Our Approach to Teaching and Learning

The Science of Learning

We are passionate about education and about incorporating the latest pedagogical research into our teaching practices. The school is staffed with highly qualified, passionate teachers with a thirst for continuous professional development. We review our teaching and learning methods constantly and use a combination of more traditional, tried and tested strategies and newer approaches based on research in learning theory, including Flipped Learning, Outdoor Learning, Meta-Learning, Growth Mindset and much more.

At St. Helen’s College, children discover how and why particular ways of learning work for them and continuously reflect on their learning to improve. Class work, both oral and written, is completed to a high standard and homework is set at appropriate levels throughout the school. At all levels, reading forms the first and most crucial part of the homework routine.

Specialist and Team Teaching

Much of the teaching throughout the school is done by specialists, even right from the earliest years. Our specialist teachers have an absolute love for their subject, and a passion to share it and to inspire others. For example, our Head of Science is an ex Research Scientist, our Head of Computing is a computer scientist who worked in the software industry for many years, music teachers are themselves regular public performers and children from 2+ (Ducklings) up to 11+ (Year 6) are taught Spanish by a native Spanish speaker. Our staff are learners, too, who regularly undertake extra training and gain further postgraduate qualifications.

We are very well-staffed, with a high ratio of staff to children, and teachers are able to ‘team teach’ some lessons, so that there is more than one teacher facilitating the learning in a class. In addition to our teachers we employ a team of 30 teaching and learning assistants (TALAs) who support the teaching and learning throughout the school.


Posted on: 14/01/2022

Weekly News - Friday 14th January 2022

Barnardo's National Choral Competition We are delighted to announce that our Chamber Choir has once again reached the finals of this prestigious national choral competition. The final is scheduled to take place in the Barbican on Wednesday 23rd March at 6.30 p.m. and further details will be shared with parents who would like to attend this wonderful event in due course.   Internet Safety Day On Tuesday, we were visited by Paul Hay who gave talks to children throughout the school about how to stay safe online. Paul also delivered training to staff and an evening Zoom session for parents.  You can read more about the day and find links to the materials and presentations he shared in today's Head's Blog.   Royal Academy Of Arts Summer Show Submissions are now open for the Young Artists' Summer Show, an exciting opportunity for young artists aged 4-19 to exhibit their work online and onsite at the Royal Academy of Arts. It is free to enter and open to young artists studying in the UK. We hope that many pupils will submit artwork for this exhibition. Artwork should be submitted directly to the Royal Academy of Arts using the link below, but please do encourage pupils also to bring their creations into school to share with their class teacher and Mrs. Pruce, our Head of Art. Deadline for submissions is 30 March 2022. You can find out more and submit your work here. Sports News Our girls enjoyed a resounding victory over St. Andrew's School in their netball match on Wednesday evening. They played exceptionally well and it is lovely to see their skills developing throughout the season. Thank you to all who came along to support the team. Burns Night We will be celebrating Burns Night at school once again by giving the children the opportunity to taste Haggis! Our lovely chef Soula has also shared some recipe cards based around Oats and linked to Burns Night - you might like to have a go at making some of these recipes with your children at home. Smart Art Classes at Oak Farm Library There is a new smART CRAFT club which will be running every fortnight in Oak Farm Library.  This is an exciting new initiative which aims to encourage children's creativity through different art forms with the strong links to literature and reading in general as well as science.   The sessions will be run every fortnight between 3.30 and 5 p.m. in Oak Farm Meeting Room for older primary age children (Years 4, 5 and 6). Parents are asked to book on 01895 556242 or email with the child's details oakfarm-library@hillingdon.gov.uk as places are limited.  You can see more details here.
Posted on: 14/01/2022

