St Mary’s, Calne

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St Mary’s Calne is a top boarding and day school of around 360 girls aged 11–18, including a very strong Sixth Form of 120+ students. Approximately 80% of the girls are boarders and there is a very rich boarding life, with all girls participating in the full-curriculum and extra-curricular activities on offer.

St Mary’s is renowned for its outstanding pastoral care and every girl is known and cared for as an individual. Every girl has a Tutor to support her through aspects of school life, from organisational skills and subject choices through to university application. The purpose-built Sixth Form Centre, a bespoke lecture programme, debating competitions, careers advice, leadership roles and much more prepare the girls for university and beyond.  Different opportunities give the Sixth Form girls independence and they are fantastic role models for the younger girls.

The school is committed to providing an education that will challenge and inspire its pupils, as well as helping them to achieve outstanding examination results. In 2019, the superb A Level results included 64% of the entries graded A*–A, an impressive 23% graded A* and 45% of the girls being awarded all A*/As, with 90% of the girls securing their first choice of university. At GCSE and IGCSE, a remarkable 40% of the results were graded 9, with 64% 9-8 and 82% 9-7 (equivalent to A*-A). St Mary’s is also the first independent school in the UK to be awarded the Platinum Science Mark Award.

The girls benefit from superb facilities: in the last few years the school has completed an £11.5 million boarding refurbishment programme and opened a new Sports Complex. A new, state-of-the-art Library and landscaped garden will also be complete for September 2020.

Beyond the classroom, 80% of girls play musical instruments and take part in a wide variety of ensembles. The girls perform at many events, both in the local community and further afield. Drama productions in the purpose-built theatre are of the highest standard and have transferred to the London stage. The Drama Department has a unique relationship with RADA, offering a course in advanced communication skills and girls also perform annually at the Edinburgh Fringe. The girls do exceptionally well in the Young Enterprise Programme and debating competitions, progressing to the National Final of the ESU Mace competition, 2018. In Art, we held our third successful London exhibition in 2018, exhibiting works from pupils, alumnae and staff and the girls have received numerous awards including: three girls having their artwork selected for the first ever Young Artists’ Summer Show at the Royal Academy of Arts; one girl winning the GCSE Drawing prize of the Royal Academy YOUNG ART competition and a first prize in LARA’s Easter Scholarship Competition. The girls excel at sport, and the school is represented at county level in several major sports, nationally in athletics and lacrosse, and internationally in horse riding, with all girls taking advantage of the superb sports facilities, including a new Sports Complex. The girls also enjoy many other sports, including tennis, hockey and ski racing. Trips abound and recently included a Geography trip to Tenerife, a French trip to Samoens, a Lacrosse Tour to the USA, an Art trip to Barcelona and a Classics trip to Crete.

“The girls have had a spectacular career at St Mary’s; I am not measuring this just in attainment or success in exams but they have also seized every opportunity – on the sports field, in music and as representatives of the school… I am incredibly proud that they have been able to attend a school like this.” Former parent

Gifted & Talented

At St Mary’s Calne we aim to help all students to fulfil their potential.  This is achieved through small class sizes, enthusiastic and talented subject specialists and a strong tutorial system.  In addition to this, extra provision is made specifically for Gifted and Talented students.

Gifted and Talented students are identified through standardised test results (MidYis, Yellis and ALIS) and by teacher nomination.  Gifted and Talented pupils are invited to join certain activities which include:

  • a Scholars’ Programme taking place on Friday lunchtimes
  • trips, such as participation at a Study Day for Gifted and Talented Pupils
  • the annual Scholars’ Dinner with a Guest Speaker in the Spring Term
  • Gifted and Talented pupils in the Sixth Form are encouraged to become involved in the Oxbridge Programme which encourages deeper learning and wider academic pursuit.


The Scholarship Programme involves sessions that are demanding, often cross-curricular, and designed to stretch and challenge the girls and inspire independent thought and research.  These girls are likely to apply to high-ranking universities and the Scholarship Programme aims to prepare them for potential interviews.  There are two groups, one for Junior Academic Scholars (LIV Form to UIV Form) and one for Senior Academic Scholars (LV Form to UVI Form), meeting on alternate weeks.

