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Posted on: 21/05/2021

Weekly News - Friday 21st May 2021

World Meditation Day Today is World Meditation Day, and in Upper School assembly this morning, we considered this quote from the actor Dick Van Dyke: "When you’re a kid, you lay in the grass and watch the clouds going over, and you don’t have a thought in your mind. It’s purely meditation, and we lose that". We then participated in this beautiful three minute meditation together, enjoying the images and sensations. Why not take part in this with your children again over the weekend? There are events running throughout the day for World Meditation Day until 8 p.m. this evening - you can find more details here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/world-meditation-day-free-tickets-151332817531 Residential Days On Wednesday, our Year 3 classes enjoyed their outdoor-based residential day and on Thursday, the Year 6 children immersed themselves in France and all things French for their residential day. You can read more about these days and their value in Mrs. Drummond's Head's Blog today and you can see photographs of the days on our Galleries page. Thames Water Assembly Many thanks indeed to James from Thames Water, who delivered an informative and thought-provoking assembly to our Upper School classes on Monday. James told us all about the importance of being 'water-wise', which means being considerate about our water use. The children engaged enthusiastically with the quiz questions and clearly have a good understanding now of how to use less water and why it is so important to consider and limit our use of this precious resource. As discussed, if each person can make one change to their water use, we can together make a real difference. Hopefully, your children will want to spread the word, encouraging their family and friends to be more 'water-wise' too. There is a fantastic e-book available to download regarding water saving, with a related competition! Please do take a look and encourage your child to enter this competition too. https://www.waterwise.org.uk/drycompetition/ Well done to Charlee G and Pavan S (Year 3), who were so inspired by the assembly that they are creating their own presentation to share with their peers to further highlight the importance of saving water. Singing Competition Finalists Congratulations to these children, who have been selected as finalists for this year's Singing Competition! Year 2 Zinnia M Mia O Innaya S Diya B Year 3 Samara P Hana H Amaya L Year 4 Advik S Anaiya B Eshanvi A Minaya W Inaya S Year 5 Aanya B Rivan K Anjka G Shruthi T Year 6 Maya T Jessica L Riya C The final will take place next Friday and we are all looking forward to watching the children perform before our guest judge Gemma Cross picks her winners! Gemma is the vocal and choral lead for Slough Music Services. Royal Mail 'Design a Stamp' Competition We would like to encourage children (aged 4-14) to enter a very special competition being run by the Royal Mail. For more than 50 years Royal Mail’s Special Stamp programme has commemorated British history and achievement. Stamps have also been issued to honour the achievements of many British people. Often, the people who appear on stamps are already famous. They include scientists and explorers, writers, artists, musicians, athletes, and Prime Ministers. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, there have been many people who have done great things. Many of them are not famous, but they have done extraordinary work. These are the people who have helped us all through a really difficult time. Some are frontline workers in healthcare, others look after elderly or vulnerable people. Millions of key workers have kept the country going when most of us were told to stay home for our own safety. And there have been many people who volunteered to help people in their communities who needed help or support. Royal Mail wants to honour these heroes by producing a set of eight stamps. The stamps will feature designs created by eight school-aged children. Pupils should think about who their hero or heroes are, and then design a stamp in their honour. A special panel of judges will pick the winning designs. The final eight stamps will be sent to Her Majesty The Queen before they can be printed and issued. You can find out further information, including how to submit your entries, here: https://www.stampcompetition.ichild.co.uk/ The closing date for entries is 5 p.m. on Friday 28th May 2021. Please do let us know if your child enters and how they get on! Teddy Talks Thank you so very much to all of the parents who have sent such positive feedback and heartfelt thanks for the Teddy Talks which we shared last week. The talks are a part of our new Pre-School Parenting Programme, through which we aim to support parents of babies and toddlers in the local community and beyond. Please do continue to watch and share the talks, and to let us know if you have ideas for topics for our next set of talks, which will be filmed later this year. We plan to launch our first free in-person pre-school classes, our Mother and Baby Mindfulness Classes, in September. If you are interested in taking part in these, then please telephone the school office on 01895 234371 to register your interest. Virtual Open Morning We held our summer term Virtual Open Morning for prospective parents today and it was both enjoyable and successful! As well as talking to those who joined us about our school aims, values and provision, we were able to play them a Teddy Talk and answer their questions about joining us. Don't forget that we are now running a Virtual Open Morning once per term, as well as our in-person school tours, so if you have any friends or family who might be interested in attending these, please tell them to visit the school website for more information and to register their interest. Wraparound Care Bookings We would like to remind parents that, while it is usually possible to book wraparound care at the last minute via your SchoolsBuddy account, it is enormously helpful for the organisation of our staffing and catering if parents could book required sessions in advance as much as possible. Many thanks for your support with this. Library Books Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Emanuel, our school librarians, ask that pupils and parents check school bags and return any stray library books ahead of the half term break. Uniform4Kids Summer Plans Our uniform supplies, Uniform4Kids (Pullens) have asked us to share their plans for summer opening with parents, so that you can plan your uniform shopping for the new academic year. The headline news is that they will once again be opening the shop by appointment only from June to mid-August. There will also be extended opening hours in the final week of August just before the new term starts. You can find out more information on their plans here and you can book your appointments online at www.uniform4kids.com. Weekend and Half Term Classes Hotshots Football Academy Hotshots Football Academy are offering a free first class for boys and girls aged 4-12. Classes take place in Uxbridge from 9.00 to 10.15 a.m. on Saturdays. If you are interested in signing your child up, you can find out more information here.  Computer Xplorers Computer Xplorers have fun and exciting Half Term Holiday classes open to children age 6+ from Monday 31st May to Friday 4th June, as follows. Video Game Animation (Age 6-8) 9 a.m. - 10 a.m., Monday 31st May to Friday 4th June The perfect introduction to programming for primary school children. Children aged 6-8 will make progress as they learn how to program an animation in this class using Scratch - an easy-to-understand drag-and-drop programming method. Click on the link below to register: https://middlesex.computerxplorers.co.uk/classes/videogameanimation-coding-tech-class Kodu Game Design (Age 8+) 10.15 a.m. - 11.15 a.m., Monday 31st May to Friday 4th June Children will use Kodu, a graphical programming environment, to design and build games. They will then create a range of terrains, worlds and characters, controlling the characters' movement, sound and vision using an intuitive, icon-based programming language. This is a great class for budding game designers and tech enthusiasts. Are your children up for a new challenge? Now is your child's chance to develop coding and programming skills in our online Game Design classes!  Click on the link below to register: https://middlesex.computerxplorers.co.uk/classes/kodu-3d-game-design-class JavaScript Game Design (Age 11+) 11.30 a.m. - 12.30 p.m., Monday 31st May to Friday 4th June Students will learn to design, code and build their very own arcade games to keep using JavaScript. This is a great class for budding game designers and tech enthusiasts. Are your children up for a new challenge? Now is your child's chance to develop coding and programming skills in these online Game Design classes!   Click on the link below to register : https://middlesex.computerxplorers.co.uk/classes/javascript-game-design-class  
Posted on: 21/05/2021

