School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 1/05/2020
Weekly News - Friday 1st May 2020Ready Steady Read Initiative Helps Raise Over £5000 for St. Helen's College Readers!
Last half term the school took part in a sponsored reading challenge called Ready Steady Read to boost our World Book Day celebrations. The response from the St. Helen's College community was quite astonishing and proved, yet again, just how much our pupils love to read! Altogether, we raised a phenomenal £2,393, a truly excellent effort. One of our parents, Ms Iqbal, supported the event through her role at Usborne publishers and we are very grateful that she has also offered us a generous boost of 60% extra on our order for the next academic year. Together with a large school contribution, this gives us over £5,000 to make for a truly exciting book order, ready for the 2020-21 school year. Every penny will go towards improving our class readers and boosting our school libraries to ensure that we have the very best reading materials available to each child. We are sure that the children will all be very excited about the new books coming their way!
We would like to give a special mention to Rhys M, Maicen M, Arya A and Liberty Y for their splendid fundraising efforts. Our heartfelt thanks go to every single pupil who took part, and to the families and friends who were so generous with their sponsorship. You have all helped to strengthen even further the reading programme at our school, an area that is so vital to all learning across the curriculum.
Helping In The Community
Manisher L (5G) decided to work on a project over the Easter holidays to help those in her road who might be vulnerable, elderly or isolated. You can see what she did by watching her video below.
Shakira (4T) is busy making pop up cards for homeless and elderly people, just to let them know they aren’t alone. Here is one of her cards - they look sure to brighten someone's day.
Anjika (4T) turned 9 this week and decided to do something different for her birthday, so she created a video to raise money for Hillingdon Foodbank and has raised almost £300 so far!
Many of our staff and parents are NHS responder volunteers and have been responding to calls in their local communities, delivering supplies, helping with the transport of medical equipment, or simply making supportive telephone calls to those who are alone and vulnerable.
Red Cross Kindness and Resilience Activities
If you are looking for inspiration for ways in which your child can develop their kindness and resilience during the lockdown, you might be interested in the activities posted by the Red Cross on their website. Parents/pupils can sign up for email updates too.
All of the free, online activities will be linked to the Red Cross Kindness Calendar and will:
encourage simple acts of kindness
connect family and community
provide creative and quick ideas for learners
cover topics including first aid, preparedness, wellbeing and empathy.
Action for Happiness
You might also like the Action for Happiness calendar for Meaningful May, which you could print and display at home, or check online each day. This gives a simple prompt for each day to help us all to lead happier lives. We display these calendars in the staff rooms at school to help our staff to choose happiness and we thought that parents and children might enjoy them too!
It has been wonderful to see the array of work which is going on around our 'remote' school this week. The children have been very creative in their approach to tasks and sport and fitness is definitely highly featured! We have seen some super Sports Day preparation going on in gardens, with excellent standing long jumps being achieved! You can see the Ogretici family practising their standing long jump here:
Well done to Jasmine B and Alex S (Y6) for their incredible 'shake table' constructions. We enjoyed sharing their experiments through the videos they submitted. You can see these here:
Feel Good Fridays
Our first 'Feel Good Friday' today saw pupils dress in their House colours and submit entries for our competition, getting creative in designing or creating something to show what their house means to them. You can see some entries on our Galleries page.
Next week, Friday is a bank holiday and there will be no online teaching/learning that day and no key worker supervision in school. On this day, Britain will be commemorating the 75th anniversary of VE Day, when the guns fell silent at the end of the war in Europe. As a school community, we will mark this momentous day on Tuesday 5th May. This will be introduced on Monday in assembly and pupils will take part in VE activities on Tuesday morning. On Tuesday, pupils may wish to wear something in a VE Day style (clothes from the era) or to dress in red, white and blue. It is not quite the day we had planned to have if we were in school, but please do encourage your children to share some of their learning with you. You may also wish to create your own VE Day bunting to hang in your windows - please see:
Please do share any photos with us if you have a special 'garden party lunch' or other celebration at home to mark this momentous day.
Sadly the commemorative concert at The Barbican, in which our Chamber Choir were due to take part, has been cancelled. We hope that when we return to school we can record some of the songs which the children were learning for the event and share them with you all.
Hello Video - Lower School
The staff of Lower School have shared a video of themselves saying 'hello' to the children from lockdown in our own way. This is available on the Learning Portal. The Upper School staff will be publishing a video soon too, so do look out for that. We miss the children so much and can't wait until we are all back together!
We are delighted that Mrs. Jane Smith will be joining our team of Peripatetic music teachers as our new flute teacher from September. Mrs. Smith has taught pupils from various schools over her teaching career, including at Wycombe Abbey and Dr. Challoners. Please contact Mrs. Allery if you are interested in your child starting flute lessons in September as there are some spaces available due to our Year 6 pupils leaving. Mrs. Allery can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Parent Practice
For those of you who have found Elaine Hannigan’s practical advice useful, please see the latest podcast, episode 23, on ‘screen time sanity in lockdown’, where she interviews Victoria Markhou, mother of two and a parenting coach.
The Global Classroom
On Tuesday 5th May at 4.30 p.m., The Global Classroom are holding a real-time interactive event that aims to help children understand what COVID-19 is and gain a better understanding of what they can do to keep themselves safe and healthy. The live online broadcast will promote safe hand hygiene to all children taking part. It is in partnership with WHO, UNICEF, Scarisbrick Hall and is supported by the Independent Schools Association via Microsoft Teams. All schools are invited to take part - find out more. We hope that you will encourage your children to join in.
John Lewis/Waitrose Competition: Design A Super Hero Bear
John Lewis/Waitrose are running a competition for children to design a superhero-themed bear to grace their shelves this Christmas. All proceeds will go to the NHS in support of all their incredible work.
To enter children should simply draw, sketch and design their SuperBear using the template which is available to download here: https://jland.partners/FeelGoodFriday. Children may be as creative as they like! When designs are complete, pupils or parents should share them by email to email@example.com by 5pm on Friday 8th May 2020.
Full details are available here: https://jland.partners/FeelGoodFriday
Thank a Teacher Day - 20th May
Our teachers are working incredibly hard at home and it would be wonderful if any of the children would like to thank their teachers personally. National 'Thank a Teacher Day' is approaching and the children can arrange for a card to be sent to school for their teachers with a personal greeting. Please share this with your children if they would like to get involved in thanking their teachers!
Posted on: 1/05/2020
The Power Of KindnessIn the Upper School live assembly this week we heard from a Year 6 pupil, Krisha, and her sister, Arshia, who participated in Mindfulness training over the Easter Holiday. Krisha spoke to the children about how the way we think can affect what we do and how we behave. She encouraged the children not to let their thoughts become feelings too easily.
How wise and pertinent these words from an 11 year old pupil to her peers are at this most difficult time for us all when we find ourselves spending many more hours at home than ever before. Often we may find ourselves overthinking our feelings and worries and this in turn may lead us to behave in a thoughtless manner. ‘Mindless’ is the term that I like to use with the children to describe this sort of behaviour. We need to ‘respond’ to our feelings and thoughts in a mindful manner rather than ‘react’ in a mindless way.
Last week's blog focussed on adaptability and I am hugely proud of how our community are adapting. As the weeks of remote learning continue, our children’s and our own resilience will no doubt be challenged. Resilience means learning how to cope with uncertainty, how to make the most of the resources and connections you have around you, and how to adapt to changing situations.
Kindness is a big part of resilience: without kindness and support, dealing with difficult situations becomes much harder. Building resilience is also about being kind to yourself, so that challenges become easier in the future. Resilience and kindness build a stronger you and a stronger community.
The British Red Cross have embraced ‘Kindness' on their website and there is an array of resources available there to help children and families to be more resilient. There are also suggestions for ways in which we can celebrate ‘The Power of Kindness’. The children from Lower School and Upper School are being encouraged to record their kind acts in a small booklet which you can download from the Red Cross website, and you may also wish to download the ‘Power of Kindness’ calendar. Please take a look at the website here.
On the news each day we hear of amazing acts of humanity and kindness which people are carrying out through this coronavirus pandemic, and each day I hear stories of pupils, staff and parents which underline that, as a community, we also are playing our part. You will see in the news this week that Manisher L (Year 5) has been working to build a local community of support in her street, while Shakira V (Year 4) is making cards to cheer up vulnerable or elderly community members. Many of our staff and parents are NHS volunteers, using the NHS Responder app to answer calls and help meet the needs of the sick and vulnerable in their communities. We are taking care of each other, too. The lovely ‘Hello’ videos, compiled by Ms Thomas for Lower School and Mrs. Reid for Upper School, are one of the many ways in which we are working constantly to stay connected and to lift each other’s spirits in these tricky times. These acts of kindness are all helping to build resilience and give us all the tools to adapt to our challenges and respond mindfully to our feelings.
Please do continue to keep in touch and let us know about your acts of kindness. I am so proud to hear of every one, and so grateful to be a part of such a kind, caring, resilient, mindful and - despite all odds - happy community.
Posted on: 24/04/2020
Weekly News - Friday 24th April 2020Staff News
We are sad to announce that Mrs. Rance will be leaving us at the end of the summer term. As many of you know, Mrs. Rance is expecting her second baby and she and her husband are now planning a move further away from the school, as her husband embarks upon a new job. She has therefore taken the decision not to return following her maternity leave this summer. Mrs. Rance has been with the school for 8 years and her dedication and enthusiasm have made her very popular with children, parents and colleagues. She will be greatly missed and we know that you will join us in wishing her well as she embarks on her new adventures.