Here are some examples of sessions that the Junior Academic Scholarship Programme has included:

  • Mathematical Team Challenge – the girls were given a number of clues and had to work together to solve the problem.  The activity tied together a range of mathematical topics including averages, patterns, algebra and numerical facts and helped the girls to develop their team-working skills.
  • ‘Two Things’ – the girls read an Oliver Burkeman column in which he discussed the ‘Two Things exercise’ in which people try to summarise what is special about their interests into the two most important and insightful aspects.  For example, for Medicine: 1. Do no harm; 2. To do good, you must risk doing harm; and for Economics: 1. Incentives matter; 2. There is no such thing as a free lunch.  The girls then each summarised a number of their own interests into ‘Two Things’.
  • Left v. Right – using a detailed infographic from to provoke discussion, the girls explored the differences in beliefs, political ideas, economic principles and views about society between left and right political groups.  They explored how this differs for different countries (especially comparing the UK and US), drew on their knowledge from history (including comparing Communism and Fascism) and discussed where they each stood on the political spectrum.

The Senior Academic Scholars’ sessions have included:

  • Game Theory – Game theory is the science behind strategic thinking, and the girls learnt about it by examining situations such as the ‘Prisoners’ Dilemma’ and the ‘Ultimatum Game’.  In pairs, they then solved a challenging game theory problem which had been posed at an Oxbridge interview.
  • Twitter stories – the girls discussed what their favourite books were and why; and what are the characteristics that make a good story.  We then discussed the rise of Twitter, read some ‘Twitter stories’ by famous authors (stories in 140 characters or less) and then the girls tried their hand at writing their own Twitter stories.
  • 200 years that changed the world – the girls used the immensely valuable Gapminder World resources and a video presentation by Dr Hans Rosling to understand how the world has developed economically and socially since the industrial revolution.  This led to a discussion on how statistics can be used to improve our understanding of the world in which we live and thus to boost global development.

All girls are screened for any indications of learning difficulties when they start at St Mary’s. Any issues are monitored and action taken as, and if, appropriate. Girls are given lessons in study periods or during lunch breaks so they do not miss lessons. Lessons are one to one and are timetabled as one per week at the same time, on occasion a girl may receive two lessons per week.

Lessons are geared to the individual, we do not follow a particular spelling or comprehension programme; everything is aimed to support the individual needs of a child in an academic, secondary school environment.

Students are encouraged to email or drop in if they have any concerns about their learning and the staff work closely with subject teachers and tutors.

St Mary’s has three part-time qualified Learning Support teachers, one EAL teacher and one part-time Extra Maths teacher. The school also uses two Educational Psychologists who can come in to assess, and girls must have a full EP assessment for exam concessions.

Recommendations are given to teaching staff so they can support the student as much as possible. Parents are able to contact Learning Support Staff as and when they need to, and reports are also written twice a year.

A Learning Support Register with information helpful for teaching staff is sent out to staff regularly, so that they are aware of any difficulties.

Bursaries & Scholarships

At 11+

Scholarships available

  • Academic
  • Art
  • Choral (for first-study singers)
  • Drama
  • Music (for first-study instrumentalists)
  • Sport

Candidates who are shortlisted at Entrance Day for the Academic Scholarship will sit papers in English and Mathematics in the January of the year of entry.

The Art, Drama, Music and Sport Scholarship Auditions and Assessments for Year 6 girls take place in December before the year of entry. The offer of an award is conditional on good performance at either Common Entrance or St Mary’s own Entrance Examination in January.

Art, Drama, Music and Sport Scholarship candidates may additionally choose to sit the Academic Scholarship papers of they wish to be considered for an academic award as well.

For more information on these scholarships and application deadlines, please contact the Admissions Department:

At 13+

Scholarships available

  • Academic
  • Bodinnar All-Rounder
  • Art
  • Choral (for first-study singers)
  • Drama
  • Music (for first-study instrumentalists)
  • Sport

For 2020 Entry, candidates shortlisted at Entrance Day or by their School for the Academic or Bodinnar Scholarship will need to sit St Mary’s Calne Academic Scholarship papers.

