School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 26/06/2020
Weekly News - Friday 26th JuneReady to Rumble
Here is our next 'feel good' video, made in recognition of the fact that today would have been the Prep Sports Day. We hope it will remind you all that the St. Helen's College staff are keeping in good spirits and thinking of all members of our community, even while it is not possible for us all to be together in person. We hope you enjoy it!
It has been super to see the children back in their uniforms today for this week's Fun Friday theme. For some of them, it will be the last chance they have to wear their St. Helen's College uniform before they move on to their next schools, and it was lovely to see them so smart and so proud of their school colours.
We were also thrilled today to have a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Crehan, who were able to walk around the school and 'visit' the children by waving hello from the doorways of the pods.
Here they are in the Zen Garden - it was very hot, but the fountain was bubbling away just in front of them!
We have also been making an alternative marketing video at school today, to give prospective parents (who are currently unable to visit) a natural flavour of the school. The video has been directed by Mrs. Smith, filmed by Mr. Smith (no relation!) and stars Catherine and Anish, our Head Girl and Head Boy. It will be edited and the final version will be posted to the website in due course, but for now, here is a sneak preview of the likely ending.
PA Virtual Family Quiz
The Parents' Association will be running a virtual family quiz on Saturday 4th July at 3.00 p.m. Full details are available here. We hope that many of you will take part!
House Art Competition
Thank you to all of the children who have entered the House Art competition. You can see entries on the Galleries page. The winning house will be announced in the final assembly of term.
Music places for individual tuition from September have now been allocated. However, we do have a few vacancies for flute, trumpet and violin tuition. These will be allocated on a first come, first served basis, so please contact Mrs. Allery as soon as possible if you would like your child to begin lessons on one of these instruments. You can reach Mrs. Allery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have communicated with parents directly today to confirm that, sadly, we will be unable to run our Holiday Club this summer due to the Covid-19 restrictions in place which require strict consistency of staffing.
Here are some alternative clubs that might be of interest to parents this summer.
If you have a son or daughter who will be eligible for entry into St. Helen's College Nursery in September 2021 (children born between 01.09.17 - 31.08.18), and you have not already registered him/her, please ensure that you do so soon. We give priority to siblings when we are allocating the Nursery places, but they do need to be registered with the school in order for us to do so!
You should register your child by completing the online registration form at:
Some parents might be interested to read the latest articles from Attain Magazine, which can be found by following this link.
Posted on: 26/06/2020
DiversityLast week in the Upper School assembly I spoke to the children about ‘Diversity’. This was prompted not only by my attendance the previous weekend at the DiverseEd annual conference but also by the media coverage surrounding the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests which have occurred around the globe. My opening slide in assembly was this, which shows our current Year 6 pupils back in Year 5.
I asked the children to take a long look at the photograph - what did they notice? What stands out for me is that we have the most wonderful group of 41 individual children in our current Year 6 - but to extend this further we have the most incredible school of 375 unique and wonderfully different and diverse children.
What is diversity in simple words? It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognising our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.
I am sure that many of the older children were aware of the anti-racism demonstrations surrounding ‘Black Lives Matter’ and it is important that as a school we continue to educate your children to be aware of what is going on in the world around them. The children had the opportunity to listen to a very simple video message from one of the Cbeebies presenters which I also urge you as parents to view:
‘A message from our house to yours’
I do not wish to dwell on just one aspect of Diversity but over the past few weeks I have reflected on my role as a leader and at the end of the DiverseEd conference we were all asked to make a pledge to ourselves as to how we will continue our journey to ensure that we are preparing children for the future ahead. I will share my pledge with you all - ‘To keep raising awareness as a leader; to continue to educate myself more to enable greater good in my community and be proactive for change.’
During the online conference, which was attended by over 400 other educators from the UK and overseas, we heard from a diverse range of leaders and educators who continue to make a difference to their communities with the work that they do educating young people on diversity. I realised that, prior to leaving Scotland back in 1989, I had led an incredibly sheltered life. I was brought up in a small coastal town where there really was not much diversity at all in terms of race, religion, sexual orientation or even physical abilities. I do not think that this has adversely affected me as I believe that it is the core values which we adopt and are immersed in that allow us to be accepting of everyone in our society. However, looking back there are possibly some very uncomfortable truths in the lack of education surrounding diversity in my school days.
Thankfully over the years I have met and connected with such diverse groups of people that I have become the person I am now and the values of St. Helen’s College - respect, love, harmony, kindness, friendship, truth, honesty, integrity - are why this school, our ‘second family’, is so important to us all. I am proud that at St. Helen’s College we have good practice and an understanding around diversity; however, we must continue to educate ourselves and each other to ensure that we are correctly informed and this involves parents, of course, as you are a crucial part of our community too. Schools need to be safe places for everyone to have discussions regarding diversity.
