ST. HELEN'S COLLEGE is a family-run, co-educational, IAPS school for boys and girls aged 3 to 11 in Hillingdon, Middlesex, with a 2+ Kindergarten. It has a well-deserved reputation for academic and co-curricular excellence and was rated OUTSTANDING or EXCELLENT in all twelve categories in its latest ISI inspection report.
St. Helen’s College is a family-run, independent school for boys and girls aged 3 to 11 years, with a well-deserved reputation for affordable academic excellence. Most St. Helen's College children win places at their first-choice schools and ex-pupils are currently studying at all of the local Senior Independent Schools and many of the Buckinghamshire and Berkshire Grammar Schools. The most recent ISI inspection report rated the school OUTSTANDING or EXCELLENT in every one of the twelve areas assessed. The school's aims are as follows: To nurture a love of learning and to develop fully every child's academic potential. To encourage all children to develop their talents and interests by participating in the widest range of challenging activities. To instil traditional Christian values and to nurture strength of character, so that children will be ready to face, with integrity and confidence, the many challenges of adult life. St. Helen’s College has a remarkable team of caring and dedicated teachers who inspire pupils to become life-long learners. A comprehensive programme of lunchtime, after school and weekend activities is offered, which includes dance, drama, music, a wide variety of clubs and a huge selection of sports. Children achieve excellent standards in these areas and grow into well-rounded, confident young people during their time at the school. The school's values are its strength: harmony, spirituality and growth are at the heart of the St. Helen's College ethos. The school's setting – on the edge of Court Park in a quiet corner of Hillingdon – is beautiful and very fitting for young children. Parents are active supporters of the school and many social events are run over the course of the year.
St. Helen's College Nominated for TES Independent School Awards
The most outstanding individuals and institutions that the independent sector has to offer have been recognised in the shortlist for the 2020 Tes Independent School Awards and we are absolutely thrilled that St. Helen's College in Hillingdon has been shortlisted in not one but two categories - an outstanding achievement!
15th November 2019 — The most outstanding individuals and institutions that the independent sector has to offer have been recognised in the shortlist for the 2020 Tes Independent School Awards and we are absolutely thrilled that St. Helen's College in Hillingdon has been shortlisted in not one but two categories - an outstanding achievement!
St. Helen's College, a family-run school for boys and girls aged 2-11, has been shortlisted for the Pupil Initiative Award for the wonderful work undertaken by the pupil Junior Road Safety Officers, and for the Sports Award for outstanding sporting provision.
Tes editor Ann Mroz said: “The Independent schools in this country are truly exceptional and those that have earned a place on the Tes Independent School Awards shortlist are a cut above the rest. We received an unparalleled number of entries this year, all of which were first rate. The schools that have been shortlisted should be proud - it's a remarkable achievement."
The winners will be revealed at a gala awards evening at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London on Friday 7 February 2020. So please keep your fingers crossed for St. Helen's College!
PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON INSPIRES YOUNG READERS AT ST. HELEN'S COLLEGE
Children at St. Helen’s College Prep School in Hillingdon, West London, were thrilled to receive a visit from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is currently working with the BookTrust children's charity to promote children's reading.
23rd September 2019 — Children at St. Helen’s College Prep School in Hillingdon, West London, were thrilled to receive a visit from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is currently working with the BookTrust children's charity to promote children's reading. This month the BookTrust charity have launched their 'Time To Read' campaign, which encourages families to share books and stories each day and to use books as a way to explore issues that impact on wellbeing, such as anxiety or friendship issues.
St. Helen’s College places a heavy focus on reading, both at school and in the home, believing that successful readers become successful independent learners. Parents at the school are asked to read daily with their child and question children to ensure comprehension; they are supported in doing so by special bookmarks provided by the school. The school was therefore delighted to be approached by the Prime Minister's office to arrange a visit for Mr. Johnson to read to Year 1 children, and the pupils were enthralled as he read them The Cave by Rob Hodgson, which showed that things aren't always what they seem, and that life can be full of surprises!
Mr. Johnson also visited Upper School (pupils in Years 2-6) and was hugely impressed by the interesting and immersive STEAM Day activities going on all around on the day of his visit. He particularly seemed to enjoy burning crisps to see whether their fat content made a difference to how they burnt, and chatting to the school’s Director of Studies, Mark Lewis, about whether a cardboard kayak would be likely to survive on the river!
It is a testament to the ethos and success of St. Helen's College and its pupils that, having visited last year as Mayor of London, Mr. Johnson chose to come back and see the children again in his capacity as Prime Minister.
GOLD AWARD FOR LONDON PUPILS LEADING ON PROMOTING SUSTAINABILITY & ROAD SAFETY
At St. Helen’s College in Hillingdon, pupil Road Safety Officers are working closely with the London Borough of Hillingdon Road Safety Team to promote active travel and safety on roads in the local area, and to help ease traffic congestion and pollution caused by vehicles on our roads.
12th September 2019 — At St. Helen’s College in Hillingdon,West London, pupil Road Safety Officers are working closely with the London Borough of Hillingdon Road Safety Team to promote active travel and safety on roads in the local area, and to help ease traffic congestion and pollution caused by vehicles on our roads.
Crucially, rather than being asked to follow school-given directions, the pupils themselves are being encouraged and supported to think of and implement road safety initiatives. The school’s team of Mini Road Safety Officers (pupils from Year 1) and Junior Road Safety Officers (pupils from Year 5) have come up with a number of successful schemes to educate their peers, parents and the wider community.
Most recently, the JRSOs pitched to a Dragon’s Den style panel of local councillors to secure funding for a new Walking to School Loyalty Scheme. Pupils who walk to school are rewarded with a stamp on their loyalty card, and a full card earns them rewards in the form of certificates and medals. For those pupils who are genuinely unable to walk to school, loyalty points may be collected by walking laps of the playground, so that these pupils may also show their awareness of and commitment to active travel. Councillors were so impressed by the confident, articulate presentation given by the St. Helen’s College pupils that the pupils were asked to travel down to London’s Guildhall to present their scheme to the London Road Safety Council, comprised of councillors and representatives from across the London boroughs. The Road Safety Council commended the pupils and school for the excellent idea and flawless presentation.
There, a representative from Transport for London (TfL) introduced a new road safety idea named RoadWatch. The St. Helen’s College Staff Travel Champion and Pupil Road Safety Officers seized upon this idea, and St. Helen’s College then became one of the first schools to implement it in the local area. RoadWatch aims to reduce speeding through a multi-agency team of police and school pupils. Police identify speeding motorists and, if their speed is less than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit, they may opt to speak with school pupils about road safety rather than receiving an automatic three points on their driving licence and £100 fine. The St. Helen’s College pupils took part in the scheme along the very busy Long Lane in Hillingdon.
With the Hillingdon Sustainable Travel and Road Safety (STARS) team, the pupils devised their own questions to ask motorists who were stopped for speeding. These included:
Why do you think there are zebra crossings on this road?
Can you tell me what speed you were driving at?
Can you tell me why you were speeding?
Do you know how many schools there are on this road?
Can you name some of the schools?
They spoke with several speeding motorists, who all agreed that hearing directly from school pupils about the need for safer roads provided a very effective deterrent to speeding in future. Alongside the speeding initiative, there were sound pollution tests and traffic surveys to give police and pupils an insight into how they could work together to make the community a greener and safer place.
These two recent initiatives build upon other, longer-running schemes at St. Helen’s College to improve health outcomes for pupils, reduce congestion in the local area and help to restrict air pollution. A ‘Walk on Wednesday’ initiative encourages all pupils to make all or part of their journey on foot each Wednesday, and the school has for many years run pedestrian training and ‘Bikeability’ training for pupils to encourage active, pollution-free forms of travel and to reduce the number of cars on local roads. Bike and scooter parks around the school ensure that pupils may store their own pollution-free vehicles safely on site.
Educating the pupils in these matters is clearly a major driver of success in these areas, but the school also recognises the importance of getting parental buy-in and the St. Helen’s College ‘Parent Parking Pledge’ has been hugely successful too. This asks parents to sign up to a pledge requiring safe, conscientious driving and parking and the following of the school’s parking regulations. Parents who sign up are given a sign to display in their car window. It is a measure of the fantastic parental involvement at the school that 50% of parents had signed up within three weeks of the launch of this scheme.
St. Helen’s College is a peaceful, co-educational independent primary school set on the edge of Court Park in a quiet corner of Hillingdon. The setting is beautiful and very suitable for young children, but also very convenient for busy working parents. Long Lane is the main through road of the area and the school is lucky to have three entrance points, two of which are on Long Lane itself, helping to disperse traffic during the school run. As a responsible neighbour and community member, the school has implemented other schemes to help reduce congestion during morning and afternoon school run times. At all three entrances, the school provides staff to oversee ‘drop and go’ zones, so that parents may pull up alongside the kerb and drop children directly into the care of staff, before promptly pulling away. Busy working parents appreciate this hugely, of course! The school also actively promotes car-sharing amongst parents and has trialled a school bus run in an effort to reduce further the number of cars using local roads.
