'The Animal Experience' visits St Mary's

On the last day of the spring term we welcomed The Animal Experience to our school. Our students had a unique opportunity to learn about a wide variety of rare and endangered creatures within the safety of the classroom.

The wide selection of animals, including: a meerkat, monitor lizard, tarantulas, tree frogs, a chameleon and a flying display by an eagle owl, allowed students an experience that they will never forget. Students learnt about the individual animals, their natural environments, the unique adaptations that allow them to survive, and related topics such as environmental issues and biodiversity.

We were delighted that all Year 5 pupils from our neighbouring St Mary’s Junior School were able to join us for this fantastic experience.

Thank you to the Science Department for organising this wonderful experience.

School Production - 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'

For two nights before half-term our school hall was transformed into the magical world of Roald Dahl as a talented cast of students from Years 7 to 10 performed ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ to capacity audiences. Warmest congratulations to all the students who took part, as well as all the dedicated members of staff who made this school production so memorable. We were delighted that Year 5 pupils from St Mary's Catholic Junior School were our special guests for the dress rehearsal.

Mr Turiansky's programme notes state: “It is always the most exciting activity to bring alive words from a script into a living, breathing spectacle, and taking the text of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ from the page to the stage has been a wonderful journey for me. Miss Laghzaoui and I have been blessed with a most committed cast across the year groups who have developed these colourful characters into a wonderful piece of entertainment that I’m sure you will enjoy. As well as my heartfelt thanks to the cast and musicians, I must also show my gratitude to all the unseen pupils and members of staff whose assistance in mounting this production has been as invaluable as it has been essential. I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating the work of our pupils and staff in this production!”

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Cast - Charlie, Tyler, Conor, Ragshidaa, Rosa, Princess, Kadija, Belen, Thando, Jade, Akeelah, Sara, Allegra, Ellie.

Oompa-loompas - Brandon, Favour, Love, Alicja, Maria, Cara, Portia, Zoe, Dominika, Rebecca, Christie, Sophia, Aretha, Chelsy, Sascha,

Choir - Nicole, Shakira, Jennifer, Dakota, Cole

Crew - Aphinayaa, Feranmi, Meggy,

Musicians - J Chapman, P Bridgwood, T Laghzaoui

Director - M Turiansky

Musical Director - T Laghzaoui

History Makers – Our first ever school rugby team

To mark their historic achievement, students in our first ever rugby squad were presented with special certificates at an assembly. They each then signed a special Harlequins rugby ball which has now taken pride of place in the school’s trophy cabinet.


The students were invited to take part in their very first Harlequins Rugby Development Day just before the end last term. Our students played in several matches against other schools - showing amazing team work, spirit and determination. Having checked through the school archives dating back to 1955, we are confident that this team were the very first to represent St Mary’s in a full-contact rugby competition in our school’s history.

Thank you to the Harlequins coaches for all their hard work with our students. This has been a wonderful start in this new sport for our school.

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Teaching is Thriving!

Our school features prominently the latest edition of St Mary’s University’s alumni magazine, ‘The Simmarian’. An article entitled ‘Teaching is Thriving!’ celebrates the strong relationship between our two Catholic educational establishments. It states:

‘As a university, St Mary’s is focused on the important themes of employability, sustainability and community. This is evident in so many schools across London and beyond, where former trainee teachers are making valuable contributions to education, including in positions of senior leadership.

At St Mary’s Catholic High School in Croydon, Patrick Shields is the current head teacher. He studied at St Mary’s University in 2003 and has maintained strong links, including bringing his whole school staff to the University for development days. Patrick’s team includes many Simmarian teachers and there are always trainee teachers on placement at the school.

Ten teachers are taking an MA in Catholic School Leadership illustrating how the partnership between St Mary’s University and St Mary’s Catholic High School supports the development of Catholic teachers in senior leadership roles. “I am a proud Simmarian and value the partnership between St Mary’s University and my large Catholic secondary school in Croydon,” said Patrick.

