Video Tour - Early Years


Posted on: 20/11/2020

Weekly News - Friday 20th November 2020

A Day In The Life of 2H We were treated to a super pre-recorded class assembly this morning, during which the children of 2H took us through a day in the life of their class. They explained how they must arrive at school, organise themselves and their belongings and make sure they are ready for their busy day of learning. We were introduced to the class School Council, Charity and Eco Reps and were then taken through all the learning that is going on in 2H at present, from 'ecstatic' English lessons with super creative writing to rhythmic music lessons and Power Maths lessons. The children explained how they are learning about the importance of healthy eating in their science lessons, investigating the Great Fire of London in History (Topic) and Drama lessons, painting in Art lessons and enjoying movement and music in PE lessons. Play times and lunch times are clearly extremely enjoyable and 2H have also been discussing some big issues through Philosophy for Children in their PSHCE lessons, asking whether rich people are happier than poor people and whether we would rather be friends with a rich person or a poor person. It was super for us all to see just how busy and purposeful the children's lives are here at school. It may help to explain for parents why the children are usually rather tired and rather hungry by the end of the school day! Mr. McLaughlin has written a very interesting blog this week about how to support your child (and yourself!) after a busy day at school, so please do take a look at that too: you can read it here. Very well done, 2H! Year 6 Morning Tea Our Year 6 pupils were treated to morning tea with Mrs. Drummond and Mr. McLaughlin this week to celebrate the great start they have had to their final year at St. Helen's College. They have coped admirably with preparing for examinations, returning to school after such a long time and taking on leadership roles within the school. Thank you to Soula and her team for the amazing cakes and hot chocolate! You can see more photos on the Galleries page.       Parents' Evenings All classes from Ducklings to Year 6 have now had their Autumn parents' evenings using the new remote platform. We will shortly be sending out a parent survey to gather feedback on how the system worked for you and whether it will be an option for some parents for the future. Music Examinations Many of the children have now received certificates from the recent music examinations which have been taking place. We will publish a full list of achievements at the end of term. Congratulations to all those involved. Christmas Card Competition Winner Thank you to all the pupils who submitted an entry for this competition. The overall winner was Alexander A in 2H and highly commended was Aanya D in 5A. You can see the winning and the highly commended entries here. Alexander's design           Aanya's design         Gurpurab We will be celebrating Gurpurab in Upper School assembly on Monday 30th November. If any pupils will be marking Gurpurab in special ways over the preceding weekend and on the day itself, and would like to share their celebration with the school community, please encourage them to speak with Mrs. Drummond next week. Christmas Bauble Competition As usual, we will be running our Christmas tree decoration competition this year. Children are invited to design their own decoration to be hung on our Christmas trees at Ducklings, Lower School and Upper School. Decorations should be of a sensible size but may take whatever format the pupils choose! There will be a small gift for every child who enters and a winner will be chosen from each class to receive a prize too. Children may bring their decorations to school by Monday 30th November and the last day for bringing in a completed decoration is Wednesday 9th December. Decorations should be handed to form teachers on arrival at school. Judging will take place on Thursday 10th December and prizes will be awarded on the final day of term. We look forward very much to seeing the children's entries this year! Flu Vaccinations Parents are reminded that the cut-off date for forms to be returned for the flu vaccination is Monday 23rd November. Once the figures have been passed to the nurse team it will not be possible to add children to the vaccination programme in school, so please double check and ensure that you have returned your forms by Monday. Christmas Gift Ideas Big Life Journal A wonderful book for children 6-11, this book would make a superb gift for the whole family. The book focuses on many of our school core values of respect, courage and gratitude. There is also a 'teen' version of the book for those of you with older children.
Posted on: 20/11/2020

