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

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 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.

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


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!


Posted on: 26/02/2021

Weekly News - Friday 26th February 2021

Re-opening: March 8th We are all delighted that we will be able to re-open to all pupils from Monday 8th March. We will be sending a comprehensive communication to parents next week outlining plans for the return, and with an updated risk assessment, but school operations are likely to be very similar to those we adopted during the autumn term.  All children from Ducklings to Year 6 will be required to attend in school uniform from 8th March onwards. If you need to buy uniform, Pullen's are open for Click & Collect on a Tuesday and Friday from 9.00 a.m. – 5.30 p.m. or you can order online at Uniform4Kids for delivery to your home address. If you experience delays in securing new uniform, and your child does not have suitable, properly fitting uniform to wear, then until their new uniform arrives they should wear their PE kits if they fit, or other plain clothing with trainers suitable for indoor and outdoor use.  National Empathy Week In assembly this week we highlighted to the children in Years 1 - 6 the importance of developing their 'empathy superpower' to raise awareness of National Empathy Week.  The children were encouraged to read stories to help them 'walk in another's shoes' and recognise and understand the feelings of others and emotions they may experience themselves. We have challenged the children to take action when they see someone having a difficult day, whether that be an older relative, a sibling, a parent or their friends and to use their 'empathy superpower' to be there for that person; to ask how they are doing, to listen, to not be distracted and to use magic phrases to show they understand how the person is feeling. Read Ms Walker's inspirational guest Head's blog this week to discover more about the importance of empathy for us all.  Pets And Our Wellbeing Assembly On Monday, we welcomed Jason Cortis from The Blue Cross to our Year 1-6 virtual assembly, who gave a presentation about Pets And Our Wellbeing. We were even joined online by a few pets from pupil and staff households! We learnt how to take care of pets, how important it is to give them choices, how to ensure their wellbeing and how we can look after our own wellbeing too. Many thanks indeed to The Blue Cross for visiting virtually and delivering this talk. You can find out more about The Blue Cross and their valuable work here: Nicola Cooper We are terribly sad to pass on the news that a much-loved member of our school community, Nicola Cooper, recently passed away after living with cancer for many years. Nicola's daughter, Amanda Cooper, is currently the class teacher of 1C. Nicola was a familiar face at our Lower School for over 20 years, and made a tremendous and very positive impact on countless children and their families. She was also an enormously valued colleague and friend to those with whom she worked. Rarely without a smile on her face, she found the joy in every situation and she had a natural desire to make life happier for all those around her. She was kind, thoughtful, selfless and, true to herself and the St. Helen's College spirit, she put family at the heart of everything she did.  Nicola's family have chosen, in her memory, to support the new Maternity Bereavement Suite at Hillingdon Hospital. Kit's Cause was a charity created after family friend Rachael and her partner Alex lost their son at 30 weeks in September 2019. The charity raised £15,000 for the new maternity bereavement suite at Hillingdon Hospital. This cause was very close to Nicola’s heart. Although very ill herself battling cancer, Nicola most recently still helped their fundraising efforts by knitting Easter chicks. This space is so important because, at the moment, mums who lose their baby have to give birth on the labour wards surrounded by other happy families. This fundraising for a separate private space is so important for families to feel safe and spend time with their babies. If you would like to make a donation in Nicola Cooper’s memory, you can do so here: Rest in peace, Nicola. Baby News! Huge congratulations to Mrs. Neri and her family, who welcomed a son on 11th February at 2.31 a.m., weighing 8lbs. He was 2 weeks overdue and they have named him Harrison Peter James Heggie. As you can see, the latest addition to the St. Helen's College family is beautiful! We are looking forward to meeting him in due course.        World Book Day On Thursday 4th March we will be celebrating World Book Day. This year's theme is 'Stories Set in Imaginary Worlds'. The children may wish to raid their dressing-up boxes for outfits and/or accessories to match this magical theme, which they should wear during their sessions at home or at school on the day. Acclaimed children's author Ross Welford will be speaking with the children in Years 3 - 6 and the children in Nursery - Year 2 will be treated to a talk from the fantastic author and illustrator, Emily Gravett.  Details on how to order books for the children, and how to take part in our online book fair, have been sent out via SchoolsBuddy.  We are all looking forward to an exciting and educational day on Thursday and we thank you in advance for your support of the day. Guess the Place Well done to everyone who had a go at guessing where our places were this week. The Upper School place was the spectacular Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. Many people correctly guessed the Giant's Causeway but only Aiden, Raiden, Penelope, Sean, Joseph, Grace and Tiya in Year 3, Marvin and Eshanvi in Year 4, Anjika, Oliver and Charlotte in Year 5 and Ben in Year 6 correctly placed it in Northern Ireland too.  The Lower School place last week was St. Paul's Cathedral. Congratulations to Simar, Ayush, Alexander, Riya Skye, Simrina, Evie, Alexia, Brendan and Aanya in Year 2, Alyssa, Thomas, Millie, Aakash, Riyan, Shayna, Aran, Armaan, Ella, Amara and Yuvraj in Year 1, Aaria, Aarav and Ivaan from Kingfishers, Grace and Sikhya from Robins, Arup, Arya and Eliana from Owls and Phoebe from Wrens all of whom got it right! Parent Practice - Free 'The Big Return' Webinar Many parents have attended talks given by Elaine Halligan of The Parent Practice here at school in the past. Some have also gone on to attend some of her online webinars. Elaine is running a free webinar on Wednesday 3rd March (next week) from 8-9 p.m., helping to support parents as you prepare your children for the return to in-person education. If you would like to join, please click the link below for further information and to register. FREE WEBINAR : The Big Return - preparing your children for starting (   Reminder: Hillingdon STARS Road Safety Competitions The STARS Team at Hillingdon Borough Council are currently running two Road Safety Competitions.  Full details and downloadable entry forms are contained within the links below. All entries should be emailed to the STARS team by Monday 1st March which will also allow some time after the half term to enter.  KS1 Road Safety Story Book Competition (Early Years and Years 1 & 2) The children should draw pictures to go with the pages of our new road safety book called "Captain Safety!". They can enter drawings for as many pages as they like.  KS1 Road Safety Story Book Competition.pdf KS2 Road Safety Invention Design Competition (Years 3 - 6) The children should come up with a new "Road Safety Invention" which could make our roads safer. They should draw the design as well as explain how the road safety invention would work and how it makes our roads safer.  KS2 Road Safety Invention Competition.pdf All winners will be announced and contacted in March. We hope the children will have fun creating their entries! PA Forum Meeting We have moved the date of the next PA Forum meeting from 10th March to 24th March, to give us all time to re-adjust to the return to school before we meet. Parents are encouraged to wait until the children have been back at school for at least one full week before sending points onto class representatives. Class reps should send points for dicussion to Mrs. Smith by Monday 22nd March at the very latest please: We will send reminders nearer the time.
Posted on: 26/02/2021

The Power of Empathy by Miss Walker

As we come to the end of National Empathy Week, I thought it would be timely to reflect on the power of empathy and how practising empathy will be so important in supporting our children and each other as we navigate our way through and beyond the pandemic. Empathy is at the root of compassion, respect, kindness, friendship, consideration and acceptance. It’s different from having sympathy for someone, which means to look at their suffering from the outside and feel sorry or sad for them. Empathy is feeling someone else’s pain or seeing through their eyes. From infancy, human brains are hard-wired for relationships and connection. We crave interactions and authentic connections that give us a sense of belonging. The science of empathy is at the core of emotional intelligence and relationship mastery and it lies within the limbic brain (emotional brain) and prefrontal cortex (rational mind). By recognising feelings, thinking how and why someone is feeling this way and acting to be there for someone, we can have a huge impact for those who might be finding life challenging at this time. If we can develop our own empathy practice, it will help us connect with people we love and care about—and even handle those challenging situations or difficult people in our lives more gracefully.  Children who experience and receive empathy will feel connected, safer and more secure, easing the pain of life's hardships and struggles for them and they will be far more likely to be empathetic themselves.  