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Posted on: 26/02/2021

Weekly News - Friday 26th February 2021

Re-opening: March 8th We are all delighted that we will be able to re-open to all pupils from Monday 8th March. We will be sending a comprehensive communication to parents next week outlining plans for the return, and with an updated risk assessment, but school operations are likely to be very similar to those we adopted during the autumn term.  All children from Ducklings to Year 6 will be required to attend in school uniform from 8th March onwards. If you need to buy uniform, Pullen's are open for Click & Collect on a Tuesday and Friday from 9.00 a.m. – 5.30 p.m. or you can order online at Uniform4Kids for delivery to your home address. If you experience delays in securing new uniform, and your child does not have suitable, properly fitting uniform to wear, then until their new uniform arrives they should wear their PE kits if they fit, or other plain clothing with trainers suitable for indoor and outdoor use.  National Empathy Week In assembly this week we highlighted to the children in Years 1 - 6 the importance of developing their 'empathy superpower' to raise awareness of National Empathy Week.  The children were encouraged to read stories to help them 'walk in another's shoes' and recognise and understand the feelings of others and emotions they may experience themselves. We have challenged the children to take action when they see someone having a difficult day, whether that be an older relative, a sibling, a parent or their friends and to use their 'empathy superpower' to be there for that person; to ask how they are doing, to listen, to not be distracted and to use magic phrases to show they understand how the person is feeling. Read Ms Walker's inspirational guest Head's blog this week to discover more about the importance of empathy for us all.  Pets And Our Wellbeing Assembly On Monday, we welcomed Jason Cortis from The Blue Cross to our Year 1-6 virtual assembly, who gave a presentation about Pets And Our Wellbeing. We were even joined online by a few pets from pupil and staff households! We learnt how to take care of pets, how important it is to give them choices, how to ensure their wellbeing and how we can look after our own wellbeing too. Many thanks indeed to The Blue Cross for visiting virtually and delivering this talk. You can find out more about The Blue Cross and their valuable work here: https://www.bluecross.org.uk/ Nicola Cooper We are terribly sad to pass on the news that a much-loved member of our school community, Nicola Cooper, recently passed away after living with cancer for many years. Nicola's daughter, Amanda Cooper, is currently the class teacher of 1C. Nicola was a familiar face at our Lower School for over 20 years, and made a tremendous and very positive impact on countless children and their families. She was also an enormously valued colleague and friend to those with whom she worked. Rarely without a smile on her face, she found the joy in every situation and she had a natural desire to make life happier for all those around her. She was kind, thoughtful, selfless and, true to herself and the St. Helen's College spirit, she put family at the heart of everything she did.  Nicola's family have chosen, in her memory, to support the new Maternity Bereavement Suite at Hillingdon Hospital. Kit's Cause was a charity created after family friend Rachael and her partner Alex lost their son at 30 weeks in September 2019. The charity raised £15,000 for the new maternity bereavement suite at Hillingdon Hospital. This cause was very close to Nicola’s heart. Although very ill herself battling cancer, Nicola most recently still helped their fundraising efforts by knitting Easter chicks. This space is so important because, at the moment, mums who lose their baby have to give birth on the labour wards surrounded by other happy families. This fundraising for a separate private space is so important for families to feel safe and spend time with their babies. If you would like to make a donation in Nicola Cooper’s memory, you can do so here: https://www.love2donate.co.uk//inmemory/identify_name.php?currentpage=1&chosen=39540&adstate=Y Rest in peace, Nicola. Baby News! Huge congratulations to Mrs. Neri and her family, who welcomed a son on 11th February at 2.31 a.m., weighing 8lbs. He was 2 weeks overdue and they have named him Harrison Peter James Heggie. As you can see, the latest addition to the St. Helen's College family is beautiful! We are looking forward to meeting him in due course.        World Book Day On Thursday 4th March we will be celebrating World Book Day. This year's theme is 'Stories Set in Imaginary Worlds'. The children may wish to raid their dressing-up boxes for outfits and/or accessories to match this magical theme, which they should wear during their sessions at home or at school on the day. Acclaimed children's author Ross Welford will be speaking with the children in Years 3 - 6 and the children in Nursery - Year 2 will be treated to a talk from the fantastic author and illustrator, Emily Gravett.  Details on how to order books for the children, and how to take part in our online book fair, have been sent out via SchoolsBuddy.  We are all looking forward to an exciting and educational day on Thursday and we thank you in advance for your support of the day. Guess the Place Well done to everyone who had a go at guessing where our places were this week. The Upper School place was the spectacular Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. Many people correctly guessed the Giant's Causeway but only Aiden, Raiden, Penelope, Sean, Joseph, Grace and Tiya in Year 3, Marvin and Eshanvi in Year 4, Anjika, Oliver and Charlotte in Year 5 and Ben in Year 6 correctly placed it in Northern Ireland too.  The Lower School place last week was St. Paul's Cathedral. Congratulations to Simar, Ayush, Alexander, Riya Skye, Simrina, Evie, Alexia, Brendan and Aanya in Year 2, Alyssa, Thomas, Millie, Aakash, Riyan, Shayna, Aran, Armaan, Ella, Amara and Yuvraj in Year 1, Aaria, Aarav and Ivaan from Kingfishers, Grace and Sikhya from Robins, Arup, Arya and Eliana from Owls and Phoebe from Wrens all of whom got it right! Parent Practice - Free 'The Big Return' Webinar Many parents have attended talks given by Elaine Halligan of The Parent Practice here at school in the past. Some have also gone on to attend some of her online webinars. Elaine is running a free webinar on Wednesday 3rd March (next week) from 8-9 p.m., helping to support parents as you prepare your children for the return to in-person education. If you would like to join, please click the link below for further information and to register. FREE WEBINAR : The Big Return - preparing your children for starting (teachable.com)   Reminder: Hillingdon STARS Road Safety Competitions The STARS Team at Hillingdon Borough Council are currently running two Road Safety Competitions.  Full details and downloadable entry forms are contained within the links below. All entries should be emailed to the STARS team by Monday 1st March which will also allow some time after the half term to enter.  KS1 Road Safety Story Book Competition (Early Years and Years 1 & 2) The children should draw pictures to go with the pages of our new road safety book called "Captain Safety!". They can enter drawings for as many pages as they like.  KS1 Road Safety Story Book Competition.pdf KS2 Road Safety Invention Design Competition (Years 3 - 6) The children should come up with a new "Road Safety Invention" which could make our roads safer. They should draw the design as well as explain how the road safety invention would work and how it makes our roads safer.  KS2 Road Safety Invention Competition.pdf All winners will be announced and contacted in March. We hope the children will have fun creating their entries! PA Forum Meeting We have moved the date of the next PA Forum meeting from 10th March to 24th March, to give us all time to re-adjust to the return to school before we meet. Parents are encouraged to wait until the children have been back at school for at least one full week before sending points onto class representatives. Class reps should send points for dicussion to Mrs. Smith by Monday 22nd March at the very latest please: susmith@sthelenscollege.com. We will send reminders nearer the time.
Posted on: 12/02/2021

