News

Cyber expert qualifies in government competition

One of our Year 8 computer scientists signed up for the government’s Cyber Discovery Programme for 13 to 18-year-olds at the Clubs and Societies Fair this term. The Cyber Discovery Programme is designed to inspire pupils to become cyber security experts and help to develop a cyber-capable workforce. Having worked through a variety of analytical challenges, she was chosen as a top performing student in the CyberStart Assess phase of the programme. She qualified for phase two, CyberStart Game, in which she placed an impressive 221st out of a total 1450 competitors. This is a fantastic achievement.

1st hockey team undefeated in county tournament

The senior 1st hockey team went undefeated on their way to winning the first round of the U18 Berkshire County Hockey tournament last week. This is the first time in the school's history that we have won the tournament at this level, and it was a fantastic effort to do so in such emphatic style. Congratulations to all the girls, who played superbly to achieve this historic result.

Fundraising for the Goedgedacht Trust

Four Year 10 girls raised a mammoth £12,500 for their favourite charity on Friday evening, at a fundraising event they organised in central London. The four girls invited Rob Caskie to speak on the Battle of Rorke's Drift at St Mary's Church, Cadogan Street. The money raised from ticket sales, donations and a raffle will go to the Goedgedacht Trust, a charity which helps children in rural communities in South Africa through their Path out of Poverty scheme. The girls will be travelling out to South Africa in the Easter holidays to visit the Trust and spend some time working with the children there.

Organic garden flourishing

The school garden has featured on the Missions page of the Roots and Shoots website this week. The garden has become quite self-sufficient, with younger girls being trained by older girls in the management and care of plants such as crab apples, sloes, elderflower and rosehips. The Food Technology Department makes use of our organic produce, recently making rhubarb cordial which has been sold for charity. The Art and Photography Department also use it to teach about botanical illustrations. The girls are proud of their garden, and have discovered how gardening can improve both your health and your environment.

The new Headmistress takes up her post

Mrs Danuta Staunton has now taken up her post as the new Headmistress of St Mary's. After a very useful handover year as Headmistress Elect, working closely with Mrs Breen, Mrs Staunton is pleased now to be taking up the reins in her own name. Mrs Staunton is the school's second lay headmistress after Mrs Breen, and the ninth member of St Mary's staff to move on to headship in the last twenty years. The entire school community wishes her every success in her new role.

Financial Times essay prize winner

A Lower Sixth girl from St Mary's has been awarded the runner-up prize in the prestigious National Politics Competition run by the Financial Times in collaboration with the Politics Studies Association. Her essay, entitled 'Is British politics broken?', was chosen for its clarity, style, originality and insight. It was also commended for the depth of its research.    

Mary Breen’s farewell

Mary Breen celebrated her last Open Day at St Mary's at the end of the summer term. A beautiful Mass was followed by the traditional prize giving. Speeches from the Chair of Governors Martin Hunt and the Chair of Council Geoffrey van Cutsem both paid tribute to Mrs Breen's twenty years of outstanding service to the school, and remarked on what a wonderful school it is for her successor Mrs Staunton to be taking over. A champagne reception, an 'impromptu' flashmob dance, and a fabulous Sixth Form Ball filled up the rest of what was a beautiful and unforgettable summer afternoon and evening.

St Mary’s Physicist picks up Gold Award

The University of Oxford hosted its annual AS Physics Challenge as part of British Science Week. This is a national competition entered by several thousand students each year. It is designed to push the most able students to the very limits of their ability and tests a wide range of skills. Every award from this event is an impressive achievement: the average score this year was 29%, and only 11 students achieved above 80%. Congratulations go to one of our most talented Lower Sixth physicists, who earned one of the precious Gold Awards, making her one of the top 4% of entrants in the country.

