St. Mary’s College & Preparatory School has achieved an outstanding inspection result after being given top marks by the UK’s independent schools watchdog.
Awarding St. Mary’s its highest-possible grading in both of the main inspection categories, the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) describes the quality of pupils’ academic achievements and personal development as excellent, due to the ‘outstandingly positive attitudes towards learning’ at the school.
The inspectors say that this strong work ethic is nurtured by knowledgeable teachers with high expectations, and a well-organised curriculum, ensuring that students develop ‘high levels of knowledge, understanding and skills’.
St. Mary’s caters for children from 0-18 years of age, and the ISI report highlights that pupils of all ages make excellent progress.
This is reflected in the excellent examination results at the senior school, more academic success at the preparatory school with Maths and English tests results above the national average, and excellent learning and communication skills also on show in the early years department.
Very active participation in lessons by the younger children at St. Mary’s is noted in the report, with pupils settling well, speaking with confidence and listening to their teachers with much focus and attention.
The ISI inspectors were impressed with life outside the classroom at St. Mary’s, with the breadth and quality of the school’s extra-curricular programme also described as excellent.
Pupils’ achievements in music are selected for special praise, but the inspection report also recognises successes in the other performing arts and a wide variety of sports.
Elsewhere in the report there is praise for the quality of staff-pupil relationships, and for the fact that ‘pupils behave exceptionally well and show a substantial understanding of what is right and wrong’.
According to the inspectors, this is the result of teachers encouraging pupils to view the school as their extended family, where everyone is welcomed and made to feel at home.
This in turn means that students are ‘notably self-assured and self-confident in their approach to school life’, celebrating each other’s successes and developing ‘high levels of self-esteem’ during their time at the school.
Meanwhile, the ISI report is also very complimentary about the ‘excellent leadership and pastoral support’ provided by St. Mary’s, which ensures that pupils are well placed to make mature and informed decisions about the next stage of their lives.
St. Mary’s was also praised in the report for the quality of its links with the families of pupils, with the overwhelming majority of respondents to a parent questionnaire indicating they think the school ‘successfully supports their child’s personal development’.
The inspectors say pupils make ‘excellent progress’ and move on ‘very successfully’ when they leave St. Mary’s, gaining places at the universities of their choice.
Commenting on the ISI’s findings, St. Mary’s College Principal Mike Kennedy said: “Everyone here is delighted at the inspectors’ comments which are outstandingly positive for all three age ranges at the school.
“We believe that our school and its pupils are outstanding and it’s fantastic that the inspectors share this view.
“And while we’re really proud that they have again praised our longstanding success in nurturing the personal development of our pupils, it’s particularly pleasing that this time they have also awarded their highest-possible grading for the academic achievements of our pupils.
“I would like to thank and congratulate everyone associated with St. Mary’s whose efforts have contributed to making this first-class report possible.”
Please click on the links below to download the ISI inspection report, which has been published in two parts: