Curriculum Statement

St Mary’s Shaftesbury – Curriculum Statement

The information on this page is intended for university admissions staff seeking context for the applications of St Mary’s students to higher education. For further information about the school, please visit the home page or email


St Mary’s is an independent girls’ boarding and day school with a Catholic ethos, located on the edge of Shaftesbury in Dorset. It has around 220 students, with around 60 in the Sixth Form. Admission is selective (by entrance exam and interview) but not strongly so. Most parents are relatively affluent, although a significant proportion of the students receive scholarships or means-tested bursaries.


Girls in Year 10 and 11 are entered for the core subjects of English Language, English Literature, Mathematics and Combined or Separate Science, plus Religious Studies. In addition they choose up to three optional subjects (two for students taking Separate Science). The majority of students will therefore take 9 GCSE subjects, while students with SEN or EAL provision might take eight.

A Level

Sixth Form students are strongly encouraged not to take more than three subjects at A Level, although many students try out four subjects for the first term of Year 12, and a handful continue with four subjects to A Level.

Students have a free choice of subjects from the following range:

Art, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Classical Civilisation, Drama and Theatre, Economics, English Literature, French, Geography, History, History of Art (Pre-U Qualification), Latin, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Music, Religious Studies (Philosophy & Ethics), Photography, Physical Education, Physics, Psychology, Spanish, Textiles.

Results are generally well above the national average, with 40% of entries at A or A*, and approximately a third of girls meeting or exceeding AAB.

Alongside A Level study, girls are encouraged to take on one or more enrichment options, including Duke of Edinburgh to Gold level and the Extended Project Qualification. Girls with English as a second language generally work towards Cambridge Assessment English within school, although a small proportion choose to study privately towards the IELTS qualification.