After School Restraint Collapse

Nearly every teacher, at one point or another, has had the experience of speaking to parents at the school gates, or at a parents’ evening, waxing lyrical about how fantastic and enthusiastic their child is in class, only to be met with a wry smile. Some cannot believe that the demanding infants or sulky pre-adolescents that return home on some days can be the same child receiving glowing praise for their consistent diligence and participation in lessons. They are bursting with pride, but also wondering why such model behaviour does not always occur at home. The school day undoubtedly takes a lot of effort for children. Hours spent having fun, learning new things, managing relationships, following instructions and remembering equipment can be mentally and physically draining. It is no surprise then that some children get home and allow their bubble to burst from time to time. This year in particular, children will be adjusting to several small differences in many of their usual routines at school and at home. For them, using a lot of energy to maintain self control for long periods of time can temporarily decrease their ability to self regulate. Canadian teacher and psychotherapist Andrea Loewen Nair coined the term ‘after school restraint collapse’ in response to hearing these stories so regularly from parents. We are living in an age where everything seems to come with a label and people may argue that this is simply a bit of good old-fashioned defiance or misbehaviour. I am certainly no expert in the field of psychotherapy but I have encountered some anecdotal evidence in my years as a teacher, enough to believe there is at least a modicum of truth in the idea. At the very least, some families out there are affected by this pattern of behaviour.  While it can happen with any child, those with additional needs will feel the strain more acutely. Imagine the will power necessary for a child with dyslexia to work with words for several hours a day? Or for a child with ADHD to sit still for large periods? Tiredness and hunger can lead any child to frustration (and, I have observed, any adult too, me included!). So, if you have noticed this occurring with your child, I have managed - whilst researching the ideas behind ‘after school restraint collapse’ - to compile a list of advice from parents across the world wide web on how to provide the sort of environment conducive to a peaceful transition from school to home.  No matter how your day has gone, or how your child’s day has gone, greet them with a hug and a smile. Avoid bombarding your child with questions about their day. They may need some time and space to settle, so save the conversations about school until later. Address basic needs, such as tiredness and hunger. While some children need a quiet, still space directly after school, others may benefit from physical activity. Try walking, scooting or cycling home or rhythmic activities like swinging or bouncing on a trampoline. If you travel by car, try playing some music or an audiobook on your journey to create a calm space and allow your child time to decompress. Leave homework until a little later if you can – after several hours at school, your child will likely need a brain break before starting on more work. Try to maintain a predictable routine around home time.  Make sure you are taking care of yourself. If post-school difficulties have been a feature in your home for some time, it is likely that you feel your own anxiety and tension levels rising as home time approaches, so make sure you are doing what it takes to look after yourself before you welcome your child home. Finally, if a meltdown does happen, understanding and support will help a child to feel secure. One tactic that has perhaps never succeeded in the history of trying to calm people down, is telling them to calm down! These tips are entirely stolen from others but I do endorse them. I am not yet six months into my own personal parenting journey and I am only just beginning to understand the very complex, difficult, but ultimately very rewarding job of being a parent. If this issue does resonate with you, I would love to hear your views and I hope that the ideas gathered will prove helpful in easing transitions on those difficult days.  Mr. McLaughlin
Posted on: 13/11/2020