Mrs. Stubbs has been with us for 3 years and has always enthused the children as a flute teacher and one of the Lower School music teachers. She has decided now to focus on family and reduce the number of peripatetic students she teaches. Mrs. Stubbs has been a super colleague and wonderful teacher and we will miss her very much. We wish her all the best for the next phase of her life.
Following rigorous recruitment procedures, we are delighted to announce some new appointments. The following new members of staff will be joining us from September.
Ms. Kyra Linton will be joining us as a Year 4 form teacher and Head of Maths. Ms. Linton, herself educated in the independent sector, is passionate about the benefits of a private education, and so, following her degree, she decided to undertake a PGCE to join the teaching profession and inspire a new generation of pupils. She is currently at the Van Gogh Primary School and will bring with her a great deal of independent school experience both as a pupil and a teacher, as well as great enthusiasm and excellent pastoral care.
Mr. Steve Roche will be joining our staff as Head of English. Mr. Roche is currently working at St. Margaret's Independent School in Bushey. Along with his considerable expertise and experience in teaching English in the independent sector, he brings a passion for mindfulness and is looking forward very much to contributing to the ethos of the school.
Mrs. Claire Fawbert will, from September, replace Mrs. Allery as Director of Music. Mrs. Fawbert is currently working at Slough Music Service as their Music Centre Co-ordinator, teaching in a wide range of primary and secondary schools in Slough and organising events for the Music Service. She is also a professional trumpet player and has already met some of our pupils.She will bring her enthusiasm and passion for music to the school and is already known to many of our peripatetic teachers in the musical world.
Mrs. Nadine Pruce will become our new Head of Art, replacing Miss Dear; Mrs. Pruce has been teaching art at the Royal Masonic School for Girls for the past 8 years and was in the midst of arranging a national exhibition for preparatory schools before the pandemic, at which many of our pupils' work would have been exhibited. Mrs. Pruce is looking forward to working with us and continuing to develop the passion and expertise that our pupils have in the subject. Alongside teaching art, Mrs. Pruce will be supporting the Teaching and Learning in her other role as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant.
Mrs. Victoria Briggs will join us in September as a Year 3 teacher, covering Mrs. McLaughlin's maternity leave. Mrs. Briggs and her husband are a military family who will be relocating from Suffolk over the summer. Mrs. Briggs has taught in many top independent schools around the world as she has travelled with her husband and will bring a wealth of teaching experience to the Year 3 classroom.
Home Learning - Parent Resources
Elaine Halligan, one of the Parent Practice founders, has invited parents of St. Helen's College to receive a free download of her '30 day to learn Parenting Cards'. These cards are superb for parents of children of any age and may be welcome at this testing time. You can access the cards at https://www.theparentpractice.com/signup.
The Parent Practice podcasts are also packed full of tips and great interviews which may prove useful for you as you support your children in their remote learning. You an access these here: https://www.theparentpractice.com/podcast/.
Feel Good Fridays
As we move into our new term with the school sites closed, we will be launching 'Feel Good Friday' with a different theme each week, to help keep children feeling connected to our school community and to boost their spirits!
Next Friday (1st May) will be our 'House Day' and we invite all the children to wear their Cambria or Windsor house colours for their day of remote learning. We also encourage pupils to create/design/make anything which represents their house. Ideas might include writing a poem, building a model, designing a coat of arms or other emblem, writing a house rap or song....pupils may be as creative as they like!
Entries should be photographed, recorded, scanned and emailed to Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Drummond. Entries will be shared on our website gallery and there may even be prizes!
Remote Learning and Easter Holiday News
St. Helen's College children have been busy creating their own rainbows to add the the 'Rainbow Trail', displayed in the windows of houses all over the country. You can see some of their creations on our Galleries page here.
There has also already been some fantastic online learning going on. Ollie T (4T) made and shared a super science video to explain the conclusion for his experiment, which you can see on the school Youtube channel here:
Xavier B (3M) has been creating the most amazing marble runs at home to test how fast and far marbles will run! In his second attempt, he even runs marbles down from his bedroom window on the outside of the house!
Pavitar (5G) and his father played on the Dhol on their street to show their family support to the NHS and all the key workers. Bravo!
During the Easter break in one of the Friday messages Mrs Drummond challenged the children to create something from a simple piece of wire. Some of the children's creations can be seen on the Galleries page.
Since returning to school on Wednesday, Year 2 have done some amazing talks on Google Meet. The pupils worked on them over the Easter holidays and have spent the last two days sharing them with the class. Topics have included swimming, family, skiing, Scotland, cats, foxes, staying healthy, cars and many more. Some children even presented their screens! Well done, Year 2.
If you have not yet been watching Mrs. Hunt and Mrs. Drummond videos and messages, please do take a look - there is a link on the home page of the Learning Portal. These have been posted throughout the Easter holidays. There is a mixture of stories, songs, messages and short clips to lift the spirits! You might like to take a look at this 12 second clip of Mrs. Drummond, Mr. Smith, Miss Baldwin, Roshni and Ajit dancing at Lower School over the holidays for a start!
