Cambridge School Rows 26 Marathons to Raise Funds

Cambridge school community rows the equivalent of 26 marathons in bid to raise money for rowing programme

On Saturday 20 May, over 150 students, their families and members of staff from St Mary’s School, Cambridge undertook a Million Metre Row challenge at the historic Goldie Boathouse in a bid to raise money for the school’s rowing programme.

St Mary's School, Cambridge rowers

Rowing the equivalent of 26 marathons (1 million metres) over the course of the day the students and their families rowed at least 16 kilometres each, with many of them coming back and adding to the total over the course of the day.

Students from Year 7 to Upper Sixth took part in the event, which saw Headmistress Ms Charlotte Avery joining in the occasion in high spirits. During the morning, the girls were joined by 10 members of the Cambridge University Boat Club, including Chief Coach and Olympian (Gold, Sydney 2000), Steve Trapmore MBE, who rowed alongside the girls as part of their training. During the afternoon, the winning Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club squad (which includes Tokyo 2020 hopefuls) also attended the event, with Rio 2016 Olympian, Claire Lambe (Ireland) rowing to help make up the distance. Claire and her fellow crew members not only inspired the girls with their experiences but found themselves being inspired by the girls and their determination, commenting that their enthusiasm was infectious.

Miss Julie Hogg, Head of Development & Fundraising, at St Mary’s School, Cambridge said: “Since October, we have been running a weekend rowing programme for girls aged 12 to 16. The programme is proving so successful that we want to expand our offering so more students can participate. To enable this to happen we need to raise funds for more equipment as well as coaching resources.”

In order to accommodate more students into the school’s rowing programme, St Mary’s School, Cambridge is partnering with the City of Cambridge Rowing Club to replace and expand the existing boathouse. The new boathouse will be available to accommodate more students into the club by the summer of 2018. This expansion coincides with the school’s wider investment in sport this year with the substantial regeneration of the school’s sports ground, located on Long Road.

Charlotte Avery


Ms Avery added: “Thank you to all of the girls and their families who took part in the event. I enjoyed playing my part, rowing alongside the girls and helping them to the 1 million metre mark.  All monies raised will directly benefit our girls so we can continue to build our rowing offering. We have a really talented group of rowers and we want them to have the opportunity to compete at the Henley Women’s Regatta or the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta in due course and the monies raised from the event will help us achieve this.”


About St Mary’s School, Cambridge:

St Mary’s School, Cambridge is an independent girls’ day and boarding school educating students from age 4 to 18:

For further information please contact or call +44 (0) 161 223 4295.

May 24, 2017 / by / in
Dads and Daughters Tackle Gender Inequality

Dads and daughters pledge to tackle gender inequality at Dads4Daughters debate, St Mary’s School, Cambridge. 

Dads4daughters St Marys School Boarding Schools and Colleges 1St Mary’s School, Cambridge held its inaugural Dads4Daughters event at which 40 day girls and boarders from Year 10 to Upper Sixth were accompanied by some of the significant men in their lives (fathers, uncles, rowing coaches, and form tutors) to discuss workplace gender bias. The school joined other Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) member schools across the country in marking the first national Dads4Daughters day.

Headmistress and 2017 GSA President Charlotte Avery greeted the audience: “We value enormously the role that women play in those jobs that are perceived to have been traditionally women’s roles – from being the first educator of their own children, or nursing the sick – but we equally value the contribution that women can make in those roles that were once thought of as traditionally male roles – perhaps as astronauts or football players. What is important is that each child is encouraged and equipped to pursue whatever ambition they choose for themselves; this is what we do at St Mary’s School, Cambridge.

“When our girls enter the workplace they are likely to encounter some level of gender bias. This is what we hope to address – to flag up some areas where both men and women are still perpetuating a sense of inequality in the workplace, whether knowingly doing so or not, and to promote positive action to tackle this issue.”

