School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 1/10/2021
All Steamed Up by Mr. & Mrs. CrehanToday we have a two part guest blog from Mr. & Mrs. Crehan, our Principals, who were inspired by all that they saw going on at school during STEAM Day this week.
STEAM Day is a highlight of the year, eagerly anticipated by pupils and staff alike. A day when the creativity which is at the heart of engineering is brought to life.
And what a palette of activities the children enjoyed on Wednesday this week. Following an early morning rocket launch, the younger children programmed Beebot robots, made self opening flowers, created bubble pictures and herb brushes, and built (really quite scary) mini catapults. Meanwhile, over at the Upper School, the children grappled with logic, a Smarties maths challenge, health and safety and railway engineering problems, and created a variety of structures using balloons, newspaper, pasta and marshmallows. From the intricacy of creating flowers and butterflies using chromatography to the raising of a 200kg beam of wood using Neolithic technology, the children thoroughly enjoyed exploring and developing their engineering skills.
The day was intended to be exciting and enjoyable for the children, but it was also designed to encourage skills which will be of value in their adult lives. We want our pupils to relish challenges, to work effectively in teams, to hypothesise and test out their ideas, to take risks, and to see failure as a step towards success. A day such as this helps children to 'think outside the box' and to dare to be different. It shows them that real life problems require a wide range of skills, collaboration and perseverance. To stimulate such thinking, the older children met online with a panel of four engineers (the fact that all four were women was significant) then considered how their own interests and attitudes might suit them to careers as diverse as Data Scientist, Vehicle Dynamics Engineer, Sustainability Engineer, Project Manager, Ergonomist and Design Engineer.
Children are by nature curious and creative, and they respond fantastically to activities such as those which were provided on Wednesday. Their enthusiasm was palpable. But so was that of the staff and parents who were leading the activities. The adults involved clearly enjoyed unleashing their own creative energies and sharing their passion for learning with the pupils. The pupils relished the challenges set, responded eagerly and impressed us all with their ideas, teamwork and determination.
We are so fortunate at St. Helen's College to have such committed, enthusiastic and expert staff, and such supportive parents. On behalf of the pupils, I would like to say a big thank you to the staff and parents whose creative genius made our STEAM Day such a success.
The word 'Enthusiasm' is derived from the Greek, meaning 'God within' and used to be applied to those in a divine frenzy i.e. passionate and inspired. The children on STEAM Day were eager to explain their activities with their eyes shining!
Ideally when the children choose their direction in life they will do something that inspires them and that they are passionate about.The beauty of STEAM Day is that, being a combination of arts and science, it gives them the opportunity to use their skills in inventing and creating, which gives them a taste of what may lie ahead in the world of work.
Just as Plato suggests that we lay out various tools of the different professions to very young children to watch where they naturally lean, our children at St. Helen's College are getting an early feel for many different ways to be creative with a sense of purpose; skills which may lead them to be passionate about a particular career when their time comes. They may also be more aware of the many career possibilities out there, and perhaps create their own path (as one notable ex-pupil did by being passionate about robots while at school, and then going on to supply parts from Chinese factories to British companies from the comfort of his bedroom aged 14. He is now the CEO of a multimillion pound company. Or our daughter Lucy, who decided to teach in the best performing countries around the world, wrote a book, and is now advising countries on their education policies.) This is so important; the world when our current pupils finish their education will look very different from today.
So just as the good fairies in Sleeping Beauty made wishes for the future of their princess, our wish is that the children of St. Helen's College will boldly create and innovate a career which they are passionate about, as that will make them fulfilled and purposeful for their whole lives.
Posted on: 17/09/2021
Weekly News - Friday 17th September 2021House/Sports Captains
We are delighted to announce our new Year 6 House Captains and Sports Captains. They are:
Windsor Girls' House Captain - Amber P
Windsor Boys' House Captain - Antony F
Cambria Girls' House Captain - Avaani M
Cambria Boys' House Captain - Diyan C
Cambria Boys' Sports Captain - Luka K
Cambria Girls' Sports Captain - Kylah O
Windsor Boys' Sports Captain - Adam K
Windsor Girls' Sports Captain - Charlotte M
Other positions of responsibility will be allocated next week.
Harvest Festival Celebrations
Due to our Covid protocols, we have adapted our Harvest Festival programme. Please read the following information carefully.
As usual, we invite all children to bring in a harvest donation to help those in need in our local community. Please send in non-perishable hampers/baskets/contributions with your child on the dates shown below. These will be donated to the local Salvation Army.
The School Harvest Festivals will take place on the following dates/times:
Upper School: 1st October (All Saints Church) 9 a.m.
Year 5 parents are invited to attend the Upper School Harvest Festival service, which will be led by Year 5 pupils.
Children at the Upper School who are not attending the service at All Saints Church will attend a Harvest assembly at school.
Lower School Harvest Festivals
Kingfishers: 5th October 8.45 a.m. (North Hillingdon Methodist Church)
Owls: 6th October 8.45 a.m. (North Hillingdon Methodist Church)
1R: 7th October 8.45 a.m. (North Hillingdon Methodist Church)
1C: 8th October 8.45 a.m. (North Hillingdon Methodist Church)
Wrens: 11th October 8.45 a.m. (North Hillingdon Methodist Church)
Robins: 12th October 8.45 a.m. (North Hillingdon Methodist Church)
Parents are invited to attend their class performance and morning coffee will be served on each day in the Lower School Hall from 8.15 a.m for those attending the performance. Performances will take place in the Methodist Church.
Chamber Choir Event
We are pleased to announce that our Chamber Choir has their first external event in the school diary and will be attending the London Schools Concert 2021 on 14th November. This is a wonderful opportunity for our pupils to sing in the beautiful St. John's Smith Square and for parents to support the Children's Trust Charity and enjoy an incredible afternoon of musicality from top London Prep School choirs. In previous years, this has been a most enjoyable and rewarding event. We hope that many families will buy tickets to attend and support both the Children's Trust and our Chamber Choir.
Please click here to book your tickets.
Love of Learning
We were delighted to see this beautiful piece of artwork, which Aanya B (Year 6) produced over the summer. Aanya has been inspired by her work in the art studio with Mrs. Pruce, and extended her learning further independently over the summer to produce this lovely wall mural.