We would like to encourage our pupils to keep up to date with current affairs while they are learning from home. The school has a subscription to First News, the excellent newspaper for primary school children, and many pupils usually read this when they are visiting the library at school. For now, First News are publishing digitally and making their content available for free download. Please do encourage your child to subscribe digitally and to read First News each time it is published. Further information on how to do so is available here.
We are thrilled to announce the results of the ABRSM examinations taken at the end of last term:
6M Keaton P Grade 1 Distinction
6M Dhiya K Grade 4 Merit
6RD Esha T Grade 2 Merit
6RD Laura B Grade 3 Distinction
4T Shruthi T Grade 3 Distinction
6M Jasmine B Grade 5 Merit
4KT Chrissy S Grade 1 Merit
4T Ria M Grade 1 Merit
6RD Catherine L Grade 6 Pass
2B Senna G prep pass
3M Xavier B prep pass
5A Jessica L Grade 1 Distinction
5G Vidhit N Grade 2 Pass
2B Emily S Initial Grade Distinction
1C Aanya C Initial Grade Distinction
4KT Layla O Grade 1 Merit
6M Ibraheem F Grade 3 Pass
6RD Kaixin F Grade 1 Merit
5A Aaran P Grade 1 Pass
4KT Luka K Grade 1 Pass
3B Dominic M Grade 1 Pass
This is a fantastic set of results and we are very proud of all of the pupils involved, who worked so hard last term to practise and prepare for their music examinations alongside their other daily work and activities.
For the time being, individual instrumental and vocal lessons are being delivered remotely. Timetables for the summer term have been posted to the website and are available here.
From September, due to Year 6 pupils leaving and creating some vacancies, we will have spaces for children to learn flute. Some of our talented flautists will be playing in Friday assemblies over the next few weeks so do encourage your children to watch - hopefully they will be inspired to want to learn the flute themselves! Spaces are allocated on a first come, first served basis and you should email Mrs. Allery directly if your child would like to learn the flute: firstname.lastname@example.org
The London Borough of Hillingdon STARS Team are running a 'Design your Dream Bike' competition, which closes on Thursday 30th April, and we would like to encourage children to make an entry.
Children should draw what their dream bicycle would look like. It doesn’t have to be a conventional two-wheel bicycle - the bike can be as wacky and inventive as they want. The more creative the better! Think wings and rockets and you are on the right track! Children are encouraged to use their imagination and whatever medium they have to hand. Paints, pencils, crayons and pens are all totally acceptable!
Once the top 3 winning designs from each key stage have been selected, they will be sent to a graphic designer to be turned into a piece of art - digitising the design and adding colour and backgrounds to the print, which will then be mounted and framed for your child to keep.
Prize breakdown (for each KS1, KS2, KS3, KS4):
1st Place will receive a £50 Amazon Voucher and an A3 framed print of their bike
2nd Place will receive a £30 Amazon Voucher and an A4 framed print of their bike
3rd Place will receive a £15 Amazon Voucher and an A5 framed print of their bike
In addition, work will be exhibited at a local library, subject to changes to the current lockdown conditions.
Here is a template that could be printed out and used by your child; however, if you don't have access to a printer then please feel free to use any piece of paper and art supplies you have! When your child's design is complete, please e-mail a photo of the design including the child's name, school and year group to email@example.com. Entries must be received by Thursday 30th April 2020. The STARS team will then contact the winners by email.
Good luck, everyone!
Posted on: 24/04/2020
AdaptabilityA quick internet search for ‘adaptability’ and ‘employers’ brings up article after article from the broadsheet press, from employment agencies and recruitment websites, and from the websites of top companies, citing adaptability as the key quality that today’s employers are looking for in new hires, including new graduates. Many high level employers have actually devised ways to test for adaptability as part of their recruitment processes.
Adaptability is defined as ‘the quality of being able to adjust to new conditions; an ability or willingness to change in order to suit different conditions’. The specific adaptability that employers are looking for has, perhaps, a slightly wider definition: they might add the words ‘effectively’, ‘successfully’, ‘quickly’, ‘independently’ or ‘good naturedly’ to this definition. Certainly, a key ingredient for success in the adult world into which our current pupils will enter is likely to be the ability to adapt oneself to an ever-changing and sometimes totally unprecedented environment… like the one in which we all find ourselves now!
This might sound a big ask, but it is surely going to be second nature to St. Helen’s College children and, perhaps more widely, to the younger generation in general. When, on March 20th, schools were ordered into lockdown by the government, our pupils had to come to terms, almost overnight, with the idea that they would, for the foreseeable future, be unable to see their friends, teachers and other support staff in person. They had to adapt, with speed and good humour, to learning and communicating online, to working more independently and to finding their place in a household that most likely suddenly became more full of people than ever before. They had to understand, very quickly, that it was their own responsibility to develop and feed their enquiring mind and they had to do all of this while attempting to understand the wider local, national and international implications of the threat of the pandemic in which we find ourselves.
