Academic Enrichment

To help to instil a lifelong love of learning, we enrich the curriculum at St. Helen’s College in many ways.

All children enjoy termly day trips to castles, museums, gardens, educational centres and theatres. The older children (from Year 3 onwards) attend residential trips to Shortenills Environmental Centre, to Flatford Mill field study centre, to Kingswood on the Isle of Wight to study coastal erosion and for adventurous outdoor activities, and to Château de la Baudonniere in Normandy for a week of immersion in French language and culture.

Specialist tutors and speakers visit the school to provide workshops, activities and presentation, and Focus Days/Weeks allow individual subjects to be pursued in depth. Our annual STEAM Day gives pupils the opportunity to take part in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths workshops outside of the classroom, run by staff, parents and visiting specialists.

In addition, children are given many opportunities to develop their confidence in public speaking and performance, including regular class assemblies, theatrical productions and our annual Speech/Poetry Recitals and Singing Competitions.


Posted on: 16/10/2020

Weekly News - Friday 16th October 2020

Romans Everywhere! Well done to Class 3B, who presented a very interesting, informative and well-rehearsed assembly today all about Romans. Through a well-delivered script and performance, they taught us about Roman history: the life of a Roman soldier, the invasion of Britain and battles between Romans and Celts. We heard the stories of Caratacus, whose bravery was recognised by both Celts and Romans, and of Boudicca, including an explanation of why she is also known as Boadicea and why we shouldn't always trust what is written in the history books. There was plenty of humour, too - we learnt that Hadrian's Wall is not at the end of Hadrian's garden and that the saying 'Rome wasn't built in a day' doesn't mean that Rome was built at night time! 3B also presented a fantastic song about the Romans and led us in our assembly prayer. Very well done, 3B! You can watch the video of their assembly here. Music: Year 4's Body Percussion Sequences Year 4 have been working very creatively in their music lessons this week. They have taken inspiration from sounds found in their own names to compose a body percussion sequence. You can see the videos here: 4L and 4T.  Water Pipe Challenge Our Year 5 pupils got some hands on engineering experience in their geography lessons last week when they took part in the Water Pipe Challenge. The challenge was to use what they had learnt about water infrastructure in lessons to construct a pipe system to transport one litre of water over a distance of three metres. It was a wonderful opportunity for some outdoor learning and collaboration in teams to come up with designs which were successful and had no leaks!  This week Year 5 took part in more outdoor learning, with a 'water walk' during which they surveyed the Upper School site to investigate how water is used on site and where water might be used more efficiently. They even read the school water meter!          Junior Road Safety Officers Our Year 6 Junior Road Safety Officers presented a wonderful assembly on Wednesday,  entitled 'Be Bright Be Seen'. Their message was all about being safe pedestrians when the clocks change at the end of October and the darker mornings and evenings arrive. They shared a lovely story about how celebrations at this time of year such as Halloween, Diwali and Bonfire Night are a great time to be with friends and how we can be seen in the dark at these celebrations. Please see copies of the presentation and story in these links.  The JRSOs also told the children in Years 2-6 about a half term 'Be Bright Be Seen' competition in which they are invited to take part. The challenge is to design their own fluorescent or reflective piece of clothing or a fluorescent or reflective school bag. The closing date for entries is Tuesday 3rd November. Information about the competition can be seen here. We hope lots of the children at Upper School will take part and we will have a wonderful display of designer outfits when we come back to school after half term.  Inter House Sports Competition Children in Years 3 - 6 took part in the inter house sports competition this week in their games lessons. Games and competitions were set up in netball, football, hockey and tag rugby sessions for the children and they all thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to play for their houses.  Results were as follows. 4L Hockey - winners were Windsor 4T Netball - it was a draw 3M Football - winners were Cambria 3B Tag Rugby -  winners were Cambria  5A Football - it was a draw 5G Netball - winners were Windsor 6M Hockey - winners were Windsor 6R Tag rugby - winners were Windsor So Windsor lead the inter house sports competition after round 1. More inter house matches will be played next half term.  RHS Secret Garden Competition RHS Campaign for School Gardening, in partnership with the Sky Film release of ‘The Secret Garden’, would like you to be inspired and join a competition! If you are a budding gardener and a keen artist, you can find yourself in a ‘secret garden’ of your own design! What would be in your dream garden? Why would it be special? Combine your knowledge and enjoyment of gardens with your artistic flair to come up with a drawing, a painting, a collage or a miniature model of your very own secret garden. If you would like to talk about your design or need help, please see Mrs. Pruce or Ms Gilham. Enjoy designing over the half term! All entries must be made by 19th November and children may submit their designs themselves or bring them to Mrs. Pruce or Ms Gilham, who will arrange to submit them directly from school. All information can be found from the link below: We hope the children have lots of fun imagining and creating their secret gardens! Upper School Parents' Evenings - Bookings Now Open Upper School parents' evenings will take place when we return from the half term break, on the following days: Tuesday 3rd November (4.00 - 7.00 p.m.) Thursday 12th November (5.00 - 8.00 p.m.) We will be holding the appointments online, using the video conference function of our usual Parents' Evening booking system. To book your appointment(s), please use the following link. Bookings will be available from 4 p.m. on Friday (16th October).   