Recognised as a top performing IB school, this small Catholic day and boarding school offers girls a well-rounded international education in a garden campus on the outskirts of London.
The school has a small community of just 240 girls, and around a third are boarders; it’s an international school, as the name suggests, with students representing around 35 different nationalities. While 46% of students are British, there is also a high percentage of students from Germany, Japan, Spain and Korea here. The IB is certainly a draw for families moving from overseas schools, and it’s not as selective as other private schools in the area. It’s also committed to supporting a diverse body of students; the library holds books in six languages for example, and the school offers 13-plus mother tongue languages as varied as Polish, Korean and Thai.
Founded in 1955 by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary (RSHM), the school remains part of an international Catholic network of schools; it delivers an education that’s deeply rooted in the Catholic faith and there is a great emphasis on spiritual life here. Mass is celebrated on a weekly basis, and students take an active part in prayer life through assemblies, daily reflections in class, and the celebration of important feast days and festivals. The school does welcome students and staff of any religious affiliation, though, and only 25% of students are Catholic.
As an all-girls school it believes it can “minimise stereotyped, gender-weighted expectations”; don’t expect to find any distinction between ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ subjects here. As a small school, it can offer small class sizes of around 12 where students benefit from a more personalised education. And as an IB school, it is excelling year on year with a school average of 36 points, which is all the more impressive for such an inclusive school.
Headteacher Margaret Giblin. Mrs Giblin has an MA in Catholic School Leadership from St Mary’s University and was previously Deputy Head People at Woldingham Catholic School for Girls.
The school is accredited by the Middle States Association of Schools & Colleges (USA). Its last full inspection by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) was in 2015; inspectors rated the school Excellent in all areas.
Marymount was one of the first IB schools in the UK, and it has the experience of offering the programme for over 40 years. Grades 6 to 10 follow the IB’s Middle Years Programme, which focuses on eight subject groups (Language & Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals & Societies, Sciences, Mathematics, The Arts, Design and Physical Education). It means no exams during this stage of your child’s education, and no GCSEs if that is important to you.
The school believes that the MYP offers its students the best preparation for the IB Diploma Programme in Grades 11-12, when girls study one course from each of six subject groups (three at standard level and three at higher level), as well as completing a 4,000-word Extended Essay (in one of seven languages), a course in the Theory of Knowledge, and an individual Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) programme of voluntary activities.
There’s a growing STEAM programme at the school, which is investing in facilities to develop the girls’ enthusiasm for maths, art, engineering, and design thinking; initiatives such as a STEAM Day at the end of each semester and Girls Who Code all help to drive an interest in typically male subjects.
Marymount’s flexible and stimulating curriculum is supported by an Enrichment Programme that gives able and gifted students opportunities to complete more complex tasks and learn new skills; and there’s a Peer Enrichment Programme that encourages students with EAL to teach their own language to other students.
Sports offered in the curriculum have a US influence and include volleyball, soccer, cross country, basketball, tennis, track and field and varsity badminton. While the school lacks the wow factor of an indoor swimming pool and acres of sports pitches, it uses what facilities it does have to the full (tennis courts and a large sports complex).
Marymount’s girls, known as the Aces, compete in weekly Middle School and High School fixtures within the London Schools Sports Association, which brings together Marymount, American School London, ACS Egham, ACS Cobham, ACS Hillingdon, and TASIS. Students may travel overseas to compete in an annual three-day tournament against other Marymount schools within the RSHM Global Network and stay local to compete in swimming meets and golf tournaments.
All students study drama, music and dance from Grades 6 to 9; theatre and music are offered as IB Diploma subjects, and dance will be offered from 2021. There’s packed calendar of arts events every year, including recent productions of Urinetown (2020) and Hairspray (2019), choir tours, a performing arts festival, and trips to the West End. And modern arts facilities include studios equipped with a kiln and potter’s wheels, a printing press, a laser cutter, 3D printers, and electronics.
Marymount is a top performing IB school. In 2020, the school’s average IB score was 38 and, in 2019 (the last year that students sat exams) it was 37; 41% of students scored 40 points or above (which is higher than A*A*A*A* at A Levels) and 66% of students achieved 38 points or above. In its cohort of internationally-minded students, 41% achieved a Bilingual Diploma.
University destinations include Durham, UCL, Manchester, Warwick, Edinburgh, St. Andrews, King’s College London, and UCLA and Emory in the USA, as well as top universities in Japan, Europe, South Korea and Canada.
Marymount offers five day, seven day, and flexi-boarding options, and students stay in one of three modern and welcoming houses on the campus. There’s a small boarding community of around 50 international students who share in twos and sometimes threes. The school does plenty to encourage independent living (students do their own laundry, for example), and a boarding council helps to keep students busy and active with a regularly changing programme of activities.
Marymount is well located for all major transport hubs, just 12 miles from central London, and in the popular town of Kingston.
It describes itself as “a garden campus”, where beautiful gardens surround a combination of modern classrooms and older buildings including a chapel, the Main House and library. Facilities include a STEAM Hub, science labs, art studios, a dance studio, auditorium, sports hall tennis court and sports pitch, and chalet-style garden rooms.
Marymount accepts applications throughout the school year, which works well for families relocating mid-academic year. The admissions process is not as strict or selective as many schools in the London area; while all students sit English and maths tests, the school uses an interview with the headteacher to discover if your child is a good fit for the school and the IB programme.
Annual fees for 2021-22 are £26,510 for day students, £42,980 for weekly boarders, and £44,880 for full boarding students.
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