Academic

Subject choices:

Form I (Grade 8)

Core offering:

  • English (Home Language)
  • Afrikaans (First Additional Language)
  • isiZulu (First Additional Language)
  • Sesotho (First Additional Language)        
  • French (Second Additional Language)
  • Latin (Second Additional Language)
  • Mathematics
  • Natural Sciences

New literacies such as communication in the 21st century, research and design skills, civic literacy, social entrepreneurship, reading and reflection together with project-based learning are key areas which will form part of the e4 integrated learning programme on Form I.

Form II (Grade 9)

  • English (Home Language)
  • Afrikaans (First Additional Language) 
  • isiZulu (First Additional Language)
  • Sesotho (First Additional Language)  
  • French (Second Additional Language)
  • Latin (Second Additional Language)
  • Arts and Culture
  • Economic and Management Sciences
  • Life Orientation
  • Natural Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Social Sciences
  • Technology

Other languages may be chosen as Second Additional Languages at an additional cost to parents. Please contact the school should you wish to discuss this option.

Forms III to V (Grades 10 to 12)

To qualify for a National Senior Certificate, girls are required to select from the following subjects:

Compulsory:      

  • English Home Language
  • Life Orientation                

Choose one:       

First Additional Languages:        

  • Afrikaans
  • Sesotho
  • isiZulu  

Choose one:

  • Mathematics
  • Mathematical Literacy

Choose three:

  • Accounting
  • Consumer Studies           
  • Dramatic Arts                     
  • French (Second Additional Language)
  • Geography
  • History
  • Information Technology
  • Latin (Second Additional Language)
  • Life Sciences
  • Music
  • Physical Sciences
  • Visual Arts

Available as additional subjects:

  • Advanced Programme Mathematics (from Form III)
  • Advanced Programme English (from Form IV)

 

Subjects

Accounting

The St Mary’s Accounting department is a vibrant, lively department which aims to furnish its students with the accounting skills necessary to start their own businesses – and at St Mary’s we strive to encourage and foster an entrepreneurial spirit in our girls.

Accounting is offered as an optional subject from Form III onwards. The girls learn principles of accounting and financial management such as bookkeeping, drawing up financial statements and interpreting financial ratios for sole proprietors, partnerships, close corporations and companies. The curriculum is extensive and prepares the students for future careers in finance. It is a challenging subject that teaches our girls to think logically and to work accurately under time pressure.

The Accounting department also organises several entrepreneurial activities during the year. Our girls have the opportunity to participate in the JSE/Liberty Life Investment Challenge, where they learn how to trade in shares by creating a fictitious portfolio. Schools all over South Africa participate in this challenge and there are monthly prizes for the students whose portfolios are the most successful. There is also the Accounting Olympiad for senior students.

Consumer Studies

Consumer Studies focuses on developing knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to enable girls to become responsible and informed consumers of food, clothing, housing, furnishings and household equipment and to use resources optimally and in a sustainable manner.

As we are all consumers, Consumer Studies teaches essential life skills. The subject further promotes the application of knowledge and skills in the production of marketable products that will meet consumer needs. Consumer Studies embraces the following areas: food and nutrition, clothing, housing and furnishings, and production and marketing of food.

Girls interested in nutrition, cooking and designing, as well as entrepreneurship, will enjoy Consumer Studies. No special skills are required – only enthusiasm and passion.

Dramatic Arts

Dramatic Arts gives girls the opportunity to explore personal and relevant issues in a safe and stimulating environment. With this, comes the ability to express themselves formally and informally. The Dramatic Arts develop analytical thinking and creative problem solving, and girls are challenged to take risks emotionally, physically and intellectually. A fantastic skill learnt here is the ability to work independently, as well as being able to work with a range of unique individuals. There is no doubt that this subject equips girls to deal with life.

Each year a school play is presented, which provides girls with the opportunity to explore their talent and versatility as actors. Dramatic Arts are not dependent solely on acting ability and confidence, and the technical aspects of the subject such as set design, lighting, sound engineering and costume design are also explored. The subject is wide-ranging and plumbs the talents, overt or subtle, of our girls. In addition to the school play, house plays are staged and directed by senior Drama girls. They make a superb platform for the discovery of talent, and the development of inter-personal skills and time management.

