School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 19/04/2018
Head's Blog - Nurturing The Love Of WritingThere has been recent debate in the news on the detrimental effects of touch screen devices on the development of young children’s handwriting skills.
Over the past ten years there has been a rapid increase in the use of ipads and other touch screen devices and young babies and toddlers are amazing parents with their incredible use of swiping actions as they navigate the apps on their parents’ phones or tablets.
Personally, I am saddened when I see youngsters in restaurants glued to tablets while the adults engage in social conversation. Don’t get me wrong – I am not against the use of technology! Indeed, some of the games and apps being developed for young children are super for encouraging the development of certain skills. However, recent research has seen a decline in children’s handwriting skills caused by the lack of dexterity and movement skills needed to hold a pencil.
Traditional craft activities such as playdoh, drawing, painting, cutting and sticking, threading beads or doing jigsaws seem to be disappearing with the influx of technology. These activities can play a crucial part in developing the fine motor skills needed by children as they grow, including their handwriting skills.
Handwriting skills are important and I am sure that many of you will fully support me in this. There are some people who feel that it does not matter if you are able to have good handwriting or not as the use of technology increases. However, I am pleased to say that here at St. Helen's College we pride ourselves on teaching the children handwriting skills and there is great excitement as they work towards gaining their ‘pen licence’ in Middle School. I am sure many of you were impressed at the quality of the handwriting and writing on display at Exhibition Day recently.
Over the Easter holidays I was touched as I received several postcards from children who had written to their classes from their holiday travels. I urge you as parents to continue to encourage all of your children to take pride and joy in the art of handwriting. I hope that many of our children still write thank you letters to family and friends for gifts that they receive on special occasions. You could also encourage your children to keep a diary and/or reflections book, to compile written fact files or to have a go at writing stories...writing should be enjoyable, relevant and fun!
Our Year 3 pupils and Year 6 pupils have the opportunity to write penpal letters to children in Spain and France – and so practise not only their handwriting, but also writing in a foreign language!
I have fond memories of writing activities as a child. I kept a diary from about the age of 8 right through to my teenage years! I recently found these in my mother’s attic and spent hours reminiscing, laughing and cringing about some of what I had written!
There was a magazine called ‘Blue Jeans’ which had penpal pages and for over three years I wrote to a lovely girl in Zambia who lived in a convent school. Sadly I have lost touch with her but the joy of receiving her air mail letters I still remember. I was fortunate to keep in touch with my childhood French penpal and met up with her and her family on a holiday to France some 20 years later.
My husband seems to have forgotten that we spent several months in different countries many moons ago when we were dating – but I still have all the lovely handwritten letters we wrote to each other!
These are all examples of such special memories, all kept on paper for years to come, and of relationships built by the power of the pen. And all this before the influx of technology.
Last term we discussed how we need to model reading to children and to be seen by our children reading a book for pleasure, relaxing and enjoying texts. The same could also be said for writing.
So this term, I challenge you all to share the love of writing and to show your children that you still value the skill of handwriting. Write a letter to someone who you have not seen for a while, start a reflective journal (these are really useful for the work place!), or write with your children on a shared writing activity: a poem, a shared family travel journal over the duration of a holiday, or a story/play that you create together.
Posted on: 23/03/2018
Weekly News - Friday 23rd March 2018It was super to be joined by so many parents for our Easter Service today. We wish you all a happy Easter and a relaxing holiday with your families.
Speech Competition/Poetry Recital
All pupils from Nursery to Year 6 performed with great confidence, articulation and pride at our annual Junior and Senior Speech Competitions and at the Nursery and Reception poetry recitals. It is a testament to the families' support and the superb teaching here that our children are able to take to the stage and demonstrate such highly developed public speaking skills. Congratulations to all of the children for learning their poems and speeches, but special congratulations to our winners.
The overall winners were:
Years 1-3: Zidane B
Years 4-6: Daniel G-J.
Music and Sports Personalities of the Term
Many congratulations to Shreya T, who was named the Music Personality of the Term for the Spring Term for her outstanding effort, commitment, dedication and achievement within the music department.
