Term dates

If you have more than one daughter at St Mary’s please use the times appropriate for your eldest daughter at the beginning of the term and the times appropriate for your youngest daughter at the end of the term.



Michaelmas Term 2020 Begins
Sunday 06 SeptemberYears 8 & 9 arrive17:00-18:00
Years 10, 11, LVI
LVI new girls arrive17:30
Monday 07 SeptemberYear 9 new girls arrive15:30
Tuesday 08 SeptemberYear 7 new girls arrive15:30
First Exeat
Friday 18 SeptemberDepart from14:15
Sunday 20 SeptemberReturn by20:00
Second Exeat
Friday 02 OctoberDepart from14:15
Sunday 04 OctoberReturn by20:00
Half term
Friday 23 OctoberDepart from14:15
Sunday 01 NovemberReturn by20:00
Third Exeat
Friday 13 NovemberDepart from 14:15
Sunday 15 NovemberReturn by20:00
Fourth Exeat
Friday 27 NovemberDepart from14:15
Upper Sixth parents/staff meeting14:15 - 16:30
Sunday 29 NovemberReturn by20:00
Term ends
Friday 11 DecemberDepart from12:30



Lent Term 2021 Begins
Sunday 10 JanuaryYears 7, 8 & 9 arrival17:00-18:00
Years 10, 11, LVI arrival
UVI arrival
First Exeat
Year 11 parents/staff meeting14:15 - 16:30
Friday 29 JanuaryDepart from14:15
Sunday 31 JanuaryReturn by20:00
Half term
Friday 12 FebruaryYear 09 parents/staff meeting14:15 - 16:30
Depart from14:15
Sunday 21 FebruaryReturn by20:00
Second Exeat
Friday 05 MarchLower sixth parents/staff meeting14:15 - 16:30
Depart from14:15
Sunday 07 MarchReturn by20:00
Term Ends
Friday 26 MarchYears 7, 8, 9 & 10 depart from12:00
Year 11, LVI & UVI depart from11:00


Summer Term 2021 Begins
Sunday 18 AprilYears 7,8 & 9 arrive
Years 10, 11 & LVI arrive
UVI arrive
17:00 -18:00
18:00 -19:00
19:00 - 20:00
First Exeat
Friday 07 MayYear 7 parents/staff meeting14:15 - 16:30
Depart from14:15
Sunday 09 MayReturn by20:00
Half Term
Friday 28 MayYear 10 parents/staff meeting14:15 - 16:30
Depart from14:15
Sunday 06 JuneReturn by20:00
Second Exeat
Friday 18 JuneYear 8 parents/staff meeting14:15 - 16:30
Depart from14:15
Sunday 20 JuneReturn by20:00
Open Day and Prize Giving (Exeat after Open Day ends)
Saturday 03 JulyOpen Day begins09:00
Sunday 04 JulyReturn by20:00
Term Ends
Friday 09 JulyDepart from11:00-12:00

For PDF printable version of the full 2021-22 term dates, please click here

History of the school


Mary Ward was born in 1585 into a wealthy recusant Catholic family near Ripon in Yorkshire. She received a good classical education, and then, at the age of 15, she decided upon the religious life, and entered the monastery of Poor Clares in St Omer. By 1609 she had gathered around her a group of companions determined to follow her guidance in founding an unclosed religious Order for women, along the lines of the Society of Jesus, which became known as the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary Ward believed that women were intellectually equal to men, and deserved an education that reflected that equality. The education of girls therefore remained central to her work, and for the next twenty years she travelled widely, often on foot, founding schools all over Europe. In 1639 , she returned to England, founding several free schools in London, before settling in Heworth, near York, where she founded a convent. Mary Ward died at St Mary’s School in York in 1645. 

The Institute which Mary Ward founded continued its work in education in the following centuries. In 1885 Mother M Joseph Edwards opened a House in Ascot, named after Our Lady of the Snows, a name of which Mary Ward was particularly fond. St Mary’s School opened with just 19 pupils under the Headship of Sister Veronica Lund (1885-91). The earliest buildings remain at the heart of the school, including the Chapel, which was consecrated in 1906, and the layout of the estate included the rhododendrons and azaleas which still greet visitors as they come up the drive. Under Mother Cecilia Marshall, Headmistress from 1905-1921, the roll grew to 90, and the school established its reputation with alumnae as a happy family community to whom they were happy and keen to entrust their own daughters. Mother Ignatius Beveridge succeeded Mother Cecilia, and ran the school until 1949, during which time it acquired its reputation for professional high standards. University entrance became more common, and the school celebrated its first Oxbridge entrants. Errollston was opened in 1936 to cater for girls wanting to stay in education beyond 16. 

Mother Bridget Geoffrey-Smith, Headmistress from 1956-76, remained true to the original founding mission of educating Catholic girls, but sought to broaden the intake and increase numbers. She employed the first full-time lay teacher, and made sure that external examinations were taken much more seriously. By 1970, Errollston had become so oversubscribed, and the syllabus had changed so much, that it was absorbed into the main school as a two-year academic Sixth Form. Sister Emmanuel Orchard then began the process of modernising the school, a task which Sister Mark Orchard then continued between 1982 and 1999. A Board of Governors was appointed, lay teachers became more common, and the IBVM gradually withdrew from direct involvement. In 1986, the management of the school was handed over to the St Mary’s School Trust. New buildings appeared, including the Science and Art Blocks, the indoor swimming pool, and Mary Ward Courtyard. When Sister Mark (now Sr Frances) retired from Headship in 1999, Mrs Mary Breen became the school’s first lay headmistress. She served for over twenty years, before handing over in 2019 to Mrs Danuta Staunton. The school roll settled at around 390, while expansion of the facilities continued, including a new theatre, libraries, sports centre, athletics track and a second Sixth Form boarding complex, which was completed in June 2018. Throughout all these changes, the school has remained true to the original aim of Mary Ward: the education of girls within a Catholic community. Mary Ward believed that ‘Women in time will come to do much’, and St Mary’s School Ascot is proud still to be fulfilling that vision. 

St Mary’s School Ascot

We are a leading Roman Catholic boarding school for girls aged between 11 and 18 years. We are a forty minute journey from London, and are set in 55 acres of beautiful grounds in the heart of Berkshire. We are a friendly, stable and caring community, proud of our academic and extra-curricular achievements and dedicated to bringing out the full potential of each of our 390 pupils.