School News and Head's Blog

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Posted on: 26/04/2019

Weekly News - Friday 26th April 2019

Welcome back! It was wonderful to greet the children back to school this week for this very exciting summer term. I trust that you all have enjoyed the holidays and made the most of the incredible weather. Please ensure that all school uniform is labelled clearly and the girls are now all in summer uniform. Tights must not be worn with summer dresses and all long hair should be tied back neatly.  In sunny weather, sun hats must be worn when the children are in the playground so please do ensure that your child has one in school. We are delighted to welcome Miss Ruth Fahy to St. Helen's College as our new Welfare Officer. Miss Fahy has worked for many years in other schools in the same role and has spent time with Miss Lang over the Easter Holidays to have a thorough handover. The children from Y2 - Y6 met Miss Fahy this week in assembly and I am sure that you will all have the opportunity to meet her over the next few weeks. The Lower School were delighted to see their new locomotive and carriages. It has already proved to be a very popular addition to the playground, taking the children to all kinds of destinations! We would like to thank the PA for funding our new train and look forward to many more opportunities to play on it.         French Visitors The Upper School welcomed 80 visitors to school on Thursday as Year 5 and 6 from Catherine Dior school in Normandy met their Year 6 pen pals and spent the morning experiencing life in an English Prep School. The children were immersed in the English Language as they enjoyed breakfast and then took part in a carousel of activities run by St. Helen's College staff including cricket, charades, chess, garden games, tennis, table tennis and more! The Accent team provided a superb traditional roast which wowed the visitors before our Year 6 pupils led a wonderful assembly. We look forward to visiting their school in May. You can see photographs of the children enjoying their morning here. JRSOs Present To London Assembly at Guildhall A group of Year 5 girls did a terrific job over the Easter holiday and truly impressed the London Road Safety Council (councillors and officers from the 32 London Boroughs) when they visited London's Guildhall to give a presentation on their latest road safety initiative and the work they do to promote road safety here at St. Helen's College. They were a real credit to the school!              ABRSM Results We are delighted that we have now become an ABRSM examination centre for the children's music examinations and the pupils who sat their exams at the beginning of the Easter holiday reflected in assembly and felt that being in a familiar environment allowed them to relax more and focus on their musicality. Many congratulations to the children who achieved the following qualifications: Piano 6M Anisa W G1 Pass 3M Sahib N  Prep Pass Flute  5G Dhiya K G3 Merit 5A Ridhima M G2 Merit 5A Lily A G1 Pass 3M Raya M Prep Pass Clarinet  6W Georgia M G2 Pass 5G Marcus S G1 Distinction   Saxophone  4T Vidhit N G1 Merit Singing 5A Catherine L G4 Distinction 5G Jasmine B G3 Distinction 5A Esha T G2 Merit 5A Tanishka M G1 Pass 4KT Kimaya P G1 Pass Violin 6M Pritee T G3 Pass 5G Krisha S G1 Merit 4T Zara B G1 Pass 3B Eshan N G2 Pass Trumpet 5A Ciaran R G1 Pass 'Cello 4KT Vandan V G2 Pass 4KT Krishav P Prep Pass 3M Devan S Prep Pass BBC 500 Words Competition Many congratulations to Catherine and Laura in Year 5, whose creative stories have been selected to go through the next round of judging in this national completion. Tens of thousands of entries are received each year and we are delighted that the girls' creativity and writing skills have been recognised.  We wish them well for the next round and wait to hear further news. Gymnastics Success We were delighted to hear of yet further international success for Chiara L in Year 6, from her latest international gymnastics competition in Portugal in March. Chiara and her partner received a sliver medal, beating gymnasts from all over the world in the 11-16 age group. What a superb achievement at such a young age - well done, Chiara! Co-Curricular Activities Co-Curricular allocations for the summer term are now complete and these have been sent to parents by email. The following Upper School clubs still have a few places available; please contact admin@sthelenscollege.com as soon as possible if you would like your child to take part in one of these clubs. Tri-Golf - now available to Year 3 and Year 4 children as well as Year 5/6. Taking part is this club could lead to playing in the Year 3/Year 4 tri-golf team. Tuesdays 3.50 - 4.50 p.m. Jewellery Club (Y5/6) Wednesday 1.00 - 1.40 p.m. Printing Club (Y5/6) Friday 1.00 - 1.40 p.m. Yoga Club (Y4/5/6) Thursday 4.00 - 4.45 p.m. The following Lower School clubs still have a few places available; please contact lrooney@sthelenscollege.com as soon as possible if you would like your child to take part in one of these clubs. Spanish (Reception) - Monday lunchtime Spanish (Y1) - Thursday lunchtime All clubs begin this week with the exception of Upper School Gardening Club, Coding Club and Rounders. These begin the following week. We hope that your children will enjoy the amazing range of co-curricular activities being provided this term. Residential Trips 'Tis the season for our Year 3 to Year 6 pupils to embark upon their annual residential trips. We wish our Year 5 pupils a safe and successful trip as they head off to the Isle of Wight on Monday.  
Posted on: 26/04/2019