We look forward to seeing many parents across the two evenings. PA Forum Meeting and Class Rep Vacancy The next PA Forum meeting will take place on Tuesday 17th November at 7.00 p.m. and will be held remotely using Google Meet. If you have any points that you would like to raise for discussion, please do share these with your class rep as soon as possible. Class representatives should send any points for discussion to Mrs. Smith by Friday 13th November at the latest please, at The PA have a vacancy for a class rep for Kingfishers class. If any parent in Kingfishers would like to become the class rep, please contact the PA at Charity Fundraising Our pupil charity representatives have been meeting to discuss fundraising for the Autumn term and we will, as usual, be taking part in two nationwide initiatives: Children in Need and the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. Parents are often very generous when it comes to charity giving, and we know that many of you will wish to donate. This year, we are unable to accept cash donations in school but we have set up two JustGiving fundraising pages so that we can fundraise as a community - the links are in the relevant sections below. Some of our charity representatives have written these short pieces to introduce our fundraising for this term. Children in Need - Friday 13th November On Friday 13th November, children may come to school in their own clothes. The theme is Fluorescent and Reflective, so the children may like to wear something fluorescent, or perhaps to add funky fluorescent and reflective spots and stripes to their outfits.  This theme will link with our Road safety for Be Safe, Be Seen. Families are asked to make their donations (suggested £2 minimum donation, but all donations gratefully accepted) online via this link: (by Georgia) The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal This is a charity which helps raise awareness for the soldiers who unfortunately died during their work for our country during the war. It also raises money for the army and soldiers who have retired and are looking for career advice.  The war ended at 11.00 a.m. on the 11th day of the month of November (the eleventh month of the year). So that’s why on 11th November at 11.00 a.m. our school will have a 2 minute silence, during which we remember those who have died fighting courageously. Also we salute those who are thankfully still alive all because of their perseverance in World War II. St. Helen's College cares about the soldiers too. This is why we are asking that you donate to this cause - even a really small amount is appreciated. You can donate by following this link: This year poppies will NOT be on sale at school, but you can still bring your own poppies from home. So please on 11th November, when we stand and are silent, think about all those soldiers who risked their lives and think about all the nurses as well, some died too. Luckily, a lot of those soldiers are alive and we thank them for their bravery for England! Just think about it, if these courageous soldiers had not existed then our country would most likely be in peril right now! So this will be our day to reflect on the selfless soldiers who went out of their way to help us become a better country! (by Reece and James) Early Years Virtual Open Morning If you have a son or daughter who will be eligible for Ducklings or Nursery entry next September or subsequently, or if you have friends and family members who fall into this category, then you may be interested in our upcoming Early Years Open Morning. This will take place, online, on the morning of Friday 6th November. Mrs. Drummond, Mrs. Hunt and Mrs. Smith will all be available on the morning to present a virtual tour of our Early Years environment/provision and to answer questions about the application and entry procedures.  You can register for this event here, or by following the link on the homepage of the school website. Please do share this link and make sure your friends and family are aware of the event, so that they do not miss out on the opportunity to join us. If you have a child born after 1st September 2017 and you have not yet registered him or her for entry at the school, please do so at your earliest convenience. The entry process for next year's Ducklings Kindergarten and Nursery intake is beginning now and all children, including siblings, must be registered in good time! Staff Farewells Today we said goodbye to two members of staff who will be greatly missed at St. Helen's College. Mrs. Harker, one of our Lower School Teaching and Learning Assistants, is leaving us after eighteen years to move further away to a village near Preston and spend time with her family. She will be very sadly missed by all. The Lower School staff gave Mrs. Harker a wonderful send off today which was accompanied by a thoughtful and memorable 'So Long, Farewell' video featuring all members of the staff.   Mr. Barnard, one of our Premises team, has decided to make the move down to the West Country to join his daughter Mrs. Haar, who many will remember from her time with us at St. Helen's College! Mr. Barnard has been with us for two and a half years, driving the school minibus, working at Breakfast Club and assisting the Premises team with the upkeep and development of the school estates. We thank him for his work and wish him all the very best for his new life in Devon!
Posted on: 16/10/2020

What's All The Fuss About?