Weekly News - Friday 12th February

Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day Celebrations It was wonderful to see so many of the children and staff dressed in red to celebrate both Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day during our Upper School assembly this morning. Many thanks indeed to Ashvika A, Eshan N and Viren C who provided musical performances on piano and violin and a special thank you to Ruby L and Joleen Z, who gave very informative and confident presentations about Chinese New Year, and to Jacob N and David W, who prepared presentations and videos to be shared with the classes in school too. Internet Safety Day and Safe Remote Teaching Accreditation! This week, children have been reminded about the importance of staying safe online. We would like to remind parents that there are some very useful resources available to you at National Online Safety to support you in keeping your children safe on the internet.  You can even register here as a St Helen's College parent and complete short training modules, and there is a useful 'top ten tips for keeping children safe' guide available here.  We are also delighted to announce that St. Helen's College has been awarded the National Online Safety Safe Remote Education Accreditation, which recognises that the school has successfully completed a comprehensive remote education training programme, demonstrating our commitment to providing high quality remote education, keeping children and young people safe online and supporting pupil wellbeing. The accreditation rewards our carefully planned and successful approach towards safeguarding children and supporting pupil wellbeing during remote teaching and learning. National Online Safety is a multi-award winning digital training provider with extensive resources in online safety, developed in line with the Department of Education’s statutory requirements. NextGen Enterprise Success Riya C, Manisher L and Zara B (Year 6) have joined Next Gen Enterprise, and are undertaking a series of online instructor-led courses which aim to inspire and develop next generation talent. The girls have already completed the bronze level award where they successfully investigated, discussed successful businesses and brands, and then pitched their business concept in front of a live virtual panel which included successful entrepreneurs who asked questions and provided feedback. This gave them a very good insight into building a successful business and has also given a boost to their collaboration, discussion, creativity, and presentation skills.   The girls are currently in their last week of the silver award, where they have learnt about key roles within a business, e.g. sales, marketing, HR. This Sunday they are looking forward to presenting their business model via video meeting to a panel of judges and other students.   Well done girls, and many thanks for bringing this company to the school's attention. We are currently exploring ways in which we might work together to offer similar courses through the school's co-curricular programme, so watch this space! In the meantime, if any parent or pupil would like to find out more, you can take a look at the NextGen Enterprise prospectus here. Crossing Petition Success Last term, following a couple of 'near misses' on the Long Lane zebra crossing between Lower School and Upper School, our Year 6 Junior Road Safety Officers were determined to take action and try to reduce the speed of cars on Long Lane to make the crossing safer for our pupils, staff and parents as well as for the local community. They decided to petition the local council for a safer 'Pelican' crossing to be installed. They wrote a very persuasive letter to the local councillors and gathered support from fellow pupils by collecting names on a pupil petition. This was then supported by a staff petition and letter from Mrs. Drummond too. All the information was submitted through the council's Democratic Services for consideration. On Wednesday this week, Mrs. Drummond and Miss Walker attended a virtual council meeting where the petition was considered. The councillors were very impressed by our JRSO submission, which made a compelling case, and the strong partnership the school has developed with the council's Road Safety and STARS team over recent years. We are absolutely delighted to announce there was unanimous support from all of the councillors attending the meeting for the installation of immediate safety improvement measures on and around the crossing on Long Lane and a commitment to pursuing the installation of a pelican crossing with Transport for London over the coming year. As a measure of the council's support and undertaking to improve safety for the St. Helen's College community, they have acted swiftly, installing brighter, more eye catching 'Zebrite' beacons on the crossing today, within 48 hours!  Over the coming weeks we will be working with the Road Safety team on their proposed installation of  the 'Vehicular Activated Signs' this summer. These activate when vehicles are approaching a crossing at speed and highlight a school is nearby, so they should certainly help to reduce the speed of traffic around our school sites. We will be working in partnership with councillors and the Road Safety team over the coming months to secure Transport for London approval for the installation of a pelican crossing and we will keep you updated on the progress of this. It is a credit to our pupils that they led the way on this road safety action project. Their understanding of the British value of democracy and the mechanisms for having a voice in local democracy were the catalysts for this significant achievement, which we know will improve the lives and safety of our whole school community. Many congratulations to our JRSO team: Jena, Fredericka, Jessica, Vidhit, Samir, Manisher and Georgia.  Guess the Place It has been another exciting week trying to Guess our Places in our photo challenges. Many congratulations to the 32 children from Lower School and Year 2, who correctly guessed their place was the The Penguin Pool at London Zoo. Many of you mentioned you had been there - let's hope we will be able to visit all the animals again soon. The Year 3 - 6 photo was a little more challenging this week. Some people guessed it was Oxford, 45 people correctly guessed it was Oxford University but well done to our super geography detectives this week who guessed it was All Souls College, Oxford. These were Tiya, Aleyna, Sean and Joseph in Year 3, Poppy in Year 4 and Anjika in Year 5. There will be half term Guess the Place photos posted later today so you can all keep exploring parts of London and the UK.  London Youth Games Virtual Competition Many of our Year 3 - 6 pupils have continued to take part in the London Youth Games virtual fitness challenges this term. Last week they took part in a Jumping Jacks challenge and this week they have competed in the Shuttle Run challenge. Through their efforts and those of pupils in other Hillingdon schools, the borough team is creeping up the London Youth Games leader board. We are delighted to award some of our pupils with a special London Youth Games Fitness Challenge certificate for participating in all four challenges this term. Many congratulations to  Anika, Riya S and Hana in Year 3, Anjika, Sahib, David and Riddhi in Year 5 and Samir and Pavitar in Year 6. The challenges will continue after half term, when we hope to see even more pupils taking part.  