We arrange regular theatre visits, and the girls are required to write formal reviews and analyses of the productions they see. Our annual trip to the Standard Bank National Arts Festival in Grahamstown is a highlight of our year. Girls are exposed to a variety of theatrical forms and benefit from the workshops attended. Those who study Dramatic Arts are required to give of their time, energy and talent to enthral their audiences.

Economic and Management Sciences (EMS)

Economic and Management Sciences is a compulsory subject for Form II students and is offered to this year-group only. This subject covers basic aspects of accounting, economics and business management, and aims to provide the pupils with a general overview of key concepts in the world of commerce. In EMS we hope to teach girls the value of money, although some parents might question our success at times!

The main focus of the curriculum is on accounting, since we aim to introduce this subject to the Form II girls so that they are able to make an informed choice when selecting their subjects for Form III. This means that our girls know what to expect if they choose accounting as a subject, and we hope to encourage them to become entrepreneurs.

e4 programme – Form I

In the 21st century, curriculum design needs to foster a creative and innovative approach to teaching and learning in line with the needs of the country, with a particular focus on preparing pupils for their contribution to a broader global society and, importantly, towards their own self-fulfilment. With this approach in mind, a team of staff (drawing on a variety of expertise across the school) have crafted a unique learning programme for the Form Is which has been aptly called the “e4 curriculum”. 

Words which commence with the “e” prefix frequently suggest progress, advancement and a move towards change. In addition, the letter “e” is associated with a shift towards integrating and applying the use of technology into teaching and learning. 

The e4 curriculum, which is representative of an “effective, engaging, exciting and enriching” approach, is a uniquely St Mary’s programme, drawing on current educational pedagogy and practice-based research to suit our context and pupil needs.

Frank Moss, a former head of the MIT Media Lab, was recently quoted saying, “Today’s problems – from global poverty, to climate change, to the obesity epidemic – are more interconnected and intertwined than ever before and they can’t possibly be solved in the academic or research silos of the twentieth century”. With this quotation in mind, the e4 curriculum has been designed as an integrated curriculum, incorporating both content and key skills into the learning programme.

The e4 programme is currently a compulsory component of the Form I curriculum at St Mary’s. The aim of the programme is geared towards providing our girls with the skills they require as they move into the Senior School, and eventually into tertiary education.

e4 aims to develop pupils who are able to:

  1. Understand the world as an interrelated set of systems and processes.
  2. Take responsibility for their own learning and conduct themselves as confident and independent young adults who have a passion for learning and discovery.
  3. Be flexible and adaptable in their approach to learning and discovery.
  4. Demonstrate a sense of determination and resilience when tackling and solving problems.
  5. Work collaboratively with others on multiple platforms, this includes face to face and digitally.
  6. Be creative problem solvers, but also creators of new ideas and innovative approaches.
  7. Be critical and creative thinkers and curious about the world.
  8. Considerate towards others and empathetic towards communities both near and far.

Geography

We aim to make the varied subject of Geography relevant, exciting and enjoyable. We study physical, human and economic aspects, as well as map work, aerial photographs and geographical information systems (GIS).

The study of Geography equips young people to understand and react in a constructive and positive way to world issues such as water shortages, power failures, global warming, clouds of volcanic dust, weather extremes, floods, droughts and landslides. We try to reinforce what is learnt in the classroom by visiting places of geographical interest and doing fun, practical activities.

The Geography students achieve excellent results each year in the IEB Matric Geography examination.

 “Geography is the subject that holds the key to our future” – Michael Palin

History

A people without a positive history is like a vehicle without an engine” – Steve Biko

History is a skills-driven subject that encourages students to develop critical minds and be empowered to make positive contributions in society. History asks: Who are we? Where are we? Where are we going? It is a subject that educates students for life. Historical thinking helps to develop a concerned awareness of the problems we face in the modern world.

Teaching strategies include group discussions, class debates and oral presentations. Source interpretation, analysis of evidence, assessment of bias, working with visual as well as written and oral sources, constructing logical arguments and using computer technology are skills central to history. These skills are of value in a wide range of occupations, especially in politics, journalism and law.

History is an important and relevant subject that helps students to be competitive in the international world. Their historical knowledge provides them with a context within which to understand the issues, debates and events that have shaped our world. History students are able to influence the world in a positive way.

To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child” – Cicero

Information Technology

What is Information Technology?