Head's Blog - SHC

  As we enter our final term of this academic year I would like to share with our community the key messages and the focus of our staff training on Tuesday and Wednesday. It seems most apt that we have just celebrated a very special Christian festival, the sadness of Jesus being crucified on the cross but the joy of his resurrection on Easter Sunday. Like many religious leaders, Jesus was one of the greatest teachers and the character traits and values which he embodied are replicated across many faiths. It is important that we remind ourselves of our school motto: Excellentiam e concordia     Our Latin motto means excellence through working together in harmony/unity of purpose.  When it was recreated by our students, using the acronym SHC for St. Helen’s College, the pupils’ interpretation was: Strive for excellence   Help others achieve   Care for each other In my welcome back to all of our staff in their different roles, I reminded everyone of what our motto means to us all: colleagues to colleagues, staff to pupils and staff to parents. So, as parents, what does our school motto mean to you all: parents to parents, parents to children, parents to staff? If we can all strive for excellence each and every day, help others achieve and care for each other, what great models we will all be for the children in our care. The first assemblies of the term for the children also focussed on our motto and we outlined the school values which will be a focus this term: Courtesy Forgiveness Determination Self-discipline Gratitude Honesty Staff training is always focussed on how to get the best out of your children, keeping your children safe, ensuring that all staff are up to speed on all aspects of Health and Safety and termly safeguarding updates. Mrs. Cargill led us all in a most informative but entertaining session, which put Sue Barker to shame, as the two team captains Mrs. Haar and Mr. McLaughlin led the staff in ‘A Question of Health and Safety’. The key areas covered in the numerous rounds of questioning and scenarios were Fire Safety, Electrical Safety and Asbestos Awareness. Who knew that Health and Safety, a very serious but vital part of any organisation’s legislative duty, could be so interesting and fun (although I have heard the Mr. Crehan’s ladder training was also up there in the entertainment stakes)! Our school fire wardens were also put through their paces in a six hour intensive training session - but we are hoping that they will never have to utilise these skills either in the workplace or at home. Ms Gilham made a very pertinent point that it is not until you go through such training that you reflect on the practices and procedures we have in place on our own homes. Do you know your fire escape routes to exit your homes and do you have a plan? Do you keep a set of keys in a convenient place if you need to evacuate your house? Mrs. Hunt led the staff through another session on Safeguarding - the welfare of every child is paramount and, through working closely with Children’s Services, we ensure that we are supporting you in your roles as parents to allow your children to flourish in every aspect. This term we have a very exciting programme of residential visits and Miss Walker’s update in her role as Educational Visits Coordinator was very well received. You can be assured that, whether your children are embarking upon a residential trip or a day trip, the staff are all highly skilled and incredibly competent in their roles looking after the needs of your children and keeping them safe throughout the trips. Our school behaviour management and supervision systems were also revisited and we discussed the importance of consistency of approach from all and the high expectations we have from all children. I would ask of you all as parents to remind your children, as I will be doing in assemblies, that regardless of what adult is supervising in school whether this is in the playground, classroom, refectory, etc. that their responses and the level of respect to all adults is appropriate. To settle the children around the school we use a ‘hands up’ approach instead of using voices and this works well. However, children being children, they often need frequent reminders of the expectations and to understand the meaning of being calm and quiet to enable them to continue with their school day. We are all very much looking forward to this busy and exciting term ahead and we will all work together, home and school,  to give the children a memorable summer term. Mrs. Drummond
Posted on: 29/03/2019