Residential Trips

As many of you know, the annual residential trips which are part of our enrichment programme from Year 3 to Year 6 have not gone ahead during the pandemic as we would normally have desired. Usually, in the summer term, Year 3 would have visited Shortenills Environmental Centre for 2 days and 1 night, Year 4 would have travelled to Flatford Mill in Suffolk for 3 days (2 nights), Year 5 would have taken the ferry to the Isle of Wight for 5 days (4 nights) and Year 6 would have crossed the channel to Normandy to stay at the Chateaux de la Baudonniere for 6 days (5 nights). Despite us not travelling this year, I am delighted that the staff have been able to arrange alternative days for our pupils, some on site and some at off site venues closer to home, to replicate the activities in which the children would have participated on their residential trips. These days offer the children experiences that enhance the pupils’ classroom learning, adding opportunities pupils may not otherwise have. Research has proven that by participating in such a range of activities can lead to improved relationships, development of important skills, improved achievement and progress and a greater sense of belonging. Many schools only offer one residential trip to their children throughout their primary school years, but here at St. Helen’s College we recognise the enormous value of these trips, which is why, from Year 3, our children experience these on an annual basis. This week we have had the first two of our residential days for the Year 3 and Year 6 children. Year 3 packed their backpacks and ventured on foot to Court Park on what was a blessed day of good weather on Wednesday! I witnessed each activity and was so impressed by the teamwork and determination which some groups of children demonstrated as they pulled together to erect a tent with minimal adult assistance. For some children this task really challenged them but, crucially, they were able to reflect on what they found difficult and why. I would not be surprised if many of the Year 3 children are now badgering their parents to purchase them tents to put up in the garden - please note that they were only pop up tents! The ‘green’ group in session 2 worked speedily and with a sense of pride as they basked under their green canopy as the first group finished and discussed our green planet and climate change! The children had no idea that I could overhear their conversation through their tent canopy but it was a delight to hear!  Each Year 3 group also took part in orienteering, story stones and mud masks. The trees in the woodland area of Court Park are now a gallery of the most exquisite mud masks and I highly recommend taking the time after school to take a stroll through this beautiful part of the park which is right on our doorstep. Seemingly one child has made a portrait of me! I wonder if you can spot it. On arrival at school on Thursday I greeted the children at the gate at Upper School with my very best French (a tad rusty but hopefully grammatically correct!! The French flag was flying and the bunting was out! We became ‘L’Ecole de St. Helen’s College’ for the day!  Our Year 6 children were immersed in a cultural day of language, cuisine, outdoor games and drama!  A breakfast of croissants et chocolat chaud set them up for their morning bread-making activity, during which they raised the roof of the Evans Hall with their ‘chant de Francais’ as they kneaded their bread and tried to out-sing the other class. French boules was very competitive indeed and the traditional playground games challenged their listening skills! Lunch was a culinary delight as the children visited a crepe/galette van and enjoyed dining alfresco in a French cafe style, ordering and enjoying this traditional French treat. In the afternoon the pupils enjoyed a performance of ‘The Three Musketeers’ and again were immersed in the French culture and language!  Next week our Year 4 and Year 5 children will be off site at two other local venues.  Year 4 will be participating in a range of outdoor pursuits at Iver Environmental Centre, including pond dipping, shelter building, bushcraft skills, exploring animal homes and investigating minibeasts. Their day will conclude with a campfire activity. Year 5 will spend their day at Pacar Scout Camp where they will be enjoying the Gladiator challenge, pedal karts, zip wire and archery.   It is a huge testament to our staff that they are so committed to organising these days for the children to ensure that our pupils are able to benefit from participating together in such a vast range of activities away from their normal classroom setting. I am sure that those of you with children in Years 3-6 have heard so much already about their experiences - the memories created on such days are long lasting and the learning which happens outside of the normal school day is irreplaceable.   As the restrictions posed by Covid continue to lift, we look forward to being able to offer our full range of co-curricular activities from September and plans are already in place for next year’s residential trips!  Mrs. Drummond
Posted on: 14/05/2021