Shreya has always worked conscientiously and demonstrated enormous enthusiasm over several years, in all aspects of music at St Helen’s College. She:
has excellent musical skills and is very knowledgeable;
applies and shares creative ideas successfully in class work;
is always impeccably behaved and is an excellent role model;
plays the recorder fluently;
enjoys and sings in the Senior Choir;
has recently sung at St John’s Smith Square and The Royal Festival Hall with the Chamber Choir;
is a reliable music monitor;
has worked extremely hard in singing lessons and
has recently passed a Grade 5 singing exam with distinction.
Our Sports Personality of the Term was also announced this week and the award went to a very deserving Chiara L in Y5. Chiara has shown commitment and determination to achieve her sporting goals this term, training incredibly hard to reach an excellent standard of skill in her sport. She remains very modest about her achievements but is really brave when competing, often somersaulting 5 meters in the air. The whole school was incredibly proud of her as she competed at the international competition in Portugal this term and won a gold medal. Many congratulations, Chiara!
There are photographs of the winners on the Galleries page.
Our Year 3 children are involved in a new project, exchanging letters with a Spanish school in Murcia, in the southeast of Spain. Last Thursday, to develop this further and as a surprise for our children, Year 3 actually had the opportunity to have Skype conversations with Spanish pupils, exchanging likes/dislikes and talking about their hobbies, favourite subjects and more. This was a wonderful opportunity to develop their Spanish by speaking with Spanish pupils and the children here are full of excitement for what comes next. Some new international friendships, maybe? We are looking forward to exploring the possibilities of this new project and we will keep you posted!
Trips And Visits This Week
Reception were so lucky to be visited by the Starlab Planetarium this week as a fantastic end to their topic on 'Space'. Once inside the dome, they took an amazing journey through space - looking at the sun, the planets in our solar system, spiral galaxies and stunning nebulae. They were then treated to a breathtaking 360 degree view of the night sky, where they identified some of the most famous constellations and heard how their stories had been passed down through time. It was an incredible experience that they will never forget!
On Wednesday, Year 4 went on a fantastic trip to the Synagogue, which served as a fitting conclusion to their studies of Judaism. The children were impeccably behaved throughout - as was commented on by all of the wonderful and welcoming hosts - during three workshops on the Shabbat, the Torah and Jewish song. All of Year 4 performing a Jewish dance, which provided an entertaining end to a truly outstanding trip.
Chess Club has been busy this term, with participants competing in matches as part of our chess tournament. In the end, Aditya S won the chess tournament in a nail-biting finish to beat Michael K by one point. There were three players who qualified for the Megafinal at Harrow High School on Thursday 12th April: Ayush A, Aditya S and Michael K. Well done to all those who have been developing their chess skills and to these three boys in particular!
The Chess Team enjoyed a friendly match yesterday too, with the teams as follows:
A team: 1 Ayush 2 Michael. 3 Catherine 4 Luke
B team: 1 Aditya. 2 Nirmit 3 Keaton 4 Jai
The result of the first round matches was:
St. Helen's A team v. St. Bernadette's A team
Draw Board 1 Draw
Win Board 2 Lose
Draw Board 3 Draw
Draw Board 4 Draw
St. Helen's B team v. St. Bernadette's B team
Win Board 1 Lose
Win Board 2 Lose
Win Board 3 Lose
Win Board 4 Lose
This was a clean sweep by our B team so things were looking good at the halfway stage.
St. Helen's A team v. St. Bernadette's B team
Lose Board 1 Win
Win Board 2 Lose
Win Board 3 Lose
Lose Board 4 Win
St. Helen's B team v. St. Bernadette's A team
Lose Board 1 Win
Lose Board 2 Win
Win Board 3 Lose
Lose Board 4 Win
So at the end we won round 1 and St. Bernadette's won round 2 so the result was a draw. As this was a friendly, we agreed a draw and did not go into finer detail. However, had this been a tournament match we would have won with more individual wins! Well done to all of the pupils, who played well in the face of stiff opposition.
If your children (and you) might enjoy hearing some music from the movies, why not attend the Family Concert at Trinity Church, Harrow tomorrow evening (Saturday 24th March)? Full details, including ticket prices and timings, are available here.