Special Pet Assembly On Monday 22nd February at 8.30 a.m. we will be joined by a special guest from the Blue Cross organisation in our special assembly for Years 1 - 6. Be sure to join us with your pets if you have any to find out how to look after pets and t consider 'pets and our wellbeing', a reminder of the things humans and animals all need to stay healthy and happy. Ducklings/Nursery/Reception Parents' Evenings Video consultations for parents of Ducklings, Nursery and Reception parents will take place on Thursday 4th March and Tuesday 9th March. Bookings will open at 3 p.m. today. Please follow the link below to book your appointment. Appointments are allocated on a first come, first served basis. https://sthelens.schoolcloud.co.uk/ Ducklings Entry - September 2021 We now have just a few places left for Ducklings entry in September 2021. If you have any friends or family with a child who was born between 01.09.18 and 31.08.19, please let them know that they will need to register their child as soon as possible now in order to be considered for entry. Online Open Morning - Friday 26th February 2021 at 10.00 a.m. Under the present restrictions, we are sadly still unable to show prospective parents around at the school. At the end of the first week back after half term, we will be holding our next Online Open Morning for prospective parents. If you have any friends or family who might be interested in St. Helen's College for their child/ren, please do encourage them to register for this virtual open morning and attend on Friday 26th, to find out all about the school. Mrs. Drummond, Mrs. Hunt and Mrs. Smith will be hosting the event. The registration link is here - please do share far and wide - many thanks indeed for your support! Speech Competition This week the children have been given their pieces for this year's Speech Competition. It will be an online event again this year and another opportunity for the children to hone their public speaking and performance skills.  The first rounds of the competition will take place in the week after the half-term break with the junior (Year 1-3) and senior (Year 4-6) finals taking place on Monday, March 22nd. Form teachers will give out more information as the competition progresses. The judging criteria are: expression, projection and clarity. The entries will be performed live (with the exception of the final) and should not be accompanied by gestures or choreography.  It is always a fun and exciting event on the St. Helen's College calendar and we are sure that we will be blown away by another raft of impressive performances again this year. Good luck to all the children - have fun learning and reciting your pieces! Perform Half Term Drama Workshops Perform, who visit St. Helen's College regularly to deliver workshops for children, are running February half term drama workshops online for Reception to Year 6 aged children.  For one hour each day, Perform's warm and friendly team of theatre professionals will inspire and encourage the children as they combine drama, dance and singing into a magical experience. They'll encourage them to project their voices, learn energetic dance routines, sing catchy songs and develop the Perform 4 Cs: Confidence, Concentration, Communication and Coordination. The course costs £60 for the 5 days. If you are interested, you can read all about the classes and sign up here: https://www.perform.org.uk/classes-courses/holiday-courses/fe2021. Hillingdon STARS Road Safety Competitions The STARS Team at Hillingdon Borough Council will be running two Road Safety Competitions over the February half term.  Full details and downloadable entry forms are contained within the links below. All entries should be emailed to the STARS team by Monday 1st March which will also allow some time after the half term to enter.  KS1 Road Safety Story Book Competition (Early Years and Years 1 & 2) The children should draw pictures to go with the pages of our new road safety book called "Captain Safety!". They can enter drawings for as many pages as they like.  KS1 Road Safety Story Book Competition.pdf KS2 Road Safety Invention Design Competition (Years 3 - 6) The children should come up with a new "Road Safety Invention" which could make our roads safer. They should draw the design as well as explain how the road safety invention would work and how it makes our roads safer.  KS2 Road Safety Invention Competition.pdf All winners will be announced and contacted in March. We hope the children will have fun creating their entries! Colne Valley Art Competition Budding young artists might also like to take part in the Colne Valley Park Art Competition. The theme of the competition is: My visit to the Colne Valley Park. The Colne Valley Park stretches from Rickmansworth in the north to Staines and the Thames in the south, and from Uxbridge and Heathrow in the east to Slough and Chalfont St Peter in the west. Children's artwork can be of anywhere in the Colne Valley Park or something they like doing when they visit the Colne Valley Park. There are two age groups categories: Ages 7-9 years Ages 10-12 years Each participant must live in or near the Colne Valley Regional Park. Only one entry per child can be submitted. Artwork must be between A4 and A3 in size and children may use any type of art, household or natural materials. There are prizes including: £50 art voucher for first prize from each age group category £40 art voucher second prize from each age group category £30 art voucher third prize from each age group category In addition, all entries will be displayed in the exhibition gallery on the Colne Valley Park website. How to submit entries: Take a photo of artwork Email photo to Artcompetition@groundwork.org.uk with Subject TASGX Children’s Art Competition Please include details of where you live – town, village, suburb, whether in the Colne Valley Park or near it (this will not be included in Gallery credit) Provide the following information to be included in the Gallery Exhibition First name of artist Age of artist Location of visit Why did you choose this visit Full details can be found here. Competition winners will be notified at the end of April 2021 via email...happy creating! Oak Farm Library Oak Farm Library has recently undergone a refurbishment and is now back open to the public. This is a fantastic local resource and we urge all parents to make use of the library regularly with your children, to support and encourage a love of reading. The library is open Monday to Friday from 9.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. and Saturday from 9.30 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. (closed for lunch from 1.00 - 2.00 p.m.). Due to the current lockdown restrictions, it is operating as a closed door, reserve and collect service. The library's many wider resources/services include: Reserve and Collect - parents and children are still able to search and reserve books, either online or by telephoning the branch. Staff will then contact readers when their books are available for collection. All returned books are quarantined for 72 hours and collection takes place at the front door to maintain safe distancing. Not yet a member? You can always join up here. Follow the library on social media - keep up to date with events and service updates on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram. The library is currently running a packed events programme for Heart Month to promote mental and physical wellbeing in the community. Bookstart - parents and families can still collect Book Start baby packs (babies up to 1 years) and Treasure Packs (3 years +) at the front of the library. Tiny Tales (online children's Storytime's) - the library continues to deliver several online Storytimes a week. This is a great way for children to stay in touch and have fun during lockdown. Reading Well - a collection of books specifically designed to support residents into improved wellbeing. There are also dozens of Online Resources which can be accessed from home by all LBH library members: Borrowbox - thousands of e-books and audiobook titles for parents and children to enjoy, on your own devices at home. All you need to do is access Borrowbox through the Hillingdon Libraries website and create an account using your library card number. Once you've created an account you can then download the app on your preferred device and start borrowing. RB Digital - an expansive collection of digital magazines, audio books, and ebooks awaits you! Whether you are on the go or at home, there are plenty to enjoy.  Ziptales - a place for children to enjoy a wealth of interactive stories, lessons, and fun activities, from Nursery age to Key Stage 2. Brittanica Junior - A fantastic place for young curious minds to explore the world around them, for fun or educational reasons. Brittanica Student - A curriculum guided encyclopaedia tailored especially for enquiring secondary school age children.
Posted on: 12/02/2021