“There are so many ways that we can work together, including initial teacher training and CPD collaboration. At a time of considerable challenges for the profession, our high-quality partnership is invaluable and mutually beneficial.”

This is one important way in which St Mary’s University contributes to the teacher supply and professional development needs of the local community, including our many Catholic partnership schools.’

CLICK HERE to download The Simmarian - Winter 2019 Magazine


Sarah Jones MP plants Queen's Commonwealth Canopy trees at St Mary's

St Mary’s was delighted to welcome Sarah Jones, our local Member of Parliament, who came to our school to plant trees as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy project. She has also planted trees at a number of other local Croydon schools as part of this global environmental legacy project, in coordination with the Woodlands Trust.

The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy project is a unique network of forest conservation initiatives, which involves all 53 countries of the Commonwealth. This means that that our pupils at St Mary’s, many of whose families are from the Commonwealth, are part of this special global environmental community.


The project, launched in 2015, was established in the name of Her Majesty the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth. It is committed to raising awareness of the value of established indigenous forests, and saving them for future generations, as well as planting new forests.

SMHS TreePic2ZSarah Jones was accompanied in the planting of a silver birch, a hazel and a rowan tree by Head Girl - Sonia Obiokafor and Head Boy - Errikos Biniakou. It was particularly special to also welcome back to former St Mary’s student Brigitte Graham, who is one of Sarah Jones’ parliamentary aides.

Christmas Hamper Appeal

A big THANK YOU to the manager and staff at our local Tesco Express on Wellesley Road who, once again, generously donated several bags of grocerties to our Christmas Hamper collection, in support of Croydon Commitment's #500CroydonHampers Appeal.

Three Year 9 students collected the bags of groceries which will be added to our growing collection of food to be distributed to those in need in our community. Already, pupils, parents and staff at St Mary's have responded brilliantly to this year's appeal, including one Year 7 student's family who donated a wonderful collection of groceries for our appeal (pictured below).

During Advent, we prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of Jesus, our saviour, who came into the world not to be served, but to serve others. It is this message of service that we encourage in all of our students at St. Mary’s.

We are encouraging each student to make a contribution to a Christmas Hamper in their tutor group. We hope that each student will be able to donate a minimum of one item to their tutor group’s hamper which will then be shared amongst those most in need in our community through the organisation Croydon Commitment. Please note these items do not need to be expensive, but are intended to be given as gifts in order to share this season’s blessings.

Tutor groups will be making hampers for families who are in need in our local community, and who may not be able to afford or enjoy some of these items this Christmas.


They should bring in items such as:

  • Christmas Cakes
  • Selection boxes
  • Biscuits
  • Boxes of Tea
  • Tinned food
  • Boxes of Chocolates
  • Jam
  • Honey
  • Other Spreads
  • Long life-milk

Year 9 Explore The Natural History Museum

On Thursday, 18th October the Humanities Department took all of Year 9 to the world famous Natural History Museum at South Kensington, London. The visit was linked to their humanities curriculum and allowed the students to experience education outside of the classroom environment.

Milenah & Ragshidaa in Year 9 described their experience: ‘Although we were told what to expected we were blown away by all the exhibitions. We revisited topics we have studied in class in a more practical manner. There was one display were you could experience the actual effect of an earthquake, along with another display showing two victims in Pompeii after the Mount Vesuvius explosion. We even had the opportunity to touch a meteorite that is millions of years old. We had a great day out and learned so much.’

St Mary's Rugby - History Makers

St Mary’s students were invited to take part in their very first Harlequins Rugby Development Day just before half-term. Our students played in several matches against other schools - showing amazing team work, spirit and determination. Having checked through the school archives dating back to 1955, we are confident that this team were the very first to represent St Mary’s in a full-contact rugby competition in our school’s history.

We are delighted that our relationship with Harlequins is going from strength to strength. While it will be some time before our school is able to compete fully against other local schools who have successfully played rugby over many years - this has been a wonderful start in this new sport for our school.

UCL Centre for Holocaust Education’s Beacon School

St Mary’s has been selected as one of the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education’s Beacon Schools, one of only three schools in the Greater London region to be selected this year.

