Subjects Taught

Children at St. Helen’s College are taught the following subjects, some of which are combined into topic work in the Kindergarten, Nursery and Pre-Prep.

English
Reading and comprehension are the foundation of all learning in primary education and we inspire enthusiastic readers through our engaging approach. All children read every day; guided reading takes place throughout the school; our two libraries are popular, vibrant places (staffed at Upper School by qualified, specialist librarians); we run reading clubs, reading sessions for parents and reading challenges; World Book Day is an annual whole-school highlight. High level, age appropriate questioning is employed to ensure that children are understanding  a range of texts and developing imaginative, inference and narrative skills. As they move through the school, children learn to produce writing of increasingly sophisticated style and content. Scholarship clubs are run for English scholarship candidates and to prepare children for the high level demands of senior school transfer English papers.

Maths
Maths is taught in a systematic and creative way to ensure that every child masters the building blocks of this incredible subject. As children progress through the school, the maths they are exposed to becomes more high level and in the upper years most children are working well above their national curriculum level and, in many cases, accessing senior school mathematics for fun! The subject is enriched with online maths competitions, high level Maths Clubs for the most able and pupil-run maths clinics for younger children.

Science
Most science is taught through hands-on investigation, and as pupils rise through the year groups, they become ever more able to devise their own experiments, make their own predictions and draw their own intellectual conclusions. Much enrichment takes place outside of the classroom, with fieldwork on day and residential trips, and visits to study centres such as the Amersham Field Centre to study Electricity.

Languages: French, Spanish, Latin
All children in the school learn Spanish (from Ducklings Kindergarten), French (from Year 2) and Latin (from Year 5). In addition, every child from Year 2 to Year 5 takes part in the UTalk Language Challenge annually, through which they learn different European, Asian and African languages and compete online against children from across the nation. St. Helen’s College children are enthusiastic linguists and the school’s record of achievement in this competition is superb! The children’s language learning is crowned off with a week’s immersive residential trip at the Château de la Baudonniere in Normandy during Year 6.

History
Through historical enquiry, independent research, story-telling, drama and trips to places of historical interest, children acquire a love for and appreciation of British and world history.

Geography
Our Geography curriculum equips pupils with the skills and knowledge to understand the world in which we live, its landscapes, peoples, places and environments, and is delivered creatively through a range of class based case study investigations, digital mapping activities and regular outdoor practical fieldwork. A particular highlight for children are the coastal studies undertaken on the Isle of Wight residential trip in Year 5. The school weather stations also provide pupils with the chance to be meteorologists!

Computing
Using a variety of hardware and software, children from the Early Years learn to use technology safely, confidently and creatively. By the end of their time with us, children are able to communicate their ideas through a range of media, including animations, videos and  websites. They learn how computer systems work and design and develop programs. Many children choose to attend Coding Club, Minecraft Club or other technology clubs.

Art
Creative subjects have a high priority at St. Helen’s College and art is taught throughout the school. At Upper School, pupils use our purpose-built art studio. St. Helen’s College pupils’ work is shown at Art Exhibitions and we have a strong track record of pupils achieving Art Scholarships to the senior schools of their choice. Many co-curricular arts/crafts clubs are run.

Drama
St. Helen’s College pupils are known as confident and accomplished public speakers. Every child performs publicly throughout their time with us, through class assemblies, plays and our annual speech/poetry recital competition. In their final year with us, the children put on a grand musical production at The Compass Theatre in Ickenham (recent examples include The Wizard of Oz, Aladdin, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Beauty And The Beast). Regular theatre trips are run for enrichment.

Music
We are a vibrant musical community. Every child has class music lessons from specialist music teachers and many children choose to take individual instrumental or vocal tuition or to join one of our many choirs or musical ensembles. There are regular opportunities for our singers and instrumentalists to perform, at informal month end music recitals, Harvest Festivals, Carol Services, Easter Services and our superb annual Singers’ and Musicians’ Concerts.

