St Helen's is a highly academic school set in over 20 acres of beautiful grounds. Pupils achieve outstanding results, going on to prestigious universities. Staff are subject specialists who inspire and encourage pupils to learn independently and develop individual talents in a friendly, secure and disciplined environment.
We are so proud of our Year 13 students and of all that they have achieved in these most exceptional times. We are absolutely delighted that so many have secured first choice university places in a wide range of courses.
14th August 2020 — This has not been a day to remember and there are many questions still left unanswered about the fairness and ethical probity of the process by which final grades have been awarded. Nevertheless, our students have done themselves proud, both in their positive approach to results which may not accurately reflect their capability and in using the results they have been given to plan the exciting next steps they will take in their education. There are many girls whose individual achievements could be highlighted, but we would like to mention the following in particular:
Venusha’s passion for and commitment to her A Level subjects have enabled her to achieve four A* grades and she will be going to study Engineering at Warwick University.
Tasha’s dedication to learning throughout her A Level studies has enabled her to achieve four A* grades and she will be taking up a place at University College London to read Maths.
Having worked with persistence and resolve in all her A Level subjects and showing a fascination for digital technology, Sarah was awarded three A* grades and an A and will be taking up a place at Imperial College to study Computing.
Our wonderful Head Girl and badminton star Maya, who combined her studies with her leadership role and sporting commitments with such skill, will be going off to Warwick to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics having achieved A*, A*, A, A.
Many congratulations to Ellie whose focus and commitment to her studies have enabled her to take up her place at Jesus College Oxford, to read Experimental Psychology, having achieved A*, A*, A, A.
Having shown a scholarly maturity throughout her A Level studies, Anika will be going off to read Modern and Medieval Languages at Downing College Cambridge, having been awarded A*, A*, A*.
Passionate about how the past informs and shapes the present, Sofia will be taking up a place to read History at Warwick University, having been awarded three A* grades.
Showing intellectual maturity and a profound love of learning, Ruth achieved four A* grades and will be taking up a place at Murray Edwards College to read Modern and Medieval Languages.
We are also delighted for Arya who will be taking up her place to read History of Art at Lincoln College Oxford, having been awarded one A*, two As and a B. Her focus and commitment to learning have been evident throughout her time at St Helen’s.
Maddy’s love of literature, ability to evaluate and passion for her A Level courses have enabled her to achieve an A* and two A grades and she will be taking up a place at Leeds to study English Literature.
Chloe worked with determination and commitment throughout her A Levels and was awarded two A*s and two A grades. She will be taking up a place to read Chemistry at Durham University.
Always fascinated by animal physiology and committed to animal welfare, Juliette worked with resolve and dedication throughout her time in the 6th Form and achieved two A* grades and two As. She will be going to Nottingham University to study Veterinary Medicine.
So, by any measure, although this has not been a normal A Level results day and these are not a normal set of A Level results, our students have risen to the challenge. Nevertheless, there is broad agreement that this is an imperfect process because it does not allow for substantial differences between A Level cohorts or individual progress or performance that exceeds expectations and historical data. Nationally, 39% of A Level grades have been downgraded and the final grades awarded to students at St Helen’s reflect this national picture. The significant disappointments now being experienced by students, teachers and parents are a result of a failure to treat young people as individuals and to keep their welfare at the heart of decision making. It is also a result of an inability to trust the judgements of teachers who know their students best and understand the trajectory and pace of their progress. I am united with fellow Headteachers across the country who have condemned the process as unfair and unfathomable in its failure to pay tribute to the hard work and determination of students and staff.
From the moment that A Level examinations were cancelled, our entire focus has been to make the best of a difficult situation and support and guide students as they navigate these turbulent waters through which they must pass on the way to university.
At the start of lockdown St Helen’s created a bespoke Life and Learning Programme for Year 13 which provided students with ways to extend their learning in every subject and lay the foundations for university study. This comprehensive programme also provided a range of enrichment courses developed by subject specialists and guidance and opportunities for the development of cultural capital and practical life skills, from cookery and financial literacy to health and fitness. Our students have engaged fully with all that has been provided and have faced the uncertainties and challenges of these circumstances with resilience, determination and spirit. As a result, they are perhaps more prepared for university life than any other A Level cohort and we have no doubt at all that they will thrive in a higher education environment.
