Open Evening Success for St Mary’s Independent School

There were smiles on faces all round at St Mary’s Independent School as the staff tidied away from this year’s Open Evening this Monday. Open Evenings have become increasingly important events for all secondary schools in the country, with schools increasingly aware that they never get a second chance to make a good first impression, and St Mary’s newly-appointed Executive Head, Claire Charlemagne, was delighted with the impression that the community – students, staff and surroundings – made on a pleasingly large number of visitors.  Set in 17 acres of green fields, the school – founded in 1922 as St Mary’s College by Brothers of Christian Instruction – knows it has plenty to offer prospective parents and students, and it is working hard to make its qualities and successes more widely known across Hampshire.

Standing Room Only

There was standing room only as Mrs Charlemagne gave her speech to parents at the start of the night. Taking the school’s mission statement as her starting point– ‘We inspire – We nurture – We achieve’ – Mrs Charlemagne was clear on the school’s ‘unique selling point’: the ability to achieve highly impressive results (100% 5 A* – C GCSE passes this year including Maths and English, with 40% at A and A*) whilst maintaining a caring and nurturing ethos so that every student feels part of a supportive family. Her assertions were illustrated perfectly by two recent graduates from the school – Jack Weaver and Alex Lopez – who both spoke with eloquent humour on the friendships and bonds they made at St Mary’s as well as the academic successes they enjoyed. Mrs Charlemagne also spoke of the school’s illustrious history – alumni include famous economists, Premiership footballers, a celebrity chef and the President of the Seychelles – and its multicultural make-up, welcoming children of “all faiths and none” into its catholic community.

The Grand Tour

Parents and prospective students were then given a full tour of the school, guided by current students from all years. There were many activities and displays to show what goes on at the school – the ever-popular-with-students ‘slime-making’ experiment in the Chemistry labs, the even-more-popular-with-parents selection of French cheese and wine in the Modern Foreign Language room, dramatic presentations in History and English, featuring costumes and props, and sporting opportunities in the gym – but as well as the razzle-dazzle, there were many important and far-ranging conversations between parents, children, students and staff.  In particular, the student guides were deemed to have done a fantastic job and received a great deal of positive feedback for answering every question with honesty and confidence. As Mrs Charlemagne noted, ‘It is our students who truly sell our school. They embody the inspiration, nurture and achievement that we strive to provide.’

Open Year

For anyone who may have missed the official Open Evening, the school has also been running Open Mornings this week. Along with this, prospective parents are always welcome to arrange a tour of the school and experience its particular atmosphere and qualities for themselves. To organise a visit, please contact Mrs Amanda Hulbert in the school reception in the first instance, at