We want our girls to be happy and to flourish at our school. This is the focus of staff and the leadership body.
St Mary’s has a comprehensive pastoral care system, ensuring that this criterion is met.
The Junior School has a buddy group system from Grades 4 to 7, which allows the girls both social and spiritual interaction. Class (Grades 0 to 5) and mentor (Grades 6 and 7) teachers meet on a regular basis with the head, deputy heads, therapists and specialist teachers to discuss and design strategies for children who need support in different areas. The girls have weekly Divinity and Life Orientation lessons.
The Senior School uses the house system to nurture and care for the girls.
Senior School teachers are house mentors, and are each responsible for mentoring and caring for 12 to 15 girls from their houses. These groups are made up of two or three girls from each form. The house mentor remains with the same group of girls throughout their Senior School experience. The house mentor takes the register each morning and covers the administrative tasks that form part of school life. He/she tracks academic progress, and takes an interest in the welfare and day-to-day activities of each girl in her/his care.
The head of each house is ultimately responsible for all the girls and activities associated with his/her house. She/he is assisted by the house tutor who, in turn, is responsible for managing the house mentors.
The role of the house tutor is to provide pastoral care to those girls who require it. The house tutor is available for:
- Academic guidance
- Communication between staff and girls
Junior and Senior Schools
The school chaplain
The school chaplain is integral to the St Mary’s support programme. The chaplain fulfils the role of spiritual adviser, and is available to give support and counselling.
The Open Door department
The Open Door department offers a counselling service during school hours to those who need it. Girls can make an appointment for assistance with:
- Personal or friendship issues
- Academic concerns
- Career guidance
- Someone to listen
St Mary’s has three resident psychologists. All are housed in the health centre on the property.
- The Open Door department works in collaboration with teachers and other professionals who are on site. Weekly meetings are held and careful and in depth deliberations concerning pupils who may need additional support take place. Recommendations from these meetings are always followed up with the relevant parents
- The department offers emotional support within the school as per the needs of the pupils and in the event that pupils may need extended therapy or other forms of psychological intervention, parents will be referred to outside professionals for further support. The department has an extensive network of highly recommended professionals and referrals are targeted according to the specialities of the professionals which are guided by the reasons for the referral
- Muse Mornings are held termly for parents and these talks are relevant to all age groups. Outside speakers and professionals are invited to address the St Mary’s community on various topics that are informative and empowering
- The department offers whole school support for the girls as per the needs of the different schools on our campus. Outside professionals are invited to address the girls on pertinent issues that range from the safe and responsible use of social media to mental health
- Girls in Grade 4, 6, and 8 sit for aptitude assessments which are free of charge and run during school time. The results of these assessments are used to identify girls who may need further support
- The Open Door department runs class groups as per the needs of each grade where pupils are empowered with social and emotional skills
- The department manages and refers girls for assessments in order to apply for IEB accommodations
- The department offers short term parental support and provides support to St Mary’s teachers in the form of brief workshops
St Mary's has a peer counselling system. The peer counsellors are Forms IV and V girls who have completed training, and are available for basic counselling and support. The peer counsellors also offer whole school support for the girls and invite outside professionals to address the girls on pertinent issues from girl issues and media to mental health.
They take assemblies regularly, where they target pertinent social and personal issues.
The school nurses
St Mary’s has a well-equipped health centre with two experienced, qualified school nurses. The nurses provide superb care for girls who are ill or injured. They also inform parents and girls about seasonal viruses and other contagious diseases. Their focus is not only on healing – they also promote healthy living and good eating campaigns in both the Junior and Senior Schools.