Wow! That is a lot to expect of adults, but for children it feels impossible. However, as Audrey Hepburn said, there is no such thing as ‘impossible’ – the word itself is ‘I’m Possible’. What our children have certainly discovered over the last few weeks is that they themselves are the key to their success. HOW they approach their learning, their relationships and their health is key. The success criteria in a new situation, even an unprecedented one, are the same as in any situation: being willing to listen, learn and think creatively; being able to try, fail and learn from failures; being ready to reflect, be still and find the voice within. Our values are what allow us to do these things effectively in new situations. If we have a strong personal core – if we know who we are and what we believe in – if perseverance, honesty, determination, kindness and the pursuit of excellence are embedded in our very being – then surely we are well-placed for success no matter what the outside world might throw at us. Moreover, if we have our own interests and a willingness to try new things and keep ourselves busy, active and learning in new situations, then our mental and physical health are likely to be maintained even in restrictive circumstances.
This is why the St. Helen’s College aims, and our values-based education system, are given such a high priority at the school, and are referred back to in everything that we do. No matter what the ‘crisis’, no matter what the new demands, no matter what our physical restrictions, we continue to aim for excellence and to nourish a love of learning, to encourage children to discover their own talents and interests by taking part in a wide range of activities, and to instil core Christian values so that children develop integrity, self-awareness and resilience. It has been a joy to hear how our pupils are embodying these aims in lockdown, from keeping busy writing songs, creating art, building marble runs, taking up new sports and hobbies to adapting and persevering in using online systems that might be new to them. We are sure that, having had the opportunity to practise adaptability and reflect upon it in such a major way, they will be high on the list of desirable candidates for any future employer!
There is not time now to discuss the amazing adaptability shown by parents and school staff in the current situation…perhaps that will be for another blog…but please rest assured that we know how very adaptable parents are having to be, and that we are amazingly proud of the flexibility, commitment and great integrity that our whole community is showing during this strange time.
We look forward to practising our adaptability again when we are able to adjust back to some sort of normality – hopefully sooner rather than later!
Posted on: 3/04/2020
#AdventureI have joined a group of fellow educators this week to participate in a daily writing challenge. Today’s 500 word challenge struck a chord with me, following my conversations last night as I joined my community for the second week to clap for our NHS workers and other carers.
The word we were encouraged to blog about today is ‘Adventure’.
An adventure is often defined as exciting, involving an element of risk and unknown outcomes. When we hear the word, we think of adventure stories and films, in which the heroes and other characters undergo challenges, often making a journey of self-discovery as they do so and, almost always, working through difficulties and risky situations to positive endings.
I do not think that any of us could have anticipated what our NHS workers are currently up against, and we certainly would not glibly define their vocation as an adventure during this COVID-19 crisis. But there are similarities: every day these workers are most certainly at risk, their daily outcomes are most certainly unknown and they are embracing their roles with courage, stoicism and grace.
Yesterday, the Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nursing, Dame Donna Kinnair, spoke out on behalf of thousands of nurses who felt that NHS staff were being let down and put at great risk by the lack of personal protective equipment for nursing staff, including those in hospitals, GP surgeries, care homes and hospices, as well as community nurses visiting people in their homes. In a letter to the Health and Safety Executive, she called the situation ‘unconscionable’ and called upon the HSE to intervene.
My sister has been in despair for weeks; she is a District Nurse Team Leader and a National Clinical Lead for Nursing and has been deeply concerned about how ill-equipped her district nurses have been on a daily basis. She has been handing out insubstantial face masks to her team - one mask per nurse per day - and felt this was an insult to their professionalism as they continued to put their own safety and wellbeing at risk for the greater good. We now hear that, at last, teams of NHS workers will become protected and will be able to fulfil their roles without the fear of becoming infected themselves or infecting a vulnerable person. NHS worker testing is another dilemma which we hope to see resolved soon.
Late last night I checked in on another friend, who is currently working 12 hour shifts at a London hospital as an Intensive Care Unit nurse. Her world, and that of all of her colleagues, has been turned on its head. She is drained, exhausted and anxious, but is coping with her anxiety admirably and has documented her experiences in a blog - her way of dealing with the reality of the situation.
Schools, including St. Helen’s College, are doing their bit by remaining open over the Easter holiday to look after the children of key workers. We are grateful to be able to help our key worker parents in this way, who are crucial to supporting this crisis and we thank all of our parents for playing your part, in critical key worker roles, as NHS and other volunteers, as supportive members of your local and wider community and, by no means least, in supporting your children and wider family during these challenging times.