We have flute vacancies for children in Year 2 upwards. These will be allocated on a first come, first served basis so if you are interested in your son or daughter learning the flute, please contact Mrs. Allery as soon as possible at email@example.com.
We still have spaces available in the following Upper School clubs for the summer term.
(Bushcraft will include using a compass, map reading, the Countryside Code, recognising weather conditions, international signs of distress, ropes, knots & gadgets, building a shelter, finding water, building a fire and campfire cooking. Please note that this club is now available to Y4 too.)
Y2/3 Spanish club
Y4/5/6 Spanish club
Y5/6 Tag rugby
Please contact Miss Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible if you would like to book onto these clubs for next term
Easter Girls' Basketball Camp
There will be a basketball camp for girls taking place at Douay
Martyrs School over the Easter holidays between Tuesday 3rd - Friday 6th April. Daily sessions run from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
The camp will be a mix of drills, matches, mini competitions and shooting games with an emphasis on fun and enjoyment. All girls aged 7-17 are welcome, regardless of ability or whether they have played basketball before, and the camp will be run by female coaches. There’s also an early bird price of £75 (reduced from £90) for all places booked by 29th March - you can make your booking with a text, call or email and payment can be made later on the first day of camp. Full details are available here.
PA Quiz Night - Saturday 12 May 2018
The PA Quiz Night will take place at 7 p.m. on Saturday 12th May 2018 (adults only). The reply slips to book your team in (no more than 8 people per team) have now been circulated in book bags so, if you fancy an evening of fun and laughter and the opportunity to test your grey matter, get your forms filled in and back to us by 27th April please. Tickets cost £10 each and will include a chip shop supper but you will need to bring your own drinks. Places are limited so do get in early to ensure that you don’t miss out. We look forward to seeing you there!
PA Easter Raffle
This year, the PA donated a prize for a free Easter egg draw for each class. Congratulations to all of the lucky winners and Happy Easter to all from the PA!
Posted on: 16/03/2018
Saving Water - Children Are The Future (By Mr. Lewis)
When it comes to saving water, the children are the future
When scientists search for life on other worlds, they begin by looking for water. Water is vital for life and yet in the affluent West we take it for granted, wasting it, polluting it and disrupting the water cycle. Next Thursday is the United Nations World Water Day and, to coincide with this, Waterwise will be running a UK Water Saving Week. Each day will have a theme with a downloadable pack full of ideas, information, challenges, posters, infographics and water saving tips.
I must declare an interest in water efficiency. I grew up in Cape Town - the first modern city to declare a day on which it will run out of water. The date has been pushed back from mid-April but when Day Zero comes, homes will not be supplied with running water and residents will need to queue for water rations. Cape Town’s annual rainfall is greater than London’s and its population is less than half of ours but a recent drought and mismanagement have led to the crisis.
Of course, in some places fresh, clean water is even more difficult to come by than just having to queue for it. Eight years ago, my 16 year old daughter and I volunteered in a rural village in Ghana. It was near a lake but due to poor infrastructure there was no fresh running water available so water was trucked from elsewhere and sold in plastic bags. We were unable to wash properly and my daughter became seriously ill. This experience was one of the motivators for her to study water science and governance, which has led her to co-ordinating Water Saving Week. We may have hopes and plans for our children’s careers but it is their life experiences that will lead them to their vocation.
At St. Helen’s College, the children are better informed than most about water, its importance for life and the consequences of water scarcity and contamination. It is a significant part of the Year 5 geography curriculum. The children investigate the processes and infrastructures that get clean water to our homes in the UK and, in partnership with Affinity Water, they undertake a STEM water pipe engineering challenge. They look at water pollution case studies to understand how the environment can become damaged and they look for ways to save water in their daily lives. They learn about parts of the world where clean water is scarce and the impact that this has on the communities and particularly the children.
Please discuss saving water with your children and visit the Water Saving Week website. If they would like to write a poem or create a poster about water we will submit it to Waterwise and we may even win a prize.
You may also want to look at World Water Day and the main Waterwise website.
