29 May 2023
Students, staff, governors and guests have celebrated the official opening of St Helen and St Katharine’s new Sixth Form Centre – the Benedict Building.
Deputy Lieutenant of Oxfordshire – and former Headmistress of St Helen and St Katharine – Lady Cynthia Hall joined the celebrations to cut the ribbon and declare the Benedict Building officially open. In her speech, Lady Hall emphasised the importance of a dedicated Sixth Form Centre that recognises the need for a more grown-up space and where Sixth Form students’ studying needs are attended to.
The new state-of-the-art building is a physical articulation of the school’s vision for Sixth Form and is all about creating spaces that respond to how students work and how they relax. It deliberately anticipates the design ethos of higher education, smoothing the transition from school to university. It features nine spacious classrooms, a range of study spaces, an HE library, a lecture and performance hall, a large common room – and, of course, the all-important café.
Headmistress Rebecca Dougall reflected on the occasion: “I am enormously proud that we have delivered on a vision to create a building that inspires the amazing students from St Helen and St Katharine – and indeed from Abingdon School – and one which anticipates the aesthetic and utility of the best architecture to be found on university campuses. We are hugely grateful to our outstanding project partners from TSH Architects, Ridge and Partners, and Benfield and Loxley who translated our vision for Sixth Form into a wonderful space and design, and delivered an environmentally considerate building.”
The Benedict Building has been warmly received by the school community and Sixth Form students have enjoyed choosing their favourite spots as they have settled into their new home. Esme (Lower Sixth) shared her experience of the new centre: “The spacious, bright, university-like workspaces make me feel so much more motivated to work. The common room is the perfect social area to relax and wind down during break times. When leaving for lessons or study periods, we feel ready to be productive, especially when being fuelled by snacks from the café.”
St Helen and St Katharine will be hosting an exciting Sixth Form Experience Open Day on Tuesday 20 June where students who are thinking of joining the school will have the opportunity to take part in taster lessons and extracurricular activities. Parents will join at the end of the day for a tour of the school and to hear from the Headmistress and current students about life in St Helen’s Sixth Form.