Pandemic Parenting

As we enter this half term break, I want to congratulate every parent in our community and every member of staff who has supported the children through what has been the most unforgettable period of our lives, and one which we most certainly would never have imagined this time last year. For Heads, the winter months of school always bring that element of wondering if we might need to prepare for a snow day! Do staff need to be alerted that we may need to be sending work home for a day or two if school needs to close? Well, this pandemic has seen the school reach new heights as we have adapted and responded to provide what we feel to be the best education possible for your children under these circumstances.   St. Helen's College parents have been phenomenal in the support you have given the school and your children. This week I read a blog from Elaine at the Parent Practice which really resonated with me. Her words neatly encompass what I would like to say to you all today, so instead of re-inventing the wheel I will share her words below. You may remember that I had asked parents for feedback after attending any of Elaine's webinars, and I am delighted to be able to share the reflections of one of our Year 5 parents below too. I wish you all a restful half term - and I have hope that it may not be too long before we are able to welcome the children back to school. Mrs. Drummond Extract from Elaine’s blog: Are you practising being a ‘good enough’ parent just now? It's unrealistic to think you can do an eight hour working day whilst looking after kids and do home schooling. Something has to give. It's unrealistic to think you can be head chef, entertainment director, laundress, school teacher, employee, counsellor and coach and say “I’m ok” and don’t take time for yourself.   We all need to give up the perils of perfectionism, as  perfectionism is unachievable. It’s a myth  - it’s about us being obsessed with what others will think of us. We need to give ourselves a break. Your biggest priority just now as a parent is to keep stress levels down, so if home schooling is causing untold angst and stress for everyone, you have permission to ditch it or differentiate the curriculum. The reality is that children’s brains cannot absorb academic work if they are stressed, as cortisol interferes with the brain’s higher function, so please parents lower your expectations and practise being a good enough parent. My other big concern is with this determination that our children ‘keep up’ and return to school not being too far behind in their studies. The reality is, this pandemic is rewriting history. What your children will have learnt over the past 12 months way exceeds traditional measures of educational success. They may have had to deal with grief, with the death of a loved one; with loneliness and being separated from their friends, and they have almost certainly had to deal with boredom having had their freedom taken away from them. We simply have to adjust our expectations and most importantly, we need to know how to listen to our children, validate their feelings, and let them tell their story. My final message is you can't pour from an empty cup, so think of yourselves as an emotional bank account  - if you don’t make deposits, you can’t make withdrawals. You need to replenish the resource that you are, for your family. From a Year 5 parent: 2020 was a year that changed so many things for everyone worldwide. We all made sacrifices that most of us took for granted. We couldn’t see our family and friends, we couldn’t hug our elderly parents and grandparents, most of us cancelled our holidays abroad, we couldn’t just pop to the shops as most of us had to queue outside for long periods and our children had to learn how to ‘work from home’.   I had heard about The Parent Practice website through our school, and although I had signed up for their newsletters, I had never attended a course. I decided to sign up to a webinar and give this a go. After all, I had more time on my hands during lockdown! Within five minutes, Elaine seemed to describe both my children in one sentence and I was totally engaged for the rest of the webinar. She gave simple and good advice and shared her own parenting experience.  The advice she gives works for primary school children and teenagers and gives parents ideas on how to ‘connect’ with their children. Do we connect with them how they want us to? My older son has always been described as the calm and quiet one, who was happy to work from home and be in his own company, whereas his brother missed his friends tremendously and couldn’t wait to get back to school and be in a classroom with his teachers and friends. Total opposites, but both totally normal. Elaine gives simple advice on how to handle parenting in a more positive way, to help parents work with their children and bring out the best in them. As adults we are all different and this applies to children too. If something works for one child, it won’t necessarily work for another. Elaine provides advice on how we can do this by making simple changes. She talks about descriptive praise. Don’t say well done for getting 10/10 in a maths test, praise the effort they made to try to achieve the goal. If they didn’t hit the mark, it’s ok. They have still learnt something along the way. I remember saying this very often to my son, while he was preparing for his 11+. I could see the hard work and effort that he was making to try his best, and that was good enough. She teaches parents not to generalise praise, be specific with it. She talks about a golden book for each child, which you write things down that you have noticed that is done well, as we often point out when something has not gone well, and forget to praise what has. This gives children a belief that they are loved and accepted for who they are and not for who they are expected to be. She recommends that we use this for teenagers too. Even if the teenager is not openly thanking us for the recognition, they have read what we notice and what we think and that’s the most important thing. She suggests we play video games with our children or talk to them about a subject that interests them and help us connect to them. If we connect with our children, they will share their worries and anxieties with us. All these things seem quite obvious, but sometimes get forgotten as we all become set in our ways and busy trying to get through our day, and ready for the next. Elaine explains that we can be firm but fair and by becoming a fairer parent, it helps us to work with our children in a constructive way.  I have attended two webinars and they have both been useful.  There is an opportunity to post comments in the chat box during the webinar and there is time at the end for Q&A.  Parents can access the webinar for a certain period of time afterwards to watch the webinar back.     So would I recommend The Parent Practice website? Yes I would and I plan to attend more courses again in the future too. I think of parenting as a wonderful gift and if we can take one positive from our experience with this awful pandemic, is that time is very precious, so we should make the most of it with the little people that matter the most to us.   
Posted on: 5/02/2021