I am sure that there are many of us who have faced discrimination at some point in our lives and it is our responsibility to ensure that any low level discrimination that takes place is challenged - whether at school or in the work place. We can no longer accept comments which in the past may have been passed off as ‘banter’. We should be vigilant and spot stereotypes in images or sadly the unconscious bias that people may show. Such discrimination needs to be called out and this is not always easy but it is necessary. We know that the bystander is often as powerful as the perpetrator when discrimination takes place – what we don’t do if we don’t challenge is as much a part of the problem as blatant discrimination.
I expect that, throughout your own lives and careers, there have been diversity issues which you have faced? I hope that, if so, you can use those to inspire you to help be a part of the solution. As adults it is our role to ensure that children do not face the same challenges which we may have encountered. It is by continuing to uphold good core principles, listening and discussing that we will further educate ourselves and help the youngsters of today to become aware, responsible adults of the future - a future which we would want for our children.
Posted on: 19/06/2020
Weekly News - Friday 19th June 2020Funny Face Friday!
It has certainly been a fun day today both in school and at home, as the children have donned their 'funny faces'. Here you can see some of our Nursery children making their funny faces! There are lots more photographs from around the school and home on our Galleries page here.
Thank you so much to the children who entered our House Art Competition, depicting the school values. We have thoroughly enjoyed all of the entries and the winners will be announced in assembly on Monday.
Next Week - Uniform Friday/Alternative Mufti Day!
Next Friday will be a flipped 'mufti day', when we invite children to wear their school uniform throughout the school day, whether they will be on the school site or learning at home. It might feel very strange to some of them to put it on for one last time this year! Of course we understand that some children might have grown out of all or part of their uniform, so please feel free to be a little creative if you need to, or to use PE kit, but please do encourage the children to wear their full school uniform if they have it.
Chamber Choir Auditions
If you have a child in Year 2 to Year 5 and they would like to audition to join the Chamber Choir, please check your Google Classroom for further details which have been sent out today.
Rising Up Together
A lot of information follows below about how things currently stand at school, and what the immediate and longer term future might hold. One thing is sure...as a school community, we have remained strong throughout lockdown so far and we will rise up, ready to come back together fully with joy and gratitude when we are finally allowed to do so! We hope that you will share this sentiment as you enjoy our latest SHC lockdown video, Rise Up:
The Remainder of This Term
We have, over the past week, surveyed parents of those children who are currently eligible to attend school but have not yet been back to the school site. Many have indicated that their children will return next week or the following week and we have made plans to accommodate them safely. Unfortunately we will therefore not be in a position to invite pupils from any other year groups back into school before the end of this term. We understand that this will be disappointing news for many families, as it is for us, but we are sure that you understand that, with the restrictions which are currently in place for school, all our school space and staffing is being fully utilised.
Travel To School
As the number of pupils on site has continued to increase gradually, the London Borough of Hillingdon's Road Safety Team have produced a poster to remind parents about best practice when travelling to/from school. You can read this here.
We have sent a direct email to parents today about Online Safety. If you have not already done so, you can register for our National Online Safety platform by clicking on this link and proceeding as a parent/carer. You will then be able to access many useful resources and a comprehensive course.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require additional guidance or if you have any concerns about your child's online safety. Our Designated Safeguarding Leads are:
Upper School: Mr. McLaughlin
Lower School/Ducklings: Mrs. Hunt
2nd Uxbridge Beavers - Places Available Now
Before Coronavirus prohibited face-to-face Scouting, the 2nd Uxbridge Beavers Group met weekly at the Scout HQ on Gatting Way (the same road as Hillingdon Leisure Centre). They are currently running weekly online meetings for their Beavers children. These meetings allow the children to burn off a little energy and also to safely connect online with other children their own age, which is more important now than ever.
The group currently has places and would be delighted to have girls and boys aged between 5¾ and 8 years old join them. You can find full details here.
Summer Holiday Club
Current government guidance, staffing restrictions and the protocols in place within school regarding grouping children mean that it will most likely not be possible for us to offer Holiday Club provision over the summer holidays. We will of course update you if the situation changes.
As parents already know, we will be saying goodbye to some members of staff at the end of this academic year. Mrs. Rance will be leaving us as she and her husband await the birth of their second child; they have decided to move further away from the school. Mr. Tovell is leaving us to move to a position much closer to his home, to enable him to spend more time with his family; he is also expecting his second child. Miss Dear has decided to step back from teaching altogether to devote more time to her family at home, and Mrs. Stubbs will also be relinquishing her peripatetic music commitments with us.
After 20 years as a class teacher at St. Helen's College, Mrs. Hunt will not be a form teacher next year. She will remain in her role as Head of Lower School but will now have the opportunity to teach some lessons in Year 1 and also to follow the progress of the children as they transition to Year 2. Mrs. Hunt also oversees Ducklings and is our Designated Safeguarding Lead for Ducklings and Lower School. Mrs. Hunt will miss the role of form teacher but she will now have the opportunity to visit all the classes and to assist across the EYFS to Year 2. Mrs. Allery, while remaining with us as a Year 5 form teacher, will no longer be Director of Music as she would like more time to focus on supporting her family, and Miss Phoebe Williams will no longer be working with us as a Funtasia Assistant. Mrs. Blackstone will, after some years of semi-retirement, be taking the plunge and retiring fully. We wish them all the very best as they move onto their next phases.