Therefore it is vitally important that we develop our own empathetic practice so that we can model what empathy looks and feels like to our children and support them as they navigate the challenges and feelings they may be encountering. In assembly this week I shared with the children how stories can be ‘empathy engines’, helping them to see the world through the eyes of others and to walk in their shoes for a time. Connecting to other perspectives can bring greater empathetic understanding. I challenged the children to train their ‘empathy superpower’ by putting on imaginary empathy glasses when they read to really think about how characters might be feeling and why. Reading stories together with your children will help them to build this understanding, equipping them to recognise feelings in themselves and others.  I often see our pupils practising giving and receiving empathy in the playground, whether that be supporting an upset peer on the friendship bench  or comforting a friend who has fallen over. They often show empathy too after a sports match when the result has not gone their way and in lessons when someone shares something that has made them sad. We too need to take time to practise developing our empathy superpowers if we are to help support our children and each other.  How often as parents, partners or colleagues have we found ourselves responding to those around us by trying to convince them that their situation isn't so bad, telling them you have bigger problems of your own, telling them to ‘buck up’, trying to fix their problem, changing the subject or just not knowing what to say. This is not showing empathy: these responses won’t make someone feel heard or listened to and may result in emotional difficulties remaining unresolved.   So, where to begin? Here are some tips for developing your own empathy practice: Actively listen. Making eye contact and ensuring distractions such as mobile phones, laptops and TVs don’t prevent you from being present and the other person feeling unseen and unheard by you.  Empty your mind when listening to another person. Avoid letting your mind wander to what is for dinner or responding to a work email.  Don’t be a solution giver, solving someone's problem may seem helpful, but it is not empathetic. Simply accept and understand the feelings the person is experiencing without judging them.  Use supportive phrases such ‘That must have been really hard for you’, ‘You must be feeling very sad right now’, ‘I know what it’s like to feel this way’, ‘My goodness that must have been difficult’,  ‘Boy that sounds tough’ or simply ‘I understand’.  Empathetic phrases like these will help show that you recognise and understand their feelings and will help them to feel understood and supported.  Empathy for others won’t necessarily lead them to change their behaviour or fix their problem, but it does help you to be present for them and can help both parties, the giver and receiver, better navigate difficult emotions. You will start to recognise signs your empathy is having an impact with others as you start to feel more in sync with one another and an increased connection unfolds, emotions dissipate or recede, your interactions lead to a deeper closeness or understanding of each other, a real and honest conversation develops and people feel more capable because they know they're not alone. Cultivating empathy for others has certainly helped me manage challenges and support those I love and care for better.  I have no doubt we have all faced difficult times this past year, it has taken a huge mental and emotional toll on us all, but I know, instinctively, that we all thrive when we are well in every sense. So I encourage us all to take the time to really listen to each other, take a moment to think about what it would be like to be in another person's shoes and show you appreciate and understand the emotions they feel.  By adopting more empathetic approaches in our daily lives, I believe we have the best chance of coming through these most challenging times together and of keeping the genuine well-being and happiness of every member of our school community at our foundation, upon which everything else will be built in the future.   I’ll leave you with this link to a great video from Professor Brene Brown which amusingly explains the difference between sympathy and empathy.   Enjoy the weekend everyone and may we all keep opening our hearts to let empathy in.  Miss Walker
Posted on: 12/02/2021

Weekly News - Friday 12th February

Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day Celebrations It was wonderful to see so many of the children and staff dressed in red to celebrate both Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day during our Upper School assembly this morning. Many thanks indeed to Ashvika A, Eshan N and Viren C who provided musical performances on piano and violin and a special thank you to Ruby L and Joleen Z, who gave very informative and confident presentations about Chinese New Year, and to Jacob N and David W, who prepared presentations and videos to be shared with the classes in school too. Internet Safety Day and Safe Remote Teaching Accreditation! This week, children have been reminded about the importance of staying safe online. We would like to remind parents that there are some very useful resources available to you at National Online Safety to support you in keeping your children safe on the internet.  You can even register here as a St Helen's College parent and complete short training modules, and there is a useful 'top ten tips for keeping children safe' guide available here.  We are also delighted to announce that St. Helen's College has been awarded the National Online Safety Safe Remote Education Accreditation, which recognises that the school has successfully completed a comprehensive remote education training programme, demonstrating our commitment to providing high quality remote education, keeping children and young people safe online and supporting pupil wellbeing. The accreditation rewards our carefully planned and successful approach towards safeguarding children and supporting pupil wellbeing during remote teaching and learning. National Online Safety is a multi-award winning digital training provider with extensive resources in online safety, developed in line with the Department of Education’s statutory requirements. NextGen Enterprise Success Riya C, Manisher L and Zara B (Year 6) have joined Next Gen Enterprise, and are undertaking a series of online instructor-led courses which aim to inspire and develop next generation talent. The girls have already completed the bronze level award where they successfully investigated, discussed successful businesses and brands, and then pitched their business concept in front of a live virtual panel which included successful entrepreneurs who asked questions and provided feedback. This gave them a very good insight into building a successful business and has also given a boost to their collaboration, discussion, creativity, and presentation skills.   The girls are currently in their last week of the silver award, where they have learnt about key roles within a business, e.g. sales, marketing, HR. This Sunday they are looking forward to presenting their business model via video meeting to a panel of judges and other students.   Well done girls, and many thanks for bringing this company to the school's attention. We are currently exploring ways in which we might work together to offer similar courses through the school's co-curricular programme, so watch this space! In the meantime, if any parent or pupil would like to find out more, you can take a look at the NextGen Enterprise prospectus here. Crossing Petition Success Last term, following a couple of 'near misses' on the Long Lane zebra crossing between Lower School and Upper School, our Year 6 Junior Road Safety Officers were determined to take action and try to reduce the speed of cars on Long Lane to make the crossing safer for our pupils, staff and parents as well as for the local community. They decided to petition the local council for a safer 'Pelican' crossing to be installed. They wrote a very persuasive letter to the local councillors and gathered support from fellow pupils by collecting names on a pupil petition. This was then supported by a staff petition and letter from Mrs. Drummond too. All the information was submitted through the council's Democratic Services for consideration. On Wednesday this week, Mrs. Drummond and Miss Walker attended a virtual council meeting where the petition was considered. The councillors were very impressed by our JRSO submission, which made a compelling case, and the strong partnership the school has developed with the council's Road Safety and STARS team over recent years. We are absolutely delighted to announce there was unanimous support from all of the councillors attending the meeting for the installation of immediate safety improvement measures on and around the crossing on Long Lane and a commitment to pursuing the installation of a pelican crossing with Transport for London over the coming year. As a measure of the council's support and undertaking to improve safety for the St. Helen's College community, they have acted swiftly, installing brighter, more eye catching 'Zebrite' beacons on the crossing today, within 48 hours!  Over the coming weeks we will be working with the Road Safety team on their proposed installation of  the 'Vehicular Activated Signs' this summer. These activate when vehicles are approaching a crossing at speed and highlight a school is nearby, so they should certainly help to reduce the speed of traffic around our school sites. We will be working in partnership with councillors and the Road Safety team over the coming months to secure Transport for London approval for the installation of a pelican crossing and we will keep you updated on the progress of this. It is a credit to our pupils that they led the way on this road safety action project. Their understanding of the British value of democracy and the mechanisms for having a voice in local democracy were the catalysts for this significant achievement, which we know will improve the lives and safety of our whole school community. Many congratulations to our JRSO team: Jena, Fredericka, Jessica, Vidhit, Samir, Manisher and Georgia.  