One of the St. Helen's College aims is to inspire a lifelong love of learning and it is heartwarming to see this in action every day. Well done, Aanya, on both a super piece of work and on taking your learning forwards independently.
We are thrilled to share some more exciting alumni news! Old Helenian Kareena Sharma has been accepted into Cambridge University to study Medicine at Christ's College.
Kareena attended St. Helen's College throughout her primary school career, leaving in 2014 to attend Beaconsfield High School for Girls. Her parents, who contacted us to share their wonderful news, sent this message:
"We would like to thank St. Helen's College for instilling the much needed core ethics and discipline required to make this achievement possible. Thank you all and please continue your amazing work to make this possible for more young children."
We certainly will do so, and we are sure that we will be hearing from many current parents in the future about your children's successes too!
There are still some spaces available in our Year 5/Year 6 Karate Club which is held on Tuesday afternoons from 3.50 - 4.50 p.m. If your child would like to join this club, please contact Mr. Harrington at email@example.com. The remaining places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
We have a few spaces available for one-to-one music lessons in school for Years 2-6 on the following instruments:
Students who are already learning an instrument in school may have piano lessons on a Saturday morning but not at other times.
Please note that spaces are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis. Any additional applications will be added to the waiting list and you will be contacted once a space becomes available.
If you wish to sign up for music lessons please email Mrs. Fawbert at firstname.lastname@example.org
Individual and Sibling Photographs
Pupil photographs will be taken next week as follows:
Monday 20th September - Individual Ducklings photographs (taken during the school day)
Tuesday 21st September - Individual Nursery/Reception/Year 1 photographs (taken during the school day)
Thursday 23rd September - Individual Year 2-6 photographs (taken during the school day)
If you have two or more siblings at the school, and would like a sibling photograph taken, you should bring your children to either of the optional sibling sessions:
Lower School (Methodist Church Hall) on Tuesday 21st September from 7.30 a.m.
Upper School (Upper School Hall) on Thursday 21st September from 7.30 a.m.
Please ensure that your children arrive at school on the day of their photograph in full, smart school uniform, with long hair neatly tied back.
Our next Teddy Talks are now ready for viewing! While these are aimed at parents of babies and pre-schoolers, we are sure that parents of older children will also enjoy and benefit from the advice offered by our school staff offer. Please do watch them and share them with any interested friends, neighbours and family.
SHC Teddy Talks - Early Years Music (Claire Fawbert)
SHC Teddy Talks - Emotional Regulation in Babies and Pre-Schoolers (Julia Brooker)
SHC Teddy Talks - Supporting Healthy Eating (Soula Kokkinoplitis)
SHC Teddy Talks - Making Time for Yourself (Steve Roche)
SHC Teddy Talks - Managing the Arrival of a Sibling (Leo Harrington)
SHC Teddy Talks - Digital Awareness (Shirley Drummond)
SHC Teddy Talks - Non-Digital Games (Shirley Drummond)
School is a very busy place and children can, understandably, get very tired. One of the best ways that parents can support children is to ensure that they get the right amount of good quality sleep for their age. The recommended daily sleep times for children are:
Babies to 12 months - 12 to 16 hours (including naps)
1 to 2 years old - 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
3 to 5 years old - 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
6 to 12 years old - 9 to 12 hours
13 to 18 years old - 8 to 10 hours
It is crucial that children have a calm, screen-free bedtime routine with a regular bedtime. Parents can find further information here:
Please do support your child to settle for bed calmly and at the same time each evening, and to get the correct amount of sleep for their age. It can be difficult to establish new routines, but the benefits to children (and adults) of doing so are huge.
PA Welcome Event for New Families - Change of Date
The PA Welcome Event for new families has been postponed and will now take place on Saturday 6th November at the Evans Hall at Upper School.
Funtasia (After School Club) Bookings
We have made some minor changes to our wraparound care procedures to ensure that they are as efficient as possible.
Breakfast Club is running from 7.30 a.m. each morning as usual - please make your bookings through SchoolsBuddy as early as you can to secure your place.
To avoid last minute surges in bookings and to ensure that we always maintain high staff-to-pupil ratios, we are asking that parents book their places for After School Club as early as possible, but at the latest by midday on the day that an after school Funtasia session is required. SchoolsBuddy bookings will close each day at 12.00 p.m. Mrs. Rooney administers the Funtasia booking system, so for any emergency requests past the cut-off point for bookings, please call the school office to speak with her about availability. Mrs. Lawrence will continue to manage Funtasia.
We remind parents that, for pick up at the end of the day, there is a ten minute grace period before the children are put into a chargeable Funtasia session.
We thank you for your cooperation.
Next week, we are back to Week 1 of the lunch menu. Please note that there have been two minor changes to the menu (which do not affect allergens).
Tuesday and Wednesday's menus have been swapped due to delivery dates.
The chicken meatballs will now be turkey meatballs due to supplier availability.
The updated menu (which will remain in place for the rest of the Autumn term) has been published to the website here.
From 1st October, there is a substantial change to the law in terms of the food labelling requirements for pre-packaged goods for direct sale. This change requires all pre-packaged goods to be fully labelled with both allergen information and the individual ingredients of each item offered for sale. The law is also known as Natasha’s Law.
Our catering partner, Accent Catering, make all their pre-packaged goods fresh everyday on site. During the last few weeks of the summer term, they were busy training their teams and introducing new recipes, packaging and labelling systems to ensure that they are fully prepared to comply with these new regulations. This affects all sandwiches, bread products, pre-wrapped bakery goods, salad boxes and in fact, any food item that is offered in a sealed package or container.
This term, pupils will see new products in new packaging and new labelling. The recipes have been developed to meet the needs of most of our pupils but if your son or daughter cannot find what they are looking for, they only need to ask one of the catering team who will be delighted to assist them. The extensive allergen controls remain in place but the team remain committed to providing special diets and requirements on request, if they are not covered by the core menu.
Posted on: 17/09/2021
Community Matters by Mrs. Smith
I have been a part of the St. Helen’s College community for almost 12 years now. Throughout that time, I have found it to be a vibrant, happy, kind community of pupils, parents and staff and I feel very lucky to work in such an inspiring and friendly place.