Weekly News - Friday 14th May 2021

Baroness Floella Benjamin Online Talk On Tuesday morning, Baroness Floella Benjamin joined Years 1-6 for an inspiring and educational talk. During her virtual talk, she passionately discussed her experience of moving to England from Trinidad, and the many successes that she has achieved throughout her life in the West End, film and television, as a children's author, and in her role as a member of the House of Lords. She inspired us all with her resilient and courageous response to racism, demonstrating the power of positivity and self-belief to overcome hardship and challenge. Education has always been important to Floella, and she articulated the transformative power of learning and striving towards greatness. She left us with her 4Cs for a happy life: consideration, confidence and contentment - all wrapped up with some extra COURAGE. We all had smiles on our faces as she sang us out with ‘smile’ by Charlie Chaplin.  Parents' Evening (Years 1-6) Another successful parents' evening took place remotely on Tuesday evening for parents of children in Years 1 to 6. We hope that you all found this useful and thank you for attending. Royal Parks Urban Tree Festival The Urban Tree Festival is a celebration of urban and suburban trees, woods, forests, scrubland, hedgerows and all the wild places that bring life and joy to our cities. It is taking place this year from 15th-23rd May. As part of the festival, The Royal Parks are offering free workshops to children in Years 3-6 and your children will be taking part in some of these during school hours. The workshops aim to get pupils thinking creatively and speaking out about the impact of urban trees during the climate emergency. We would like to encourage families to take your children to visit the Royal Parks over the next couple of weekends or over half term, and to take a look at the trees planted within them, to support their learning in this area. So don't let the weather dampen your spirits! Pop on your raincoat and explore the Royal Parks to inspire your children and yourselves to consider the importance of urban trees. Teddy Talks We hope that you will enjoy watching our brand new St. Helen's College Teddy Talks. These are short talks, given by experienced and dedicated St. Helen's College staff, on topics of interest to parents of babies and young children. Please follow the links below to watch our first six talks and please do share them with friends and family! Growing A Love Of Reading With Your Child - Shirley Drummond, Head Early Speech, Language And Communication - Lucy Hunt, Head of Lower School Positive Behaviour Management - Aidan McLaughlin, Deputy Head The Value of Nursery Rhymes - Jill Crehan, Principal Choosing The Right Setting For Your Child - Su Smith, Director of Admissions Baby Mindfulness - Poonam McLaughlin, Year 3 & Baby Mindfulness Teacher We will be making more talks soon, so if you have any ideas of topics on which you would like advice/tips, please do let us know. You can read more about the ideas behind this initiative in today's Head's Blog, which is a guest blog from Mrs. Smith. May Online Open Morning Our next virtual Open Morning for prospective parents will take place next Friday, 21st May, at 10.00 a.m. If you or any of your friends or family have children under 3 then please do join us online to find out more about the school and the entry process. Anyone interested in attending will need to register by following the link below, and will then be sent a joining link for the Open Morning in advance. https://www.sthelenscollege.com/263/announcements/announcement/60/announcement/?home=1 If you have a child aged 3 or under and have not yet registered them with the school, please do complete a registration form for them so that we can add them to the list for entry in their year group. ​https://www.sthelenscollege.com/257/registration-form Eco Team Trash Mob Next week, our Eco Team Reps will be out on patrol encouraging children to look after our environment by picking up any litter that they see and reminding people to use the bins in the playground for any remnants of snack, tissues etc. It is important that we all raise awareness of looking after our environment and we appreciate your support if you are also able to arrange a family litter pick in your local park. You might like to visit the Keep Britain Tidy website for ideas and inspiration. Mindfulness at St. Helen's College Last week's Head's Blog, all about Mindfulness at our school, was picked up by the Mindfulness In Schools Project (MiSP), who were delighted to read about how embedded Mindfulness is throughout the school community. We are very proud that St. Helen's College is being recognised as a frontrunner in children's mental health and wellbeing through our Mindfulness programme. facebook.com/mindfulnessinschools You can also find MiSP on Twitter as @dotbschools. Half Term Holiday Club Bookings are now open for the May half term Holiday Club at St. Helen's College. If you have not already booked and you would like your child to attend, please login to your SchoolsBuddy account to book. Places are allocated on a first come, first served basis.
Posted on: 14/05/2021