GSA member schools recently teamed up to survey their alumnae about their experiences in the workplace, the results of which set the format of the St Mary’s School Dads4Daughters evening. Six topics were discussed (for instance whether workplaces are becoming more equal, or what tactics will further equality most effectively) and the students attending were invited to vote and show whether they agreed or disagreed with the statements put to them. As student votes were calculated the GSA alumnae survey results were revealed and an impressive guest panel – including Lord Andrew Lansley, and expertly chaired by guest of honour Dame Sandra Dawson – debated each topic in a Question Time format with questions and comments from the floor, before students’ votes were revealed.
Dads4daughters St Marys School Boarding Schools and Colleges

On many points alumnae and students’ views were well aligned: 71% of GSA alumnae have witnessed/experienced workplace gender inequality and 75% of school students expect to; 75% of GSA alumnae believe things are improving for women in the workplace, as do 71% of students.  Of six suggested ways to encourage gender equality (including pay transparency, encouragement of positive male behaviour, and more widespread/generous paternity leave) there was unanimous agreement that seeing more senior female role models would have the greatest impact, and that both recruitment quotas and an attitude of ‘doing nothing and expecting attitudes to change over time’ would have least effect.

However the panel and audience were surprised to see how current students’ views on other questions differed to those of the alumnae surveyed. While only four in 10 alumnae have attempted to change gender inequality in their workplace, the student vote was met with applause, with nine out of 10 students committed to doing so. Interestingly, on the topic of whether men could do more to support women in the workplace, 75% of alumnae agreed that they could, but only 43% of students did. Of four areas of workplace inequality about which respondents might be most concerned, alumnae opted for unequal pay whereas students’ primary concerns were sexist attitudes (45%) and a lack of respect (41%).

Emmanuella N., a Year 11 boarder from Nigeria who attended with her uncle, explained the role that fathers are already playing so effectively: “I want to be a chemical engineer. My dad is an electrical engineer, and he has shown me what it takes and told me that I can achieve it, so I think as much as positive female role models are important, fathers are role models too. He has encouraged me that I can succeed.”

Ella B., Lower Sixth day student who attended with her father and is currently considering a career as an astrophysicist or politician, commented: “In recent years things have been solved by law. Now it’s attitudinal change that needs to happen, and this is more effective if it starts earlier in life – which is why this event is so important. Real change will take a long time to take effect.”

Concluding the event Dame Sandra Dawson commented: “Men at the moment are in power and so men need to be involved in change. Unconscious bias comes in lots of forms and it is always beholden on all of us to question why things are the way they are, and whether we are really as genuinely inclusive as we believe we are. My own children have helped me realise some of my own areas of unconscious bias, which is why events such as this are so essential, because hearing from these young women will help us all to further gender equality.”

About St Mary’s School, Cambridge:

St Mary’s School, Cambridge is an independent girls’ day and boarding school educating students from age 4 to 18: View their full profile here or visit their website here. Interested in making an application? Talk to our advisors on

April 25, 2017 / by / in
St Mary’s Sixth Form Student – Reaching for the Stars!

St Mary’s Sixth Form student secures place as only female member of UK team at International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics!

Selena Y., Lower Sixth student from St Mary’s School, Cambridge has been selected to join the UK team for the International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA) in Thailand in November 2017 – and will be the only female team member.


Alongside two of her St Mary’s School, Cambridge peers, Jesslyn F. and Titania H., Selena was entered into the AS British Physics Olympiad in March by the school’s Physics department. All three students performed well, with Selena achieving an extraordinary score of 30/50, which puts her in the top 4.6 percent nationally from entrants numbering in the thousands. The quality of Selena’s answers was such that she was one of only 12 students nationally to be invited to the British Astro Physics camp, which took place at the University of Oxford in early April.

A prestigious event running over four days, the purpose of the British Astro Physics camp was for attendees to meet other students, to experience problem-solving scenarios across a range of topics, and for the university to select a team of five to represent the UK at the IOAA.

Selena said: “I was unsure about participating in the Olympiad as I wasn’t planning to read Physics at university, but I discovered the link to Astronomy and that there would be an opportunity to attend the British Astro Physics camp, and that is what piqued my interest – I am fascinated by Astronomy. Our Physics teacher helped us to prepare for the Olympiad in weekly training sessions, but I had no idea that I would do so well. The camp was very interesting; we solved problems and learnt about topics such as spherical trigonometry to do with the earth and air travel. My favourite part of the camp was meeting and spending time with other like-minded young people, sharing my passion for Astronomy with others, and challenging and inspiring each other – and I’m so looking forward to being challenged more and working with the team as we prepare for the IOAA!”

