Lead School: St Helen and St Katharine
At the core of the Abingdon/Oxfordshire hub is St Helen and St Katharine, a vibrant and stimulating school for bright young women with enquiring minds. Great emphasis is placed on encouraging students to believe in themselves and their abilities. The leading independent day school for girls in the Thames Valley, St Helen’s has approximately 730 students and we achieve excellent examination results – most recently 66.8% A*–A at A-level and 96.3% 9–6 at I/GCSE. We take pride in our ethos of enabling students to pursue a diverse range of higher education opportunities, from STEM subjects at leading universities to sought-after apprenticeships.
Modern languages are a core part of the curriculum at St Helen’s, with Spanish, French, German and Mandarin offered all the way through the School. Exchange programmes in Santiago de Compostela, Bielefeld and Provence are immensely popular and are invaluable in grounding students’ linguistic skills and confidence. A trip to China’s Sichuan province will also take place from 2020. We believe it is a vital job of a 21st century school to equip students with skills in modern languages and awareness of the cultures attached to each.
St Helen’s partnerships with other schools in Abingdon are strong and numerous, including most recently the Girls do Physics initiative which is already encouraging more girls in publically funded schools to study sciences at a higher level. Our annual Love Languages competition with local schools is also hugely successful, allowing budding linguists to practice their skills in a performative and enjoyable way. As a natural outcome of these connections and our history of successfully training new entrants into the profession, we are very excited to be working with Abingdon School, Larkmead School, Radley College, John Mason School and St Bartholomew’s to provide a diverse range of classroom experience for trainees.
Headmistress, Mrs Rebecca Dougall, says: “There are great concerns nationally about teacher recruitment, so I am very proud of the fact that St Helen’s is now a hub for the national modern languages SCITT, working with our colleagues in the maintained sector to nurture future teaching talent.”
Abingdon/Oxfordshire Hub Leader, Lisa Probert
Head of MFL at St Helen and St Katharine, Abingdon
Lisa read European Studies and Modern Languages at the University of Bath, before undertaking a PGCE at the University of Reading where she attained a double distinction in theory and practice and won the Barnard Prize for best education student in 1990. Lisa has taught French, German and Spanish for 29 years, both in the UK and abroad. Her specialisms include linguistics and French Nouvelle Vague cinema. Currently Head of MFL at St Helen and St Katharine in Abingdon, she was formerly Head of MFL at Fitzharrys School in Abingdon. Lisa has also written educational materials and textbooks for Pearson Education, working on Stimmt, Viva and Dynamo. She is the chairperson of the Association for Language Learning Oxfordshire branch.
Abingdon is a historic market town in Oxfordshire where a local community and over seventeen schools and colleges thrive. The partnerships that exist between primary and secondary schools throughout the area create a dynamic education community – student initiatives and teacher training are just a few of many collaborations.
With traditions dating back to the 19th century and links to several major scientific, commercial and military sites, Abingdon’s proximity to Oxford also makes it a popular residential area for those working at the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University.
Mr Cedric Ploix, St Helen’s first NML SCITT trainee, has just finished the first part of his training at St Helen’s and has now moved to Larkmead, one of our partner schools. Cedric’s upbeat and easy style of teaching made him an instant favourite with St Helen’s students. As well as inventing many new kinds of language game, his piano playing was a delight and made him a much valued member of the St Helen’s community.
Mr Ploix said: “St Helen and St Katharine has been a fantastic place to spend the first half-term, notably thanks to its supportive and welcoming staff and the experienced teaching body, from which I am taking so much every day. This school has also provided a stimulating environment in which there is scope to propose and run events, thereby furthering my development as a teacher.”
Hub partner schools
If you train in this geographical hub you could have a placement in one of our partner schools.
Where are they now?
News about alumni to follow