Weekly News - Friday 5th February 2021

Guess the Place Well done to everyone who had a go at guessing where our places were this week. The Upper School place was quite tricky to guess so well done to those who guessed it was in the county of Devon, but special congratulations to Tiya, Joseph, Sarab, Grace and Sean in Year 3, Oliver in Year 4, Riddhi, Anjika, Charlotte and Oliver in Year 5 and Samir in Year 6, who all identified the place as the seaside town of Dawlish in Devon.  Many people correctly guessed that the Lower School place was Buckingham Palace, home to our Queen, Elizabeth I. Congratulations to Phoebe, Ishani and Sikhya from Nursery, Saffron, Eleanor, Alicia, Arup, Nihaal, Aaria, Simran and Aarav in Reception, Rania, Ella, Yuvraj, Millie, Caitlin, Armaan, Aakash, Shayla, Shayna, Riyan, Amara and Alyssia from Year 1 and Inaaya, Simar, Ayush, Evie, Alexia, Simrina, Riya Skye, Alexander, Aaran, Ashvika and Armaan in Year 2, all of whom got it right! London Youth Games Virtual Fitness Challenge It was a Russian Twist challenge last week that our pupils took part in to contribute to the Hillingdon Borough team's efforts in the London Youth Games competition. Well done to David from Y5/6 and Hana from Y3/4 who were the twisting king and queen this week. Hillingdon were placed in 18th place after the Russian Twist round of the competition, but only 5 more pupils from our school taking part would have put Hillingdon in the top 5 boroughs, so we hope lots more of our pupils in Years 3 - 6 will take on next week's Shuttle Runs challenge. This will be posted on Monday in the Year 3 - 6 PE Google classrooms.  A Gift for the Queen Year 2 wowed Mrs. Pruce on Tuesday morning as they attended their lessons wearing crowns and tiaras as they embraced their lessons on portraiture study. The portraiture of the Queen was absolutely outstanding and we will be sending copies to Her Majesty to cheer up her lockdown experience. We will keep you posted if we have a response! Well done Year 2! Year 4 Music - Storm Responses You might like to see this video, which Mrs. Fawbert has created to show Year 4's incredible responses to "Storm" from Benjamin Britten's opera "Peter Grimes". The students were challenged to create their own artistic and poetic responses to the music whilst listening to it. Well done, Year 4! Dress to Express It was wonderful to see such an expression of individuality from the children in assembly today as they dressed to express themselves as part of Children's Mental Health Week. Maya T in Year 6 also prepared a lovely video to remind us of how important it is to express ourselves. You can see her video here. Sea Shanty Fun We had fun in assembly today as we investigated sea shanties and looked at how and why they have recently become so popular on social media! The children were astonished when a mystery guest joined our online assembly - Chris Stark from Radio 1, who is currently at the top of the charts with his own sea shanty remix! Chris spoke to the children about having ideas and making them reality and it was clear that they were inspired by his message. We all joined in with some body percussion along to a sea shanty and we have challenged the children to contribute to a school sea shanty, which Mrs. Fawbert will put together for us. For those children who feel inspired to have a go at making their own Sea Shanty contribution at home, please find some lyrics and ideas here and the instrumental parts here. You can see the full assembly here. School Reports Pupils from Year 1 - Year 6 will be receiving their school reports next week. I am sure that you will find them interesting and insightful. As many of you are aware, we focus on 'Habits of Learning' for each subject in the belief that teachers facilitate the learning but we encourage the learning to come from within the child. We work hard to develop these 'habits' which should lead to successful, curious and creative learners:  - organisation and readiness - independent work - homework - collaboration - initiative and resourcefulness - self-discipline It is with home and school working together with the same aims that your children will fully benefit from what we offer at St. Helen's College. I wonder if, as adults, we could take these 'habits of learning' and apply them to our own work life!  The teachers have surpassed expectations this term whilst delivering remote learning and being able to produce such helpful reports.  The Parent Practice Many of you may remember Elaine Halligan who visited us last year and ran a superb parenting workshop. Elaine has now developed her company and has launched a new website and is offering some superb courses and workshops for parents. Please do take a look at her now offerings here. Please let us know if any of you sign up for any of her sessions - we would love to hear your feedback. Half Term Activities Mini Monets Art Club still have a few places left for their popular half term Zoom art activities. If you have a budding young artist you might like to sign them up for a week of artistic fun which includes creating a t-shirt and pottery making! You can find the full details here. ComputerXplorers will be running two clubs over the February half term which might be of interest to children aged 8 and over: Roblox Game Design and Kodu 3D Game Design.  ROBLOX Game Design Learn to design your very own game using Roblox Studio, encouraging your child to power their imagination and explore the endless possibilities that come from games design. The sessions begin with your child setting up a project with Roblox Studio and continue with them designing all elements of the game. Click on the link below to register. https://middlesex.computerxplorers.co.uk/classes/roblox-game-design-class KODU 3D Game Design Students 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. Click on the link below to register.  https://middlesex.computerxplorers.co.uk/classes/kodu-game-design-class  
Posted on: 5/02/2021

