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St Helen and St Katharine school - Oxfordshire

(9 Posts)
RedWitchArrived Sun 06-Oct-19 19:41:54

Would anyone with DD(s) at St Helen and St Katharine tell me their experience with the school? Is it a pushy school only for the highly academic girls? Does anyone with a less academic DD but who is shining in other areas (for example drama or music or sciences) feel that is the right school for them?

NellyBarney Mon 07-Oct-19 19:41:41

Shining in sciences surely means she is academic?

NeedingCoffee Mon 07-Oct-19 20:16:45

I doubt you’d get in unless you were some way above average; we know lots who were in the top set of their primary schools or independent junior schools and didn’t get in. The academic pace and homework volume sounds tough from friends children, but there’s no doubt it’s an exceptional school for the right girl. Not a school you’d want your DD to be in the bottom third of, at least in my opinion.

NellyBarney Mon 07-Oct-19 21:07:09

If your dd gets an offer, the school will be certain that she can flourish. If they are in doubt, they won't make an offer even if they have vacancies. This year they have a lot of vacancies, especially in the younger years, but they rather have empty places than take a girl they think is unlikely to cope with the fast pace and the independent approach to learning. Their method is that at home, the girls teach themselves the new material, like at uni, and lessons are then like seminars, where girls discuss the subject and also have an opportunity to ask questions and go deeper. If a girl is not motivated to do daily homework, they would utterly fail.

SHSKparent Mon 07-Oct-19 21:53:28

My DD is at SHSK in year 8 and we have been really impressed with the school. It's rather difficult to tell how fast paced it is because I don't have anything to compare it to but certainly DD seems very happy and relaxed and has plenty of time for after school activities. The homework has been very manageable, more like 30 mins consolidation work each night, though perhaps the approach NellyBarney mentions is more common in the older years. DD seems to be doing fine from what the teachers say so I don't think it's that she's just not doing it!!

The school gets a good balance as far as I can see, or at least one that suits DD. It doesn't feel particularly pushy but that's probably because they only take girls who are suited to the pace as NellyBarney suggests (although our year is definitely full). The work generally seems engaging and DD is enjoying it. They have a lot going on in terms of clubs/plays/sport and DD is really flourishing. The Head seems very good and really seems to understand teen girls.

All in all I would highly recommend it if you DD is at the right level but as a pp says if she isn't then she's unlikely to get a place.

PS have name changed for this thread.

WhyAmIPayingFees Tue 08-Oct-19 09:30:58

DD is in one of the lower years and it is noticeable that the school does not offer places to girls just to make up the numbers. So If your daughter takes the test and gets an offer the school has some confidence they will be ok overall. Our DD excels in some areas and is weak in others and we have been very impressed that the reaction of the school to the latter is to discuss with us what support they can provide.

I find the original post a bit contradictory as not being academic but good at science is a bit odd. But it is important to appreciate that the school is not just a place for kids who excel at absolutely everything. There is a strong academic focus balanced by an amazing collection of extra curricular activities and the emphasis is really about bringing out the best. Developing a good work ethic and managing homework are necessary core requirements though.

DD loves it. We have no regrets.

RedWitchArrived Tue 08-Oct-19 17:21:05

Thank you for all your comments! WhyIamPayingFees you have described what I meant on my opening post, but couldn't explain very well! My DD excels in some areas but she is average in others. Some of the posts here have helped me to get a good feedback from the school! BTW, we have been there and we really liked it, DD included!

Billiedog Wed 06-Nov-19 13:20:21

I have a totally different perspective on SHSK and the head. Sadly, I had to take my daughter out if SHSK as she wasn't at all happy. She found the all girls environment really difficult, and sadly developed an eating disorder. Maybe it was a case of wrong choice of school for my daughter (we were so thrilled when she got in) / unlucky with her class (there were a lot of issues with girls/friendships). She never struggled academically , it was just the environment. Just my experience, but pastorally our experience wasn't great.

WhyAmIPayingFees Wed 06-Nov-19 14:29:30

@Billiedog that is very sad to hear and I hope your DD is now faring better. I'm taking your experience at face value but I have to ask why you think it was specifically the "all girls environment" at specifically SHSK that was the cause. First, it is not an isolated female community as there are many links with the boys school down the road (buses, theatre productions, social events, some 6th form classes), and our point of view is that it achieves a healthy balance point in that in most classes, girls are free from any notion that the study of maths, physics etc are "boy-stuff" and can indulge their own interests without pressure from what lads might think. Second, do you have evidence that the issues she experienced were actually specific to the school and not a reflection of something else e.g. her stage of development? My own DD had issues with friendships and the school was immensely supportive and it has settled down. Our experience so far has in particular overcome all initial concerns about moving away from a co-ed primary.

Please be clear I am not criticising your comment or trying to invalidate your experience. In the past I have seen posts like yours about other Oxfordshire girls' schools, more often Oxford High in fact, but they rarely make it clear how any problems experienced could not have happened at any other school, co-ed or otherwise, or were not more specific to the child, or what it was about the cited school specifically that caused the problem, or where it was not that so much the cause of the problem as a failure to manage the issue and support your daughter. With eating disorders in particular the prevalence in young women is somewhere around 2-3% across the population AFAIK, so if there are concerns raised about a particular school the question really does have to be asked if the prevalence there is actually worse in any statistically significant way.

So I am genuinely curious to know a bit more if you are comfortable sharing.

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