Q. How many pupils are in the school?
A. Around 360.

Q. How many in each year group?
A. In Years 7 and 8, there are normally between 25 and 35 girls and from UIV Form (Yr 9) upwards, around 60 in each year.

Q. What is the usual class size?
A. Class sizes are small and supervision is close and caring. Generally classes have up to 15 girls, but may sometimes go up to 16 or 17. In the Sixth Form class sizes are usually significantly smaller.

Q. Do girls mainly join at 11+ or 13+?
A. Mostly at 11+ but we also have a dedicated intake at 13+. In addition, a few girls always join at 12+.
As boys develop later than girls they have traditionally stayed at their Prep Schools until 13+. Girls, however, mature earlier and most are ready for new challenges at 11+. It really depends on each individual girl and ultimately the choice lies with parents. Settling in to a new school and into new friendship groups at 11+ works very well.

Q. Do girls coming in at 13+ have difficulty settling in?
A. Sometimes the girls find it easier at 11+, but we are very careful to make sure our 13+ girls integrate fully and we have a specially designed induction programme to ensure this happens.

Q. How many stay on to Sixth Form?
A. Practically all. Sometimes there may be family reasons for leaving at the end of UV Form and sometimes girls are attracted by co-ed, but really it’s not the best time to move and we do encourage them to stay on and take on leadership roles in our Sixth Form.

Q. What is the percentage going on to University?
A. All go on to university except for one or two opting for Art or Drama Foundation Courses. On average, around 5-10% of the girls go to Oxbridge each year (based on 2017-2022). Other girls go on to Russell Group universities such as Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, King's College London and UCL. The overwhelming majority of the girls secure their places to their first choice of university.

Q. How many overseas students do you have?
A. Around 15% of our students come from overseas. They come from around 30 countries including Spain, Nigeria, Thailand, USA, China and Hong Kong. We are very proud of being a diverse school with girls from all around the world.

Q. How many day girls are there and how well do they integrate?
A. Approximately 20% of our pupils are day girls. We take pride in the way our day girls are integrated into the whole of school life and actively encourage them to enjoy all of the facilities of the boarders, including participation in evening and weekend activities. Day girls are invited to stay overnight whenever it is convenient for them or their parents.

Q. How many share a dormitory?
A. This varies from house to house and dormitory to dormitory. Between 2 and 7 girls share a room in Years 7-9. Housemistresses change the groups sharing each term to give each girl opportunities to get to know other girls in the year group, but we do take into account firm friendships; the girls are given the chance to put in dorm requests to take into account their friendships.

Q. At what age do they get single rooms?
A. At 14 (Year 10) girls move into either Gibbins House or Joyce Walters House, where they have their own room and share bathrooms. In Sixth Form girls have their own rooms with their own en-suite bathroom.

Q. Why are some girls not wearing uniform?
A. Sixth Form girls are allowed to wear their own clothes; however, they are expected to set an example to the younger girls in their appearance and are expected to wear formal dress for school functions. You may also see some girls in other year groups who may be dressed in readiness for PE Lessons or Team Practice.

Q. How often do pupils participate in Sport and PE?
A. Sport is very important and in practice, there is some form of sport every day. Everyone is encouraged to participate in both team and in individual sports. Each year group has a Games afternoon each week; this includes the Sixth Form, who can choose from a wide range of activities including badminton, dance, fitness suite, yoga, riding, basketball and team sports. PE lessons, Team Practices and Games afternoons are available to all students, giving them plenty of opportunities to develop in sport.

Q. Are the pupils able to compete for the school's Equestrian team?
A. Equestrian is a very popular option at St Mary's where the girls compete in a number of competitions including our own Inter-Schools’ Show Jumping Event at West Wilts Equestrian Centre.  Riding is offered as an extra-curricular activity throughout the week at a local riding stable. We have a number of girls who enjoy competing in Equestrian events outside of school and we have several girls who compete at national and international level. 

