News and blog

From our Bursar

From our Bursar

The return to School in Autumn 2019 was marked by some exciting milestones at St Mary’s. Following extensive work over the summer holiday, we returned to a beautifully remodelled Cortile garden at the heart of the school. This area is now completely accessible and is enjoyed by the whole community, changing with the seasons but always allowing a moment’s peaceful reflection during a busy day.


September also saw the official opening of our boathouse, with guests of honour Larkin Sayre (President of the Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club) and Olympic Gold Medal winner Steve Trapmore MBE. This fantastic new building on the River Cam, developed jointly with City of Cambridge Rowing Club and Homerton College, is now the home of our rowing provision and supports the ambitious plans for the development of rowing at St Mary’s over the coming years.  

Turf cutting ceremonyLong Road Sports Fields

Indeed. Autumn proved to be a very busy term, with November seeing the official “Turf Cutting” ceremony for the redevelopment of the School’s sports pitches at Long Road. After a very lengthy planning approval process, agreement to the complete redevelopment of the facilities on Long Road (including the installation of state of the art hockey, tennis, netball, athletics, rugby, football and cricket nets alongside a brand new pavilion) was finally secured and work has now begun on this landmark project.

An innovative partnership with Homerton College, who are fully funding the £6.6 million investment, will see the pitches delivered for use by the school in Autumn 2020, with the pavilion to be completed in the Spring of 2021.

The completion of these two exciting projects aligns perfectly with the ambitions across the whole school community in terms of the health and wellbeing of the girls at St Mary’s.

Senior School Masterplan

Senior School visualisation planMaintaining the pace at the Senior School site on Bateman Street, we also moved our masterplan project forward through the first public consultation on our ambitious building and refurbishment plans in October 2019. These plans include significant improvement to the existing school buildings in addition to an exciting new building to house creative subjects including Art, Technology, Food and Textiles.

The Masterplan is comprised of three phases, and I am delighted to report that planning permission has been secured for Phases One and Two. A determination on the final, new build, phase is due in late Spring 2020 but is very likely to be delayed by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic now being experienced across the board.

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STEM in Junior School

In addition to the planned improvements to the Bateman Street buildings, our plans to add to the wonderful facilities at the Junior School on Chaucer Road have continued to progress. You will understand, however, that these have not been immune to the impact of the current pandemic and our application for a new STEM Laboratory in the grounds of the Junior School remains in the Planning process.

Looking ahead

As mentioned above, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an inevitable effect on projects this year, and seems set to do so for the foreseeable future – not just in terms of the ability to complete work under the pressures of supply chain difficulties, social-distancing restrictions, but also in terms of the prudent use of reserves at a time when financial “norms” are yet to settle.

We are extremely fortunate to have the financial support of Homerton College on the Sports Field project and, subject to the practicalities of building out the plans in the current environment, this work looks set to be completed on-schedule to an exceptional standard.

With regard to the masterplan for the Senior School and the STEM Lab at the Junior School, we will continue in our endeavours to secure the remaining planning permissions, with implementation at an appropriate point post-COVID. In the interim, our usual programme of high-quality maintenance and incremental improvements will continue through our outstanding in-house Works Department.

Mark Johnstone


Return to Magnolian 2020