Weekly News - Friday 29th March 2019

Easter Greetings I wish all families a wonderful holiday over this spring season. Enjoy the weather, the outdoors and of course the company of your loved ones. We look forward to seeing you all on Thursday April 25th. Please remember that girls should return in summer uniform. I am sure you will all join me in thanking all of the staff at St. Helen's College for their hard work and commitment to the school and to your children over this term. I wish them all a restful, peaceful Easter holiday. General Knowledge In Upper School assemblies today, we discussed how children can improve their general knowledge. The children were most knowledgeable about how they could do this by visiting places of interest, talking to adults about the world around them and reading a wide range of books. I have challenged every child, if they do not already possess a children's encyclopaedia, to perhaps ask their parents very politely if this could be an Easter gift. The challenge is to learn a fact a day and wow their families and friends with a new piece of general knowledge every day during the holidays. Happy reading, happy talking, happy visiting! Farewell to Miss Lang The children gave Miss Lang a wonderful farewell in Upper School assembly today and she was presented with a card by our Head Boy and Head Girl, which had been signed by all of the children. We wish Miss Lang much happiness in her new role and look forward to seeing her as part of our Holiday Club staff during future holidays. We will welcome Miss Fahy to St. Helen's College as our new Welfare Officer after the Easter holidays. I am sure you will all enjoy getting to know Miss Fahy and welcoming her to our community. Musician of the Term Our Musician of the Term trophy goes to someone who has shown outstanding effort, commitment, dedication and achievement within the music department. An enormous well done to Pritee T. Pritee has always worked conscientiously and demonstrated enormous enthusiasm over several years in all aspects of music at St Helen’s College. She is an enthusiastic singer and has been a committed member of the senior choir over the last three years; was selected to join the Chamber Choir, and has participated in recordings and performed at two prestigious venues in London over the last two years; is a fluent recorder player and plays in the school orchestra; has excellent musical knowledge and regularly expresses opinions and contributes creative ideas successfully in each lesson, often injecting a sense of humour! Pritee has significantly grown in confidence, having shied away from performing in public; however, she is now ready to take her Grade 3 examination tomorrow. We wish her luck! Sports Personality of the Term Many congratulations to Ionie M, who has been awarded Sports Personality of the Term by her peers. Ionie is a sports scholar who has shown great levels of determination and excellence in every sport she plays. She has been a valued member of many school teams including the football, handball, hockey and netball, winning district and borough medals this term. She regularly plays for local clubs outside of school and has enjoyed regional success playing football and netball. Well done, Ionie!  World Book Day Winners The Middle and Upper School children were challenged to complete a World Book Day quiz. The prizes are a book of the children's choosing. Congratulations go to Anokhi (3M) and Aarna (5G). Exhibition Day It was wonderful to see so many families visit the school to celebrate their children's achievements on Saturday. I am sure you will agree with me that the school was abuzz with excitement and joy as you shared in your children's hard work and achievements. It was particularly lovely to hear all of the wonderful comments from families who saw our beautiful Lower School development for the first time. It's a Hat Trick! Many congratulations to our Year 6 table tennis team, who won the Borough table tennis competition for the third year running! The event took place at Oakwood School this week and was organised by Hillingdon Table Tennis Club. Our team of four, Rishi, Taran, Aaria and Mya, played in ranking order against teams from seven other Hillingdon Borough schools. Our team played extremely well showing consistency, creativity and good sportsmanship as they played 28 matches and only lost 2! The team were crowned Borough Champions and presented with the table tennis trophy plate by Hillingdon Mayor Cllr John Morgan who had seen them play and congratulated them on their excellent play. Well done to the team and special thanks also to our Year 6 Sports Captains, who organised matches on a table tennis ladder and final play offs over the last month during break times and lunchtimes to select the table tennis team.  Football We had our final football fixture of the season on Wednesday, losing 3-1 to St. Mary's. Mr. Dyson thought it was one of the best performances of the season as the team featured five debutants, including three Year 4 boys and two Year 6 children. Considering this, the effort and commitment was fantastic to see and it was a lovely way to finish the season. Overall, we finished mid table, winning three, losing five and Harry J was our top goal scorer with six goals, followed closely by Alex C with five. Many thanks to Mr. McLaughlin and Mr. Bustard for supporting Mr. Dyson throughout the season. PA Easter Raffle As has become traditional, the PA has donated prizes for a raffle for the children this Easter.  All of the children have been included in this free Easter egg draw with one prize drawn for each class. Congratulations to the lucky winners; we hope you enjoy your prizes! Many thanks to the PA for their kind donations. Competition Reminders uTalk Language Competition Pupils in Years 1 - 6 are invited to participate in a pilot competition in preparation for the new national uTalk competition which is being relaunched in September 2019.  The uTalk Challenge Pilot is a competition giving primary school age children the chance to learn a new language or reinforce a known language using the uTalk app. The competition will run between March and June 3 and our pupils will compete against each other. There will only be one round of the competition this year and the language will be Spanish. Some small prizes will be awarded in each school.  The new software this year will permit us to have a school dashboard where we can monitor progress. This will be available on the Learning Portal, so that the children may enjoy the excitement of checking the leader board to see how they are getting on in a live competition with their peers. If you would like your child/children to participate in this modified competition this year, please email Mrs. Stark at tstark@sthelenscollege.com. The cost is £5 per child, which will be payable on SchoolsBuddy after you have registered your interest. Midas Competition We invite pupils to enter a national competition run by the writers of Minimus, the textbook we use in Year 5 Latin lessons. Pupils are invited to create an interpretation of the story of Midas - a copy of which has been provided by Mrs. Stark. Pupils are invited to submit entries in the following categories: A.   Art e.g. painting, drawing, collage, poster, craftwork etc. B.   Creative Writing e.g. poem, play-script, 1st person account, diary or journal etc.   C.   Drama – a version of the story, written and performed by pupils, and submitted as a private video link or DVD. D.   Animation – a version of the story, written and animated by an individual, and submitted as a private video link. Entries need to be submitted by 22nd April at the latest, but can be submitted any time before then.  We really hope your children will be inspired to produce some creative and original work and we look forward to seeing the entries coming in. Just hand them to your form teacher, who will pass them on to Mrs. Stark, or give them to Mrs. Stark directly. tstark@sthelenscollege.com Summer Term Menu The Summer Term Menu has been posted to the School Documents page of the website. Easter Sports Camps If your child is keen on keeping active, why not come along to one of the Easter tennis or multisports camps being run locally. Full details are available here and here.
Posted on: 22/03/2019

