Every Person

Every Classroom

Every Day

St Helena is a co-educational state secondary school located in Eltham North, approximately 28 kilometres from the Melbourne CBD. The school’s commitment to fostering the growth and development of the whole child is led by principal, Karen Terry, her team of two associate principals, four assistant principals and nine leading teachers/learning specialist.

The population of approx. 1,600 students is organised into three mini schools: Junior (Year 7), Middle (Years 8-9) and Senior (Years 10-12). In these traditional, yet stimulating and nurturing environments, skilled professionals provide personalised learning experiences that maximise progress and inspire potential. Daring to be excellent positively influences the learning process and the ultimate outcome of being a learner in our community: accomplished, resilient and principled graduates who are equipped to succeed and contribute effectively as members of the global community in the digital age.

Student engagement is maximised through a broad range of programs including our large Music and Performing Arts programs, an extensive Camps program, House and student leadership involvement opportunities, community service, elite sporting pathways programs, and a range of clubs, all of which facilitate learning on every level.

Our College community thrives on a culture of connectedness – a key pre-condition for learning. This sense of belonging extends beyond students and staff to parents, community volunteers and alumni. It reflects the values perpetuated over the school’s rich 39-year history.

Who we are at St Helena

Every member of our St Helena  community is held to high expectations.
Our culture of
excellence, collegiality, inclusion and continual improvement depends on it.

Our Vision

To develop well-rounded global citizens, who are equipped to thrive and contribute positively in the digital age.


To provide a safe, supportive context and stimulating personalised learning programs that foster in each student five key:

Attributes – respect, compassion, kindness, gratitude, positivity

Skills – creativity, curiosity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication

Capabilities – confidence, agility, resilience, resourcefulness, entrepreneurship

Commitments – mindfulness, excellence/personal best, altruism, inclusion, longlife learning


Our values mantra: ‘Every person, every classroom, every day.’


for self, others and the college

Demonstrated by:

• honesty, self-discipline, safe choices and healthy practices

• striving for excellence

• extending courtesy, kindness and consideration

• listening and seeking to understand

• valuing diversity, inclusion and equity

• abiding by college policies, codes and agreed classroom expectations

• wearing the full school uniform correctly, with pride and a sense of ambassadorship

• participating fully in school life

• appreciating and caring for the college equipment, facilities and surroundings.


for our actions

Demonstrated by:

• fostering positive relationships

• keeping commitments

• accepting consequences

• developing confidence and self-esteem

• seeking help as necessary

• expressing care and concern through action

• actively committing to social justice, humanitarian standards and the common good.


in all we do

Demonstrated by:

• setting and working strategically toward realistic goals

• practising self-discipline, perseverance and resilience

• welcoming and responding to feedback

• using resources and managing time wisely

• using IT to advantage

• acknowledging and valuing the support others contribute to our success.



‘Dare to be Excellent’ is the timeless challenge all St Helena community members accept in order to test and build the character strengths that enable us to be and continually reach for our best no matter what the endeavour. In essence, it is the injunction to muster courage, develop resilience, and hone the strategies that facilitate the realisation of continually redefined goals.

There’s a dual triumph. It’s in the process and the product; in the daring and the excelling.

It’s not about being or doing the best. It’s about being and doing your best.

It’s not about where you rank. It’s about how much progress you make.

It’s not about being perfect. It’s about taking a risk, having a go and learning from mistakes.

Daring to excel is a practice we model, facilitate, inspire and celebrate.

The result for individuals and the school is continual improvement that exceeds expectation.

Our Philosophy

Putting our educational philosophy into practice every day enables us to realise our vision. It is encapsulated in the following set of beliefs.

We Believe….

  • every student can learn and make progress. This is fostered in the right context and given the right input, opportunities, scaffolding and encouragement
  • safety and wellbeing, including zero tolerance for child abuse, bullying and harassment is a critical pre-condition for learning. The commitment of all community members to our codes of conduct and values is a core expectation
  • students who are known, valued, respected and embraced within the community can dare to excel
  • orderliness supports learning. This is achieved through our structures, purposeful and well-defined routines, policies and procedures
  • a commitment to contemporary pedagogies, evidence based practice and data driven intervention facilitates continual school improvement and student outcomes
  • knowledge application, skill development, IT literacy and values education support the holistic growth of students preparing to flourish in the digital age. We equally prioritiese academic progress and personal development.
  • learning that is student-centred, personalised, open ended, choice laden, fun, relevant and real produces world-ready graduates
  • realistic goal setting and strategic endeavour underpins excellent outcomes
  • empowering students to affect their own schooling experience is motivating, and builds leadership skill, responsibility and autonomy
  • our teachers must keep learning if our students are to keep learning. Professional learning communities form the basis of this professional development
  • well-rounded students participate fully in and contribute to school life, and the broader community through service initiatives
  • honouring the past, leading in the present and anticipating the future ensures a cutting edge education
  • parents/guardians, alumni, volunteers, relevant experts and the wider community are important partners in fostering the learning and wellbeing of students. This is fostered in the right context and given the right input, opportunities, scaffolding and encouragement

Our History

To Know Our Story

of our heritage is to appreciate our proud past, understand our dynamic present and anticipate our bright future.

St Helena Post Primary school was established in 1984 in response to enrolment projections for the area and on the back of significant community support and political pressure. It was to be a new breed of secondary school combining the best of the high and tech school systems.

