1. How many boarders are there at St Mary’s?
  2. What areas do your boarding students come from?
  3. When do I need to contact the school regarding boarding for my daughter?
  4. Does St Mary’s offer scholarships to boarding students?
  5. Do the girls ever get to meet boys?
  6. How many girls share a room?
  7. Do the girls have to go home during the holidays?
  8. How is leave managed, and what is there to do at weekends?
  9. What is the structure of the boarding house at St Mary’s?
  10. What is the food like for St Mary’s boarders?
  11. What if my daughter is homesick?
  12. Can I visit my daughter in the boarding house?
  13. What happens if my daughter gets sick?
  14. Are there set times for homework and who helps my daughter if she is falling behind?

How many boarders are there at St Mary’s?

St Mary’s currently has 185 boarding students. We are a large boarding house, and have 20 – 40 girls in each year level. This gives the girls the opportunity to form a large circle of friends, and also enables us to provide the girls with a wider range of services and activities, such as access to 24 hour medical care, a visiting beautician and transport to and from out of school sporting clubs, just to name a few. It also allows us to have girls start boarding in whatever year group suits them and their families, so we are very flexible as to when your boarding journey starts at St Mary’s.

What areas do your boarding students come from?

The majority of St Mary’s boarding students come from rural Western Australia, and are spread quite evenly across the state. We also have boarding students from the Northern Territory and from overseas.

Our international boarding students come from a wide range of locations across the globe, from Dubai to Singapore, Indonesia to New Zealand; however, our most common locations include Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Hong Kong.

We enjoy and promote the range of students within boarding at St Mary’s as it is good to see friendships and connections between students from different cultures and countries.

When do I need to contact the school regarding boarding for my daughter?

Demand at St Mary’s is always high, and we recommend contacting us at least three years prior to your intended start date. We understand that this is not always possible, but the sooner you can express your interest in a place at St Mary’s, the more likely it is that we can offer you a place within the school.

Does St Mary’s offer scholarships to boarding students?

Yes, we offer a number of scholarships specifically for boarding students, over and above the standard academic scholarships offered by the school.

Scholarships are offered to boarding students entering Years 7, 8 and 10. The scholarships are offered to both new and current boarders.

These scholarships provide part-remission of boarding and school fees and take into consideration a number of factors, including academic progress, school attendance, participation in extracurricular activities and community spirit.

Our scholarships are always advertised on our website. Applications typically open in November and testing is in March or April.

Testing can be done at St Mary’s or within your local area, including internationally.

Do the girls ever get to meet boys?

Yes. The girls at St Mary’s have regular interaction with both girls and boys from nearby schools through our busy recreational calendar, which includes events such as activity afternoons, sporting days and picnics, and in the older years, socials and river cruises.

We also sometimes have Chapel with Hale School, our brother school, and an annual Brother – Sister Dinner celebrates the number of siblings that we have across both schools.

How many girls share a room?

In Years 7 – 10 there are two girls to each room. In Years 7 and 8, the girls change room mates each term, and in Years 9 and 10, they change room mates each semester, to ensure that they maintain a wide circle of friends.

In Year 11, a large portion of the girls enjoy single rooms, although some rooms are still shared between two girls. The girls rotate between a shared room and a single room each semester.

In Year 12, all girls enjoy a single room and remain in the same room for the year.

Do the girls have to go home during the holidays?

Yes, our boarding house is closed during school holidays and mid-term breaks. Many girls who live far away often have a local carer nearby, who can look after them during school breaks when they are unable to return home.

How is leave managed, and what is there to do at weekends?

The safety and well-being of your daughter is our primary concern, and leave parameters are constantly being reviewed, in conjunction with parents, to ensure that we strike a healthy balance between allowing the girls the same freedoms they would enjoy at home whilst ensuring their safety is maintained while they are living away from home.

The girls’ leave is managed using an electronic system called REACH, whereby girls tag in and out of the boarding house to approved activities. Parents and local carers can approve leave electronically from a computer or a phone and the process for applying for and approving leave is very easy.

There are plenty of activities, both after school and at weekends, to keep the girls occupied.

There are spontaneous activities in-house, including walks to the beach, kick-to-kick competitions, bake-offs in our Boarders Activity Room, hair-braiding on the floors and much, much more.

Our 40-acre campus is also a great escape for the girls, where they can play tennis, swim in the pool, utilise the gymnasium or just relax under a tree.

There are also many planned weekend activities. Boarders' Weekend Recreation Schedule

What is the structure of the boarding house at St Mary’s?

Anne Symington House is located in the centre of the St Mary’s campus, and all boarding facilities, such as the bedrooms, dining room and medical centre, are accommodated under one roof. Hence, we are a central home for all of the boarders.