Posted on: 16/03/2018
Weekly News - Friday 16th March 2018We are looking forward to seeing you all at our annual Exhibition Day tomorrow. The school will be open from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and we hope that you will visit Ducklings, Lower School and Upper School to see all that your children have been busy doing! The car parks are likely to be very busy, so please do come on foot if you can and be prepared to park away from the school and walk if you are coming by car. Please remember that, while all of the teachers and assistants will be here and eager to chat with you, Exhibition Day does not allow time for in-depth discussion of your child's progress. If you would like to speak to any teacher in detail about your child's work then please do make an individual appointment. Children should wear their full school uniform to Exhibition Day please.
We were so proud of our Chamber Choir this week as they competed in the Barnardo's National Schools Choral Competiton at the Royal Festival Hall. They qualified for the final with over 150 schools from all over the UK competing for a place in this prestigious event. On the day they went up against eighteen other primary schools and performed magnificently. Although we were unable to beat Lindley School, who have won the competition now for the third year in succession, our pupils were all winners in our eyes! You can see their competition piece on the link below, which one of our parents has kindly shared with us.
3V proved today that screen time can be advantageous for children when they engage in such wonderful programmes presented in today's outstanding assembly! Educational and entertaining - the 3V team brought to life the Anglo Saxon period and demonstrated one of our school values of 'Respect'. The pupils' perfomances were a testament to how much respect they have for each other and their learning here at St Helen's College - well done everyone!
Our Eco Reps have had a very industrious week encouraging all pupils to be mindful of NOT wasting food and other resources. Each day in the dining rooms they have eagerly weighed our food waste and general waste and reported back in assemblies. We are delighted to report that the food waste has reduced over the week! This has been a superb week-long initiative which has highlighted to us all the important message of recycling appropriately and not to waste food.
The student voice at St. Helen's College is loud and clear and it is so positive to have such an active student council. The reps have been liaising with their classes and taking the ideas and suggestions of the student body to Miss Vig in their weekly meeting. The Year 6 reps then meet with Mrs. Drummond on a regular basis to present the agreed areas for development. Some of the suggestions which have been actioned are board games for the playground, Park Club, Yorkshire puddings for all (not just meat eaters!), new cups in the dining room and soup at lunchtime. Keep up the great work, council reps!
Football League Champions!
On Wednesday, after a long wait due to the adverse weather conditions over the last couple of months, we finally went into our last football league game, knowing that a win would secure St. Helen's College our second ever league championship. The team was very nervous all week but looked forward to kicking off against St. Mary's. On a heavy and wet pitch, we started uphill and the side seemed apprehensive and struggled to settle. However, after about twelve minutes, Ryeesa took a corner and Eli headed home! It stayed 1-0 until half time and the team re-grouped and then produced one of their best 15 minutes of football of the season. Eli scored a further two goals for his hat trick and the team and spectators knew we were champions! It has been a wonderful season with the team improving every game, producing some exciting football with skill and pace. Congratulations to all team members who made this possible.
The Year 5 and 6 swimming team took part in the School Games district swimming gala on Thursday evening at Hillingdon Sport and Leisure Complex. The event attracted eleven local schools and initial heats for each event were held, followed by finals for the six fastest swimmers. In the individual breaststroke heats, Timi and Wenru swam for St. Helen's, with Timi finishing in 3rd place in his boys' heat and Wenru in 4th place in her girls' heat. This was quickly followed by William and Zoe swimming in the individual backstroke heats. William finished in 4th place and Zoe in 3rd place in very fast heats. Finally Lincoln and Lily took to the pool to contest the individual freestyle heats, with both of our swimmers winning their heats.
After the individual heats our team had to get ready for the relay heats. In teams of three our swimmers competed in the medley relay and freestyle relay heats. Adiyta, Wenru and William teamed up to swim the medley relay finishing in 3rd place in their heat and Lincoln, Timi and Lily teamed up to swim the freestyle relay winning their heat convincingly. When the places in the finals were announced, the team were excited to discover they had qualified for 7 out of 8 finals.
In the boys' breaststroke final and girls' backstroke final, Timi and Zoe narrowly missed out on medals finishing in 4th place but medals came St. Helen's way with Lincoln winning a silver medal in the boys' freestyle final and Lily winning a gold medal in the girls' freestyle final. It was gold again in the freestyle relay final for Lily, Timi and Lincoln, who led from the front all the way through to the finish. In the overall team competitions the team finished in 3rd place in the individual cup, relay team cup and overall team cup. Many congratulations to all our swimmers!
