The Abingdon Schools Peer Mentoring Partnership is a collaboration between St Helen’s and four other local schools, designed to share good practice and training for Sixth Form students to become mentors in their schools. It provides the opportunity for students from all year groups across Abingdon to have access to individuals who are trained and passionate about supporting students through any challenges – the aim is to widen the provision of support within the mental health framework of each school. The impact is already being felt because it is a student-led approach to mentoring, as well as being an important leadership development opportunity for Sixth Form students.
Community service is a year–long commitment of a double lesson once a week in the first year of Sixth Form and can be recognised for the service section of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. It is an opportunity for the students to work directly with people in the local community and over the years St Helen’s has forged long-standing links with various associations and schools in Abingdon. For example, students may dedicate time to help at local primary schools, childcare groups and retirement homes (such as Stowford House).
“I spent a year volunteering at Kingfisher School, a school for students with learning and physical needs. It was an extremely rewarding experience, we made really strong connections with the children in our classes. Each week we would help in different lessons and then supervise at playtime. I got to know so many of the children really well and learnt about each child's individual needs. I linked my volunteering with my EPQ, into autism and led my own lesson looking at the benefit of art for children on the spectrum.”