Weekly News - Friday 13th November 2020

The highlight of this week for our pupils in Year 1 to Year 6 was undoubtedly our online author visit from Cressida Cowell, the author of the amazing 'How To Train Your Dragon' series and of a new book series entitled 'The Wizard of Once'. Cressida is also currently the Children's Laureate. From her home, Cressida spoke to the children about the inspiration behind her books, the importance of research, how to write creatively by using ideas born in the real world and much more. Her enthusiasm, expertise and friendliness made her an absolute inspiration for the children and we are so grateful to her for sharing her time and her boundless energy with us. It was clear from the children's questions to Cressida how engaged they were in the event and Cressida answered their questions with real understanding and empathy. Many children have ordered signed copies of Cressida's books and we hope that they will enjoy reading them. Ordering is still open - signed books can be ordered using the following link: Please ignore all shipping options as you go through the checkout process. Just note down your child's name and class in the 'order notes' box to ensure they receive it promptly. Cressida also suggested that the children might like to start their own special scrapbooks for ideas, drawings and creative writing and we hope that parents will support children in buying scrapbooks and reminding them to record their ideas. Children in Need The school was a riot of colour and spots today as staff and pupils joined together to dress in fluorescent colours and wear spots/stripes to show support for Children in Need. Thank you to all who have so far donated to the St. Helen's College fundraiser for this most worthy of causes; the current total stands at £1057. The donation link will remain active until Sunday, so if you have not yet made a donation and would like to do so, please follow this link: You can see more photographs of our Children in Need day on our Galleries page. Assembly/ Music Recital The children at Upper School were treated to an array of performers who sang, played piano pieces and performed on the clarinet and saxophone in our first remote mini-recital during our Friday commendations assembly.  Well done to Arshia (4L), Anjika (5G), Georgia (6R), Jessica (6R), Riya (6M) and Vidhit (6M).  Remembrance On Wednesday (11th November), our school community joined together to pay tribute to those members of our armed services who have given their lives in the line of duty, and all those who still serve today. Our morning assembly focussed solely on Remembrance, the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal and the role of our armed forces, and at 11 a.m. pupils came together for a two minute silence. At Upper School, Mrs. Fawbert performed The Last Post for us as we lined up in our bubble groups in the playground. It was a meaningful occasion indeed.  Many thanks to all parents, pupils and staff who have donated to our Fundraising page for the Poppy Appeal. The school community has raised a total of £208 so far. The page will remain open until Sunday 15th November so if you would like to make a donation there is still time to do so. The donation link is here: Happy Diwali! We would like to wish everybody a happy Diwali and we hope that all families celebrating manage to find a way to connect with friends and relatives this weekend.  If you have any photos, videos or stories that you would like to share from this year's very different Diwali celebrations, please share these with Mrs. Drummond to be shown or discussed in assembly on Wednesday morning (18th November).  Co-Curriculum: Virtual After School Club and December Science Camp Youth Sport Trust After School Club The Youth Sport Trust have taken the step to deliver a free virtual after school club as part of a national response to the second lockdown. The 30 minute club will take place at 5 p.m. each weekday and will be led by a different member of the YST’s athlete mentor network, starting on Thursday 12 November with world no.1 female inline skater and 10-time British Champion Jenna Downing.  Aimed mainly at primary-aged children, a different theme has been assigned for each day of the club: Adventure Monday, Tuesday Play, Wild Wednesday, Thinking Thursday and Fun Friday.  Here is the link to the information for parents - we hope that many of your children will want to take part. Mother Nature Holiday Activities Early Bird booking is now available for the Mother Nature December Christmas Science Activity Holiday Camp - Santa’s Workshop! (14th -18th Dec 2020). To book Science Activity Camps for your child click here. Use special Parent Discount Code ‘coolschool’ for an extra £10-off list price for full-week places and £5-off day places. Switch Off Fortnight Next week will see St. Helen's College, led by the Eco Team, take part in Switch-Off Fortnight. Switch off Fortnight is a campaign that will encourage everyone at school to become interested in saving energy and cutting their carbon footprint. We would also like to encourage everyone to take the switch-off challenge home, where we hope to inspire our families to take part in saving energy too. The more people involved, the greater the energy savings will be, which in turn will help our environment. The Eco Team will kick start Switch Off Fortnight during Monday's assembly and it will last from Monday 16th November until Friday 27th November. Throughout the fortnight, the Eco Team will carry out several audits to see how many lights and appliances have been left on in their classrooms. The team will also be running an awareness campaign by designing posters which will be displayed in their classrooms, encouraging everyone to save energy. At the end of the second week, the team will monitor the results they have collected and will look to see if the campaign has been successful in persuading people to use electricity more carefully. Certificates will be awarded to the classes that perform the best. One small click can make a big difference, so happy energy saving everyone!  