Support Our School

St. Helen’s College is a family and, once you are one of us, you are one of us for life!

There are many ways in which willing friends can support the school.

Parents' Association

If you are a current parent, we would encourage you to become an active supporter of the Parents’ Association, either on their committee, as a class representative or as a volunteer at PA events. You can find out more information by contacting pa@sthelenscollege.com.
 

Educational Visits, Speeches and Workshops

If you work in an interesting field and would like to visit us to inspire the current children of the school, we would be delighted to hear from you. Authors, doctors, dentists, lawyers, politicians, film-makers, research scientists, entrepreneurs…all are welcome! You could visit to speak informally at an assembly, to run workshops for groups of children (for example on our annual STEAM Day), or to be a Guest of Honour at one of our special events. Please contact susmith@sthelenscollege.com if you would like to be involved with us in this way.


St. Helen's College Development Fund

We encourage anyone wishing to support the school to sign up to our EasyFundraising cause. It is quick and easy to register, and you are able to raise money for our St. Helen’s College Development Fund whenever you shop online at no cost to yourself. Please download the EasyFundraising app and remember to use it whenever you shop online.

https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/sthelenscollegedevelopmentfund/

Families are also able, when leaving the school, to choose to donate their deposit to our Development Fund if they would like to do so.

The Development Fund is used to fund development projects at the school.


Legacy Giving

We welcome gifts, large or small, through bequests from ex-pupils, ex-parents, ex-staff and members of the local or global community. If you would like to speak with us further about making a bequest, please contact Su Smith at susmith@sthelenscollege.com

 

We thank you sincerely for your interest in supporting St. Helen’s College. Your generosity will benefit not only our current pupils but future generations of Helenians to come!

News

Posted on: 22/05/2020

Weekly News - Friday 22nd May 2020

Speech Competition Today we held our first ever online speech competition finals. Congratulations to all of our finalists; they left us all thoroughly entertained in the junior and senior competitions, performing their poems and speeches with confidence and conviction. Here is a list of all the winners and highly commended entries.  Junior Competition Highly Commended: Samuel 1HC, Evie 1C, Sienna 2H 1HC: Aaryav​ 1C: Arjun​ Year 1 Winner: Aaryav   2B: Hana​ 2H: Neevah​ Year 2 Winner: Hana  3B: Aaryan​ 3M: Oliver Year 3 WInner: Oliver Junior Champion: Oliver (3M) Senior Competition Highly Commended: Vidhit 5G, Harrison 6RD 4KT: Eshan​ 4T: Diyan​ Year 4 Winner: Diyan 5A: Adam 5G: Samir​ Year 5 Winner: Samir 6M: Anaiya​ 6RD: Catherine Year 6 Winner: Catherine Senior Champion: Catherine 6RD A huge thank you also to our judge and school governor, Miss Beckett, who gave her time throughout the week to watch the entries and provide excellent feedback to the children. To all those who did not make the final this year: well done for taking part in the competition. Keep practising and next year it could be you! Big Dreamers Writing Competition Throughout the week, children across the school have been writing short stories for a national competition run by National Book Tokens and Puffin. There is a 300-word limit and the theme is 'dreams.' There are many fantastic prizes to be won, including £200 in book vouchers. If your child has not yet participated, you may wish to help them complete a story and submit their entry over the half-term holidays as a fun creative writing activity. Full details can be found here. Singing Competition Finals - Middle School and Upper School Thank you for the many video entries we received for our online singing competition. Although it was a very difficult decision as usual, the following students have been selected for the finals. Middle School: Anaiya B Annabelle S Arshia S Advik S Xavier B Minaya W Upper School: Year 4 Anjika G Charlotte M Shruthi T Year 5 Riya C Jessica L Maya T Year 6 Aarna A Anish A Jasmine B Laura B Uma D Krisha S Esha T The finals will take place during the afternoon of Friday 5th June. Further information will follow shortly. Students do not need to resubmit videos, unless they are asked to, and they will not need to sing live. Please note that the submitted video entries will be shown to all spectators during the afternoon of 5th June. Our judge for the final round of the competition, Mrs. Crehan, will choose her winners. We wish all of the finalists the very best of luck! Babies.... Today was Mrs. McLaughlin's last day with us for the time being and we all wish her well as she begins her maternity leave and she and Mr. McLaughlin await the arrival of their first child! It was so lovely to hear the children of 3M give her a send off this morning just before the Junior Speech Competition. The children had created a beautiful video montage, Yousra read a lovely poem about 'Why God Created Teachers' and Eshanvi read an acrostic poem that she had written herself. After school today, staff joined together in a virtual baby shower to celebrate, and we enjoyed taking part in games and quizzes. We thought you might enjoy this quiz - see if you can guess the staff member from their baby photos! We will share the answers after half term. Community Spirit Well done to Grace O'H (Y2), who has been baking for the team of managers and call handlers who staff the COVID-19 hub at the Civic Centre, to lift their spirits. Grace has baked gluten free cakes and birthday cakes and even used a genuine WWII recipe to bake a cake for VE Day! Grace and her family have also been making cloth face masks and homemade filters to slip in the back. As an act of kindness, they have sent these off to vulnerable people around the country and have provided masks to people working in the private sector front line who may have to use public transport to get to work.    Esha T (Y6) celebrated her birthday this week and her family had the super idea of giving the day a French theme, to make up for Esha not being able to go on the Year 6 trip to France this year because of the pandemic. We hope that Esha enjoyed her day - Bon Anniversaire, Esha!                Phased Re-opening and Packed Lunches Parents of children returning to school in Phase 1 of our reopening are reminded that absolutely NO NUT PRODUCTS may be sent into school in snacks or packed lunches. Please do be vigilant. There are currently children at school with severe/multiple allergies and some products, such as cereal bars, may contain nuts less obviously.  In the hot weather, it will be a good idea to send an ice pack in the packed lunch bag. Class teachers will be sending out year group specific information ahead of the return to outline daily procedures, which we hope will answer any questions you may have. Keeping Well At Home  Until 1st June, most of the country are still being asked to stay at home. We are aware that some of you will have to continue staying at home past this date, too, especially if you live with a clinically vulnerable person. This advice about keeping well at home might be useful....let's all keep looking after ourselves! National Thank A Teacher Day The staff have been very touched this week at the numerous messages received for Thank A Teacher Day. Some children even made videos. It is really very nice to be appreciated, so huge thanks to everyone who took the time to send messages, photos and videos.
Posted on: 22/05/2020

