Nursery & Lower School

The Lower School at St. Helen’s College consists of the Early Years Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception) and Year 1. Children enter the Nursery in the September after their third birthday. The following September, they move up into Reception and then into Year 1.

We are on a secluded, colourful and safe site and are a close-knit unit of just under 150 children. We are very well staffed and have a basic ratio of 1:6 in Nursery, 1:8 in Reception and 1:12 in Year 1, with extra floating staff in all classes. This means that the children can make rapid progress in their learning, as well as having lots of fun!

The Lower School is very much part of the whole school and takes part in all of the whole school events such as the annual Speech Competition, St. Helen’s Day, Sports Days and themed curriculum days. 

Lower School children have specialist teachers in Drama, Spanish, Music and Philosophy for Children. 

My child likes all of the staff in Nursery; they are welcoming and fun. The teacher organises her team and class very well and always has time for a chat if needed.

A parent

The curriculum is very vibrant thanks to our dedicated and creative staff, who teach educational skills in a playful way. Teaching develops throughout the Early Years Foundation Stage to become more formal in Year 1. We have interactive whiteboards in every class, along with special computing and IT resources and weekly computing lessons. The Lower School has its own well-stocked library and wonderful outdoor play and discovery areas including our super play castle, Camelot.

There are opportunities for children to begin extra-curricular clubs from Nursery and to take individual music tuition, and we have Lower School Choir for pupils in Reception and Year 1. 

We follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum and most children achieve the highest points on the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile.


