Within Stonyhurst, we aim to make learning fun in every way by tapping into children’s natural curiosity and eagerness to learn. We are much more than a preparatory school – St Mary's Hall is a family to which children know they belong. Our pupils are encouraged to work hard and achieve their personal best, whether it is in the classroom, on the sports field, or through the myriad of other opportunities they have for their personal development and all round growth.
From Foundation Stage to Upper Elements (Year 6), children develop and extend their individual skills in English and mathematics daily and gain great benefit from a rich and broad curriculum which includes science, history, geography, modern languages, computing, drama, music, sport, art and design and thinking skills. As the children mature, the breadth of opportunities increases. Our teachers are passionate about their subjects and about developing a growth mindset to bring out the very best in every pupil.
Specialist music teaching extends to opportunities to learn to play a wide range of instruments, and specialist taught drama lessons are complemented by access to the LAMDA programme for pupils of all ages. Modern foreign languages teaching begins in the early years and by Y7 pupils typically learn three. Pupils also benefit from a well-resourced Learning Support department whose team includes a full-time English as an additional language (EAL) teacher.
Children’s progress is tracked and monitored throughout their schooling using a range of diagnostic tools, standardised assessments and specialist teacher knowledge. We are proud that our pupils consistently achieve academic results well above the national standard and beyond their own predicted grades.
Building strong foundations
Stonyhurst is an innovative school supported by strong traditions, leading in educational development. Our methods of learning are continually evolving, but our primary aim remains constant: to help our pupils become 'men and women for others' whilst creating a prosperous future. We foster respect, self-discipline, resilience, confidence and concern for others, which stands our pupils in good stead throughout their Stonyhurst education, into the College – and beyond.
Small class sizes
High levels of individual attention are paramount in achieving our aims and with small class sizes, our teaching staff are able to ensure each child is fully known, valued and supported. Small class sizes mean that our teachers can focus closely on individual needs, providing pupils with the confidence to contribute their ideas without feeling intimidated and ensuring the strongest teacher-pupil rapport upon which each child’s engagement and progress can be maximised.
English as an additional language (EAL)
Stonyhurst is blessed with pupils of many different nationalities. We have traditionally welcomed pupils from various countries around the world including Spain, Mexico, Hong Kong, Korea, France, Germany and the Ukraine.
The EAL Department aims to develop:
- The pupil’s ability to communicate effectively in English in different situations.
- The pupil’s understanding of the spoken and written language.
- Linguistic ability.
- Insights into Britain and its culture.
- An understanding that the multilingualism of our EAL pupils enriches out school and our community.
For pupils from overseas who require extra support in English, we offer an EAL curriculum at St Mary's Hall which covers language development and exam preparation. The exams offered include the Cambridge KET, PET, FCE, CAE and CPE examinations, which are regulated by the ESOL department of the University of Cambridge. Whilst attaining one of its certificates is an achievement and a reward in itself, there are also many other benefits to taking them:
- Certificates are valid for life
- Achievements are recognised around the world for business and educational purposes
- Thousands of employers, universities and government departments officially recognise the Cambridge ESOL examinations
Please refer to details of the Cambridge examinations at the Cambridge ESOL website below:
Taking a solid academic approach with specialist teaching, children are presented with opportunities to develop a broad range of skills. Pupils regularly move to different classrooms and specialist teaching areas throughout the day, which helps to keep them inspired and engaged! Each day they benefit from exceptional facilities such as subject-specific classrooms, including the newly constructed music department, the science lab and professional standard fully-equipped theatre.
Pupils have access to vast facilities within the Stonyhurst campus, including indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a swimming pool, sports pitches, a theatre, an observatory and access to the unique historic collections within Stonyhurst College, which brings history to life for even the youngest of pupils.
The school day begins from 08:00. During the drop-off window, the children enjoy games, reading and socialisation with their friends, then at 8:20 each Playroom gathers together and prepares to start the day. Each day begins by coming together to complete The Examen, through which pupils and staff have an opportunity to reflect upon the previous day, express gratitude and set intentions for the day ahead, in a calm and prayerful atmosphere, setting the tone for the day’s learning. Lessons begin at 08:30.
The formal teaching day ends at 16:00 for Prep and Elements and at 17:00 for Figures and Rudiments, following which pupils are warmly encouraged to stay for a co-curricular activity, followed by supper and studies if they wish. Staying for studies is a popular option as it means that any homework is completed at school, under the supervision of a teacher. Final end of day pick -times for day pupils are 18:00 for Prep and Elements and 19:00 for Figures and Rudiments.
Themed Days are a regular part of life at SMH and are carefully planned to give children experiential learning opportunities, designed to bring the curriculum to life and make learning especially memorable and enjoyable. Some recent examples include: a World War Two Day to consolidate a history topic - where pupils spent the day dressed as evacuees, learned WW2 songs and experienced the Blitz; and a Fantastic Mr Fox Day where, having studied the classic Roald Dahl tale, pupils dressed up as characters from the story and enjoyed a Fox Feast and other themed activities. There are also regular themed days and home clothes days for fundraising or awareness-raising purposes.
Whole school Enrichment Week
In mid-June and immediately following the end-of-year assessment week, the whole school embarks upon Enrichment Week. Pupils and staff alike embrace learning opportunities and life skills beyond the traditional confines of the classroom. Residential trips in Rudiments depart for European capital cities such as Barcelona, Madrid or Rome whilst the children in Figures visit the First World War battlefields of northern France and Belgium. In addition to the above, Rudiments have a programme of events which prepares them for the next stage in their educational journey as they prepare for senior school.
Prep end Elements pupils embark upon adventures closer to home, with day trips and excursions as well as exciting activities on-site.
Enrichment Week is one of the highlights of the year at SMH and fulfils Stonyhurst's mission to celebrate the talents the pupils have and encourage them to broaden their perspectives and horizons.
Within St Mary's Hall, pupils’ academic progress is rigorously measured by assessments, diagnostic tools to ensure all are on track and to identify those excelling and those who need extra help.
Good Schools Guide
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The national curriculum integrates cross-curricular themes, providing an opportunity to utilise the extraordinary Stonyhurst Collections.
Good Schools Guide