Hillingdon Primary Schools Table Tennis Festival
On Monday, our team of four took part in the Borough Primary Schools Table Tennis Festival at Oakwood secondary school. Our team was seeded 1 - 4 to play against seeded players from the other schools, with each player playing five matches. St. Helen's College won 19 of their 20 matches, which is an outstanding achievement and led to us being crowned tournament winners. The Mayor of Hillingdon presented our team with gold medals and was pleased to pose for photo opportunities with them too! Well done to the team members: Ryeesa S, Daniel C, Ethan V-B and Jai S.
Co-Curricular clubs have now finished for this term, with the exception of the following clubs which will be running catch up sessions next week:
Yr 3 & 4 Netball Monday 19th
Yr 2 & 3 Art Wednesday 21st
Yr 2 & Yr 4, 5 & 6 Tennis Thursday 22nd
Yr 5 & 6 Minecraft Thursday 22nd
Yr 5 & 6 French drama Thursday 22nd
Easter Service and End of Term
Parents are warmly invited to attend the Easter service at All Saints Church at 11 a.m. on Friday 23rd. Please remember that Friday 23rd March is the last day of term and is a half day. Holiday Club will be running in the afternoon.
Easter Tennis Camps
If you have a keen young tennis player, or a child who would like to have a go at tennis, then you might be interested in the Easter tennis camps which are run by our very own Miss Walker. You can find details here.
Easter Basketball Camps
Children who would like to practise their basketball over Easter might be interested in the basketball camps being run by Thames Valley Cavaliers. You can find details here.
Posted on: 9/03/2018
Weekly News - Friday 9th March 2018It is just one week to go now until our annual Exhibition Day, at which we celebrate the hard work and achievements of your children throughout the year. Exhibition Day will take place on Saturday 17th March from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. We have sent invitations out to each family and we do urge you to attend!
This special occasion, which is for current parents only, gives parents and other family members a chance to visit classrooms at all three sites and throughout the school to see the work produced by pupils. Your children will, no doubt, be eager to show you all that they have been doing. They will also enjoy reminiscing when visiting younger classes and looking forward to what is in store for them in the future when visiting older year groups.
Refreshments will be available in The Evans Hall throughout the morning and all of your children's teachers and teaching assistants will be on hand. However, please note that teaching staff will not be available on this day for in-depth discussion of children's progress or other matters. Should you need to speak individually with the teacher about your child, please do make an appointment at another mutually convenient time.
Parents have traditionally been very generous with sending in flowers and lending vases for this day. We thank you in advance for your support. The day is for current families of the school only. If you know of any families with young children who might be interested in St. Helen's College as prospective parents, we will be running a 'School at Work' Open Morning at the start of the summer term, so please do encourage them to telephone us and get booked in.
The children have been very busy throughout this week learning about the work of the NSPCC and how to keep themselves safe. As an added bonus, they have also been keeping themselves healthy in their fundraising venture scooting and cycling around the playground. Thank you to family and friends who have supported this very important charity.
Assemblies This Week
We have seen some beautifully performed class assemblies at school this week, on three very different but very interesting and important topics. Wrens Nursery presented their assembly all about Mother's Day with astonishing confidence and presence for children so young. They told us all about mums and all that they do, and some children explained why they love their mummy in particular. As you can imagine, there was barely a dry eye in the house! Congratulations, Wrens!
On Thursday, 5W demonstrated their understanding of narrative poetry with an excellent performance of The Highwayman, one of the most famous narrative poems.Through song and spoken word, they recited the poem as they re-enacted the story in costume and to great effect. There was a rhythmic drum beat and coconut halves provided the sound of horse's hooves. No-one could fail to be moved as the poem reached its tragic and unforgettable conclusion. Well done, 5W.