Weekly News - Friday 22nd March 2019

Exhibition Day - Tomorrow! We are very much looking forward to welcoming all of our families to Exhibition Day tomorrow to celebrate the wonderful work your children have been engaged in throughout the year so far. Please do join us at 9.30 a.m. at Lower School for a glass of Bucks Fizz and the opportunity to visit our stunning new Lower School classrooms. Ducklings and Upper School will be open from 10.00 a.m. for your children to show you around and refreshments will be available in the Evans Hall from 10.00 a.m. Speech Competition On Monday 25th March we will be hosting the Junior and Senior School Speech Competition finals.  Parents of Junior Speech Competition finalists (Years 1 - 3) are invited for refreshments in the Evans Hall from 8.15 a.m., before taking their seats in the Upper School Hall for the competition, which will begin at 9.00 a.m.  The Senior Speech Competition finals (Years 4 - 6) will begin at 2.00 p.m. Parents may enter the school to take their seats from 1.50 p.m.  For both competitions, children will perform their pieces one year group at a time. The children will receive feedback from our guest judge, Reverend Ken Kingston. Each finalist will receive a finalist certificate; there will also be some 'highly commended' awards and a year group winner for each year group. When all year groups have finished, an overall winner will be announced, receiving the Speech Competition trophy.  The criteria for judgement are expression, projection and clarity of the voice only. No gestures will be counted towards the judgement and choreographed actions are not to be used. Good luck to all the children who will be taking part in the finals; we wish you well with your practice and preparation!  At Lower School, the Nursery and Reception Poetry Recitation will take place on Tuesday 26th March and all Nursery and Reception parents are warmly invited to attend. Coffee will be served from 8.15 a.m. in the Methodist Church Hall for Nursery and Reception parents. Nursery parents should take their seats in the Lower School Hall ready for the recitation to begin at 8.45 a.m. Reception parents will be called through from the Methodist Church Hall to take their seats when the Nursery have finished (expected to be at around 9.20 a.m.). We do hope many of you will be able to join us for what is always a very special morning! Quiz Team Semi-Final Our Quiz Team took part in the Prep School General Knowledge Quiz semi-final this week at Merchant Taylor's Prep School. The children performed extremely well against 11 other prep schools who had also reached the semi-finals. After some very tough rounds, we were delighted to learn that our children came in 5th place overall.     Art Competition If you have a budding artist in the family, why not encourage them to design a Starborg card for the London Borough of Hillingdon's Summer Reading Challenge competition. Starborg cards are like Top Trumps cards; your child should use their imagination to design their Starborg, which must be colourful, based on an animal and have some special super powers (preferably space-related to tie in with this year's theme). You can check out the current Starborgs for ideas at www.hillingdon.gov.uk/starborgs. Designs may be hand-drawn or digital but must be submitted electronically by email to summerreadingchallenge@hillingdon.gov.uk by Wednesday 1st May. The best Starborgs will be chosen to be part of the new pack of 20 cards, which are given away in their thousands to children across the borough as part of the summer reading challenge. Good luck to all entrants. Chess Success! Our chess teams defeated local rivals St. Bernadette's in their match on Thursday this week. Matches against St. Bernadette's are always closely contested and of a high quality so very well done to our teams for securing the win! Team members were: A team 1. Michael K (captain) 2. Alexander S 3. Anson L 4. Benjamin L R. Sulaiman M B team 1. Aditya S (captain) 2. Jai D 3. Aarna A 4. Ibraheem F R. Aaron S In round 1, we won 4 boards and so did St Bernadette's, so after the break we resumed play level. However, in round 2 we managed to win 6 boards to 2, so the match finished a 10-6 win for St. Helen's College. This has been an exciting culmination of school chess this term and we are looking forward to an equally exciting next term. Uxbridge Chess Club Open New Branch At St. Helen's College! The very popular and successful Uxbridge Chess Club are today launching a new Friday session at St. Helen's College. If you have a son or daughter who is interested in playing chess, or who already plays chess at school and would like to pursue this interest further, do encourage them to join.  The club is launching on Friday 22nd March and sessions will run from 6.00 - 7.30 p.m. on Fridays in The Evans Hall. Participants will have the chance to take part in all sorts of competitions and the club is open to all children aged from 6-15, not just St. Helen's College children, so there is the opportunity to bring along friends and family from other schools too. Uxbridge Chess Club is run by two St. Helen's College parents who, like Mr. Foale and Mr. Crehan himself, are passionate about chess and about inspiring a new generation of chess players. As a game, chess helps to nurture memory skills, strategic thinking, gameplay, time management and more so it is not only extremely enjoyable for children, but extremely educational too! We do hope that many of you will encourage your children to attend this club. Full details, costs and arrangements are available here. End of Term Arrangements Term ends next Friday, 29th March, and arrangements are as follows. Ducklings and Nursery children should be collected at 11.50 a.m., Reception children at 12.00 p.m. and Year 1 children at 12.10 p.m. Upper School children will attend our end of term Easter Service at All Saints Church at 11.00 a.m. and all parents are warmly invited to join us for this. Pupils will then return to school for collection at 12.10 (Year 2), 12.20 (Years 3/4) and 12.30 (Years 5/6). We ask parents NOT to park along Parkway so that traffic may flow freely during the busy end of term pick up. Co-Curricular Programme - Summer Term - Bookings Now Open Sign up for summer term co-curricular activities opens today and closes next Wednesday (27th March). Please log in to your SchoolsBuddy account to indicate your child's preferences and please remember only to indicate a preference for a club if your child would definitely like to take part. Allocations will be confirmed at the start of next term.
Posted on: 22/03/2019

Head's Blog - Social Media (by Mr. Lewis)

Let's get straight to the point. Children of primary school age should not be using apps such as Whatsapp, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. If they have these accounts, they have been untruthful about their age and are breaking the terms of use agreement that they have entered into. This is not a good start to their online lives.  The age restrictions on apps and games are in place for good reason. We have a programme of education on keeping safe online that runs throughout the children's time at St. Helen's College. Our Year 5 children build their own websites on internet safety issues. We constantly remind them about keeping safe and about proper use of the internet but these are young children who are finding out how to interact with others. it is a necessary part of growing up to establish boundaries, fall out with friends and find ways of resolving differences. Even the most pleasant and sensible child will react badly to disputes and differences with their friends. In the playground, they will immediately see the effect of their behaviour and they will have an opportunity to make amends or walk away from the situation. Minor disputes can be kept private and quickly resolved and forgotten.  The online world is not so forgiving. It is a public place. When a thoughtless comment or inappropriate image is published it is not easily withdrawn and can be rapidly shared with people who were not the intended audience.  We interpret facial expressions, body language and tone of voice very well but the internet does not convey the same subtlety and a comment made in jest can be easily misconstrued. Online disagreements can quickly escalate and comments that are made cannot be easily withdrawn. Whilst apps such as Facetime and Skype provide valuable means of communications when used in a family setting, children's use of unmonitored Whatsapp groups has no such benefits. Schools can help to educate children but it is our job as parents to set a good example, guide them, set boundaries and monitor their activity.  Whilst our children are finding their way in the real world and making necessary mistakes on the way, I urge you to discuss online etiquette and safety with your children and to remove access to apps and games that have age restrictions that they do not meet. Net Aware from the NSPCC has a guide to parents on children's use of social media.  Mr. Lewis
Posted on: 15/03/2019