As previously announced, Mrs. Claire Fawbert will be joining us as our new Director of Music from September. Mr. Steve Roche will be joining us as Head of English and Year 6 form teacher. Miss Kyra Linton will be joining us as Head of Maths and Year 4 form teacher. Mrs. Victoria Briggs will be covering for Mrs. McLaughlin in 3M while Mrs. McLaughlin completes her maternity leave. Mrs. Nadine Pruce will be joining us as Head of Art, Miss Emma Rackham will be joining us as Year 1 class teacher and Mrs. Jane Smith will be joining us as a peripatetic flute teacher. We are also in the process of appointing an Early Years Assistant to work in our Ducklings class while Miss Hill completes her maternity leave.
Class Allocations 2020/21
Please find below the list of class/teacher allocations for the next academic year.
Our new intake of Ducklings will be led by Mrs. McGee
The new Robins Nursery class will be led by Mrs. Mann
The new Wrens Nursery class will be led by Miss Carmichael
Robins Nursery will become Kingfishers with Ms Matthews
Wrens Nursery will become Owls with Miss Joiner
Kingfishers will become 1R with Miss Rackham
Owls will become 1C with Miss Cooper
1C will become 2H with Mrs. Hussein
1HC will become 2B with Mr. Bustard
2B will become 3M with Mrs. Briggs (Mrs. McLaughlin following maternity leave)
2H will become 3B with Mrs. Belvoir
3B will become 4L with Miss Linton
3M will become 4T with Mrs. Thompson
4KT will become 5A with Mrs. Allery
4T will become 5G with Ms Gilham
5A will become 6R with Mr. Roche
5G will become 6M with Mr. McLaughlin
New parent meetings and transition meetings for parents whose children will be joining year groups from Ducklings to Year 2 have been arranged over the coming weeks. These meetings will take place online and parents have been sent the dates and will be sent further information before each meeting takes place.
Meet the Teacher evenings will take place, as usual, in September for parents of children in Years 3 to 6. The provisional dates are below - please add these to your diaries now.
Thursday 3rd September at 7 p.m. - Year 3 and Year 6
Tuesday 14th September at 7 p.m. - Year 4 and Year 5
We hope that these Meet the Teacher evenings will take place in person, on the school premises, as usual. If this is not possible, they will take place online. Again, further information will be sent to parents before each meeting takes place.
While we will not be able to hold our 'moving up mornings' this term as we usually would, there will be an opportunity towards the end of term for the children to 'meet' their new teacher online, and to welcome new pupils who may be joining into their class from September. Further details about this will be provided by class teachers.
Planning for September
Some parents have contacted us to ask about plans for our return to school in September. The truth is that, like schools across the country, we just don't know what September will hold for us all yet.
We are, of course, hoping and planning for a full return to school and for normal life to resume for everyone. Although we are also considering possible alternative scenarios, we will not be able to make any definite plans until nearer the time when the government makes further decisions and announcements based on the course of the pandemic at that point.
Staff will have a well-deserved and much-needed break over the summer, but we will certainly also spend time over the summer planning carefully and communicating with staff and parents. While it is hard for us all to sit with uncertainty for now, we just don't have any other option. We ask you to refrain from speculating or from contacting staff over the holidays; we will communicate with parents by 14th August over planning for the September return, and at least weekly from then on.
Parents are reminded that the uniform and equipment list is available in the Parents section of the website here. Please do take a look at what your child will need for September onwards as they move into their new year group.
Our uniform suppliers, Pullens, re-opened their shops on Monday 15th June and visits are currently by appointment only. Pullens have asked us to let parents know that they have the following measures in place to prepare for social distancing and to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of customers and staff:
Installed hand sanitising stations at the entrance to stores, placed physical markings throughout to ensure social distancing and positioned PPE equipment.
Stores are open by appointment only to limit the number of customers in store at any one time.
Late night opening on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, by appointment.
Request one adult per family with only the child/children who require uniform.
Card payments only.
Exchange/Refund policy – extended to 120 days.
10% discount, in June and July, on all orders placed online with a minimum value of £100, using code U4K10.
No-contact returns processes in place for online orders.
Live Chat available online, during working hours.
Click & Collect service from outside stores.
Specifying a deadline for families to order uniform online by 10th August to ensure uniform is delivered by the start of term.
Posted on: 19/06/2020
Pupil Perspective: Lockdown LearningThis week I invited our Head Boy, Anish, and Head Girl, Catherine, to co-write a blog to give us a pupil perspective of 'Lockdown'. I was so moved to read their blog, as I am sure you will be. We have the most wonderful ambassadors for what St.Helen's College stands for in our pupils - do enjoy!
