School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 2/03/2018
Head's Blog - World Book Day ChallengeWhat with the ‘Beast from the East’ and ‘Storm Emma’ upon us, you find yourselves with the children at home due to the school closure. However, I beg parents to read this famous poem by Roald Dahl which was shared with the children in our World Book Day assembly.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have every child engaged with activities over the next few days which are not ‘screen’ based but are focussed on ‘books’. Who will take up the gauntlet?
Television - Poem by Roald Dahl
The most important thing we've learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set --
Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we've been,
We've watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone's place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they're hypnotised by it,
Until they're absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink --
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK -- HE ONLY SEES!
'All right!' you'll cry. 'All right!' you'll say,
'But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!'
We'll answer this by asking you,
'What used the darling ones to do?
'How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?'
Have you forgotten? Don't you know?
We'll say it very loud and slow:
THEY ... USED ... TO ... READ! They'd READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching 'round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it's Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There's Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They'll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start -- oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They'll grow so keen
They'll wonder what they'd ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.
MommyPoppins website has some other super ideas for you too!
We look forward to Monday when normal school routines will hopefully be resumed. I am sure that the first few days of March 2018 will be memorable to us all.
Posted on: 23/02/2018
Weekly News - Friday 23rd February 2018The February Month End Music Recital today gave a lovely opportunity for some of our young musicians to show off their talents and hard work to their peers and parents, as well as to develop their performance skills, in an informal environment. Very well done to all those who performed on their instruments or sang for us. There were charming, energetic and moving performances on piano, flute, violin, cello, guitar and a lovely vocal rendition of a song from 'Cinderella'.
Assemblies This Week
It was wonderful to watch how well 3T reminded our school community of the importance of 'RESPECT'. I know that children hear this message frequently from parents and teachers, but for the children to embrace this value and character trait and deliver it with such clarity and confidence was super. Well done, 3T! This was a wonderful assembly and we felt humbled to be in the audience.
6M performed an incredibly poignant assembly as they jumped 30 years into the future to be themselves as 'grown ups' reminiscing on their St. Helen's College days! Their last class assembly was certainly one to remember for everyone - thank you 6M.
Borough Football Finals
Well done to our football team, who competed in the Borough Football Finals this week and finished in 4th place. The team worked hard and demonstrated plenty of skill and determination in a fast-paced tournament of short matches.
Please note that, following feedback from the class representatives via the Parents' Association, Mrs. Drummond has decided to host a termly PA reps' meeting to give parents a forum in which to discuss whole-school issues with members of the Senior Leadership Team. PA class representatives should continue to forward individual or class/year group-specific queries to the relevant class teacher, a member of SLT or to Mrs. Drummond directly. The next meeting for PA reps will be in the summer term.
Thank you to all of the class reps and PA committee for their continued support and useful feedback.
Please allow your children to wear their woolly hats to school in this very cold weather so that their ears are protected from the very low temperatures. Once the cold snap has passed, please revert to wearing the school black hats (girls) and felt caps (boys) to/from school when wearing full school uniform, in order to maintain the smart St. Helen's College uniform appearance in the community.
Class representatives have let the school know that some parents are unsure about which uniform to wear, either daily or for specific activities. The uniform list is re-published each summer term in advance of the new academic year; in order to clarify things for parents, we will be taking photographs of children in the correct uniform and sportswear for each year group or phase. These will be distributed next term with the updated uniform list. We hope that this will help to clarify what should be worn and when, as well as acting as a reference guide for parents throughout the year.
Arrival at school
Pupils at Upper School should not be left unattended outside the school prior to 8 a.m. An adult should wait with children until a member of staff comes on duty at 8 a.m. If early drop off is required, pupils may always be booked into Breakfast Club from 7.30 a.m.
Posted on: 23/02/2018
Head's Blog - Desire to Aspire
Over the half term holidays I spent time with family and catching up with friends and enjoyed reminiscing about school days.