PSHCE
Our innovative personal development programme includes Mindfulness, Positive Psychology, Peer Support, Growth Mindset, ‘Heartstart’ first aid training, Relationship and Sex education and more. We focus on set values throughout the year such as kindness, perseverance and courage so that pupils become kind, compassionate, curious and mature listeners, thinkers and speakers. Pupils have the opportunity throughout the year to raise money for charities, take part in selfless service projects and, through our Eco Representatives, they have the opportunity to make their school and local environments more eco-friendly. British Values are taught throughout the school.

RE
Through a careful programme of learning about the major world religions, children enquire into life’s ‘big questions’.

Physical Education
Our wide-ranging physical education offering, split into PE lessons and Games afternoons, encompasses sports and games including football, rugby for boys and girls, hockey, netball, tennis, cricket, athletics, basketball, handball, rounders, gymnastics, swimming and more. Children have the opportunity to play representative sport at house level within the school and against other local schools. Our record of competitive sporting achievement is very strong indeed.

News

Posted on: 10/07/2020

End of Term News - 10th July 2020

We're All Going On A Summer Holiday! Our final 'feel good' staff video of the lockdown can be found here. Enjoy and have a wonderful summer holiday! 2019-2020 School Magazine We have, as always, been working very hard to produce a school magazine which showcases some of the excellent work the children have done this year, as well as some of the many activities in which they have taken part. This year we are not printing/distributing the magazine due to COVID-19 restrictions, but you can see the electronic version here and it will remain available on the school website. We hope that you enjoy looking through this lovely keepsake...the children might like to look at what the year group above theirs has been doing too, so that they get an idea of what life will be like for them when they enter their new year group in September. Musician of the Summer Term The Musician of the Term trophy is awarded for outstanding effort, commitment, dedication and achievement within the music department. The winner this term is someone who 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 has been a regular member of the Junior, Senior and Chamber Choirs. She is an excellent role model within the music department and is a music prefect, regularly performing at assemblies, recitals and outside of school. As well as playing the recorder fluently, she has singing lessons and is preparing to take Grade 7 on the piano.  An enormous well done to Anaiya B! Lockdown Summer Term Sports Personality  A huge well done to Samir H, who has been named the Sports Personality of the Summer Term! Samir engaged with all of the Virtual Sports Day events, uploading lots of videos of himself taking part, and also completed a 26 mile charity challenge. Samir is a talented tennis player and has skills which would have made him a member of several sports teams this term, had school been 'normal'. He always encourages others to get involved and has been particularly encouraging to his younger sister during the period of lockdown. Congratulations, Samir!   Lockdown Sports Champions Our Year Group Winners were: Y3 - Oliver K Y4 - Charlotte M Y5- Vidhit N Y6 - Eli V-B The overall champion was Samir H. Very well done to all those who took part in the virtual sports events!  Spring Term Sports Personality of the Term Well done to Rhea A-V, who was named the Sports Personality of the Spring Term (which could not be announced at the end of the spring term due to lockdown).  Rhea is a real all-rounder and has been a stalwart of many school teams. She has shown great leadership both on and off the sports pitch and has excelled in the football and netball teams and in her role as a Sports Captain, organising the table tennis trials. Congratulations, Rhea!  Sports This Year The full sports round up for this year is here. Mythology Competition Success! Jasmine B and Uma D (Year 6) have been awarded joint 1st prize in the Arts section of the 2020 Annual Mythology Competition organised by The Primary Latin Project. They each wrote and performed their own individual song as a response to the story of Daedalus and Icarus.  There were some other excellent entries from children in Years 2-6, such as the lovely mythology-inspired piece of artwork by Riya C which you can see here. The judges made the following comments. 'This year’s entries have been fantastic with such a wide range of materials and ideas used to help to convey the elements of the myths. It has made my job as judge of the art competition very tough because there were so many brilliant entries! Top prizes this year include songs, paintings on canvas, digital art and 3D models. Judging was done taking age of entrants into account to ensure ability was judged fairly. Higher marks were given to the originality of the entry, the attempt to convey all elements of the myth as fully as possible and overall presentation.' Very well done to all those children who submitted entries and particular congratulations to Jasmine and Uma! Junior Language Challenge The uTalk competition played out very differently this year due to Covid so there were no national finals. Certificates have been allocated on different criteria as below.   https://mailchi.mp/aa4df991944e/the-utalk-junior-language-challenge-has-come-to-an-end Leo J (4KT) is one of only 13 children out of over 2300 to get full marks in both rounds and he has won a gold medal and  £200 worth of uTalk language software! Tanishka M has won a silver medal and £50 of uTalk software. Other pupils were awarded bronze certificates. Very well done to everyone who took part, and special congratulations to Leo and Tanishka! House Art Competition Many congratulations to all of the children who entered our House Art Competition, who will each receive certificates. Winners' trophies were awarded to: Windsor winner - Anjika G (4T) Cambria winner - Ruby L (2H) Ducklings Summer Picnic Our Ducklings children had so much fun this week when they visited Father Desmond's garden for their summer picnic. You can see more photographs of the children enjoying this special event on our Galleries page here. Mrs. McGee and the Ducklings staff are very proud of the resilience and joy our youngest children have shown throughout their disrupted first year with us, and we know that they are well equipped to move on for a very happy year in Nursery from September.     Lower School Beach Party The children attending Lower School had a super day today, celebrating all that summer might bring with their very own beach party day! You can see more photographs of the fun and colourful time they had on our Galleries page here.           Spaghetti and Marshmallow Challenge Our Year 1 children took part in a marshmallow and spaghetti challenge this week. The winners from Blue Whale pod (1HC) were Roshni and Ashvika, who managed to build a tower that measured 65 cm high. They were also the team that showed the most perseverance and determination. Well done, girls!   The Year 1 children would usually have been visiting Mad Bess Woods, where Mrs. Hunt lives, during their final week of term, where they would have had a wonderful time exploring and having ice creams. We couldn't quite bring the woods to school, but we could certainly bring the ice creams and the children enjoyed them immensely!         Year 6 French Day and Play In A Day The Year 6 pupils enjoyed a 'fantastique' day of French themed activities on Wednesday, including bread making, disco dancing, French quizzes, traditional games and of course the annual talent show! Tasty crepes were served at lunchtime from a wonderful crepe van too. Well done to everyone for embracing the day. You can see more photographs from the day on our Galleries page here.   On Thursday, they put on a 'Play In A Day' version of 'Singing In The Rain', which would have been their grand Year 6 musical. The children entered into the challenge with enthusiasm and demonstrated their well-developed performance skills. The weather wasn't fantastic on Thursday and once or twice they were actually singing in the rain! You can see the video of their efforts here.   Leavers We wish all pupils and families who are leaving us all the very best for the future. We will miss you...please, please keep in touch. Old Helenian news should be sent to susmith@sthelenscollege.com - we would love to hear all that your children get up to and to celebrate their future successes with you. We also wish the staff who are leaving us every success for the future and thank them for their commitment to the school. We know that they will keep in touch with us and look forward to hearing from them. All the very best to class teachers Miss Dear, Mrs. Rance and Mr. Tovell and to Mrs. Stubbs (Music) and Miss Williams (Funtasia). Mrs Califano (1HC) will be leaving us to start her maternity leave and we look forward to hearing happy news later in the summer from her and from Mrs. Rance too. Mrs. Hunt, who has been a class teacher at St. Helen's College for 20 years, is stepping away from her class teacher role in September to concentrate on her leadership duties as Head of Lower School and one of our Designated Safeguarding Leads. We thank her for her excellent work as a class teacher over so many years. Summer Reading Challenge We know that many families have enjoyed visiting their libraries during the summer holidays and participating in the summer reading challenge. However, with the disruption to library services due to COVID-19 the challenge will this year take place digitally. Please do sign your children up to enjoy some super reading challenges, quizzes and other activities by following this link:  https://summerreadingchallenge.org.uk/parents-carers   We look forward to hearing about the children's summer of reading for pleasure! Summer Holiday Activities Parents might be interested in these ideas for some activities to keep your children busy and entertained over the summer holidays.  https://www.booktrust.org.uk/books-and-reading/have-some-fun/competitions/win-an-original-drawing-by-ed-vere-plus-a-set-of-signed-books/ http://www.eparenting.co.uk/celebrations/summer.php
Posted on: 10/07/2020