Staying Safe

We pride ourselves at St. Helen’s College on ensuring that your children are well looked after and remain safe in our care. However, we also have the responsibility, along with you as parents, to ensure that the children understand how to stay safe when they are not under our supervision and that we are preparing them for life. The simple definition of safety is being ‘free from harm or risk: unhurt or secure from threat of danger, harm, or loss.’ There are many aspects of our curriculum which build upon this and our school behaviour mantra ‘Ready, Respectful, Safe’ helps to embed the principle of safety. We ‘teach’ road safety, first aid and water safety (as part of the swimming programme). We encourage a healthy lifestyle with good nutrition and physical exercise and our PSHCE curriculum promotes well-being and good mental health, incorporating aspects such as stranger danger, inappropriate touching, mindfulness, positive psychology and peer support. As you are all aware, online safety is an increasingly important aspect of safety, in which it is crucial that home and school are supporting children from a very young age. As part of our ‘Pre-Parenting Programme’ for preschoolers we have focussed one of our Teddy Talks on digital awareness - it can be viewed here.   On Tuesday this week, we welcomed Paul Hay back to St. Helen’s College. Paul is an Internet Safety Consultant (Paul’s website can be viewed here) and he has trained with CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) as a training ambassador. This was Paul’s fifth visit to St. Helen’s College and pupils, staff and parents yet again benefitted from his expertise. Paul’s visit is part of our ongoing programme to help keep children safe online. Although we have software to control internet access at school and children work under supervision, it is through education that we can keep the children safe wherever they are. Rather like road safety, we need to hold children's hands when they are young but teach them how to be safe when we are not there. We discuss safety and well-being in PSHCE and computing lessons every year and in Year 5 the children build their own websites on the subject. Topics covered include stranger danger and keeping information secret but of equal importance is the children’s own behaviour online and ensuring they are as kind and honest online as they are in the playground. Reception and Year 1 Paul shared the story of ‘Smartie the Penguin’ to capture the children’s attention and taught them a short snappy song about what to do if they came across something that troubled them on the internet - you may wish to view the story here. The words of the song are a simple ditty for pupils and parents to share: “Before you tap and click…. You need to stop and think… And TELL someone!” Years 2, 3 & 4 In advance of Paul’s visit the class teachers had shared a video with the pupils on ‘Playing Games’ - the video can be viewed here. The key tips from Paul’s session following discussions with the children were:  1. People online may be not be who they say they are. 2. Be nice to people online. 3. Do not share private information. 4. If you are worried - tell an adult. Years 5 & 6 The pupils took part in a ‘Private Information Exercise 2021’ which highlighted to the pupils the importance of not sharing personal information and revisited them being aware of ‘strangers’ online and the importance of speaking to adults if they feel uncomfortable about any activity they have online. All our teaching staff also participated in a session after school with Paul and it was reassuring to know that all that we do as part of our normal routines was ratified by him in his talk to us. Paul was pleased that staff and parents have access to the National Online Safety website with training and weekly updates. If you have not already registered with NOS (National Online Safety) please do so here and you will be able to self register as part of the St. Helen’s College membership. I attach at the end of this blog the jpeg of one of December’s weekly updates on age-appropriate content. Each week there are very useful updates - this week’s happens to be all about ‘Fortnite’.  It was great to see so many of our parents attending the evening session with Paul via Zoom and we are grateful for your continued support in keeping your children safe online. At school our systems are very secure and the children are not able to access content which is not suitable. It is equally important that parents are doing their best to ensure that your children’s online activities are as safe as possible. Paul’s website (here) has lots of superb links and help and he is more than happy for parents to email him with any questions which they may have. Please feel free to email him on paul.hay@pclstraining.com. For those of you who were unable to attend the parent session we have a recording of the talk which may be accessed here.  As always it is gratifying to know that home and school are all striving to do our best to keep the pupils of St. Helen’s College safe but also to prepare them for this digital world which is ever changing but such an exciting world to be part of! Mrs. Drummond
Posted on: 7/01/2022

