Our History

From our humble beginnings as the Helena School in Cottesloe to the close to 800 students we educate today, Helena College has been providing a high-quality private education to students in Perth for more than 100 years. We are proud of our history and the evolution of our College from a one-room primary schoolhouse in Darlington to the sprawling Kindergarten to Year 12 two-campus school it is today. 

Our early beginnings

Helena School, McNeil St, Cottesloe
Helena School, McNeil St, Cottesloe

The origins of Helena College’s rich history dates to the late nineteenth century when Mrs Jessica (Jessie) Jones, an experienced teacher and school administrator from England, was asked to set up a preparatory school for boys in Perth. Over the ensuing years, Mrs Jones and her daughter, Miss Jessy Margaret Jones, would be involved in operating several schools around the Perth region. In 1921, Miss Jones managed an independent private school in East Fremantle which she moved to McNeil St, Cottesloe in 1922, as the ‘Helena School’. 

At home among the trees

During World War II, the looming threat of Japanese invasion, forced many schools to move further inland. In 1941, Miss Jones, her niece, Miss Mary Jones and a former pupil, Miss Jane Ashbury, relocated Helena School to Ryecroft Road, Darlington commencing with a small group of day students and boarders. 

Following the death of Miss Jessy Jones in 1944, Mary Jones and Jane Ashbury continued to run the school as an Anglican boarding school until their retirement in 1972.

A new era

The 1970s to 1980s signalled a significant evolution of Helena School as it expanded and changed to become a co-educational, non-denominational independent day school. 

In 1972, Mrs Sally Herzfeld, a teacher at Helena School and her husband, Tom, purchased land adjoining the schoolhouse and took over running the School. By 1973, the newly formed Helena School Council purchased the school from the Herzfeld family and appointed Mrs Herzfeld as the first headmistress of the three-teacher school. The Helena School Council further extended the school to include three classrooms and an administration block, taking the School’s capacity to 200 students. 

Under the leadership of Principal Mrs Sally Herzfeld, the School rapidly gained a reputation in the community for offering a high-quality education that encouraged students to achieve their personal best. By the 1980s the School had expanded to eight classrooms, library, gym, staff room, canteen, music rooms and other small ancillary rooms.

Strong demand from families who valued the educational philosophy of the School saw the establishment of the secondary campus in 1988 on a newly purchased 8.3 hectare block in Glen Forrest. The Glen Forrest school commenced with 27 Year 8 students and Mrs Sally Herzfeld as the coordinator. 

Becoming Helena College

With the primary and secondary campuses fully operational, the Helena School officially changed its name to Helena College Junior School and Senior School in 1990. Mr John Allen-Williams was appointed Foundation Principal of Helena College until his retirement in 2010. Mr Ian Lyons was appointed Senior School Principal in Term 4 of that year. 

The two campuses would undergo one final name change in 2015 to become the Helena College Darlington Campus and the Glen Forrest Campus. Mr Ian Lyons became the first K-12 Principal of Helena College and in 2020, we welcomed Mr Peter Coombs to the role.

Helena College today

Today, we strive to build upon the legacy of our founders with our community, staff and students remaining at the centre of the Helena College experience. We are committed to offering opportunities for students to flourish as lifelong learners and confident young people. Find out more