  On 9 October, the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2020 was announced, recognising the outstanding achievements of people from across the United Kingdom. On this year’s list were 133 individuals who have been recognised for their services to education during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. These include teachers, head teachers and principals who have gone above and beyond to provide education to young people. One Head who has very deservedly been recognised is Katharine Birbalsingh.  Katharine is the Head and founder of the Michaela Community School, an 11–18 mixed, free secondary school and sixth form in Wembley, established in September 2014. I have followed the work of the school and Katherine’s social media presence over the years and sadly Katharine has, on several occasions, had to defend what she and her staff do at Michaela to inspire the pupils to be their best.  I have always stood back and refrained from judgement; I feel that much of what her school stands for reflects what any good school should be doing. For example, her school has a stringent behaviour policy which the pupils are expected to fulfil, the school has “family lunches” where staff sit with the pupils and the children are expected to make conversation, use their cutlery correctly,  pour drinks, and clear their guests’ plates. The school asks children to walk on a particular side of the corridor when passing each other; the school asks children not to ‘loiter’ between lessons, arriving promptly for their next lesson, and the pupils are asked to memorise poetry by heart and recite it back. Over the years of reading about Michaela and watching Katherine being interviewed I have reflected on life at St. Helen’s College. Many of the Michaela Community School routines and expected behaviours resonate so closely to what we expect of our children here at St. Helen’s College! So what is all the fuss about it being branded  ‘Britain’s Strictest School’? Our Ducklings may only be 2 years old but, with encouragement, they tidy up their toys, they sit beautifully at snack and lunch around their tables, they say please and thank you and they recite a little prayer and song of thanks for the food they receive. Our Nursery pupils learn poems off by heart and recite these to their peers and parents in a special poetry assembly - the beginnings of our annual speech recitation event which, as you know, continues throughout the school. Pupils at Lower School and Upper School walk calmly along corridors, with the Upper School children knowing that they stick to the left hand side on the stairs. At both Lower and Upper School the children understand the behaviour expected of them and the children sign a classroom pledge together to state that they will uphold the standards expected from them. Those who find it difficult to uphold these behaviours are supported appropriately and there may be the occasion for further actions if required. Ultimately, the children know that behaviour routines are based on our mantra of ‘Ready, Respectful, Safe’ and, as a school, we have taken the best aspects from UK behaviour specialist Paul Dix and embedded them into our daily routines with the children. I truly believe that children enjoy structure and routines and they need consistency, but most importantly they need to feel safe and loved. I take my hat off to how the staff at Michaela Community School have weathered the social media storm over their routines and how the school is run - but I say keep up the great work! I feel so blessed to have the most amazing staff here at St. Helen’s College and this half term has been a testament to their stamina and professionalism as they are back doing what comes naturally to them all - bringing out the best in your children. I also feel blessed to have the parent body we have! You are truly invested in St. Helen’s College and what we do TOGETHER  brings out the best in your children! Have a wonderful half term break with your children and do speak with them about the activities and lessons they have engaged with this half term but also discuss some of the routines which we have at school - I am sure that you will agree that your children - ‘our’ children - are not in the ‘strictest’ school, but that they feel loved, safe and are thriving in a school environment which has good solid routines and boundaries. And that is a good thing!  I leave you with an interesting article written back in 2016 by ResearchED’s Tom Bennett and his impressions of Michaela Community School some years ago in the early days - I would love to hear your impressions! Mrs. Drummond
Posted on: 9/10/2020