St Mary’s dancer performing with London Children’s Ballet at the Peacock Theatre

One of our very talented Year 7 dancers has successfully auditioned for the London Children’s Ballet, and will be performing three roles in their 25th anniversary production of Ballet Shoes in the West End this summer. She was one of 53 dancers chosen from over 700 who auditioned, so this is a huge achievement. The production runs for seven performances, from 4 to 7 July, at the Peacock Theatre in London, and will be seen by over 8000 people. She is very proud to be dancing with the LCB, a charity that brings ballet performances and opportunities to children from all backgrounds, particularly those who live in isolated or deprived communities with little or no access to art and culture. Photograph © Elliott Franks

Year 11 actor joins National Youth Theatre

We are delighted to congratulate one of our Year 11 girls, who has been selected to join the National Youth Theatre Company. She has been involved in drama throughout her time at St Mary’s, most recently taking the role of Antigone in this year’s main school production. National Youth Theatre auditions take place all over the country, with thousands upon thousands of young actors applying each year. At the end of this demanding process, a very small number of talented young actors are invited to join the Company, so this is indeed a wonderful achievement.  

Royal Geographical Society Essay Prize

Over the summer half term, one of our Lower Sixth Geographers was announced as the winner of the David W Smith Memorial Prize 2019. This competition is run every year by the Royal Geographical Society, and is open to Lower Sixth pupils from across the UK. The prize, consisting of a certificate and a gift voucher from Routledge Publishers, is awarded to the best essay written by a Lower Sixth pupil. The winning essay explored how different groups of people make claims to public spaces in Accra, the capital of Ghana. Our winning pupil and another of our Sixth Form Geographers have also been shortlisted for the Global Sustainable Development Lower Sixth essay competition run by the University of Warwick. Their essays explored single-use plastics, and the prospects of achieving the Paris Climate Agreement's targets for limiting global warming. They will both attend a Global Sustainable Development Campus Day at Warwick, where the winners will be announced.

Sports Day 2019

The whole school turned out on Sunday for our annual Sports Day festivities. Parents, family and friends enjoyed picnics in the grounds, as the weather that had threatened over the weekend held off, and allowed the full range of track and field events across all age groups to take place. Congratulations to Rookwood, who were declared the overall winners, and to the girls who set six new school records, including in the 300m, javelin and pole vault. The Rookwood House Sports Captains were awarded the winners' trophy in Chapel on Wednesday in front of the whole school.

Archive News

Gold medals for St Mary’s scientists
May 24th 2019
Our Sixth Form Biologists have competed successfully in the British Biology Olympiad, a national competition with over 9000 participants. Three of our girls were commended, two achieved Bronze medals, placing them in the top 14% of the country, and one was awarded a Gold medal. This is an outstanding achievement, and places her in the top 7% of A Level Biologists in the country.
Royal Academy audition successful
May 14th 2019
One of our talented Year 11 musicians has auditioned successfully for a place at the Royal Academy of Music’s Junior Academy, which offers a unique opportunity to talented and committed young musicians.  In her audition, she played two contrasting pieces on the clarinet, including the first movement of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto; she also sang, and submitted a composition. This exciting new venture will begin in September, and will consist of individual clarinet and voice tuition, composition and musicianship classes, choral and orchestral rehearsals, and opportunities for performing in workshops, masterclasses and competitions. The Royal Academy of Music is highly competitive and selective, with young applicants from all over the world, so this is a fabulous achievement, and we are very proud of her.
National Table Tennis finals
April 29th 2019
One of our Year 8 girls competed in the National Schools Table Tennis Championships in the first weekend of the summer term. She won four of her five pool round matches to reach the quarter finals of the competition. This places her among the top 12 players nationally in her age group.
AEGON tennis team National Finalists
March 16th 2019
The St Mary’s senior tennis team have competed in the National Finals of the AEGON Tennis Championships, which took place on 8th and 9th March in Bolton. En route to the Finals, they had finished top of their initial pool matches, beat a strong Peter Symonds College team who had knocked them out the previous year in the round of 32, and then in the last 16 they beat St Albans, who had made the Final the previous year. In the Finals, the girls competed exceptionally well, recording two fantastic wins against Eastbourne College and Clifton College, and were only narrowly defeated by Wakefield Girls High school. As a result, the St Mary’s team finished second in their group, and in the top four nationally.
French Debating and Drama Festival successes
March 8th 2019
Four of our Lower Sixth French pupils represented the school in the South London French Debating Competition in February. One of our teams made it to the semi-finals, and was only one point away from beating the team that went on to win the competition. The jury praised them for their passion and enthusiasm. Shortly afterwards, on 6 March, the school sent another team up to compete in the Festival de Théatre Francophone in London. They performed beautifully, and one of our actors received the prize for Best Supporting Actress.
Skiing medals at Flaine
February 6th 2019

St Mary’s once again sent its skiers out to Flaine for the British Schoolgirls’ Races on 28th and 29th January 2019. After an intense weekend of competition, one of our Year 9 girls won silver in the Under 14 Unregistered Giant Slalom and bronze in the Under 14 Unregistered Combined event.  