Weekly News - Friday 15th March 2019

Year 3's Amazing Drama Production - The Pirates of the Curry Bean It is hard to describe the atmosphere of the Winston Churchill Hall on Tuesday evening as our Year 3 children performed their Spring show, The Pirates of the Curry Bean, to family, friends, staff and peers. We were all taken on a highly entertaining and poignant journey on the high seas to 'Lumbago' and there was really superb acting, dancing and singing. Congratulations to all of the crew involved - you thoroughly deserved the rapturous applause that greeted you at the end of such an outstanding production! Uxbridge Chess Club open new branch at St. Helen's College! The very popular and successful Uxbridge Chess Club are soon to launch a new Friday session at St. Helen's College. If you have a son or daughter who is interested in playing chess, or who already plays chess at school and would like to pursue this interest further, do encourage them to join.  The club is launching on Friday 22nd March and sessions will run from 6.00 - 7.30 p.m. on Fridays in The Evans Hall. There is the opportunity for participants to take part in all sorts of competitions and the club is open to all children aged from 6-15, not just St. Helen's College children, so there is the opportunity to bring along friends and family from other schools too. Uxbridge Chess Club is run by two St. Helen's College parents who, like Mr. Foale and Mr. Crehan himself, are passionate about chess and about inspiring a new generation of chess players. As a game, chess helps to nurture memory skills, strategic thinking, gameplay, time management and more so it is not only extremely enjoyable for children, but extremely educational too! We do hope that many of you will encourage your children to attend this club. Full details, costs and arrangements are available here. Primary Maths Challenge Success Many congratulations to Wenru and Arushi, who were awarded silver medals in the Primary Mathematics Challenge. This national event tests the children's logical thinking and application of mathematics skills to some very challenging problems. Nearly 1600 schools and around 67,000 pupils took part in the challenge and only 760 children were awarded a silver or gold medal. The girls' scores put them in the top 1% of those who entered. uTalk Language Competition Pupils in Years 1 - 6 are invited to participate in a pilot competition in preparation for the new national uTalk competition which is being relaunched in September 2019.  The uTalk Challenge Pilot is a competition giving primary school age children the chance to learn a new language or reinforce a known language using the uTalk app. The competition will run between March and June 3 and our pupils will compete against each other. There will only be one round of the competition this year and the language will be Spanish. Some small prizes will be awarded in each school.  The new software this year will permit us to have a school dashboard where we can monitor progress. This will be available on the Learning Portal, so that the children may enjoy the excitement of checking the leader board to see how they are getting on in a live competition with their peers. If you would like your child/children to participate in this modified competition this year, please email Mrs. Stark at tstark@sthelenscollege.com. The cost is £5 per child, which will be payable on SchoolsBuddy after you have registered your interest. Comic Relief Fundraising St. Helen's College turned red today as the children and staff entered into the spirit of Comic Relief, raising money with cake sales and Red Nose Day activities.  Well done to 4T and 4KT for organising the charity day, and thank you to all parents for supporting the cause with your kind donations.       Year 6 Spanish Trip to BFI Year 6 enjoyed an outing to the British Film Institute on Tuesday to enrich their Spanish learning. They watched a Spanish film with language appropriate to their stage of learning, and were able to understand most of it! They also took part in Spanish workshops.         6M Assembly - William Shakespeare Well done to the children of 6M who presented a most informative, interesting and entertaining assembly this morning all about William Shakespeare. Through speech and song, the pupils told us about Shakespeare's life and work. We learnt the history of The Globe Theatre and about how it was re-built in recent times to recreate the theatre experience of Elizabethan times. We also learnt that Year 6 will be performing 'Romeo and Juliet' next term as their end of school production, and that they are all currently hard at work discovering the meaning of the play and preparing for their auditions. Thank you, 6M, for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm with us.   Year 6 Citizenship Day This week our Year 6 pupils visited Brunel University for the annual Junior Citizenship Day. This was a valuable opportunity to learn about many different aspects of keeping safe throughout life after primary school, including use of public transport, fire safety, animal cruelty, substance abuse and more. There were ten informative and fast paced sessions full of important knowledge, designed to help our children tackle some of the challenges of adolescence.      Swimming Gala Well done to the children who attended last night's swimming gala. Competition was fierce and the St. Helen's College pupils performed well in their individual heats, with several reaching the finals. Particular congratulations go to Rhea A-V, who was awarded a bronze medal in the Freestyle final.         Staff News We welcomed Mrs. Brooks to the staff this week, who has joined our team of Upper School lunchtime supervisors. Mrs. Brooks has enjoyed getting to know the children throughout the week and embraced the St. Helen's College community.   Mrs. Speechley, who is stepping back from her lunchtime supervision role to spend more time with her family, joined the Middle School children for lunch today as our VIP guest and was presented with flowers and a gift by Year 3 School Council members. We would like to thank Mrs. Speechley for all the care she has given to the children over the past four years.         After 13 years of loyal service to the school, we will be bidding farewell to Miss Lang, our Welfare Officer, at the end of the Spring term. Miss Lang has looked after not only the pupils but staff welfare over the years and shown so much care and compassion in her role.  She will be very much missed at St. Helen's College but we wish her well as she takes on a new and exciting role at another school. I am sure that many of you will see Miss Lang again as she hopes to be part of our Holiday Club team.  Once a Helenian, always a Helenian!  ABRSM examinations We are delighted that we will be hosting our first set of ABRSM music examinations here at St. Helen's College on Saturday 30th March. Thank you to our peripatetic teachers for making this possible and I am sure that all our students who are preparing for their examinations will feel very at home on the day.   Exhibition Day We would like to remind parents that our annual Exhibition Day will take place on Saturday 23rd March. This year, to celebrate our new look Lower School, we would like to invite all parents and staff for a Bucks Fizz reception at Lower School from 9.30 a.m. The official timings of Exhibition Day at Ducklings and Upper School will be 10.00 a.m. until 12.00 p.m. Refreshments will be served from 10.00 a.m. in the Evans Hall. We do hope that you will all take this opportunity to celebrate your children's hard work and achievements on this special day. All children should wear full school uniform to attend school on Exhibition Day please. Parents are always very generous with donating flowers and vases for display on Exhibition Day. Please would you send your donations of flowers (and named vases, which will be returned to you) into school with your child on Friday morning. Many thanks, in advance, for your generosity. The Upper School Library will be fully open for the first time. Please come and see where Upper School children spend many hours relaxing and curling up with a good book! We would love parents to rediscover and share favourite books from their own childhood and explore the full range of wonderful modern authors available to read today. Parents will be able to see the comprehensive information resources in the library to spark curious minds and learn about the various reading challenges on offer. Parents are reminded that Friday 22nd March is a half day to allow the school to prepare for Exhibition Day and that there is no Funtasia After School Club on Friday 22nd March. Speech Competition Finals Mrs. Smith and I have had the most wonderful week listening to the semi-finalists for our forthcoming Speech Competition. Congratulations to all the pupils who have worked so hard learning the wonderful (and, in some cases, rather challenging) poems. You should all be very proud of your achievements.  The finals of both the Junior (Years 1-3) and Senior (Years 4-6) Speech Competitions will take place on Monday 25th March. Parents of finalists are invited to join us and will receive a letter with details early next week. We are very much looking forward to what promises to be an excellent day of poetry and performance! Easter Holiday Club Bookings Now Open Bookings for our popular Easter Holiday Club are now open. Please log in to your SchoolsBuddy account to book places for your children as soon as possible. Holiday Club will run from 29th March (half day) until Thursday 18th April. Places are allocated on a first come, first served basis. Midas Competition We invite pupils to enter a national competition run by the writers of Minimus, the textbook we use in Year 5 Latin lessons. Pupils are invited to create an interpretation of the story of Midas - a copy of which will be provided by Mrs. Stark. Pupils are invited to submit entries in the following categories: A.   Art e.g. painting, drawing, collage, poster, craftwork etc. B.   Creative Writing e.g. poem, play-script, 1st person account, diary or journal etc.   C.   Drama – a version of the story, written and performed by pupils, and submitted as a private video link or DVD. D.   Animation – a version of the story, written and animated by an individual, and submitted as a private video link. Mrs. Stark has talked to some of the classes about this and will talk to others next week. Entries need to be submitted by 22nd April at the latest, but can be submitted any time before then.  We really hope your children will be inspired to produce some creative and original work and we look forward to seeing the entries coming in. Just hand them to your form teacher, who will pass them on to Mrs. Stark, or give them to Mrs. Stark directly.
Posted on: 15/03/2019

