Founded in 1903, St Helen and St Katharine is a leading independent day school for girls aged 9–18 in Abingdon, six miles south of Oxford.
St Helen and St Katharine is a school for bright girls with enquiring minds, a place where success is celebrated but not revered. Our aim is to ensure that every student achieves success as she defines it, so that she can believe in herself, her talents and abilities, and feel prepared and equipped for life beyond school.
Our outstanding academic record makes us one of the leading girls’ schools in the country. Stimulating and challenging teaching reaches beyond the curriculum, enabling our students to become effective and independent learners. Our broad and varied extracurricular programme of 100+ clubs and activities also plays a central role within school life. We actively encourage students to give new things a go, to explore and extend interests and to make friends across age groups.
Students are admitted to the Junior Department at either 9+ or 10+ and to the senior school at 11+, 13+ and 16+. It may be possible to admit students into other years, enquiries should be made to the Admissions Office.
Scholarships are awarded to recognise excellence, ability and potential in one or more academic or extracurricular area. We offer a range of scholarships at 11+, 13+ and 16+ for academic ability, art, drama, music, sport and an all-rounder award. The financial value of awards is modest and they are not subject to means testing. Students may hold awards in more than one area (the second being of honorary rather than of financial value) but cannot hold two non-academic awards.
Opening up access for families who would not otherwise be able to afford the fees has always been central to our ethos. If a student has the ability, imagination and drive to grasp the opportunities on offer at St Helen’s, we would like to give her that chance. The School offers means tested bursaries of up to 100% of fees, including subject-specific bursaries at A-level.
For full details of the admissions process, scholarships and bursaries, including the application process, please visit the Admissions section of our website www.shsk.org.uk.
We run a three term year and the fees are the same across all year groups.
St Helen and St Katharine student in BBC Young Musician Woodwind Final
St Helen and St Katharine is delighted to celebrate the success of Sixth Form student Alice Gore who this year reached the Woodwind Final of the prestigious BBC Young Musician of the Year competition.
23rd April 2020 — Alice, who was St Helen’s Head Girl from spring term 2019 to spring term 2020, is an extremely accomplished bassoonist who also plays the baritone saxophone and sings in the School’s Chapel Choir.
“I love playing the bassoon because it’s more of an unusual instrument,” she says. “It has such an amazing range, from very low to lovely and melodic high notes. And it’s both different and similar to the baritone saxophone, which means they fit well together and I can enjoy a different range of music genres on the sax.
“Being in the category finals of a competition like this was nerve-wracking but I loved the whole experience and just did my best!”
Ms Helena Rakowski, Director of Music at St Helen’s, is among those who have watched Alice’s musicality grow as she moved through the School: “What is wonderful about the way Alice plays is that her personality comes out in her music. She is so cheerful, creative and will chat to anyone in school, especially younger students who see her as a musical mentor figure.”
Headmistress Mrs Rebecca Dougall was also brimming with excitement at the news: “Alice contributes so much to the life of St Helen’s, both as Head Girl and as a brilliant student, and yet her creative side is never neglected – her musical performances are always superb and we are extremely proud of her. In our eyes, she won the moment she reached the Woodwind Final!”
Alice performed at the Woodwind Final on Monday 9 March at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, which will be broadcast on BBC Four.
St Helen and St Katharine students debate in the House of Lords
Three Upper Sixth students took part in a visit to the House of Lords as key members of the ATOM Student Ambassador team, along with students from Abingdon School and Larkmead School.
8th December 2019 — Alicia, Katie and Caitlin all contributed brilliantly to the hugely exciting debate on climate change in the House of Lords. The team was very fortunate to be offered extra seats in the chamber itself at the last minute, so they and another student from Abingdon were able to sit on the red benches during the debate, along with two Larkmead students who had been invited as members of the Royal Meteorological Society. This gave them the added opportunity of being invited to contribute interventions from the floor at the end of each of the three motions debated. Alicia took full advantage of this following the second motion, catching the attention of the Deputy Speaker, Baroness Macintosh, and delivering an excellent 90 second intervention on the motion.
During the day they were also able to network with members of the Royal Geographical Society and Royal Meteorological Society, chat with members of the House of Lords and visit the exclusive House of Lords gift shop! It was particularly useful for some of the students to meet Professor Liz Bentley, CEO of the Royal Meteorological Society, who has agreed to chair the ATOM VIP night panel discussion at St Helen’s on 18 March 2020, with the theme of 'Climate Solutions’ having been chosen by the Student Ambassadors.
The students all gained so much from the visit and are now full of new ideas and enthusiasm for further partnership projects.
St Helen and St Katharine fundraising fever on St Kate's Day
The annual St Kate's Day celebrations at St Helen and St Katharine take the form of fundraising in as many different ways as students can think of, as well as celebrating the patrons of the school.
1st December 2019 — The most special of fundraising and patrons' days went off with a bang once again. The traditional Eucharist service involved a particularly stirring rendition of the school hymn (as well as a jazzy bonus from Chapel Choir), and the 2p race out on the tennis courts had a particularly special guest this year – Miss Joy Gilliver, who actually invented the 2p race 35 years ago when she was a teacher at the School. She fired the starting gun and the mad dash to lay out hundreds of hearts along the court lines had all the usual vim, vigour and humour. Year 10 form 10M won the prize for the longest line.
The charity fair in Old School Hall and the Atrium boasted such old favourites as face painting and Whack A Mole, as well as an epic cake stall, courtesy of the Juniors. The final fundraising total was £2,389, a brilliant achievement.