It's Good To Talk by Mrs. Hunt

Many of you who know me well will know that I am a great talker! On reading an email my instinct is always to pick up the phone or arrange a meeting. Often, when writing, I find it hard to express myself or I will be anxious that my words might be taken in an unintended way.  It is a well known fact that early years children need to talk, talk and talk some more! This is how they make sense of the world around them. We, as their adults, listen and respond appropriately and, in doing so, we play an amazing part in their development. We are living through times when the importance of talking and sharing our feelings is even more crucial. From the very young to the very old, speaking and being truly listened to makes us feel valued and worthwhile. Recently, being rather wrapped up in my school work, I seemed to have forgotten my need to talk. This was made very evident to me when my daughter, who is currently living at home unable to return to university, asked me to take my eyes off the computer and tell her if I was OK! What followed was a wonderful few minutes of us reconnecting. It was therapeutic, calming and very worthwhile. I have taught for many years and I have never tired of listening to children; they are honest, thoughtful, wise and often very amusing. When showing visitors around the school I often get asked about Philosophy For Children (P4C) and how it can possibly work in children so young. The facts are, that if you genuinely show an interest in what children have to say, they are always ready to tell you! I have no desire to preach or indeed state the obvious but, as we continue through Children's Mental Health Week, I feel it is timely to remind us all to stop and take time for each other: to listen and to be heard. Take care.  Mrs. Hunt
Posted on: 29/01/2021

Home Schooling Pressures Through the Eyes of Our Children

  This week I am delighted to share the voice of one of our parents who has very kindly shared him and his wife’s reflections on homeschooling.    Home Schooling Pressures Through the Eyes of Our Children   I spoke to Mrs Drummond recently about seeing homeschooling through a very different lens in this lockdown period.  Mrs Drummond asked if I’d be willing to share my perspectives, which she felt may resonate across the broader parent cohort.   This lockdown has been very different for me, with both my wife and I working on front line C19 initiatives.  Therefore, despite being at home, I have had much less time to devote to home schooling this time round.  Requiring both the children to just “figure it out” until Mum or Dad can check in with them at “some point” before or at lunch time.     As parents, I think we all saw our children rush to school in September 2020 - we witnessed them come back from school full of anecdotes, happiness, a renewed passion to learn, hear about the friends they played with, games they made up or something completely random that could not possibly have happened at home.    In the last couple of weeks I have seen the challenges of leaving children to try and cope with online schooling themselves through a new lens.  Internet dropping, computer’s freezing, having nose bleeds midway through a test, not hearing an instruction, the printer jamming, running up stairs or downstairs to dial in on time, timing a restroom break… can all take an incredible toll on adults, let alone our children.  At school the instructions are verbal, they are direct and there is ample opportunity to ask questions.  At home it becomes lonely for them very quickly, together with the shorter winter days, there doesn’t seem to be adequate time to get out in the fresh air before it gets dark.    We need to appreciate how difficult this time is for our children.  We must remind ourselves to praise them for coping with the multiple challenges of trying to learn online; reassure them its ok if the internet drops, or if they have a nose bleed, or the printer jams half way through assessments or time critical tasks – simply put there are just some things in life that neither they nor us as parents can control. It has definitely allowed the children to gain a different level of independence and organisational skills which they may have not experienced otherwise. These will be life long skills they have gained.    As parents I am sure we are also very grateful to the school and teachers for all the meticulous planning and efforts to ensure the children are learning, keeping busy and that each day goes as smoothly as possible for everyone involved.    By Year 3&5 Dad      
Posted on: 29/01/2021