Head's Blog - Lent

  Lent is upon us once again – the time of year when we remember the sacrifices made by Jesus during his forty days in the wilderness, leading up to the great sacrifice of his life. Traditionally, Christians give up something for Lent and I’m sure many parents have already started a period of abstinence. Perhaps you are giving up chocolate, sweets or alcohol for this forty day period.   I would like to encourage a new tradition for the children of St. Helen’s College. Rather than encourage our children to deprive themselves of something, I would like to suggest that, for Lent this year, they take up something new, or expand on a talent or interest they already enjoy. Last week we celebrated World Book Day at school and it was magical, as ever, to see the children immersed in stories. We had a visit from The Book Bus on Monday, authors visited the school to share their experiences as writers and their stories, many classes heard traditional and modern tales and poetry read by visiting readers; Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Crehan and I had the most wonderful time over at Lower School, and, throughout the school, there were lively discussions of favourite books. (My favourite is still Enid Blyton's ‘The Faraway Tree’). Perhaps Lent is the perfect time to build upon this by taking up a new reading habit. If your child does not already read for a set period of time before bed, now would be the perfect time to add this to your daily routine. For our youngest children, this will mean sitting with parents, grandparents, older siblings or other adults to listen to stories and look at words and pictures together. Rhyming books are, of course, particularly good for children of this age and don’t worry if you don’t currently have many at home. Not only are the school and local libraries full of lovely children’s books for your children to borrow, but young children thrive on repetition and absolutely love to hear the same book several times over. There is comfort in familiarity, especially when a young child is tired, just before bed. As your child grows older and moves through the Lower School, you should choose slightly longer stories/rhyming tales to read with them, introducing longer, traditional tales such as fairy tales, Aesop’s Fables, Winnie the Pooh stories and poems, Roald Dahl stories and poems and more. Once the children are old enough for chapter books or longer stories which can be split up across several days, there are so many beautiful, classic tales to share with them: The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island… the list really is endless. If you are not sure which books are appropriate for your child, do ask your class teacher or contact Mr. McLaughlin, our Head of English. If you already have a well-established reading routine at bedtime – and we know that many of you already do – then why not add in some reading at another time of day? Lent is the perfect time to make a promise to reduce screen time by 15 minutes a day, and increase reading time by 15 minutes. Perhaps, as you’re cooking dinner, your children could sit at the table 15 minutes early and read a book aloud to you, or you could listen to an audio book together and then discuss it during your meal. Reading is at the heart of everything in education, as self-sacrifice is at the heart of everything in Christianity. So I do hope that you will take the opportunity of Lent to increase your child’s reading time. Perhaps, when Lent ends and Easter is here, you might consider buying them a new book instead of (or even as well as!) an Easter egg, to reward them for forty days of wonderful reading and to inspire them for the following forty days and beyond!  Although we are almost halfway through Lent, there is no time like the present to foster a love of reading!
Posted on: 8/03/2019

