School Report… St Mary’s School for Girls, Colchester
- Credit: Archant
St Mary’s School is just for girls, aged two to 16 (although boys aged two to four are welcome in the school’s kindergarten). The Kindergarten and Lower School are set in a beautiful Victorian building, just a few miles from the centre of Colchester and five minutes from the A12, surrounded by nine acres of the school’s own grounds. The Lower School has an impressive library, dance studio and music room as well as playing fields and its own forest school. St Mary’s Senior School campus is a mixture of Victorian and sympathetic contemporary architecture set on Lexden Road, within walking distance of Colchester’s centre. As well as the spacious main teaching block, the school has a superb modern arts block, comprising studios for drama and music, an ICT suite and bright art rooms. Outside, the Senior School has on-site courts for netball, basketball and tennis, as well as an outdoor heated swimming pool and playing fields.
St Mary’s is non-selective on entry and it is testament to the quality of the teaching and the supportive atmosphere at the school that girls strive to exceed their own expectations and attain high academic standards. The Lower School curriculum is varied and exciting. As well as a structured approach to the core academic subjects, girls’ horizons are broadened through music, art, drama and sport, as well as philosophy, which is taught from Year 1 to help children to develop their thinking skills and their own opinions. The Sunday Times ranked St Mary’s Lower School in the UK’s Top 100 Preparatory Schools, thanks to SATs results well above the national average.
High-quality teaching and small classes in the Senior School prepare girls for success at GCSE. In fact, in 2012 St Mary’s girls achieved 93% GCSE passes at grade A* to C, topping the league table for independent schools in North Essex and placing the school second of all independent schools in the county. A huge choice of subjects is on offer at GCSE and girls are able to select those they enjoy. Every St Mary’s pupil is assured of a place at the high-achieving Colchester Sixth Form College, while every year several girls win sixth form places at prestigious state selective schools.
At St Mary’s it’s recognised that school is not only about exam success. Girls develop their artistic and creative talents and there are regular concerts, drama and dance productions and art displays throughout the school. Girls are encouraged to lead healthy, active lifestyles and there is a huge choice of clubs, sports and activities. The school’s excellent pastoral care programme includes health and safety and first aid training, as well as opportunities for the discussion of childhood and teenage issues and tailored support for each individual.
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