Recently, St. Helen’s College became one of the first schools in London to receive the Gold STARS award in recognition of all that the school, its staff, pupils and parents are doing to promote sustainability and safe travel. Sharon Walker, the school’s Staff Travel Champion, hopes the school is setting an example which other schools and local businesses will follow. She says, ‘The safety of our pupils and community members is of course one of the main drivers behind these schemes, and we are delighted that the STARS Gold Award recognises this. However, global warming and sustainability will be the biggest challenges for future generations and so educating children, parents, staff and the wider community of our responsibilities in this area is of paramount importance. We have been able to demonstrate a significant shift in the number of pupils travelling to St. Helen’s College by more active and greener methods, and it is clear from speaking to pupils around the school that road safety and sustainable travel are now embedded in their hearts and minds as key lifestyle concepts’.
The school’s Head, Shirley Drummond, adds, ‘As a school, we are terribly proud of this award, since it recognises all that we do to promote responsible citizenship alongside excellent academic and co-curricular achievement. We are lucky to have a wonderful community of pupils, parents and staff who are always willing to work together to promote better outcomes for all.’
Let us hope that other schools, colleges, local businesses and individuals take on this message and work to promote sustainability and safer travel across the community and the wider world!
Equal Pay Promoted By Pupil At St. Helen's College
A Year 5 pupil at St. Helen's College had the opportunity to work in collaboration with the law firm Leigh Day this summer on producing a video to help educate young people on the importance of 'Equal Pay'.
13th November 2018 — A Year 5 pupil at St. Helen's College had the opportunity to work in collaboration with the law firm Leigh Day this summer, providing a voiceover for a video to help educate young people on the importance of 'Equal Pay'.
Uma then presented the video to pupils at school, explaining the issue to her peers and raising their awareness of the Equal Pay Act of 1970 and the Equality Act of 2010. Uma's mother is one of the lawyers representing women in the current equal pay dispute with the major supermarkets. This was a very important and fascinating insight into the future workplace for the school's pupils. Equal pay is a complex topic, but the video explains in a child-friendly way how it works in the law and the reasons the law has evolved to protect women in the workplace. You can see the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3xybVywyVA&feature=youtu.be&disable_polymer=true.
Shirley Drummond, Head of St. Helen’s College, Hillingdon and a Founding Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching, discusses Chartered Teacher status, which should help to develop excellent practice in the classroom.
19th June 2018 — When selecting a school, how can parents make judgements about the quality of teaching on offer? Should they look at academic results or could that lead them to select an ‘exam factory’ rather than a school which inspires a lifelong love of learning through excellent, well-planned, dynamic, proactive teaching and learning opportunities? How can parents be assured that a school is using the latest research in its teaching methods, building excellent results through a constantly evolving best practice based on what is proven to work? Do working parents really have the time and the will to read through comprehensive inspection reports in detail, rather than just take the headlines? These questions are important for families in both the independent and state education sector, but are also crucial for Heads in the independent sector, who are increasingly under pressure to compete for new pupils and to prove why and how their school is ‘a cut above’.
The new format of the Independent Schools Inspectorate will give parents security in the knowledge that a school is compliant with the DFE's regulatory school requirements (Regulatory Compliance Inspection). The Educational Quality Inspection will also give every school the opportunity to demonstrate to the Inspectorate the quality of the outcomes for their pupils and the contributory factors which makes each school unique. There is no doubt that these inspections are valuable and necessary. However, parents (and Heads) also need to be reassured that individual teachers, to whom the pastoral care and education of children is entrusted, are doing their utmost to develop themselves continually and to contribute positively to the ever-evolving educational landscape.
A new professional body has been established to provide a solution: Chartered Teacher Status, a post-graduate qualification for dedicated teachers which gives them a chartered professional standing. In the future, parents will be able to ask schools how many Chartered Teachers they have on their books and this will provide an independent measure of the quality, dedication and professionalism of the teachers they will be ‘employing’.
Back in February 2017, the Chartered College of Teaching (CCT) held their inaugural conference at the QEII Convention Centre, Westminster, the same venue where only months earlier the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS) had held their national conference for Head teachers from UK and international IAPS schools. The CCT has been established to connect, inform and inspire teachers to deliver the best possible education for children and young people. Theirs is a professional role comparable to the Law Society, General Medical Council and Royal Institute of British Architects.