Weekly News - Friday 8th March 2019

It has been a week of books, books and more books for children across the school as we have celebrated World Book Day and all that reading brings to our lives! On Monday, the children were treated to a visit from The Book Bus, which gave them an opportunity to choose new books for the school libraries at Lower School and Upper School. Visiting authors at both Lower School and Upper School inspired pupils with their stories and were able to share information about how and why they decided to write books. Mrs. McLaughlin visited Lower School and talked to the children about her efforts to tackle climate change by becoming a children's author. Onjali Rauf, author of the Blue Peter Award winning book 'The Boy At The Back Of The Class', spoke to Upper School children about her involvement in the refugee crisis. Across the school, children have enjoyed reading to themselves and to others and having stories read to them by their teachers and by visiting readers, including other teachers, librarians, parents and visitors. Here you can see our youngest children, the Ducklings, enjoying a story read by Zoe's mummy. Zoe's mum read the story in Chinese to the children, who listened intently and were fascinated. Then she taught our Ducklings some Chinese words.         Chamber Choir Perform At The Royal Festival Hall We were extremely proud of our Chamber Choir this week as they took to the stage at the Royal Festival Hall to compete against 17 other school in National Finals of the Barnardo's Schools Choir Competition. The choir sang two pieces: So Long, Farewell (from The Sound of Music) and For The Beauty Of The Earth by John Rutter. Schools had travelled from far and wide from across the UK, including from Wales, York and Glasgow. The pupils participated in the competition in the morning and, before preparing for the mass choir performance and evening concert, we took a cruise to Greenwich taking in the wonderful sights of London. Although we were not the winning choir on the day, it an incredible achievement to make it to the finals and to perform in such a prestigious venue.     1J Assembly - World Book Day World Book Day was truly embraced by 1J in their reading assembly. It was evident that each and every one of them is an avid reader and they reminded all the grown ups of the importance of losing ourselves in a book. Congratulations 1J!        4T Assembly - Easter Gratitude The story of Easter and gratitude were interwoven into 4T's most succinct and professional presentation in assembly. As their St. Helen's College pledges came together and the school crest appeared, we were reminded that, to be inspirational, one needs to be proactive. Well done 4T!       Year 6 Visit The Globe Having studied Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet in English over the last few weeks, Year 6 pupils visited The Globe Theatre this week to watch a RSC production of Romeo and Juliet. They were inspired by the performance and are very much looking forward to the forthcoming auditions for their summer production of this wonderful play.       Netball Finalists Our Year 5/6 netballers took part in the local district netball rally last Saturday held at Ryefield School. Our B team gained valuable match experience and improved their play throughout the morning, finishing in 3rd place in their group. Our A team's confidence developed as they won all their matches in the group stages to reach the knockout stages. In the quarter finals they beat St. Andrew's and in the semi finals they beat Cherry Lane to reach the final to play Hermitage. They played incredibly well against Heritage, who were formidable opponents, and the final score was 5-2 to Hermitage. Our A team were presented with runner up silver medals and it was announced that they had qualified for the Borough Netball Finals.  The Borough Netball Finals (for the top twelve qualifying schools) took place on Wednesday afternoon this week at Newnham School in Eastcote. In wet and windy conditions, our team battled on court  in a tough competition. The team won three matches, drew one match and lost one match to finish in 9th place overall.  In the local netball league, St. Helen's finished in 4th place this season. The team support from parents over the course of the season has been superb, so thank you parents! It has also been great to see many girls taking up the opportunity to continue playing at local netball club Blaze.  Well done to all the girls involved: A team - Ionie M, Hebe E, Aaria K, Zoe K, Georgia M, Rhea Sa, Wenru D, Rhea A-V, Jada P B team - Tamara A, Eshar S, Laura B, Chloe W, Ruby D, Minna H, Grace B, Kyra S, Krisha S, Mya S Hockey Result Our hockey team had a very enjoyable match on Monday afternoon against St. Benedict's. There was some outstanding effort and passing, with numerous chances at either end. Unfortunately, we lost the game but everybody on both sides really enjoyed the afternoon. Our goals were scored by Pavitar and Hebe. Well done to the team: Pavitar D, Hebe E, Ionie M, Jayan C, Luke J, Mya S, Agastya S.  Year 3 Spring Production - 'The Pirates of the Curry Bean' On Tuesday 12th March, Year 3 will be performing their production at the Winston Churchill Hall and children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 will watch the dress rehearsal in the morning. Please drop children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 to at the Winston Churchill Hall in the morning from 8 a.m. onwards (to arrive by 8.30 a.m.). The children will return to school by coach after watching the performance. Year 3 parents have been contacted separately with information about the arrangements for Year 3. Parents' Parking Pledge Well done to our Year 5 Junior Road Safety Officers (JRSOs) and Year 1 Mini Road Safety Officers (MRSOs) who have been promoting our Parent Parking Pledge initiative this week. So far, over 100 families have taken the pledge and top marks to the parents of Wrens class, with twenty parents who have already signed up to the pledge! Thank you to all those who have already registered; your special parent parking pledge car sticker will be sent home next week. Please display these as you would have done with tax discs. If you have not signed up please click here to register online or pop in to Upper School next Wednesday before school, when our JRSOs will be on hand with laptops available to help you register.  Red Nose Day - Friday 15th March On Friday 15th March, Year 4 will be leading the fundraising events for Comic Relief. It is a wonderful cause and we thank you in advance for your children’s participation and generous contributions. At Upper School, we are asking the children to make a £2 donation to wear their own clothes (preferably including something red and no football kits please). In addition to this, Year 4 will be hosting a cake sale where there will a range of delicious cakes and biscuits on sale, costing either 50p or £1 and with a maximum spend of £2 per child. Please note all ingredients will be listed at the point of sale. We are asking children at Ducklings and Lower School to make a £2 donation to wear their own clothes (preferably including something red and no football kits please). This donation will also enable them to decorate a biscuit at school during the day. Exhibition Day We would like to remind parents that our annual Exhibition Day will take place on Saturday 23rd March. This year, to celebrate our new look Lower School, we would like to invite all parents and staff for a Bucks Fizz reception at Lower School from 9.30 a.m. The official timings of Exhibition Day at Ducklings and Upper School will be 10.00 a.m. until 12.00 p.m. Refreshments will be served from 10.00 a.m. in the Evans Hall. We do hope that you will all take this opportunity to celebrate your children's hard work and achievements on this special day. Parents are reminded that Friday 22nd March is a half day to allow the school to prepare for Exhibition Day and that there is no Funtasia After School Club on Friday 22nd March. School At Work Open Morning - Tuesday 7th May 2019 Flyers and posters advertising our next School At Work Open Morning are being sent home with your children today. In the past, parents have been very helpful in displaying these in local businesses and passing them on to friends who might have babies or young children and who might be interested in visiting the school. The vast majority of our new families come to us through word of mouth recommendation and we are very grateful to our parents for being such wonderful ambassadors for St. Helen's College. We would be most grateful for your support in displaying or distributing flyers again this year. Do let us know if you can make use of any more!  
Posted on: 8/03/2019