Summer Wishes

It is with immense pride that we bid our staff, pupils and parents a safe and restful summer holiday after what has been a remarkable year indeed. However, we must not allow ourselves to dwell on the negative aspects of living through this pandemic but focus our attention on what an incredible year we have had.  Your children have proved that they are adaptable, resourceful and resilient young people who bring so much joy to us all each day.   There have been so many highlights throughout the year as we have watched your children thrive and develop in our care and even when we found ourselves in lockdown in March, the staff rallied together to ensure the quality of our provision and pastoral care of the children was the best it could possibly be.   As a Head, I feel privileged to have led the school through this period of uncertainty and what has stood out for me is the sense of community which has brought us much closer together. You as parents stepped into new roles at home to support your children’s learning as the staff facilitated this remotely - you have juggled family life with home life (as many of our staff have also had to do) and we have so much mutual respect for the sacrifices and hard work which this has meant for everyone. I look forward to September with positivity and excitement - it will be a joy to have our whole community back together as one. There will be elements of our remote learning which will remain as part of our practice now, but it will be uplifting to have face to face interactions again, and for the children to be with their friends and teachers once more. I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to every member of the St. Helen’s College community for just being who we are, supporting each other and staying strong together - never before has the children’s motto for SHC meant so much: Strive for excellence Help everyone achieve Care for each other Have a safe summer everyone and we look forward to seeing you all again in September. God Bless, Mrs. Drummond
Posted on: 3/07/2020

Weekly News - Friday 3rd July 2020

Feel Good Friday - All About Me We hope that the children enjoyed expressing themselves today by wearing something on the theme of 'All About Me'. What was very obvious, from the outfits worn by the children (and staff) both in school and at home, was what a diverse and vibrant community we are! Many among us chose to wear dress reflecting our culture or background and an enormous number of activities, sports and interests were represented too. Well done everyone for the effort put into outfits today, and I hope that you will continue to reflect on all that makes you an individual, including your heritage, your interests and talents and your dreams for the future. You can see photographs of the children on our Galleries page here. Virtual Sports Day Awards Over the summer term, Upper School pupils have been preparing at home and participating in our Virtual Sports Day. The leadership board has been changing weekly in what turned out to be a hot contest! Congratulations to all who took part; the list of event winners is available here. Overall year group winners will be announced at the final assembly next Friday. Chamber Choir 2020-2021 Thank you to everyone who submitted a video entry for our online Chamber Choir auditions. We are pleased to announce that the following children have been selected: Advik 3M Annabelle 3B Arshia 3B Arshvir 3B Inaya 3B Minaya 3B Anaiya 3M Leila 3M Eshanvi 3M Anjika 4T Diyan 4T Ria M 4T Layla 4KT Zach 4KT Anokhi 4KT Chrissy 4KT Eshan 4KT Riya C 5G Samir 5G Vidhit 5G Manisher 5G Zara 5G Mrs. Fawbert and Mrs. Garnés very much look forward to working on beautiful choral music with you. Thanks to Mrs. Allery also, who was as usual part of the selection process. Many congratulations to our newest members! Old Helenian News We are delighted to share the news that Old Helenian (and school neighbour) Rex Baldwin has just been made Deputy Head Boy of The John Lyon School for the academic year 2020-2021. Last Day of Term Next Friday, 10th July, is the end of term and is a half day. Collection times for each year group are shown below. Please do adhere closely to these in order to help us to maintain social distancing outside the school gates. Ducklings - 12 p.m. Lower School Site Nursery - 12 p.m. Reception - 12.15 p.m. Upper School Site 1HC - 12 p.m. 1C - 12.10 p.m. Key Workers Year 2-5 - 12.20 p.m. Year 6 - 12.30 p.m. To end our term with the Nursery and Reception children, we will be having a Bubble Beach Party at school on Friday 10th July.   We will use our last morning together to share in some fun activities around a 'Hawaiian summer beach party' theme in each of our bubbles here at Lower School.  We would very much like to encourage the children to dress accordingly, so please do have a look at home for shorts, t-shirts, sunglasses or even a grass skirt for the children to wear on the day!   Children from Year 1 to 6 who are in school will have a socially distant final assembly at 11 a.m. in the playground at school (weather permitting), which we intend to live stream out to the children at home. We look forward to sharing a fun-filled and no doubt emotional final day together. Flute Vacancies All instrumental tuition for September has now been allocated and our timetables are full on all instruments except (unusually!) the flute. We have some outstanding Year 6 flautists who are leaving us this summer to transfer to their senior schools, creating a few more vacancies than usual. The flute is a beautiful instrument to learn and play, not too noisy to practise (!) and much prized by senior schools, since woodwind groups and orchestras need talented and experienced flautists. If you have a son or daughter in Year 2-6 who would like to learn the flute from September onwards, please contact Mrs. Allery directly at rallery@sthelenscollege.com. Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Field Studies Council Summer Breaks Families might be interested in booking a summer break at one of the lovely Field Studies Council locations across the United Kingdom. The locations are safe, remote and provide a lovely opportunity for your children to connect with nature. They can let their imaginations run free: get muddy, ford streams, build dens and create their own adventure. There is wildlife to spot, woods to explore and amazing creatures to wonder at. The beautiful FSC sites have peaceful nooks and crannies aplenty so you can finish reading that book, enjoy a real face-to-face chat and find the perfect spot for a picnic. Why not get out there and make the most of all that nature has to offer in our beautiful country? https://www.field-studies-council.org/stay-with-us/?ref=email&dm_i=65YE,1THW,10DVOT,6TN0,1  
Posted on: 3/07/2020