It is interesting that the characteristics of our community remain constant, even though its members change annually, as new parents and children join the school and families who have been with the school many years move on. I am sure that the reason for this is that our community has such strong and enduring shared values: love, harmony, spirituality, self-awareness and growth.
Over the last year and a half, as we have negotiated our way through the pandemic, the word ‘community’ has taken on even greater, and perhaps wider, meaning. We have all become more aware that humanity is one global community, facing the same problems all over the world. We have, too, become more aware of our local communities: of the pressures and challenges on our healthcare system and its staff, on our education system and on parents and young people.
It is this increased awareness, perhaps, that has led us here at St. Helen’s College to reflect on how we can, as a school, contribute more to our local and global community. Our values are not only inward-looking, focussed on our own community; they are also outward-looking, and should enable us to make a difference to the lives of others outside of our school gates.
We have, for some time, been concerned at the lack of support networks available for new parents in the first few years of their children’s lives and we are taking steps to make a positive contribution in this area. Through our pre-school parenting programme, we are making advice and support available, free of charge, to parents in our local community and further afield, whether their child is to join St. Helen’s College or not. We are doing this through our programme of Teddy Talks and through offering free baby/toddler classes here at St. Helen’s College. The willingness of our staff to be involved in this project is a testament to their core values. We all feel the same desire to help and support those at the coalface of parenting, so that their babies and young children may have the very best experience possible. Seven new Teddy Talks have recently been filmed and added to the website. You can watch them by following these links:
SHC Teddy Talks - Early Years Music (Claire Fawbert)
SHC Teddy Talks - Emotional Regulation in Babies and Pre-Schoolers (Julia Brooker)
SHC Teddy Talks - Supporting Healthy Eating (Soula Kokkinoplitis)
SHC Teddy Talks - Making Time for Yourself (Steve Roche)
SHC Teddy Talks - Managing the Arrival of a Sibling (Leo Harrington)
SHC Teddy Talks - Digital Awareness (Shirley Drummond)
SHC Teddy Talks - Non-Digital Games (Shirley Drummond)
In addition, Mrs. McLaughlin’s Mother/Baby Mindfulness classes are now running at school on Wednesday mornings, with the aim of supporting mums to support their babies. These classes are suitable for babies from about six weeks old to crawling, so if you know anyone with a child of the right age, do encourage them to sign up for a set of six classes by contacting me at email@example.com. We are currently working on adding other classes to the programme.
The new St. Helen’s College Trust will be able to provide financial support to local organisations and/or families in order to enhance parents’ and children’s experiences, too. Mrs. Drummond, Mr. Sellu (an ex-St. Helen’s College parent) and I are the three founding Trustees of this Charitable Trust, which is a separate legal entity from the school itself. We have been working over the summer to establish and agree the Trust’s aims and principles, write our Governing Document, and establish our Charity bank account, as well as to identify potential income sources for the Trust. Our next steps will be to begin promoting the Trust to potential beneficiaries in the local area, as well as driving fundraising to add to its funds, so that we are able to make meaningful donations to support children and their parents/carers in our community. We are delighted that our school community will be able to contribute, through the Trust, to our wider local community, providing support for local families when they need it most. We hope to arrange a fundraising event during the current academic year and are currently considering hosting an Auction of Promises to which current St. Helen’s College families would be invited. We very much hope that you will consider attending such an event to help to raise funds for this cause.
The Trust exists to promote the advancement of children’s education and all-round development in the Hillingdon/Uxbridge local community. Its stated aims are to:
provide, enrich and extend educational and other opportunities for children from birth and throughout their primary education, and
provide support, advice and guidance for their parents and/or carers.
We are slowly building up funds for the Trust and we hope to invite applications from potential beneficiaries from January onwards. At first, the grants we will be able to make will be fairly small; in time, we hope that these will increase in size. Everything has to start somewhere!
We are planning to recruit more Trustees for the SHC Trust as time moves on, and are currently interested in hearing from anyone who has Charity or Fundraising experience and expertise. Please do get in touch if you have expertise in this area and are interested in becoming involved, either as a Trustee or adviser: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We believe that the pre-school parenting programme and the SHC Trust will enable the school community to make an increasingly meaningful contribution to the local community. We are open to any other ideas of ways in which we can support parents and children in the local community; please do let us know if you think of any!
Posted on: 10/09/2021
Weekly News - Friday 10th September 2021Year 2 Coffee Morning
The Evans Hall was buzzing yesterday as we welcomed our Year 2 parents to Upper School for a coffee morning. We are delighted that your children are all settling well at the Upper School and that they have all enjoyed the first full week of life in Year 2!
Meet the Teacher Evenings
It was wonderful to see so many Year 3 and Year 6 parents at our Meet the Teachers Evenings and we look forward to seeing the Year 4 and Year 5 parents next week.
At all the meetings we have shared information on pupil wellbeing and how we can all work together to support the children. Mrs. Brooker, our school counsellor, is available to all our Upper School pupils and parents can request for their children to have time with her via their form teacher. Pupils in Upper School can also self refer and pop a 'Time to Talk' note into Mrs. Brooker's mail box in the school hall.
We also have very good associations with external agencies and we shared details of The Parent Practice and Parental EQ.
More information on the Positive Parenting Coaching and E-Courses from the Parent Practice can be found at www.theparentpractice.com.
The ParentalEQ app can also be downloaded from your mobile device: https://parentaleq.com/get-the-app/ or by accessing their website: https://parentaleq.com/
If you do subscribe to ParentalEQ, please ensure that you choose St. Helen's College on the drop down menu as we are an affiliated school.
The St. Helen's College Trust
The St. Helen’s College Trust is a newly established charitable fund which exists to promote the advancement of education in the Hillingdon/Uxbridge local community.
Its aims are to:
provide, enrich and extend educational opportunities for children from birth to age 11, and
provide support, advice and guidance for their parents.
There are many ways in which St. Helen’s College parents can support the Trust.
You can donate unwanted textiles to our textile bank outside 227 Long Lane, which will be recycled and for which we receive a small payment.
You can make donations when invited to at school events e.g. performances.
You might like to donate part or all of your deposit to the Trust when your child leaves the school.
You can sign up to EasyFundraising and raise money for the Trust at absolutely no cost to yourself when you shop online with over 4000 retailers.
EasyFundraising donations really mount up and make a BIG difference, so we’d really appreciate it if you would sign up and support us. It’s completely FREE and only takes a moment. You can download the EasyFundraising app and use that – it’s so easy.
You can find our EasyFundraising page at:
If you need any help at all in getting set up with EasyFundraising, please contact Mrs. Smith at email@example.com. Friends and family are most welcome to sign up too!
STEAM Day 2021!
We will be holding our next STEAM Day for pupils from Ducklings to Year 6 on Wednesday 29th September 2021.
STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths) days are becoming increasingly popular and have been hugely successful at St. Helen's College in the past. Sessions held have included building air powered cars, constructing a bridge to take an adult's weight, solving complex maths problems and making music from found materials.
We would be delighted to hear from any parents in the Upper School who are able to offer a workshop activity. Please can you contact Mr. Harrington at firstname.lastname@example.org outlining what you would be able to offer, what age group it may be suitable for and if you would be available for the full day or part of the day. If you are interested please can you respond by Monday 13th September. If you have any questions about the day please feel free to contact Mr. Harrington.
At Lower School, workshops will be delivered by familiar staff as the children are so recently settled or re-settled into their new environment.
At Upper School, our new Year 2 and Year 3 pupils really enjoyed their first visit to the library! The librarians commented on how engaged and enthusiastic the children were. We hope that they will make full use of the library throughout their time at Upper School - readers are the best learners, after all.
PA Donation - Reading Chairs
There was great excitement at Lower School and Upper School this week when the children received some beautiful reading chairs and benches which will enrich the children's outdoor learning spaces. Thank you to the St. Helen's College Parents' Association for the generous donations which are very much being enjoyed.
We are delighted to share the news that Sahar M, an Old Helenian, has achieved 3 A* grades in her A levels and will shortly be taking up a place at Cambridge to read Human and Social Politics. Sahar was Head Girl at St. Helen's College and will always be fondly remembered by pupils and staff here, not least for her excellent rendition of 'Albert and the Lion', which won her the Speech Competition during her time at Upper School! We wish her all the best in her new adventure at university.
If any of our current parents are alumni or you know of alumni, please do encourage them to join our alumni community by emailing email@example.com.
Ducklings and Nursery Entry - September 2022
If you have a son or daughter who is eligible by age for entry into Ducklings or Nursery next September, and you have not yet registered them with the school, please do so as soon as possible. The entry process for these classes will begin shortly. You can register online here.
On Monday, we filmed our next set of six Teddy Talks. These talks, aimed at parents of very young (pre-school) children, offer support and guidance on topics of interest. We are delighted that Soula, our chef, has spoken about pre-school feeding/eating, Mr. Harrington has spoken about how to manage the arrival of a sibling, Mrs. Fawbert has recorded a talk on pre-school music, Mrs. Brooker has spoken about helping very young children to regulate their emotions, Mrs. Drummond has offered advice on managing the use of digital devices with pre-schoolers, and Mr. Roche has spoken about the importance of how to make time for ourselves as parents. These new talks will soon become available via our website and on Youtube. In the meantime, if you have not already watched the previous set of six talks, we thoroughly recommend watching them. You can find them here.
If there are any other topics on which you feel advice would be useful for parents, please do let us know by emailing Mrs. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are keen to continue adding to this bank of talks as we know from feedback how useful parents are finding them.
Mother/Baby Mindfulness Classes
Mrs. McLaughlin's Mother/Baby Mindfulness Classes have now begun! These are taking place in the Evans Hall on Wednesday mornings at 9.00 a.m., in six weekly blocks. Our first mothers and babies clearly enjoyed their first class this week. The classes are suitable for mothers of babies aged from six weeks to crawling. They include a mix of mindfulness practice and yoga for mums, and are aimed at supporting mums to support their babies. If you have a baby of the right age for our next set of classes, which will begin after the October half term, or have any friends or family with babies of the right age, please contact Mrs. Smith to sign up at email@example.com. The classes are completely free of charge and are open to anyone, whether their child is registered at St. Helen's College or not.
We are planning to expand our programme of pre-school classes for babies and toddlers so watch this space for more information!
PA Welcome Event, Ducklings Uniform Sale and Class Representatives
The Parents' Association will be holding a Welcome Event for families who are new to the school on Saturday 25th September from 12 - 2 p.m. in the Evans Hall at Upper School. We hope that many new families will be able to join them for a warm welcome to the St. Helen's College community!
The PA will be holding a second hand uniform stall for Duckings children on Thursday 16th September from 2.45 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. in the Ducklings Garden. Come and grab a bargain - we look forward to seeing you there!
The PA have vacancies for class representatives for Duckings, 5G and 6R. If you are a parent of a child in one of these classes, and would like to find out more or put your name forward, please contact the PA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Confirmations of co-curricular activity allocations have now been sent to parents. Please make prompt payment of any fees due via your SchoolsBuddy account. Any queries concerning co-curricular activities or the programme should be addressed to Mr. Harrington, our new Director of Co-Curriculum, at email@example.com.
'School at Work' Open Morning - Wednesday 13th October
We are thrilled that we will once again be able to welcome prospective parents into school for an Open Morning on Wednesday 13th October. Visits on this day will be by appointment only to manage the flow of visitors around the school and we know that our Year 6 children are eagerly looking forward to hosting their first tours of the school! If you have any friends or family with children who would be eligible to join Ducklings or Nursery in September 2022 or thereafter, please do encourage them to book in for a tour on this day. It really is a lovely experience to enjoy a tour conducted by our pupils! They can book in by telephoning the school office on 01895 234371 or by emailing Mrs. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parking, Drop Off and Pick Up Regulations
We would like to remind all parents that it is crucial that you adhere to the school's parking, drop off and pick up regulations. In particular, please do not block neighbours' driveways on Long Lane, Parkway or in any surrounding streets. We work very hard to establish and maintain good relationships with our neighbours and the local community, and expect parents to support us in this. On Parkway, if you are using drop and go or pick up and go, please do not queue if there are more than three cars in front of you; if so, please drive to the car park and park so that you do not cause congestion along the street.
We thank parents, as always, for your support.
We would also like to remind parents that snacks must not contain nuts. We ask that you follow the school's Healthy Eating Policy when choosing snacks. Suitable snacks are fruit or vegetables, or plain biscuits.
Posted on: 10/09/2021
Why Art? By Mrs. Pruce“Every child is an artist”, said Pablo Picasso, and I know he’s right.
My second year at St. Helen's College is now underway and what a first year it was! Yet, throughout the turmoil of Covid, our art work has held the classes together, united us in our new joy for the subject and had us chuckling during online lessons (especially when dressed as royalty in crowns and tiaras with Year 2).
Art is all around us, not just in galleries but on TV, packaging, book covers, graphic design, the restaurant industry and stage and film to name a few. The career options are numerous and it is a subject to be taken seriously.
The subject of art dates back thousands of years, all around the world, and allows us to know what we now know about history. From cave paintings to Henry Moore’s chalk work on the shelters during the war and Banksy’s political graffiti. Without these we can only guess at what has really happened.
In itself, art can be a way of communication to express ourselves, healing our souls when troubled or telling a story. Art can be an experience to share our thoughts and feelings or just to while away time.
For me personally, art has been something that I have only had the courage to embrace in the last 15 years or so. I say courage as I was the child at school who was too tall, stuck out like a sore thumb and went easily red faced when the art teacher told me that it wasn’t my best subject; it crushed all creativity I had for many years.
I promised myself that no child in my class would ever be made to feel this way about their own talents. The introduction of new skills at St. Helen's College has proven that Picasso was right. The child that can draw superbly may not be the best painter; the painter may not be the best sculptor, who in turn may not be the best print maker; but they are all good at something and seeing that realisation dawn on their faces is what drives me on.
As teachers we have a role to play in encouraging our students, focussing on the good and inspiring in them the confidence to try. FAIL is the First Attempt In Learning and even as adults we are - and should be - still always learning.
As adults we have a lot to learn from our children, in school and at home. The artistic response to the pandemic blew my mind. The explanations given as to why the children drew what they drew were clear, simplistic and openly honest. Arya A with her “Rainbow Tree” and Riya C with “Breakout” were stunning examples that gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes. Have you ever been reduced to tears by art in any form - perhaps poetry, music or a piece of writing? Seeing the Taj Mahal for the first time from far away actually made me cry, not an emotion I expected to feel at all over a building.
The use of sketchpads at St. Helen's College has been changing, and is changing further this school year. The desire to scribble out something not liked is natural but also pointless, since we need to see our failures to perfect our abilities. In the book 'The Dot', Peter H Reynolds shows us the power of one single adult's actions to change a child's life. “The book shows the importance of teacher-student relationships, and our connections as human beings. It shows how creative thinking on the part of a teacher can unlock a child's own creativity, confidence, and growth.”
So, however old you are, don’t forget that the child you were has now grown up. I encourage you all to go and enjoy whatever art form you would love to explore the most, and remember… in art you are never wrong.
Posted on: 3/09/2021
It has been wonderful to welcome so many new children to St. Helen’s College this week and I have been in awe of how well our new Ducklings and Nursery children are settling into their new environment. Our other new pupils across the school have started forging new friendships and across all three school sites there has been such genuine care and love shared by all.
It never ceases to move me at the beginning of a school year when I observe the staff with their new classes, the children with each other and every member of our community coming together to make sure that everyone is happy, settled and ready for the new year ahead.
There has been a lot written about, and much research conducted on ‘psychological safety’ and the relationship between psychological safety at school and pupil well-being. When the psychological safety of teachers is high, so too is students’ well-being - they demonstrate increased levels of self-confidence, which in turn leads to enhanced pupil development.
I am proud to be part of such a caring community where everyone (pupils and staff) feel safe, respected and comfortable to be themselves, they are not afraid to take risks, are not afraid of failure and are accepting of feedback.
Amy Edmonson, Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School, is well known for her work on teams and in one of her Ted Talks here she discusses 3 things we can do to build a psychologically safe workplace:
1. frame the work as a learning problem, not an execution problem
2. acknowledge your own fallibility
3. model curiosity
I would hope that every member of the staff at St. Helen’s College feels that they are ‘championed’ in the workplace for what they do. Mr. and Mrs. Crehan as our School Principals and myself as Headteacher are incredibly fortunate to have such a committed team who continuously give their best for the good of your children.
As a learning community the children learn best from their role models and these role models are the adults they are surrounded by both at home and at school.
Our staff are also continuous learners, taking risks, learning new skills and embracing the challenges which new learning brings. Our ongoing continuous professional learning at St. Helen’s College is quite outstanding. A snapshot of this is the commitment from staff such as Mrs. Reid, as she embarks upon her PGCE teacher training year, Mrs. Smith (Director of Communications/Admissions) as she commences an MFA in Creative Writing, our Reverend Smith who is training to be a School Chaplain, Mrs. Ross who has just been awarded her BA in Early Years Education and Mrs. Gilbey who has recently been awarded her L3 in Supporting Teaching and Learning. Mrs. Hunt and Mrs. Smith have just trained as our Wellbeing Champions to support staff Mental Health and I myself am embarking upon my second year of an MA in Educational Leadership and Management. Why we all do this additional learning is because we do feel psychologically safe in our workplaces, we want to be the best role models we can and continue to strive to be the best we can.
However, it is not only in taking certified courses that we as adults continue our learning journey. The staff embrace learning on a daily, weekly, termly basis - as they continue to hone their skills, taking on board new educational research and pedagogy, introducing new software to enhance pupil learning and of course learning from each other and your children.
It is evident that the ‘psychological safety’ of our staff is high and this in turn has a significant impact on the relationships which your children form at school and the love that they have for learning.
This week we have seen the youngest members of our community take their first steps in becoming members of St. Helen’s College - our new Ducklings and Nursery children - as they left their first settling in session. I was warmed by the feedback from parents as they collected their happy, curious and excited children.
To all our families, new and current, to all our staff, new and current, thank you for making our community such a caring and safe environment where we can all flourish and grow!
Here’s to a superb new academic year!