Foundation principal, Ken Cunningham, developed the vision for a comprehensive curriculum that would cater for all students. He planned for the development of a rapidly expanding school, which was just as well because within a few short years it was the largest in the district. It boasted modern facilities and equipment, designed to enhance the contemporary learning experience. Careful design meant that students with additional physical needs were also easily accommodated on the site.

The original relocatable complex was hastily constructed on the Calendonia Drive corner of the site in just three months following the purchase of 9.5 hectares of land by the Education Department on 2 November 1983.

The school opened its doors (one day late) in 1984, with 185 students and 18 teachers (appointed from 250 applications). Form groups of 20 were accommodated in 8 general purpose classrooms, 2 Science rooms, 1 Art/Craft room, 1 Woodwork room, administration and staff areas, the canteen and a toilet block. The Metalcraft room arrived later.

The comprehensive Year 7 curriculum included English, Humanities, Mathematics, Science, Italian, Classroom and Instrumental Music, Physical Education, Home Economics, Woodwork, Metalcraft, Art and Graphics.

Planning for the permanent buildings on the other side of the site proceeded immediately. Despite enormous challenges and setbacks, three years later – soon after the start of the 1987 school year – 800 students occupied the new facility. The building plan was a ‘core plus’ arrangement with subject specific rooms constructed around a large open courtyard – the Agora. This was a central meeting place for students. The 38 teaching spaces were designed for 700 students so some of the relocatables were integrated into the new site. They also allowed for further expansion.

The original relocatable complex became Glen Katherine Primary School. A playing field was constructed between the schools for joint use. The gym, including two indoor basketball courts, was also shared. (Ref: Chris Lavender, “The St Helena History”, Nov 1999)

The fact that a group of our foundation staff – many from ‘the first 18’ – still meet for coffee on the first day of every school year in honour of their association with the school is a testament to their treasured lifelong connection with us and us with them.

St Helena was visionary in 1984, and we’re visionary now.

We’re still:

  • innovating to improve student outcomes
  • a leader in personalised learning, data driven targeted teaching, pathway choice, values and respectful relationships education
  • providing a mini-school structure that fosters learning, wellbeing and connectedness
  • learning and leading in contemporary pedagogies and IT delivery
  • a strong public system contributor.

Our Cultural heritage…

Community Spirit

Parents, educators, community leaders and politicians came together in a number of working parties to ensure the establishment of St Helena and then to contribute to its ongoing positive development.

We owe a debt of gratitude to those who labored tirelessly on behalf of students in the early 80s on the initial Steering Committee, School Project Committee and Interim Planning Committee. We wouldn’t be here without them.

School Councillors and Parents Association members then took up the mantle providing wonderful support to the school’s respective leadership teams.

From the outset, parent consultation characterised the decision making process. Input was invited and respected in relation to the buildings and curriculum – particularly the language choice, uniform and the homework and assessment policies.

The School Theatre, named after Sue Dyet, honours our first school council president who played a vital part in the development of the school’s permanent building.

The Parents Association also started strongly in those first years under the leadership of president, Peter Crampton. Interested, active parents worked together through this forum to help solve problems, attend working bees, develop the grounds and establish a vibrant school community. They perpetuated the tradition of family barbeques started by Ken Cunningham with the Sunday 27 Nov BBQ held on the temporary school site in 1983.

Sub-school system

Ken instituted a sub-school system to facilitate student learning and wellbeing when the school doubled in size in 1985.

It was a vertical structure made up of two or three forms from each year level up to Year 10.

There were about 200 students in each sub-school. They were named after the waterways of the area: Plenty, Diamond, Karingal and Yarra.

Teachers taught mainly in their sub school and across subjects [Maths/Science; Humanities] so students and parents were well known.

Sub schools were also the basis for the organisation of Outdoor Ed and whole school sporting events.


The decision for a common curriculum for Years 7-10 determined the future direction of the teaching and learning programs and clearly distinguished St Helena from neighbouring schools.

It was guided by the Manifesto for a Democratic Curriculum [‘The Australian Teacher’, Feb 1984] and embraced 10 principles. The curriculum was to be: common, premised on cooperation, worthwhile, coherent, systematic, reflective, moral, inclusive, practical and doable.

At St Helena the common curriculum was organised into three faculties:

Language/Humanities – 10 p/week

Mathematics/Science – 8 p/week

Practical Arts – 12 p/week 2 and 3D art, practical technology subjects, performing arts, music, PE.

In 1985 David McRay, wrote an article in ‘The Victorian Teacher’ entitled ‘Manifesting the Curriculum’. It lauded the common curriculum implemented at St Helena describing it as a new concept that may point the way ahead for the future of secondary education.

Our School Logo…

In 1999 the logo was updated but retained many of the original symbols.

The addition of the student faces highlights our commitment to co-education and our student-centered philosophy. The concept of four diamonds making up a whole signifies the multi-faceted approach the school adopts to achieve a single vision.

The original logo, a diamond with trees, a mountain range and water was designed by student competition winner, Kristine Hendry.

The diamond represented the school’s location in the Diamond Valley, the wavy lines represented the local waterways and the trees represented the rural nature and environmental sensitivity of the area.


Our 48 Hour Policy
GENERAL OFFICE 03 9438 8500

It is St Helena policy that all phone messages and emails are responded to within 2 business days.

If you have not received a response after 2 business days, please contact the Principal, Karen Terry, directly via the General Office,  AskLeadership@sthelena.vic.edu.au or  kt@sthelena.vic.edu.au

For more information on college tours, ACE application and enrolment information at St Helena