St Mary's School Co-curricular Life

Co-Curricular Life

Once the last academic lesson ends, at 4:30, the girls spread off around campus to sports training, music or drama rehearsals, club and society meetings, dance lessons, talks, House teas, trips, events with other schools, House competitions, or one of the many other activities that are available. There are clubs and societies for almost everything, from the Gender Equality Discussion Group to the Lego Club, but the afternoon and evening schedule is flexible so that girls can make the best use of their time. This includes designated quiet times and spaces for girls to do their Study without interruption or distraction.


Music plays a prominent role at St Mary’s. There are regular concerts involving the orchestra, our various choirs, the jazz band and other ensembles and soloists, and the choirs also take a leading role in worship at Mass on Sundays. There is at least one major concert every term, as well as regular lunchtime concerts, a scholars’ concert, a Music Captain’s concert and frequent performances at Open Mornings and other events. In the run-up to Christmas there is an evening of Voices by Candlelight and a very beautiful Carol Service. There are always plenty of opportunities for girls of all abilities to perform, and it isn’t all classical. The senior girls also run an Open Mic night every term and an annual Rock Concert.


There are plenty of opportunities for girls to perform at St Mary’s. With nine productions each year, we cover all dramatic genres and involve girls from all year groups. Some productions take place in the Rose Theatre, while others are smaller scale studio productions. There is a whole school musical every other year. The Drama Captain’s play is organised and directed entirely by the Sixth Form Drama Captain. The auditioned Players Theatre Company offers an opportunity for our best performers to stretch their activing ability through dedictaed workshops and performances. There is a House drama competition directed by the Lower Sixth Drama Captains, which often experiment imaginatively with physical theatre and dance. The annual House Film competition teaches girls the use of professional film and editing equipment. Ensemble work is a stand-out feature of St Mary’s productions, so all girls feel thoroughly involved, from the lead to the lowliest extra. Girls are also adept at running the sound and lighting booth and helping to build the wonderful sets. 


Girls in all year groups can choose weekly dance classes as a paid option. We offer ballet, tap, pointe, contemporary and freestyle, which includes street, jazz and hip-hop. Girls doing ballet can opt to take the Royal Academy of Dance examinations. Classes take place in our two dance studios in the Orchard Centre Sports Complex. Every girl who takes dance performs in the annual Dance Show, and there is a House competition every year, which is run by the House Dance Captains. Girls may elect to take GCSE Dance, which is offered locally through the Natalie Vinson School of Dance. The Dance Company is the school’s performance group, which trains at a higher level and performs both at school and at local dance events. St Mary’s girls compete successfully in numerous national and international competitions.

Clubs and Societies

There are over fifty clubs and societies to choose from, covering a variety of issues and interests. They are usually started up by girls with a particular passion they want to share and are led by the Sixth Form. Discussion groups explore topics such as diversity, gender politics, the environment, current affairs, law and literature, whilst other clubs develop skills in photography, creative writing, astronomy, debating, painting, journalism and coding. Most clubs and societies run during the evenings, with a flexible schedule ensuring that pupils can pursue a range of interests through the year.

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award

Success in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award depends upon commitment to the ideals of service and self-improvement, and it is therefore a source of great pride for us that almost every girl in Year 9 completes her Bronze Award, up to two-thirds go on to complete their Silver Award in Year 10, and between a third and a half go on to complete Gold in the Lower Sixth. Every girl gives time each week to volunteering, the development of a personal skill and practising a physical activity of her choice. At all three levels, the Award also requires one practice expedition and one assessed expedition, which take place in areas such as the New Forest, the Brecon Beacons and, at Gold level, the Vercors region in France.


Weekends are busy and fun at St Mary’s. There are often sports fixtures or House competitions, after which the weekend programme could include almost anything: there might be a roller disco, an afternoon of giant inflatables or circus skills training, and there are always craft activities such as making jewellery, designing T-shirts or learning professional stage make-up. Evenings might involve an outdoor cinema, a live band, or socials with other schools. Food is always fun, with barbecues, pizza in the woods, or cake and cookie baking. Girls often take a lead in organising, advertising and running weekend events, many of which raise money for charity. Quiet time is always set aside for working, and there are regular exeats when the girls can go home to relax and see family. Girls are allowed to take one additional ‘floater’ weekend per term.

Weekend Trips

Every weekend there are trips off-site. In the past year, these have gone out to theme parks such as Birdworld and Chessington, waterparks, trampoline parks, or to go climbing, sailing or ice skating. The girls have even been snowtubing and driven miniature tanks. There have been outings to museums and galleries both locally and in London, and to cinemas and the theatre. In fine weather, girls might go out for walks in the local countryside, or just enjoy an outing with friends to the cafés and shops in Ascot, Windsor or elsewhere.

Links with Other Schools

As a girls’ boarding school, we know how important it is to maintain good links with the world beyond our immediate community. We have active debating and Model United Nations societies that regularly meet and compete with other schools. There are also quizzes, discussion suppers, sports events and joint talks and workshops, and the girls on the Socials Committee enjoy devising new events. We enjoy a strong partnership with schools in the Thames Valley Learning Partnership, including Eton, with whom the girls meet up for societies, talks and other events. The girls love getting together with boys at socials on Saturday nights, and we hold these regularly for all ages with Eton, Winchester, Harrow, Radley, Papplewick, Ludgrove and Woodcote. Reeling is a particularly popular activity. Our Sixth Form Ball at the end of the summer term is a wonderful celebratory event for the girls, their partners and parents.

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