I have also been reading some delightful blogs from fellow educators who have written about who their Heros or Sheros are. What has struck me is the number of us who have been so influenced by the teachers who taught us, but have not quite realised this until much later on in our lives when we reflect on the influential people who helped shape who we are. Of course
families are big part of this too but for many of us the teachers who we have engaged with throughout our lives have been a massive influence. I am sure you will also have your Hero or Shero from your school days?
At St. Helen’s College we have such inspirational teachers who will bring out the best in your children, ignite their awe and wonder in the world and challenge them to step out of their comfort zone to try new things. We encourage children to ask questions and give them an out of the box experience - the more hands on we can make our curriculum the more the children will remember, engage and enjoy. As teachers we need to inspire our children for them to have the desire to aspire!
On Saturday I attended the Chartered College of Teachers annual conference in London and met and listened to some inspirational educators. One of the women who has left an impression on me was Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE. Maggie attended 13 different schools growing up and she was diagnosed with dyslexia. Her family were not affluent but they were engaged with their daughter’s education and allowed her to follow her dreams. Sadly when Maggie told a teacher that her dream was to be an astronaut she was told to consider nursing as that was scientific too! Thankfully that would not happen here!
Dr. Maggie is currently a Space Optical Instrumentation Manager, who designs many space instruments, and she has been involved in developing the Gemini telescope and the James Webb telescope. She also presents ‘The Sky at Night’ and, as a young child, she was fixated with the Clangers (particularly the Soup Dragon!)
Listening to Maggie and discussing with other teachers after the event, I felt so proud of the curriculum we offer our pupils and the expertise of the staff we have on board.
We also have our very own ‘scientist’ at school, Ms Gilham, whose career as a scientist started at the Medical Research Council based at the University of Sussex where she graduated with a BSc in Biology. As a cellular biologist for MRC, she joined a group to study the effects of the oil spill disaster in the Shetlands in the 90s, and also got involved in the study of skin cells from patients who had a genetic predisposition to skin cancers and how radiation affected their ability to repair their DNA.
Although research is such a dynamic and exciting field, the teaching profession has many benefits as a career. Moreover, she thought that it was more rewarding to teach people on a daily basis than to be pippeting microlitre amounts of chemicals in a test tube or growing skin cells in a petri dish! Ms Gilham then trained as a secondary science teacher and gained her teaching status, but realised that the year groups were all wrong. At this point, research summoned yet again and she worked at Brunel University, joining a group to study how skin cells get transformed to immortalised cells. This work was part of a study to help understand how mutations occur that might lead to the formation of skin cancer cells. It was an exciting job as skills involved the use of cellular biology techniques as well as molecular biology where genes relating to the regulation of cell growth were studied.
Not many primary science teachers can say that they could sequence a gene! Ms Gilham’s passion for science and the benefits of research were her drive in the ten years she was in research. It is the same passion and love of science, plus the idea of inspiring children to become future scientists, that now keeps Ms Gilham in the teaching profession where she finally has found her niche in the primary classroom. Ms Gilham chose teaching over the opportunity to do her PhD! She absolutely loves the way children respond to her whenever they do experiments every single day in their science lessons.
It is not only in Science but across the curriculum and throughout the school day, from Ducklings Kindergarten through the EYFS and up to Upper School, that all of our staff inspire your children with a three-pronged attack: they are great role models, they keep learning relevant and they continue to challenge and questions the children to heighten that sense of wonder about the world.
Teaching is the most important profession in the world and it is a privilege to be part of this unique vocational profession.
This was recognised just this week by Sir Ridley Scott when he gave an emotional speech on the night he received his Bafta Fellowship. The legendary filmmaker received a standing ovation from an audience full of stars of the silver screen. During his eight-minute speech, the 80-year-old also said he believed teaching was “the most important of all professions”. He said: “Sort that out and social problems will get sorted out. It sounds simple but we’ve been talking about it for years and it’s absolutely vital. My teachers inspired me.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eV_c6fjf4Ec&feature=youtu.be (Sir Ridley Scott)
https://www.theguardian.com/membership/video/2014/oct/15/space-scientist-maggie-aderin-pocock-power-dreams-video (Maggie Aderin Pocock)
Posted on: 9/02/2018
Weekly News - Friday 9th February 2018We are delighted that the school was today presented with a special award to recognise our outstanding provision for pupils with Asthma. We are the first school in the London Borough of Hillingdon to be named as an 'Asthma Friendly School'. Many congratulations to Miss Lang, Mrs. Beale and all of the staff who ensure that our provision for children with asthma is first class.