Weekly News - Friday 29th January 2021

Endangered Species Assemblies The children from Y1 - Y6 were delighted to hear from Jo from the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation on Monday.   Jo delivered very informative assemblies to the children about endangered animals and how we can help.  It was warming to hear so many super questions from the children and to find out that so many of our pupils already have adopted animals.  Throughout this week the children have been designing animal masks and we viewed a plethora of animals in assembly this morning!  Please see below the message from Jo. We believe that it is vitally important to teach children practical ways in which they can make a difference in the lives of endangered species and protect the environment for future generations. Please find below, five ideas which you may like to share with your child, to help them to become young conservationists who can turn the tide on extinction. If they are interested, we have lots more information in the education section of our website, including species factsheets, colouring sheets, activities and green ideas. You can also get your child creatively engaged in environmental issues, whilst developing their teamwork skills by encouraging them, along with a group of friends, to participate in our Global Canvas children’s art competition. For young wildlife enthusiasts our animal adoptions make a fantastic gift. If you would like to find out more about DSWF’s vital conservation work across Africa and Asia, you can sign up to receive regular updates by Clicking Here.   Charlie Mackesy Art Competition Over the past few weeks we have been sharing the beautiful book 'The Boy, the mole, the Fox and the Horse' in assemblies and the children were challenged to create their own saying reflecting our St Helen's College values. The winners are Aanya 5A and Zayd in 1C. You can see their winning entries below.     Holiday Club - February Half Term I am sure that parents will understand that due to the circumstances we find ourselves in that we are unable to provide Holiday Club this half term for the children of our Critical Workers.  All our staff are involved either in supervision or remote teaching and it is essential that they all are able to step back for a week to enable them to continue next half term. It also give us a good opportunity for further cleaning of the school sites.  Fun Friday - Dress to Express Next week we will be acknowledging National Children's Mental Health Awareness Weekand are inviting the children to get involved in this year’s theme is Express Yourself. Expressing yourself is about finding ways to share feelings, thoughts, or ideas, through creativity. This could be through art, music, writing and poetry, dance and drama, photography and film, and doing activities that make you feel good. It’s important to remember that being able to express yourself is not about being the best at something or putting on a performance for others. It is about finding a way to show who you are, and how you see the world, that can help you feel good about yourself. For Children's Mental Health Week we will be encouraging the children (and adults) to explore the different ways we can express ourselves, and the creative ways that we can share our feelings, our thoughts and our ideas.  We invite the children to attend school next Friday dressed to express and look forward to seeing how they express themselves!   Guess the Place Results Lots of entries again for our Guess the Place challenges. Last week's Upper School photo was of Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh. We had 141 entries and although 19 people guessed it was in Scotland, 33 people correctly guessed it was Edinburgh but only 4 people got Arthur's Seat too, so well done to Anjika from Y5, Joseph, Grace  and Sean from Y3. The Lower School photo last week was of the London Eye and again over 70 entries with 41 people getting it right. This week's photos will be posted on Friday for you to start guessing.   London Youth Games Week 1 Challenge. Over 30 of our Y3 - 6 pupils took up the challenge to represent St Helen's College and Hillingdon Borough in the first LYG virtual fitness challenge of speed bounce. Our top bouncers last week were Pavitar from Y5/6 and Hana from Y3/4 but everyone who took part contributed to Hillngdon being in 16th place out of 32 London Boroughs last week. This week's challenge has been to do as many Russian Twists as possible in 30 seconds, our school scores will be submitted on Friday and we will hear the results of where Hillingdon is on the leaderboard on Monday.  Snowtastic  This week we all enjoyed the snow that arrived on Sunday and it was amazing to see snow people appearing all around in our gardens and parks. Thank you to everyone who shared their photos, we hope you enjoy seeing the fun we had in the snow! Click here to watch our video.  Accent Lockdown Recipes Soula and her team are very much missing the children and I am sure that many of them are also missing our super lunches.  Please see here the Accent website which has a wonderful range of recipes available for you.   The Royal Albert Hall - Meet the Orchestra The Royal Albert Hall have an array of activities for the children to get involved in and you may like to join them as they introduce the children to the orchestra. Please see the link here
Posted on: 22/01/2021

Weekly News - Friday 22nd January 2021

National Online Safety Award We are delighted that St. Helen's College has successfully met all the criteria to achieve the NOS Certified School Community accreditation for the 2020/21 academic year. This award recognises the school's commitment to Online Safety. We are totally committed at St. Helen's College to educating children, staff and parents about staying safe online. The vast majority of our staff, including all teaching staff, have recently undertaken training about how to keep ourselves and the children we educate safe while using the internet. Internet safety is embedded into our teaching in all classes during remote education too. Never has it been more important for our children to understand the potential dangers of the internet alongside its huge benefits and potential, so this award is very timely indeed! Guess The Place Well done to all of the children who worked out the correct answers to our Guess The Place pictures last week!  For children in Key Stage 2 (Years 3-6), the correct answer was Durdle Door, Dorset. We had over 400 responses and 113 people correctly guessed the name of the place. Many were close with answers of Dorset or the South coast.   Please remember that all of the pictures will be from somewhere in the UK each week - so don't submit international answers as they will be wrong! For children in Key Stage 1 (up to Year 2) - the answer was Tower Bridge, London. We had over 130 responses and 42 people correctly guessed the name of the place. Many thought it was London Bridge - just like the Americans!  This week's pictures have been posted to the Learning Portal and we hope the children will have fun doing their research and making their guesses. Ducklings and Nursery It has been wonderful to hear the laughter coming from our Early Years classrooms this week as we welcomed back our Ducklings and Nursery children.  Thank you to all the staff and parents who are following all of our school protocols to keep staff, children and parents safe. For families who have not yet returned their children to Ducklings or Nursery, please do contact the school before returning.  Charlie Mackesy Art Competition Thank you to those children who have submitted their entries.  The last day for submission will be Monday 25th and the winners will be announced next Friday in assembly. Guest Speakers in Assemblies We are very fortunate to be welcoming some guest speakers to our assembly programme this term and would like to remind pupils in Years 2-6 that assembly will start at 8.30 a.m. on Monday 25th. We will be hearing from Jo from the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and she will be speaking about Endangered Species. Year 1 will then have a talk at 9 a.m. from her on Elephants. On Monday 22nd February we will also welcome Jason from Blue Cross who will be speaking to us about Pets And Our Wellbeing.  The Big Garden Bird Watch I am sure that many of you are enjoying your gardens and parks during the lockdown and we would like to encourage you to engage with nature even further by signing up for the annual Big Garden Bird Watch with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds which runs from 29th January to 31st January. Do let us know what wonderful birds you spot and enjoy looking after the wildlife on our doorstep. Year 6 Examinations and Interviews We are very proud of our Year 6 pupils as many of them have participated in a very different process for their senior school assessments.  The pupils have been, and still are, sitting online examinations and interviews. They have taken it all in their stride and demonstrated how adaptable and resilient our St. Helen's College pupils are - well done boys and girls! Staff News We are delighted to congratulate our Owls teacher Ms Joiner and her partner, who are expecting their first baby in July. We are also eagerly awaiting the news from Mrs Neri, whose baby is due next week!  January 25th - Burns Night! I may be in the minority from our community but I will certainly be celebrating Burns Night and enjoying my haggis, neeps and tatties with whiskey sauce this weekend followed by the delicious cranachan dessert! For those of you who are interested to know more about this Scottish celebration please do visit this website. Usually the children at Upper School would be able to taste haggis (both the meat version and vegetarian) here at school. Alas, sadly this will not happen this year,but do remember that you can purchase haggis in most supermarkets! Perform Drama Workshops Over many years we have welcomed ‘Perform’ into school to provide various drama based workshops. They have always been excellent and the children have a wonderful time. They are currently offering Zoom classes for drama, singing and dancing. Please see the link below if you are interested in a free trial. https://www.perform.org.uk/free-drama-class Virtual Early Years Open Morning - Friday 26th February If you have any family members, friends or neighbours who might be interested in entry to St. Helen's College for their son or daughter in 2021, 2022 or 2023, please do encourage them to register for our next online open morning. This event will take place at 10 a.m. on Friday 26th February and anyone interested in future entry for their child will be most welcome to join us. Mrs. Drummond, Mrs. Hunt and Mrs. Smith will be online to present the St. Helen's College Early Years provision and to take questions on the entry procedure. The event can, of course, be joined from anywhere in the world! The link for registration for the Open Morning is here and copied below - please do share this with any family, friends or neighbours who have babies or very young children and might be interested in finding out more about St. Helen's College. https://www.sthelenscollege.com/263/announcements/announcement/60/announcement/?home=1  
Posted on: 22/01/2021

