At Princess Helena College we enable students, whatever their ability, to achieve qualifications that exceed their expectations. A broad and balanced curriculum delivers a challenging education that is rewarding and enjoyable.
Individual attention and highly qualified staff encourage students not to fear making mistakes, but to learn from them and push their boundaries.
Students develop good learning habits and leave as intellectually curious adults who are equipped with the knowledge, skills and confidence to be leaders in their chosen fields.
Students are able to experiment and express themselves through ‘fine art, printmaking, ceramics, textiles, 3D design and photography.
They are encouraged to enhance their interests, skills and techniques, and are able to showcase their art at our exhibitions and more permanently around the school.
Business Studies provides a holistic understanding of business and the ability to critically understand how businesses strive to meet the needs and wants of society. Students will have the opportunity to generate enterprising and creative solutions to business problems, whilst taking into consideration ethical responsibilities.
At Princess Helena College Business Studies is offered at GCSE and A Level.
Computer Science is taught to students across KS3 and KS4 by a specialist Computer Scientist with over 20 years of industry experience. Students receive practical STEM experience and learn a variety of skills and methods.
Skills taught include:
In our thriving dance community students can participate in various types of dance including Ballet, Jazz, Modern and Tap.
We offer excellent tuition, a dedicated mirrored Dance Studio and the opportunity to take examinations at both GCSE and A Level.
There is a niche for everyone in our Drama department. Beyond the curriculum, everyone is given the chance to perform in a wide range of school plays and musicals throughout the year; be that as a performer, designer or backstage.
English is an exciting yet rigorous subject at Princess Helena College, taught by passionate and highly qualified experts. We believe strongly in the power of literature to unlock the imagination, to encourage verbal dexterity and to help to create assured communicators who are keen to discuss their fictional experiences. With this in mind, literature is at the heart of much of what we do and we encourage our students to read beyond the curriculum as much as possible. We ensure that books are promoted and made accessible in the school library.
Just as important in our eyes is the ability to use language accurately and precisely, and, to this end, we reinforce our lower-school language and literature lessons with regular sessions on spelling, punctuation and grammar skills. These are carefully integrated to complement pupils’ creative work, another area we value strongly, especially amidst the diverse forms of writing covered in today’s GCSE specifications.
We encourage those capable of it to pursue English at A level. We offer English Literature in the firm belief that this appeals most to the needs of our students, and that it plays to the considerable strengths and interests of our staff. Whilst we recognise that an A level in English is, and always has been, an invaluable qualification, our greatest desire is to spark critical acumen and to teach students the art of structuring coherent, erudite essays. Students are urged to evaluate critical material and to engage with the methodologies that have become so important in the last half-century of literary study. The range of texts we cover aims to give students a sense of historical perspective, particularly important for those continuing their studies at university.
Geography is a subject that equips our students with skills that they will use in life beyond school. We teach our students to think like a geographer, to develop an enquiring mind and to think critically about issues affecting the world and our lives, now and in the future.
Many of our students have gone on to study Geography at Russell Group Universities, such as University of Birmingham, London School of Economics and University of Nottingham.
Key Stage 3: In year 7 students focus on the Medieval World, in year 8 they concentrate on the religious and political changes of the Tudor and Stuart period, and in year 9 they look at the Modern Era from the French Revolution to the late C20th. All years acquire a sense of the chronological story, the ability to criticise evidence, and the skill to argue in written and oral forms.
Key Stage 4: GCSE develop greater critical skills through studying several themes: the Anglo-Saxons and Normans, the Wild West of USA in the C19th, Germany 1918-1939 and Crime and Punishment from 1000-c.2000.
Key Stage 5: A Level study develops analytical skills, and the skill of synthesis when dealing with long historical periods. Students consider the Early Tudors, the regime of Mussolini and Russian History from 1855-1964. The most wonderful aspect of the course is the opportunity to do individual research on a subject of the student’s choosing.
History is a popular subject at GCSE and A Level and many students have taken degrees in this, Politics, Law or Classics over the past years, attending institutions such as LSE, St Andrews and Exeter.
History at PHC enables our students to become critical thinkers and develop an understanding of how ideas and societies have developed over time.
Mathematics class sizes are small and teachers work hard to ensure that each student is able to fulfil his or her potential. Students in all key stages are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning. They are tested regularly and given detailed feedback on their performance, so that they can follow up on any weaker areas. All students have access to Hegarty Maths, which is used to reinforce classroom learning. Extra support is available via weekly lunchtime drop-in sessions.
Key Stage 3: Students are set by ability from the start of Year 7. The scheme of work is carefully structured to enable all learners to develop their mathematical fluency, whilst providing sufficient challenge for the more able. We aim to cater for different learning styles, and foster enjoyment of the subject, by incorporating a range of activities into lessons. Topics are revisited regularly in both lesson starters and prep tasks, to help students to retain knowledge in their long-term memory.
Key Stage 4: All students sit the Edexcel iGCSE at the end of Year 11, at either Higher or Foundation level. The most able are encouraged to also study for the Freestanding Maths Qualification (FSMQ). As in Key Stage 3, students are given opportunities to retrieve earlier learning regularly throughout the course, which improves fluency and makes revision far easier. Every student has access to individual support which, combined with their own hard work, enables them to fulfil their potential in the subject.
Key Stage 5: Students have the opportunity to study for Edexcel A Levels in Mathematics and Further Mathematics. Small classes maximise each student’s chances of success, and in recent years we have had students go on to study mathematics and related subjects at top universities.