Posted on: 9/07/2021
Weekly News - Friday 9th July 2021Prizegiving
We enjoyed a marvellous Prizegiving Ceremony with our Year 6 leavers and parents at school yesterday evening. While this was not our usual September Prizegiving format, the evening was a huge success and it was very special to be able to celebrate the many, varied and frankly astonishing achievements of this wonderful cohort of pupils. Miss Linda Beckett, St. Helen's College Governor and Chair of our Education Committee, attended as our Guest of Honour and gave an inspiring speech which will stay with us all for years to come. Our Head Boy and Girl gave a heartfelt vote of thanks to round off their time in their positions of responsibility and we would like to thank Jena and Zail, along with their deputies Maya and Samir, for being an excellent Pupil Leadership Team this year. We were also able to pay tribute to one of our parents, Ms Jamani, who leaves the school this week after very, very many years as a St. Helen's College parent and several years as Chair of the Parents' Association. Thank you to all those involved in organising and running this event, and to all the Year 6 parents who attended to celebrate the children's successes and personal qualities.
New Pupil Leadership Team
We are delighted to announce our new pupil leadership team for the academic year 2021-2022.
Our Head Girl will be Shruthi T
Our Head Boy will be Eshan N
Our Deputy Head Girl will be Layla O
Our Deputy Head Boy will be Sahib N
Other Year 6 positions of responsibility, including House Captains and Sports Captains, will be decided upon and announced at the start of the new academic year.
St. Helen's College Voice 2020-2021
This year's school magazine, St. Helen's College Voice, has been published digitally today and is available here. We hope that you will enjoy looking through this with your children, celebrating their work and perhaps looking forward to the sorts of things they will be doing when they join their new year group from September.
We also hope that the Year 6 parents are enjoying the beautiful Leavers' Yearbooks which the school has produced and gifted to the Year 6 children as an everlasting memory of their journey with us.
Farewell Miss Walker
Today, Miss Walker leaves St. Helen's College after an amazing 27 years of dedicated service. On Monday, the London Borough of Hillingdon STARS Team made a surprise visit to our online assembly to thank Miss Walker for all that she has done over the years to promote sustainable travel and road safety for our pupils, staff and parents, and for the wider community. They spoke with passion about her dedication to these causes, and noted the many changes that she has driven through during her time at St. Helen's College, including Walk on Wednesday, the parent parking pledge, the walking loyalty scheme, increased bike/scooter storage, The Big Pedal and many more. Miss Walker introduced Junior Road Safety Officers here at St. Helen's College and, as she said to the pupils on Monday, she is hopeful that the school's excellent work in this area will continue, with the pupils at the heart of it.
Goodbye, Miss Walker, and good luck in your new role. You have been a wonderful teacher and ambassador of St. Helen's College and you will be greatly missed. We know that you will remain in the family and look forward to seeing you at many future St. Helen's College events.
Please read Miss Walker's Farewell Blog here.
Year 6 Projects
Our Year 6 children have been working independently this term on their final projects and the rest of the Upper School children had a chance to view these on Wednesday. Parents are able to view them too - simply ask your child to log on to the school system and show you the projects!
Year 6 Heart and Lung Dissection
Year 6 children have been studying ‘healthy bodies’ in science. They have learned what it means to have a healthy and balanced diet, the deficiency of vitamins that may lead to diseases like scurvy, the effect of exercise on the heart and circulation, and the effect of legal drugs in the form of alcohol, medicines and tobacco.
A crucial part of their learning is the understanding of how nutrients and oxygen get transported around the body, enabling energy to be used for life processes. The heart is the central part of this system, so in order to gain a deeper understanding and have a ‘hands-on’ experience, they undertook a dissection activity using lamb heart and lungs. They had a close observation on the structure and texture of lungs, and they cut through the windpipe that led to bronchioles and air sacs where the exchange of gases takes place. They were most fascinated by the heart with its chambers and connecting blood vessels. They identified the right and left ventricles and atria, and could explain which part had oxygenated and deoxygenated blood. They enjoyed making connections as to how the section of the heart they were cutting formed part of the pathway of the whole circulatory system that they had previously studied.
The activity left most of them curious, satisfied, knowledgeable, happy and buzzing learners. Hands on science is the best type of all!
ABRSM Music Examinations
Congratulations to all of our musicians who have been busy preparing for and taking music examinations this term. The following pupils were entered and results are shown where they are known - some children are still awaiting news of their result.
Well done to everyone who submitted video auditions for Chamber Choir. The standard of auditions was very high again this year! There are limited spaces available and the following seven pupils have been chosen to join in September 2021:
The Chamber Choir will be performing at the St. John's Smith Square Children's Trust charity concert on Sunday 14th November - please add the date to your diary now as this is always a very special occasion!
Year 4-6 Talent Assembly
On Monday we were treated to a marvellous special assembly during which children from Year 4, Year 5 and Year 6 sang, delivered some improvisation comedy, danced, played a variety of instruments and more! The children really are so talented and it was amazing to be able to share their interests with them. Well done to all those involved.
Many congratulations to the winners of our annual tennis finals! As always, the competition was tough and every child had to play to their very best. We all really enjoyed watching them play. The year group winners were:
Year 3 boys - Sean R
Year 3 girls - Hana H
Year 4 boys - Xavier B
Year 4 girls - Arshia S
Year 5 boys - Luka K
Year 5 girls - Anjika G
Year 6 boys - Samir H
Year 6 girls - Amar C
Music Personality of the Term
Congratulations to Jessica L, who has been named the Music Personality of the Term. Jessica has always worked conscientiously and demonstrated enormous enthusiasm, over several years, in all aspects of music at St. Helen’s College. She has excellent music skills and applies and shares creative ideas successfully in class work. She is a member of the Senior Choir and Chamber Choir, and is an excellent role model within the music department as a music prefect.
Jessica regularly performs at assemblies, recitals and outside of school. As well as playing the ukulele, she also plays the piano and the clarinet and sings! She has exceptional musical talent, and is working on Grade 3 exams on the piano, the clarinet, and singing. Her melodious singing voice also helped her to gain the part of Nala in the Year 6 production of The Lion King this year, and her performance was first class.
Very well done, Jessica!
Sports Personality of the Term
Amar C has been named the Sports Personality of the Term for the summer term. Speaking about her, the Sports Captains noted that Amar has been an amazing role model to everyone and always tries her best, showing sportsmanship, kindness and perseverance in every sport. Amar always strives for excellence and always achieve it.
Amar has taken part in all the tennis tournaments from Year 3. She was in the District Sports team and also in the netball team in Year 5. When times get tough for other people or they think they’re doing poorly, Amar will support them and make them persevere to achieve their personal best.