Distinction at Model United Nations
February 3rd 2019

The St Mary’s MUN society travelled to Dr Challoner’s School in Amersham last Saturday to debate in the second annual MUN conference. One of our Lower Sixth girls was commended for her participation in the Human Rights Committee, while one of our Year 8 girls won the Distinguished Delegate Award for her work on the Disarmament Committee, where she debated with impressive skill, and passed a resolution in what was her first ever conference.  

ARSM diplomas awarded to St Mary’s musicians
January 31st 2019

Two of our Sixth Form girls have completed their ARSM diplomas, one on the cello and one on the saxophone. This post-Grade 8 qualification requires candidates to learn and perform a substantial repertoire of technically challenging music, so it is a fine achievement for them both. One received a merit and the other a distinction. 

First Magis Award winners announced
January 14th 2019

We are delighted to announce the winners of the first Magis Award, which recognises the girls' engagement with charitable causes over the last year, and has been made possible by a generous anonymous donor. The entrants wrote up a project about service or volunteering activities they had undertaken or supported, and they were then interviewed. Some had worked with people in poverty, others with underprivileged children, or with women for medical causes. The prize for each of our five winners was a £1000 donation to a charity of their choice. Congratulations to all of those girls, and to the charities that will benefit from their work.

Peace Commemoration cross installed
December 15th 2018

We spent much of the Michaelmas term commemorating in various ways the centenary of the end of the First World War. One of our major projects, run by the Art Department, was the making and installing of a large commemorative cross, decorated with poppies made from the fingerprints of all the girls and staff in the school, and the inscription 'war has made us wise', from a poem by Siegfried Sassoon. This cross now hangs on a wall in the Chapel as a permanent reminder of all that the War has come to mean to us. 

New Upper Sixth Courtyard opened
September 9th 2018

The official opening of the new Upper Sixth Courtyard took place before nearly 1000 people on Saturday 30th June 2018. 18 months in the building and 6 years in the planning, the Courtyard provides 64 en-suite study bedrooms for the Upper Sixth in five beautifully-appointed townhouses, together with accommodation for residential staff. The Courtyard also includes a light and spacious Pastoral Centre, with a lecture theatre, reading room, meeting rooms, and a studio space that is used for dance classes, yoga, society meetings, and entertaining. The Courtyard opened to its first Upper Sixth residents on 9th September 2018.

Equestrian triumphs
November 28th 2018

St Mary’s riders have been triumphing in the equestrian world this autumn, having reached the finals of the 2018 Windsor Horse Show. One of our Year 11 girls competed in the international Osberton Horse trials on 29th September, placing 54th in a field of 130 that included some of the best riders in the world. On 8th October, one of our Year 8 girls won the 80-85cm eventing at the NSEA finals, followed by the Connemara Pony Society eventing finals. On 4th November, one of our Year 9 girls won the 1.10m competition at the international Sevilla Standard Show. In November, the St Mary’s team qualified for Hickstead, taking first and second places in the 100cm at Pontispool, and came 6th in the NSEA championships, with one of our Year 9 riders coming first as an individual.

Harry Potter comes to St Mary’s
November 10th 2018

St Mary's turned into Hogwarts over the weekend of 10th-11th November 2018, with the arrival of Professors Dumbledore, Snape, and Sprout, Harry and Hermione, and even a late appearance by the dreaded Voldemort, in the midst of our feast in the Great Hall - the 'butterbeer' desert was a particular highlight. Other delights included the Ford Anglia flying car, wand and potions-making workshops, a visit to the sinister Sorting Hat, and a remarkable owl display in the Sports Hall. The weekend finished with a Giant Harry Potter Quiz, and magnificent fireworks display. 

