The school undertakes work and activities for the public benefit throughout the year with children from local schools and with the local community, and these are fundamental to the Catholic ethos and spirit of the school, and in line with its charitable objectives. They are core activities for staff and pupils alike, who welcome them as part of our day-to-day life. The significant investment in time, energy and resources into our work with local state schools reflects our belief that these activities are the most effective way of broadening and widening access to St Mary’s resources to the public, including those in poverty.
St Mary’s School Ascot has a long history of providing financial support to children who would otherwise not be able to afford a St Mary’s education, and we place great importance on the school’s means-tested bursary scheme. This scheme is funded by the school and the St Mary’s School Charitable Fund (Charity number 800450), which was established for the purpose of providing funds for the St Mary’s School Ascot bursary programme. The scheme operates two types of means-tested bursary: admissions and hardship. Each case is assessed on its own merits and awards are made accordingly, subject to the school’s ability to fund these within the context of its overall budget. This year the value of means-tested bursary awards totalled £494,866. This provided assistance to 28 pupils, of whom eleven benefited from in excess of 70% remission of fees, and eight of these benefited from 90% or more remission of fees. Information about fee assistance through means-tested bursaries is provided to all applying to the school and is published on our website.
This year we have continued to develop our close relationship with two local state schools with whom we have formal Memoranda of Understanding – Charters School and St Francis Catholic Primary School. St Mary’s engagement with these schools is a matter of normal day-to-day school life and involves both the sharing of resources and the dual use of teaching staff. The examples below illustrate the depth and breadth of our relationship with these schools and our commitment to the charity IntoUniversity:
This year St Mary’s has again provided a teacher to Charters School to take a GCSE Latin class, taking responsibility for one of the three GCSE Latin modules for gifted Year 11s (the Latin Language paper). Without St Mary’s support, eleven pupils from Charters School would not have been able to take Latin GCSE this year. The results were impressive, with five grade 9s, three grade 8s, one grade 7 and two grade 5s – all impressive passes. In addition to the teaching, St Mary’s also provides the textbooks, paper, handouts and worksheets as well as support with resources and teacher notes for the Charters Latin teachers.
Throughout the year St Mary’s is delighted to share its facilities with our near neighbours St Francis Primary School, including the routine use of our swimming pool (plus four staff) for Years 3 to 5, and the use of our athletics facilities for their annual sports day. Throughout the hockey season we host tournaments for Berkshire maintained schools at U12, U13, U14 and U15 age groups. In addition, the school provides sports staff to act as lead organisers for the District and County athletics for all schools in the Bracknell district and Berkshire, which involves over 20 schools.
St Mary’s has hosted up to 24 pupils and four staff from IntoUniversity (charity number 1118525) for a two-night residential stay, thereby facilitating primary school children from deprived areas of west London to gain an understanding and taste of university life. The school made no charge for this facility and indeed made available minibuses and drivers for their visit to the University of Surrey.