Academic Subjects

English

English Literature and Language are studied with great enthusiasm at St Mary’s! Students learn to express themselves articulately and with confidence in a variety of speaking, listening and written activities. They also develop critical, personal and imaginative responses to a variety of literary genres.

A recent addition to the curriculum is preparation for the English Speaking Board examinations in public speaking, which enhance students’ Speaking and Listening skills and encourages the girls to feel confident about forming and expressing their own opinions, giving presentations and speaking in public.

Mathematics

The overall aim of the Mathematics department is to encourage students to enjoy the subject and to nurture their confidence. Students learn to think and communicate mathematically – precisely, logically and creatively. Importantly, they also learn to use their mathematical knowledge and understanding to solve problems outside the classroom.

We use a wide range of teaching methods and resources, ranging from investigation and practical work, to computer and calculator assisted study, as well as teacher-led learning. The focus in every lesson is on mathematical fluency, problem-solving, progression (and fun!)

Science

Science at St Mary’s is progressive, active and vibrant. Students are enthused, challenged and motivated through practical hands-on experience, modelling, role play, ICT and direct involvement with all three sciences.

In Years 7 and 8, students follow a broad-based programme that covers Biology, Chemistry and Physics. It provides a good practical-based foundation which challenges the girls to think about science in a variety of ways, assess their results and ask questions. In Year 9 students begin the GCSE science syllabus, in line with other schools, to make sure that the syllabus is covered in sufficient depth.

Modern Foreign Languages

Learning Modern Foreign Languages is a vital and integral part of our broad and balanced curriculum. Whether it is seen as stimulating intellectual challenge, a way of developing social skills or a means of deepening understanding of other cultures, language enriches the experience of every student and is a compulsory subject for all girls.

On joining the school in Year 7, girls learn French, German and Spanish, quickly building basic vocabulary and an understanding of grammatical concepts.

Students learn many skills which are useful in a wide range of careers, such as communicating clearly, speaking confidently in public and using problem solving strategies, as well as creating greater opportunities to work abroad or for companies in the UK with international links.

From Year 8, students focus on one Modern Foreign Language, choosing from French, German or Spanish. For keen linguists, there is the opportunity to study two languages.

Classics

All students have the opportunity to discover the legacy of the Classical world. Although rigorous at times, the lessons are fun and aim to encourage the students to think critically about how the Classical world has influenced the modern-day world in terms of language, literature, art and architecture.

The course encourages girls to develop as independent learners and as critical and reflective thinkers. Students acquire knowledge and understanding of selected aspects of the classical world, and develop awareness of the continuing influence of the classical world on later times.

Geography

The Geography Department prides itself on its enquiring approach to the study of Geography, and students are encouraged to question what happens in the world around them. Students cover a wide range of topics, including local geography, climate, energy, the developing world and globalisation.

Learning is brought to life in a variety of ways. For example students put their newly acquired skills into action by becoming weather forecasters and presenters, carry out local studies working with Essex Wildlife Trust on Biodiversity, and spending time with a visiting speaker from Oxfam, taking on the role of aid workers.

History

The History Department at St Mary’s is committed to encouraging a curiosity and love of learning, which will build an enthusiasm for history that will last a lifetime.

Every student is encouraged to think critically and creatively, and we aim to create an environment where everyone is stimulated and challenged. Students are encouraged to make sense of the world they live in by examining the past through thought-provoking, engaging and challenging lessons. This level of commitment to historical education produces consistently excellent examination results.

Latin

Latin is introduced in a lively way with the aim in Year 7 being to teach comprehension of the Latin Language for reading purposes. Students quickly learn basic Latin grammar and to translate simple Latin passages with confidence. The students often comment that learning Latin helps them to improve their English vocabulary.

We build students’ reading skills and vocabulary through exposure to Latin, with most students sitting an Entry Level Latin exam (OCR) at the end of Year 8. Year 9 students then follow a shortened Classical Studies course with units of work on Greek literature including Homer’s ‘Odyssey’, Everyday Life in the Ancient World and a look at Greek pottery.

Religious Studies (RS)

RS encourages students to become aware of the world around them and to consider ethical issues that affect us all. Modules include Beginnings: Myths and Founders, Holy Books and Churches, Festivals and Rites of Passage and Martin Luther-King.

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