London Schools Concert
Our Chamber Choir participated for the first time this year in the Children's Trust annual London Schools Concert . They performed along with six other independent schools in the beautiful baroque church St. John 's, Smith Square in the heart of Westminster. Our pupils sang with such confidence and harmony in both of their songs but in their second song, 'Can you Hear Me?', they mesmerised the audience of 500 with their singing and sign language.
Thank you to all of the parents who attended the concert and to Mrs. Allery and Mrs. Garnes for preparing the pupils so well. Over £5,000 was raised on the day for this very worthwhile charity and we look forward to being part of this very special day again next year - do put Sunday 3rd February 2019 in your diaries now! The next event for the Chamber Choir will be the Barnardos National Choral Competition on Monday 12th March and tickets can be purchased here:
In their class assembly this week, 1HC entertained us with dragon dancing, singing and the history of the Chinese New Year with such vibrance and superb presentation skills. Special thank you to Joleen who had been instrumental in sharing so much information about the traditions of this special event in the Chinese culture. Mr. Crehan, who is also learning Mandarin, tested out his language skills with the children back in class with great aplomb!
2H delighted us today in reminding us of the importance of friendships with words, action and song. In their words, 'To have a good friend, you need to be a good friend'. Congratulations and thank you, 2H.
Every child in Years 1 to 6 should now have brought home their poem or piece of prose to learn for our Speech Competition, which takes place in the last week of term. Please do help your child to learn their poem or prose by heart and to speak it as expressively as they can. The children will also have a chance to practise in class after half term and there will then be preliminary rounds to select class finalists.
Class finalists will perform at the finals of the Speech Competition, to which parents of finalists will be invited. At the finals, a winner will be chosen from each class and there will also be an overall winner selected for Years 1-3 and for Years 4-6.
Children will be judged on their expression, projection and clarity. They will be expected to show an understanding of, and empathy for, the content of their piece. Use of reasonable facial expression and appropriate hand gestures is encouraged, but please note that no choreography or props are allowed!
Nursery and Reception children will each learn a poem and will recite these to their peers, staff and parents in their own Speech Festival. Again, please help your children to learn their poem by heart and to enjoy performing it.
We hope you will enjoy hearing the children practise at home for this!
The Year 6 handball teams took part in the local primary school competition last Saturday at Oak Wood School. This fast moving, action packed Olympic sport is very exciting to watch and our pupils really enjoyed playing competitively. Everyone worked hard to attack and defend and Krish was an outstanding goalie, even managing to save a penalty. Our A team won two matches in their group against Hillingdon and St. Bernadette and the B team also won two matches in their group against Oak Farm and St. Andrew's. However it was the B team who narrowly lost out on progressing to the semi finals by just one goal. Well done to all our players: Ryeesa S, Abigail Y, Jed H, Timi O, Max E, Aeshan N, Zara S-P, Grace R, Natalie F, Amrit R, Arusan U-H, Abhiram R and Krish T.
The West London Eagles handball team runs training for junior boys on Tuesdays and junior girls on Thursdays at Northolt High Sports Centre. If your son or daughter is enjoying handball at school, why not consider joining them? The first session is free and full details are available atwww.westlondoneagles.co.uk.
On Monday, we had a boys' hockey match against St. Benedict's School at Brunel Sports Park. After recent years of success, we found ourselves playing against a much improved team. St. Helen's College put in a lot of determination and tried hard to keep their shape. Unfortunately we lost the match 7-1 but the boys really enjoyed the afternoon. The team members were: Abhiram R, Daniel C, Arusan U-H, Amrit R, Veer B, Nirmit N, Rajdeep B, Jed H and Luke J.