4T taught us all about meta-learning through their performance today, which included drama, music, movement and some humour too. They reminded us that we all learn in different ways and that it is by understanding ourselves as learners that we can reach our full potential. They also reminded us of the importance of being ready to learn at all times, and of how we might suffer if we are not ready to learn. All those watching will no doubt now remember the St. Helen's College mantra, that everyone should be Ready, Respectful and Safe at all times. Good work, 4T!
International Gymnastics Success!
Congratulations are due to Chiara L and her gymnastics partner, who did incredibly well in Portugal at the Maia International Acro Cup last weekend after dedicating several months of practice, sheer hard work and commitment to Acro gymnastics. Chiara would practise for 4-5 hours after school, perfecting the routine in preparation for their first international competition.
Last Friday, they beat 30 other pairs, representing over 12 countries, to qualify in first place for the final on Sunday. Then, in an exciting final, they held their nerve and performed beautifully to take gold! They are now the 2018 International Youth WP Acro Champions! This is a major achievement for Chiara; her family, friends and the whole school are tremendously proud of her.
You can see photographs of the event on our Galleries page.
This week our netball teams took part in the annual Reddiford School netball tournament. Our teams went as defending champions, having won the event for the past three years. Teams from Alpha Prep School, Quainton Hall, Reddiford School and St. Helen's College took part this year in a fun 'round robin' format. It was the first taste of 7-a-side netball for our teams, as they make the progress from Hi-five netball in preparation for secondary school netball. Both the A and B teams worked well on the court, adjusting to having WA/WD on court, and delivered some good patterns of play in their performances.
The A team won 3 and narrowly lost 2 matches and the B team won 2 matches and lost 3 matches. The overall tournament winners this year were Alpha Prep but our teams are determined to go back next year to try to reclaim the trophy! Well done to all the girls who took part: Zara, Abigail, Ionie, Grace, Aaria, Amishi, Natalie, Maddy, Zoe, Eshar, Wenru, Rhea, Georgia and Shreya.
Co-Curriculum - Summer Term
The Co-Curriculum Programmes for the summer term have now been posted to the School Documents page of the website and are available by following these links:
Upper School Programme - Summer 2018
Lower School Programme - Summer 2018
The closing date for returning booking forms is Wednesday 14th March.
We are now promoting Waste Week, which takes place between 12th and 16th March. The focus this year is 'food and packaging' waste, so as a school we will be looking at ways to reduce these. Our Eco Reps have been busy making posters to help remind us all of the best ways to do this and what unfortunately happens when we use too much packaging.
We are also asking the children to think about how they can also reduce food waste at home. You can see more information here and here.
Your child will be bringing home a paper copy of their own 'student food diary' so that they can complete it and return to their class teacher, who will pass it to either Miss Dear, Miss Vig or Mrs. Mann.
We will also be having a fact finding mission around the school for children to learn more about food and packaging waste.
Thank you for your support with this campaign.
We will be bidding farewell to two members of staff at Easter time. Mrs. Sweeney will be leaving us after many years of service to enable her to spend more time with her family. Mrs. Copland, one of our Lower School lunchtime assistants, will also be leaving to take up another role. We wish them both well and thank them for their dedication and commitment to the school.
Next term, 1S will be taught by Mrs. Hunt, assisted by Miss Davies and Ms Thomas. 1HC will be taught by Miss Cooper.
Easter Holiday Club Bookings Now Open
The booking form for the Easter Holiday Club has now been posted to the School Documents page of the website and is available here. Please note that completed booking forms must be returned by next Friday, 16th March.
PA Easter Raffle
As has become traditional, the PA has donated prizes for an Easter raffle for the children. All of the children will be included in this free Easter egg draw (which will take place in the last week before the Easter break) and there will be one prize for each class. We hope that the lucky winners enjoy their prizes!
Battle of Britain Bunker
If your child has a keen interest in history (or you are hoping to spark one!), the Battle of Britain Bunker in Uxbridge will re-open on Friday 30 March (Good Friday), along with the new visitor centre. The visitor centre will be open seven days per week (closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day), from 10 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., with last admission at 3.30 p.m.
You can find more details here. We do hope many of you will take your children to this very local and very interesting historical site.
