School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 17/11/2017
Head's Blog - Time To TalkOver the past couple of weeks, many other Independent Prep School Heads have contacted me as part of our collaborative network to discuss what we offer our pupils in terms of personal development and in particular additional pastoral support for children who may benefit from further nurturing.
We are very fortunate here at St. Helen’s College that all our staff go that extra mile for each and every pupil at the school but we also do have our very own special listener for the children, Mrs. Brooker. It occurred to me that this is one of the many excellent things that happen at school every day, but of which parents might be unaware.
From time to time, children may feel that they need to speak to someone about something that is bothering them. Whilst class teachers allow time for children to talk through a programmed timetable of one-on-one tutorials as well as being available whenever needed, we offer an additional service at St. Helen’s College whereby Mrs. Brooker can make some time for children to explore how they are feeling. In addition to her role as a Teaching and Learning Assistant, Mrs. Brooker provides a pastoral role in the form of Time to Talk sessions. She has completed a Certificate in Counselling Skills course at level 2 and is currently undergoing a level 3 training course in Counselling Studies at Brookfield Adult Education Centre.
Children can self-refer for Time to Talk sessions via a green card in the red letterbox in the hall, or they may be referred by their class teacher directly. Once Mrs. Brooker receives a green card, she arranges some time to see the child. Initial meetings with the child involve asking what brings them to the session and how they are feeling. Children are offered a range of simple activities (colouring, Lego, Play Doh) to help them feel comfortable in sharing and exploring their thoughts, feelings and behaviours. An assessment of the child’s needs is discussed with the class teacher and additional time slots are made available during lunch times where necessary. In addition to children being listened to in an empathic manner, sessions may involve instruction in relaxation exercises, such as mindfulness, breathing techniques or resetting energy dials. The sole focus of attention is on the wellbeing of the child. Literature on the various exercises may be sent home for further practice.
We are most fortunate to have Mrs. Brooker on our staff. It is quite unique for a stand alone Prep School to offer a bespoke service to support the mental health and personal development of pupils in this way.
Next Friday, Mrs. Crehan and I will be attending a Mental Health Conference in Oxford with some very reputable speakers and practitioners. I am sure the day will be very valuable and that we will glean some new ideas and make new connections. However, I also have every confidence that, with what we already offer through our holistic approach to education and our creative curriculum, we will find that St. Helen’s College is already strides ahead in this area!
Posted on: 10/11/2017
News - Friday 10th November 2017The school has had a day of reflection and gratitude, remembering those who gave their lives in conflict to ensure the safety and freedom which we so often take for granted today. We joined together for a silence at 11 o'clock to remember the fallen, and we have all been wearing our poppies with pride.
Oak Farm Librarian Visits Nursery
Earlier in the week, a librarian from the Oak Farm Library visited our Nursery classes to talk to the children about the many different books that they can borrow from the library. She explained how to look after books and talked to the children about how we should behave inside a library. The librarian sang songs and read two wonderful stories to Nursery, which are still being talked about by the children now!
Chamber Choir Recording
Our Chamber Choir made a recording yesterday as their entry for the national Barnado's competition, which the school enters each year. We have reached the final twice in recent years and are hoping to repeat this success! This year's pieces are the beautiful 'Can You Hear Me?' by Bob Chilcott and 'Thank You For The Music' by ABBA. Should we reach the final again, the Chamber Choir will be signing along to the 'Can You Hear Me?' piece. The finals, as usual, will take place at the Royal Festival Hall in March. We will find out in January if the Chamber Choir has made it through. Do wish us luck!
Girls' Football Tournament
Our girls' football team took part in the School Games District Schools football tournament held at Hillingdon Leisure Complex this week. Fourteen teams from our local area took part and the St. Helen's College team drew girls from Years 4, 5 and 6. Games were very short - lasting only 6 minutes - so our girls had to get off to a flying start and they did just that!
In their first match again Cowley St Laurence they won 3 - 0 and in their second match against St. Bernadette's they won 4 - 0. In their final match they faced Oak Farm in a very competitive match. The St. Helen's College team had lots of shots on goal, but it was Oak Farm who scored to win the game 1 - 0. Well done to all the girls who took part in the tournament: Ryeesa, Kyra, Hebe, Ionie, Aaria, Rhea A-V, Lily, Maya S and Abigail.
You can see a photo of the girls on the Galleries page.
Upper School Parents' Evening
Thank you to those parents who attended the Upper School parents' evenings this week. It was a pleasure to see so many of you and we hope that you found your consultations useful.
Children in Need Tog Day and Raffle
As usual, the school will be supporting Children in Need this year and hoping to raise some money for this most worthwhile of charities. The children of 6D are taking responsibility for running the fundraising for this event and have been making posters to display throughout the school.
Next Friday, 17th November, all children and staff are invited to wear 'spoctacular spots' and/or yellow clothes to school. There is a suggested donation of £2 per child for this tog day, but any donations will be most gratefully received.
There will Children in Need raffles running at all sites, with prizes as follows:
Upper/Middle School: 1 large Pudsey Bear and 1 small Blush Bear
Lower School: 1 large Pudsey Bear and 1 small Blush Bear
Ducklings: 2 small Blush Bears
There will be also be several runner up prizes including small bears, Pudsey/Blush ears and pens.