Robin Hughes, Chairman, British Physics Olympiad, said: “Selena is very strong, has the interest and we believe will develop the knowledge and skills to cope with the International competition. We have about seven months to prepare and quite a lot to do.”

Selena Y. and Robin Hughes

The commitment required by the team of students, in addition to individual preparation done remotely throughout the period, includes: attending a five day training camp at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, in early July; attending another five day training camp, observing at the Marlborough College Blackett Observatory and training at the University of Oxford, in late August; and attending the IOAA itself in Thailand from 12 to 21 November.

Robin Hughes continued: “We have never had more than one girl on the IOAA team. We just do not get enough girls taking part in the earlier stages to get this far. If they do get through then they are fine… It is a real problem and very hard for us to dig down to get girls engaged early, after which they might hang on.”

Charlotte Avery, Headmistress, St Mary’s School, Cambridge and President, Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) said: “Of the 12 students invited to participate in the initial British Astro Physics camp in Oxford, Selena was one of only two females and from there Selena progressed to earn her place on the team representing the UK at the prestigious IOAA in Thailand. We are especially thrilled, not only because one of our students has made such a phenomenal personal achievement, but also because Selena’s accomplishment showcases what we have always said to be true: that our girls can excel in those subjects and disciplines traditionally dominated by boys, when they are given the opportunity to learn in an environment free from gender stereotypes, and encouraged by their subject teachers to take on challenges such as this. As both Headmistress and GSA President I am investing in opportunities to encourage girls to consider Physics at all ages, by co-ordinating with the charity Physics Partners, and with the Institute of Physics, to promote the teaching of Physics to young women. Selena’s achievement is most exciting – well done to Selena.”

About St Mary’s School, Cambridge:

St Mary’s School, Cambridge is an independent girls’ day and boarding school educating students from age 4 to 18: View their full profile here or visit their website here. Interested in making an application? Talk to our advisors on

April 25, 2017 / by / in
St. Francis’ College Celebrates International Women’s Day

“Magnificent”, “wonderful”, “engaging”, “interesting” and, of course, “inspiring”, are words used by the audience to describe the “Be Inspired” event held at St. Francis’ College on the evening of Tuesday 7th March.

St. Francis College UK Boarding School 1

To celebrate International Women’s Day and to raise awareness of the charity Women for Women International, through whom the College sponsors a sister in Uganda, St. Francis’ invited three inspirational women to speak and share their stories with the pupils, parents, staff and the wider community.

Dr Preti Taneja, Dr Hannah Macleod and Professor Tanya Bryon captivated the full house at the College theatre.  First to speak was Dr Taneja, an old girl of St. Francis’.  She spoke about freedom of speech and her work with Shakespeare’s works and the influence his words have had with her human rights work in New Delhi and Jordan.  Next was GB Hockey Player Hannah Macleod, who delighted the audience by passing round her Gold medal from the Rio Olympics while she spoke about the challenges that have faced her and the GB team in their preparation for both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics.

Finally, Professor Tanya Bryon was the icing on the cake with her gripping address about teenage mental health issues.  She gave some truly inspiring advice to the teenage girls in the audience about the importance of addressing this issue.  At the end of the evening the whole theatre was buzzing and everyone was talking about the inspiration they had gained from the evening.St. Francis College UK Boarding School 2

Mrs Goulding, Headmistress, commented that, “It is really important to have strong female role models who can help the younger generation be inspired to achieve their dreams and not let gender bias stand in their way.  As a girls’ school we feel very strongly about ensuring our girls are equipped to find and follow their passions and to feel free to be anything they want to be.”

The event also had a great review on the blogging site Muddy Stilettos .

Mrs Victoria Robeson, St. Francis’ College.

March 13, 2017 / by / in
Why Consider Boarding School?