Guess the Place It has been another exciting week trying to Guess our Places in our photo challenges. Many congratulations to the 32 children from Lower School and Year 2, who correctly guessed their place was the The Penguin Pool at London Zoo. Many of you mentioned you had been there - let's hope we will be able to visit all the animals again soon. The Year 3 - 6 photo was a little more challenging this week. Some people guessed it was Oxford, 45 people correctly guessed it was Oxford University but well done to our super geography detectives this week who guessed it was All Souls College, Oxford. These were Tiya, Aleyna, Sean and Joseph in Year 3, Poppy in Year 4 and Anjika in Year 5. There will be half term Guess the Place photos posted later today so you can all keep exploring parts of London and the UK.  London Youth Games Virtual Competition Many of our Year 3 - 6 pupils have continued to take part in the London Youth Games virtual fitness challenges this term. Last week they took part in a Jumping Jacks challenge and this week they have competed in the Shuttle Run challenge. Through their efforts and those of pupils in other Hillingdon schools, the borough team is creeping up the London Youth Games leader board. We are delighted to award some of our pupils with a special London Youth Games Fitness Challenge certificate for participating in all four challenges this term. Many congratulations to  Anika, Riya S and Hana in Year 3, Anjika, Sahib, David and Riddhi in Year 5 and Samir and Pavitar in Year 6. The challenges will continue after half term, when we hope to see even more pupils taking part.  Special Pet Assembly On Monday 22nd February at 8.30 a.m. we will be joined by a special guest from the Blue Cross organisation in our special assembly for Years 1 - 6. Be sure to join us with your pets if you have any to find out how to look after pets and t consider 'pets and our wellbeing', a reminder of the things humans and animals all need to stay healthy and happy. Ducklings/Nursery/Reception Parents' Evenings Video consultations for parents of Ducklings, Nursery and Reception parents will take place on Thursday 4th March and Tuesday 9th March. Bookings will open at 3 p.m. today. Please follow the link below to book your appointment. Appointments are allocated on a first come, first served basis. Ducklings Entry - September 2021 We now have just a few places left for Ducklings entry in September 2021. If you have any friends or family with a child who was born between 01.09.18 and 31.08.19, please let them know that they will need to register their child as soon as possible now in order to be considered for entry. Online Open Morning - Friday 26th February 2021 at 10.00 a.m. Under the present restrictions, we are sadly still unable to show prospective parents around at the school. At the end of the first week back after half term, we will be holding our next Online Open Morning for prospective parents. If you have any friends or family who might be interested in St. Helen's College for their child/ren, please do encourage them to register for this virtual open morning and attend on Friday 26th, to find out all about the school. Mrs. Drummond, Mrs. Hunt and Mrs. Smith will be hosting the event. The registration link is here - please do share far and wide - many thanks indeed for your support! Speech Competition This week the children have been given their pieces for this year's Speech Competition. It will be an online event again this year and another opportunity for the children to hone their public speaking and performance skills.  The first rounds of the competition will take place in the week after the half-term break with the junior (Year 1-3) and senior (Year 4-6) finals taking place on Monday, March 22nd. Form teachers will give out more information as the competition progresses. The judging criteria are: expression, projection and clarity. The entries will be performed live (with the exception of the final) and should not be accompanied by gestures or choreography.  It is always a fun and exciting event on the St. Helen's College calendar and we are sure that we will be blown away by another raft of impressive performances again this year. Good luck to all the children - have fun learning and reciting your pieces! Perform Half Term Drama Workshops Perform, who visit St. Helen's College regularly to deliver workshops for children, are running February half term drama workshops online for Reception to Year 6 aged children.  For one hour each day, Perform's warm and friendly team of theatre professionals will inspire and encourage the children as they combine drama, dance and singing into a magical experience. They'll encourage them to project their voices, learn energetic dance routines, sing catchy songs and develop the Perform 4 Cs: Confidence, Concentration, Communication and Coordination. The course costs £60 for the 5 days. If you are interested, you can read all about the classes and sign up here: Hillingdon STARS Road Safety Competitions The STARS Team at Hillingdon Borough Council will be running two Road Safety Competitions over the February half term.  Full details and downloadable entry forms are contained within the links below. All entries should be emailed to the STARS team by Monday 1st March which will also allow some time after the half term to enter.  