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.
About the school
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 team victorious in county cricket tournament
St Helen and St Katharine are celebrating the success of their U13A cricket team, who won the Oxfordshire Lady Taverners County Cup by 26 runs, after a nail-biting final against Oxford High School.
28th June 2021 — St Helen's is celebrating the success of the U13A cricket team, who won the Lady Taverners County Cup, after a nail-biting final against Oxford High School.
The Lady Taverners school soft ball tournaments are usually organised by Oxfordshire Cricket indoors during the winter months. Covid restrictions prevented the indoor competition this year, so it was moved outdoors to a day-long event in June.
On a hot, sunny day at Boundary Park, Didcot, the St Helen’s U13A and B teams were two of the eight teams competing in the tournament. The A and the B team were placed in different groups, which included teams from Tudor Hall, Headington, Oxford High and Didcot Girls School.
St Helen's PE staff were very impressed by the standard of cricket on the day, especially from the SHSK players. Bowling was accurate, batting was gutsy and all players were alert in the field. Both U13A and U13B won all three group games, meaning they topped their respective groups and would not meet in the semi-finals.
U13A played Headington B in their semi-final and won convincingly to make it through to the final. Unfortunately, it was not to be an all-SHSK final, as the U13B team just missed out to the Oxford High A team. By this stage, all the players had been out in the sun for five hours.
OHS won the toss and opted to bowl first. A combination of nerves, distraction and sheer exhaustion meant SHSK lost too many wickets and made their lowest total of the day; OHS would need just 288 to win. SHSK were told to hold their nerve, bowl their best balls and save every run in the field if they were to win.
The SHSK players put in 100% effort, putting pressure on the OHS batters by chasing every ball and performing incredible run-outs. As OHS wickets fell, the hopes and confidence of the SHSK team rose. They never gave up and won the U13 Lady Taverners County Cup by 26 runs.
The match had been played with great sportswomanship and mutual respect – a worthy final to finish the day.
Congratulations to every member of the team who each played their part and deserved their success, but special mention must go to Ella, who captained the U13A side with authority throughout the day.
St Helen and St Katharine win Regional Heat of National Reading Champions Quiz
St Helen and St Katharine was delighted to co-organise the Regional Heat of the new National Reading Champions Quiz with a neighbouring state school, Larkmead. This competition, which is in its first year, is led by the National Literacy Trust.
25th May 2021 — St Helen and St Katharine was delighted to co-organise the Regional Heat of the new National Reading Champions Quiz with a neighbouring state school, Larkmead.
This competition, which is in its first year, is led by the National Literacy Trust and funded by the Author’s Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS).
It celebrates keen, young readers and champions the important role of teachers and school librarians in promoting reading for pleasure.
It comes after National Literacy Trust research revealed that children who enjoy reading have significantly better mental wellbeing than those who don’t.
St Helen’s Librarian, Mrs Pocock-Bell, who is leading the initiative for St Helen's, said: "It’s great to be involved in an event that celebrates reading and readers in the widest possible sense.
"In the Regional Heat, the participants were tested on their knowledge of contemporary and classic books for children and young people as well as stories, rhymes, riddles and poems from all over the world.
"It’s a great opportunity for readers to compete in a fun and friendly atmosphere whilst also sharing their love of reading."
There were 17 schools in the Oxfordshire and Berkshire area taking part in the Regional Heat (with a total of 28 teams, some have 2 teams) – a mixture of state and independent schools, including a few primary schools.
St Helen's was delighted that one of the Year 8 teams taking part won the Regional Heat and are now off to the National Final, which will take place on 24 June.
St Helen and St Katharine student sets up a radio interview
Starting to build a future - a Year 10 student at St Helen's gets on the broadcasting ladder
22nd March 2021 — Charlotte, a Year 10 student at St Helen's, has always had a strong interest in history, especially in the Tudor period. At the age of five she found a book on Henry VIII and his six wives and promptly memorised everything. Now 15 years old, she has continued to grow her knowledge and seek out different sources of information, both in school and outside it.
During the recent lockdown she was interviewed by Welcombe Radio, a Warwickshire radio station local to her home, about Tudor history. She initiated the interview herself, wanting to start building on her ambition to become a historical broadcaster.
Charlotte said: "I wanted to approach the interview from a different perspective. I wanted to talk about the true stories of women and those who didn’t win the all-important battles, the people who were painted into history as terrible people or were not even featured because of the Tudor propaganda. It was a lot of fun as well as interesting to talk about the lesser-known side of Tudor history. This is a topic that I’m passionate about and debunking common myths about famous Tudor figures such as Richard III and Mary I was great fun. I’m hoping to initiate more things like this broadcast in the future and to share my passion for history."
Charlotte's interview can be heard on the St Helen and St Katharine YouTube channel here.
St Helen and St Katharine travelled virtually from Abingdon to Tokyo
During the January-March lockdown, the PE Department issued a challenge to the whole school: contribute to the 5,952 total miles it takes to travel from Abingdon to Tokyo
4th March 2021 — The whole school took on the challenge of travelling the 5,952 miles to Tokyo to celebrate this summer's planned Olympic Games in Japan. There was brilliant variety in the methods of mile-covering, from walking and running to roller-blading, horse-riding and cycling. It was a point of pride and a measure of how much physical activity helped the community's collective mental health that students and staff achieved the outward journey extraordinarily quickly, came all the way back again, and started all over again!
Miss Barras, Director of Sport at St Helen's, said: 'We had parents, siblings, cousins, pets, horses, Old Girls and of course staff helping to reach our target. In fact, we made it to Tokyo twice (almost). I need to up my challenge game for next time!'
Many students also reflected on how beneficial the challenge had been in getting them out of the house during the period of remote school and restricted socialising.
'I found the Road to Tokyo challenge both fun and interesting. It put a focus on my exercise, it gave me a goal. I participated with a mixture of cycling, walking and some trampolining, it was great to get outside but on top of that we did it as a school and it felt like such a community achievement.'
Isabella, Year 7
'I really enjoyed taking part in the Road to Tokyo challenge because it is good to see how many miles I do when I add them all up. I did the challenge with my parents and brother. We did most of our miles at the weekend as in the week I do swimming workouts. In our triathlon club, we did a few running events where you run in pairs, ten minutes apart with somebody from the club. There have been three 10k events and one half-marathon. I have also done a lot of rowing and cycling in the garage gym and outside when it was sunny.'
Ella, Year 8
'Despite a fractured collar bone, as a family the Harts have walked and cycled 230 miles for the Road to Tokyo (and back) challenge!'
St Helen and St Katharine demystifies Oxbridge for state school students
St Helen's welcomed over 280 state school students to the annual higher education event, this year focused on 'Is Oxbridge for me?'
1st March 2021 — The annual higher education event is an important fixture in the St Helen’s calendar. Alternating between ‘Applying for medicine/veterinary medicine’ and an Oxbridge-focused event, each year we invite students from state and independent schools all across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire to an informative and inspiring evening to help them make decisions about their higher education.
In 2021, our virtual ‘Is Oxbridge for me?’ event was among the highest-attended in recent years, with 285 state school students representing 35 different schools tuning in to hear a taster lecture from Dr Ben Higgins (University of Oxford), a talk about the admissions process from Dr Sam Lucy (University of Cambridge) and Old Girls from St Helen and St Katharine currently studying at Oxford or Cambridge speaking about their own experiences of student life.
St Helen's is exceptionally proud to have been able to assist so many young people with their higher education decisions, especially with the often-asked question of what studying at Oxbridge is really like, and demystifying the process of application.
'Oxbridge’s renowned interview process can sometimes be seen as something alien and impossibly challenging. The panel of SHSK Old (or not so old) Girls which we heard from echoed Dr Lucy’s explanation of the interview as an academic discussion, assuring us that although challenging, it was not alien or impossible… In their experience it had even been enjoyable! Interviews reflect the small group supervisions which take place at Oxford and Cambridge, designed to challenge ways of thinking, testing how you engage with new ideas and respond to questions. The group of past HelKats were studying a range of subjects from Economics to languages and from their responses all seemed to be keeping up a comfortable work-life balance, thriving in their respective courses and colleges.
It was strongly conveyed throughout that the ‘me’ of the event’s title doesn’t need to fit any specific mould. The criteria to apply to Oxford or Cambridge are down to the individual: a genuine love of learning, engagement with questions and an appetite for new ideas. Everyone watching will have left the evening feeling that, if they wanted to apply, Oxbridge could be for them.'
Miss Heather Doherty, Head of Sixth Form and Higher Education at St Helen’s, said, “It’s so important that students are able to make balanced, informed decisions about their higher education – whether that means applying for Oxbridge or not. In this event I always remind them that they are all new to the traditions and quirks of the Oxbridge systems, so they have nothing to be worried about on that front.”
A teacher from St Clare’s, Oxford gave extremely positive feedback, saying, “I wanted to send my sincere thanks and gratitude for inviting us to attend your session today. Our students were so fortunate to hear such well-balanced, practical advice from you, your former students and Dr Sam Lucy – please offer all our thanks. Everyone was so engaging!”
St Helen and St Katharine Juniors win prizes in Young Nature Writer competition
Two members of the St Helen and St Katharine Junior Department won prizes for their creative writing, based around the theme of nature.
18th January 2021 — We are very proud of two Junior students, Izzy and Kitty, who entered the Richard Jeffries Young Nature Writers Competition 2020, and out of 600 entries, Izzy (Y6) was a runner-up and Kitty (Y5) was listed in the 20 shortlisted writers. A brilliant achievement for two of the youngest students in the School. Both students used their experiences of lockdown to inspire their writing, and reflected on what they had enjoyed about feeling closer to nature.
'When I found out about the writing competition, I was really excited because it combined two of my favourite things: writing and nature! During lockdown I spent a lot of time walking by the river, swimming and playing on my paddleboard. I have really enjoyed watching the seasons change this year and especially watching the wildlife play in the water. It has been a big part of my 2020. This meant that when I sat down to write, I had lots of ideas and could see very clearly what I wanted to base my description on.'
'I wrote this piece of description during the autumn half-term. I live near woodland and during the holiday my mum and I often went for walks. You may not feel like going outside, but once you've done it you always feel better! I thought that rather than writing a story with a plot, I would try to recreate the experience using all my senses.'
Please contact our Registrar, Carole Bailey, for details about the admissions process.