Posted on: 19/01/2018

Weekly News - Friday 19th January 2018

It has been another incredibly busy week at school! Don't forget that photographs of school events are posted weekly to the Galleries page. Owls Class Assembly Owls class performed with outstanding confidence as they presented a very informative assembly on their topic of 'Hot and Cold'. We were taken on a worldwide tour from the arctic to Antarctica, discovering the habitats and animals of those regions. We also stopped off at the Equator and experienced the heat and volcanoes of the tropics. Congratulations Owls - we all learnt so much from you!  5G Class Assembly 5G also presented a super assembly today, all about space exploration. They looked at the natural curiosity of humans and how it prompts us to explore, showed us a timeline of all the space exploration which has happened so far and held a live debate! The assembly finished with a performance of 'Space Oddity'. All who watched 5G will certainly have come away with much more knowledge about why and how we explore space, and how we might continue to do so in the future. Christian O'Connell Author Visit On Wednesday we received a special visitor at Upper School: Absolute Radio DJ, stand up comedian and children's author Christian O'Connell. He was here to talk to the Year 4, 5 and 6 children about his second book in the Radio Boy series, subtitled The Revenge of Grandad. He spoke about his journey to becoming a writer with great charisma and humour, but there were a few things he said that really stood out amongst the improvised jokes and hilarious anecdotes. Christian spoke about his journey to becoming a radio DJ being full of rejection and difficulty. He used these issues as a positive - a means to grow and develop as a person until he got to where he wanted to be. The children nodded, knowingly, because we speak about this all the time. What we learn is that 'FAIL stands for First Attempt In Learning', and what Christian was referring to was growth mindset - the resilience and perseverance needed to succeed. After sharing tales from Coldplay's private jet and a cautionary word about allowing your pets and children on a trampoline (at the same time), Christian shared his favourite subject at school: English. He went on to explain that reading was a transformative force in his childhood, transporting him to other worlds, elevating his ambitions and developing his sense of empathy.  Our children made such a positive impression on Christian with their questioning, manners and sense of fun. Judging by the look on their faces during the talk, we think the feeling was mutual! Travelling Natural History Museum Visit At Lower School this week, the Nursery, Reception and Year 1 children enjoyed a visit from the Travelling Natural History Museum. The children learnt all about dinosaurs, including their names, what they ate and how they digested their food, how big (or small) they were and much more! They also carried out a meteorite experiment to help understand how dinosaurs became extinct, and were able to touch the amazing dinosaur models. The Year 1 children took part in a fossil dig and all children were given a dinosaur gift to help them to remember all that they had learnt.  Year 4 Trip to Amersham Field Study Centre Our Year 4 children had a fantastic trip this week to the Amersham Field Study Centre, where they learnt about electricity and energy. Every minute of the day was used as an opportunity for learning which educated, inspired and allowed the children to have fun.   The day started by meeting ‘Michael Faraday’ and the pupils learned about electricity, its uses, dangers and how the substation in the vicinity works to provide power to our homes. We took a walk around the perimeter of the substation, understanding why we can touch pylons and not get thousands of volts of electricity through us or why a bird can sit happily on a high voltage wire! We then continued in the classroom and made solar powered circuits. The afternoon was spent learning about the way animals conserve energy by creating well-insulated homes, such as a nest for a dormouse, and how squirrels try to survive winters by hiding their food. We completed the day with a short walk looking at lichens, fir trees and leaf skeletons along the wide expanse of the wooded areas. Every child made progress in their knowledge of one of our curriculum topics as well as having the chance to enjoy learning in the outdoors. General Knowledge Quiz Club Well done to our quiz teams, who took part in the Prep School Challenge Heat this week. They gave a very good account of themselves, displaying some really excellent general knowledge and competing with great interest and enthusiasm. Daniel G-J, Georgia M, Nirmit N and Ben L finished in 3rd place overall, and Anisa W, Zayd K, Amrit R and Catherine L finished in 7th place.  Year 5 Transfer Meetings With Mrs. Drummond Thank you to all of the Year 5 parents who have already attended individual transfer meetings with Mrs. Drummond to discuss future schools. More meetings will take place tomorrow and please remember that Mrs. Drummond's door is always open if you would like to discuss secondary transfer. Next term there will be a Year 4 transfer meeting and another meeting for all Year 5 parents together. Lunch Menu Please note that an updated Lunch Menu for this term has been posted to the School Documents page. Some allergen information has been updated, and Accent are now marking (with a leaf symbol) dishes which are particularly recommended as healthy, balanced choices. Please do refer to this updated menu from now on when making lunch choices with your children. Print Cartridge Collections We will be collecting used print cartridges from now on at all sites as part of a PA initiative to recycle these and raise funds. Please send any used print cartridges, toner cartridges etc. into school with your child and, since the used cartridges can be converted into PA funds, please do feel free to collect used cartridges from your places of work to send in too! Many thanks, in advance, for your help. Reminder - Snacks/Birthday Treats Parents are reminded that all children should bring a small, named snack to school each morning for morning break. Suitable snacks are fruits, vegetables, plain biscuits or a small sandwich. Chocolate, crisps, sweets and other high sugar snacks are not permitted. If your child would like to bring in treats for friends on their birthday, these should be individually wrapped and given out at the end of the day.  We are a nut-free school; please do not send any items into school which contain nuts. Please take care with sandwich fillings and do not use peanut butter, Nutella or other spreads containing nuts.  
Posted on: 19/01/2018

Head's Blog - The Chartered College of Teaching

  In February 2017 I attended the inaugural conference of the ‘The Chartered College of Teaching’. It was an exciting launch for the College which has been set up as a teacher-led organisation to support professional development, promote and share evidence-informed practice, and recognise excellence. The key aims of the College were to develop a chartered teaching programme, to encourage teachers to engage with research-informed pedagog and to provide the best teaching for the best outcomes for pupils.   I have attended several Chartered College events throughout the year and was so proud recently to attend a regional hub event, on a Wednesday evening after school hours, along with ten members of staff from St. Helen’s College. The event organiser was overwhelmed by the numbers of St. Helen’s College staff in attendance! So often in education teachers feel that the only way to progress their careers is to go into leadership thus we end up losing many excellent teachers from the classroom. This can be very unsettling for school communities if it means there is no continuity and consistency for the school.  We are very fortunate at St. Helen’s College that we have a very dedicated and motivated team and a very low turnover of staff. Our staff are so committed to improving pedagogy and practice to be the best practitioners we can be for your children. This month sees the launch of the pilot programme for teachers to achieve chartered teacher status. I am delighted that Ms Matthews, Head of EYFS, has been selected as one of the 150 participants to embark on this rigorous 14 month programme.  She will join teachers from around the UK and two international schools as part of the first cohort. Becoming a chartered teacher will be hard to achieve and the planned programme is demanding, but we know that Ms Matthews will bring her expertise to the programme and as a school we will also gain from the work she will undertake. I have also been invited to sit on the assessment board for this cohort of the Chartered Teacher programme and, in so doing,  I am honoured to represent St. Helen’s College and the independent sector.  Feel free to view the video on the link below - Justine Greening’s speech had clearly touched a nerve with me that day!
Posted on: 12/01/2018