World Book Day
The school will be celebrating World Book Day on Thursday 1st March. The theme for this year is Roald Dahl, one of the most phizz-whizzing British children's authors of all! Children are asked to dress up on the day; pupils from Years 1 - 6 are encouraged to dress as a Roald Dahl character but all book characters are welcome! Ducklings, Nursery and Reception will of course be joining in with all the fun and they are asked to dress as a book character of their choice. We hope it will be a fun filled day to celebrate all the fantastic reading done throughout the year.
NSPCC Workshops and Fundraiser
The NSPCC’s 'Speak out. Stay safe.' programme will be visiting our school during the second half of term, with their friendly mascot Buddy, to make sure our pupils have the knowledge and understanding they need to stay safe.
To support the NSPCC we will be organising a fundraiser at school in the week beginning 5th March. This year’s fundraiser (the Buddy cycle and scooter workout) will involve children counting how many times they can cycle or scoot around a workout route in 10 minutes. Pupils will be asked to bring their (named) bicycle/scooter and helmet to school on the day of their challenge. The school will have some spare bicycles/scooters available too.
Year 6 will be taking part in the Buddy cycle and scooter workout but have chosen different activities to raise funds. 6M will take part in a Spellathon and 6D will take part in a maths challenge.
Full details and sponsor forms will be sent home in due course. In the meantime, if you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s class teacher.
We have an unexpected vacancy for a child (in Year 2 - Year 6) to learn the 'cello at school. Lessons are available from after half term onwards.
We will also have a vacancy for individual trumpet tuition from Easter. Again, this is available to children in Years 2 to 6.
If you are interested in your child learning either of these instruments, please email Mrs. Allery at email@example.com as soon as possible. Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
Posted on: 9/02/2018
Head's Blog - Pride
I can hardly believe that we are at half term already and it is with a great sense of pride that I reflect on the beginning of 2018: Joyous January and Forte February!
I always feel that it is important to enter the New Year feeling joyous about the year ahead and looking forward to what it will bring. Despite the joy of Christmas being over and in spite of the darkness surrounding us early in the morning and early in the evening we must remain joyful!
February is upon us already - Forte February - forte meaning ‘strength’ or ‘talent’ and a measure of mindset and attitude over ego and a lack of awareness. (I revisit this from last year!) It is in ‘Forte February’ that we should recognise the talents and strengths of everyone we spend time with, children and adults, celebrate abilities and gifts, take time for self-care and promote well-being.
In your children we have had so much to celebrate this half term; it has been an action packed half term with the children giving so much of themselves to their studies but also to the enriched co-curriculum programme of activities we offer here at St. Helen’s College. I am not about to list all the wonderful achievements of our pupils - the weekly newsletter, class blogs and photo galleries are testament to what an amazing community we have!
We encourage the children to promote their own talents and to be able to do this without ‘showing off’ can sometimes be a challenge. They all have that inner strength to celebrate and we are developing this ability in every single pupil. Self-esteem, resilience, strength of character and a positive sense of self is something to promote and be proud of.
So this half term do take time with your family to be PROUD of your children but also to be proud of what every member of your family has achieved. Below are a few synonyms to start the conversations! I am pleased with….I am glad that...I am happy with...I am delighted with...
pleased (with), glad (about/at), happy (about/at/with), delighted (about/at/with), joyful (at), overjoyed (at/over), thrilled (at/about/by/with), well pleased (with), satisfied (with), gratified (at), content (at), appreciative (of)
Have a wonderful half term holiday and thank you to everyone - pupils, parents and staff - for such a great first half term of 2018!
Posted on: 2/02/2018
Weekly News - Friday 2nd February 2018Our Year 6 Sports Captains were inspired to create an assembly this week about the PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, after an offer from a parent to bring in one of the torches used in the relay to get the Olympic flame from Greece to PyeongChang.
The Sports Captains delivered a very informative assembly all about this year's host city, the Olympic and Paralympic values, the symbolism of the torch relay and the 2018 torch design. They told us all about the different sports that we will see next week when the Games start. The children were amazed to see the torch and the Sports Captains demonstrating some winter sports! â
There were class assemblies this week too.