A Governor's Perspective

Over the past few weeks you have had the opportunity to read blogs from Mrs. Drummond, parents and children all giving their thoughts on the distance learning provided by St. Helen’s College during these unprecedented times. I am writing now as someone who has looked on from the outside and has, for the past half term, been right inside “at the chalk face” or at least today’s IT equivalent! Back in the autumn, when Mrs. Drummond asked me if I would be willing to take on the supply maternity cover for Mrs. McLaughlin for the second half of the summer term, I was only too pleased to accept, but neither of us could possibly have imagined at that time what the summer term would bring.   At the beginning of 2020 we were being made aware that a pandemic might be just around the corner, but few of us understood what an impact that it would have upon our lives. As the spring term progressed, it became increasingly obvious that, in all likelihood, St. Helen’s College and all other schools would be asked to close and that the children would have to be educated at home. Waiting for that to happen was a surreal time as plans were made for what was surely to come, while the daily life of school continued largely unaffected. As Governors, we were kept fully apprised of the developing situation and we were always on hand to give advice and support to Mrs. Drummond and the SLT as they made their plans. As a former Head of many years standing, I have many experiences to draw upon but, like the majority of serving and ex Head Teachers, none that fully prepared us for this previously unimaginable situation.  As remote learning got underway at St. Helen’s College, I saw how much time and effort the teaching and support staff were putting into making necessary amendments to their lessons, planning and timetables. This was not in order to produce a ‘watered down’ curriculum, but rather to ensure the delivery of the richest curriculum possible from a different platform. As always, their aim has been to maintain the provision of as many opportunities as possible for the children to extend their love of learning and to develop independence, resilience and mutual respect as they grow as young people ready to make their mark in our ever-changing world.   This aim has been achieved successfully despite the challenges for staff, for the children and for you as parents. Even the most “tech savvy” people have had to learn new skills and understand new aspects of technology. St. Helen’s staff and children are fortunate in that many of them were familiar with, and aware of the power of, Google Classroom, but still there has been so much for all of us to learn. So, having been observing closely from the outside, on 1st June I entered fully into the St. Helen’s College online teaching experience.  I knew the Year 3 curriculum well, I had already met the children in 3M and had been fully briefed by Mrs. McLaughlin, but I also knew that I had much to learn about the technology, and my learning curve in that department has been steep! I am really enjoying teaching 3M. I have always enjoyed working with children, seeing those ‘light bulb’ moments, helping pupils to understand something new and exciting  about the world or about themselves. I love watching as they grow and develop, ask questions and form their own ideas and opinions. All of these and many others are the reasons why I have been involved in the education of young people for so long. Yet remote learning and teaching online is a real challenge; it is hard work! There is no other way to describe it and my current experiences have brought me to reconsider many aspects of classroom teaching that I had previously taken for granted.   All teachers plan their lessons carefully. There is a curriculum to follow and many would argue that, as educators, we have been too bound by that, but that is a discussion for another day. However, we are, by our very nature, spontaneous beings.  With the children in the classroom, no teacher would want to stick blindly to the plan when a new, unexpected learning opportunity appears. We are working with people, not machines, and therefore we want to respond to their needs as they arise. We constantly encourage our pupils to be independent. This is so much easier physically in the classroom where the teacher is able to monitor progress more closely during the lesson and gently steer a child back on course if they have drifted, often by asking a relatively simple question at the right time. With remote learning, a child may complete a considerable amount of work before the realisation that they are not quite on the right track. Similarly, with resources it is much easier to provide an individual with appropriate support or extension exactly as and when it is needed in a more discreet manner. Last week one of the pupils in 3M remarked that there were so many attachments to the assignment that day, so I explained that these were necessary ‘just in case’ for some and not all of the activities would be used by everyone.  