We strive for excellence in all that we do, whether supporting our students towards excellent academic achievement, or providing high quality opportunities for their all-round development. We ensure that outstanding pastoral care, excellent teaching and high quality learning are at the heart of school life. Most importantly, we help our students to develop superbly as well rounded, highly educated individuals, fully prepared to take their place successfully in the wider world, as happy, confident, self-aware young people with a sense of service to their communities.
St Mary’s is recognised locally and nationally as an outstanding school for academic achievement. Based on our sustained high academic performance over time, the school was approached by central government to become a National Support School in 2011. We are one of just a handful of National Support Schools in the North East, chosen from the small group of outstanding secondaries across the region. This work entails sharing our best practice to support schools regionally and nationally to raise academic achievement.
We were also designated a Teaching School by central government in summer 2017, with the mandate to develop high-quality teaching across the region, including the training of new teachers for the profession. In each of our last four Ofsted and Diocesan inspections, St Mary’s academic achievement has been judged outstanding.
Outstanding academic ‘attainment’ at St Mary’s
For a number of years, our GCSE results have been well above national averages. Over the past three years, 86% of grades in English and Maths have been 9-4 (A*-C equivalent), with 72% of grades 5 or above (A*-B equivalent). Furthermore, 31% of all grades in GCSE English and Maths have been Grades 9-7 (A*/A equivalent) during this period. The proportion of students gaining Grades 9-4 (A*-C) in the separate sciences of Biology, Chemistry and Physics over the past three years has been 99%, with an average of 45% of students achieving Grade 9-7 (A*-A equivalent) across the three separate science subjects. These results in the core subjects are among the very highest in the North-East. In the past three years, 74% of students in RE have gained a Grade 5 or above. Three-year average results in Humanities and Modern Foreign Languages are very impressive too, with 71% of students gaining Grade 9-5 (A*-B equivalent) in History or Geography, and 62% gaining 9-5 in French or Spanish. With an average Level 2 pass rate of 91% over the past three years, vocational subjects are also very successful. In fact, over 35% of all vocational grades have been Distinctions or above during this period.
Our ‘attainment’ scores are very impressive, but they are not the most important indicator of our performance. Most important of all is the progress our students make between Year 7 and Year 11. This is a school’s ‘value added’, or ‘pupil progress’ score and it is something that we advise parents to check when evaluating a school. St Mary’s ‘pupil progress’ has been exceptionally high for 8 years in succession. Our average Progress 8 score over the past three years is 0.51, which is significantly higher than the national average. This means that students achieve, on average, half a grade higher than expected in all their GCSE subjects. You can be confident that your child will be stretched and challenged to fulfil his or her academic potential at St Mary’s, whatever their starting point. This outstanding pupil progress can only be achieved when teaching and learning, the curriculum and, most importantly, the ethos and behaviour climate of the school are all outstanding. This is certainly the case here at St Mary’s.
Sixth Form achievement
Our results in Sixth Form are excellent too. Our three-year average pass rate is 99% in all A Level courses in the Sixth Form, with 87% of students gaining A*-C grades and over 66% achieving A*-B. Most impressively of all, 40% of grades awarded have been A*-A in the past three years. In vocational subjects, results are equally impressive. Over the past three years, 98% of students have achieved a Merit or above, with 77% gaining a Distinction or above. We confidently predict even stronger A Level performance from future year groups, as the ability profile of students coming through the school now is significantly higher than several years ago (see Key Stage 3, below).
A Level students progress to degree courses at university
In each of the last 5 years, the vast majority of our A level students selecting Higher Education have progressed successfully to degree courses at their chosen universities. We have successfully prepared our students for entry into leading institutions such as Oxbridge, St Andrews, Durham, Bristol, Edinburgh and other Russell Group universities to study Medicine, Law, Humanities, Languages, Maths and many other challenging degree courses.
An exceptionally strong Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4
As a result of the changing make-up of students joining St Mary’s over recent years, we now have very strong academic year groups, among the strongest in the North-East. For example, in Years 8 to 11, more than 77% of students (i.e. over 180 per year group) achieved the ‘expected standard’ in Reading and Maths in their Standard Attainment Tests at the end of Year 6. In fact, on average, 24% of students in Years 8 to 11 achieved the ‘high score’ of 110 or above in both areas. Children joining the school in September 2020 will, therefore, be joining a school with vibrant and able year groups ahead of them.
We confidently expect all these year groups to achieve very high levels of performance at GCSE. As they move through to Sixth Form, A Level attainment will build even more on the strong results seen in recent years. It is important, therefore, for parents to have this overall profile of a school’s current year groups to help understand the kind of academic environment that their child would be joining.