We would like to remind parents again of the school parking regulations, which are published on the School Documents page of the website and are available here. It is crucial that parents follow these, both for the safety of children and adults and to maintain good relationships with our neighbours and the local community. We would like to remind parents in particular that staff car parks may not be used by parents and that parents must not park in Parkway on the opposite side of the road to the school, as this obstructs the flow of traffic along Parkway. Thank you for your support.
Posted on: 9/03/2018
Head's Blog - Child Welfare (by Mrs. Smith)The Oxford English Dictionary offers two definitions of the word ‘welfare’:
‘Statutory procedure or social effort designed to promote the basic physical and material well-being of people in need’.
‘The health, happiness and fortunes of a person or group’.
Thankfully, we live in a country where much is made of the need to look after ‘child welfare’ by the government, by charities and by the press. There are, necessarily, guidelines issued to ensure that families, schools and other services make sure that the ‘basic physical and material well-being’ needs of children are met. There are objective measures which can be taken to check that this is happening and it is certainly happening here at St. Helen’s College. However, the second definition of welfare is equally interesting. How do we, as a school, know whether we are doing well at looking after the ‘happiness and fortunes of a person or group’?
Today I saw a very sweet interaction on the steps outside of my office window at morning break time. There were five girls altogether, and one girl did not have a snack with her today. Two of her friends immediately offered to share their snacks with her, and the other two quickly followed suit. However, one then pointed out that they perhaps should not do this, in case the first girl had any allergies or wasn’t allowed to eat what the others had brought. A brief discussion ensued, before the first girl and one of her friends decided that they would visit the school office to let staff know that she was snack-less, and rather hungry.
Interested to see the outcome of this little vignette, I popped into the office in time to see the conversation between the girls and Miss Lang, our Welfare Officer. Miss Lang sympathised with the child who had forgotten her snack, and thanked her friend for accompanying her to the office. Having checked the child’s dietary requirements, Miss Lang then offered her a choice of the banana she had brought in for her own mid-morning snack, or a plain biscuit from the ‘staff stash’. The girl chose the banana, thanked Miss Lang and went away happy.
This story typifies, for me, what ‘welfare’ is about at St. Helen’s College. It is not just about the meeting of basic needs. It is about kindness, empathy and working together to ensure that children feel included, valued and loved. In another school, the girl might just have got through the morning without a snack. No permanent damage would have been done and her ‘basic physical well-being’ would not have been compromised. But here at St. Helen’s College, her welfare was actively promoted by her friends and by the staff. They imagined how she might feel at being the only one without a snack (hungry, a bit left out, a bit forgotten) and they worked hard to make sure that she did not feel those things. I feel sure that, if she were to forget her snack again, the same thing would happen. I think that Miss Lang would probably also telephone her parents to remind them, kindly, to help her to remember her snack in future – after all, Miss Lang’s personal fruit supply can only stretch so far!
This is at the heart of what makes St. Helen’s College a special place. Everyone in our ‘family’ looks out for each other; everyone is prepared to go that extra mile, sharing what they have and helping others to feel safe and cared for. We don’t just meet the ‘basic physical and material well-being needs’ of our children; by teaching and enacting the school’s values, we help every child to feel involved, looked after and glad to be with us. When a child feels involved, looked after and glad, they instinctively want to help others feel that way too. So they, and we, actively promote ‘the happiness and fortunes’ of our group.
Posted on: 2/03/2018
Weekly News - Friday 2nd March 2018Yesterday we celebrated World Book Day and the children looked fantastic in their costumes. We had many Roald Dahl classics including several Willy Wonkas, Miss Trunchbull, the Twits, tortoises and even a golden ticket! Each year group looked at a particular Roald Dahl story and delved into his marvellous world of imagination. Some of the events planned for yesterday were put on hold due to the conditions - they will be rearranged in the coming days.
We also had a fantastic author visit from Shane Hegarty, who had travelled from Ireland to share stories about his 'Darkmouth' series. He provided some wonderful writing tips for the children, all inspired by just two words: What if? He also informed us that a major animated movie based on the series is currently in the works. Watch this space!
You can see photos on our Galleries page.
It was with Dunkirk spirit and an incredible bunch of excited and colourful book characters that every member of our Kingfisher class embraced the snowy weather to remind us of the joy of books on World Book Day. We were in the company of some of the greats: Goldilocks, Alice in Wonderland, Paddington, Harry Potter and Willie Wonka to name but a few!