Our Robins Nursery children performed a roaringly successful assembly for us on Thursday all about dinosaurs. It was clear, following their recent workshop with the Travelling Natural History Museum, that the children had learnt so much about fossils and the species of dinosaurs - whose names they pronounced with unfaltering good diction! Quite an achievement for 3 and 4 year olds! Well done Robins!
2B presented their assembly all about the Great Fire of London and what a great way this was of learning about this fascinating history topic, with music, dance, drama and singing. Thank you to 2B for telling us the story behind the Great Fire and reminding us of the brave job that our firefighters continue to do for us today. Parents, do enjoy your visit to London this half term!
Don't forget to visit the Galleries page for photographs of assemblies, performances, sports and more.
This week our basketball team took part in the Borough School Games Basketball Tournament held at Uxbridge College. The event, attended by 30 school teams from across the borough, was organised by Thames Valley Cavaliers and students from Uxbridge College's Basketball Academy.
Our A team were in a group with Hayes Park A, Dr Tripletts A, Oak Farm A and Guru Nanak. Our B team was in a group with Hayes Park B, Tripletts B, William Byrd B, and Whiteheath C. As the competition progressed our teams became more confident and the shots started to go in more and more. Our A team won 2 and lost 2 matches and our B team won 1 match and lost 3.
The event was great fun and gave all our pupils a positive experience of competitive basketball. Well done to team members Jed H, Aeshan N, Max E, Jai S, Luke J, Roshan J, Tamara A and Sreeja B.
If anyone would like to try basketball, there is a basketball camp running over February half term at Uxbridge College. Details are available here.
Parents are reminded that the school does not permit children to use the pedestrian crossing on Long Lane unaccompanied. Please help us to set a good example and do not allow your children to use the zebra crossing without an adult. Long Lane is a busy road and we consider that it is not safe for children to cross it alone.
Posted on: 2/02/2018
Head's Blog - Reporting To ParentsHaving worked in a range of schools prior to taking up the Headship of St. Helen’s College, I have been privy to a wide range of reporting methods. As a parent myself I always looked forward to my daughter’s Parents’ Evenings and to the report card coming home from school. She herself attended three different schools and they all reported to parents in different ways. As parents, we all want to know that our precious ones are happy at school, developing their interpersonal skills and making good friendships and of course making progress in their subjects. Parents also want to know how we can support our children’s learning and personal development at home.
Parents’ Evenings are one of the ways in which we report to our parents and we are aware that time restriction is a factor at these evenings. Teachers and parents alike could spend hours discussing a child’s learning thus this is why we have an open door policy and our staff are happy to meet with parents if they have a query regarding their child’s progress at any time - not just in the designated Parents’ Evening slot!
Report cards are another way in which we are able to communicate with parents regarding your children’s learning. I am sure that you all expect the report to be informative about how your child is progressing, not only academically but as an individual person in their own right and how you may be able to support your child at home.
At St. Helen’s College, we pride ourselves on our school aims:
Love of Learning
To nurture a love of learning, and to develop fully every child’s academic potential.
Through challenging, stimulating and creative teaching we aim to nurture the ability to think critically, creatively and flexibly, to work both independently and collaboratively, to be self-motivated and to persevere, and thereby to achieve high levels of scholarship while developing a lifelong love of learning.
To encourage all children to discover and develop their own excellence by participating in the widest range of challenging activities.
We aim to encourage exploration, discover talent, nurture interest, and inspire achievement across the full range of creative, aesthetic, sporting and academic domains. We place great emphasis on activities which bring out the best in children.
To instil traditional Christian values and to nurture strength of character, so that the children will be ready to face, with integrity and confidence, the many challenges of adult life.
We aim to instil core Christian values, to teach mindful self-awareness, to inspire virtue, confidence, imagination and versatility, and thereby to nurture confident, compassionate, creative, communicative, self-aware, adaptable citizens and leaders of the future.
It is with this in mind that it is important that your children understand the ‘Habits of Learning’ which they need to develop in order to be a successful learner and flourish as an individual, ready for their journey through life.