The ground floor houses the:

  • Reception area
  • Medical Centre
  • Recreation Rooms
  • Year 12 Common Room
  • Cooking and Craft Room
  • Music Study Room
  • Study Nook
  • Dining Room
  • Courtyard
  • Laundry
  • Parent Flat
  • Book Exchange Programme
  • Offices of the Head of Boarding and Deputy Head of Boarding

The first and second floors are identical in layout. They are built in a T-shape, each with three wings that begin with the house mother bedrooms, then the student bedrooms, with Year 12 girls in single rooms on one side, and bedrooms for Years 7 – 11 on the other side of the hall. At the end of each wing is a bathroom.

In the centre is an office, a small recreation area, and a small kitchenette for the girls

Our wings are organised like a family home, with girls from different age groups living together. This helps to broaden friendships and increase the impact of the peer support programmes offered within the boarding house.

What is the food like for St Mary’s boarders?

The food is truly one of the highlights of our students’ time at St Mary’s. Our in-house Head Chef provides a healthy, balanced diet, and input is regularly sought from the student body and parents about meal options. Menus are designed on a rotational basis and are sent home to parents each term.

In addition to hot items and cereals, students can make their own muesli in the morning from the muesli bar. Morning tea and lunch are eaten outside in the landscaped grounds and afternoon tea is served in the recently renovated courtyard.

Dinner always includes a range of salads and a hot vegetarian option, and once per term, the boarding house hosts a fun, themed dinner where we all eat together to celebrate the sense of community well known in boarding.

Students with allergies are appropriately accommodated and we can easily cater for a wide range of fussy eaters.

Treat Time Thursday is an additional plus that the girls look forward to and allows the chefs to demonstrate their skills and cook something very special for the girls.

What if my daughter is homesick?

Homesickness is a very common and normal experience at the start of your daughter’s boarding journey and is to be expected.

We have a number of orientation programmes at the school designed to help ease the transition into boarding life, which, aside from availability, is one of the reasons we recommend enrolling your daughter in St Mary’s at least three years prior to her intended start date.

We also have a brochure, 10 ways to help your daughter settle into boarding, which provides ideas and strategies to help prepare her for the transition, and ways to help her manage it.

Our staff and older students are also here to help your daughter settle into boarding life. We acknowledge that settling into boarding routines is complex and that it can take individual girls different amounts of time. We support the girls on their own journeys to seeing boarding as a positive in their life.

One thing we can assure you of, is that almost all of our students outgrow this homesickness stage and often can’t wait to return to boarding life after school holiday periods. Our graduating Year 12 girls are often sad to be leaving and many return to tutor the girls to ensure that their connection with the St Mary’s boarding house continues.

Click here to read about the boarding experience of our current boarding leaders, or read our testimonials here.

Can I visit my daughter in the boarding house?

Parents are always welcomed at St Mary’s and invited to join their daughters for breakfast or dinner any time.

The boarding house regularly organises functions and events for boarding parents, including the annual Christmas in July dinner. We see the boarding journey as one that includes the whole family.

The boarding house also has a parents’ flat, which has its own bathroom and kitchenette, and is available for boarding parents to rent for a minimal fee for up to four days.

Parents are a key element of boarding house life at St Mary’s and the essence of family remains vital to a St Mary’s boarding experience.

What happens if my daughter gets sick?

St Mary’s provides 24 hour access to medical care for all of our boarders.

The medical centre is located within the boarding house, with day nurses on duty during the week and on call at the weekend. A night supervisor with medical training is on duty overnight from 10.00pm to 6.00am.

A doctor visits the boarding house each week, and a courier is also available to take girls to various appointments off campus.

A physiotherapist and beautician also visit the boarding house weekly to support the girls.

Are there set times for homework and who helps my daughter if she is falling behind?

Prep time (or study time) is held from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, Monday to Thursday and is intended to provide the opportunity for homework to be done, additional background reading, revision, and study for tests and exams. Tutors are available throughout prep time and can also be booked for private tuition from 8.30pm to 9.00pm Monday - Thursday. St Mary’s has more than 20 tutors available to the boarders.

Quiet time is also held on a Sunday from 2.00pm to 4.00pm and is another opportunity for the girls to study and prepare for the school week, with tutor support again available.

Our Boarding Academic Support Teacher, who specialises in Mathematics, is dedicated to assisting the boarding students with their academic endeavours, and manages the tutoring, study skills and prep programmes within the boarding house.

In order to ease the girls into the academic expectations of Senior School, support is introduced once they begin the Look Inside Programme in Year 4 and is a good way to begin to prepare your daughter for boarding.