Motivation and Mandarin

Reading the Head’s blog last week on the value of learning modern languages, and on the great work going on at St. Helen’s College in this area, reminded me how times have changed – for the better! At secondary school I studied French and German to ‘O’ Level. It was a struggle! I wasn’t particularly motivated, the teachers (none were native speakers) were extraordinarily unimaginative in their methods, and the focus was too much on grammar and textbooks and too little on conversation. We did visit Germany and Austria for a week but were left to our own devices (don’t ask!) and, apart from an idyllic lakeside lunch, my memories are mostly of Pepsi and chips, being bored, and the music of Simon and Garfunkel (the only cassette tape owned by the coach driver). Nevertheless, I achieved good ‘O’ Level grades, have reasonable conversational French and (somewhat to my surprise) was recently complimented on my German when helping a confused couple to understand a ferry timetable. I felt very proud. I didn’t enjoy studying these languages and struggled terribly with learning vocabulary, so it came as something of a surprise to my family (and, if I am honest, to me) when I decided eighteen months ago that I was going to learn Mandarin. This was not a random choice – my son is married to a Singaporean of Chinese ethnicity, and my grandson Teddy is going to be bilingual in English and Mandarin. Not really knowing where to start, I downloaded the app Hello Chinese and set to work on lesson 1. It is a really terrific learning tool which takes the complete beginner to a reasonable conversational standard, with each topic introducing new vocabulary, grammatical structures and common phrases. It uses a wide variety of excellent methods, including recording and playback, games, video, letter formation and flash cards and I can access it easily on my smart phone. Shortly after starting work on the app, I was introduced to a Chinese class by a St. Helen’s College parent. The class was well ahead of me, which provided a spur to encourage me to work hard and catch up, and I am now about to enrol on a more advanced class at the School of Oriental and African Studies. My aim is to try to keep pace with my grandson who, at just 2 years and 4 months, already has a high degree of fluency in Mandarin.  So why is my experience of learning Mandarin so much more positive today than that of my schoolboy French and German lessons? On reflection, I think that there are four reasons, all of which are interlinked. Motivation In contrast to my schooldays, I am hugely motivated to learn Mandarin. I hear it spoken at home every day and want to understand and join in the conversations. I want it to be a shared experience with my grandson, and I want to get over my long-held belief that I am not good at language learning. Knowing how to learn Over many years of learning, both informally and through academic courses, I have learned which learning strategies work best for me. I try to study a little each day, regularly consolidate my knowledge, ask myself and answer questions, keep a pack of flashcards in my pocket at all times and practise speaking as much as I can. Quality of teaching The Hello Chinese app is an excellent, interactive and adaptive virtual teacher, but I also have a super class teacher at my Saturday Chinese class. Always warm and encouraging, she provides the right level of challenge for our (admittedly rather laid back) class, and, as a native speaker who has lived in China, immerses us not only in language but in the culture of the country. Peer support My Chinese school co-students are remarkably friendly and supportive. The help which we give each other, and the fun which we have together, have created a sense of shared endeavour and mutual support. Language learning is very popular at St. Helen’s College, and the children make excellent progress in their fluency in Spanish, French and Latin. This is not surprising, given that my four factors are all in place. They have a thirst for knowledge and are hugely motivated to succeed. Through discussions about metacognition, and reflecting on and discussing their progress with their teachers, they understand how best to learn. They have inspiring teachers who create wonderful lessons to challenge and support them in their learning and they support each other through the joy of learning and the shared enthusiasm which arises from it. These four factors are interwoven, and the latter three all impact positively on the first, motivation. Motivation is critical to learning: without motivation learning is limited and dry, whereas the motivated learner is unstoppable. Teaching is both a science and an art, and the artistry of the brilliant teacher, parent or grandparent has a lot to do with motivating children. I am very mindful of this with Teddy, and am so enjoying helping him to discover the wonderful world of knowledge. Mr. Crehan

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