Reception: 01235 520173

Admissions: 01235 530593

Executive Assistant to the Headmistress: 01235 546502

Bursary: 01235 520657

Joint Bus Service: 01235 546565

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

How to find us

Lower School

Welcome to St Helen and St Katharine's Lower School.

Our first priority in the Lower School is to help new students make a smooth and successful transition to senior school – the happiness and well-being of each girl is at the centre of all we do.

Students move into Lower School for Years 7 and 8. When our Year 7 students join us, we make sure that they feel happy, secure and confident in their new environment, so that they settle quickly, form friendships, learn successfully and develop fully their individual talents. Getting to know each student before she joins us is important; during Trinity term, the Lower School tutor team visit the students in their primary school and we invite them to an Activity Day where they meet their form group. This helps to create a smooth and successful transition into Lower School.

The Year 7 and Year 8 form rooms and the Head of Section’s office are all located close together in the Jean Duffield Building, which helps to create a sense of community in Lower School. Students are arranged into four tutor groups of about 24 students and they stay in the same group for two years. The students are taught in their tutor groups for most of their subjects in Lower School. Each form has a tutor and a support tutor who become the students’ guide and mentor, both pastorally and academically. A broad and balanced curriculum is taught with creative and practical subjects highly valued and a second foreign language offered in Year 8. Residential trips, ‘challenge’ days and study skills lessons are features of Lower School and help enrich and enhance students’ personal development.

Mrs Kay Taylor
Head of Lower School


Academic life

In Lower School at St Helen’s, we aim to provide a curriculum that is as broad and balanced as possible. In addition to the core subjects of English, mathematics, the sciences, history, geography and religion, philosophy and ethics, every girl studies Latin and Spanish. A second modern language – French, German or Mandarin, is added in Year 8. Creative and practical subjects are a valued part of the curriculum throughout Years 7 and 8, and every girl has access to art, ceramics, DT, drama, food and nutrition, music, physical education and computer science.

More about academic life

Trips and visits

The students participate in a wide range of excursions during their time in Lower School, which help to enrich their learning experience. In Year 7 the students go on a number of subject-specific trips, for example the Hindu temple, Watford and Southampton Art Gallery. In March they go on a personal development course at Kilve Court Residential centre in Somerset which enables them to get to know each other better and to challenge themselves as individuals.

In Year 8 they visit Kew Gardens, London, We The Curious, Bristol, Lulworth Cove in Dorset and the Black Country Museum, Birmingham. They also have a challenge day, to encourage self-reliance and responsibility, which forms part of the Year 8 Personal Development curriculum.


Beyond, our broad and varied extracurricular programme, plays a central role within school life. Students are offered many opportunities to explore and extend their interests, make friends across age groups and, through personal achievement, build confidence and self-belief.

We actively encourage students to give new things a go. There are clubs and societies from fencing and photography to philosophy and Mandarin as well as activities such as The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Young Enterprise; all of which open doors to a host of new experiences.

More about activities

Pastoral and well-being

We recognise the enormous change that our students undergo as they pass through the School. They enter as children and leave us as young women, ready to embrace and contribute to all that the world has to offer. We consider that supporting students in becoming people with a good understanding of themselves and the ability to self-manage is key. Our core values of support and kindness, nurture and celebration of success encourage students to gain a sense of perspective, value what they have and seek to be the best version of themselves that they can be.

More about pastoral


Junior Department

Middle School

Sixth Form