Teddy Talks by Mrs. Smith

As you will know, I spend a lot of time meeting prospective parents and helping you to navigate the admissions process. I was involved in each one of your pre-joining experiences, since I have been with the school over 11 years now. This aspect of my work is one that I particularly enjoy. I remember well being a parent of very young children, and my husband and I making our own decisions about childcare and schooling for them. I remember, too, how tough it can be to parent a baby or toddler and how many variables there are in parents’ lives during that period. There are questions over maternity and paternity leave, finances, whether to move house for more space, whether a second or third child is a consideration and so much more. It can also be an emotional and exhausting time, as you navigate the early months and years of life as a parent, possibly feeling that you are losing your sense of self along the way. Here at St. Helen’s College, we believe that a positive, mutually supportive partnership between school and home is crucial to ensure a happy experience for your child. Starting a family is a miraculous time, but we know that parents of pre-school children have busy, demanding lives and we want to help. Another aspect of my role is overseeing the school’s marketing activity. I have been mulling over, for some time, how to dovetail the need for pre-school parenting support with one of our marketing aims, which is to reach parents of young children right from birth (since in the past some parents were leaving it too late to apply to St. Helen’s College, and then missing out on the chance of a place here). So, early this year, I came up with a proposal for a ‘Pre-School Parenting’ initiative. The initiative has two strands: one is to provide in-person baby/toddler classes here at St. Helen’s College for parents of pre-schoolers in the local community. The other is to make short videos with advice on various topics from our expert staff for parents of pre-schoolers. We decided to call these ‘Teddy Talks’, to include our school teddy, which is given out to prospective parents in goody bags when they visit. Next, I undertook some market research, sending a survey out to all of our current Ducklings, Nursery and Reception parents. I asked what they would have liked more support with when their children were 0-2 years old, and in what format they would most have appreciated that support. I am very grateful to all those of you who responded: the results were fascinating. It is clear that there is a significant need for more support for new parents on many topics: sleep, feeding, how to retain your own identity, how to manage behaviour and set boundaries, how to encourage reading and develop speech, how to bond effectively and calmly with your baby and how to manage the arrival of a sibling. The survey results made me even more determined to put something in place to support new parents. I am delighted to say that we have recently filmed our first six ‘Teddy Talks’, which I can now share with you. Each person who wrote and delivered a talk did so from the heart, working independently, and I am so proud of my colleagues for their bravery and willingness to be a part of this project on top of their extremely busy day to day lives. I hope that you will agree that these Teddy Talks are useful, and represent our ethos and values at St. Helen’s College effectively. Please do share them with family and friends, and encourage them to share them with any new parents they know, no matter how far afield! You might pick up some useful tips from them to use in your parenting, too. Please follow the links below to watch our first six talks. Choosing The Right Setting For Your Child - Su Smith, Director of Admissions Growing A Love Of Reading With Your Baby/Toddler - Shirley Drummond, Head Early Speech, Language And Communication - Lucy Hunt, Head of Lower School Positive Behaviour Management - Aidan McLaughlin, Deputy Head The Value of Nursery Rhymes - Jill Crehan, Principal Baby Mindfulness - Poonam McLaughlin, Year 3 & Baby Mindfulness Teacher We are looking forward very much to adding more videos to the Teddy Talk bank in future – we hope that this will, in time, become a comprehensive resource for parents in the local and wider community. So if you have ideas for relevant topics, please email me at susmith@sthelenscollege.com to let me know.  I am now also working on the proposed programme of baby/toddler classes to be held at St. Helen’s College, when Covid restrictions allow. Mrs. McLaughlin is currently undertaking Pause Baby Mindfulness training, and will be offering Mother/Baby Mindfulness classes on site soon. We will let you know when these are going to begin, and will also let you know as other classes are added in due course. Thank you for supporting us by viewing and sharing the Teddy Talks and please do contact me with feedback or ideas on this theme. Parents and your needs are really, really important to us and we are here to support you in every way we can, from birth all the way through. Mrs. Smith
Posted on: 7/05/2021

Weekly News - Friday 7th May 2021

Parents' Evenings (Years 1-6) Thank you to all of the parents who attended online parent consultations on Tuesday for children in Years 1-6. We hope that you found these useful. The second parents' evening for these year groups will take place this coming Tuesday, 11th May. We look forward to seeing many more of you online then. Upcoming Author Visit - Baroness Floella Benjamin On Tuesday 11th May at 10 a.m. pupils in Years 1-6 will have the privilege of joining a live online event with Baroness Floella Benjamin, a truly inspirational speaker. The Baroness is celebrating the publication of both her picture book Coming to England: An Inspiring True Story About the Windrush Generation, and the 25th anniversary edition of her ever-popular memoir Coming to England: two books that give a powerful reminder of how courage and determination can overcome adversity. Parents and children have the opportunity to pre-order copies of these books if you would like to do so. THE PICTURE BOOK for younger readers (rrp £6.99) - Suitable for Years 1 & 2 A story about the triumph of hope, love, and determination, Coming to England is the inspiring true story of Baroness Floella Benjamin: from Trinidad, to London as part of the Windrush generation, to the House of Lords. When she was ten years old, Floella Benjamin, along with her older sister and two younger brothers, set sail from Trinidad to London, to be reunited with the rest of their family. Alone on a huge ship for two weeks, then tumbled into a cold and unfriendly London, coming to England wasn’t at all what Floella had expected. Coming to England is both deeply personal and universally relevant – Floella’s experiences of moving home and making friends will resonate with young children, who will be inspired by her trademark optimism and joy.  THE MEMOIR (25th anniversary edition) (rrp £6.99) - suitable for Years 3-6 With a foreword by the author and some additional historical information, this is the incredible story of Floella’s journey from Trinidad to London, as part of the Windrush generation, to the House of Lords.  Floella Benjamin was just a young girl when she, her sister and two brothers arrived in England in 1960 to join their parents, whom they had not seen for fifteen months. They had left the island paradise of Trinidad to make a new home in London – part of a whole generation of West Indians who were encouraged to move to Britain and help rebuild the country after the Second World War. Reunited with her mother, Floella was too overwhelmed at first to care about the cold weather and the noise and dirt from the traffic. But, as her new life began, she was shocked and distressed by the rejection she experienced. She soon realized that the only way to survive was to work twice as hard and be twice as good as anyone else.  If you would like to buy copies of Baroness Floella’s books, please click on the link below to order https://chilternbookshops.co.uk/product-category/baroness-floella-benjamin/ Important: as you go through the checkout, you will be given the option to have your book(s) delivered directly to the school, with no delivery charge. If you choose this option, please state your child's name and class in the 'Details Required For School Events' box, as this will ensure correct allocation of the book(s) to your child in school. This link will be open until midnight on Thursday 13th May. Models Required! Pullen's, our uniform suppliers, will soon be doing some updated photographs for their website of children modelling school uniforms. They are looking for 4 or 5 St. Helen's College children aged 4-9 to model our school uniform. The shoot will take place on 2nd June in Elstree (during half term) and the children will be needed for around 4 hours on that day. If you would like your child to be involved, please email templefortune@uniform4kids.com, clearly stating your child's full name and age, and then await further instructions/confirmation.  May Half Term Holiday Club Bookings will open next week for Holiday Club for May half term. We will send an email to parents when bookings open. Please login to your SchoolsBuddy account if you would like to book a place for your child. Places will be limited to 15 children per bubble and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Parents are asked to send packed lunches for Holiday Club during half term as there will be no catering available on site. Upcoming Events As we are now gradually able to resume some of our events following such a disrupted period, we would like to remind parents to check the School Calendar regularly and add dates to your own diaries. In particular, coming up soon, we have Sports Days, residential days, Meet the Teacher evenings, Prizegiving and of course our Year 6 performances. Please do make a note of the dates! Chiswick Lacrosse - Summer Camps Chiswick Lacrosse will be running two weeks of summer camps this year, during the weeks of 16th and 23rd Aug. These are suitable for girls over the age of 9. The club has run lacrosse camps for over 30 years and are confident that it gives girls the very best introduction to a sport they may be playing at their senior school when they transfer. Approximately half of the girls who attend the camp are new to the sport. The camps also enable girls to meet up with their prospective peer group as we can group the girls according to their new school. If you are interested in booking a place for your daughter on one of these camps, you can find further information here. Do let us know if you plan to attend!
Posted on: 7/05/2021

Mindfulness v. Mindlessness

Over the past few weeks I have been so proud of all of your children as I have observed them navigate their learning inside and outside of the classroom. Schools are busy places for our pupils and we expect your children’s brains to ‘ache’ each day as they are challenged in lessons by the curriculum and the questions being posed to them, and asked to demonstrate their understanding of what they have learnt. It is therefore so important that we help children in coping with such a busy school day and busy lives in general.   As many of you know, we are a school which promotes mindfulness and we give your children time to be in the present moment, noticing, feeling, sensing and bringing attention to their breathing. We allow the children to be in mindful silence in assemblies, and there is a magical moment when, as adults and children, we feel that connectedness through our ‘strong’ silence as we bring attention to our breath and the present moment.  Children in Years 4, 5 and 6 are currently being taught more structured mindfulness courses too.  Year 4, as part of their Paws b course, are being taught about the main parts of the brain. This week in 4T they learnt about the role of the insula and how it works with the prefrontal cortex in assisting us to recognise emotions. I do tell the children that without mindfulness in my life I would find my job more challenging and I am always so pleased to hear that many parents also engage with mindfulness either in their workplaces or as part of your family routine. It is so important that we recognise how we may be feeling and give ourselves the opportunity to acknowledge emotions, talk about them if appropriate, and develop techniques to deal with these emotions.  In the last week I have had two very sad bereavements within my own family and, with the Covid regulations in Scotland, my sister and I have not been able to travel or attend the funerals of these close family members (for now, only 20 people may attend funerals in Scotland). I have managed to support my elderly mother from afar with her emotions and also allowed myself to be in the present moment to acknowledge and deal with my own feelings.   Your children are in a fortunate position, in that by the time they leave St. Helen’s College they will have a toolkit of mindfulness practices which will support them for years to come. It is a testament to our staff that so many of them are now either qualified mindfulness teachers or are currently undergoing training. Mrs. McLaughlin is currently training to be a baby mindfulness teacher for 0-2 year olds. Mrs. Hunt embarks upon a new course, dots, in June, which has been especially written with 3-6 year olds in mind. Mr. Roche is leading the Year 5 children in the .breath programme and Year 4 and Year 6 are working with me on the Paws b and .b courses. Our staff are interested in what the children are learning and this week I overheard a lovely conversation in the playground when one of our pupils explained to one of the lunchtime supervisors how she is training her mind to train her brain and then explained what different parts of the brain do! Mind blowing from an 8 year old! We all can make wrong choices or decisions and the children begin to realise that some of their choices may be ‘mindless’ choices - done on autopilot without much thought - like running down the path to get the front of the lunch queue!  They also learn that there may be consequences for mindless decisions - like having to go to the end of the queue! (The prefrontal cortex made the wrong decision!) But our pupils learn to respond mindfully and not react mindlessly. It truly is a joy when the children are able to take more responsibility for their actions, with an understanding that they are in control of their actions and decisions.  For those children who do find themselves feeling strong emotions of anger or maybe sadness, then the simple mindfulness practices we teach them can alleviate some of their tensions and increase their happiness levels. We talk about ‘growing happiness’ and we all have that ability! I will be attending the annual Mindfulness in Schools Conference on Saturday 19th June with other staff members including Mrs. Crehan. Over the past five years, I have come away from the annual conference feeling nourished and so proud of the role we are playing in educating your children to enable them to live full, meaningful lives with the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to flourish in today’s busy world.   You can find out more about why we teach mindfulness here.
Posted on: 30/04/2021