The young children we have in school at the moment may regard having the school to themselves as a bit of an ‘adventure’ too - there are very few of them with us, and the school must seem strange and empty to them without their friends around them. Luckily, our amazing staff see it as an adventure too and are helping to fill those children’s days with love and structure. Our children most likely cannot understand the enormity of the crisis that we find ourselves in as they live through it. I hope that, one day in the future, they will read blogs and listen to stories from parents and others who are on the front line at the moment.
We will get through this moment in our history, and perhaps one day we will be able to see it as one of the great ‘adventures’ of our lives, in the strictest of senses - not a fictional story but a very real time of the unknown; a time of the unthinkable, but a time during which we all found great courage and self-awareness, and during which we cemented our roles in our families, communities and society as a whole.
Thinking of you all; stay safe, stay connected, stay strong.
Posted on: 27/03/2020
Stay ConnectedThis is undoubtedly one of the hardest blogs I have ever attempted to write. Last night, as I joined with my neighbours and the entire nation to applaud the NHS, I was quite overwhelmed with emotion. This week has been like no other and I am sure you all feel the same.
As yet, I have not actually been at home during the day and I am so grateful to have a routine of some form to my day, albeit ‘school’ has not been normal. We have had a small number of children attending each day, whose parents are our incredible key workers, and I am in awe of their resilience and adaptability. Our young Ducklings through to our Year 6 children have been so resilient as they have adapted to new classrooms, new staff and a very quiet school, some of them not quite understanding where all their friends are. The staff in school have been just wonderful: support staff, TALAs and teachers all pulling together to make each day as happy and productive as possible for the children. You can see some photographs of the school this week on our Galleries page here. I have also been able to join in class Google meets, during which children, working remotely, have touched base with their form teachers, and I have joined in on a guided reading session on World War II, a recorder lesson, Chamber Choir, story time and many more outstanding distance learning sessions throughout the week.
Our teachers, working from home, have surpassed all expectations! Their enthusiasm and dedication this week has humbled me as they have supported each other, learning new skills and working tirelessly into the wee early hours to video lessons, upload resources, provide feedback and assess tasks the children have been working on.
Your children have been outstanding, and you as parents have been outstanding! I know for many of you who are also working from home this week you must feel as though you have been put through the wringer, trying to support your children’s learning as well as adapting to your new routines of working from home. The last thing we wish to do is to cause anxiety and stress for you all at home, so I would like to take this chance to say that the distance learning educational provision needs to be approached by each family as appropriate for you. This is only Week 1 of a journey which may be quite a long one and we need to treat it as a marathon rather than a sprint. I do think that your children are proving they are in good shape for this marathon, but we appreciate here at school that you must settle into a sustainable pace for the family.
Yesterday I participated in a live webinar along with 160 other Head teachers and Bursars and we spoke with the Headteacher/CEO from the Kellet British International School in Hong Kong whose school is now on Day 41 of distance learning. They have learnt many lessons along their journey and have worked with their community of pupils, parents and staff to ensure that everyone is being looked after in such uncertain times. I felt quite gratified and proud of our St. Helen’s College community as we are only into Day 5 of our distance learning experience and already have so much in place which they did not have at the outset.
Wellbeing for everyone is paramount at the moment and it is so important, for children and adults alike, that we allow ourselves to acknowledge how we are feeling. Take time to notice the wobbles - they will happen to everyone I am sure, as we all live through something which none of us expected. It is how we respond to our wobbles that is important. Perhaps, by using the tools of mindfulness and bringing attention to our breath, we can try to find stillness as we acknowledge how our bodies and minds are feeling.
Your children already know so much about mindfulness and they will be able to teach you some of the practices which we do in assemblies - so I hope that you will be able to have some moments of quiet stillness every day with your family. I have shared with you below a famous poem which is often recited in mindfulness circles; our current Year 6 have discussed the poem and understand the sentiment, not to resist the thoughts and emotions that pass through you but to meet them with courage, warmth and respect.
Over the Easter holidays it may be very difficult for us all to negotiate the impacts of what is happening in our country and our world. Please do reach out to each other, staying connected by whatever means you can. Many of us are possibly grieving the old way of life from just a week ago but at the end of this we will, no doubt, value human contact even more.
If anyone is concerned about how their child or even an adult is coping then Mrs. Brooker, our ‘time to talk’ listener, is more than happy to be contacted. Parents all have our staff contact details. We will also be keeping in contact with you regularly over the holiday - as a community we will get through this together.
Below I have sign posted some additional sites which may be useful for you as parents to help your children cope and keep busy at this time.
Some top tips on how to talk to our children about Coronavirus:
I am sure like me you are being inundated with emails and posts on social media about things to do with your family whilst in lockdown, but I am delighted that the Royal Opera House will be streaming live and tonight's ‘Peter and the Wolf’ may be enjoyed by young and old!
During the holidays I love to attend the theatre with my family and although it may not be possible to be there physically I am pleased that I may enjoy some productions - the link below provides information of shows which are live streaming.