Violinist gains distinction in LRSM Diploma
October 18th 2018

One of our very talented Upper Sixth musicians has achieved a distinction in the LRSM over the summer, the third diploma in Music Performance of the ABRSM board. The diploma consisted of a 45-minute recital of high-level violin repertoire, accompanied by written programme notes; sight-reading; an oral examination on the musical scores and on the history of the violin and its repertoire. Rosanna is the first St Mary’s girl to reach the Licentiate of the Royal School of Music, the equivalent of a BA in music performance. She has been taught since the age of 5 by her father, who is a violin teacher at the school. 

Chemistry Challenge girls success in Cambridge competition
October 5th 2018

Four of our most eminent Sixth Form chemists entered the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge run by St Catherine’s College over the summer. It was our first time in this competition, which attracts about 8000 students from around the country annually, and aims to test the ability of chemistry students by taking them significantly beyond the syllabus and testing their ability to think in the way that they would be required to at university. Our girls all returned home triumphant, flying the flag for science at St Mary's, and bearing Copper certificates for their excellent achievements.  

Girls selected for Berkshire County hockey and netball
September 24th 2018

St Mary's sportswomen continue to make their mark on the county scene. In September 2018, two of our talented young hockey players, one in Year 8 and one in Year 9, were selected to join the Junior Academy Centres for Berkshire County Hockey.  Another of our Year 8 girls has been selected for the Berkshire Netball Satellite Academy in the Under 14 age group, a year above her current year group.  

Virtuoso pianist wins Hong Kong prize
September 1st 2018

During the summer holidays, one of our talented Lower Sixth pianists entered the 9th Hong Kong Virtuoso Music Competition. Participating in the Solo Diploma class, against a field of entrants from across China and Hong Kong, she gave an outstanding performance of Chopin’s Nocturne in B Flat Minor, Opus 9, which earned the prize for Overall Winner of the competition. We were all thrilled to hear her perform the piece again as a highlight of the Music Scholars’ Concert on 12th October 2018 to a packed and appreciative Chapel audience.  

New Headmistress for 2019 announced – Mrs Danuta Staunton
July 18th 2018
The Chairman of Governors is delighted to announce that Mrs Danuta Staunton will succeed Mrs Breen as Headmistress from September 2019. Mrs Staunton is the ninth member of St Mary’s staff to move on to Headship in the last twenty years, and was the unanimous choice of the Board of Governors, a decision strongly endorsed by Council Members. Mrs Staunton attended St Augustine’s Priory, Ealing, prior to gaining a first class honours degree in English Literature at the University of York. She gained a distinction in her MA in Renaissance Literature, also at York, prior to attaining her PGCE at King’s College London. After a role in publishing with the Ark Group in London, Mrs Staunton joined the English Department at St Mary’s. She has worked as a Year Coordinator, Deputy Head of House and then joined the Senior Management and Education Team with a broad portfolio of academic and co-curricular responsibilities, including external communications. She will assume the role of Headmistress Elect from this September, and will work closely with Mrs Breen over the next academic year to help prepare for a smooth transition in September 2019.
UK Maths Challenge girls win Gold
July 13th 2018

A large number of our Year 7 and 8 girls took part in this year's Junior Maths Challenge run by the UK Mathematics Trust. This is the UK’s most popular Mathematics competition, with over 300,000 students taking part each year. Two of our Year 8 girls performed brilliantly to achieve Gold Awards. 

