Reception: 01235 520173

Admissions: 01235 530593

Executive Assistant to the Headmistress: 01235 546502

Bursary: 01235 520657

Communications Office: 01235 546541

Joint Bus Service Co-ordinator: 01235 546565

St Helen and St Katharine, Faringdon Road, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 1BE

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29 Mar 2017

Triumphant Spring Concert


The last senior concert of the year took place in YPH on Tuesday and was a real celebration of the achievements of all our most advanced musicians, but in particular, a tribute to the talents of our U6 performers. The first half of the concert featured mainly choral works, from the mature and balanced sound of the Joint Chamber Choir (with Abingdon School) singing Britten, through Ensemble Bar 61’s 8-part, split-level performance of Holst’s Sweet and Low to Cantores’ rendition of God Only Knows (with Chapel Choir and Conjuncto along the way!). The choral items were interspersed with the Altus Flute Trio (fresh from the national final of the Pro Corda chamber music competition) and the wonderful Brass Band, with fabulous soloist, Annabel Young.

The second half began with the outstanding viola soloist, Claire Watters, playing Bruch’s Romance with First Orchestra, who then raised the roof with the Raiders March by John Williams. Camerata’s wistful and delicate rendition of the Moderato from Dvorak’s Serenade was followed by a spectacularly rousing performance of selections from Les Miserables by Concert Band. The evening was one of great emotion, spectacular musicianship and real camaraderie. We thank our leavers for all of the tremendous dedication and commitment that they have shown to school music and wish them all the very best for their future musical endeavours. They will be missed!

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28 Mar 2017

Dame Katherine Grainger DBE opens our new Sports and Fitness Centre


Students at St Helen and St Katharine School in Abingdon were fortunate to enjoy an inspiring visit from Britain’s most decorated female Olympic athlete Dame Katherine Grainger DBE last week.  Dame Katherine was greeted with rapturous applause as she took to the stage as Guest of Honour at the official opening of the school’s new Sports and Fitness Centre.

Following a tour of the Centre with Director of Sport, Sarah Wilson, Dame Katherine recounted her golden sporting career to a 900-strong audience, including students from the John Mason School and Fitzharrys School in Abingdon and spoke about the passion, determination and belief needed to break boundaries in sport and become a champion.

Praising the outstanding school facilities, which include badminton, netball, volleyball, tennis, basketball, indoor football and indoor hockey courts; a group cycle studio, ergo fitness suite with 12 indoor rowers and a dance studio, the theme of her speech was centred around taking chances, seizing opportunities, trying, sometimes failing, but always persevering.

Dame Katherine said “Believe in big dreams, do things that you’ve never done before and you will achieve what has never been achieved before. Overcoming disappointment makes you focus on being better, you must move on.” There was laughter throughout when she added, “I studied Law at University as I wanted to make a positive impact on the world. Instead, it appears that I managed to do that wearing Lycra and sitting in a boat going backwards.”

Following the speech, Dame Katherine chatted with delighted students, staff, invited guests from the world of school sport across Oxfordshire and donors from the wider school community, who had contributed generously to the development of the facilities. Dame Katherine was also delighted to be made the school’s first honorary ‘HelKat’ and raised a St Helen’s boater in the air to celebrate.

Headmistress, Rebecca Dougall summed up the afternoon, “It was an enormous privilege to welcome such an inspirational and iconic sportswoman to our school. It is important for young women to build their confidence, a quality that Dame Katherine exemplifies, both in and outside her sport. Our new Sports Centre is testament to the fact that at St Helen and St Katharine the benefits of being involved in sport at all levels - building physical wellbeing, mental resilience and strength – is an essential part of every girls’ individual development."

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28 Mar 2017

A Night with the Stars


Clear sky. Plan A!

The second annual stargazing evening last Friday, organised by the Parents' Association, was a huge success. After gathering in the Science Atrium, flaking pizzas in hand, we headed to the lecture theatre for an enthusing talk by Dr Sandy Giles of the Wycombe Astronomical Society, entitled ‘The Restless Universe’. A captivating presenter, he took us on a journey through the ever-moving universe, resting on nebulas and astronomical pestilences, amongst many others, and the stunning images brought everything to life.

Sandy’s focus on the current sky meant that we, armed with our coats and a cloudless sky (second time lucky), could view these for ourselves using a range of computerised and traditional telescopes. Jupiter and its four largest moons (Ganymede, Europa, Io and Callisto) were a favourite of mine; they are crucial to the modern understanding of the Earth’s place in the universe and to see them for the first time was incredible. The striking stars, including the Pleiades cluster, were equally breath-taking.

Last year we carried out Plan B, an enlightening, entertaining evening that even the clouds couldn’t help attending! This year: an inspiring night with wonderful weather and spectacular sights. We also added more dates to our diaries, with the next Mercury transit (passage across the sun) occurring on the 11th November 2019, and a total solar eclipse over the US on the 21st August 2017.

Many thanks to all from the Wycombe Astronomical Society for another insightful evening, and to all those present from the Parents’ Association for organising such wonderful events!

Katharine Hart


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24 Mar 2017

Playwriting Perfection


Winner of the 2016 SHSK Playwriting Competition, ‘I Pray You Are Safe in Coventry’ by Cara Crofts, is a moving account of a young girl's war-time experience in the town of the same name. Parents, teachers and students enjoyed a sold-out lunchtime performance in the Studio Theatre on Thursday 23rd March. This is Cara’s account of the process:

"I entered the Playwriting Competition in 2016, as a Year 7. I was delighted to receive the prize for the best entry in Years 7, 8 and 9; that I could direct my play this year alongside Ms. Pullen Campbell.

It is about the life of a twelve-year-old girl in WWII. I remember planning out different concepts that I could focus my play around. I settled on WWII because it was an interesting and emotional topic. Then, I began to think about what would actually happen. I didn’t make a real plan from the start but mainly just came up with new ideas as I wrote. I knew that I wanted the main character to be a girl of my age and for the play to be about her family, gradually being torn apart by war. I decided what would happen to members of the family, and what impact this would have on Florence. I asked my Grandmother, who was 14 in 1940, what a girl aged 12 could do to help in WWII. She gave me the idea of fire watching which built a lot of the play. I decided to set the play in an English town which was heavily bombed in WWII, Coventry. I have also incorporated what goes on there and how the people are affected. The title, “I Pray You Are Safe in Coventry” has been repeated throughout to build emotional impact.

The cast have been a delight to work with. We only have rehearsals for 40 minutes once a week so it has been difficult to pull things together but they have managed brilliantly! I am so proud of what they have achieved in such a short period of time and the positive attitude they have taken towards it. I would really like to thank Ms. Pullen Campbell for all the time and effort she has put into my play. I couldn’t have done it without her! She has been so supportive of me, and given me the chance to experiment with directing sections myself, without laying all of the work on my shoulders.

It has been a long, challenging endeavour to write, edit, direct and rehearse this play. It has been a great experience for me. I have spent a year dedicating my time and thought to this performance so am a little sad that it’s over. It was truly wonderful to watch my writing being brought to life on the stage by such talented actors and I am so thankful to everyone who has helped along the way."

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