Weekly News - Friday 30th April 2021

General Knowledge Quiz Team Successes! We are thrilled to let you know that three of our General Knowledge teams have made it through to the Prep School General Knowledge National Finals! Our Year 4 team, Year 5 team and Year 6 team all qualified from their heats and are now continuing to work on their General Knowledge, preparing for the national finals which will take place in June. Competition is fierce in this contest so the children have already done extremely well and we are very proud of them. We all wish them luck in the Finals! The Big Pedal Pupils, staff and parents at Lower School and Upper School have taken part in the national Big Pedal Week this week to promote physical activity and active travel to school.  Everyone was encouraged to include walking, scooting or cycling in their daily travel to and from school between Monday 26th - Friday 30th April and there was a challenge to see which class completed the most active journeys. At Upper School, 5A completed the most cycling journeys, 3M completed the most scooting journeys and 4T completed the most walking journeys. At Lower School, 1C and 1R were joint winners of being the most active travellers to school. Every child from Nursery to Year 6 enjoyed Big Pedal/Push bike/scooter sessions in PE lessons this week, and we saw a great increase in the number of people actively travelling to school, whether on foot or using bikes and scooters. The children's proficiency in scooting and cycling was noticeably improved and we feel that this could be one of the benefits of the lockdown period, when so many of you took to the outdoors. It was great to see parents and staff travelling in different, more active ways too, and it was good to hear that many of you found the lovely new walking distance zone map that has been produced for us useful when planning your journeys. This map will remain available in the School Documents page of the website for the future and we hope that it will encourage you all to try to incorporate some foot travel into your school journeys. Our Premises Manager Mr. Smith also took up the challenge. A keen cyclist himself, he undertook a long distance bike ride each evening and challenged the children to guess where he had got to before returning to school. Children were told which direction he was travelling each day (North, South, East or West) and the distance of the round trip. Photographs of his final destinations were shared daily and we hope that the children enjoyed trying to work out where he ended up each day! Mr. Smith has cycled over 250 km this week on his bike - an amazing achievement! We hope that you all enjoyed your active travel this week and that you will all now keep it up, finding more active ways to travel to and from school for the rest of this term and into the future. You can see more photographs from the week on our Photo Galleries page. Upcoming Author Visit - Baroness Floella Benjamin On Tuesday 11th May at 10 a.m. pupils in Years 1-6 will have the privilege of joining a live online event with Baroness Floella Benjamin, a truly inspirational speaker. The Baroness is celebrating the publication of both her picture book Coming to England: An Inspiring True Story About the Windrush Generation, and the 25th anniversary edition of her ever-popular memoir Coming to England: two books that give a powerful reminder of how courage and determination can overcome adversity. Parents and children have the opportunity to pre-order copies of these books if you would like to do so. THE PICTURE BOOK for younger readers (rrp £6.99) - Suitable for Years 1 & 2 A story about the triumph of hope, love, and determination, Coming to England is the inspiring true story of Baroness Floella Benjamin: from Trinidad, to London as part of the Windrush generation, to the House of Lords. When she was ten years old, Floella Benjamin, along with her older sister and two younger brothers, set sail from Trinidad to London, to be reunited with the rest of their family. Alone on a huge ship for two weeks, then tumbled into a cold and unfriendly London, coming to England wasn’t at all what Floella had expected. Coming to England is both deeply personal and universally relevant – Floella’s experiences of moving home and making friends will resonate with young children, who will be inspired by her trademark optimism and joy.  THE MEMOIR (25th anniversary edition) (rrp £6.99) - suitable for Years 3-6 With a foreword by the author and some additional historical information, this is the incredible story of Floella’s journey from Trinidad to London, as part of the Windrush generation, to the House of Lords.  Floella Benjamin was just a young girl when she, her sister and two brothers arrived in England in 1960 to join their parents, whom they had not seen for fifteen months. They had left the island paradise of Trinidad to make a new home in London – part of a whole generation of West Indians who were encouraged to move to Britain and help rebuild the country after the Second World War. Reunited with her mother, Floella was too overwhelmed at first to care about the cold weather and the noise and dirt from the traffic. But, as her new life began, she was shocked and distressed by the rejection she experienced. She soon realized that the only way to survive was to work twice as hard and be twice as good as anyone else.  If you would like to buy copies of Baroness Floella’s books, please click on the link below to order https://chilternbookshops.co.uk/product-category/baroness-floella-benjamin/ Important: as you go through the checkout, you will be given the option to have your book(s) delivered directly to the school, with no delivery charge. If you choose this option, please state your child's name and class in the 'Details Required For School Events' box, as this will ensure correct allocation of the book(s) to your child in school. This link will be open until midnight on Thursday 13th May. Residential Days We are delighted that we are now able to offer Year 3 to Year 6 a residential day in the local area. Information about each year group's plans has been sent to parents this week. Please ensure that you read this as there is a lot of information. Some of the trips require parental support with transportation so please add the dates to your diaries now.
Posted on: 30/04/2021