We encourage our pupils to develop the following habits in all that they do at school:
To be organised and prepared for the day, for each lesson and for each activity they do
To be able to work independently in their tasks without always seeking adult support or reassurance (including homework)
To be able to collaborate with both their peers and adults in class and out of lessons
To take initiative in their learning, think for themselves without waiting to be prompted, seize opportunities and be resourceful by having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties
To have self-discipline - that ability to control one's feelings and overcome one's weaknesses
This term, alongside reporting on academic achievement, we will be reporting to parents on your child's 'Habits of Learning'. We hope this will be very insightful and helpful to you and to your children. All teachers who work with your children will be able to comment on these habits and how they are developing in their subject area and the form tutor will then look at the child’s general ‘Habits of Learning’ across all subjects.
I know that if I had been given this type of information about my daughter when she was younger I may have done some things differently with her! Do remember that your children are often very different at school than at home and the profile that the school has of a child can be quite different from what you see at home. This is why it is so important to establish good communication between home and school!
Parent conferences and report cards are such a small part of how we communicate about your children’s journey at St. Helen’s College - so do keep the channels of communication open so that we may all bring out the best for each pupil in our care.
Posted on: 26/01/2018
Weekly News - Friday 26th January 2018Thank you to all of the parents who attended our reading meetings this week and showed such energy and enthusiasm. Reading is such a vital area of the children's development and we our delighted to have such strong parental support with home reading. Here are three links to the materials used for the meetings.
Lower School presentation (phonics and alphabetic code)
Reading at Home presentation
Book Talk question slips
If you have any queries about reading at home or school, please contact your child's form teacher in the first instance. You may also contact Mr. McLaughlin, our Head of English, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Assemblies This Week
1S reminded us all of the importance of looking after our world in their class assembly this week, with a delightful re-enactment of the the Old Testament story of 'Noah's Ark'. Each pupil played their part with such enthusiasm and passion. Thank you to the children for a heartwarming performance.
Another superb assembly came today from 4A, who highlighted the character trait of 'self-control'. Mrs. Drummond was honoured to attend a preview performance on Thursday, when pupils also reflected on how they were aware that they are becoming more self aware and recognised how they have matured in Year 4 and developed more 'self-control'. Well done everyone!
Do visit the Galleries page to see photographs of the assemblies.
Our annual Heartstart training for pupils from Reception to Year 6 was completed last week in a series of workshops. Each year pupils are taught a progressive range of skills so that they know what to do in a medical emergency. Basic first aid skills are taught including how to call 999 and what to do if someone is unconscious, choking, has a serious bleed, stroke, heart attack or cardiac arrest. We hope your children have shared some of the skills they have learnt with you and we encourage parents to ask your children to demonstrate what they would do by acting it out. This is a good way for them to embed their skills and train others at home too.
Thank you to Soula and her staff for embracing 'Burns Night' with the Middle and Upper School pupils who were all able to sample some Scottish fayre. Well done to those children and adults who stepped out of their comfort zone to taste haggis for the very first time (both meat and vegetarian were on offer). Many children asked if they could purchase this outside of school they enjoyed it so much! We shall not promote any individual supermarket but yes....most supermarkets will stock it in the sausage/bacon isle! Happy haggis hunting!
We welcome Miss Davies back to Lower School on Monday after her maternity leave. Miss Davies will be in school for three days each week and we are delighted that Mrs. Meeran will remain with us for the other two days to job share with Miss Davies.
We would like to remind parents of the role of the class representatives. Their role is twofold: to disseminate information from the School or the PA committee to the class parents, and to pass on any collective feedback from parents to the School or to the PA committee. The School has an ‘open door’ policy and all parents are asked to direct queries, in the first instance, to their class teacher. This will usually be the fastest and most direct way for queries to be answered or concerns addressed. If the class teacher is unable to help, he or she will refer parents to the appropriate member of the SLT or to Mrs. Drummond. The Parents’ Forum convened only once each term, and so did not allow for immediate discussion of any issues; we are finding that the new system has been embraced by parents throughout the school and is working well.
The uniform list for 2018-19 has now been finalised and published. You can access a copy here. Please note that all children should return to school in September wearing full winter uniform from now on.
There are two changes to items on the uniform list.
