Boarding FAQs

FAQs for our international students and boarders.

Keeping boarders safe

The measures we are taking to protect our boarders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are here to provide as much information as you need to ensure that St Mary's School is the right choice for your daughter. If you are able to visit us in person, we warmly invite you to take a personal tour of our boarding facilities at Mary Ward House and our schools.

Hopefully the FAQs below will answer some of your questions. Please do contact our admissions team, for further information and support.

Visit our Admissions FAQs for further information


How easy is it to travel to Mary Ward House?

St Mary's School and Mary Ward House are within a 5 minute walk of Cambridge Rail Station.

We can also arrange for airport transfers for Boarders arriving at any of the London Airports and all taxi drivers are DBS checked.

  • London Stansted - 35 minutes by car
  • London Luton - 55 minutes by car
  • London Heathrow - 1 hour 20 minutes by car

Do boarders have individual rooms?

Our younger girls will share with other girls in bright and spacious dormitories. Students in Years 9 - 13 (age 14 to 18) have their own single room.

Living at Mary Ward House and The Elms

Do you have Exeat weekends?

We do not have Exeat weekends. However, boarders can arrange to visit their guardians or go home at the weekend, providing written permission is given to the Housemistress at least 48 hours in advance.

When should I apply for boarding?

We have space for c.90 students, therefore we advise applying for a boarding space at least 12 months before your intended starting date at St Mary's.

International students

Do I need a guardian?

Students who do not have a family member in the UK are required to have a guardian living in the UK. A guardian must be appointed, before we can accept a student to the school.

Often education agents include the arrangement of guardians in their service to families; alternatively families can apply direct to AEGIS. It is the responsibility of each family and not the school, to ensure that the guardian is in place.


Do you offer Visa sponsorship?

We are licensed as a Tier 4 Sponsor by UK Visas and Immigrations (UKVI) and offer child student visa sponsorship for full boarders.

Students from outside the European Union must apply for permission to come to, or remain, in the UK as a student.

Please contact UKVI to help you choose the correct route for you.


How do international students apply for a place?

We welcome girls with a broad range of academic abilities, who are enthusiastic and have a desire to engage in learning.

We accept direct applications to our admissions team or applications made via an educational agent. You can apply to join all year groups (except Year 11 and 13).

Places for international students are offered on the basis of an individual interview (in person or via Skype), alongside a selection of age-appropriate activities and assessments, plus a reference from a current school.

How to apply

When can I apply?

International applicants can apply all year round. We advise applying at at least 12 months before your intended starting date at St Mary's.

What is the assessment process for overseas applicants?

We want to understand the unique potential of each girl. Our international application process and entrance tests are chosen to evaluate current knowledge, understanding and skills.

We test age-appropriate learning and therefore no special preparation is needed and our process is designed to put applicants at ease.

Assessments for international students

What level of English do applicants need?

Students need to have strong speaking and written, reading and listening skills to be clear, fluent and confident communicators in English.

This is required, to enable them to access the curriculum and to work collaboratively with teachers and other students, and to ensure success in public examinations.

Although we do not ask for a formal qualification before starting with us, but the following offer approximate levels:

  • Joining Senior School in Year 7 and Year 8: IELTS level 4.0
  • Joining Senior School in Year 9 and Year 10: IELTS level 5.0
  • Joining Sixth Form: IELTS level 6.0

Do you offer English tuition?

Yes, our excellent English tuition is included in our school fees, at no additional cost

More about English tuition

Can we apply to a different year group?

We sometimes place students in a year below their peers, to more appropriately reflect their ability in, and comprehension of, the English language. If your daughter requires a visa then she must be under 18 on the first day of the year in which she begins her studies with us.

UK school system