Sometimes, life does change overnight. One day, the cities are hustling and bustling with myriad activities and children come back from school with dozens of stories to tell. The next day we wake up to empty streets and an untimely school holiday. We have been in Lockdown since 23rd March 2020. It seems a long time ago but that is when all of the children and teachers started homeschooling. This global pandemic has brought our country to a standstill. However, as we know, every grey cloud has a silver lining and understandably such difficult situations bring out novel challenges that we need to adapt to and overcome! It must have been extremely difficult for the teachers but they embraced the challenge and have been doing and are still doing an amazing job. All of the children have really enjoyed learning from home. The lessons are still bags of fun and everyone is co-operating to help each other do the best they can do. Year 6, with the help of their terrific teachers have even been doing their Year 6 projects at home!
This lockdown has brought in a wonderful opportunity for us to engage in activities we never had a chance to do before and we are able to spend quality time with our family. Also, this lockdown has allowed us to actually and properly direct our attention to nature. Everyday, everyone is waking up to the joyous sing song of the sparrow.
Another great thing that has happened during the lockdown is the reduction of pollution maintaining the tranquillity of nature. Not many of us are going out as often and therefore we are reducing the acceleration of climate change. This is positive news, meaning that we may still have time to save the planet and preserve nature for future generations to come.
Being at home gave us a new insight into school. It was a new step for all of the St. Helen's College community, but we overcame the technical difficulties and set up a hugely successful online learning programme. Google Meet, Google Classroom and Century Tech have allowed us to be able to adapt to these circumstances and still be able to thrive. As Ms Gilham has been teaching us, “The species that adapts will survive; those who don’t will perish”.
Having the opportunity to experience home learning is something that has not only added to our ever-growing list of experiences, it has shaped us into stronger people and given many the chance to develop new passions. It is so important to look for the good in things. As young people, we need to remember these events and reflect on them, for that is the only way we can improve and make a version of ourselves that contributes to society.
In this blog, we would like to show gratitude to all the teachers, staff and parents alike, for their support and hard work. The teachers have put so much effort into making sure we get the best out of our lessons, something which requires a lot of attention and time.
For us, home learning was very enjoyable, though vastly different. We have been keeping in contact with all our friends, via Skype, Zoom, Facetime and lots of other apps. Weekly, on the weekend, 6RD girls have been doing online quizzes using Zoom and Kahoot. This has been so vital, and has helped to bring joy into many people’s lives. This spirit is what will get us through this turbulent time; the sense of community.
As the number of cases have gradually begun to slow down, the Government has allowed schools to reopen partially by allowing Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 back. Many of our friends have said that it is great to be in school and that they feel that they are protected with all the safety precautions that the St. Helen's College staff have put in place.
Since then, most of the children have been back in school learning with great gusto. The children definitely showed their love for learning and the teachers are going above and beyond to help us settle in new conditions and have as much fun as possible. The safety of others has always been the priority.
Some of the fun topics in lessons have been maths mysteries, drawing for the Hammersmith Hospital in art, Year 5 preparing for 11+ exams at home, creating board games with Year 6 and the school has been using a new website called Century Tech. Century Tech creates a learning path for you to follow, thereby nourishing your knowledge. In English, Year 6 have been working on their WW2 scrapbooks and Year 1 have been making their very own stories in computing! And the list doesn’t end there…everyone has been enthusiastically listening and participating in the bi-weekly assemblies and class meets. Everyone has loved every minute of this roller coaster experience. It shows how strong and determined our fantastic community is. If we work together and follow the rules, then we can be successful in defeating this virus. Google Meets are a great way of keeping in touch with friends and family, but if we persevere we will meet each other in person in the end.
Certainly there is a light shining proudly at the end of the tunnel, and if we work together, we shall get there very soon!
Catherine L and Anish A
Posted on: 17/06/2020
Weekly News - Friday 12th June 2020La-La-La Lockdown
We hope you enjoy this video to lift all of our community's lockdown spirits! Thanks go to Miss Walker and her son for teaching everyone the dance, and to Mrs. Crehan for the soundtrack. Well done all those who took part!
We enjoyed some wonderful music in the Upper School assemblies from our Year 2 children this week; well done to Ruby and Hana for their beautiful flute playing. It is such a delight for us to continue to celebrate the musicality of children.
Mrs. Nash will also be looking for some new violinists from next year - do contact Mrs. Allery if you have a child at either Lower School or Upper School who may be interested in learning the violin from September. You can reach Mrs. Allery at email@example.com.
Mrs. Nash herself has been very committed to improving her own skills and is on Day 87 of 100 consecutive days of violin practice - she started this about a week before lockdown! She has also just started an online course with an amazing violinist in the US which lasts for 3 months. He sets daily practice assignments which take about an hour a day. Mrs. Nash is a true advocate of our current value of 'self-discipline'.