Cheerfulness by Mr. McLaughlin

I have always felt that cheerfulness is an underrated quality. We have all been at awards ceremonies where the prizes for effort, enthusiasm and cheerfulness are somewhat scorned in favour of the more tangible titles. Optimism can sometimes be derided as empty cheer or mistaken for naivety. However, it can play a vital role in enabling people to achieve happiness and contentment, perhaps the most prized feelings of all. In the current situation, this intrinsic fulfilment is more important than ever. Children seem to be born with an abundance of cheerfulness, and it is important to model, encourage, maintain and applaud it as they grow up. Most people think of cheerfulness as a feeling or temperament, which means that cheerful people are those who got lucky genetically and are blessed with an ‘upbeat personality’.  Instead of viewing cheerfulness as a trait or feeling, what if we thought of it as a behaviour or a set of actions? A verb rather than a noun? What if we thought of cheerfulness as a habit of thinking and behaving? We all know the frustrations of waiting in long, slow queues at the post office, of losing connection at the key moment of an important presentation or business meeting, or of turning up at the supermarket and realising that you have left your face mask at home! When these things happen, the cheerfulness with which a person may have entered the day can vanish quickly. But why? Did these events suck up all the cheerfulness? Of course not. It vanished because the person started thinking and behaving differently: S/he started looking at the time and worrying about being late. Then s/he began castigating himself or herself for not picking another checkout line, or for being forgetful. Perhaps s/he started to direct anger towards the postal workers, or the internet provider, or anybody else to whom blame could be allocated. In these situations, whatever cheerfulness existed at the start of the day diminishes because of the way a person chooses to think, directly influencing their feelings. In psychology, there is a set of principles called Cognitive Mediation Theory, which says that our thoughts always mediate the relationship between external events and our emotional reactions. A little old lady taking a long time in the checkout line doesn’t cause frustration, but the interpretation of her being too slow does. An implication of this theory is that we cannot directly control how we feel. We cannot simply dial up our joy levels any more than we can turn down our levels of sadness. We can only change the way we feel indirectly by changing how we think and behave, two things we actually have direct control over. This leads to a bit of a paradox: if we think of cheerfulness as a feeling or trait - something we just have or happen to feel sometimes - we’re giving up responsibility for and control over it. This means we’re only allowing ourselves to feel cheerful when things in our life are going well. On the other hand, if we think of cheerfulness as an action - something we do or think - it becomes something we have control over, regardless of our circumstances. So how might we practise cheerfulness? 1. Gratitude. You have to truly appreciate everything you have in life in order to be satisfied with it. If you don't feel grateful, you're always going to be looking for more, no matter how much you already have. Forget what you could have; try to focus on what you do have. 2. Present Focus. Cheerful people tend to live in the moment. They aren't preoccupied with things they've done in the past, and they aren't constantly thinking about the future. It's important to remember the past, but it's harmful to dwell in it, just like it's important to plan for the future, but it's harmful to obsess over it. Focus on being happy right now. 3. Humour. Cheerful people are typically able to find humour in almost anything. Laughing is shown to be beneficial not only for your emotional health, but also your physical health. It releases endorphins and helps you to relax. Even the simple act of smiling can carry some of these effects, so if you want to be happier in your own life, start laughing and smiling whenever you can, and surround yourself with others who appreciate humour. 4. Self-Confidence. Having faith in your own abilities can make you less stressed - you spend less time worrying about whether or not you're good enough to accomplish something and more time actively trying to do it. When you feel confident, your doubts and apprehensions don't weigh you down, and you can focus on what's in front of you. Building confidence can be difficult, especially in adulthood, but it is possible to train yourself to be more confident by practising positive thinking and remembering your skills instead of your faults. 5. Adaptability. Life changes frequently and it is more unpredictable than many of us would like. The most cheerful people in life aren't the ones who focus on the interference or the obstacle, but the ones who focus on finding the best way around it.  6. Optimism. Optimists find the best in everything and aren't ever consumed with the need to search for faults. Fostering optimism can be tough, especially if you're used to a cynical line of thinking, but, with practice, it is possible to change your outlook. 7. Intangible Values. Most happy people are not obsessed with tangible rewards or destinations. They aren't as concerned about getting to a certain position, making a certain amount of money, or having certain material things. They're more concerned with the intangible parts of life: friendship, fun, and family.  Cheerfulness allows for progress when things are going well, and for mistakes and forgiveness when they are not. If you or your child are finding cheerfulness hard to come by during this lockdown, know that there are people out there ready and willing to help you in and out of our school community, and please do not hesitate to contact us for support.  So, if your child ever receives the ‘always smiling’ medal, the ‘looking on the bright side’ shield or the ‘glass half full’ cup, do not feel disappointed - feel thankful instead. Simply take a leaf out of their book, cherish the fact that they hold a vital and sometimes elusive quality which will set them on their way to future success and happiness, and share in the joy of cultivating it.  Mr. McLaughlin

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