Amar got 5 rosettes and won the Year 6 tennis tournament for girls. She also did really well during the staff v. pupils rounders game.
Staff v. Pupil Rounders!
Wednesday afternoon saw our Year 6 children take on the staff in the annual Staff v. Pupils rounders matches. There were three teams of children and we are delighted to report that the staff team won all three matches. The Year 5 children might want to get practising over the summer so that they can take their revenge on the staff next summer!
Teacher for the Day
The Year 6 children had great fun on Thursday as they stepped into the teachers' shoes for the day and did our work for us! You can see photographs of them enjoying their time as staff on the Galleries page.
Reverend Sarah Smith
Many congratulations to Mrs. Smith (Year 3) who was ordained last weekend in Oxford. We are so proud of her and feel so lucky now to have a Reverend on our staff!
Mrs. Smith gave a short sermon at our Year 2-6 Final Assembly today and we know she will continue to inspire the children here with her faith as time goes on.
Cancer Research UK Fundraising
Many thanks to all those parents who have already generously made donations in support of Cancer Research UK. The link is still open so if you have not already donated and would like to do so, you can still donate by clicking here.
News from the PA
Second Hand Uniform Stall
The PA will be holding a second hand uniform stall in the school car park on Parkway towards the end of the summer break. If you are picking up from Holiday Club or just want to pop along to see what bargains you can pick up, the stall will be open from 12 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. on Tuesday 17 August 2021 and Friday 20 August 2021. This will still give you plenty of time to get along to Pullens if you aren't able to get all of the bits that you need from the stall.
Charity Cake Stall
On Tuesday 17 August 2021, alongside the uniform stall, Grace O (3M/4L) will be selling a range of delectable homemade treats, including cakes and biscuits. All items will be individually packaged and all money raised will go to Cancer Research UK. If you can, please do show your support and get yourself a little treat at the same time.
PA Class Representatives 2021-2022
We still need volunteers for class reps for: Robins Nursery, 1R, 5G and 6R. Please contact email@example.com if you would like to find out more about being a class rep or to volunteer.
Year 6 Leavers
The PA were delighted to gift leavers' hoodies and individually wrapped St. Helen's College cupcakes to all of our Year 6 leavers. We wish them all well as they embark upon the next stage of their adventures!
Summer Reading Challenge
Hillingdon Libraries will be launching the Summer Reading Challenge this Saturday 10th July through to the start of September 2021. The theme this year is Wild World Heroes, focussing on nature, conservation, and the environment.
Hillingdon library staff have helped to create an engaging and exciting video to help promote this year's challenge. Here is the link to Hillingdon Libraries Youtube channel for the video- https://youtu.be/_3ZXkfSKYKA
We hope that many children will take part - don't forget that reading is the foundation for success in primary education and beyond, so it is important to keep it up over the summer!
English Writing Skills - Holiday Workshops
For those parents wishing to enhance their children’s English writing skills over the summer, please see the links below:
There are very few workshops available this summer, but there are plenty of writing opportunities that can be undertaken at home. Keeping a diary is a great way to ensure regular writing and reflection, and the world around us can stimulate ideas for poetry and story writing. Creative writing is a wonderful method of self expression, so a pen, pad and imagination is a great place to start.
Summer Tennis Camps
Miss Walker and Mr. Stidder are, as usual, running tennis camps over the summer. You can find the details here and here. This is a great way to stay active and keep busy so we hope many of you will sign up!
Virtual Open Morning - September
Our next online Open Morning will take place on Friday 24th September at 10.00 a.m. If you, or any family and friends, have a son or daughter eligible for entry to Ducklings, Nursery or Reception in September 2022, September 2023 or September 2024, please do register/encourage them to register to attend. The registration link is here.
Next Academic Year
The school calendar has been updated with dates for the autumn term. Please do check it and make a note of significant dates. STEAM Day will be taking place on Wednesday 29th September and parents may be invited to offer workshops as usual - look out for an email about this!
Uniform & Equipment
If you have not already done so, please check the Uniform & Equipment list on the School Documents page of the website so that you can ensure that your child has all that they will need for their next year group.
Funtasia/Breakfast Club Bookings
Bookings for wraparound care for the Autumn term will open on the first day of term, 2nd September, very early in the morning. Breakfast Club and After School Club will be available as usual and, as ever, we ask that you book as far in advance as you can, wherever possible, as this is so helpful for us when planning staffing, catering and other logistics.
Co-Curricular Arrangements and Bookings
We are currently finalising the co-curricular programme for the Autumn term. Bookings will open soon after the start of the term and we will send a reminder at that time to ask you to make your choices. Clubs are being planned to start from the week beginning Monday 13th September.
Autumn Term Menu
The menu for the autumn term has been published to the School Documents page. Please do take a look at it with your child ahead of the new academic year to help them to make sensible choices.
When sending in snacks for break times, please follow the school rules and send fruit, vegetables or plain biscuits in a named snack box. In exceptional circumstances, if your child is getting very hungry or needs a second snack for after school before a club, you may send a plain sandwich (cheese, ham or similar). No high fat, high sugar or high salt foods are permitted and please do not send anything messy!
Individual Instrumental and Vocal Tuition
Please note that, from January 2022, fees for individual instrumental and vocal tuition will increase as follows:
30 minute lesson (Upper School): £22.50
20 minute lesson (Lower School): £14.50
Parents are reminded that a term's notice is required if you would like your child to stop receiving individual instrumental or vocal tuition. Notice should be emailed to Mrs. Fawbert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FREE Pause Mother and Baby Mindfulness Classes
Starting from Wednesday 8th September, we will be running FREE Mother and Baby Mindfulness Classes at St. Helen's College for babies aged from 3 months to crawling (no crawlers allowed). If you, or any of your friends and family, have a baby who will be the right age, and you would like to attend, simply email email@example.com with your full name, baby's name and date of birth to book your place.
The classes, led by Mrs. McLaughlin, will run at 9 a.m. on Wednesday mornings, in the Evans Hall at Upper School, and there are six classes in each course. These classes will give an opportunity for mothers and babies to bond and enjoy mindful time together, and will include techniques such as mindful breathing, yoga and massage.