Time capsule for the new Upper Sixth Courtyard
June 20th 2018
Members of School Council gathered to pack the time capsule which is to be buried beneath the entrance to the new Upper Sixth Courtyard. The capsule contains uniform, photographs, letters which the girls have written to their future selves, and other items from St Mary's life in 2018. It will be buried beneath the paving stones at the entrance to the Courtyard as part of the opening ceremony on Open Day this year, and remain in the ground for 50 years, to be dug up by future pupils and staff in 2068.
Sports Day 2018
June 9th 2018
Sports Day was again a fine, sunny occasion this year. Parents and families came along in large numbers to enjoy their picnics around the grounds in glorious June weather, and to support their daughters and siblings in the competition. Every girl in the school was involved, from all age groups, competing for their Houses on the track and in the field. Congratulations to Rookwood, who won the overall cup.
This Changes Everything
May 22nd 2018
The first drama production of the term took place on the 21st and 22nd May in the Rufus Sewell Studio. Members of Years 7, 8 and 9 were directed by Ms Lynch in 'This Changes Everything', Joel Horwood's visceral play about children and power. This dark and energetic production explored the dystopian possibilities of William Golding's 'Lord of the Flies' for a generation having to confront climate change. Stunning performances from this talented young cast made for a very powerful and intense piece of drama.
Visit by Daniel Hannan MP
May 21st 2018
On May 21st 2018, the Sixth Form hosted Daniel Hannan MP, who gave a very thought-provoking and exciting talk about the future of Brexit. Some of the girls studying Politics for A Level enjoyed having dinner with him beforehand in the Staff Refectory, and the opportunity to discuss informally such issues as the electoral system, tax policy, and his personal experience of working in Brussels. Girls from Year 9 upwards attended the talk, which generated a wide range of perceptive questions from an audience that is clearly very engaged in the politics that is going to shape their future.
Summer Soirée enjoyed by all
May 18th 2018
Parents, girls and staff gathered in the Chapel to enjoy this year's Summer Soirée on Friday 18th May. Organised and hosted entirely by Sixth Form girls, the concert presented a range of entertaining material, from Handel's Ombra Mai Fu and a Shostakovich Prelude, to Johnny B Goode and Billy Joel's New York State of Mind. There were also original compositions by the girls, and ensemble pieces that involved collaborations between girls of all year groups. The event raised over £1200 for the Evelina Children's Hospital.
National Engineering Competition double
May 16th 2018

St Mary’s continues to produce excellent prize-winning scientists. Three teams of St Mary’s girls took part in the Talent 2030 National Engineering Competition for Girls 2018, their challenge being to use engineering to solve one of the problems that face us in the 21st century. Two of our Year 9 girls took first prize in the 11-14 age category with their system of automated robots designed to clean up oil spills at sea. One of our other Year 9 teams  scooped second place with their project on sustainable living. Both teams went up to the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham on 17th March to present their projects and receive their awards. The winning team received a cheque for £500.