Community Spirit and Wellbeing

On Wednesday evening, we held our first virtual PA Forum meeting. Mrs. Hunt, Mr. McLaughlin, Mrs. Smith and I had no idea how many parents would show up online – especially on such a beautiful, sunny evening – and we were absolutely delighted when we were joined by almost every class rep from across the school! Having already sought and received feedback from parents, pupils and staff about our current online educational provision, the focus of Wednesday’s meeting was to look at the wellbeing of our community, what we have done so far to promote wellbeing during lockdown, and what more we can do to continue to support you and your children. We began by looking at what we have been doing so far – you can see the slides I used here – and it was heartening to hear that parents agree that the school has been going ‘above and beyond’ to care for our pupils pastorally as well as academically over the last two months of virtual education. It has been a challenge for us to make sure that pupils have face-to-face contact with their teachers and other staff, but we have tried to make sure they feel supported by school as well as home as they have negotiated a strange, changing and quite frightening world. We have held class and small group Google Meets and have set challenges and activities specifically designed to boost their spirits, as well as making school videos just to say hello! It is so important that our pupils remain happy and positive (and that we all do too), even when there is sadness and negativity around us. We have kept a focus on parent and staff wellbeing, too. As I wrote last week, the world is a challenging place at the moment for most of us: we are being pulled in many different directions, and the rug is constantly being pulled out from under our feet. I am reminded of one of my favourite quotes:  ‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain.’ I think we have all, thus far, been doing a wonderful job of dancing together! But there is always more that we can do, and so we asked the PA class representatives at last night’s meeting to brainstorm and let us know how else we can raise the spirits of pupils and parents, and care for their wellbeing. They had some great ideas: among other things, they suggested that pupils dress in rainbow colours or fancy dress for Friday assemblies and that we could encourage SHC pupils to take part in the Mount Everest Challenge or go for a Guinness World Record. While the virtual Sports Day leaderboard (which is ever-changing!) has been a hit, they agreed that it would be good to find more ways for the school houses to compete against each other, and they thought of fun challenges to set the children each week, like timing how quickly they could put on and take off ten pairs of socks! They also said that it would be great to incorporate some form of brain gym or ’wake up, shake up’ at the start of each online lesson, to counteract the potential negative effects of time spent in front of the screen, and they noted that individual encouragement and reward from school staff is a real motivator for children. We will look further at ways to manage this remotely for those children who will remain at home after half term. The parents also asked if we could manage remote School Council meetings, to allow the pupil voice another channel, and we will be putting this into place for Middle and Upper School children. The PA are keen to support the community, too, and are looking at ways of hosting a virtual social event. I am sure that many parents are keeping in contact in small groups by arranging online meets too, and I have no doubt that you are providing very valuable support to each other during the strange shared parenting experience you are all going through. We were very touched when the PA reps asked us how the staff are doing, and told us how very grateful they, and the parent body at large, are for all that we have been doing. There was even an impromptu clap for the school staff, which brought tears to our eyes. I was so proud to be able to describe this at a staff meeting yesterday, and became quite overwhelmed as I relived the moment for my colleagues. It is lovely to be part of a community which recognises that we are all human, and that staff have their own challenges too. I was able to say, with conviction, that our staff are very committed to making the phased return to school work. While there is of course some apprehension about returning to school during a pandemic, there is a great camaraderie amongst the staff body. There is also a real sense of trust in the systems that the school’s Governors and Senior Leadership Team are putting into place, and a desire to return to some recognisable structure and routine. Most of all, staff are looking forward very much to spending time with the children again.  As you can see, the PA class rep’s came up with some fantastic ideas, and we hope to put many of these into action soon. If you have any ideas of your own that you feel might lift our community’s spirits or promote the wellbeing of our children, please, please, share them. Our (email) door is always open and we would really love to hear your ideas, or your children’s ideas, and put them into practice if we can. Please send ideas to Mrs. Smith at susmith@sthelenscollege.com Let’s keep on dancing through the storm…together. Mrs. Drummond
Posted on: 15/05/2020

