Why Choose a Girls' School?

St Mary’s is committed to single-sex education for girls. We are able to tailor the school environment to best suit our pupils’ learning styles and to create an atmosphere of support and encouragement that allows them to flourish and thrive.

The school is an active member of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA), the professional association representing the Heads of the UK’s leading girls’ independent schools. St Mary’s benefits from the GSA’s support and regular briefings on educational matters in order to:

  • promote high standards of education for girls in a complex and changing world
  • inform and influence national educational debate
  • promote the benefits of single-sex education for girls
  • provide strong support for members


Ten reasons for choosing a girls’ school, according to the Girls' Schools Association

Women are expected to balance many roles during their lives. Their paths to success require confidence, independence, the ability to lead, integrity and an instinct to achieve. Your choice of school for your daughter is therefore vital. These are some of the reasons we recommend that you consider a girls’ school.


1. Specialists in contemporary girls’ education

Girls’ Schools Association members are some of the most highly experienced, well-educated and influential teachers and leaders, with their finger on the pulse of contemporary education and, specifically, the education of girls. Through the GSA, they have access to up to 21 professional development opportunities each year.


2. Academic achievement

Single sex schools for girls dominate the top of the exam results league tables. Of course this doesn’t mean that individual children in co-ed schools cannot match these results. They can and do. What it does mean is that single sex schools for girls punch well above their weight when it comes to public exam results. In 2011, for instance, the percentage of girls from Girls’ Schools Association schools who achieved A/A* in their A Levels was 6.8% higher than it was for girls from independent co-educational schools. (i)


3. Girls and boys mature at different rates

Girls and boys mature at different rates. So, when it comes to learning, it makes sense to give each what they need in order for them to flourish. Your daughter can benefit from being in schools that recognise these differences and provide an education geared specifically to her needs and developmental stage.

"I think boys are better at mixed schools but girls definitely do better in single sex. They are not so worried about what the boys think and are not as inhibited to put their hands up and take risks." (ii)


4. Confidence

With only their fellow girls in the classroom and on the sports field, girls in single sex schools have the space in which their intellectual and physical confidence can blossom. There is a tremendous freedom to be – and become – themselves and to fully explore all the educational opportunities available to them. Research conducted amongst teachers of English in comprehensive schools (iii) found that most teachers acknowledged greater levels of participation in lessons, and increased confidence amongst both sexes, when they were taught separately.


5. Care and support

Every school claims to have excellent pastoral care. What’s different about girls’ schools is that we really do understand girls. We understand their friendship dynamics, their preoccupations and occasional silliness, and that some can be timid and overly concerned with being correct. This understanding means we can give the right kind of support and create safe environments in which girls feel comfortable taking risks and asking questions. As a result, they become more resilient and sure of themselves.


6. Opportunities - all of them!

In single sex schools, girls don’t just enjoy equal opportunities; they enjoy ALL opportunities, whether it is in the arts, sport, science, expeditions, careers insights or other extra-curricular activities. We believe there should be no limitations on your daughter’s ambitions, professional and personal. 


7. Girls learn to be leaders

There’s no hiding place in a girls’ school – someone has to be Head of House, team leader and so on, and that someone has to be a girl. The girls of today could be the leaders of tomorrow and girls’ schools are wonderful environments for your daughter to learn not just how to shoulder responsibility, but also how to take risks and inspire and lead others. It’s a great preparation for her future career.


8. Freedom from stereotypes

One of the great benefits of an all-girls school is that there is no gender stereotyping. Girls are leaders, they excel as much in Physics, Engineering and Design Technology as they do in English, Drama and Art, and they are free to pursue and achieve in every sport their school offers. Research by Ofsted has revealed that girls at single-sex schools are more likely to avoid preparing for “stereotypically female” careers than their contemporaries in co-educational schools. (iv)


9. University entrance

Girls’ schools have an excellent track record of helping their students gain places at the university of their choice. In fact, a greater percentage of pupils from Girls’ Schools Association schools continue to higher education than is the case in co-educational independent schools. (v)


10. Careers - a window on the world

Whether your daughter goes straight into employment or first continues her studies at university or college, girls’ schools prepare the way not only with pertinent knowledge but also with the resilience, confidence and freedom from stereotyping the all-girls environment inspires. We open girls’ eyes to possibilities and help them to take the practical and imaginative steps necessary to achieve their ambitions. Whatever she wants to be – aeronautical engineer, musician, doctor, retail manager, RAF pilot, fashion designer – it’s our aim to support and guide her. With so many arranging visiting speakers; partnerships with potential employers, colleges and universities; expeditions and exchange visits; and joint activities with girls and boys from other schools, girls’ schools prepare your daughter for the many challenges of life in the real world.


(i) Source: Independent Schools Council 2011 A Level Results Data
(ii) Parent quote, McCann Erickson research into what motivates the school selection process, 2007
(iii) Raising Boys’ Achievement, Dept for Education & Skills, 2002
(iv) Girls’ Career Aspirations, Ofsted, 2011
(v) Independent Schools Council 2010 Census

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For more information about the Girls' Schools Association, please visit