A World of Adventure


In their final year of Stonyhurst St Mary’s Hall, the Preparatory School for Stonyhurst College, polite and confident young teenagers are ready to make the smooth transition to senior education.  

At Stonyhurst St Mary’s Hall (SMH) Prep School children enjoy an extra two years to extend the adventure of childhood, as they mature and progress to Stonyhurst College at the age of 13 – enabling them to embark on a senior education with a greater sense of wellbeing and personal confidence. 

“There has, in the past, been traditional entry points to Stonyhurst including nursery, Year 7, Year 9 and Year 12,” explains Headmaster Fr Christopher Cann, who joined SMH last year..  

“However, we are seeing more children coming to Stonyhurst in Year 5 and 6 – a move that is advantageous in many ways. 

“Years 5 and 6 see pupils finish the primary stage, then Years 7 and 8 at SMH has a ‘middle school’ feel about it. These extra two years at SMH give pupils the chance to fully grow in personal confidence. They are at the top end of the prep school, which gives them time to mature and develop their personal leadership skills before they move up to the college for senior education. Nurtured in our Jesuit ethos and mission, they want to be “all they can be” in a life of purpose, as young men and women for others.” 

Parents are finding there are many advantages of entering SMH at Year 5 and 6 – First, many parents know that their children are not ready to move to a senior school environment at 11. They are looking for another path to avoid this very stressful transition. Secondly, the prep school provides wrap-around care from 8am to 6pm making it excellent value for busy working parents; homework is done at school. The main advantage, however, is SMH’s broad bespoke curriculum, which gives children the opportunity to play a huge variety of sports, enjoy a rich experience of performing arts, particularly musical theatre, learn new skills, including 3 foreign languages and make new friends with children from across the globe: “The extended day provides a world of new opportunities for pupils. Parents often complain that state primary schools have to resort to a narrow basic curriculum, particularly in Year 6, which is SATS driven,” adds Fr Chris. 

“At SMH we don’t believe in SATS. We are still able to give parents a very clear assessment of how the children are doing in all their subjects in relation to national expectations, without having to resort to a very unimaginative test-driven curriculum. We are more concerned with the individual learning journey and the well-being of each individual in its widest sense.  

“The pupils at the top end of SMH in Years 7 and 8 are free to be themselves, to still live childhood and have confidence in themselves and who they are as young teenagers. This is so important for their wellbeing and as a springboard for young adult life.” 

 A strict policy on not allowing mobile phones during the school day enables pupils to take full advantage of the many real-life experiences and activities, without being preoccupied with the virtual world of social media. The school has invested greatly in IT in recent years, with all pupils from Year 5 having their own laptops and access to the very latest smart adaptive technology that drives rapid progress in individual learning, particularly in English, maths, and science.  

Sport is high on the agenda too, SMH pupils have access to a world-class indoor tennis dome with two Grand Slam-sized courts and a 25m on-site swimming pool. Boys and girls can play rugby, football, hockey, netball, tennis, and cricket at the highest levels. 

“We take pupils and, especially from Years 5 to 8, we see a transformation, which is very affirming. Our pupils develop into polite young people with good manners. They are very open, and proactive and genuinely want to ask you if you are having a good day! 

“This is a culture that’s sadly very rare in young people in our wider society today,” adds Fr Chris. 

“Here we are – an international school in the middle of the countryside in the beautiful Ribble Valley. We have children from across the world who want to benefit from a first-class English education. It is a very unique and dynamic learning environment that allows children to be children and to extend that great adventure of a natural childhood that little bit longer.” 

Take the next step to becoming part of the Stonyhurst family by registering for an Entrance Examination here: https://www.stonyhurst.ac.uk/admissions/application-procedures

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