Heath Robinson Museum Competition Although the Heath Robinson Museum (Pinner) are in lockdown and their doors are temporarily shut, they still want to spread some creativity and fun! They are inviting children aged 6-16 to take part in the #kidsinmuseums #digitaltakeoverday on Friday 20th November by submitting photographs of artwork to an online art competition. The events of this year have really highlighted the importance of our home and our loved ones. Heath Robinson often got his inspiration from his family, his home and the town he lived in, so the museum wants children to use the theme of 'home' to get creative. They may use any material and make their artwork big or small and as literal or metaphorical as they like! If your child would like to enter, they must submit a photograph of their artwork to their class teacher by Tuesday 17th November. This will allow Mrs. Pruce time to submit the school's entries by the museum deadline. The runners up entries will be published on the Heath Robinson Museum website in the news section and there will be a prize for the winning entry. COVID and Car Sharing Please see the link here for updated guidance for parents from the Department of Education.  This update provides information on the national restrictions that came into force on 5th November, the latest advice for clinically extremely vulnerable children and young people and advice on the use of face coverings in education settings. The school has advocated car sharing for many years in an effort to reduce congestion and pollution in the local area. During the current COVID-19 restrictions, we urge parents who are car sharing to ensure that all drivers and passengers wear masks or visors, and to travel with windows open where possible for ventilation, to mitigate against the risks of transmitting the virus. Parents should also inform school formally now of car sharing arrangements, please, so that we have a record of potential contacts. This will enable us to triage quickly and effectively in the case of a positive case of COVID coming to light in the pupil community. Please see the government guidance for safer guidance for passengers here. Holiday Club Once again, we have had to take the decision not to offer Holiday Club over the Christmas holidays. We are so disappointed not to be able to offer our full wraparound care provision as we would in normal times, but we are sure that parents appreciate that the current in-school bubble group restrictions make staffing Holiday Club unsustainable.  Pupil to Pupil Christmas Cards As usual, we will run a pupil postbox system for Christmas cards this year, so that pupils may post cards to their friends. However, please note that pupils may only send cards through this school system to friends in their own class bubble group. They must not send cards to children in other classes as these cannot be delivered. Christmas Gift Ideas If you have a budding artist in the household, or would like to inspire your child(ren)'s artistic interest, Mrs. Pruce recommends these items as Christmas gifts or stocking fillers. The links shown are to Amazon but you should be able to find these paints/brushes at most retailers which sell art supplies - particularly during these times, it would be good to support local businesses where possible. Major Brushes Artist Watercolour Paint Tin - 36 Blocks Red Metal Lid £5.95 Winsor & Newton Foundation Water Colour Short Handle 6 Pack Brush, Multicoloured, 7 x 1 x 4.3 cm £6.95 EasyFundraising If you are embarking on Christmas shopping, we would like to remind you that you can raise money for the St. Helen's College Development Fund, at absolutely no cost to yourself, whenever you shop online at a huge number of retailers, by signing up to our EasyFundraising cause. Retailers include Amazon, Ebay, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Asos, Argos, Selfridges, Harrods, House of Fraser,, Just Eat and many, many more. We launched our EasyFundraising cause last year and it is proving successful so far, but we have only a few supporters. We would really love to increase the number of supporters so that we can establish a meaningful fund, with the eventual aim to use this fund both for development projects at St. Helen's College and to support educational development projects in developing countries. The power of schemes like this one is in the number of people who use the scheme, and in making it a habit to use it for every purchase - each individual donation may seem small, but every penny counts. Until 17th November, the fund will receive a free £5 donation for every new member who signs up to support our EasyFundraising cause and makes a qualifying purchase, if you do so using this link: The easiest way to make this fundraising a regular part of your shopping is to download the EasyFundraising app onto your phone or tablet and open this every time you want to shop online, following the links to your retailer of choice. If you shop using a desktop computer, you can add the Easyfundraising extension onto your desktop computer browser and you will then receive an automatic reminder every time you shop. If you would like to support the cause but are not sure how, please do contact Mrs. Smith who will be pleased to help. Thank you very much indeed for your support. 
Posted on: 13/11/2020

Nurturing A Love Of Science

  It seems very fitting that Wednesday 10th November was ‘World Science Day for Peace and Development’.  This day is celebrated to highlight the important role that science has in society and to promote the need to engage the wider public in debates on emerging scientific issues. Since the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic, more than 170 teams of researchers have been racing to develop a safe and effective vaccine.  Reports this week have been encouraging with Pfizer and the German company BioNTech announcing that they had encouraging results from a phase 3 clinical trial for their vaccine. While we all await further results from the world’s top class researchers working on the Covid vaccine, I have been inspired closer to home by what is actually happening with your children at St. Helen’s College and the passion that they have as our future scientists, who will in time take responsibility for the world’s emerging scientific issues. There are key skills that young scientists need to develop: Observing - by far one of the most important skills and one which children need to learn and develop. Inferring/predicting/taking an educated guess  Measuring - maths is the language of science and is a key skill, underpinning scientific inquiry and investigation Communication - demonstrating their understanding and using scientific vocabulary. These skills are being developed in your children each and every day, from the Early Years through to Year 6,  as our staff encourage your children to ‘notice’ what is around them. Staff utilise their questioning skills to encourage children’s awe and wonder from an early age, and to help move children towards using more advanced critical thinking skills  to help predict the outcomes of investigations as they grow older. This week alone I have been so impressed at the learning I have observed. In Reception, children have been investigating their bodies using the stimulus of the wonderful book ‘Funny Bones’. They have also enjoyed outdoor maths where shape, space and number come to life and experienced intrigue as they grow their own cress.   Year 1 pupils have enjoyed a Noticing Nature walk with Mrs. Hunt as they explored our school grounds, discovering evergreen and deciduous trees and discussing the differences in our natural environment in the autumn term.  Questions, questions galore! In Year 5 I was proud to observe the children working together throughout the week to investigate thermal insulators and independently set up their experiments, then later in the week they utilised a range of skills in IT, maths and English to explain the results of their findings using high level scientific vocabulary. Year 6 have been researching other known viruses, building models and  information leaflets using well-established skills they have gained throughout their time at St. Helen’s College. Our great outdoors is such a wonderful vehicle for you as parents to engage your children with the building blocks for scientific enquiry. Not only is being in the outdoors good for mental wellbeing but it opens up so many opportunities for learning.  It is no surprise that the recent results from the Children and Nature Survey to understand how the Covid-19 Pandemic impacted on children’s experience with nature has highlighted the following: “The positive role of nature in supporting well-being has also been revealed, with eight in ten children agreeing that being in nature made them very happy, while 70% said that they want to spend more time outdoors with friends post-pandemic. These findings build on Natural England’s latest People and Nature Survey, which reveals that the nation’s gardens, parks, woodlands and rivers have played a huge part in helping with mental health during the coronavirus pandemic, with almost nine in ten adults in England reporting that being in nature makes them very happy.” A happy child is a child who will learn.  So please embrace those outdoor activities and those ‘Why?’ questions, get your children to make predictions, test things out  and allow them to try out simple investigations (see this wonderful website here for 40+ backyard experiments).  Enrich their vocabulary with appropriate but challenging scientific vocabulary - (you may find some of the lists here which are recommended for 5- 7, 7-9 and 9- 11 year olds useful). Science is so exciting. It surrounds us and it is fundamental for our next generation to be well equipped and skilled for what lies ahead. As I engage with the children every day at St. Helen’s College, I see future scientists and researchers who will influence the way forward. I am sure you are excited as I am to be a part of their journey!  Mrs, Drummond
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