Girl Posing In School Uniform  Male Pupil Playing Trumpet In High School Orchestra









Boarding school, especially boarding school in a foreign country might seem like a daunting prospect. So why consider boarding school? Here are eight reasons you might consider placing your child in a boarding school in the UK:

  1. Exam results – It is no secret that UK boarding schools have an impressive reputation for producing students with top exam results.Chemistry teacher guiding high school students conducting scientific experiment Independent schools are much higher in the league tables than their state equivalents. Children in top UK boarding schools regularly achieve a majority of As and A*s at GCSE and A-level.
  2. Route into a top UK university – As well as looking at exam results, universities around the world take note of what school your child has been studying at. If this is a well renowned UK boarding school then the child is already at an advantage. A high percentage of privately educated pupils in the UK go to Oxbridge and Russell Group universities.
  3. Independence – Living away from home and away from parents may be difficult at times, but it teaches your child independence and gives them the opportunity to find themselves as an individual. All children must learn to live without relying on their parents and boarding school is a safe and secure opportunity for your child to do this.
  4. Good teacher to pupil ratio – One of the reasons UK boarding schools are so successful when it comes to academic standards, is the pupil to teacher ratio. Although each school will differ, UK boarding schools general have a small number of pupils to each teacher, allowing each staff member to spend time teaching a caring for the individual child.
  5. Warm, safe environment – A very significant advantage of boarding school is that the pupils live in a warm and safe environment. Children know where to find an adult if they need one, for example, there will always be an adult in their boarding house to supervise. Each teacher is there because they want to help young people develop and look after their wellbeing, both physical (they will see you have a nutritious diet) and mental (someone to talk to is very important when a child feels lonely or worried).
  6. Stability – This will not apply to all parents, but if you or your partner find yourselves traveling far and often, a UK boarding school would provide your child with stability and routine. Children often struggle emotionally, as well as academically, if they are required to move around the world regularly. In this case, a boarding school could be your answer.
  7. English – Again, not applicable to all, but if English is not yours or your child’s first language, and you hope for them to live or work in an English-speaking country oneMembers Of Female High School Soccer Playing Match
    day, immersing yourself in the language at a young age is a good idea. Every year, thousands of students from around the world apply for university places in the UK.
    Unfortunately, many find they do not have the necessary English Language skills to be admitted and they find they have to study an English course before they can be accepted onto the course of their dreams. Put your child ahead of these students by giving them an English boarding school education.
  8. Opportunities – A boarding school can give your child opportunities they wouldn’t necessarily get in a state school. Boarding schools have amazing facilities and the staff to run extra-curricular trips and activities, either at the weekend or on an evening. UK boarding schools take enrichment activities very seriously – they know that having good exam results is not the only thing you need to succeed. Soft skills such as teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, are all essential skills for life.

But, don’t just take my word for it, get in touch with one of our advisers and they will be able to tell you more about the schools we work with. If possible, a visit to a school is always a good option as it will give you a real sense of what the atmosphere is like. School staff are always ready to talk passionately about their students and what makes their school the best.

January 17, 2017 / by / in
Which Boarding School?


Which boarding school is the best? Which boarding school gets the best results? Which boarding school should I send my child to? The common questions in the mind of a parent when looking into boarding schools in the UK. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. Every boarding school is different and more importantly, every child is different.

Choosing which school and which team of staff to care for and educate your child is no doubt one of the biggest decisions you will have to make as a parent. League tables might be the first thing on some parents’ minds, whereas sporting facilities might be the most important for others. Pastoral care might be the decider for some parents, just as much as accommodation might sway others. Deciding which boarding school to choose is a complex decision.

Academic Prowess

It is very tempting to insist on the top academically performing schools for your child, no-matter what level your child is at. But remember to ask yourself, would my child be happy in this academically rigorous environment? It is also useful to remember that league tables are only glimpses of statistics, for the full picture why not contact the school and ask about added value?


Does your child have a passion? A hobby? A sport they excel in? If so, find a school who will nurture this passion and further their skills in this area. UK boarding schools offer some of the best facilities in the world for sports, music and performing arts. Even if your child does not have a favourite sport or interest yet, do you want them to have this opportunity?

