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.
About the school
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 ACHIEVES NATIONAL ONLINE SAFETY CERTIFIED SCHOOL STATUS
St. Helen’s College prep school in Hillingdon, Middlesex, is delighted to have achieved National Online Safety Certified School status this month, which recognises the school’s tireless commitment to Online Safety.
20th January 2021 — St. Helen’s College prep school in Hillingdon, Middlesex, is delighted to have achieved National Online Safety Certified School status this month. The award recognises the school’s tireless commitment to Online Safety, which includes ongoing staff CPD as well as pupil and parent education on this most important of matters. The National Online Safety certified schools programme helps schools to feel confident in tackling online safety issues while also supporting school communities in staying up to date with the latest online safety news and trends.
St. Helen’s College is totally committed to educating children, staff and parents about how and why it is important to stay safe online. The vast majority of staff, including all teaching staff, have recently undertaken training about how to keep themselves and the children they educate safe while using the internet. Internet safety is embedded into teaching in all classes during this period of remote education too, while staff working from home are supported in their use of technology through the school’s staff portal which contains an ever-growing library of tools and resources to support online teaching and online safety. Never has it been more important for educational staff and children to understand the potential dangers of the internet alongside its huge benefits and potential, so this award is very timely indeed!
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 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!
Gold Award for London pupils leading on promoting Sustainability and 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