St Mary's Ascot

Logo of St Mary's Ascot

Pupils Info

Gender – Girls' School
Age range – Age 11-18
Number of pupils on roll – 388 Pupils

Characteristics

Average Class Size: 20
Day and Boarding School
Oxbridge Entrance Percentage: 18%
Day: £22,380 – Boarding: £31,440
A* to B at A-Level Percentage: 94%

SUMMARY

St Mary’s Ascot has been undergoing a grand programme of modernisation, in both its physical set-up and it’s ethos. The Catholic girls school was run largely by nuns until 1998, when it acquired it’s first lay headmistress, Mary Breen, who pragmatically guided the school into the 21st century. The first thing to go were the nuns, who were rehoused that year to make room for new teachers’ flats, this was followed by a lengthy period of renovation. Among other things, there are new sports and drama centres. The dormitories too, once rather convent-like, have been improved dramatically. These days, the cubicles (or cubbies) and single rooms that the girls sleep in, have more in common with a hotel. The food too is unrecognisable to returning old girls: the dinning room is cutting edge, with different pasta and salad bars dotted over the room.

Background and Reputation

One of the best things about Ascot is that despite its revamp it remains very cosy. The size helps, there are rarely more than 380 girls at a time, and although it is competitive to get in to, the sibling admission policy means that there are lots of families. The all-girl environment also seems to work wonders for the school’s academia, the girls are shamelessly fastidious about their studies, they know that there is nothing cool about not doing well. On top of this the teaching is outstanding for a country girls boarding school of its size. One of the few things that might be said against Ascot is its comparative isolation. Full-boarding is compulsory, and there are no independent boys schools very near by. Though there are socials with Eton, Winchester, Radley, Papplewick and Worth, there is little informal interaction with any other school.

Academic and Exit Results

Academia is taken seriously at Ascot. The admission is competitive, and lessons start at a high level that never tails off. The work ethic among the girls is particularly striking, lessons are not bunked off and essays handed in late only very occasionally. As such the school habitually distinguished itself at exam time. Though the results have dropped very slightly in the last few years they are still high. In 2012, the A Level results were, 38% A, 71% A or A and 90% A* to B. The GCSE results were strong too, with 59% of the girls getting As, 86% A or A and 96% A* to B. The vast majority of St Mary’s Ascot girls go onto higher education and the careers department is very good, the school is particularly efficient at getting girls into European and American universities.

Social and Pastoral

Although religion plays a large part in the life of the school: there are daily prayers, as well as Sunday services, feast days and even religious retreats, there is secular support for the girls as well. A great strength of the school is the close relationships that are formed between the girls and their teachers. Whether it be their house mistress, form teacher, tutor or the teacher of their favourite subject, each girl tends to have a particular adult rooting for them, who they generally stay in touch with long after leaving the school. This is the same between the students, Ascot girls tend to be friends for life.

Sport, Art, Music and Drama

Although St Mary’s Ascot has extensive sports pitches in truth the school is not particularly sports orientated. There is however a swanky new sports hall,The Orchard Centre, which includes a dance studio, multi-purpose sport space and fitness suite. There is also an Astroturf hockey pitch, an indoor heated swimming pool, 7 hard tennis courts, 4 netball courts with 2 being floodlit and good grass pitches used for hockey, rounders and athletics. Sports is also offered for GCSE, AS and A Level. Art is compulsory – and absolutely adored – for the first 3 years of school, with a visiting artist coming to teach Year 9 for the summer term. As a result, GCSE is a very popular subject. Both GCSE and A Level Art are very well taught, the standard of Course Work is particularly impressive as there is a high level of staff support. The Art Department is also open late and girls are encouraged to spend their free time there without supervision. Music is taken seriously at Ascot. There are an amazing amount of musical groups for the size of the school, from three different madrigal societies to a swinging jazz band. The proportion of girls studying music is also remarkably high, the majority of students play an instrument, and many take Music for GCSE and A Level. The Rose Theatre, opened in 2009, has transformed Drama at Ascot. Seating up to 440 people, the theatre sets a high standard which so far each school production has lived up to. Although Drama GCSE and Theatre Studies A Level are popular, many girls choose to take it as an extra, competing in independent Guildhall Exams.

Extracurricular

Extra curricular activities at Ascot are largely run as a sideline to the academic departments. Things like the Dissection Club is held in the Science Lab and can only do good things for the grades of it’s members, though clubs are much more informal than lessons. For real escapism the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme is the thing to do; apart from learning to read a map, and pitch a tent, girls get packed off on a bona fide adventure as they navigate the countryside unsupervised.

Contact

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