have not yet registered him or her, but would like Ducklings entry for next September, please do register now.
If you have a child born between 01.09.14 and 31.08.15 and you have not yet registered him or her, but would like 3+ Nursery entry for next September, please do register now.
The registration form can be completed online here.
Parents' Evenings - Nursery, Reception and Year 1
Parents' evenings for all classes from Nursery to Year 1 will take place on Tuesday 3rd October from 4 - 7 p.m. and on Thursday 12th October from 6 - 9 p.m. We use an online booking system which you can access here. Please follow the online instructions to book your appointment. On the evening itself, you should arrive fifteen minutes or so before your appointment to give you time to peruse your child’s work, which will be laid out in the Lower School hall. â
PA Bollywood Night - Saturday 7th October
It’s really not long now until the PA Bollywood night on Saturday 7th October, so do make sure that you reserve your places now as they are going fast. As well as Bollywood dancing, there will be a raffle, photo opportunities and henna tattoos (£5 per person) available on the night. Tickets are £26 for an adult and £12 for a child and the price includes a three course meal and unlimited soft drinks. There is a separate menu for the children and children aged 2 and under go free.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday 26th September to let us know how many adult and child tickets you would like. We will then send you payment instructions and a unique reference number which you will need to quote to make an electronic bank transfer. Don’t miss out on this night to remember!