St Mary's School 圣玛丽中学
St Mary’s School/Shaftesbury,
Dorset SP7 9LP
Tel: 01747 854005 Fax: 01747 851557
• GIRLS, 9–18, Day & Boarding
• Pupils 340, Upper sixth 26
• Termly fees £3905–£4105 (Day), £5775–£6085 (Boarding)
• GSA, BSA
• Enquiries/application to the Headmistress
What it’s like
Founded in 1945 by the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the
tradition of its 17th-century foundress Mary Ward who said ‘There is
no such difference between men and women that women may not do great
things, as we have seen by example of many saints. And I hope in God
it will be seen that women in time to come will do much’. The school
has a handsome site of 55 acres about a mile outside the Saxon town
of Shaftesbury. It has fine buildings and excellent facilities,
including a purpose-built sixth-form house, IT rooms and drama
studio; an astroturf pitch and music school are the most recent
additions. It aims to educate girls of all Christian denominations,
but primarily Roman Catholics, in an environment which develops
Christian values and prepares girls for any walk of life. Religious
education is part of the core curriculum and there is considerable
emphasis on worship and prayer. The staff:pupil ratio is about 1:10.
Academic standards are good and examination results very good. Music
and art are strong; speech and drama exams are taken to Gold Medal
level. Ballet and modern dance are well supported. There is a range
of clubs and societies and participation in the Duke of Edinburgh’s
Award Scheme. A wide and increasing range of sports.
Pupils & entrance
Pupils: Total age range 9–18; 340 girls (117 day, 223
boarding). Senior department 11–18, 291 girls.
Entrance: Main entry ages 9–13 and 16. Own entrance exam
used, plus interview and testimonial; for sixth-form entry, 5 GCSEs
at least grade C (grade A in sixth-form subjects).
Scholarships, bursaries & extras 11 pa scholarships,
value 25% fees: 3 academic, 3 all-rounder, 2 art, 3 music (3 at 11,
4 at 13 and 4 at 16). Some means-tested help for existing pupils
whose parents hit hard times. Parents expected to buy a few
textbooks in sixth form. Maximum extras around £200 per term.
Head & staff
Headmistress: Mrs Margaret McSwiggan, appointed 2003.
Educated at St Rita’s College, Brisbane, and at Brisbane CAE (home
economics) and Surrey University (MA education studies). Previously
Headmistress at Notre Dame School, Cobham, Housemistress at King
Edward’s Witley and Head of Department at John Paul College,
Teaching staff: 30 full time, 12 part time. Annual turnover
5%. Average age 40–45.
GCSE: In 2003, 44 pupils in upper fifth, 100% gained at least
grade C in 5+ subjects (most in 9+ subjects). Average GCSE score 67
(64 over 5 years).
A-levels: 26 in upper sixth: 96% passed in 3+ subjects.
Average final point score achieved by upper sixth formers 353.
University & college entrance 98% of 2003 sixth-form
leavers went on to a degree course (53% after a gap year), 1% to
Oxbridge. 13% in science & engineering, 63% in arts, humanities &
social sciences, 11% in art & design, 13% in other vocational
subjects eg business and nursing finance. Others typically go on to
professional non-degree training.
Curriculum GCSE and AS and A-levels. 18 GCSE subjects, 20
Sixth form: Most sixth formers take 4 subjects at AS-level, 3
at A-level; general studies is not taken. 20% take science A-levels;
50% arts/humanities; 30% both. Key skills integrated into courses
Vocational: Work experience available.
Languages: French (compulsory from 9 to 16), German and
Spanish all offered to GCSE and A-level; Italian to GCSE. Regular
exchanges on an individual basis (France and Spain). Most pupils
take Pitmans text production in a foreign language.
ICT: Taught as a discrete subject (1 lesson a week). 60
computers for pupil use (14 hours a day), all networked and with
e-mail and internet access.
Music: Over 70% of pupils learn a musical instrument;
instrumental exams can be taken. Some 10 musical groups: brass
groups, recorder consort, woodwind ensemble, orchestra, folk group,
4 choirs. Sainsbury Choir of the Year competition, regional winner;
Bath music festival, trophy winners; finals of Choir Girl of the
Year. Choir trips to St Petersburg, Bavaria, Italy, Budapest and
Drama & dance: Both offered. GCSE drama, A-level theatre
studies and LAMDA exams may be taken. Majority of pupils are
involved in school and house/other productions. Many achieve gold
medal speech & acting with honours.
Art & design: On average, 15 take GCSE, 5 A-level. Design,
pottery, textiles, photography also offered.
Sport & activities
Sport: Netball, hockey, swimming, athletics, tennis, rounders
compulsory. Optional: badminton, fencing, keep fit, riding,
volleyball, basketball, gymnastics. County netball champions,
regular finalists at all age groups; county hockey finalists,
Activities: Pupils take bronze, silver and gold Duke of
Edinburgh’s Award. Community service optional. Up to 10 clubs, eg
debating, wine tasting, photography.
Uniform: School uniform worn (sold on premises); varied in
Houses & prefects: Competitive houses. Prefects, head girl,
head of house and house prefects – appointed by Head after
consultation with staff, lower sixth and previous upper sixth.
Religion: Attendance at religious worship compulsory.
Social: Regular debates and joint concerts. Trips abroad
typically: 1 week trip to France (second year); history of art to
Paris (sixth form), Florence, Venice; choir concert to Hungary;
general trip to Russia. Pupils allowed to bring own bike for DoE
scheme; upper sixth may bring own cars. Meals self-service but eaten
formally. School tuck shop. No tobacco or alcohol allowed.
Discipline Pupils failing to produce homework once might
expect to re-do it in own time (re-do in detention on subsequent
occasion). Drug or solvent abuse of any kind will result in swift,
Boarding All sixth form have own study bedroom, upper
sixth in separate house; fifth form share in pairs, fourth 2–4.
Houses same as competitive, 40–45 boarders and 15–20 day girls.
Sixth form can provide and cook own food to limited extent.
Qualified nurse by day (and at night when required).
2 weekend exeats termly (3 in sixth form). Visits to the local town
range from 3rd year (2 Saturdays per term) to sixth form (any
Saturday and during week if free and with tutor’s permission).