I am sure many children are avidly rehearsing for the St. Helen's College annual Singers Competition next term - please keep encouraging them to do so, as this is an event which we are looking forward to very much.
During the Easter Holidays do encourage your children to become part of the Rainbow Trail - to share positivity families have been taking part in creative projects to display rainbows in their windows/gardens to stay connected with their community and spread positivity. It would be wonderful to see some photos of the rainbows you create - here is our first one, from Mylo and Oliver O!
Free Audible Books
In assembly on Thursday, we showed the children a site for free audio books during the school closure period. Here is the link: https://stories.audible.com/start-listen. The books come in different age categories and even include foreign language sections. It is a wonderful opportunity for the children to explore stories in a new and exciting way whilst boosting their vocabulary.
Stay safe everyone; stay home but stay connected. Thank you all for being my extended family.
Posted on: 20/03/2020
Weekly News - Friday 20th March 2020Scholarships
We are thrilled to announce that our Year 6 pupils have performed extremely well in the independent school entrance processes. Following the 11+ entry assessments and interviews, they have been awarded the following scholarships. As you will see, it is an impressively long list! Many congratulations to all of these children, and to all of the other Year 6 children - we are so pleased that your hard work has been acknowledged in this way.
Academic Scholarship - Catherine L
Music Scholarship - Catherine L
Long Close School
Academic Scholarship - Taha U
Merchant Taylors School
Academic Scholarship - Daniel G-J
Academic Scholarship - Aarna A
Academic Scholarship - Esha T
Art Scholarship - Kaixin F
Art Scholarship - Ridhima M
Sport Scholarship - Rhea A-V
Reddam House School
Academic Scholarship - Ibraheem F
Royal Masonic School
All-Rounder Scholarship - Ridhima M
St. Helen's School, Northwood
Academic Scholarship - Aarna A
Academic Scholarship - Ridhima M
St. Mary's School
Academic Scholarship - Jasmine B
St. Paul's Girls' School
Music Exhibitions for Flute and Voice - Catherine L
Wycombe Abbey School
Music Scholarship - Catherine L
Music Personality of the Term
The Musician of the Term trophy was awarded this term to Jasmine B, who has always worked conscientiously and demonstrated great enthusiasm over many years in all aspects of music at St. Helen's College. Jasmine has excellent music skills, applies and shares creative ideas well in class work, and has is an excellent role model within the music department as a music prefect. She has been a regular member of the Junior, Senior and Chamber Choirs and she regularly performs in assemblies and recitals. As well as playing the recorder fluently, Jasmine plays the piano and the guitar, and has recently taken her Grade 5 singing exam. Well done, Jasmine!
PA Easter Egg Winners
The following children won the PA Easter egg raffle today. Some of these children were not in school but don't worry - we will hold onto their prizes for them until we return!
Ducklings - Alana P
Robins - Aaria M
Wrens - Nihaal P
Kingfishers - Millie B
Owls - Caitlin P
1C - Avar D
1HC - Ashvika A
2B - Hana H
2H - Lachlan J
3B - India C
3M - Milo M
4KT - Nirvaan D
4T - Avaani M
5A - Jessica L
5G - Joban K
6M - Jai D
6RD - Aran C
Many thanks to the PA for their generosity in donating these Easter prizes!
This week the Senior Choir took their musicality outdoors and delighted Accent staff, other pupils and staff (including catering staff) with a medley of Frozen songs. It was wonderful to see and hear such uplifting musicality around the Windsor Garden and playground.
Well done to the girls who played in the netball rally last Saturday. The team lost in the semi finals and were awarded bronze medals. They were also presented with gold medals and the cup for winning the league. Congratulations, girls.
We know that you will wish to join us in congratulating Ms Califano (1HC) who is expecting her second child!
Posted on: 13/03/2020
Weekly News - March 13th 2020Chess
Congratulations to Michael K from Year 6, who was the winner of the Delancey Chess Tournament; Michael received a lovely trophy and book voucher. Congratulations also to Marcus S and Alex S who both qualified for the Megafinal, which is due to take place over the Easter break.
A budding group of scientists entered an amazing time machine and went back to the prehistoric era in the Wrens class assembly this week, where they met two paleontologists who introduced them to an array of fascinating dinosaurs.
The children delighted us with their singing, acting and knowledge of dinosaurs and how they became extinct. There were some wonderful performances from such young children. Congratulations to everyone involved!
It was an emotional morning for the pupils and parents of 6RD as the children presented their final class assembly. They took the opportunity to share their favourite memories of their time at school with the audience, from Nursery right through to Year 6, and to reflect upon the great start they have made not just to their education but to their lives! They considered their hopes and dreams and speculated on the careers they might go on to undertake, but also reminded us all that health and happiness are the most important goals in life. Well done, 6RD; your singing and acting were very impressive and we very much enjoyed sharing your reflections.
