We have had four inspections in the last seven years, two from Ofsted and two from the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. All judged the school as Outstanding, a grade achieved by fewer than 2 in 10 secondary schools nationally.
Our GCSE results are excellent. Over the last four years, an average of almost 80% of our students have obtained the A*-C benchmark in the core subjects of English and maths. This was 83% in 2016. In science, this is almost 90%. A notable feature of our outstanding results is the exceptional performance of our upper ability pupils. For the past two years, over 30% of all GCSE grades have been A*-A, way above the national average of 16%-17%. This reflects the excellent teaching and stretching of our most able. It also reflects the changing nature of St Mary’s intake over the last few years, with an above average proportion of upper ability pupils in each year group.
St Mary’s is one of the top schools in the north-east (out of around 150) for overall “value-added” achievement across the key subjects of English, maths, science, history, geography and modern foreign languages. This year, each student gained on average over half a grade above their expected progress across eight GCSE subjects, the DfE’s new Progress 8 measure and, at 0.55, this is one of the highest in the UK and region. This is arguably the most useful means of gauging a school’s overall academic strength, as it covers the largest proportion of a school’s key exam subject entries and measures how far above (or below) national averages students achieve compared to their starting points. Our “value-added” has been superb for many years now.
At A level, our pass rate for the past two years has been 100%. This year, 85% of grades for academic subjects were A*-C and over 53% were A*-B. The pass rate for vocational subjects was equally impressive, with 100% of grades being Merit or above and 89% Distinction or above. Each year, students move on to higher education at universities, many going to the very best ones, to study a wide range of degree courses, including medicine, dentistry, sciences, law, architecture, languages, humanities and education. As well as Oxbridge, we are opening up access to US universities and last year we had our first student attend a Harvard University summer school in Boston, USA.