Funny Face Friday
Next Friday (19th June) we invite children to 'Funny Face Friday'. All children, whether attending school in person or taking part in remote learning, are encouraged to make their face a 'funny face'. Hats, wigs, glasses of any description, face paint, stick on jewellery....anything is welcome! We hope that this will be a real spirit-lifter for us all!
House Art Competition - Final Week For Entries
We would like to remind pupils to submit their entries for our House Art Competition. Pupils may be as creative as they like in producing their pieces of artwork: drawing, painting, sculpting, modelling, sticking/collaging: all these are welcome, and more! Art must be on the theme of a school value, and each piece of work must be accompanied by a note (NOT WRITTEN ON THE PIECE OF WORK ITSELF) which should give the child's name and class and clearly state the value depicted.
The list of values to choose from are:
The deadline for submitting entries (to your class teacher or pod supervisor) is Friday 19th June.
Thank you to Vandan V (Year 5), assisted by Sulaiman M, who shared this super quiz with his classmates this week. You might like to have a go too!
In our fast-paced society, it is important that young people know how reliable sources of news are constructed, learning how to identify bias and unreliable or misleading information in its different forms. Regularly reading a reputable newspaper will help pupils to access reliable news and to understand the concept of sources, the purpose of reports and the role of journalism in society. In school, we subscribe to First News, which pupils can read while here. We would like to remind you that you could take out a personal subscription to this excellent children's newspaper if you would like to do so. At the moment, there is a special offer so that you pay just £1 for your first three issues. More information is available at https://www.firstnews.co.uk/.
Book Token Competition
Our school needs you! Help us win £5,000 of National Book Tokens for the school library - and get £100 for yourself! Just enter the competition online, it only takes a minute: https://www.nationalbooktokens.com/schools
Pupils might like to get creative and enter the National Book Tokens competition to design a book token gift card. They could win £10 book tokens for all of their classmates if their design is chosen as the winner!
Posted on: 12/06/2020
Joyful JuneThis week I would like to talk about emotions. We are living through an uncertain and difficult time and, understandably, emotions are running high in many of us. At St. Helen’s College, we do not shy away from discussing our emotions, either amongst the staff or with the children. We believe it is important that we all recognise and accept our emotions, allowing ourselves to feel and then channelling our feelings into positive action.
Each month I circulate a calendar to all of the staff to display in the classrooms; this month’s calendar is ‘Joyful June’ and you can see a copy of it here. Every morning I look at the calendar and remember the motto from Action for Happiness - I read the advice for each day and I find that this makes me smile and realigns my thoughts. The Action for Happiness mantra for the moment is this: “The world is in crisis. Keep calm, stay wise & be kind”.
It is not always easy to follow this mantra. Over recent months, I have felt angry, upset and emotionally and physically drained. Should I feel bad for recognising this in myself? No - I do not feel bad for recognising these feelings. We are in a crisis and we are dealing with a situation which is so far removed from what any of us have ever experienced in our lives, it is only natural that we will feel unlike our usual selves. Nobody prepared us as human beings for so much uncertainty and so much change.
The anger I felt some months ago was real. Without getting on a political soapbox, I was enraged at the lack of clarity, communication and consideration given to schools at the beginning of lockdown, since it left us in a very difficult position without any clear guidance. As time has moved on and our situation has evolved, this anger has now dissipated; however, I used this emotion to motivate myself and our Senior Leadership Team to make a difference and to respond with initiative and resourcefulness to the situation we found ourselves in.
I have been upset that we are not able to look after all of our children in the way we would like to as educators, and I know that my colleagues have shared this disappointment and sadness. This has spurred us on to put into place the very best educational and pastoral provision for those children who are not able to be with us on our school site. Although my colleagues and I have at times felt these ‘negative’ emotions, they have been balanced by ‘positive’ feelings too. I am so proud of the resilience of our pupils and the incredible support from parents and staff. We can all take joy and a sense of satisfaction from knowing that we are doing our utmost to look after the needs of the children: not just their academic needs, but their personal wellbeing too.
I have felt emotionally wrung out as the impact of the past 15 weeks has taken its toll, and I know that this feeling has been shared at times by colleagues, parents and pupils as well as family members and friends. Back in February I attended the first webinar on how to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic; we had not been affected at that point but I listened to the experiences of an overseas school and way back then I did not think that, in June, we would still be in such a surreal situation. It is certainly a marathon rather than a sprint, and it is only natural that we will all feel worn out by the emotional roller coaster of hope, disappointment and grief we have been riding, as well as by the extraordinarily heavy workload that the pandemic has brought.
Since February, the Senior Leadership Team at St. Helen’s College has had to focus on planning and implementing strategies and protocols to allow children and adults to be as safe as possible whilst also maintaining a good level of educational provision and protecting our organisation’s future. We should have been moving forward with the objectives of our school strategic plan, developing our provision for the children at St. Helen’s College with exciting initiatives and developments. However, as for almost everyone, ‘normal’ life and business have been put on hold for us, and our - more frequent and lengthy - SLT meetings have had a different type of agenda. COVID-19 features as agenda item 1 and will, necessarily, continue to do so for the immediate future.