Posted on: 9/07/2021
Farewell to St. Helen's College by Miss WalkerI had been putting off writing my farewell blog; I knew it would be very difficult to write as I am truly sad to be leaving a place that has meant so very much to me and my family over the past 27 years. But as I settled myself down, with a glass of wine in hand, to go down memory lane, I received the devastating news that I would have to self isolate in the final week of term. It has been completely heartbreaking not to be able to be with my school family in my final week and to say the goodbyes and thank yous I wanted to say in person to so many colleagues, parents and pupils. However, working from home this last week has given me more time to reflect on my time at St. Helen’s College and to focus on the happy memories which will fill my heart forever.
My St. Helen’s College journey began in 1994 when I joined the school as a fresh faced graduate and new mum with a nine month old daughter to teach PE part time. Things were certainly different back then: I was the only female staff member permitted to wear trousers, in the form of a very fetching brightly coloured 1990’s shell tracksuit, and the only sports pupils played were football and cricket for boys and rounders and netball for girls. The Upper School playground was the size of one third of the existing netball court and a scaled down netball court was marked out and the rest of the outside area behind Cambria was a grassed old orchard. It took my best persuasive powers to convince Mr. and Mrs. Crehan to make the playground bigger in 2004 so that pupils could benefit from more play space and better sports facilities. When I started at the school, PE was led by Mrs. Bryant and Miss Cooper (1C teacher) and her older sister Sarah were in the Y5 and 6 netball team, so it seems fitting that I will be handing on the baton to Miss Cooper to run the Y5 and 6 netball team next year.
I became Head of PE in 1996 and working afternoons gave me the opportunity to balance family life whilst developing my teaching career and growing a tennis coaching business alongside Mr. Stidder. In fact, Mr. Stidder has been associated with St. Helen’s College for longer than me, providing tennis coaching at the school since 1992! I continued to work part time as my family grew with the arrival of my son in 1998. Subsequently both my children joined the school in Nursery, then called Rainbows and Sunshines, and they both went through the school, taught by Mrs. Hunt, Mrs. Allery, Mrs. Belvoir and Mrs. Stark amongst others. In recent years, since graduating, my daughter has come back to work at the school from time to time too. So I hope this gives you a sense of how my family has been so closely linked to the St. Helen’s College family over the years.
Throughout the early 2000s I ran a successful Ofsted registered morning pre-school in The Pavillion in Court Park and many children from here progressed to join St. Helen’s College where I continued to teach them. Perhaps this was the inspiration for our very own Ducklings Kindergarten? By 2008 I was teaching full time at the school and became subject leader for geography and took on a shared form tutor role with Ms Turner. In 2010 I was invited to join the Senior Leadership Team as Director of Co-curriculum, a role I have thoroughly enjoyed.
The school has changed immeasurably over the past 27 years, expanding to two form entry, relocating Lower School from All Saints Church to its present site, and adding a science block, art studio and refectory. The PE shed, which used to be my office too, has been moved three times! I am immensely proud of the many developments I have been responsible for introducing during my time at the school. These have included expanding the day and residential visit programme, the introduction of an overnight sleepover visit for Y3 and extending the Y5 visit from a weekend trip to a week. I have also led and encouraged outdoor learning to take place to spark pupils’ curiosity, deepen their understanding, and improve their sense of well-being. I introduced swimming to the curriculum and established more opportunities for pupils to compete with local state schools and independent schools. I am proud of developing a modern, future facing geography curriculum which encourages an awareness of the issues of climate change and develops tangible skills for pupils to build upon in the future, and of introducing an extensive co-curriculum clubs programme across a range of creative, aesthetic, sporting and academic fields. Yet it is the positive impact the progressive Heartstart first aid training programme for pupils and the School Travel Plan to make school travel safer and more active has had for pupils and their families of which I am particularly proud. Through it all, my passion and commitment has always been to make a difference and to provide the very best learning experiences and opportunities for personal development for St. Helen’s College pupils. It has given me great personal and professional satisfaction to see so many pupils grow and develop into confident young people, ready to face new challenges with integrity. It is lovely that so many of our alumni keep in touch and just last week in Court Park I bumped into no fewer than four St. Helen’s College old boys and girls and their families! Hearing about their achievements and sharing their memories about their time at St. Helen’s College makes my heart swell with a great sense of pride to know I have been part of their journey in life.
This place has been such a wonderful and inspiring place for pupils to learn and for me to work. It has been my enormous pleasure to lead a variety of initiatives which highlighted and communicated what a unique and special place it was and raised the profile of the school locally and nationally. Achieving the Gold TfL STARs Award, the School Games Platinum Award and reaching the finals of the 2020 TES Independent Schools Awards in not just one but two categories: ‘Student Initiative of the Year’ and ‘Sport, Health and Wellbeing’ were notable moments. Yet I think being runner up in 2013 for the Pearson Teacher of the Year Award stands out as something special. The initial nomination was made by the then Head Girl, Emily Hannis, and the subsequent kind and heartfelt supporting statements submitted for the award by many pupils, parents, alumni and principals is something that I will always cherish.
I have taught thousands of St. Helen’s College pupils, including three Crehan children, my own and other staff members' children and many families - brothers, sisters and cousins, over the years and I have befriended pupils and parents alike. I am grateful for the support and kindness parents have shown me and I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to serve this wonderful community as a teacher and member of the Senior Leadership Team. I have met the most fantastic people here and I am forever changed by my inspiring and compassionate colleagues, with whom I have enjoyed close working relationships and friendships over the years. Thank you too to the incredible pupils I have had the pleasure of teaching. I hope I have made a difference in many of their lives, just as they have irrevocably changed mine.
I have been blessed to be part of a strong school community at St. Helen’s College and I look forward to becoming a member of, and contributing to, another school community in this way. I look forward to the opportunities that await me both professionally and personally at High March School. It is not a coincidence this is a school with a similar history and heritage to St. Helen’s College, with a family ethos and with the values of friendship and kindness at its core. I will truly miss the amazing colleagues, pupils and parents I have been fortunate to know. I am honoured to have received the opportunity to grow personally and develop my career amid such talent and brilliance.
So as the sun goes down on my time here and I say farewell, I hope in some small way I will be leaving my footprints at St. Helen’s College. I will always remember my life at St. Helen’s College fondly and, just as the school song says, this school is ‘my second family’ and it is ‘my heart’. I will be forever connected to this community for that reason.