St Helen and St Katharine opens new sixth form centre

St Helen and St Katharine opens new sixth form centre

22 January 2023

We are incredibly excited to share that our new sixth form centre, the Benedict Building, is now open.

On Monday, Sixth Form students were led by Headmistress Rebecca Dougall to be welcomed into their new space with a rendition of the St Helen’s hymn played by the School’s Brass Band before exploring study spaces, the common room and (of course) the café.

The Benedict Building is a physical articulation of our vision for Sixth Form – to create an environment for our students that will spark their intellectual spirit and imagination – and will provide students with the space and opportunity to grow their academic and extracurricular interests in readiness for the future.

Named after former Headmistress Sister Jean Benedict (1962–67), the Benedict Building echoes and anticipates the very best higher education institutions, smoothing the transition from school to university. It features nine spacious classrooms, a range of individual and group study spaces, a higher education library, a flexible lecture and performance hall, a café and a large common room.

Commenting on the campus’ latest addition, Headmistress Rebecca Dougall said: “The design of the building is all about creating spaces that respond to how students work and how they relax. It deliberately anticipates the design ethos of higher education. Above all, we wanted to create a space that presents new opportunities for young women to be inspired and excel. I am confident that we have achieved this goal and look forward to seeing all that the Benedict Building will bring to life at St Helen’s. It has been a real pleasure to work with TSH Architects and Benfield and Loxley to deliver this project.”

Project Architect Hannah Deacon, of TSH Architects, added: “It has been a privilege to deliver this project from concept design to the finished article. The staff of St Helen’s are very passionate about providing a state-of-the art facility for their sixth form students; featuring contemporary and diverse spaces for learning. We have been working throughout the design stages to ensure that the project was of the highest quality to meet the School’s ambitions. The architectural vision for the building was driven by creating an additional quad that fits well with the current school campus and responds positively to the heritage of the existing school buildings.”

St Helen and St Katharine’s Chair of Governors, Kevan Leggett, commented: “This is one of the most ambitious projects the School has ever undertaken and, on behalf of the Governors, I’m delighted that this beautiful new building – the Benedict Building – is now a reality. We look forward to seeing students enjoy all the opportunities this space will bring for many years to come.”

Blessing the building

Prior to the Benedict Building’s opening on Monday, the School’s Chaplain Revd Dr Hyde took the time to bless the space, marking the colonnade nearest to the main entrance with the symbols 20 + C + M + B + 23. These symbols represented:

  • C M B represents the traditional names of the Three Wise Men, Kings or Magi (Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar) as well as the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat (may Christ bless this house)
  • The crosses represent the cross of Jesus
  • 20 and 23 is the year that is just beginning

Describing the method of blessing the building, Revd Dr Hyde said: “It is an ancient Christian Epiphany tradition for families to come together and ask for God’s blessing on their home or place of work/study, and all who visit or live there. Chalk is used to write a traditional symbol on the door frame, the doorstep, or close to the door of the house, along with prayers asking Jesus to visit and be present in that place.”

Open event

We will be hosting our next Sixth Form open event on Thursday 27 April. Prospective students and their parents will have the opportunity to tour the new facilities, as well as exploring the myriad of A level study options and extracurricular opportunities available, and hearing from staff and students about life at St Helen’s Sixth Form.

If you would be interested in attending our Sixth Form open event or booking an individual tour of the new facilities, please contact our Admissions team at [email protected]

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