I have tried to follow the Action For Happiness mantra and I hope that I have remained calm, wise and kind. However, I have welcomed all the other emotions into my life, being fully aware of how important it is to acknowledge these emotions and respond to them in a mindful manner. In doing so, I am grateful for the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and other mindful practitioners whose books and research help me to improve my ‘practice’ and enable me to find a level of peace in a frantic world. I highly recommend this book or the app.
To all of our community - staff, parents and pupils - I say this: it is ok not to feel fine all the time! It is the ability to observe negativity without criticism which is key. We need to catch negative thought patterns before they take us on a deeper spiral. We need to develop greater self-compassion, observing unhappiness or stress but allowing the associated thoughts and feelings to come and go. I teach the children about ‘thought buses’ - they need to observe thoughts but should not allow themselves to jump onto one of the negative thought buses as it may not be such a pleasant journey. Many parents have approached me, keen to find out more about what we do at school in regard to mindfulness. I recommend that those of you who wish to find out more sign up for this course, which is for teachers and parents, or watch some of these videos.
For those of you who are finding this pandemic difficult, you are not alone. At times, we all struggle, and at times we all need support. There may be greater hurdles ahead as we begin to rebuild some sense of ‘normality’, with the world beginning to open up once more to trading, tourism and hospitality. We need to allow all of our thoughts and emotions a place, but also keep ourselves optimistic about the future. There have been so many positives for us to celebrate as a school, as we have seen children, parents and staff respond to this crisis so magnificently - and when some among us have found it difficult, the school community has worked together and provided the strong pastoral support needed. I am sure we will continue to find more positives as the summer months unfold.
It has been a joy over the last two weeks to see the children from Ducklings, Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 back in school, along with the children of our key workers. As they arrive, they are lining up in the new ‘normal’ manner to enter school, the majority of them not even giving a backwards glance as they skip into school after sanitising their hands. I only wish we could bottle up their enthusiasm and happiness to send to you all - it would be a very lucrative ‘happy’ business!
What lies ahead next for schools is still unknown, but what I do know is that our planning has always had, and will continue to have, the wellbeing of the children at its core. As our country’s leaders advise us further, we will continue to respond with integrity and care, planning for the best outcome for our children and our school.
I feel nourished writing this blog and even more joyful as we end our second week of June - today’s note in the Action for Happiness calendar is 'Make a plan with friends to do something fun together!’ I have not seen any of my friends from outside our St. Helen’s College community since February half term. Like many of you, I have not seen my family for much longer. My mother (in her 80s) is alone in Scotland; my Easter trip there was cancelled and, as she does not use technology, weekly phone calls are her lifeline. Thankfully I have a cousin who shops for her and checks in on her. I shall, of course, plan to do something fun with my friends and family when I can - we all need to plan for the future ahead and be proud of what we have all achieved in this crisis together.
So, I have felt anger, frustration, disappointment, joy, pride and hope...but my overriding emotion today is gratitude. I am grateful for our community and the strength we are demonstrating together. I am grateful for the determination and support shown by parents, the resilience, adaptability and happiness shown by pupils, and the perseverance, love and sheer stamina shown by staff. You are all superstars!
Have a wonderful weekend.
Posted on: 5/06/2020
Weekly News - Friday 5th June 2020Singing Competition
What a wonderful afternoon we had today, hearing the children's entries for the final of our Singing Competition. The standard was, as always, astonishingly high and the children showed a high level of confidence, technical ability and performance skills. Mrs. Crehan had the very difficult job of judging this year and our gratitude goes to her for her adaptability in taking part in an online competition this time! The results were as follows.
Year 3 Winner - Advik
Runners up - Minaya and Xavier
Overall Middle School Winner - Advik
Year 4 Winner - Shruthi
Runners up - Anjika and Charlotte
Year 5 Joint Winners - Jessica and Maya
Runner up - Riya
Year 6 Winner - Jasmine
Runners up - Aarna and Laura
Overall Upper School Winner - Jasmine
Very many congratulations to all those involved and to our winners!
Hillingdon Road Safety Dream Bike Competition
Out of 470 entries, Arjun C (2B) has just been awarded second place for the Hillingdon Road Safety Dream Bike competition which we shared on this news blog recently. Arjun really took a keen interest and took his time to think about his dream bike and was very proud of his design. Using alliteration, he named his design the 'Weird and Wacky Bike'. Very, very well done, Arjun!
School This Week
We thought that you would all like to see some photographs of life around school this week, to give you a flavour of what it has been like getting ready for re-opening and being here with part of the community back with us. You can see these on the Galleries page. See if you can spot anyone you know!
Many thanks to Mr. McGee who has created outdoor cleaning stations for our Ducklings children so that they can continue to wash their hands thoroughly and regularly when playing outdoors!
Well done to Anjika G (4T) who wrote a fantastic Scratch program this week with a bilingual, colour-changing hexagon! You can try out her program here.
