St Mary’s – an outstanding school for academic achievement

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 as 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

Our raw results are well above national averages. This year, over 80% of students achieved Level 4 (C equivalent) or above in English and maths combined, and over 65% achieved Level 5 (B equivalent) or above. In fact, 28% of all grades in GCSE English and maths were Level 7 (A equivalent) or above. Over the past three years, the average A*-C pass rate for those studying the separate sciences of biology, physics and chemistry has been 98%, with an average of 58% of students achieving A*-A grades across all three subjects. This year, 87% of students obtained A*-C in religious education, 42% at A*-A. Results in all other optional GCSE subjects were outstanding too, with 85% of all entries A*-C grades. Many of these subjects achieved A*-C pass rates of over 80% or 90%, including modern foreign languages in which 42% of pupils achieved A*-A. With a Level 2 pass rate of 83%, vocational subjects were also very successful. In fact, 25% of all vocational grades were Distinctions or above. Attainment is very high at A Level too. This year’s results were exceptional, with 87% of students gaining A*-C grades and over 63% achieving A*-B.

Outstanding academic ‘progress’ at St Mary’s

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 6 years in succession. Our Progress 8 score this year of +0.4 will rank us among the best schools not only in the north-east, but in the whole of England when DfE performance tables are published later this term.

You can be confident from these figures 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 where teaching and learning, the curriculum and, most importantly, the ethos and behaviour climate of the school are all outstanding, which is the case here at St Mary’s.

Exceptional Sixth Form achievement

Our results in Sixth Form are exceptional too. This year, once again, we celebrated a 100% pass rate in the Sixth Form. The proportion of Year 13 A level grades awarded A*-B was over 63%, with around 87% of grades awarded A*-C. Most impressively, in excess of 40% of all grades awarded in 2017 were A*-A and equivalent.

All A level students progress to degree courses at university

In each of the last 5 years, all of our A level students choosing 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. This year, four students obtained places at either Oxford or Cambridge to read Medicine, History and Politics, Modern Languages and Engineering.

An exceptionally strong Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4

As a result of the changing make-up of students joining St Mary’s in each of the last four years, we now have very strong academic year groups, among the strongest in the north-east. For example, in Years 9 and 10, more than 50% of students (i.e. over 100 per year group) joined the school with level 5s or better in their SATs.

In the current Years 7 and 8, well over 60% of pupils achieved scores above the national average in reading and maths in the newly reformed SATs. Children joining the school in September 2018 will, therefore, be joining a school with vibrant and able year groups ahead of them.