Weekly News - Friday 15th May 2020

International Day of Families It is lovely to know that the children have spent the week engaging in activities to celebrate International Day of Families today. You can see some photos of what they have been up to on our Photo Galleries page. Rainbow Room Well done to our Year 6 children, who have been creating and sharing artwork to decorate a room at Hammersmith Hospital which is being transformed into a 'Rainbow Room'. The room is being used by NHS staff to allow them some quiet, contemplative time in the midst of their often harrowing days and nights.      Speech Competition Finals Next Friday, 22nd May, the school will be hosting its first-ever online Speech Competition finals! The competitions will take place at the following times via Google Meet, in the same way as an assembly: 8.45 - 10.00 a.m. Junior School Final (Years 1 - 3) 1.50 - 3.00 p.m. Senior School Final (Years 4 - 6) All finalists have been emailed detailed instructions on how to take part. It will be a fantastic way to bring the community together and end the half term by showcasing the children's public speaking skills! I have also challenged the children to write their own 'Feel Good Friday' poem this week, all about what makes them feel good. Children in Years 1-6 who would like to write a poem should submit their finished poem to their class teachers next week. Parent Feedback and 6RD Video Thank you so much to all of the parents who sent feedback about our remote educational provision via the survey sent out last week. We were very pleased that the feedback was so positive; parents clearly feel that the quality and amount of online teaching is good and that pupils are engaging well and making good progress. We were really touched to read the many individual comments that you took the time to write, thanking your teachers and other staff for all that they are doing. Some parents questioned whether there would be an opportunity for formal feedback from staff to parents this term. The answer is that, while we are unable to hold parents' evenings, teachers will certainly be preparing written end of year reports for each child. The format of these reports will reflect the altered circumstances of the term and they will focus on progress in the core subjects. Led by Tanishka, the children of 6RD have created a beautiful and very touching video of thanks for their teachers and all of the staff who have supported them during their time at St. Helen's College. Thank you, 6RD - this means so much to us! School Grounds Mr. Smith and Mr. Rizzo have been very busy working on the school grounds over the last few weeks. At Upper School, new fencing has been installed outside the back of Cambria, the Zen Garden has been enhanced with a beautiful new pergola and the Art Studio has been re-furbished.           The gardens and lawns are looking beautiful and we are continuing to maintain our indoor and outdoor spaces to our usual high standards. We can't wait until we can welcome pupils back to enjoy these areas.   At Lower School, where the key worker children are being cared for daily, everything is tidy and well cared for, and we are working on the planted area at the foot of the playground which should soon be looking really good.                  
Posted on: 15/05/2020