Weekly News - Friday 12th January 2018

We were reminded today of the hardships of life during the Second World War as 6D presented an excellent assembly about family, sacrifice, evacuation and the Blitz spirit. With a focus on the fictional Jones family, 6D used poetry, wartime songs and an emotional script to tell us all about the pressures facing families during wartime, and about how the Great British spirit was maintained and developed through hard times. Parents, pupils and staff were all inspired not only to remember those who fought for freedom, but to ensure that their fighting spirit and family values live on in our world today. Well done, 6D, for a well-written and well-presented show. You can see photographs of the performance on the Galleries page. Summer School This year's Summer School will take place from 20th - 24th August. Please add the date to your diaries now. Further details and booking forms will be published in due course. Lower School Parents' Evening The next Parents' Evenings for Nursery, Reception and Year 1 will take place on Thursday 1st February (5.00 - 8.00 p.m.) and Tuesday 6th February (4.00 - 7.00 p.m.). As usual, we are operating an online booking system and appointments will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. You can access the online system here. Do bookmark the link for future use. Bookings for these two evenings will close on Friday 26th January. Author Visit - Christian O'Connell The Upper School will be visited next Wednesday by Christian O'Connell, well-known radio DJ and children's author. Christian has written the Radio Boy books and he will be speaking to children about his career and his life. We are sure he will be very inspiring! School Garden Produce It is wonderful that produce grown by our Gardening Club is now being used in the school kitchen. Ms Gilham and her gardeners have produced a good crop of beans, which we have enjoyed this week in a lovely bean salad on the salad bar at Upper School. Forthcoming Events As ever, we have a busy term ahead. Please don't forget to check the school calendar regularly and to take note of significant dates. We would like to remind parents now that there will be no Funtasia on the afternoon of Friday 16th March and that our annual Exhibition Day will take place on Saturday 17th March from 10.00 a.m. All parents and pupils are expected to attend Exhibition Day, which gives a wonderful chance for pupils to share their school and their work with family.
Posted on: 12/01/2018

Head's Blog - Ready, Respectful, Safe

We are at the end of our first week back and I hope that your children may have already enlightened you as to our new mantra. Perhaps you have heard your child using the phrase ‘Ready, Respectful, Safe’ or repeating part of the phrase. Last Friday, all members of our St. Helen’s College staff community participated in a superb morning of training which was delivered by a company called Pivotal Education. The company is run by a husband and wife team, Paul and Ellie, and they are supported by their team of trainers who all hold the same values and vision to inspire and motivate school staff and to create measurable change in behaviour, relationships and learning.   I have heard both Paul and Ellie speak at various conferences and Teachmeet events and am delighted that every adult who comes into contact with your children at school has now benefited from the Pivotal principles. We are now embracing some basic routines to continue to help our pupils to benefit from all that we offer at St. Helen’s College and to help them develop as responsible individuals. Over the course of the year we will be further reviewing our behaviour policy and the structures and routines that we currently have at school, but our starting point is to develop the pupils understanding of what it is to be: ‘Ready’ Ready for learning, ready to listen, ready to go to lunch etc. ‘Respectful’ Showing respect to their peers, to adults, to their environment, to themselves. ‘Safe’ Safe in their learning environment, safe with the people around them and safe in the activities in which they are taking part. I am sure that the phrase may also be helpful at home and you might already be considering the occasions when it may be very useful to use! When there are so many people interacting with children, it is important that we all have the same expectations and that we are consistent in our approach. I know that we all like routine, from the number of conversations that I have had this week with parents and staff about how we all enjoy holidays, but how that lack of structure and routine during the holiday period can be quite taxing and detrimental for children and adults alike! So, as we embark on our 2018 journey with Joyous January I hope that you will also embrace our mantra of Ready, Respectful, Safe.   For those of you who like reading, Paul Dix has just published his superb book which is not only entertaining by incredibly useful for not only teachers but also parents! ‘When the Adults Change, Everything Changes’ Mrs. Drummond
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