Your Child

Rather than trying to fit your child to a school, think of it as trying to find the school to suit your child. Your child has to be the central point in this difficult decision. Yes, they need to be challenged academically, but they also need to feel at home in this school. A boarding school is not just a place for education, it is a place for your child to grow and develop and mature. A boarding school is a home from home. A place for children to discover who they are.

Before you ask ‘which boarding school..?’ why not ask yourself – what are my core values and beliefs? What type of environment will my child thrive in? What is important to us as a family?

Contact us for more help and advice:

December 23, 2016 / by / in
What Boarding School is Like


(Thanks to Myddelton College and Adcote School for the beautiful photographs.)

A boarding school is a school where you can live on site. Quite often, boarding schools have some students who live on site but also some students who go home on an evening or weekend – these students are called ‘day students’ as oppose to ‘boarders’ or ‘boarding students’. If you choose to board, you will have easy access to facilities, teachers and you won’t have far to travel for your lessons! You will also get the opportunity to spend spare time with your new classmates and friends.


myddelton-college-26Usually, you will share a bedroom with another student, or maybe two or three students. But don’t worry, you will have your own space with draws and cupboards for your belongings. You might even have your own room if you are older or in the sixth form. Depending on the school, bathrooms and shower rooms are usually shared but have curtains or cubicles to give everyone some privacy. You will never have to share bathrooms or bedrooms with members of the opposite sex, most schools even have separate buildings for boys and girls.


Life at boarding school is busy, with a full timetable of lessons, activities, and extra-curricular opportunities. You might have Saturday school, or you might only have planned lessons Monday – Friday. You will be given the chance to study a range of subjects and expand your knowledge and learning beyond anything you can imagine. Boarding schools in the UK are known for producing excellent academic results, so if you work hard you too can come away with some fantastic grades.


Homework is a key part of your learning and development, but it may be called ‘prep’ in some schools. You will be expected to do this work independently most of the time, but there will always be teachers and other adults to ask for help if you get really stuck. Your housemaster or mistress is one person you could go to if you are struggling. Most schools provide a set time during the evening for you to complete your ‘prep’ or homework in a quiet learning space.


As well as timetabled activities, such as sports and chapel, you will be given plenty of opportunities to pursue any activities you are interested in. Boarding schools have lots of clubs and groups to get involved with, and if there isn’t already a club for your chosen activity – you can start one! Some examples of the clubs and activities you could get involved with at boarding school are horse-riding, sailing, chess, badminton, kayaking, public speaking, trampolining, scrabble, debating, rockband…. and the lists go on!


As you live with and work alongside your peers, you will develop strong friendship bonds. It might be a scary prospect when you first arrive, but after you have had time to settle in you will find many people are in the same situation. Your friends become like a family, sharing fun times together and supporting each other through challenging times too.

We hope this has given you a little insight into what boarding school is like, why not contact our Boarding School Advisors, and they will be able to tell you more?

December 12, 2016 / by / in
Young Designers at St. Francis College ‘Strut their Stuff’ for Kanyike Project in Uganda

junior-winners-with-judges   senior-winners-with-judges1

Saturday 5th November saw the 21st annual Recycled Fashion Show at St. Francis’ College.  This long-standing event is a favourite in the College calendar, as the students have the opportunity to be fashion designers and models by creating and wearing outfits made entirely from recycled materials.

There were two shows, staged in the College theatre, to an audience of parents, staff and friends of the College.  All proceeds from the event go to the Kanyike Project in Uganda.  It will be a few weeks before the final total is known, but last year’s proceeds helped to buy an ultrasound scanner for the village maternity unit.

lucy-overall-senior-winnerBoth shows were stage-managed by the Year 12 students who worked tirelessly planning the scripts, decorations, lighting, filming and running order for the shows.  It is to their credit that the shows had a professional quality.

The first show was costumes designed and made by all students in Years 7 & 8.  The panel of fashion industry expert judges, Anna Cascarina of Little Flea Kids, Amy Wilson of Liliane Boutique, Jayne Smith of the University of Hertfordshire and Emily Jupp of Milly J Shoes, had an extremely tough job, but agreed that the overall winner was Katie Prichard, with Melody Chai and Hannah Chilton in second and third places.   Further students received awards for excellence and there were also year-group winners.