New Additions to the SHC Family
Many congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. McLaughlin, who welcomed their first baby, son Remi, this week! Remi weighed 6 lbs and 13 oz and the family are all back at home and enjoying their time together. We are sure that you would all like to join with us in wishing them well.
We are also delighted to announce the birth of Maeve, daughter to Miss Hill and granddaughter to Mrs. Hill!
Maeve was born on 24th May, weighing 6lb and 2oz. Miss Hill and Maeve's dad George have been having a wonderful time together as a new family and send all their love to the St. Helen's College community and especially to the Ducklings children - Miss Hill is enjoying her maternity leave but is missing you all very much.
House Art Competition
This year we will be holding our inaugural House Art Competition. Pupils may be as creative as they like in producing their pieces of artwork: drawing, painting, sculpting, modelling, sticking/collaging: all these are welcome, and more! Art must be on the theme of a school value, and each piece of work must be accompanied by a note (NOT WRITTEN ON THE PIECE OF WORK ITSELF) which should give your child's name, class and clearly state the value depicted.
The list of values to choose from are:
The deadline for submitting entries (to your class teacher or pod supervisor) is Friday 19th June.
World Environment Day
Whilst many pupils and teachers continue to work remotely, Freshwater Theatre Company wanted to find a way to celebrate World Environment Day with you online. We bring you a timely message from our Earth Explorer about the actions we can take to protect our environment for future generations: https://youtu.be/jLow_8SdNPg
Please do share this link with your colleagues, pupils and their parents, as well as your family and friends. The World Environment Day website [https://www.worldenvironmentday.global] has lots of information including a practical guide with more resources.
Lockdown Survival Guide
Although this guide is branded as a 'teen guide' for surviving lockdown, there is a lot in it which we feel would be useful to our current pupils - as well as to some of the Old Helenians out there who might be approaching, or in, their teenage years and might need some extra support through this difficult time. We hope that you will find it useful - you can access it here.
Rainbow Room Thanks
Our Year 6 pupils were delighted this week to receive letters of thanks from the team at Imperial College Healthcare Trust, acknowledging the colourful and creative pictures they produced and sent in to decorate the Rainbow Room at Hammersmith Hospital.
Posted on: 5/06/2020
Home Learning - A Parent's PerspectiveWhile many pupils returned to school this week, much of our pupil community continues to be educated via our remote learning platform, supported by their parents.
As all parents will know from the parent surveys you have completed, we have sought feedback formally from parents as we have established and developed our comprehensive remote educational provision. As we have gone along, we have also surveyed pupils and staff, to ensure that we have developed, and continually improved, a system that works for all of those involved. We believe that we have got an effective, user-friendly system in place and we know from recent parent feedback that parents are very happy with all that we have done, and very appreciative of the extra steps St. Helen's College has taken, which have really set our offering apart from that of other schools. Parents appreciate that things have not been easy for any of us but that, under unforeseen and difficult circumstances, the school has worked hard to offer something very valuable and to ease the burden on parents as far as possible.
This week, we have a blog from a parent, Mrs. Jamani, about her experiences of home learning with her daughter, who is in Year 5. Of course, the challenges have been different for those of you with younger children, but I thought you would all be interested to hear about learning in lockdown from a parent's perspective.
What you have all been doing, as parents, to support your children's learning during these tricky times is incredible. We know that you also have full time jobs, elderly relatives to care for, and the relentless 'busyness' that comes with daily family life. The school is very grateful to you all for your input with your children and for your continued support of the school and of each other. You should feel very, very proud of yourselves!
Home Learning - A Parent's Perspective
Like many parents I dreaded the thought of ‘home schooling’. For me, having a full time job that didn’t seem to slow down during lockdown, I wasn’t sure how this would work for us all. How would we all cope? Did we have enough supplies? Could I help with those interesting maths questions?
Looking back on those fears/questions now, I realise that I really had nothing to worry about.
Reviewing the past few weeks since term began after the Easter break, what has struck me as having really made a difference to us is how St. Helen's College has been able to adapt so quickly and the amount of resources we have in comparison to other schools. This has put a tremendous amount of structure back into my daughter's day. Having actual lessons within a structured timetable and live teacher interaction too has meant that my involvement hasn’t been at the levels I feared when first faced with the prospect of ‘home schooling’. I am so grateful for this, as I have no idea how I would have coped otherwise.
I now get to enjoy listening to my daughter’s class calls and the conversations and interactions she has with her classmates in her new study room and can see how much they are learning outside of the classroom setting! Remote learning has also given me a great insight into what her days may have been like when she was actually going into school, which I would never otherwise really have had a chance to experience.
My daughter also has positive things to say. She says that “remote learning has been really positive. If we need something the teachers are always at hand via Google Classroom or they might keep the Meet open so that we can go in and the teachers can help to explain things further. Also, when we mark our work we can go into the Meet and if we get a question wrong our teachers can help straight away. The added bonus is that we get help from our peers too. Our peers might be marking or have already marked the work so they can help by explaining it to us via Google Classroom or we can set up a Zoom call so people on the same thing can communicate/discuss and collaborate.”