Firstly, the girls' winter skirt has been updated. The new green skirt is a one-piece skirt with a flat front and drop-pleated back; it should be easier to wash and dry for parents, as well as holding its shape better and providing a more comfortable fit for all girls. The green skirt will be extended to Nursery children so that parents may continue to use their Nursery skirt into Reception if appropriate. We are sure you will agree that the new style skirt represents an improvement on the old style, fully pleated skirt. The old style skirt is being discontinued and the tunic, which is harder for the girls to get on and off, is also being discontinued. This will streamline the girls’ uniform list and ensure that all girls will have a uniform appearance, as the boys do. Although we are sure that most parents will want to adopt the new skirt as soon as possible, there will be a year’s grace period so that parents may make use of uniform already purchased.
The 3-in-1 green coat (which was already part of the uniform list) is being introduced as a compulsory item, in response to many requests over the years from parents, both via the Parents’ Forum and in informal discussions, for a uniform coat for all. The School has consulted with Pullen’s over the last two years and has looked at many different samples of coats. We know that parents felt strongly that a unisex coat would be the best solution, so that parents could pass the coat down to siblings of either gender. We are mindful of the cost of uniform and the selected 3-in-1 coat is almost half the price of the most economical duffle coat we could source. Its introduction will also allow us to discontinue the PE fleece as a separate item, which will help to minimise costs for parents. We anticipate that parents will separate the fleece from the outer shell of the coat and use the outer shell as a day-to-day school coat, keeping the fleece with the PE/Games kit. Children should be warm enough in full winter uniform (long-sleeved shirt, jumper/cardigan, blazer, coat, hat, scarf and gloves), but of course they may also use the fleece lining as part of the winter coat if needed in extremely inclement weather.
As ever, we thank you for your support as these changes are introduced.
Following the launch of our full time Kindergarten, Ducklings, there is now hardly any demand for part time places in the Nursery at 3+, with parents opting to send children for the full school day. We will therefore be discontinuing the part time option for Nursery attendance and will be requiring all children in future intakes to accept places on a full time (Monday to Friday, 8.30 a.m. to 3.00 p.m.) basis. Please contact Mrs. Smith if you have any queries about admissions.
Sports News: Platinum Award, Borough Gymnastics & Tickets to Women's FA Cup Final
At the Borough Gymnastics competition this week, Miss Walker was presented with the Platinum School Games Award. The award was achieved after five consecutive years of achieving the School Games Gold Award. We had made a video submission from our Sports Captains showcasing how sport, competition and leadership skills are developed at St. Helen's College. Of the 24,000 schools in the UK only 104 schools have been award the Platinum Award, with 24 schools in London receiving the award and only two in Hillingdon! We are delighted that is has been recognised that our curriculum and co-curriculum provision for sport is of the highest quality nationally.
This highly prestigious award has only been achieved because of the whole school community support of sport: parents transporting pupils and cheering teams on, pupils committing to trying their best in sport and staff delivering high quality PE/Games lessons, running clubs and taking teams to competitions. Well done everyone!
This week pupils from Years 3/4 and Years 5/6 took part in the School Games Borough Gymnastics Competition held at Botwell Green Leisure Centre. Over the past month the children have been working hard, learning floor and body management routines and vaults in order to compete. The children were judged by a panel of judges on each apparatus just like at the Olympics. In a very high standard competition it came down to a couple of marks here and there to decide the overall placing. Our teams gave a very good account of themselves, improving through rounds. Both our Year 3/4 and Year 5/6 teams finished in 7th place in the competition with a score of 96.2 and 103.8. Well done to team members Harry J, Daniel G-J, Catherine L, Lily A, Zara S-P, Ionie M, Lincoln B and Ethan V-B. Examples of their efforts can be seen on the Galleries page.
The FA are offering discounted tickets for the Women's FA Cup Final at Wembley on Saturday 5th May for school groups. Standard tickets are available at £15 for adults (with under-16s free) and if parents can organise a group of twelve or more then the adult tickets become just £7.50 each. If groups book before 31st January then you will also have the opportunity to win additional experiences such as free coach travel to the game, a visit from the Women's FA Cup trophy to the school and other experiences. Tickets can be booked at https://ticketing.thefa.com/. We do hope many of you will choose to attend.