Remote Teaching

It seems timely to stop, draw breath and begin some serious reflection on what we have been able to achieve so far with our remote learning provision this half term. We have now received - overwhelmingly positive – feedback from parents, pupils and staff about this via the surveys we sent out earlier this week, and it is important that, amongst our day to day work, we take time to look back at what we have achieved and look forward to what more we can do. So much has changed in recent months and as we reflect upon our children’s learning, a few things are most readily apparent. We are now living with the daily reality of technology enabled education and, at St. Helen’s College, we certainly now have in place a robust and really productive teaching/learning platform, with which all staff and pupils are familiar. I am sad that so many schools across the country do not, even now, have a satisfactory online offering in place for their children. It is heartening to hear that the independent sector is able to assist schools less fortunate in their provision and schools such as Eton are facilitating remote learning with their A level students holding tutorials for younger children in the maintained sector. There has been a great effect on staff, too. With remote teaching, staff are being more self critical; individually and as a whole school, we are surveying parents and children much more frequently than ever before, taking feedback on board, tweaking our practice and so, hopefully, providing even more effective learning opportunities. Staff have enhanced their skills and proved themselves adaptable and resourceful; with this has come a renewal of energy and excitement about our vocation and about what we as individuals have been able to achieve.  For most pupils at our school, there is more independent learning, more enquiry based learning and more project based learning. This has led to some wonderful creativity from your children and some really sophisticated and interesting work being produced. What we have also noticed is that, through remote learning, the children are developing ever-greater self-discipline. The timetable is looser, and there are fewer sanctions for children, who have come to realise that ‘virtue is its own reward’. They understand now, if they did not before, that the benefits of engaging fully, willingly and creatively in their learning are a sense of pride, achievement and happiness in themselves. Parents have played, and continue to play, a huge part in motivating the children to work from home successfully, often while facing the challenge of also working from home in shared spaces. We know that parents will have coped with many difficulties along the way and your support is very greatly appreciated. I am tempted to say here that we could not have imagined all of this two months ago...however, it is precisely because, here at St. Helen’s College, we did imagine it - and worked quickly to build upon and enhance our existing systems, supporting each other and being willing to upskill ourselves - that it has become such a successful reality! It is really astonishing to think back to what was asked of school leadership teams and teaching staff at the end of March. With virtually no notice, schools across the country were required to move our entire educational provision online for an unspecified length of time. Nationwide, a flurry began to research and select the best online programmes via which to deliver education, and teachers were required to re-plan almost entirely every lesson that they were due to deliver. We were very lucky that, as a school, we were already using Google Classroom and a flipped learning model in many year groups. This meant that many of our staff were already familiar with planning and delivering lessons using online platforms, and many of our pupils were already familiar with submitting work, communicating online and receiving feedback using these systems. The last week of term is always a time of ‘finishing off’. While teaching continues, units of work are likely to be drawing to a close, art projects are being finished off and children are refining work, writing out work for Exhibition Day displays, and engaging in Easter-themed activities or creating Mother’s Day cards and gifts. In that final week, following the government’s announcement of school closure, these activities had to suddenly (over one weekend) be replaced with online activities, while teachers also struggled with worries over their own health, the health of their families, and childcare for their own children whose schools were suddenly closed. It was a tough time for staff across the school and I believe, honestly, that we muddled through it as best we could.  During that final week of the spring term and as soon as term ended, our School Governors, the Senior Leadership Team and I began planning in earnest for the summer term. It is hard to remember now, but at that time we had no certainty at all over what the summer term would hold. We had to assume that we would be continuing with remote educational provision, but we had no idea for how long. We had to assume that there was a strong possibility of some of our staff falling ill or being required to self-isolate. We were worried for the health and economic stability of our pupils and their families. We were concerned about how to ensure the long-term viability of the school as an organisation. Our priorities were threefold at that time:  1. To make our first priority, always, the safety and wellbeing of our whole community: pupils, parents and staff. 2. To ensure that we could continue to provide an excellent education to our pupils, which would include both delivering high quality teaching and maintaining the strong and crucial pastoral relationships between pupils and staff. 3. To consider how best to support parents during the pandemic, by providing supervision for key worker children, by considering the economic, emotional and practical difficulties potentially faced by parents, and by communicating effectively with parents over the necessary changes and decisions faced by the school. Teachers and senior leaders spent what should have been their Easter holidays re-planning lessons, mastering technologies that were new to them, creating videos in order to boost children’s spirits, and analysing, in depth, the school’s economic challenges. We knew that we needed to work out, quickly but with integrity, how to navigate through the uncertainty with fairness, generosity and good business sense in order to safeguard the school’s future for our pupils, parents and staff, and protect the enormous goodwill and mutual trust on which our community thrives.  Many staff were furloughed; we took advantage of the available Government schemes to help organisations such as ours and we worked out fee adjustments for parents for the summer term in the fairest and most transparent way possible – all the while not knowing if or when a return to school might be allowed. Our teaching staff worked hard, many upskilling themselves and stepping out of their comfort zones, to prepare lessons, make videos, research and curate suitable resources for use online, and alter the curriculum provision and timetables as necessary. We ran training sessions for staff who needed extra support in order to use the online platforms; we developed our own systems for online registration; we considered carefully how pupils could submit work and how work could be assessed and feedback given. Staff recognised that they would need to step outside of their comfort zones, work collaboratively and adapt to new timetables and ways of working. They rose to the challenge with courage and grace, welcoming parents into their classrooms and assemblies as regular visitors. As the summer term began, with a depleted staff body and continued uncertainty over the pandemic situation, teachers communicated daily with pupils, parents and each other to tweak their practice and ensure that children were engaged in the online learning. As well as preparing and delivering lessons, and being available online for large chunks of the day to assist children in their learning, they monitored pupil attendance and engagement and answered parent queries. All the while, throughout the Easter holidays and during term time, volunteers from amongst the school’s teaching and administrative staff have also come into school daily to care for the children of our key workers, supporting them in their learning, looking after their emotional and physical wellbeing, and ensuring that they could have lots of fun and develop positive relationships with those around them. The family spirit of St. Helen’s College has really shone through, here. Miss Walker’s daughter (Madeline), Mrs. Smith’s son (Charley) and my own daughter (Kiera) quickly volunteered to come onto staff and join the team providing exceptional care and attention for the key worker children and ensuring that they are well-supported in accessing their online learning. I hope that you will agree that, over these last many weeks, the staff here have never lost sight of how hard a time this must be for parents and children. We share many of your challenges: like you, our workplace has changed beyond recognition; many of our colleagues have been furloughed and we have had to spread ourselves thin in order to get everything done; we miss your children and our colleagues greatly; we have our own children and elderly relatives at home who need us; we are concerned for our own health; like you, we are tired, and worried about what the future will hold. We do not underestimate how great these challenges are for parents, and we have tried to be mindful that our communications are clear and honest, that our systems are user-friendly and that the inevitable demands being placed upon parents should be as manageable as we can make them. It has not been easy, for any of us. And yet, as I wrote recently, there is so much to be proud of and grateful for. We are particularly grateful for the overwhelmingly positive and supportive feedback that pupils and parents gave through the recent online learning surveys. Many of you took the time to send messages of thanks to teachers and the school for all that we have been doing – and this week, entirely independently, the children of 6RD also made a ‘thank you’ video for staff, collaborating virtually in order to do so. These words and gestures mean so much to us. We do our jobs because we believe passionately in the power of education and because we love your children; we do not do them for recognition, but we are human and to hear your appreciation cannot help but boost our spirits and make everything seem that little bit more worthwhile. So thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. With the news that schools are being asked to begin a phased re-opening after half term, we are once again doing a lot of planning in order to put rigorous processes in place. As with the news of closure, three things remain our priority: to safeguard the wellbeing of our whole community, to continue to provide an excellent education and first class pastoral care for our pupils, and to maintain an open, honest, mutually supportive relationship with parents so that we may continue to work together for the good of all. Next week, I will share more details with parents of exactly what our phased school re-opening will involve and how we are preparing for it. In the meantime, you might be interested to read this TES article which details how a school in Denmark have found their re-opening, and how they, like us, have come to realise that there are benefits to remote learning as well as to traditional teaching. https://www.tes.com/news/remote-learning-rivals-traditional-teaching Mrs. Drummond
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