KS1 Road Safety Story Book Competition (Early Years and Years 1 & 2) The children should draw pictures to go with the pages of our new road safety book called "Captain Safety!". They can enter drawings for as many pages as they like.  KS1 Road Safety Story Book Competition.pdf KS2 Road Safety Invention Design Competition (Years 3 - 6) The children should come up with a new "Road Safety Invention" which could make our roads safer. They should draw the design as well as explain how the road safety invention would work and how it makes our roads safer.  KS2 Road Safety Invention Competition.pdf All winners will be announced and contacted in March. We hope the children will have fun creating their entries! Colne Valley Art Competition Budding young artists might also like to take part in the Colne Valley Park Art Competition. The theme of the competition is: My visit to the Colne Valley Park. The Colne Valley Park stretches from Rickmansworth in the north to Staines and the Thames in the south, and from Uxbridge and Heathrow in the east to Slough and Chalfont St Peter in the west. Children's artwork can be of anywhere in the Colne Valley Park or something they like doing when they visit the Colne Valley Park. There are two age groups categories: Ages 7-9 years Ages 10-12 years Each participant must live in or near the Colne Valley Regional Park. Only one entry per child can be submitted. Artwork must be between A4 and A3 in size and children may use any type of art, household or natural materials. There are prizes including: £50 art voucher for first prize from each age group category £40 art voucher second prize from each age group category £30 art voucher third prize from each age group category In addition, all entries will be displayed in the exhibition gallery on the Colne Valley Park website. How to submit entries: Take a photo of artwork Email photo to with Subject TASGX Children’s Art Competition Please include details of where you live – town, village, suburb, whether in the Colne Valley Park or near it (this will not be included in Gallery credit) Provide the following information to be included in the Gallery Exhibition First name of artist Age of artist Location of visit Why did you choose this visit Full details can be found here. Competition winners will be notified at the end of April 2021 via email...happy creating! Oak Farm Library Oak Farm Library has recently undergone a refurbishment and is now back open to the public. This is a fantastic local resource and we urge all parents to make use of the library regularly with your children, to support and encourage a love of reading. The library is open Monday to Friday from 9.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. and Saturday from 9.30 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. (closed for lunch from 1.00 - 2.00 p.m.). Due to the current lockdown restrictions, it is operating as a closed door, reserve and collect service. The library's many wider resources/services include: Reserve and Collect - parents and children are still able to search and reserve books, either online or by telephoning the branch. Staff will then contact readers when their books are available for collection. All returned books are quarantined for 72 hours and collection takes place at the front door to maintain safe distancing. Not yet a member? You can always join up here. Follow the library on social media - keep up to date with events and service updates on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram. The library is currently running a packed events programme for Heart Month to promote mental and physical wellbeing in the community. Bookstart - parents and families can still collect Book Start baby packs (babies up to 1 years) and Treasure Packs (3 years +) at the front of the library. Tiny Tales (online children's Storytime's) - the library continues to deliver several online Storytimes a week. This is a great way for children to stay in touch and have fun during lockdown. Reading Well - a collection of books specifically designed to support residents into improved wellbeing. There are also dozens of Online Resources which can be accessed from home by all LBH library members: Borrowbox - thousands of e-books and audiobook titles for parents and children to enjoy, on your own devices at home. All you need to do is access Borrowbox through the Hillingdon Libraries website and create an account using your library card number. Once you've created an account you can then download the app on your preferred device and start borrowing. RB Digital - an expansive collection of digital magazines, audio books, and ebooks awaits you! Whether you are on the go or at home, there are plenty to enjoy.  Ziptales - a place for children to enjoy a wealth of interactive stories, lessons, and fun activities, from Nursery age to Key Stage 2. Brittanica Junior - A fantastic place for young curious minds to explore the world around them, for fun or educational reasons. Brittanica Student - A curriculum guided encyclopaedia tailored especially for enquiring secondary school age children.