The Assessment Day for Bodinnar, Art, Choral, Drama, Music and Sport Scholarships will take place in the January of the year of entry and offers of awards will be made by the middle of February.

Art, Choral, Drama, Music and Sport Scholarship candidates may choose to sit our Academic Scholarship papers if they also wish to be considered for an Academic Scholarship as well.

In addition to the full Academic Scholarships, Academic Exhibitions may be offered to candidates showing outstanding ability in a single subject.

For more information on these scholarships and application deadlines, please contact the Admissions Department.

Value of Awards
Academic Scholarships (including Bodinnar) at 11+, 13+ and Sixth Form are awarded up to 40% of a scholar’s boarding or day fees, as applicable. To be able to allocate funds to those girls who would most benefit from them financially, only a proportion of the percentage offered – 5% – is awarded automatically. The remaining 35% – or a proportion thereof – is allocated, subject to a means test, at the Governors’ discretion. This process remains entirely confidential and parents may request the relevant forms at the time of the scholarship award.

Academic Exhibitions for excellent performances in one or more subjects may be awarded up to 10% of the boarding or day fees as applicable. Only 5% will be awarded automatically, the remainder being subject to a means test at the Governors’ discretion.

Music Scholars will be awarded two free music lessons per week; Choral Scholars will be offered free vocal tuition; Drama scholars will be awarded up to two LAMDA lessons per week. Art and Sports Scholarships are largely honorary awards, for which the recipient will be awarded £1,000 per annum. Art Scholars can use their scholarship for the purchase of relevant materials, entry to galleries, and trips at home and overseas to see works of art. Sports Scholars can use their scholarship money for the purchase of relevant equipment or clothing, sports courses, tours/training at home and overseas. Scholars submit a request for funding or present a receipt which is signed off by the Director of Teaching and Learning.

All awards are retained to the end of Sixth Form and are reviewed at regular intervals. Candidates who are successful in gaining an award, but require greater remission in fees in order to be able to take up their place, may apply for a means-tested Bursary. Forms are available from the Admissions Department and should be returned to the Bursar.

Sixth Form

Scholarships available

  • Academic
  • Art
  • Choral (for first-study singers)
  • Drama
  • Music (for first-study instrumentalists)
  • Sport

Sixth Form Academic Scholarship examinations and interviews will take place in the November before the year of entry. For more information on these scholarships and application deadlines, please contact the Admissions Department.

Foundation Scholarships
One Foundation Scholarship is available annually at 11+ and one at Sixth Form to particularly gifted and talented pupils from the state education sector who, for reasons of financial restriction, might otherwise be prevented from applying to the school. All Foundation Scholarships are retained to the end of the Sixth Form. The Scholarships are means-tested and could reduce the Day Fees by up to 100%.

At 11+, the Scholarships are granted solely on merit as the result of competitive examination and require the support of a candidate’s Head Teacher. Candidates sit examinations in English, Mathematics and a computerised test to assess their verbal and non-verbal reasoning skills and their numerical ability. In addition, they are interviewed by a member of teaching staff and the Headmistress.

At Sixth Form, Scholarships are made subject to academic record, interview, reference and personal statement. Work relevant to the subjects for proposed

A Level study should be submitted with the application form. Candidates may also be required to sit examinations in subjects they wish to study at A Level.

All Foundation Scholarships share the same application process. Applicants should register interest in the Scholarships in September of the year preceding entry.

CGA Bursaries
Bursaries from the Calne Foundation Trust Bursary Fund may be available. This Fund has benefited enormously from the generous gifts from Old Girls of their own charitable fund and the Matthews Bursary Fund. Means-tested bursaries are, therefore, available for the daughters of former pupils wishing to enter the school. Once awarded, bursaries are usually paid termly, and reviewed annually, to confirm that the parents’ financial situation is unchanged.

HM Forces Discount
For members of the permanent Armed Forces (or reservists on full-time duties, for the duration of those duties) a means-tested discount of up to 20% is offered. Please contact the Admissions Department for more information.

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