St Mary's School Community Life

Community Life

Boarding appeals to girls of all types: it develops their independence and cultivates a rich sense of community and common purpose. As a full boarding school, St Mary’s is able to provide the culture, facilities and opportunities, both within and beyond the classroom, that enable the girls to lead a varied and fulfilling life.


Girls share their boarding areas with other girls their age, so there are very strong relationships within each year. In Years 7, 8 and 9, girls get to know each other through sharing with other girls. Most girls also share in Year 10, and then all girls have their own room in Year 11. Year groups each have their own common room where they can get together and relax, and where residential staff join them in the evenings to make hot chocolate and chat about their day.

A Home From Home

Other year groups are always nearby, and strong friendships are formed between girls of all ages, through shared interests, societies, sport, music, drama, and through the mentoring and minding systems that involve girls from all year groups. Girls also greatly value their relationships with teaching staff, who are often present in the evenings and on weekends. Residential staff live in flats within the boarding areas, so there is always someone just around the corner if the girls ever need anything during the night.

Sixth Form Accommodation

The Mary Ward Courtyard and Mary Breen Courtyard are our two purpose-built boarding complexes, each consisting of a number of town houses around a central courtyard, where the Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth live independently from the main school. Both complexes have their own residential staff. Every girl has her own study bedroom, and in the Mary Breen Courtyard these are all en-suite. Each house also has a kitchen and living area. In the Upper Sixth, girls often choose to eat breakfast ‘at home’, and then join the rest of the school for lunch and dinner in the refectory. The girls love the independence, whilst still feeling very involved with school life. The two years they spend in these houses are excellent preparation for life at university and beyond.


Food is very important to us at St Mary’s. Girls and staff love the food, and the cheerful atmosphere of our bright and modern refectory. There is always a range of hot and cold options, and a varied and delicious salad bar at lunch and supper. Girls may choose what they fancy, but there are staff on hand to guide them, and to ensure that they have a balanced diet. They can, and frequently do, go back for more. Saints’ feast days are celebrated, often including an enormous cake, and Houses regularly dine together. In the summer we have barbecues and pizzas from our legendary outdoor pizza oven. Girls from all year groups sit on the Food Committee, which gives feedback and suggests menu ideas. Visitors on Open Mornings are able to sample the food, and the girls happily tell them that ‘it really is this good every day’.


For many girls, being able to bring in their own pets to keep in the pet shed and garden is one of the many things that makes St Mary’s feel like home. The pets are looked after entirely by the girls, who must ensure they are fed, watered, cuddled, and cleaned out regularly. It’s a lovely way to make friends with other girls, and can provide an important physical link with home. The Pet Welfare Committee oversees things, awards prizes every term for the best kept pets, and organises the popular annual Pet Parade.


SMASH is the St Mary’s School Shop and is a popular venue for girls during their breaks and on weekends. It sells a large range of stationery, toiletries, gifts and greetings cards, stamps, sports equipment, snacks and drinks. Girls can try on uniform items before ordering, and second-hand uniforms are also available. Payments are cashless: parents load their daughter’s online account and can monitor and limit their spending.


As they grow through the school, all girls have opportunities to take on roles of responsibility. Older girls act as minders to new girls, and mentors and subject buddies to younger girls. All year groups are represented on pupil committees, including those for Food, Cyber and Tech, the Environment, Wellbeing and Charities. These committees raise issues, organise projects, and provide feedback and ideas to the Senior Management Team. House activities are run by Sixth Form Captains in areas such as art, drama, music, sport, public speaking, science, charities, and liturgy. The House Captains, their deputies, and the Sixth Form Prefects play a major role in organising and running events for the younger girls.


Parents are members of the St Mary’s community just as much as the girls and staff. They often come to Mass on Sundays, and might then take their daughters out for lunch. They are also welcome at certain evening events, including our wonderful Inspirational Women series of talks. Parents are warmly invited to all of our many drama productions and concerts, including the bi-weekly lunchtime concerts in the chapel. Major events such as the Carol Service, the Dance Show, Open Day and Sports Day are big family celebrations, attended by many parents and siblings. On a more informal level, parents regularly pop in to see their children on a weekend, or take them out for tea.

Parents have their own school app, which gives them instant access to a wealth of school information, including the diary, menus, photographs of recent events, and their child’s sports fixtures. We hold a Parents Day of Prayer every year, and the History of Art Department leads guided art trips for parents to London, as well as to European cities. Parents can keep in touch with the school and all its events through the parent portal.

Skip to content