Posted on: 12/02/2021

Pandemic Parenting

As we enter this half term break, I want to congratulate every parent in our community and every member of staff who has supported the children through what has been the most unforgettable period of our lives, and one which we most certainly would never have imagined this time last year. For Heads, the winter months of school always bring that element of wondering if we might need to prepare for a snow day! Do staff need to be alerted that we may need to be sending work home for a day or two if school needs to close? Well, this pandemic has seen the school reach new heights as we have adapted and responded to provide what we feel to be the best education possible for your children under these circumstances.   St. Helen's College parents have been phenomenal in the support you have given the school and your children. This week I read a blog from Elaine at the Parent Practice which really resonated with me. Her words neatly encompass what I would like to say to you all today, so instead of re-inventing the wheel I will share her words below. You may remember that I had asked parents for feedback after attending any of Elaine's webinars, and I am delighted to be able to share the reflections of one of our Year 5 parents below too. I wish you all a restful half term - and I have hope that it may not be too long before we are able to welcome the children back to school. Mrs. Drummond Extract from Elaine’s blog: Are you practising being a ‘good enough’ parent just now? It's unrealistic to think you can do an eight hour working day whilst looking after kids and do home schooling. Something has to give. It's unrealistic to think you can be head chef, entertainment director, laundress, school teacher, employee, counsellor and coach and say “I’m ok” and don’t take time for yourself.   We all need to give up the perils of perfectionism, as  perfectionism is unachievable. It’s a myth  - it’s about us being obsessed with what others will think of us. We need to give ourselves a break. Your biggest priority just now as a parent is to keep stress levels down, so if home schooling is causing untold angst and stress for everyone, you have permission to ditch it or differentiate the curriculum. The reality is that children’s brains cannot absorb academic work if they are stressed, as cortisol interferes with the brain’s higher function, so please parents lower your expectations and practise being a good enough parent. My other big concern is with this determination that our children ‘keep up’ and return to school not being too far behind in their studies. The reality is, this pandemic is rewriting history. What your children will have learnt over the past 12 months way exceeds traditional measures of educational success. They may have had to deal with grief, with the death of a loved one; with loneliness and being separated from their friends, and they have almost certainly had to deal with boredom having had their freedom taken away from them. We simply have to adjust our expectations and most importantly, we need to know how to listen to our children, validate their feelings, and let them tell their story. My final message is you can't pour from an empty cup, so think of yourselves as an emotional bank account  - if you don’t make deposits, you can’t make withdrawals. You need to replenish the resource that you are, for your family. From a Year 5 parent: 2020 was a year that changed so many things for everyone worldwide. We all made sacrifices that most of us took for granted. We couldn’t see our family and friends, we couldn’t hug our elderly parents and grandparents, most of us cancelled our holidays abroad, we couldn’t just pop to the shops as most of us had to queue outside for long periods and our children had to learn how to ‘work from home’.   I had heard about The Parent Practice website through our school, and although I had signed up for their newsletters, I had never attended a course. I decided to sign up to a webinar and give this a go. After all, I had more time on my hands during lockdown! Within five minutes, Elaine seemed to describe both my children in one sentence and I was totally engaged for the rest of the webinar. She gave simple and good advice and shared her own parenting experience.  The advice she gives works for primary school children and teenagers and gives parents ideas on how to ‘connect’ with their children. Do we connect with them how they want us to? My older son has always been described as the calm and quiet one, who was happy to work from home and be in his own company, whereas his brother missed his friends tremendously and couldn’t wait to get back to school and be in a classroom with his teachers and friends. Total opposites, but both totally normal. Elaine gives simple advice on how to handle parenting in a more positive way, to help parents work with their children and bring out the best in them. As adults we are all different and this applies to children too. If something works for one child, it won’t necessarily work for another. Elaine provides advice on how we can do this by making simple changes. She talks about descriptive praise. Don’t say well done for getting 10/10 in a maths test, praise the effort they made to try to achieve the goal. If they didn’t hit the mark, it’s ok. They have still learnt something along the way. I remember saying this very often to my son, while he was preparing for his 11+. I could see the hard work and effort that he was making to try his best, and that was good enough. She teaches parents not to generalise praise, be specific with it. She talks about a golden book for each child, which you write things down that you have noticed that is done well, as we often point out when something has not gone well, and forget to praise what has. This gives children a belief that they are loved and accepted for who they are and not for who they are expected to be. She recommends that we use this for teenagers too. Even if the teenager is not openly thanking us for the recognition, they have read what we notice and what we think and that’s the most important thing. She suggests we play video games with our children or talk to them about a subject that interests them and help us connect to them. If we connect with our children, they will share their worries and anxieties with us. All these things seem quite obvious, but sometimes get forgotten as we all become set in our ways and busy trying to get through our day, and ready for the next. Elaine explains that we can be firm but fair and by becoming a fairer parent, it helps us to work with our children in a constructive way.  I have attended two webinars and they have both been useful.  There is an opportunity to post comments in the chat box during the webinar and there is time at the end for Q&A.  Parents can access the webinar for a certain period of time afterwards to watch the webinar back.     So would I recommend The Parent Practice website? Yes I would and I plan to attend more courses again in the future too. I think of parenting as a wonderful gift and if we can take one positive from our experience with this awful pandemic, is that time is very precious, so we should make the most of it with the little people that matter the most to us.   
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