Weekly News - Friday 9th October 2020

Prizegiving It was super to see the children who left Year 6 this summer on Thursday evening, as we held our annual Year 7 Prizegiving event. This year we held the event online and were pleased that proceedings were able to run in the same way as usual, albeit virtually! As well as the presentation of the prizes, we enjoyed some pre-recorded music from the Chamber Choir and a thought-provoking story from Lucy Crehan, Educational Advisor to our Board of Governors, who inspired us all by asking one simple question: 'Why not?'. Mr. Crehan was quite right when, in his closing remarks, he commented on the potential that all of our children have to ask 'Why not?' and carve out their own path in life. Well done also to our new Head Girl, Jena, and Head Boy, Zail, who gave a confident and meaningful vote of thanks - a great start to their tenure! It was delightful to see our Year 6 leavers in their new school uniforms and we are very proud of how they have all begun their senior school journeys. We congratulate them on their well-deserved prizes and wish them all the very best for the forthcoming academic year, during which we know they will use their well-established St. Helen's College values and work ethic to underpin further success. On Wednesday we held a special Prizegiving assembly here at school, at which the form prizewinners from last year's Year 3, 4 and 5 were recognised. In every class, one child was awarded the Excellence prize, one child received an Effort prize, and two children received special prizes to recognise individual contributions and achievements. Mrs. Drummond presented children with their certificates and book tokens and every child recognised should feel very proud of themselves. Artist of the Week Each week, Mrs. Pruce chooses a child who has made a particular contribution to art lessons and recognises them with an 'Artist of the Week' certificate. However, this week, the standard of commitment and work has been incredible, making it difficult for her to choose. This week, therefore, the award goes to a whole class, 3M, for their wonderful still life studies. Well done, 3M! Ukeleles Everywhere! It has been very exciting over the last couple of weeks to see our Year 5 and 6 children with their new ukeleles. They have been learning how to tune their own ukeleles, learning notation and  composing their own pieces of music. We look forward to our first performances in due course.       Head Boy/Head Girl team Mrs Drummond touched base with Jena and Zail this week to see how they were settling into their new roles thus far having already had two opportunities to speak on behalf of the school in public. Jena said, 'it feels good to represent the school and have a positive impact on the other children',while Zail noted, 'it's great to have more responsibilities and to be a role model to others'.   We are feeling exceptionally proud of all of our pupils this term; they have settled well into new routines and all have embraced being back together again.   Mindful Sit Pupils from Year 2 - Year 6 participated in the Mindfulness in Schools Project 'Sit Together' today and managed to remain focussed for the full 6 minutes - quite a testament to our pupils at the end of a very busy week. They have all received a certificate in recognition of sitting together and I would recommend that you read this week's Head's Blog which has a link to an interesting article for you to enjoy. Lower School Parents' Evenings Thank you to all of the Nursery, Reception and Year 1 parents who attended our first ever video parent consultations this week. The new technology worked well and the evening ran very smoothly. The second evening will take place on Thursday 15th October from 5.00 to 8.00 p.m. Mrs. Rooney and Mrs. Rumney Run! Huge congratulations to Mrs. Rooney, who braved the wind and rain on Sunday morning to complete her second London Marathon, this one virtual! Having only signed up six weeks ago, she was extremely pleased to gain a personal best of 5 hrs 11. Mrs. Rooney tells us that running around the streets of Hillingdon, Ickenham and Ruislip gave her time to think about people that inspire her. Mrs. Rumney also spent Sunday morning running, as she ran 15 miles alongside a friend who was running the virtual London Marathon in Oxford. Her friend, the Head of a school in Oxford, was accompanied by various friends and family throughout different sections of the 'race' and Mrs. Rumney ran further than a half marathon herself! As with so many things during the current pandemic, this adapted way of running required extra determination and resilience as there were no crowds and no finish line to spur runners on. Well done indeed, Mrs. Rooney and Mrs. Rumney - you are an inspiration to us all!    
Posted on: 9/10/2020

Does It Matter?

For those of you interested in Mindfulness, I am linking below a super article which has recently been written by Claire Kelly, the Director of Curricula and Training at the Mindfulness in Schools Project. The article resonated with me, since we frequently hear the notion of Mindfulness or the word ‘mindful’ bandied around, but it is often misunderstood. I am delighted that, at St. Helen’s College, our children are increasingly becoming more aware of what exactly Mindfulness is and is not. Today in assembly the children were led through a Mindfulness practice by one of the MiSP (Mindfulness in Schools Project) experts, Niamh. They were encouraged to notice what was going on in their body, in their mind, and eventually to bring attention to their breath.  What the pupils participated in may have been really challenging for some of them. Do ask them about the experience which they had in assembly today and ask if they will strive to take time to pay attention to their breath at least once a week. The number of St. Helen’s College staff who have participated in training to spread our mindfulness education around the school is also increasing; we now have Mrs. Crehan, myself, Mrs. McLaughlin, Mrs. Hunt and Mr. Roche, with more staff showing an interest in taking the next steps to becoming a qualified Mindfulness teacher. I will leave you with this quote from Jon Kabat Zin, a Mindfulness Master, as he explains what Mindfulness is... “… a way of being in wise and purposeful relationship with one’s experience both inwardly and outwardly. It is cultivated by systematically exercising one’s capacity for paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally, and by learning to inhabit and make use of the clarity, discernment, ethical understanding, and awareness that arises from tapping into one’s own deep and innate interior resources for learning, growing, healing and transformation, available to us across the lifespan by virtue of being human.” Please do read the article. Namaste. Mrs. Drummond.  
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