Quiz Club Heats
On Tuesday, our Quiz Club visited the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster to take part in the national primary General Knowledge Quiz Club finals. The A team came 10th overall and the B team came 25th overall. There were 31 teams taking place in all. This was a fantastic experience including a super minibus tour of London for our Quiz Club members, who were: Catherine L, Esha T, Ben L, Vandan V, Aryan B, Riddhi S, Annie L and Arshvir S.
We are delighted to report that the World Book Day book sale last week (of surplus library stock plus some books donated from home) raised £108, which will be used to purchase new school library books which enhance our wellbeing. This might include books specifically addressing wellbeing and mental health, fiction for different ages, hobbies and sports...any specific suggestions or ideas are most welcome! In the summer term, our librarians will create a display of the new books. Many thanks indeed to all those who supported the book sale!
We took twelve players (three teams) to the Hillingdon Primary Table Tennis at Oakwood School on Monday.
The format of the competition was different this year, with twelve individual medals available instead of team medals. We are delighted to report that, of the twelve individual medals available, St. Helen's College won seven!
There were four seed pools overall and our individual medals were as follows:
Seed Pool 1
Silver - Eli V-B
Bronze - Ciaran R
Seed Pool 2
Gold - Jai D
Silver - Harry J
Bronze - Mohib F
Seed Pool 3
Silver - Rhea A-V
Bronze - Hema G
We were crowned Borough Champions once again and the team proudly retained their silver plate trophy! Well done to all those pupils involved.
Our school football team finished their campaign for this season with a 2-1 defeat at home to St. Matthew's. It has been a season of two halves, with some great play and results before Christmas followed by a drop in form after the Christmas break. The team should be proud of themselves as we have introduced younger players this year and some of the performances from our Year 6 players have been outstanding. Mistakes have cost us a higher finishing position in the league, but with the introduction of youth we look forward to a successful campaign next season.
Many congratulations to our netball team, who were winners of the Year 6 netball tournament at Reddiford School this week. Schools taking part were Alpha Prep, Reddiford, Quainton Hall and St. Helen's College.
Our team were undefeated all afternoon and showed great competitive skills and team play.
At Thursday evening's swimming gala, the St. Helen's College team put on a very strong performance indeed, qualifying through the heats for 7 out of 8 finals!
In the finals, there were bronze medals for Krisha S in breaststroke and Catherine L in freestyle and a silver medal for our freestyle relay team, made up of Catherine L, Ben L and Krisha S.
The St. Helen's College team came in 3rd place overall and should feel very proud of themselves!
Speech Competition (Years 1- 6)
Our finalists have now been selected from each class for the Speech Competition, following a very high standard of semi-finals. Parents of finalists will receive a letter inviting them to attend the final on Monday 23rd March, which will be judged by one of our school Governors, Miss Linda Beckett. We hope that we will all enjoy a sensational day of 'projection, expression and clarity'!
Our very exciting Singing Competition for Years 2-6 will take place on Friday 5th June this year. Children should decide which category they would like to enter and choose a song. Next, fill in a slip and put into the boxes which can be found at the front of the Upper School hall. Entries must be submitted no later than Thursday 26th March. Semi-finals will be held during the first half of the summer term this year.
Once again, there is no set theme this year as we would like to hear songs from all different genres and perhaps a range of songs throughout musical history. Singing in other languages is permitted. The only restrictions are that we would like you to avoid singing pop songs and we would like to see only simple gestures and appropriate movements relevant to the performance. No dance moves please. Duets and groups are encouraged to add harmony/part singing to their performance.
The categories are:
Best solo singer from each year group.
Best group - trios (3) or quartets (4) only.
There should be just one solo entry per child but they may also participate in either a duet or a group. No summer term choir songs please!
A backing track is required (without words) for performance on the day; CD or ipod only. No piano accompaniments will be used this year, unless a child is playing the piano or guitar as part of their performance.
All winners will be invited to sing at the Singers’ Concert on 9th June.
Exhibition Day, Easter Service and Nursery/Reception Poetry Recital
We have taken the decision to postpone Exhibition Day, which was due to take place on Saturday 21st March, and to cancel the Upper School Easter Service, which was due to take place on Friday 27th March, as part of our action to mitigate against the risk of Coronavirus. We are sorry that these events will not take place this term but we are sure that parents will understand the reasons behind their cancellation. We are currently considering the format of the Nursery/Reception Poetry Recital and whether it will be possible for this to take place, and will contact parents about this in due course.
PA Easter Raffle
The PA has again donated prizes for a raffle for the children this Easter. All of the children are included in this free Easter egg draw with one prize drawn for each class. We hope that the lucky winners enjoy their prizes and we thank the PA for organising the raffle!
Rescheduled PA Forum Meeting Date
The next PA Forum meeting is now scheduled to take place in the Upper School Hall at 7 p.m. on Monday 27th April. Class rep's should send any points for discussion to Mrs. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org by the first day of term please, to allow the school time to collate and research any issues before the meeting.