Why all girls'

We excel at educating girls. From teaching and pastoral care to school life, everything at St Mary’s is built for girls. #yesshecan

As a girls' school we enable girls to build self-confidence, alongside the knowledge and skills they need to reject and overcome gender stereotypes. Whilst academic results open doors for our girls, it is their self-belief, persistence and drive that keeps the door open.


What we offer

  • Teaching tailored to girls’ learning styles, needs and developmental stage.
  • A space where gender stereotypes cannot thrive, where girls focus on being themselves and defining their place in the world.
  • A nurturing environment, full of role models that encourage and inspire girls.
  • Every opportunity for girls to take the lead; to be comfortable putting themselves forward.

The facts

Statistics show that girls in single-sex schools achieve higher academic results, compared to their co-ed peers. We believe the benefits are much broader.

As members of the Girls’ School Association (GSA), we offer an approach that empowers girls to pursue their unique path. Studies show that girls in GSA schools are more likely to choose ‘more challenging’ STEM subjects.

Girls in GSA schools are:

  • 75% more likely to study Mathematics A Level
  • 70% more likely to study Chemistry A Level
  • 2.5 times more likely to study Physics A Level
  • twice as likely to study languages

[Source GSA]

STEM Levels at St Mary's Sixth Form

The GSA trends are reflected in the take up of STEM subjects at A Level at St Mary's.

2019 A Level Entries St Mary's Sixth Form (% of Students) % Students nationally
Biology 35.9% 9.9%
Chemistry 28.2% 7.2%
Physics 10.2% 7.2%
Mathematics 43.6% 8.1%
Further Mathematics 12.8% 0.9%

University of California Research

Fostering Academic and Social Engagement: An investigation into the effects of all-girls education in the transition to university.

This 2018 report from the USA concludes that all girls' school graduates:

  • Have stronger academic skills. Girls’ school graduates are more likely to say they frequently seek “alternative solutions to a problem” (53% compared to 48% of co-ed peers) and that they “learn independently” (44% compared to 39%).
  • Are more academically engaged. Girls’ school graduated are reported to be more likely to “spend time learning with their peers” (55% compared to 49% of co-ed peers) and often “tutor other students” (22% compared 15%).
  • Demonstrate higher science self-confidence. Girls’ school graduates report “greater confidence in their ability to use technical science skills” than their co-ed peers (46% compared to 42% stated they were ‘very confident’ or ‘absolutely confident’ with technical science skills). Similarly, for developing and performing research, 45% of girls’ school graduates reported they felt ‘very confident’ or ‘absolutely confident’, compared to 41% of co-ed peers.
  • Express stronger community involvement. Girls’ school graduates showed more interest in community engagement with 50% aiming to participate in a community action program, (compared to 42% of co-ed peers). All-girls alumnae also reported more frequent participation in volunteer work (52% volunteering in the past year, compared to 47% of their co-ed peers).
  • Display higher levels of cultural competency. 59% of all girls’ school graduates felt promoting ‘racial understanding’ is very important or essential – compared to 50% of co-ed graduates. Tolerance for different beliefs was reported to be a ‘somewhat strong’ or ‘major’ strength for 50% of all girls’ school graduates (compared to 45% of co-ed peers).
  • Exhibit increased political engagement. 74% of all girls’ school graduates reported that they will vote in elections (compared to 69% of co-ed peers). They are also more likely to ‘keep up to date with political affairs’ – reporting that it is a ‘very important’ or ‘essential’ (54% of all girls graduates, compared to 47% of co-ed peers).

"Free from stereotyping, our girls thrive in an environment that allows their intellectual and social confidence to flourish. They dream big - because here girls believe anything is possible. We understand ‘real-life’ isn’t single-sex and our education is well-balanced with the ‘co-ed’ life enjoyed by our students beyond our school gates." Hannah Helliar, Head

Learning styles

Girls and boys mature and learn in different ways. Research shows that girls prefer collaborative working and enjoy problem-solving, but tend to be more self-critical than boys. Our girls benefit from teaching tailored specifically to suit their learning styles, needs and developmental stage.

Beyond gender stereotypes

Research also shows that girls in single-sex schools are less likely to follow gender stereotypes. They select subjects that they enjoy, based on their natural ability. Our girls think beyond stereotypes, combining Physics with Photography, Chemistry with Classics or Mathematics with Mandarin.

Inspiring futures

Our girls do not view any career as closed to them. We encourage them to pursue their unique ambitions, supported by excellent careers advice and work experience opportunities.

Taking the lead

In our small, girls-only classrooms, we offer an environment where intellectual and social confidence can blossom. This builds confidence. Our girls feel comfortable putting themselves forward, taking responsibility and leading.

“We are delighted with St Mary’s. Every aspect of the school has fully supported our daughter’s academic, social and sporting development.”

Senior School parent 2019