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Curriculum

Our nurturing environment and passionate teachers inspire our enthusiastic girls to reach their academic potential.

We encourage students to become more inquisitive about related areas of investigation, and to gain an understanding of how different subjects work together to build a clearer understanding of the world as a whole. Our teaching team works holistically to provide extensive cross-curricular learning based on ‘real life’ experience and, in this way, we enhance our girls’ educational journeys, and provide each one with the best possible academic focus.

The girls develop creative, critical and reflective thinking, and become excited and committed learners – demonstrated by the results they achieve across all academic and creative subjects in their public examinations. Our belief that a single-sex approach enables our students to buck gender stereotypes is evidenced by their results in both Mathematics and Science A Levels.

Our Senior School curriculum is split into a pre-GCSE curriculum (students aged 11 to 14, in Year 7 to Year 9), and the GCSE curriculum (students aged 14 to 16, in Year 10 and Year 11).

Pre-GCSE curriculum

Students who are in Year 7 to Year 9 (pre-GCSE) study a broad curriculum, including a combination of the following subjects:

  • English Language and Literature or EAL
  • Arts subjects: Art and Design, Textiles, Drama and Music
  • Humanities subjects: History, Geography, Religious Studies (Christianity & World Religions) and Classical Civilisation
  • Modern and Ancient Languages: French, German, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Latin and Classical Greek
  • Mathematics
  • Sciences: Biology, Chemistry and Physics
  • Technology subjects: Food Preparation and Nutrition, and IT, including Computer Science
  • Games and Physical Education (PE)
  • PSHE: Personal, Social and Health Education

GCSE curriculum

Students in Year 10 and Year 11 follow our GCSE curriculum. In addition to studying the compulsory subjects of English Language and Literature or EAL, Mathematics, Sciences (Separate Sciences route, Biology, Chemistry and Physics, three IGCSEs, or Science Double Award route, two IGCSEs), and Religious Studies, most students choose to study four to six additional subjects:

  • Arts subjects: Art and Design (with endorsed Photography), Drama and Music
  • Humanities subjects: History, Geography and Classical Civilisation
  • Modern and Ancient Languages: French, German, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Latin and Classical Greek
  • Games and Physical Education (PE)
  • Technology subjects: Textiles, Food Preparation and Nutrition, and IT, including Computer Science
  • Additional Mathematics

At all levels, students also benefit from a range of PSHCE sessions, English Language Support and Learning Support, according to their individual requirements.

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

Technology

We believe that technology has a key role to play in teaching and learning and continue to enhance our girls’ learning experiences by ensuring our educational approach caters to students’ preferred learning styles, enabling their intellectual curiosity to flourish. Technology assists teachers in bringing subjects to life too, for instance by enhancing History or Politics lessons by sharing YouTube footage of news bulletins from the time, or by allowing girls to role-play and take on the persona of a journalist working to a deadline and updating copy in real-time as updates arrive into the news room as part of English studies.

Our digital learning platform, Cloudbase, provides teacher-curated educational content for students to use whether they are at school or doing school work at home or on the move. Students are able to access links to handouts, extension work, links to past examination papers and mark schemes, tests that can be taken and automatically marked online, and video or audio clips that can be digested in students’ own time, at their own pace. These are available to all students on any device and in any location. 

All Senior School and Sixth Form students, and all teaching staff, are provided with a personal device, enabling access to Cloudbase, apps and the Internet quickly, reliably and wherever they may be. These devices, coupled with access to Microsoft Office365, provide our girls with opportunities to be curious, to discover, to collaborate and to present their learning in new and increasingly creative ways. 

Any work that the girls produce will save to Cloudbase, the cloud-based storage facility, so that wherever they start a piece of work they are able to pick it back up and continue editing it from home (or on the bus or at Costa…). This also enables the sharing of files and folders so that groups of students can collaborate and work remotely on the same document at the same time.

An additional exciting aspect of the Microsoft Office 365 package is OneNote, an application that can best be equated to a digital note-taking and filing system. Microsoft has been working closely with schools to develop OneNote Class Notebooks; teachers can set these up for their students who then have access to class materials that can be distributed electronically, and teachers have access to sections of students’ notebooks so that they can comment on work, provide feedback and check that work is up to date.

We use technology in an organic, understated way; our aim is for technology to be invisible, which on first hearing may not sound impressive, but that's exactly what we are aiming for. Technology in education should support teaching and learning, and prepare students for a 21st century working environment, but not become the focus of students’ or teachers’ attention. 

Learning support

St Mary’s School, Cambridge is an inclusive school which focuses on supporting the individual, whatever her strengths and areas for development. Girls may be supported in-class by dedicated Learning Support Assistants or withdrawn from lessons in order to be provided individual or small group support. In all cases, the girls’ progress will be monitored carefully and communicated clearly and regularly to their parents. The Learning Support department also offers guidance to our subject teachers and tutors enabling them to better meet a range of individual needs within mainstream lessons.

Homework

Homework provides an opportunity to reinforce and consolidate the day’s learning as well as playing an important role in students being intellectually challenged by providing an opportunity for girls to develop a deeper subject understanding and to practise the skills of unsupported study and independent learning. Our teachers set homework that is engaging and enjoyable; they are available before and after school, or at morning break and lunchtime, to answer queries and support the girls in their work.

Timetables for homework are provided in advance so that students and their parents are aware of how much time should be set aside for study beyond the school day. The schedule provides assurance that the girls are not overloaded with work; they are able to effectively manage the workload simply by adhering to the schedule since they are encouraged to work only for as long as specified.