Both my children have shown great resilience. They have embraced this new way of learning and living and actually all of us have seen the positives in what we do every day. Learning new things to cook, relaxing more, growing together, playing games, getting on with the ‘to do’ list and actually winning! Having a robust remote learning plan that has been executed well has meant that I, as a parent, have managed to juggle work and parental duties without the added pressure of being a teacher too! It has meant I can stress less and concentrate on making this time we have together as memorable as possible.
So a big thank you must go to all the staff at St. Helen's College for all their hard work, time, support and patience.
Posted on: 22/05/2020
Weekly News - Friday 22nd May 2020Speech Competition
Today we held our first ever online speech competition finals. Congratulations to all of our finalists; they left us all thoroughly entertained in the junior and senior competitions, performing their poems and speeches with confidence and conviction. Here is a list of all the winners and highly commended entries.
Highly Commended: Samuel 1HC, Evie 1C, Sienna 2H
Year 1 Winner: Aaryav
Year 2 Winner: Hana
Year 3 WInner: Oliver
Junior Champion: Oliver (3M)
Highly Commended: Vidhit 5G, Harrison 6RD
Year 4 Winner: Diyan
Year 5 Winner: Samir
Year 6 Winner: Catherine
Senior Champion: Catherine 6RD
A huge thank you also to our judge and school governor, Miss Beckett, who gave her time throughout the week to watch the entries and provide excellent feedback to the children. To all those who did not make the final this year: well done for taking part in the competition. Keep practising and next year it could be you!
Big Dreamers Writing Competition
Throughout the week, children across the school have been writing short stories for a national competition run by National Book Tokens and Puffin. There is a 300-word limit and the theme is 'dreams.' There are many fantastic prizes to be won, including £200 in book vouchers. If your child has not yet participated, you may wish to help them complete a story and submit their entry over the half-term holidays as a fun creative writing activity. Full details can be found here.
Singing Competition Finals - Middle School and Upper School
Thank you for the many video entries we received for our online singing competition. Although it was a very difficult decision as usual, the following students have been selected for the finals.
The finals will take place during the afternoon of Friday 5th June. Further information will follow shortly. Students do not need to resubmit videos, unless they are asked to, and they will not need to sing live. Please note that the submitted video entries will be shown to all spectators during the afternoon of 5th June. Our judge for the final round of the competition, Mrs. Crehan, will choose her winners.
We wish all of the finalists the very best of luck!
Today was Mrs. McLaughlin's last day with us for the time being and we all wish her well as she begins her maternity leave and she and Mr. McLaughlin await the arrival of their first child! It was so lovely to hear the children of 3M give her a send off this morning just before the Junior Speech Competition. The children had created a beautiful video montage, Yousra read a lovely poem about 'Why God Created Teachers' and Eshanvi read an acrostic poem that she had written herself. After school today, staff joined together in a virtual baby shower to celebrate, and we enjoyed taking part in games and quizzes. We thought you might enjoy this quiz - see if you can guess the staff member from their baby photos! We will share the answers after half term.
Well done to Grace O'H (Y2), who has been baking for the team of managers and call handlers who staff the COVID-19 hub at the Civic Centre, to lift their spirits. Grace has baked gluten free cakes and birthday cakes and even used a genuine WWII recipe to bake a cake for VE Day!
Grace and her family have also been making cloth face masks and homemade filters to slip in the back. As an act of kindness, they have sent these off to vulnerable people around the country and have provided masks to people working in the private sector front line who may have to use public transport to get to work.
Esha T (Y6) celebrated her birthday this week and her family had the super idea of giving the day a French theme, to make up for Esha not being able to go on the Year 6 trip to France this year because of the pandemic. We hope that Esha enjoyed her day - Bon Anniversaire, Esha!
Phased Re-opening and Packed Lunches
Parents of children returning to school in Phase 1 of our reopening are reminded that absolutely NO NUT PRODUCTS may be sent into school in snacks or packed lunches. Please do be vigilant. There are currently children at school with severe/multiple allergies and some products, such as cereal bars, may contain nuts less obviously.
In the hot weather, it will be a good idea to send an ice pack in the packed lunch bag.
Class teachers will be sending out year group specific information ahead of the return to outline daily procedures, which we hope will answer any questions you may have.
Keeping Well At Home
Until 1st June, most of the country are still being asked to stay at home. We are aware that some of you will have to continue staying at home past this date, too, especially if you live with a clinically vulnerable person. This advice about keeping well at home might be useful....let's all keep looking after ourselves!
National Thank A Teacher Day
The staff have been very touched this week at the numerous messages received for Thank A Teacher Day. Some children even made videos. It is really very nice to be appreciated, so huge thanks to everyone who took the time to send messages, photos and videos.