The University College London Centre for Holocaust Education recruits up to twenty secondary schools each year in England, committed to enhancing teaching and learning about the Holocaust. The selected schools will become dynamic hubs serving a network of local schools and will work with the Centre in order to improve teaching standards, raise pupil achievement, and strengthen our Social, Moral, Spiritual & Cultural (SMSC) provision.

Humanities teacher, Miss Clancy is our school’s Lead Teacher for Beacon School status, receiving additional support and training as a key element of the Beacon School training process.

St Mary’s is committed to the view that the study and understanding of the Holocaust is a critically important part of all students’ education, especially at a time of growing intolerance in our society.

Harlequins' rugby coaches put St Mary’s students through their paces.

We were delighted to welcome rugby coaches, Andy Campbell and James Collins-Clark, from Harlequins FC to St Mary’s on Thursday, 27 September, running workshops and training sessions for Year 9 & 10 students throughout the morning. It was impressive to see how well the students engaged with the activities, as for a number of the girls and boys it was their first real taste of this sport.

Throughout the sessions skill, agility and quick thinking were in evidence, especially as the students competed in mixed teams in touch-rugby games, in a sport so often solely associated with physical strength.

We are pleased that our links with Harlequins continue to develop, following on from a number of training sessions last year, culminating in a party of students visiting The Stoop for one of Harlequins home games in spring term.

Year 7 experience The Riot Act in their first week!

Our new Year 7s were treated to a wonderful multi-media performance from theatre group The Riot Act on the key theme of road safety. While the drama focused on the important issue of being safe on the roads there was much in the performance to engage the audience on issues such as peer pressure, being responsible, the consequences of dangerous behaviour, and much more.

Particular thanks is due to the three members of The Riot Act cast who presented this important topic in such an engaging and entertaining manner. Following the performance, they organized a workshop with the year group in order to reinforce the key messages of the production.

The issue of road safety is important for our new students as many are traveling to school unaccompanied for the very first time from across the local area. At St Mary’s staff are always present outside of school at the end of each school day in order to ensure an orderly exit from our site and also to remind students to use the official crossings available to cross the busy main roads and tramways around Croydon.

The theatre group are taking their production to schools around the capital over the next few weeks.

Year 7 students teach Spanish at St Mary's Catholic Primary School

On Tuesday 24th April, six Year 7 students visited St Mary's Catholic Junior School to teach a group of thirty primary students their first ever Spanish lesson, as well as giving them a taste of modern foreign languages at our secondary school.

Our students were prepared to teach the lesson by Mr Harper who explained: “They taught students two verbs in Spanish and how to conjugate them. The students from both schools really enjoyed the experience and the feedback from the primary school pupils was highly positive”.

The students from St Mary's were: Mariana M, Rexsiya R, Zara M, Joel M-A, D'Ior S and Hania S. Well done to all of them.


El martes 24 de abril, seis estudiantes de Year 7 visitaron St Mary's Catholic Junior School para enseñar a un grupo de treinta estudiantes de primaria su primera clase de español, así como para darles una muestra de los idiomas extranjeros modernos en nuestra escuela secundaria.

Nuestros alumnos estaban preparados para enseñar la lección por el Sr. Harper quien explicó: "Les enseñaron a los estudiantes dos verbos en español y cómo conjugarlos. Los estudiantes de ambas escuelas realmente disfrutaron de la experiencia y los comentarios de los alumnos de la escuela primaria fueron muy positivos”.

Los estudiantes de St Mary's fueron: Mariana M, Rexsiya R, Zara M, Joel M-A, D'Ior S y Hania S. Bien hecho a todos ellos.

New Student Leadership Team announced

St Mary's is delighted to present the new Student Leadership Team following the recent school-wide elections. Warmest congratulations to Sonia Obiokafor and Errikos Biniakou who were announced as our school’s new Head Girl and Head Boy, with Dragisa D'Souza and Tyron Santana-Almeida as their respective deputies.