Professor Dame Alison Peacock, the Chief Executive of the Chartered College, the former Secretary of State for Education the Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, John Tomsett from Huntington School, Professor Rob Coe of CEM at Durham University and Professor Tanya Byron were just some of the speakers we heard from that day. On return from the conference I offered all my teachers at St. Helen’s College the opportunity to take up membership of the CCT, paid for by the school as part of their CPD.
Many independent school parents belong to professions where their achievements can see them elevated to chartered status. However, for teachers, previously the only way to be elevated in their careers was to take on other leadership responsibilities, become middle leaders, senior leaders or headteachers. The problem is, this takes teachers away from the classrooms where their work has the most impact and away from the reason they were inspired to join the profession in the first place - to teach children!
Independent schools do have their own professional associations who provide exceptional CPD opportunities but, with parents increasingly ‘shopping around’ across the sectors before making final choices about buying into private education, it is important that independent schools embrace partnerships across all sectors and phases of education to give our teachers even greater opportunities and a voice on the national education stage. The Chartered College of Teaching hopes to drive even greater support and collaboration across the whole profession.
At St. Helen’s College, we are delighted to be supporting our Head of EYFS who has secured a place on the pilot cohort of the Chartered Teacher programme, which was launched at the start of the year for practising teachers to recognise their skills and knowledge while working towards accreditation as a ‘Chartered Teacher’. There are 180 teachers in this first cohort, from international and UK schools. The programme enables teachers to continue developing their practice within the classroom, raises the status of the profession, and is the first step in the development of a career pathway focused not on leadership but classroom practice. The pilot programme has participants from all sectors and phases. Throughout, participants have undertaken a range of different assessments that enable them to showcase their knowledge and skills against the areas set out in the Chartered College’s Professional Principles. As a Founding Fellow of the Chartered College, I have been selected to sit on the Assessment Board for the pilot programme. We meet as a group, in person or online, to advise and moderate the assessment pathway of the programme. It is a rigorous and demanding course and any school who has a member of staff who has Chartered Teacher status should be very proud.
Parents can place their trust in the Chartered Teachers scheme. Chartered Teachers must prove that they use latest educational research in teaching practice day to day and, in doing so, that they inspire other colleagues and their school as a whole to keep up to date with the latest research-based teaching techniques. The outcomes are twofold: children are more inspired to learn and to take ownership of their own learning, and they are also PROVEN more likely to achieve better outcomes in both their academic and personal development.
Teacher professional development should be a high priority for all school leaders as part of their strategic development plan. In the independent sector there are high stakes for pupil outcomes reflected in good examination results, and rightly so. Hard-working parents, often paying school fees from income, expect value for money in the form of the best teaching and learning for their children. To ensure that we provide this, it is crucial that the professional development of teachers is prioritised and that Heads know where to access the best CPD opportunities - there is a growing unregulated market of CPD which is not ‘quality assured’ or tested, but which can be eye-wateringly expensive! It is therefore reassuring that IAPS, who already provide an excellent programme of CPD for teachers and school leaders, is currently in discussions with The Chartered College of Teachers. Working together, I am confident that we will build the membership numbers of teachers from the independent sector.
Teacher recruitment and teacher retention is becoming a problem and this is having an impact on the independent sector too. Head teachers and governors need to plan effectively and raise the questions: how do we ensure that our teachers are kept abreast of curricular issues, have access to good evidence based educational research to improve teaching and learning in the classroom and how are we keeping staff inspired and motivated. We hope that the Chartered College of Teaching will provide answers.
The Chartered College has set up a network programme across the UK to build up the professional knowledge base of teaching and bring members together to work on issues of direct concern to classroom practice, wherever they are located and whatever their setting, interests and experience. Ten members of St. Helen’s College staff recently attended a session hosted at another independent school who have also embraced memberships and promotion of the Chartered College among their staff. The session was attended by teachers from local primary and secondary schools, from the maintained and independent sector. This year I attended the second annual Conference of the Chartered College. I came away from the conference having connected yet again with many wonderful teachers and educators, further informed and inspired to go back to my own school to continue working with my staff to improve the quality of the education and experiences we provide.
So I would urge every Head teacher in the independent sector to support the work of the Chartered College of Teaching and to promote membership for every one of their teachers. And I would urge parents to ask schools whether their teachers are members of the CCT, and whether they have any teachers working towards Chartered status. In future years, this may well be the best measure possible of a school’s overall ‘quality’.
Shirley Drummond Head, St. Helen’s College, Parkway, Hillingdon, Middlesex Founding Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching www.sthelenscollege.com @shirleydrummon5
BEST KEPT SECRET - CUSTOMISABLE EDUCATIONAL CARE – A NEW CONCEPT IN SCHOOLING
Independent prep schools have long led the way in assisting busy parents, with many offering boarding and flexi-boarding options and most day schools offering some form of wraparound care. But, says Su Smith, Director of Admissions at St. Helen’s College Prep, traditional options may be too limited for today’s busy parents and a new blueprint for educational care may be needed.