Q. Do St Mary’s Calne have key sports in which they specialise? 
A. We major in Lacrosse and Tennis, with Netball, Hockey, Cricket, Swimming and Equestrian following closely behind. Our aim is to provide all pupils with a broad and balanced programme in physical education, sport and physical activity. Our dedicated team of specialist staff have developed a shared philosophy which allows us to provide all our learners with an exciting range of opportunities and experiences. We want them to enjoy and value sport and physical activity, understand the health benefits of sport, and develop skills and knowledge that they need to fulfil their interests. 
Parents are encouraged to watch matches against other schools which are held on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday afternoons. Please go to the sports fixtures website to view our fixtures calendar. https://www.stmaryscalnesports.org/

Q. How many girls use the Sports Centre?
A. The Sports Centre is much enjoyed by all girls for sport and leisure. It is particularly popular with Sixth Formers who use it early in the morning and in the evenings.

Q. What languages do the girls study?
A. All girls entering the school in LIV Form study Mandarin and Latin. They can also choose one language from French, Spanish or German. Girls then have the opportunity to add a further modern language or Ancient Greek in UIV Form if they so wish. We may be able to arrange for any particular language to be available, although private language lessons will incur an additional fee.

Q. Do you have any problems with mental health difficulties, alcohol, smoking or drug taking?

A. Our aim is always to identify any problem very early on so that it can be dealt with before it escalates. Our pastoral care system is second to none. In a previous Boarding Inspection Report, inspectors remarked on the high number of girls questioned who had never enountered bullying throughout their time at St Mary's.
Mental health is an important part of overall health for children as well as adults, and symptoms often appear during the progression of adolescence. For a young person with symptoms of a mental health difficulty, the earlier intervention takes place, the more effective it can be. Early treatment can help prevent more severe, lasting problems as a child grows up. We have a dedicated Wellbeing Team here at St Mary’s and staff are well placed to spot the signs of mental health difficulties and plan support to help a young person and their family.
Smoking, and increasingly vaping, is a perennial issue amongst teenage girls. We treat vaping and smoking in exactly the same way and we are very tough on girls found smoking or vaping in school. If caught they have an interview by the Head and can expect sanctions appropriate to the level of the offence which may include suspension.

The rules regarding alcohol are made quite clear to the girls and the dangers of drinking spirits are explicitly discussed. On the rare occasions that girls are caught drinking, they will have an interview with the Head and should expect appropriate sanctions including suspension.

We have a zero tolerance when it comes to drug taking and any girl caught taking or in possession of drugs loses her right to a place in the school. In certain circumstances, girls may be permitted to remain, but they are expected to obtain negative results in random drugs tests for the remainder of their time at school.

Q. How many male teachers are there?
A. We have a good number of male teachers (27%) mainly in the Science, Mathematics, Sport, History and RS Departments.

Q. What weekend and evening activities are offered?
A. We offer a wide range of evening and weekend activities, from horse riding, archery, cookery, robotics and pottery.  Drama, music, art and sports are hugely popular in the girls’ free time, as is the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award; virtually all girls work for the Bronze Award and large numbers go on to higher levels.  The extensive weekend programmes include a combination of in-school activities and outings.  Girls are encouraged to make suggestions of activities they wish to pursue. 

Q. Which area would you describe as a particular strength of the school?

A. Real focus on the individual in everything she does. The ability to recognise each girl’s talents and support and stretch her accordingly.

Q. What are the advantages of horizontal grouping for boarding houses and do all year groups then mix?
A.  In a small school, vertical boarding restricts the number of friends girls can make within their own year group.  Horizontal boarding, however, helps the girls really to bond as a year group, so supporting one another and developing lifelong friendships.  On entering the school, each girl becomes a member of one of the five School Companies, and she remains in this Company throughout her time at the school.  This provides the opportunity to mix with and work together with other year groups, encouraging a spirit of teamwork and friendly competition.  There are regular Inter-Company competitions in music, drama, art, and sport, to name a few.

Q. Are you a very “academic” school?
A.  Whilst academic study is our priority, we believe passionately in the value of an all-round education and life at St Mary’s is packed with opportunities outside of the classroom.  We are not an academic hothouse. We know that parents may worry about entry standards, however, we look for potential to do well and not simply what a girl has already been taught. If your daughter is doing well at a good school and is an enthusiastic and able learner, she should have the potential to become a successful pupil at St Mary’s.

Q. How secure is the school site?
A. Very secure. All the entrances have keypad locks and we have security guards who are on duty at night.

Q. Where does St Mary’s stand in the league tables?
A.  We do very well in the league tables - but frankly, the position in the tables is irrelevant, as there isn’t a common starting point.  What is important is that each girl achieves her very best; we are proud of what we offer and what they achieve.

Q. Do you have a pass mark at Common Entrance?
A.  We do not require girls to sit Common Entrance papers if they are looking at 11+ entry but are happy to mark 13+ Common Entrance papers for those girls for whose schools who have prepared their pupils for the examinations. By the time girls sit CE we will already have developed a good sense of each individual girl through liaison with their Prep School Head, as well as attendance at our Taster Days and Entrance Days.  This should help to take the pressure off, and we do not, under any circumstances, want to set up girls to fail.  In practice, most girls tend to achieve 60 – 65% at least, although some girls may have one or two areas in which they still need to develop.

Q. Does St Mary's offer Scholarships and what are they worth?
A. We offer Academic, Music, Art, Drama, Sport and Choral Scholarships at 11+, 13+ and for Sixth Form entry and an All-Rounder Scholarship at 11+ and 13+.  In addition to Academic Scholarships, Academic Exhibitions may be offered to candidates who show considerable promise in a single subject or a group of subjects.  Further details are available from the Admissions Department.

Q. What Bursaries are available?
A. As a charitable trust we offer a limited number of means tested Bursaries to girls who have been awarded a Scholarship or an Exhibition and applications can be made to the Bursar.  Please contact the Admissions Department for more information. Bursaries are sometimes offered to help parents who have girls already in school, who may have reduced financial circumstances. All cases are considered individually.

Q. Which schools do you have socials with?
A.  We hold very successful socials with Eton, Radley, Winchester, Harrow and Horris Hill in the form of reeling, suppers in school and out in restaurants, quizzes and other themed events.

Q. Do you have flexible boarding arrangements?
A.  We are a full boarding school; however, we have a flexible approach to boarding throughout the school, and staged boarding is available to the younger girls to ease the transition to full boarding.

Q. Do you offer weekly boarding?
A.  No. We have Saturday morning lessons and afternoon matches.  We want our boarders to be drawn into a full academic, social and personal school life that only full boarding can offer.

Q. How many Fixed Exeats are there each term?
A. There are two, one in each half term.

Q. How often can the girls come home?
A. The girls go home for each Fixed Exeat, leaving school on Friday lunchtime and returning on Sunday evening.  There is one Fixed Exeat in the middle of each Half Term. The first and last weekend of the term and either side of Half Term are Non-Exeat Weekends when girls must stay in school unless a special permission has been granted by the Head. 
All other weekends are designated as ‘Free Weekends’ when a girl may use a ‘Floating’ or a Day Exeat.  A Floating Exeat is from 12 noon on Saturday, or after school commitments (matches, Fourth Form Games Afternoon, rehearsals etc.), until check-in time on Sunday evening.  A Day Exeat is from 12 noon on Saturday, or after school commitments, until check-in time on Saturday evening or after Chapel on Sunday until check-in on Sunday evening. The number of Floating and Day Exeats varies from Year Group to Year Group. The UVI Form may go out at any time if they are up to date with their work, and the LVI Form may go out after lessons on most Saturdays, although there are a number of weekends when they are very much involved in school activities.