The election process included each of the twelve candidates presenting their reasons for wanting to be elected and outlining their plans for the year ahead at special assemblies in front of Years 7 –10. In last week of the spring term all students and staff cast their vote in secret ballots for their chosen candidates.

While the Student Leadership team will be presented with their special badges of office later this term, they take over their responsibilities straight away and will remain in post until they begin their GCSEs in May next year. We wish them well in their new positions of responsibility and are certain that all students at the school will give them their full support in the year ahead.

In addition to Sonia, Errikos, Dragisa and Tyron, a special thank-you and well done to Christyana, Desislava, Hazanat, Kayla, Natali, Nathaneal, Shannen and Tracy, who also stood for election.

Year 7 take on the Spaghetti Tower challenge in National Science Week

To celebrate National Science Week, our Head of Science, Mr Taylor, set our Year 7 Science classes the task of building the tallest possible spaghetti tower.

The rules only allowed 20 sticks of spaghetti, along with 7 marshmallows to use as glue. One of these marshmallows must remain 'whole' and end up at the top of the tower, the other 6 could be pulled apart in order to stick the spaghetti together.

Students were asked to design their towers on paper before making them and had to think about how best to make the most of the limited materials. The aim of this challenge was to explore structures and investigate what methods of building can make the tallest and strongest structure. It gave our students a valuable insight into the real-life processes of testing, redevelopment and prototyping that engineers and scientists use.

The prize to the winners...a bag of marshmallows!

Students take part in the Croydon Young Mayor election

Tuesday, 13th March will be remembered as the day when the very first Croydon Young Mayor elections were held across the borough. With a choice of 28 candidates to choose from, St Mary’s students entered into the spirit of the occasion by casting their votes following the same procedure used in national and local elections, even down to using the same voting booths and ballot boxes.

For several weeks the 28 candidates have been presenting their manifestos at events right across the borough, including the active use of social media and modern technology. The campaign has been taken very seriously, and we congratulate these fine young people for their commitment to making Croydon a better place for young people.

At St Mary’s, all students were prepared for the election throughout the previous week during form periods, and on the day of the election special assemblies were held, outlining the process of casting votes. We are delighted that the overwhelming majority of our students took the opportunity to use their democratic right to vote for their chosen candidate, and in most year groups there was 100% turnout. Students were asked to vote for their first and second choice from the long list of candidates.

While there were no St Mary’s candidates standing for election we do hope that in the years to come one of our students will become a future Croydon Young Mayor.

The election results will be declared on Thursday, 15th March. CLICK HERE to visit the Croydon Young Mayor website for more information.

Year 7’s Tudor Day at Hampton Court Palace

On Monday, 12th March, despite the seasonal drizzle, all Year 7 students, along with some Year 8s, enjoyed a Tudor-style day at Hampton Court Palace, in preparation for their new history curriculum topic. Built for Cardinal Wolsey on the banks of the River Thames, the palace was an ideal location for our students to learn more about the lifestyles of the Tudors – from the high and mighty to the lowly kitchen servants. They even had a chance to meet up with King Henry VIII for a question and answer session in one of the royal apartments.

Year 7 students, Simon and Rexsiya described their experience at the palace as being: “Fantastic!” “We both learnt lots of new information about the Tudors and were amazed at how different their lives were to ours.” The students were given a tour of Hampton Court’s kitchens and saw how much more labour intensive they were as well as what types of food were popular at the time of Henry VIII. Rexsiya was particular interested in how expensive sugar was, but how they were very skilful in making decorations with it. Simon was surprised that grilling food on a rotary spit over an open fire was common practice back then, as he imagined that that technique was more modern.

HamptonCourtPic2qqqSpecial thanks to Hampton Court Palace Education Department for hosting our visit and for providing such expert guides who made our students and staff so welcome. As well as guided tours, Year 7s also had the opportunity to find out about the constant upkeep of this important site and learn so much about the life of the Tudors, especially how the wealthy entertained themselves, and how the poor were worked so hard to keep the palace running.

Thank you to Mr Harvey for organising the visit, and to all the members of staff who accompanied the students on the day. 

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