Founded in 1903, St Helen and St Katharine is an independent day school for girls in Abingdon, six miles south of Oxford. Our 700 students study in a campus-style environment of beautiful Victorian and modern buildings, set in 22 acres of grounds.
St Helen’s is a school for bright girls with enquiring minds, a place where success is celebrated but not revered. We recognise that every girl is different and will bring to her school a unique combination of interests, abilities and aspirations. 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. In each of the four school sections – Junior Department, Lower School, Middle School and Sixth Form – stimulating and challenging teaching reaches beyond the curriculum, enabling our students to become effective and independent learners. The curriculum offers a broad range of subjects including separate sciences, four modern languages, Latin, Greek and the expressive arts. An extensive range of opportunities for academic enrichment beyond lessons is offered, such as attending lectures and conferences outside school, visiting specialist speakers, discussion dinners and Oxbridge preparation.
Academic life in Sixth Form is about individual choice and learning beyond the ordinary business of a curriculum. Every student will choose three or four A-levels as the core of their academic work, some taught jointly with Abingdon School. Students can then add a St Katharine’s Study award option (which includes the Extended Project Qualification, Arabic and coding) to suit their own academic interests. Success in A-levels enables leavers to secure places on their chosen courses at top UK universities, including a significant number who advance to Oxford and Cambridge.
Results in (I)GCSE and A-level examinations are consistently outstanding; in 2019 91.0% of A-level grades were A*–B, and 96.3% of (I)GCSE grades were 9–6.
Form tutors and support tutors are at the heart of the pastoral system and the Director of Students, Heads of Section, Health Centre and counsellors all play a role in supporting students, making the pastoral network strong and accessible. We give students the space to explore their individuality in an environment which is big enough to celebrate a wide range of personalities and interests but small enough to know, to care and to spot whether someone is having a good or bad day. Every member of the school community is part of our students’ journey, from the smiling catering staff serving our award-winning food at lunchtime to the most loveable of school dogs.
Our broad and varied extracurricular programme of 100+ clubs and activities plays a central role within school life. We actively encourage students to give new things a go – they can participate purely for fun or follow their strengths and excel through selective teams and groups, music and drama productions. From fencing and photography to philosophy and Mandarin as well as activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Young Enterprise, there are always opportunities to explore and extend interests, to make friends across age groups and, through personal achievement, to build confidence and self-belief.
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 and bursaries
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.
If a student has the ability, imagination and drive to grasp the opportunities on offer at St Helen’s, we would like to offer her that chance, regardless of the limitations of financial circumstance. The School offers means tested bursaries up to 100% of fees.