The booking form for the February half term Holiday Club has been posted to the School Documents page of the website. Please note that the deadline for booking places is Friday 2nd February.
Most parents are no doubt already aware of the works being carried out along Harlington Road. Diversions are in place via Lees Road, Uxbridge Road and Harlington Road and the London Borough of Hillingdon have indicated that the road closure is likely to continue until at least 16th February. We know that this is affecting many of your journeys to school and will continue to do so.
When pupils arrive late at school, this can disrupt the registration session and the first lesson for all of their class. Please do allow extra time for your journey while the road closure is in place, and/or use alternative routes where possible. Of course we understand that lateness is occasionally unavoidable because of unforeseen heavy traffic, but we hope that, with forewarning and planning, lateness may be avoided during this inconvenient, although essential, road closure.
We thank you for your support.
Posted on: 26/01/2018
Head's Blog - ReadingIt was wonderful to see so many parents attending our reading information sessions across the school this week. Parental support is key for children’s learning outcomes and your attendance this week speaks volumes. I am sure that Mr. McLaughlin, Head of English, and Mrs. Hunt, Head of Lower School, have inspired everyone and given you all food for thought.
The conversations I had with parents after the meetings were very honest and I am sure reflect the home lives of many modern families. Sadly, the good intentions that many parents have at the start of the academic year can slip as life becomes busy. It is all too easy to end up hearing your child read in the back of the car or in the kitchen while you are multi-tasking, making dinner, checking emails and so on. However, time does need to be allocated to that wonderful experience of sharing your child’s reading book. This is the most important homework that we give the children. The foundation for successful reading and comprehension lies in the early years when children are unlocking that door to the kingdom of learning. 'Learning to Read’ will progress into ‘Reading to Learn’, and the development of secure comprehension skills, in particular, underpins how a child can access the curriculum in all subjects as he or she moves through their educational journey.
‘Book talk’ is enormously important, so please do spend time with your child asking them questions about the book they are reading; this will deepen their understanding and appreciation of the text. I know that Mr. McLaughlin shared some sample question prompts for parents and many of our reading scheme books have superb information for parents on the inside and back covers - please do take a look.
Just as importantly, we can be the best role models to our children. Let your children see you reading! Seeing adults using reading as a purposeful activity to further learning or for joy and relaxation will underline to children how worthwhile an activity reading really is. This needs to be continued through your children's teenage years, when too often they feel bombarded with course reading for GCSE and A levels! Do remind them of the joy of reading or even pull out their favourite baby book from years gone by. My 18 year old daughter still enjoys snuggling in bed with me as we share her furry bound book we shared when she was a toddler - reciting the book from cover to cover - it still brings a tear to my eye as we chuckle at the simple story line and repetitive pattern of the book. The joy and emotional bond that reading together creates between children and adults lives forever.
When you are out and about, why not have your children read the signs in the supermarket or the road signs? Or you might plan a day out by reading together from the visitor guide at the attraction you are visiting. Many museums, castles and National Trust attractions have their own children’s guides…so do encourage your children to read and plan the day. Not only will they be applying their reading skills but they will be using and developing many other skills such as mapping skills, telling the time or learning about history - there is a whole world of learning to embrace in your family time outside of school. Many of us have been visiting our local parks for years but have never noticed some of the information boards that have been put in place to inform us about our local surroundings. The National Heritage, RSPB and Wildlife Trust have all invested in wonderful notice boards which children can read and learn from.
Our pupils at St. Helen’s College are fortunate in that there is such a buzz around visiting the libraries both in Lower School and Upper School. The pupils know that libraries are special places and are always excited to visit and seek out new reads and recommendations from their peers. Why not visit other libraries or bookshops with your children outside of school too, so that pupils can share with you the excitement of finding a new and interesting book.
Thank you for your support in your children’s learning journey. I hope that our reading evenings have perhaps rekindled your own passion for reading and given you some useful tips on how to support your children in what is the most wonderful (and important) skill to learn and then use!