However, I think that the greatest challenge of not being in the classroom with the children is that we cannot really see and appreciate each other as people. Yes, if all of the cameras are working and switched on then we can see faces, but not all of them all the time, and particularly not when the teacher is in ‘presentation mode’ on their device. As humans we constantly send out and respond to non-verbal messages, so not being able to see most, if not all, of these signals is very hard. A teacher is able to respond naturally and immediately to a smile, a shrug, a frown, a raised eyebrow or a despondent droop of the shoulders in the real classroom. These signals are unseen in a remote learning classroom and I have found this a very strange and quite challenging situation to which to adapt. The very term ‘remote’ is exactly what we, as teachers, do not want to be. We are not, and should not be, remote and distant; the children are used to us being there for them and that is how we have been used to working. The majority of teachers are not used to speaking into a void, to an unseen audience either and certainly that is something that I found I had to become used to pretty quickly. Some children have found it challenging to speak online; they feel more shy than they would be in the real classroom, and this can also prove to be a barrier to learning. A quiet, discreet chat is possible when we are physically in the same room but there is no such thing as a quiet chat in a Google Meet lesson where everything is heard, or printed, for all to see.  Fundamentally, of course, I am the same teacher that I was before this experience. I still want to undertake all that I am used to being able to do in the classroom, and so it has been frustrating when this has not been possible. I have no doubt that moving forwards there are some aspects of remote learning that we will want to keep. There are always positives that emerge from any situation, however difficult it might be. Remote teaching and learning has certainly made me ponder on which aspects of my role as teacher are the most important to maintain and those that I really would prefer not to continue.    After five weeks of teaching remotely, I can honestly say that it is only now that I am immersed in the situation myself that I can fully appreciate the enormous amount of time and effort it has taken the staff every day to provide for their pupils during this pandemic. So many aspects are involved: planning, delivering, marking, giving feedback, ensuring that pastoral care is all that it should be so that no child feels that their worries are not being heard and acted upon, speaking to the children about everyday matters, contacting parents to give information and reply to concerns, liaising with other staff and a myriad of other unexpected matters to be attended to. All of these things take so much longer than in a ‘normal’ school day. There simply are not enough hours in the day, or days in the week, and that is without taking into account the family commitments that all staff also have. All of the staff at St. Helen’s College always work hard and thoroughly deserve their summer break every year but this is particularly true this year, far more than any other. As a Governor, and I know that I speak for Mr. and Mrs. Crehan and the other Governors too, I sincerely congratulate the staff and thank them, not only for surviving and rising so well to all of the many challenges presented to them recently, but also for their dedication and determination that has meant that they have provided your sons and daughters with such a rich and varied experience over the past months.  During the past weeks you have been able to have increased insight into your child’s school experience at St. Helen’s College and I hope that you have found it to be an interesting and rewarding one. We do not know exactly what the future will hold, but your sons and daughters are growing up in a very special school in historic times.   I wish you, St. Helen’s College pupils and the rest of your families a safe, happy summer break as refreshing as possible in our current times.   Miss Beckett
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