Shrove Tuesday a ‘Roaring Twenties’ success
May 15th 2018
The Lower Sixth staged a wonderful, lively and entertaining Shrove Tuesday celebration this year. The live entertainment included a splendid rendition of 'My Way' by our own Father Dermot, followed by the delights of the Lower Sixth films, which showcased six years of footage of life at St Mary's in all its wonderful variety and joy. The fancy dress competition was inventive and colourful, as always, and involved everything from 'London Landmarks' and Mount Rushmore to the complete cast of Toy Story. The girls then organised a fabulous Gatsby-themed evening party in the Refectory.
Politicians debate the future
May 15th 2018
Girls from year 11 and the Lower Sixth participated in the Model United Nations Conference at Guildford High School on January 13th 2018. Our delegates, representing the US and Ethiopia, debated the problem of nuclear disarmament, and one of our Year 11 pupils won the ‘Highly Commended Delegate’ prize for her contributions. The girls enjoyed the formality of the MUN process, which allowed for robust but measured and respectful debate. They also enjoyed the chance to chat informally with the delegates from other schools over lunch.
Major singing prize awarded to St Mary’s Music Captain
May 14th 2018
Congratulations to the St Mary's Music Captain, who has won the Ann Lampard Singing Prize 2018 at the Royal Academy of Music. She performed  a repertoire that included an aria from The Marriage of Figaro, a Strauss lieder and a French cabaret song, and beat an impressive field of the country's finest young singers to carry off the prize. Having thrilled audiences with her singing in concerts here over the years, and led the school's music in her last year with professionalism and poise, we also congratulate her on achieving a place at Lincoln College, Oxford, to read Music from September 2018.
Windsor Horse Show Finals
May 12th 2018
Congratulations to all the St Mary's girls who represented the school in the Finals of the Windsor Horse Show on the 12th May 2018.
National Trampolining Champion
April 26th 2018
St Mary's is very proud to congratulate one of our Year 10 girls who has won the National Schools Trampolining Finals 2018. Her route to the top took her through district and regional heats in Oxfordshire, Hampshire and Kent over several months, and culminated in the National Finals of the competition in Belfast on the weekend of the 24th and 25th March 2018. This fabulous result makes her the best trampolinist in her age group in the country.
Women at Bletchley Park
April 17th 2018
Year 8 girls enjoyed a fascinating trip to Bletchley Park to see the intricate work that took place there during the Second World War. They explored the history of computing, and took part in a codes and cyphers workshop focused around the important Enigma machine. The girls learned about the exceptional importance of the work done by women at Bletchley Park during the war, and enjoyed a tour of the museum, including the excellent Alan Turing exhibition.
South Africa tour returns
April 15th 2018
Girls from Years 9 and 10 have returned from a very successful sports tour of South Africa over the Easter holidays. They played hockey and netball against a number of local teams, as well as visiting places of interest such as the Gugulethu cheetah sanctuary and the Eden District game park. They  also visited the penguins at Boulders Beach, and were very moved by a trip to Nelson Mandela's prison at Robben Island. The highlight of the trip was their visit to the Goedgedacht Trust and its Path Out of Poverty centre, which works to transform impoverished rural communities in South Africa, and the lives of children in particular. St Mary's girls have raised over £6,000 for the Trust this year.
D of E Silver Award holders celebrated
March 6th 2018
We were very proud to present certificates to our 36 successful Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award candidates at a ceremony in the Rose theatre on 6th March 2018. Over half the year group participate in the Silver Award, and many of these girls will now go on to do their Gold Award in Year 11 and the Sixth Form. The girls enjoyed a celebration tea afterwards in the Jubilee Bar.
Best Leading Performer at French Drama Competition
February 28th 2018
A group of girls from the St Mary's Modern Foreign Languages Department competed in the annual French Drama Festival on Thursday 8th March 2018 at King Alfred School in London. Directed by two Sixth Form girls, they performed the renowned and hilarious comedy Le Dîner de Cons, by Francis Veber, in which dinner guests compete to bring the stupidest people they can find to a dinner party, with farcical and unexpected results. One of our Sixth Form girls won the prize for Best Leading Performer.
American Politics trip returns
February 21st 2018

Girls from the Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth returned on 16th February 2018 from their half term trip to Washington. The girls visited Congress, and had the exciting opportunity to witness the Senate in action, as well as taking a tour of the Supreme Court. The trip also involved a visit to Tysons Mall, the Hard Rock Café, and the all-American experience of a basketball game. The trip finished with a visit to the National Constitution Centre and Independence Hall, where the American political system was born, and a viewing of the iconic Liberty Bell. 

U21 British Ski Races Champion
February 5th 2018
St Mary’s sent its ski team out to the annual British Schoolgirl Ski Races in Flaine on 22nd and 23rd February 2018. One of our Upper Sixth girls came away laden with medals, winning both the registered and unregistered Slalom, Giant Slalom and Combined events in the Under 21 category. This was an outstanding performance for any racer, but particularly for an 18-year-old, across so many disciplines, and we are immensely proud of her achievements.
Art Historians return from Rome
January 30th 2018
We welcomed back the girls from the History of Art Department, who returned from a very enjoyable visit to Rome on 29th January 2018. The girls spent four days in the city, marvelling at the artwork and filling their notebooks with sketches and ideas. They visited the Colosseum and the Sistine Chapel, and saw work first-hand by great artists such as Bernini and Raphael. They spent a day visiting Baroque churches and the Borghese Palace, and thrilled at the Titians and Caravaggios that were on display. They also ate in some fine restaurants!
Cross Country running successes
January 29th 2018
We are very proud of our Cross Country runners, who have had successes at regional and national level. Two of our girls represented Berkshire in the Inter-Counties Cross-Country Championships, and one of these went on to compete in the English Schools National Finals. Meanwhile, one of our Year 11 girls came 1st in the Southern Athletics League Cross Country competition.
Year 8 ‘Bright Idea’ wins prize
January 17th 2018

Congratulations to two of our Year 8 girls who have won £100 for the school in the Windsor St George Rotary Club Bright Ideas competition. The competition invites entrants to submit plans for innovations that could make life better in the borough, and attracts participants from schools all around the local area. They have decided that the money will go towards improving our Pet Shed.