Reading

A recent report published in the Times Educational Supplement was rather uplifting to read: finally we have the media reporting with less doom and gloom on the impact of lockdown upon children’s educational  progress. The report, produced from research by GL assessment, states that there has not been a catastrophic reading decline for children during the Covid pandemic. However, they do report that there has been a dip in the standardised reading ages of children and that "Primary school children seem to have been affected a little more than secondary school students, but not significantly".  Here at St. Helen’s College, we are delighted that the reading ages of our children increased by a year or more in every year group (Y2 - Y6) in the year in which the first lockdown occurred. This was achieved through your commitment as parents and the continued reading provision from school across the curriculum. We use the GL assessment tool and were truly delighted with the analysis of our data on the children’s return to school.   However, it is not all about us using data to assess the progress of the children with their reading. Of utmost importance is how we all engage them each and every day to use their reading skills, not only to read for pleasure but as a key skill for them to be able to understand and engage with the world around them.  We learn to read and then we read to learn! As a parent of a young child, you are the most influential and most important teacher that your child can have. It is never too early to start reading with your child and your children’s journey with literature should be started when they are tiny little babies. This is a precious time for parents to snuggle up with your newborn, exploring the awe and wonder of each page you look at. The black and white books which are best in those first few months will encourage your baby to focus on lines and patterns in monotone as your baby starts to make sense of the blurry world they have been born into. By the time they are about four months old, your child begins to see the world around them in more colour and there is such a wonderful array of books available to stimulate interest and curiosity. By the time your children start school or Nursery, books should already be a familiar part of their lives and I am sure that your children all have their favourites which they will love to read over and over. Such rhyme and repetition is important as they start to build their linguistic ability.   I still have such fond memories of my nightly snuggle with my daughter as we read and re-read her favourite book, ‘Time for Bed Little Ted’.  We still have this furry-backed book on the bookshelf and even at the age of 21 she will pick it up and we have fun reciting each page, taking us back to those precious childhood days.  I am delighted that our children at St. Helen’s College are such passionate readers and, although our library may not be operating quite in the usual manner at Upper School, our committed school librarians, Mrs. Emanuel and Mrs. Smith, continue to provide the children with an array of exciting and inspiring reads and to encourage their love of reading for pleasure.   Another positive to come out of the pandemic is that adults also seem to have ‘rediscovered their love of reading’, with sales of non-fiction increasing by 16% in 2020.  I hope that your love of books has been reignited and many of you may have revisited favourite books and found new books to enjoy.  Please allow your children to see you engaging with books as often as possible. Reading for pleasure is so important and an activity we all need to allow ourselves to enjoy! So over this bank holiday weekend, I urge you to put down your mobile phone, close the computer, put your feet up with a good book and have your family join you in some quality family reading time! Mrs. Drummond
Posted on: 23/04/2021

Weekly News - Friday 23rd April 2021

St. George's Day It was wonderful on the journey to school today to see so many St. George's flags flying. We hope that many of your children enjoyed discussing some of the traditions and activities linked to St. George's Day. Please do ask them at home about their St. George's day activities, and continue to celebrate the day with them. Here are some of our Ducklings, who enjoyed making St. George's Day flags today!         World Earth Day and Climate Change Competition Yesterday was World Earth Day 2021. Advik S, one of our Year 4 Eco Reps, has written this piece to explain more: World Earth Day is an annual event that shows support for environmental protection. Every year it is held on the 22nd April. It was started by Senator Gaylord Nelson and Denis Hayes in 1970 which is approximately 51 years ago.  Every day around 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into the ocean and around 200,000 acres of rainforest are burned every year. Although humans have inflicted all this damage upon the environment, there is still time to make amends. Some of the things you could do are to use a cotton or fabric bag when you go shopping, use your own water bottle instead of buying bottled water as much as possible and lastly go on litter walks. You will be helping the environment and I know these changes might be small, but if we all contribute to it we will make the world a better place. Many thanks to Advik for his commitment to educating others on this important topic. To encourage more people to think about Climate Change, Hillingdon Council is running a Climate Change Competition, which is open to all St. Helen's College children. The closing date is Saturday 5th June. Children are urged to get creative and take part in this borough wide competition to get everyone thinking about Climate Change, how it makes us feel and what can be done to do our part. Children are free to use any art form to express what Climate Change means to them, whether it be a musical composition, a drama scene, a poem, a piece of artwork or something else.  You can find out more information about the competition here, including how to enter and of course what prizes are on offer! We hope that many of your children will create entries for this competition and that, in doing so, they will think deeply about climate change and what it means for all of us. iArt Competition Winner! Enormous congratulations to Arya A (Year 2), whose ‘Rainbow Tree’ piece of art came first in the Year 1-2 category of the prestigious iArt competition. The competition had a record number of entries this year: 168 in total and over 30 entries in the Year 1-2 category (the biggest entry ever). So a huge well done to Arya, whose beautifully framed piece of art is currently hanging in Mrs. Drummond's office where it is being admired by all who visit. Arya will be presented with a certificate and Amazon gift voucher, and her artwork is being turned into a picture that will hang on the wall of IAPS HQ for a year too.   The Big Pedal Week We would like to remind parents that we will be taking part in the national Big Pedal Week next week to promote physical activity and active travel to school.  We encourage all pupils and parents to include walking, scooting or cycling in their daily travel to and from school between Monday 26th - Friday 30th April. Pupils will also have the opportunity to take part in a Big Pedal activity in one of their P.E lessons next week.  We would also like to draw parents' attention to this lovely new walking distance zone map that has been produced for us in association with The Big Pedal Week. This will remain available in the School Documents page of the website for the future and we hope that it will encourage you all to try to incorporate some foot travel into your school journeys. In-School Peripatetic Music Lessons Resume We are delighted to hear the musicality of our children throughout the day at school once more, as individual instrumental lessons have resumed in person, after a prolonged remote teaching period. Thank you to all of the parents and teachers who maintained the children's musicality throughout the lockdown period. Upcoming Author Visit - Baroness Floella Benjamin At 10 a.m. on Tuesday 11th May, Years 1 - 6 will be joining a virtual event with Baroness Floella Benjamin. She is a captivating presenter with a powerful story to tell. Her memoir, Coming to England, is already a classic and will soon be available in two new paperback editions: a picture storybook for children in KS1, and a revised and re-illustrated memoir for children in KS2. We have ordered some copies of both for the school and will send out an order form nearer the time for parents, should you wish to order one or more for your child or as a gift. Before the event, pupils will be shown the following reading of the picture storybook. We encourage parents to watch this too. As well as being a great reading of the story, it adds some historical context to Baroness Benjamin's life and will help you to discuss the event with your child(ren).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZUHEMM4shI Singing Competition Our very exciting Singing Competition final will take place on Friday 11th June 2021 this year. We had our first online solo competition last year, judged by Mrs. Crehan, and this was very much enjoyed by all. Both the semi-finals and the final round will take place like last year, with video entries. This year we have a guest judge and we will share this information with you on the day of the final. In order for the competition to go ahead, we request that video entries are submitted for the semi-finals. Due to the current circumstances, we can only hold a solo competition again this year. Only one entry per child is permitted and on only one email, please. Please submit your solo video entry by no later than Friday 14th May 2021. There is no set theme this year and we would like to hear songs from all different genres and eras. Singing in other languages is permitted. All songs must be age appropriate, melodic and have appropriate lyrics and themes. If you are unsure whether your choice is appropriate, please check with Mrs. Belvoir, Mrs. Fawbert or Mrs. Garnes (email addresses below). We would like to see only simple gestures and appropriate movements relevant to the performance - no dance moves please. A backing track is required (without words) for the performance. A child may play the piano/guitar etc. as part of their performance. For Middle School (Year 2 and 3) entries please submit to both of the following: sbelvoir@sthelenscollege.com mgarnes@sthelenscollege.com For Upper School (Years 4, 5 and 6) entries please submit to both of the following: cfawbert@sthelenscollege.com mgarnes@sthelenscollege.com The subject of the email should be clear, e.g "Singing Competition: name of child, form group, name of song" and it may be easiest to submit using your school Google drive. Finalists will be chosen and announced by Friday 28th May 2021 on the school newsletter. Good luck to all! Parents' Evening Bookings Years 1 - 6 Our next parents' evenings for Years 1 - 6 will take place on: Tuesday 4th May from 4.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m. Tuesday 11th May from 5.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m. Once again, we will be running these remotely due to Covid restrictions. Bookings are now open so please follow this link to book your appointments. Virtual Open Morning This term's Virtual Open Morning for prospective parents will take place on Friday 21st May at 10.00 a.m. These events are a lovely opportunity for prospective parents to meet Mrs. Drummond and other school staff and to hear about our provision, ethos and aims. Parents are able to ask questions and really get a feel for the school. If you do have friends and family who might be interested in their children joining us now or in the future, please do encourage them to register and join us on 21st May. The registration link is here. 

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