Weekly News - Friday 7th January 2022

ISI Inspection Report We hope that all parents have now had an opportunity to read the report from the ISI Educational Quality inspection which took place towards the end of last term. We are sure that, in doing so, you share our pride in the pupils, staff and parents who make St. Helen's College such an amazing community. We were delighted that the inspectors found so much evidence of the superb work and excellent pupil progress at St. Helen's College, and were equally delighted that they were able to include so many examples in the final inspection report. The report is available on the website here and has also been featured by IAPS, ISC and Attain magazine. We will be producing a printed booklet containing the inspection results and will send one home to each family when this is ready. If you have a local business or anywhere else to share more booklets with the community and would like some more copies, please just let us know by contacting the school office and we will be pleased to provide more. Internet Safety Day Information Next Tuesday, 11th January, will be an Internet Safety Day here at St. Helen's College. We will be joined at school once again by Paul Hay from PCLS Training. All classes from Reception to Year 6 will have specific lessons/workshops on Internet Safety, staff will receive a twilight training session and there will be an evening Zoom session for parents too. Information about this has been emailed directly to parents and is copied below. Keeping your Child Safe Online Tuesday 11th January 2022 7.00 p.m. – 8.00 p.m. Our children live in the Internet Age. They love to use technology and play the latest games. However, it is not always easy for parents and carers to understand what they are doing and how we can help to do the right things to keep them out of danger. It is important that parents are also involved so they are able to help their children when they are at home. We would like to invite you to an online talk, which will be delivered by Paul Hay, a specialist in internet safety. Paul will be spending the school day with the children and staff and will then present to parents in the evening. He will tell you : How young people use the Internet. Show how children use programs such as Moshi Monsters, Minecraft, Roblox, Instagram, SnapChat and Tik Tok. Describe how information young people post can be misused by people who are not their friends.  Explain what you, as parents, can do to help keep them safe.   Above all it will give you as parents and carers the confidence to help your child get the most benefit and enjoyment from the internet while keeping safe.  Topics will be discussed in language we as parents understand. No technical or computer knowledge is required or expected.  To attend this session, please join Zoom Meeting: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/85069890558?pwd=WUc1d0p5a1NOQi9KUGk5SGk1Tm15dz09 Meeting ID: 850 6989 0558         Passcode: 813801 We look forward to you joining us. You may join on the night but it would be useful if you could complete this short form if you intend to attend. Ducklings/Nursery/Reception Parents' Evenings Parents' evenings will take place for Ducklings, Nursery and Reception on: Thursday 27th January 2022 (5.00 - 8.00 p.m.) - remote. Tuesday 1st February 2022 (4.00 - 7.00 p.m.) - in school. To book your appointment(s), please use the following link: https://sthelens.schoolcloud.co.uk/  Bookings will go live from 6.30 p.m. on Friday 14th January 2022. For parents who chose to have a remote meeting last time, it would be lovely to see you face-to-face in school this time if you can make it. Full class names should be used to access the system: Ducklings Kindergarten, Robins Nursery, Wrens Nursery, Owls, Kingfishers. Year 5 Transfer Meetings Mrs. Drummond will be holding individual meetings with Year 5 parents next week to discuss senior school transfer. If you have a child in Year 5 and have not yet booked an appointment with Mrs. Drummond, you can do so by following the link on the email sent out this week via SchoolsBuddy. Co-Curricular Activities - Spring Term Co-curricular activity sessions for spring term clubs will begin from Monday 10th January, apart from any clubs which take place outdoors at the end of the school day. These will begin from Monday 17th January (which will allow for more daylight as the days get longer). RSPB Bird Watch Week 2022 We continue to encourage families to enjoy the outdoors and sign up for the annual Big Garden Bird Watch which will be running from 28th - 30th January 2022.  Please see the link here on how to sign up.   Happier January Calendar and Happiness Jars As per the Head's Blog this week please see the link here to download your Happier January Calendar. We look forward to hearing about the 'happiness jars' that your children are creating at home. You may wish to join them in this lovely gratitude/happiness activity.  Class Assemblies We will not be having our usual annual Exhibition Day this year but instead parents will be invited to to view pupils' work back in the classroom following your child's class assembly.  You may therefore wish to schedule in a little more time to spend at school on the morning when you attend your child's class assembly.   Covid-19 PCR Tests Confirmatory PCR tests following a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test result are to be temporarily suspended from Tuesday 11th January. This will mean that anyone who receives a positive LFD test result will be required to self-isolate immediately and will not be required to take a confirmatory PCR test.
Posted on: 7/01/2022

Perseverance leads to Happiness

Happy New Year to one and all!  It is a joy to be back at school with our pupils and staff. The cold, crisp, blue skies of recent mornings have been such an invigorating start to this new term. In the first assembly of this term our new school value of ‘Perseverance’ was introduced to the children along with the Action for Happiness calendar for January (feel free to download).   We are encouraging everyone to focus on small steps to try to boost happiness - for ourselves and others around us - to spread kindness and hopefully inspire others to do the same. Some days this may not be as easy as it sounds and perseverance is required. It is often easy to feel frustrated when we are challenged by something or someone, easy to give up, walk away or even respond in a negative way. However, if we can all nurture the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult, by persevering it can often lead to ‘happiness’. Happiness is an emotional state characterised by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfilment. While happiness has many different definitions, it is often described as involving positive emotions and life satisfaction. Happiness is generally linked to experiencing more positive feelings than negative. To help us all become more aware of our happiness the children have been challenged to create their own ‘Happiness Jars’. A happiness jar is quite simply a container in which you put a daily or weekly note of gratitude. On a piece of paper, write down one good thing that has happened or one thing you are grateful for that day, fold it up and pop it into the jar. My empty ‘Percy Pig’ jar has made a superb ‘happiness jar’ and I have already popped my first gratitude note for what made me happy in my jar. As I explained to the children in assembly, I will choose when I need to dip into my happiness jar to reflect on my happy moments to savour the gratitude and joy I experienced. It may be that I choose to do this regularly or wait until the end of the year to reflect upon my happy moments of 2022. We can choose when we may need to be boosted and reminded of the good things in our lives. I wish you all a very ‘Happy’ start to 2022 and good health as we take steps into the next phase of our turbulent journey through this pandemic time we are living in. Let us take time each day to be grateful for our families, friends and each other.  Mrs. Drummond
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