Academic Success

St Mary’s is an academic school and our students’ exam results are impressive, despite the fact our school has a broad academic intake. In December 2021, the Sunday Times ‘Parent Power’ list ranked the Lower School as 12th highest performing preparatory school in England.

Small classes and individual attention

The key to our academic success is the fact that every student is well known in our close-knit community. Classes are small and we are experts in contemporary girls’ education. Our teachers are passionate about their subjects and do all they can to support the girls with their learning on an individual basis, whether in the classroom, in specific sessions or by suggesting extension work tailored to suit the student’s needs.

The confidence to ‘have a go’

In such a supportive, all-girl environment, our students develop the confidence to put up their hands even if they’re not sure of the answer, or push themselves to try a new activity or a more challenging task. At St Mary’s, our young people are taught that making mistakes is an important part of learning and they should never be afraid to try. In this way, our students often discover they are capable of much more than they had ever imagined and this develops self-belief that’s so valuable in life.

Teaching expertise

Our teaching staff are very experienced and in the main have been at St Mary’s for many years. They enjoy their work and are always on hand to support and guide. Several members of staff are highly respected in their fields and act as mentors to staff at other schools. They are experts at teaching the girls in their subject or year group and share new ideas and approaches with other successful schools that are members of the Girls’ Schools Association and the Association of Independent Preparatory Schools.

High aspirations

Former students of St Mary’s achieve success in all walks of life. We encourage our pupils to make the most of all the opportunities St Mary’s offers to develop their talents and maximise their learning. By choosing university courses and careers that really interest them, they are more likely to succeed and find fulfilment in life, so our students are inspired to aim high and do all they can to achieve their goals in life.

Lower School

Academic Achievement

Please enjoy reading our pupils’ results for the academic year 2018-19 and 2019-20.

We use a selection of tests to monitor our pupils’ progress and to make sure they are achieving to the best of their ability.  Our school is not academically selective, so these excellent results demonstrate the effectiveness of teaching and learning at St Mary’s.

Early Years Foundation Stage

93% of pupils in Prep attained a Good Level of Development against the Early Years framework.  This is compared to the national average of 71%.

This means that pupils have met the Early Learning Goal or Exceeded in all of the Prime Areas of Learning (Communication and Language, Physical Development and Personal, Social and Emotional Development) as well as achieving the Early Learning Goal or Exceeded in Mathematics and Literacy.

Salford Reading Test (National Average 100)

At the beginning of each academic year, the pupils take the Salford Reading test.  The results are expressed as a standardised score and show the average achieved in each cohort.

Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6
Mean SAS


120 129 128 127 116
Mean SAS


119 131 128 124 118

InCAS Testing (National Average 100)

The InCAS (Interactive Computerised Assessment System) provides a wealth of information.  It highlights pupils’ strengths and weaknesses so that teachers can determine the extent of the pupils’ knowledge and skills.  The pupils at St Mary’s sit these tests at the beginning of the academic year and the results enable us to track progress. These results show the mean standardised scores in the year groups tested and shows that the pupils are working above expected level (national 100)

2018-2019 Year 2 Year 4 Year 6
Reading 111 124 110
General Maths 116 126 123
Mental Maths 110 113 108
Developed ability 107 123 113
Mean (Reading,

Gen Maths,

Mental Maths)

111 121 114

End of KS1 SATs results (Teacher Assessment)

At the end of KS1 (Year 2), teachers assess each pupil in the areas of reading, writing and maths. National Curriculum tests are used to support teachers’ judgements.

Pupils are assessed against the curriculum of the year group they are currently in.  The standards are whether the pupil has met the expectations of the year group curriculum or whether they are working at a greater depth within the expected standard, showing a strong understanding of the curriculum.

Reading Writing SPaG Mathematics
Greater Depth 64% 55% 73% 73%
Expected 100% 82% 100% 100%
Emerging 0% 18% 0% 0%

KS2 SATs (Statutory Assessment Tests) results

At the end of KS2 (Year 6) the pupils are assessed on their knowledge and understanding of the curriculum.

The results of the SATs (tests) are reported using a scaled score, where a score of 100 represents the expected standard. The highest possible score is 120 and the lowest is 80.

*The writing element is awarded by Teacher Assessment judgements;

Expected standard – working at the expected standard for their age

Greater Depth – Working at a greater depth within the expected standard and has a strong understanding of the curriculum

SPaG (Spelling, punctuation and grammar)

These results also show the percentage of pupils achieving a High Standard. Pupils with a scaled score of 110 and above are included in this group.

End of KS2 SATs Results 2019 St Mary’s Results National (2018)
Reading – Expected  Standard 100% 75%
Reading – High Standard 63% 28%
Reading – Average Scaled Score 112 105
Writing* – Expected Standard 100% 76%
Writing* – Greater Depth 42% 18%
SPaG – Expected Standard 95% 78%
SPaG – High Standard 68% 34%
SPaG – Average Scaled Scores 113 106
Maths – Expected Standard 95% 76%
Maths – High Standard 58% 24%
Maths – Average Scaled Score 110 104

From 19 pupils who took KS2 SATS 37% achieved a higher standard across all 3 subject areas – Reading (110+), Maths (110+) and Writing (working at greater depth)

Please note: to ensure our levelling of pupils’ work is in-line with national standards we are moderated by the Local Authority.  This was carried out for EYFS (June 2017) and in KS1 and KS2 (June 2019)

11+ CSSE (Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex)

55% of St Mary’s pupils who chose to sit the 11+ CSSE examination in November 2020 for entry to Essex state selective (grammar) schools were successful in achieving places at Colchester County High School for Girls.


St Mary’s Year 6 pupils are encouraged to apply for Scholarships to St Mary’s Senior School, which are awarded solely on merit (not means-tested). In the academic year 2019-2020, six St Mary’s Year 6 pupils achieved St Mary’s Senior Scholarships.

Senior School

We are very proud of our students’ success in their GCSE examinations. Our results are particularly impressive considering we have a broad academic intake – the Senior School entry assessment is for academic tracking purposes only and to ensure that the school can best cater to each girl’s particular needs.

Classes are small and each individual is well known by all members of staff, who identify her preferred method of learning and ensure that she is supported, encouraged and extended so that she is able to do her best in all subjects.

GCSE Results 2021

Despite the cancellation of exams and closure of schools, the GCSE results for St Mary’s are outstanding and truly reflect the hard work and commitment of both students and their teaching staff.

  • 99% overall pass rate
  • 57% of all grades were at A*-A/9-7
  • 98% of girls achieved 5 or more A*-C/9-4 including Maths and English
  • 22 subjects had 100% pass rate (English Language, English Literature, Further Maths, Statistics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, German, Russian, Fine Art, Photography, Classics, Drama, Geography, Hospitality and Catering, History, ICT, Latin, Music, Physical Education, Religious Studies and Fashion and Textiles)

Our Locations

St Mary's Colchester
Last few places available for September 2022

Contact our Registrar today for more information

Mrs Justine Tierney

01206 594180