The lacrosse match versus Abingdon’s first rugby team at Church Farm was a thumping triumph, with the Upper Sixth side winning 9–2. With spectators from both schools making their voices heard, the usual good humour and fun abounded. The day was rounded off with the House Dodgeball tournament and the Upper Sixth's lovingly satirical play.
It was wonderful to see so many Old Girls joining in with the school hymn, sending in their KitKat photos and sharing memories, proving that you can take the girl out of St Helen’s but never the St Helen’s out of the girl…
St Helen and St Katharine's creative partnerships flourish
As part of the school's new creative partnerships programme, St Helen's art teachers delivered workshops at Sunningwell Primary School, with the artwork to be displayed in an exhibition in February, along with other local schools.
20th November 2019 — Sunningwell C of E Primary School’s classes 3 and 4 welcomed art teachers from St Helen and St Katharine to join their afternoon art sessions. The theme of these sessions was inside/outside, taking inspiration from various abstract artists.
Class 4 (Years 5 and 6) looked at the work of American artist Sarah Cain and then got very messy mixing a fantastic range of colours using many different types of mark and pattern on irregular pieces of card. Each student then used a piece of work by Cain as a starting point and made a collage from different coloured and textured papers, carefully observing the paintings that Cain produces. Students placed the painted images on the collages to make exciting and richly layered finished constructions.
Class 3 (Years 3 and 4) were introduced to the work of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein and Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (sometimes known as the ‘queen of polka dots’). They talked about colour and pattern and then did self-portraits on acetate using coloured dots and special coloured pens to create lively graphics that were all very realistic.
The students threw themselves into the activities and the finished pieces were a wonderful testament to the power of sharing creative ideas and opportunities.
St Helen and St Katharine are county netball champions for the second time
All three of St Helen's netball squads - U14, U16 and U19 - claimed victory at the Oxfordshire Schools County Tournament for the second year in a row.
12th November 2019 — The senior first netball team played in the county netball tournament just before half term in, as usual, wet and windy conditions. Despite this, they played some excellent netball to win all their matches bar only drawing to Magdalen College School which placed them second in their pool to qualify for the semi-finals. The semi-final saw an excellent showcase of netball and St Helen’s played with flare and determination to take the win against Tudor Hall and qualify for regionals.
However, the team were determined to finish the day with a win in the final. Playing Magdalen again, the game was neck and neck and the score was a draw again after the final whistle, meaning extra time was called. The game was highly competitive with both defensive ends producing great turnovers and despite the enormous pressure of the game, the shooters didn’t miss! After a gruelling double extra time and the whole team playing an outstanding level of netball, St Helen’s took the win 18–17 to win the county tournament.
The U16 team had a slower start with a draw against Oxford High School but then went on to win their next five matches, including two very tough and competitive games against Headington and Didcot Girls to win the tournament.
For the U14s it was a well fought though very cold day. The first match against Didcot Girls was one of the toughest, the score being 6–5, and they then won the next matches comfortably. Coming up against the toughest team, Oxford High, the pressure high and atmosphere tense, but they won it by one – the score was 4–3. Winning the rest of their matches left them undefeated and very wet county champions.
St Helen and St Katharine hosts networking event on women on boards
At the fifth SHSK Society Professional Networking Event, Fiona Hathorn, Managing Director of Women on Boards was the guest speaker.
8th November 2019 — Alumnae and current St Helen’s mums at various stages of their careers gathered at our fabulous venue in the City to discuss ‘Why being on a board is good for your career’.
Fiona Hathorn is CEO of Women on Boards UK and a Patron of the Charity Fight for Sight. With her vast breadth of experience she ably advised the gathered audience during her talk, explaining that adding a board or committee appointment to your CV is a sure way of drawing attention and validating your capabilities, whilst catapulting your career up the ladder of success. Individuals that join boards – even of very small organisations – are able to use their experience and technical skills to influence an organisation, whilst at the same time gaining exposure to a wide range of issues from the perspective of a director and building confidence, expertise and networks. She also stressed that you are never too young to join a board. Fiona herself was sitting on a board by her early twenties.
Each of the 7 reasons why being on a board were explored during the evening:
1) It will give you a point of difference on your CV which will make you a stand-out candidate when applying for a new role or promotion.
2) You will gain knowledge on the industry by being exposed to a diverse range of issues from the perspective of a board member. Fiona gave an example of a student at university who sat on the board of a college sports society. The range of transferable skills and knowledge gained was vast.
3) This in turn builds leadership skills and expertise.
4) Joining a board indicates to management or clients that you are interested and engaged in your community at a leadership level.
5) If you need to take a career break at any stage, a directorship can give you continuity on your CV. It will help you maintain professional contacts and could provide you with the confidence to re-enter the workforce more easily after a significant break.
6) Directorships improve career resilience and provide strategic understanding of workforce dynamics
7) It gives you the chance to explore the idea of a post-executive board career
A lively Q&A session followed, with Old Girls clearly wanting to know more about the practicalities of board membership. When asked how much time commitment was required to be a fully engaged board member, Fiona explained that it varies hugely. It could be around 40 days a year for a FTSE company, 12 for the NHS, 8 for a charity, but mostly, meetings are held in the evening. She explained that whilst it is a time commitment, if you want to do it you will find the time: ‘Women run marathons and find the time to train so this should not deter you!’
Please contact our Registrar, Carole Bailey, for details about the admissions process.