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Academic provision

Length of study

We offer two-year, five-year and seven-year programmes. We also offer shorter placements of up to a year or one term. Your daughter can choose from the following options:

Pre-GCSE programme

Students can join us in Year 7, Year 8 or Year 9 for a pre-GCSE programme.

GCSE programme

Students can join us for a two-year GCSE programme in Year 10.

A Level programme

Students can join us for a two-year A Level programme in Lower Sixth.

A year of cultural immersion

We can also provide a year of cultural immersion and language development. This is an ideal way for students to improve their English and learn about British culture, especially as we are a school where the majority of students are always English-speaking.

Short term placements

We can also sometimes offer short one term (12 weeks) or half term placements (six weeks) for students aged 11 or 14, subject to space in the boarding house.

Curricular programmes

Students aged 11 to 14 – pre-GCSE curriculum

Students who join us in Year 9 aged 13 to 14 will study a broad curriculum. In addition to English language lessons, students study a selection of the following subjects:

  • Arts subjects: Art, Drama Music and Photography
  • Humanities subjects: History and Geography, Religious Studies (Christianity & World Religions) and Classical Civilisation
  • Modern and Ancient Languages: French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Latin and Greek
  • Mathematics
  • Science subjects: Biology, Chemistry and Physics
  • Technology subjects: Cookery, Textiles and IT, including Computer Science
  • Physical Education
  • PSHCE: Personal, Social, Health, Citizenship & Economic education

Tutorial sessions: time with tutors

Students aged 14 to 16 – GCSE curriculum

Students age 14 to 16 follow our GCSE curriculum. In addition to studying English Language, Mathematics and Religious Studies, which are compulsory, most students choose to study between six and eight additional subjects:

  • Arts subjects: Art, Drama, Music
  • Humanities subjects: History, Geography, Classical Civilisation
  • Modern and Ancient Languages: French, German, Spanish, Latin, Greek
  • Science subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Physics
  • Technology subjects: Cookery, Textiles and IT, including Computer Science. 

Alongside these subjects, the students continue to meet regularly with their tutors to provide academic guidance and pastoral support which is a central part of our educational provision at St Mary’s School, Cambridge.

Students aged 16 to 18 – A Level curriculum

Students aged 16 to 18 follow our A Level curriculum. There are a wide variety subjects on offer at A Level ranging from Mathematics and Chemistry to Politics and Ancient Greek. In addition, they are able to study the optional EPQ: Extended Project Qualification. Furthermore, they meet frequently with their tutors for academic monitoring, tracking and general pastoral support. They also benefit from a programme unique to our school: PER – Philosophy, Ethics & Religion which is a compulsory part of their wider education programme.

English tuition

Our English as an Additional Language (EAL) provision is excellent and is fully integrated within the normal curriculum at no additional cost to parents. About 70 students study EAL, which is delivered to our international students by our specialist EAL teachers.

Our provision

Students in Year 7 to Year 9 receive three 55 minute lessons each week as part of the normal teaching timetable from our outstanding EAL department. In Year 10 and Year 11, students receive seven 55 minute lessons each fortnight as part of the normal teaching timetable. These lessons are in place of English Language and English Literature lessons for native speakers.

In the Sixth Form, students attend five 55 minutes lessons every two weeks as part of the normal teaching timetable. These lessons are in addition to their A Level subjects.

These lessons enable students to develop their knowledge of English vocabulary and grammar and improve their reading, listening, writing and speaking skills.

EAL qualifications

The EAL courses taken by students at St Mary’s School, Cambridge provide students with internationally recognised qualifications. Year 10 students prepare for the upper intermediate Cambridge English: First, which is also known as the First Certificate in English (FCE) examination. These examinations are offered by the University of Cambridge.

Year 11 students are prepared for the Cambridge Advanced English examination. This qualification does not have an expiry date, so students who perform outstandingly will be able to use it for university entrance. Oxford University, for instance, requires an overall score of 191, with a minimum of 185 in each component; the London School of Economics (LSE) requires a an overall score of 185, with a minimum of 185 in each component; the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College requires 185 overall, with a minimum of 176 in each component. An A grade in the CAE also carries 70 University and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) points, which enhances a student’s university application.

Those students who do not achieve this very high standard in Year 11, or who join the school in the Sixth Form, will be prepared for the IELTS examination, which they must take after 1 October of their Lower Sixth year in order to ensure that it is still valid for visa purposes when they embark on their university studies. This examination, taken by more than 2.2 million candidates last year, is acceptable to Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and many US universities as well as UK institutions, and is also required as proof of English language competence for many English-medium European university courses.