St Mary's School, Ascot

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St Mary's School, Ascot
St Mary logo.png
Motto Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam
(For the Greater Glory of God)
Established 1885
Type Independent day and boarding school
Religion Roman Catholic
Headmistress Mary Breen
Chair of the Governors The Hon Charles Martyn-Hemphill
Location St Mary's Road
51°23′39″N 0°40′13″W / 51.3943°N 0.6703°W / 51.3943; -0.6703Coordinates: 51°23′39″N 0°40′13″W / 51.3943°N 0.6703°W / 51.3943; -0.6703
Local authority Windsor and Maidenhead
DfE URN 110120 Tables
Students 380 pupils (2011)
Gender Female
Ages 11–18

St Mary's School, Ascot is a Roman Catholic independent day and boarding school for girls in Ascot, Berkshire, England.[1] It is a member of the Girls' Schools Association. It was named 2015 "Public School of the Year" at the annual Tatler Schools Awards.[2]. It was ranked No. 1 in the U.K. by The Daily Telegraph in the 2018 GCSEs.[3]


St Mary's School was founded by the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM). The school chapel was built in 1885 and funded by Cecilia Marshall, and the First Mass was celebrated there on 2 July 1896. The Chapel is dedicated to Our Lady of Humility and St Cecilia. It was consecrated by Bishop John Baptist Cahill in 1906.[4]

Since 1984, it has been run by the St Mary's School Ascot Trust. In 1998 the school had its first lay Headmistress, Mrs Mary Breen (leaving). Only one liturgical staff member remains, Father Dermot, the school's chaplain.[citation needed]

In 2006, the school opened its new sports centre, named the Orchard Centre after the Catholic family from which the school's two previous headmistresses came. The Centre was opened by ballerina Darcey Bussell. A Performing Arts Centre has also been built named the Rose Theatre. It opened in April 2009.[citation needed]

In 2015, St Mary's became the first school in the UK to use vein matching for keeping track of pupil attendance.[5].

In 2018, the school inaugurated its new Upper Sixth (Year 13) Courtyard: new boarding houses area for girls.[citation needed]


St Mary's has enjoyed success in both GCSE and A Levels examinations.

It was listed in The Independent's top 100 schools for 2012 based on the most recent A Levels results.[6].

In 2018 the girls' school achieved 1st place in the U.K. based on their GCSE results with a 97.5% A*-A or 9-1 rate - one of four schools to surpass 97% for the top grades, according to the Independent Schools Council (ISC) [7].

In 2018, girls placed 21st in the U.K. in their A Level results according to the Best Schools: UK School League Ranking based on their 75.77% A*-A results [8].

Pastoral care[edit]

As St Mary's is a Catholic school, girls are required to attend chapel and worship services. Throughout the Liturgical year the whole school community gather together to celebrate Feast Days and Holy Days of Obligation. Spiritual retreats are also organised for each year. The boarding areas are stationed around the school and the girls sleep within their year group. This gives them a chance to socialise with other girls other that are very close friends.


Most pupils at St Mary's are boarders and only full boarding is available. The house system is based on the boarding programme and each house has a mix of boarders and day girls. Each girl between Year 7 and Lower 6th (Year 12) belongs to one of the five main houses - Babthorpe, Bedingfeld, Poyntz, Rookwood and Wigmore - which are named after Mary Ward's fellow nuns.[9] Only girls in Upper Sixth (Year 13) are members of the Mary Ward house.

Each house has a captain, vice-captain and other leadership roles (e.g. prefects, drama captain) who are elected by house pupils.

House Colour
Mary Ward

The Heads of House are the first point of contact for girls and parents and most also teach at the school. All Heads of House have an office in the main body of the school and live on site with their families. Every house organises activities and social events on the weekends, which parents are encouraged to attend.[10]

Notable former pupils[edit]

The school is also currently attended by Lady Louise Windsor, daughter of The Earl of Wessex and Granddaughter of HM the Queen and Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones, daughter of David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon and granddaughter of Princess Margaret.[22]


  1. ^ 2011 ISI Inspection Report
  2. ^ "TATLER SCHOOLS AWARDS 2015 - THE WINNERS: Public School of the Year". Tatler. September 2015.
  3. ^ "Best independent schools in 2018: Full league table for GCSE results". The Daily Telegraph. 1 September 2018.
  4. ^ "St Mary's School Ascot - Chapel". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "Top £34,000-a-year girls' boarding school uses finger vein scanners to check pupils in for lessons and even lunch". Daily Mail. 14 December 2015.
  6. ^ "The Top 100 Independent Schools at A-Level". London: 26 January 2012.
  7. ^ "Best independent schools in 2018: Full league table for GCSE results". London: 1 September 2018.
  8. ^ "A Level Passes Grade A* and A". London: Best Schools.
  9. ^ "St Mary's School Ascot - House System". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  10. ^ "St Mary's School Ascot - Weekend Activities". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  11. ^ "No Ordinary Lady - Town & Country Magazine UK". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  12. ^ a b c Agnew, Harriet; Jenkins, Patrick (16 January 2015). "London: Sexism and the City". Financial Times. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  13. ^ "26 famous people who went to school in Berkshire". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  14. ^ Roberts, Andrew (30 April 2009). "Antonia Fraser: Interview". The Daily Telegraph.
  15. ^ a b c "St Mary's Ascot". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  16. ^ "St Mary's Ascot". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  17. ^ Gaughan, Gavin (26 July 2009). "Obituary: Zena Marshall". the Guardian. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  18. ^ Hodgkin, Emily (28 December 2017). "Lady Amelia Windsor's posh boarding school costs £39,000 a year". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  19. ^ "Absolutely fabulist". the Guardian. 22 January 2000. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  20. ^ "> 1 CROWN OFFICE ROW (Chambers of Philip Havers QC) > London, ENGLAND > Lawyer profiles > Philippa Whipple QC". The Legal 500. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  21. ^ "Where have you been hiding girls? After years in the shadows, two more Windsor beauties step into the spotlight". Daily Mail. 4 October 2010.
  22. ^ "Where Are They Now: Five Years After Prince William and Kate Middleton's Royal Wedding". Retrieved 20 March 2018.

External links[edit]