Ours is a special school community and it is the particular qualities of energy, imagination and positivity, displayed in abundance by our pupils and teachers that have enabled the achievement of so much. Subject specialist teaching, an emphasis on individual progress and tailored support for every pupil ensure that our students are provided with everything they need to fulfil their potential and realise their dreams. The quality of resilience or ‘grit’ is absolutely key to success and it is crucial that challenges or disappointments are understood and even welcomed as essential drivers of development and growth. Now more than ever this characteristic is to be valued, and we encourage universities and employers to identify and appreciate the opportunities of this transformative and energizing quality that shines so brightly in this cohort of Year 13 pupils, both here at St Helen’s and in all schools.
Our Sixth Form students joined a fascinating webinar hosted by guest speakers, triathlete and author Tiffany Jolowicz (Class of 1983) and her colleague Elisabeth Marksteiner.
15th July 2020 — Organised by the Futures Department, the talk centred around findings from a new book Tiffany and Elisabeth have been researching on how to make a ‘best shot application’ to Oxford or Cambridge.
By studying successful candidates at these universities, they have come up with some thought-provoking data and insights, from ensuring students pursue the right course fired by their own academic interests to ‘proving the fit’ based on working on the ‘I’, a term the team has coined to sum up what they consider gives each candidate a competitive edge in their application.
Someone who has successfully achieved this is Beth Brown (Class of 2018) who is studying Medical Sciences at Cambridge University. We were delighted to see her feature in this interview to mark 40 years of women at Fitzwilliam College.
Thank you to our guest speakers for sharing their research and findings.
We are delighted to share Speech Day 2020, as we celebrate some of the incredible achievements of our students in Senior School and wish our Year 13 cohort the very best in all their new adventures.
15th July 2020 — Whilst we are not able to host this momentous day in school together, we have produced this film to mark the event virtually.
As we recognise these personal achievements, we take this opportunity to celebrate every girl at St Helen’s. We are incredibly proud of how our school community has embraced lockdown and how the girls have responded so positively to new ways of working and learning.
With thanks to all our guests, students and performers who kindly contributed to the making of Speech Day 2020. A special thanks to our keynote speaker, entrepreneur Rupa Popat (Class of 2000). Enjoy!
Congratulations to Keya in Year 7 whose written submission, New Hope, has been highly commended by author Nicola Morgan in an anti-viral creative writing competition.
15th July 2020 — The entry criteria for her age group (11-14), required taking an optimistic view of the coronavirus situation, and exploring how we might live differently and better and can learn from this experience, using imagination, lateral thinking, insight and empathy.
Nicola Morgan commented that Keya’s entry was an:
"Exceptionally mature piece of discursive writing; excellent vocabulary and sentence structure".
Budding entrepreneur Zara, in Year 4, has been driven during lockdown to bring about change, and has devised a business plan to bake cakes for her local community, all in aid of charity.
15th July 2020 — From the original concept, through to working out the mathematical calculations and tally charts for flavours as well as building a marketing framework and brand identity, Zara has diligently worked to turn her business idea into a reality. Having distributed a number of posters to a handful of friends, Zara has had a great response and now bakes and raises money in her spare time. Keep up the amazing work Zara!
"We are super proud of her efforts and 100% of proceeds are going to the charity she has chosen. She has four re-orders, two of them corporate (for a nursery graduation afternoon tea and a GP surgery) during the summer holidays"!
From September to March teams from Years 7 to 13 competed against Northwood College, HABS, NLCS, Queenswood, RMS and Watford Girls in the Herts and Middlesex Badminton League.
15th July 2020 — Although a couple of matches were unable to be played, most of the leagues were completed and those missing results had no effect on the overall positions of schools. All girls performed exceptionally well throughout the season with St Helen’s A teams finishing first in every age group winning all matches they competed in. Thirty matches against other schools played, thirty matches won! Well done to all girls across the school who represented St Helen’s this year – you have performed brilliantly and we look forward to getting back on the courts when it’s safe to do so.