St Mary's School, Ascot
|Motto||Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam
(For the Greater Glory of God)
|Type||Independent day and boarding school|
|Chair of the Governors||The Hon Charles Martyn-Hemphill|
|Location||St Mary's Road
|Local authority||Windsor and Maidenhead|
|DfE URN||110120 Tables|
St Mary's School was founded by the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM). The school chapel was built in 1885 and funded by Cecilia Marshall, and the First Mass was celebrated there on 2 July 1896. The Chapel is dedicated to Our Lady of Humility and St Cecilia. It was consecrated by Bishop John Baptist Cahill in 1906.
Since 1984, it has been run by the St Mary's School Ascot Trust. In 1998 the school had its first lay Headmistress, Mrs Mary Breen (incumbent). Only one liturgical staff member remains, Father Dermot, the school's chaplain.
In 2006, the school opened its new sports centre, named the Orchard Centre after the Catholic family from which the school's two previous headmistresses came. The Centre was opened by ballerina Darcey Bussell. A Performing Arts Centre has also been built named the Rose Theatre. It opened in April 2009.
St Mary's has enjoyed success in the GCSE and A Levels examinations. In the 2010 GCSEs, girls achieved a 100% pass rate and placed 27th in a Daily Mail survey ranking according to % of GCSEs awarded A* and A grades, out of 482 participating independent schools. It was listed in The Independent's top 100 schools for 2012 based on the most recent A Levels results.
As St Mary's is a Catholic school, girls are required to attend chapel and worship services. Throughout the Liturgical year the whole school community gather together to celebrate Feast Days and Holy Days of Obligation. Spiritual retreats are also organised for each year.
Most pupils at St Mary's are boarders and only full boarding is available. The house system is based on the boarding programme and each house has a mix of boarders and day girls. Each girl between Year 7 and Lower 6th (Year 12) belongs to one of the five main houses - Babthorpe, Bedingfeld, Poyntz, Rookwood and Wigmore - which are named after Mary Ward's fellow nuns. Only girls in Upper Sixth (Year 13) are members of the Mary Ward house.
Each house has a captain, vice-captain and other leadership roles (e.g. prefects, drama captain) who are elected by house pupils.
The Heads of House are the first point of contact for girls and parents and most also teach at the school. All Heads of House have an office in the main body of the school and live on site with their families. Every house organises activities and social events on the weekends, which parents are encouraged to attend.
Notable former pupils
- Ellie Maxwell, aid worker and activist
- Caroline, Princess of Hanover
- Pamela Brown, actress
- Lady Antonia Fraser, writer, novelist
- Sarah Hogg, Viscountess Hailsham, economist/journalist
- Zena Marshall, actress
- Louise Minchin, BBC journalist and news presenter
- Annabel Mullion, actress
- Marina Warner, writer, novelist
- Lady Marina Charlotte Windsor, daughter of George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews
- Margarita Armstrong-Jones, daughter of Viscount Linley (currently attending)