“I had a wonderful time talking to the girls about their designs. It was obvious that they’d thought long and hard about what they wanted to produce and there was some really creative use of d
ifferent types of recycled materials. It was an incredibly hard decision. However, the chosen winners all stood out and put in that little bit extra to create exceptional results.” Anna

“The creative standard expressed by the girls was truly impressive, showing that innovation and a bit of collaboration can create something truly unique and exciting!” Emily Juppkatie-junior-winner

The second show featured all girls in Year 9, the GCSE Art students in Years 10 and 11 and the A-level Art students in Year 12.  It was themed the ‘Arthropod Parade’ and all costumes had a theme of creatures with segmented bodies!

Again the standard was extremely high and the judges, who consisted of Gareth Roberts, Fashion Designer and lecturer, Sue Scott Davidson, Broadway Theatre Creative Programmer, Deborah Campbell of DCA ethical womenswear label, again had a difficult task.  The Year 9s were judged separately and their winner was Phoebe Bunce.  The overall senior winner was Lucy Cole in Year 12, with the runner-up being Alice Sun and third place SuBeen Yoo, also both in Year 12.  Again each year group had an overall winner.

“The standard was so high that, as judges, we did struggle to pick an overall winner and our top three were all worthy of the overall prize! The students made it very difficult for us! Excellent effort all around and a special mention should go to the students who put the show on: they were flawless in their introductions and general management of the show.” Deborah Campbell

Mrs Tabitha Wilson, Head of Art, said “The engagement in the Arts offers a wonderful exposure to develop and exercise creative problem-solving skills.  It is a place for critical thinking, encouragement of personal expression and nurturing talent.  This event encourages independence, determination and perseverance, as well as developing a huge appreciation for the much loved ‘glue gun’.  It is so rewarding to see the culmination of everyone’s hard work in their stunning costumes.”

November 8, 2016 / by / in
Indian Exchange Visit a Huge Success at St. Francis’ College

uws-dancing uws-with-buddies

On Saturday 10th September, St. Francis’ College welcomed a delegation of 16 pupils and 2 teachers from their partner school in India, Unison World School.  This is the fourth year that St. Francis’ has welcomed a group from the school located in the Dehradun region of India; girls and staff from St. Francis’ also have the opportunity to take return trips to the school in India and participate in joint classroom activities across the continents thanks to modern technology.

The group stayed at the College for three weeks.  During this time, the visitors lived in the boarding accommodation of the College and each girl had an English buddy who helped look after her during her time in Letchworth.  While here the group attended lessons and workshops in the College to experience English education and culture. To name but a few, these included a dance workshop, Forensic experiments, an Ethics and Philosophy debate, English ‘Matilda-themed Workshop’ finishing with a visit to the West End with Year 7; the visitors also visited the Letchworth Gallery, coming back to College to work with dried and fresh flowers.

The visitors also took in the sights and learnt about British history by spending time at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, York Minster and Kings Chapel, Cambridge, where they also experienced the English tradition of punting and afternoon tea.

In return, the Unison girls educated the St. Francis’ girls about their own culture.  They performed traditional and modern Indian dance in assemblies and gave Hindu lessons. The Unison World School staff have shared Indian cooking tips with our staff and enjoyed several meals together at the St. Francis’ College teachers’ own homes.

Upon talking to the Unison World School girls on their departure, they all said how much they had enjoyed their time in Letchworth and how welcomed they had felt.  They spoke about the experience of attending lessons in an English school being very different to their own lessons in India, and being ‘wowed’ by the rich history and beautiful historic houses.  There were many comments about how they enjoyed the food, especially baking scones and making jam!

Their English buddies also learnt much from their visit.  They really enjoyed the Hindu lessons and felt that they were able to gain an insight and understanding into Indian culture.  The St. Francis’ girls have formed friendships which will continue to flourish across the continents.

Girls and staff from St. Francis’ College are looking forward to a return visit in 2017 to experience further the vast culture India has to offer.

October 11, 2016 / by / in