Tickets will be sold next week, from Monday 13th November, and will be priced at £1 each. Please do encourage your children to bring in some money to buy raffle tickets, either from the school office or from our Year 6 children at break times.
Many thanks, as always, for your support for those less fortunate.
PA Christmas Fair 2017
11.30am - 4.30pm, Sunday 3 December 2017
Can you believe that Christmas is just 6 weeks away and it's just 3 weeks until the PA Christmas Fair? This year, instead of year group parties, the PA has organised a fete where the children will have an entertainer and some food and will be able to meet Father Christmas. The added bonus this year is that there will be a huge range of stalls selling items that the parents can buy - so you can get a bit of Christmas shopping done while you're there.
To make this event the best day out for all of our children, the PA is looking for some volunteers who would be willing to help out on the day for varying times between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. This could involve anything from setting up/clearing up the hall to a shift as Santa:
9 x Santa’s Helpers for a 1½ hour shift each (uniform provided).
Helpers to run stalls.
If you would like to volunteer, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, contact details, what you would like to do and the times that you are available. All help will be welcome.
Finally, if you have any good quality Christmas decorations or Christmas trees that you would be prepared to let us borrow for the day, please contact us at email@example.com. Thank you.
If any parents have any school uniform items which are no longer being used, we would be grateful if you would consider donating them either to raise funds for the PA or to charity.
Parents are asked to bring items to the school office. Branded items in good repair will be sold by the PA in second hand uniform sales, which will hopefully take place at school once a term from now on - please keep an eye out for news of when these will take place.
We also now have a system for sending uniform directly to a school in India, where it will help to clothe children who need it, so unbranded items and any branded items which do not sell will be sent off to India. St. Helen's College children will, in due course, be able to see pictures of their uniform being worn in the Indian school. The cost of shipping uniform will be £3.50 per kilo, so if any parent would like to donate towards this, please hand contributions in to the school office, in an envelope labelled Uniform Charity.
We hope you will agree that it will be useful for St. Helen's College parents to have access to regular second hand uniform sales, and that donating clothes to an Indian school is a very worthwhile venture. We also hope that you will be able to dig out plenty of old uniform as the months and years go by, and that this will help you to declutter! Thank you very much, in advance, for your support in this endeavour.
Posted on: 10/11/2017
Head's Blog - Festive ShoppingIt is only the 10th of November and I can hardly believe that we are already being bombarded by the commercial aspect of Christmas. On the high street, on the television, on the radio and online, advertisements and commercials are vying for position for the top gifts for this year! I am not against the giving and receiving of gifts at Christmas, but it can be rather extreme and intense, especially when we are only in early November! So….I thought to myself, if you cannot beat them (which we won’t) then why not join them!
Do read on to find some of my top recommendations for your children – gifts to keep the learning active, interesting and fun! For those of you who celebrate Christmas, there are great stocking fillers and games which will improve the skills which your child can then apply to their learning in school. And for those families who do not celebrate Christmas, well, who needs an excuse to play games with your children which will enhance their learning?
Mainly for younger children, Nursery to Year 4:
Orchard Toys – a British based company from which I have purchased many superb games over the years for schools and as gifts. The maths and literacy games are particularly good; it is hard to choose my favourites as I rate them all.
The Early Learning Centre – still an all time favourite; although the high street stores have disappeared, thankfully their online store is still stocking some of my favourites. The weighing scales learning game and numerous jigsaw puzzles never go amiss.
For older primary school children:
The Happy Puzzle Company – I only wish I had discovered this company earlier, but over the past six years I have rated this highly for pupils in the early stages of developing their spatial awareness and logical thinking skills. There are so many games which will develop the cognitive ability of young pupils in a concrete and interactive way.
Bright Minds - On the Bright Minds site, you can search by style of game (Maths, English, Science, Tech…) and by age, making it easy to find games and investigation kits suitable for your child.
Some books to consider for Year 4 upwards:
Descriptosaurus – pupils soon become hooked on this book and, with its useful CD to accompany the book, your child’s writing skills and use of vocabulary will certainly improve. My copy of the book is currently being enjoyed in Year 6 – but I highly recommend this for Year 5 too.
Mrs. Wordsmith - The name says it all! The six month subscription comes with a book every month for six months. They include a total of 10,000 excellent words and it looks brilliant. It comes with practice cards, a reference folder and daily activities too - perfect for Year 5!
Buster Books - I spotted these books being carried around school by our Year 5 pupils and have tracked them down online. Our library has a copy, but these should be a ‘must have’ for all pupils. The English book is called 'Write Every Time' and the maths book is 'From Zero to Infinity'
Mr. Thorne’s resoruces – Mr. Thorne’s YouTube videos and apps are a great resource for all ages. They help to develop phonic skills in the early years, and progress to spelling, grammar and comprehension apps to improve skills for pupils up to Year 6.
Do take a look at some of the sites I have recommended. If you like what you see, I hope that your stocking fillers may have a more educational slant this year. I am sure that your children will not be disappointed, and nor will you!
HAPPY SHOPPING! I would love to hear what you have purchased.
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."