Some great advice was shared, including a section of Roald Dahl's 'Television' poem, but one of the important messages delivered by the children was another Roahld Dahl quote: "if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely."
Thank you to all of our wonderful characters for delivering such a superb assembly and to the parents for supporting us in getting our astronauts, crocodiles, Dorothys, Ariels and other cast members to school on such a memorable day!
The netball squad took part in the local School Games netball rally last Saturday held at Ryefield School. Girls from Years 5 and 6 made up our two teams and despite the cold temperatures the sun shone and it was a great morning of netball, with sixteen teams taking part. Our B team played three group matches, losing two and drawing one match. Our A team won two matches and lost one match and it was enough to progress to the quarter finals to face Hermitage School. Our team played very well but it was a difficult match against a strong opponent and St. Helen's were knocked out of the tournament to the eventual tournament winners, Hermitage. The netball squad have had a good netball season and performed well in the local school league, finishing in second place in the league table. The team were awarded runners up silver medals in recognition of their achievement. Well done to everyone who played in the league this season and the whole netball squad: Amishi, Abigail, Maddy, Lily, Grace, Natalie, Zara, Ryeesa, Shreya, Rhea, Mya, Ionie, Aaria, Wenru, Georgia, Hebe, Tamara, Kyra, Eshar and Zoe.
Due to the current extreme weather conditions several football league and cup fixtures have had to be cancelled. They will be rearranged and we will advise of new dates as soon as possible. In order to complete the matches before the end of the season, at the end of this term we may have to schedule two matches per week. Currently the football team is top of the league and into the semi finals of the cup!
NSPCC Workshops and Fundraiser
The NSPCC’s 'Speak out. Stay safe.' programme will be visiting our school next week with their friendly mascot Buddy, to make sure our pupils have the knowledge and understanding they need to stay safe.
To support the NSPCC we are holding a fundraiser at school next week. This year’s fundraiser (the Buddy cycle and scooter workout) will involve children counting how many times they can cycle or scoot around a workout route in a set time. Pupils are asked to bring their (named) bicycle/scooter and helmet to school on the day of their challenge. The school will have some spare bicycles/scooters available too.
Year 6 will be taking part in the Buddy cycle and scooter workout but have chosen different activities to raise funds. 6M will take part in a Spellathon and 6D will take part in a maths challenge.
Full details have been sent home by email. We look forward to a successful collaboration with the NSPCC. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s class teacher.
The school now has a new procedure to report all head injuries to parents by telephone as they happen. We will report head injuries even if we do not consider there to be any cause for concern. We do not wish to worry parents unduly, and our Welfare staff will explain to parents clearly over the telephone whether any further action needs to be taken to monitor or investigate the injury. In the vast majority of cases, children who sustain minor bumps to the head are able to remain very happily in school and will not need to be collected or taken for further examination.
Posted on: 2/03/2018
Head's Blog - World Book Day ChallengeWhat with the ‘Beast from the East’ and ‘Storm Emma’ upon us, you find yourselves with the children at home due to the school closure. However, I beg parents to read this famous poem by Roald Dahl which was shared with the children in our World Book Day assembly.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have every child engaged with activities over the next few days which are not ‘screen’ based but are focussed on ‘books’. Who will take up the gauntlet?
Television - Poem by Roald Dahl
The most important thing we've learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set --
Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we've been,
We've watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone's place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they're hypnotised by it,
Until they're absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink --
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK -- HE ONLY SEES!
'All right!' you'll cry. 'All right!' you'll say,
'But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!'
We'll answer this by asking you,
'What used the darling ones to do?
'How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?'
Have you forgotten? Don't you know?
We'll say it very loud and slow:
THEY ... USED ... TO ... READ! They'd READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching 'round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it's Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There's Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They'll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start -- oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They'll grow so keen
They'll wonder what they'd ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.
MommyPoppins website has some other super ideas for you too!
We look forward to Monday when normal school routines will hopefully be resumed. I am sure that the first few days of March 2018 will be memorable to us all.