Students from all year groups are entered into the United Kingdom Mathematics Trust (UKMT) Challenges at Junior, Intermediate or Senior level. Those who qualify for the follow-on Kangaroo papers are given the opportunity to sit these in school. We also enter teams into the UKMT Team Challenge and Senior Team Challenge.
Media Studies is a practical, yet theoretical course. With the creative arts and cultural industries contributing £10.8billion to the UK economy last year, having a comprehensive understanding of the media boosts employability in a plethora of industries including: media production, public relations, advertising, publishing and events management.
Language-learning is an essential life skill and in an increasingly globalized and interconnected world, language skills are crucial for success. At PHC, our team of well qualified, dedicated and hard working teachers works hard to give our students an outstanding language learning experience by not only developing their linguistic expertise but by also giving them an understanding of other cultures through exposure to literature, current affairs and media. Creativity and imagination are emphasized in addition to debating and presentation skills, and the MFL lessons, conducted using a variety of state-of-the-art resources, are interactive and mostly in the target language.We have foreign language assistants, all native speakers, who provide conversation sessions to our students at KS4 and KS5. The language assistants also offer bespoke support for students who are bilingual, and who wish to sit their IGCSE examination early.
At PHC, French and Spanish are compulsory at KS3 and optional at KS4 where the students prepare the Edexcel IGCSE in French and/or Spanish. Beyond the IGCSE, our students also have the option to take French and/or Spanish at A Level gaining a strong qualification welcomed by Russell Group universities. French is a dynamic and modern language and it remains an official language of the United Nations, the European Union, UNESCO, NATO, the International Olympic Committee, the International Red Cross and international courts. Furthermore, the Francophone world expands well beyond the Continent: Canada, Belgium, North and Central Africa, Laos, Cambodia and many more. As far as Spanish is concerned, one of its huge advantages is the access it offers to such a wide range of countries and cultures. It is the second-most widely spoken language in the world with 400 million native speakers, and official status in a staggering 21 countries, spanning South, Central and North America, as well as Africa and Europe.
The extra-curricular life of the department is very rich as we run various MFL clubs such as the Polyglot Society and the MFL Cinema Club. As well as the annual celebrations of the European Day of Languages, the Spanish Language Day and La Journée Internationale de la Francophonie, we also organise a House Languages competition where students have, for example, in the past competed in an MFL Bake Off. Finally, trips and regular London-based cultural excursions to museums, theatres and cinemas enhance our students’ language learning experience taking their language learning beyond the classroom.
Millions of people around the world play music every day for one overriding reason: it allows them to come together to create something fun and joyful. Whether as an academic discipline or as part of a timetabled club, music at PHC allows students to express themselves uniquely.
Music in the curriculum
Music is primarily a practical subject and students are encouraged, through the use of instruments and their voices, to compose and perform in the various styles which constitute the rich tapestry of music history. Years 7, 8, and 9 introduce students to a wide variety of music styles, from classical to world music, and on to pop and rock. At its best, classroom music builds a bond between students having to take a risk performing with, and to, one another. The lessons are designed to foster creativity, imagination, and fun.
GCSE and A Level studies are conducted according to the EDEXCEL syllabus. The three strands of performing, composing, and appraising are developed from their beginnings in the lower school, and students can expect to be stretched in both their musical knowledge and in their ability as musicians. The EDEXCEL syllabus serves as a strong foundation for students electing to continue their studies at either a university or conservatory. The music studied is very varied, taking in music from the classical, folk, world, and popular genres.
Instrumental and vocal lessons
The peripatetic music staff bring a wealth of professional performing experience to their teaching, and their expertise covers the instruments of both the orchestra and the modern rock band. Students may work towards grades in popular accrediting boards such as the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, Trinity, or Rock School. Students working towards music theory examinations will be supported by the music theory club.
Instrumental and vocal lessons are 40 minutes in duration, and students receive 30 lessons over the course of the year.
Private instrumental and vocal lessons are invaluable for students wishing to accelerate their musical learning; music is a practical art, and these skills will help the student draw all sorts of connections with areas of academic music study.
There is a range of musical activities at the school to suit a variety of talents. The House Music competition is among the highlights of the year, bringing the school together to perform popular music, with the three houses pitted against each other. There are ensembles to suit string players, wind players and rock players; and there are choirs for all year groups, with a variety of repertoire performed, from Christmas carols to arrangements of pop songs. Performing alongside others in a concert often forms some of the fondest memories of school life.
The Music Department teaching rooms include a suite of computers equipped with Sibelius, the industry standard for scoring software. MIDI keyboards provide a link with the software, allowing students to hear their compositions. The Old Hall, with its Yamaha grand piano, serves as an excellent acoustic space for ensembles and pianists; and the Princess Alice Hall serves to accommodate larger performances, such as musicals and the House Music competition. Seven music practice rooms, including a drum studio, are available for private practice and instrumental lessons.
Psychology is offered to students at A Level and is incredibly popular with students at PHC. Students study some of the key and most influential topics in Psychology, including social influence, memory, attachment and psychopathology. Students are encouraged to take a wider outlook on all topics studied by considering the different issues, debates and approaches.
Students do not need to have a GCSE in Psychology for the A Level course. They should be able to describe studies or theories in detail using key terms.
Religious Studies is an important subject to learn in a changing and developing world where we are becoming more and more connected with others. It allows us to understand, challenge and respect others views, beliefs and opinions.
Dalai Lama- “my religion is simple, my religion is kindness”
Topics taught in Religious Studies
Skills from religious studies
The science department at PHC introduces students to the knowledge of science, alongside the development of scientific skills. Emphasis is placed on being able to use mathematical techniques and scientific thinking in order to collect, interpret and evaluate data.
Our Science Department has outstanding facilities that include: