Pastoral Care

As a close-knit boarding community, we understand that a girl’s academic success goes hand in hand with her happiness and health, and we are able to keep a close eye on both. Our pastoral system looks after the girls 24 hours a day, and is geared towards ensuring that their lives have a healthy balance of work, exercise and rest, as well as opportunities for stimulating the mind, cementing friendships and nourishing the soul.

The House System

Every girl is a member of one of the six Houses from Year 7 to the Lower Sixth. The Head of House lives on site with her family, and oversees all aspects of a girl’s academic, co-curricular and personal development, supported by a team of tutors. The Heads of House are available to the girls throughout the day and evening, and organise our amazing programme of weekend activities. The Head of House is the main point of contact for parents. In the Upper Sixth, the girls move into the Mary Breen Courtyard, which has its own Head of House and residential staff.

The Tutor System

Each girl has a tutor whom she meets regularly during the week, and more informally in the evenings and on weekends. The tutor supports each girl in her day-to-day life, and helps her to learn how to manage her work and time. Their guidance helps the girls achieve a good balance of work, exercise, friendships and fun activities, relaxation and sleep.

Mentoring & Minding

The mentoring and minding systems run as a vein through school life, so that new girls settle quickly, and senior girls offer support, care and guidance. Every new girl has a minder, a friendly face who can offer a wealth of advice, from where to put your games kit to how to negotiate the pupil app. Senior girls take on a longer-term mentoring role, meeting with groups of younger girls regularly to offer their wisdom and advice, and running activities and clubs for them. Departments also run buddy systems whereby older girls support younger girls with their learning.

PSHE : Skills for Life

Skills for Life is our bespoke timetabled programme of talks, seminars, discussions and workshops delivering personal, social, health and economic education. It runs in all year groups, and provides the girls with all the wisdom, skills and advice that they need to help them mature and grow, and to embark on a happy and successful adult life. They learn about staying healthy, and about relationships and friendships. They are taught about the risks associated with alcohol and drugs, and about keeping safe online. Other sessions might cover the political landscape, personal finance, and moral and ethical issues such as discrimination. Girls are encouraged to look inward, to know themselves better, and to look outward, to understand the world around them and to be prepared for life beyond St Mary’s.

Use of Technology

We understand that it can be challenging for young people to keep their use of technology, artificial intelligence and social media safe and in perspective, and they need our support in this. Girls may have a mobile phone at school, but they are not permitted to use personal internet-enabled devices or social media until Year 9. In Years 7-10, phones may only be used at designated times. Year 7 and 8 girls have iPads that are set up by the school for educational purposes, though they may also use them to keep in touch with home. All devices are registered on the school’s network. All girls receive regular ICT safety education, and sign up to the school’s ICT Acceptable Use Policy. Access to WiFi is restricted according to age, just as it would be at home. Our in-house e-safety officers educate and support the girls, and keeps in touch with online trends and dangers. Pupils from all year groups sit on the Cyber and Tech Committee, which explores issues related to technology use and safety.

Health Centre

The Health Centre is located within the boarding area of the main school, and is staffed 24 hours a day. The nurses dispense homely remedies, oversee all prescribed medication, and support girls who have longer term health conditions. All girls are registered with the school doctor, who holds surgeries twice a week, and whom the girls can also see in her surgery in nearby Sunningdale. The nurses liaise closely with other medical specialists and can arrange dental and eye appointments locally as necessary. Many girls have weekly sessions in Alexander Technique, which helps them achieve posture and balance, both physically and mentally. Girls can choose to see the School Counsellor, who is available in school at lunchtimes and in the evening, or the Independent Listener, who visits the school three days a week. These are wise and sympathetic professionals to whom the girls know they can speak with complete confidentiality.

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