23rd May 2018 —
More and more, parents ask us from their very first visit about extended care options. While their son or daughter is a babe in arms, they are keen to ensure that he or she will be not just educated by their school during traditional school hours, but cared for at a high level and with real integrity and intent during extended hours. Parents want to offer their children every opportunity to take part in the myriad of extra-curricular clubs, activities and sports now available and to ensure that homework is completed on time and to a good standard. However, today’s savvy parents also want to avoid the terrible trio of traps of modern parenting: helicopter-parenting, over-scheduling children to the extent that dinner becomes a packed tea in the car between activities, and reducing parents’ time with their children to stressful, snatched time rather than pre-planned quality time to share values, conversation and love away from the pressures of modern life.
However, modern parents don’t necessarily want to pack their son or daughter off to board. Most prospective parents we meet are both working professionals who love their children dearly and want to spend as much time with them as they can; with busy working lives, they recognise their family’s limitations and, as seasoned consumers, they are grateful to hear that we offer a customisable educational ‘product’ that works for them.
Here at St. Helen's College we offer a totally flexible package which could perhaps be seen as 'boarding without the boarding'. We have Breakfast Club from 7.30 each morning, extended care until 6.00 p.m. each evening and care available also from 7.30 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. throughout the school holidays, with the exception of bank holidays and a short break at Christmas. So we really do offer marvellous hours of care for busy working parents. But what is really special is that, while some other schools offer after school clubs either off site or on site but run by external companies, all of this care is provided here, at school, by the St. Helen's College staff. This means that the school's core values and expectations run through everything the children do, in both work and play, whether they are in a classroom of their immediate peers or taking part in after school club or holiday camps with mixed age pupils from across the school.
The core St. Helen’s College values are family values: love, harmony and growth. We believe that children learn best when they feel loved, secure and happy. We want children to feel this way when they are eating breakfast, when they are in lessons (whether indoors or enjoying outdoor learning in our beautiful homely grounds), and after school either while taking part in exciting activities or enjoying ‘down-time’ with friends.
At our after school club, children may choose to play freely indoors or outdoors or to take part in adult-led activities. Older children have supervised prep where they can complete their homework, and (after a full two or three course hot lunch service) a light, healthy tea is served to all. This means that when busy parents pick their children up at the end of the day, each family really can have some quality time together talking about their days, eating, reading, watching tv or Facetiming friends and family abroad without the stresses of homework, playdates or endless ferrying to after school activities.
Indeed, St. Helen’s College offers a quite remarkable co-curricular programme of 70+ clubs ‘in house’, including yoga, taekwondo, arts, crafts, drama, golf, rugby, musical ensembles, choirs and so much more. So parents do not need to source clubs and activities outside of school; they do not need to ‘keep up with the Joneses’, driving children from drama schools to language classes to football coaching. High quality provision in so many areas is available on the school site or nearby, run by school staff, and children can have a go at many things without any associated stress for parents. Parents and pupils make their selections from a co-curricular programme each term, knowing that all those providing clubs/education/care have gone through full school vetting checks and that the school ‘quality assures’ the provision it offers in all areas. In this way, pupils can discover and develop talents and interests during their extended hours, in familiar, friendly surroundings and without the need to drive from place to place polluting the environment!
The children's personal development, academic and co-curricular interests and talents are at the heart of everything the school does. Staff and children embody family values and the school really does provide a 'home from home' for the children. A unique and very special relationship of trust exists between school and home. Parents are grateful for the help the school gives them, and enjoy knowing that their children are safe, well-educated and exposed to the widest possible range of challenging and enjoyable activities. They also express thanks that, through extended care and co-curricular opportunities, children are able to develop friendships with other pupils from across the school and not just their own year group - which all adds to the happy, family atmosphere of the school. Inspectors called St. Helen’s College a 'haven of harmony' and there is no doubt that the ‘family care’ aspect plays a big role in the harmonious atmosphere around the school.
Perhaps this really is a blueprint for the future: a prep school where before and after school care and year-round holiday care provision is quality-assured, fully flexible and available to all on a ‘when needed’ basis without the high cost of boarding.
Notes for editors: St. Helen’s College is a co-educational prep school for boys and girls aged 2-11, tucked away on the corner of Court Park in a quiet and beautiful part of Hillingdon, Middlesex.