Information Technology is the study of the various interrelated physical and non-physical technologies used for the capturing of data, the processing of data into useful information, and the management, presentation and dissemination of data.

Information Technology studies the activities that deal with the solution of problems through logical and computational thinking. It includes the physical and non-physical components for the electronic transmission, access and manipulation of data and information.

In Information Technology a pupil will:

  • Use appropriate techniques and procedures to plan solutions, and devise algorithms to solve problems using suitable techniques and tools
  • Understand and use appropriate communication technologies for information dissemination
  • Appreciate and comprehend the various systems technologies used in the developing of a computer-based system
  • Understand that all ICT systems are built upon software engineering principles
  • Understand and use Internet technologies for various tasks
  • Comprehend and apply the concepts of data and information management, to understand how a knowledge-driven society functions
  • Understand the social implications of ICTs and how to use ICT technologies responsibly

(Taken from Information Technology NCS Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement)

Information Technology is a subject for students who enjoy a challenge and who enjoy problem solving. In our current world, technology is evident in every field and is continually growing.

As the curriculum of Information Technology is largely focused on programming skills, it is advised that a student is achieving 65% or higher in Mathematics. Students should have access to the Internet and to their own laptop or desktop computer at home, owing to the large practical component of this subject.

Languages

  • Home-level language:

English

The St Mary’s English department encourages critical thinking and engagement with a wide variety of texts. The English teachers have diverse personalities and teaching styles, complementing the varied learning styles of our pupils.

English is a multi-faceted subject involving verbal proficiency, literary analysis, the pleasures of crafting creative pieces and critical reading of a range of contemporary texts. Our pupils are given wide exposure to all these areas, and are encouraged to use the full range of modern information technology in their exploration of language arts.

The school’s excellent English results are an indication of the commitment that the students and English department bring to this subject.

  • First additional language level

Advanced Programme English

Advanced Programme English is a two year IEB curriculum which is taught in Form IV and Form V and introduced in the third term in Form III. It is assessed internally in Form IV and as part of the final IEB examinations at the end of Form V. It has been internationally benchmarked at A level standard and Advanced Programme English students are certified by the IEB separately from their National Senior Certificate (NSC) results.

Advanced Programme English has been offered to St Mary's students since 2011. It has proved to be a challenging and enriching subject for girls who enjoy studying literature at an advanced level and engaging with texts critically and thoughtfully. AP students gain analytical and critical thinking skills which stand them in good stead at tertiary level across all disciplines. The subject also concentrates on the fluent and convincing expression of ideas.

Students who elect to study Advanced Programme English must be able to read texts independently and enjoy reading across a wide range of genres. The assessment is examination based but students are expected to submit an essay or other task each term so that they can develop their skills.

Afrikaans

The Afrikaans department is vibrant and dynamic, and consistently produces matriculation results of a high standard.

Afrikaans is one of our 11 official languages and understood by the majority of South Africans. Students planning a career in human resources, medicine and public service would certainly benefit from being able to communicate in this language, not to mention enjoying lifelong access to a wonderful body of literature.

isiZulu and Sesotho

The school’s African Languages department encourages the learning of both the Zulu and Sotho language and culture. Our curriculum aims to provide four learning outcomes: speaking and listening, reading and viewing, writing and presenting, and language.

In the classroom, our girls read stories that are rich in culture, assisting them to appreciate and embrace culturally diverse backgrounds, and respect others’ cultures. They also attend IEB schools’ cultural events, and visit Lesedi Cultural Village to learn more about various cultures.

We are motivated to develop pupils who are not only intent on achieving good results, but also contributing to the wider community. Our languages have great currency, and provide opportunities for students who are proficient in them.

  • Second additional language level

French

French is no longer simply a European language, but also an African language; more than half of the continent is French-speaking. French opens up job opportunities and new horizons, and introduces South Africans to other cultures, as well as literature, art and philosophy.

It is becoming useful, even vital, in many professions, from law to commerce, diplomacy and even medicine; there are few areas where French would not be advantageous.

Our matric French results have been excellent, and universities look favourably upon applications that include a foreign language.

Latin

Democracy, law, architecture, engineering, literature and drama all have their origin in the sophisticated world of the Romans. Our approach to Latin is to show its relevance to the Western world in the 21st century. Through Latin, students understand the etymological origin of 70% of English words; through Latin’s rich literary repository, students gain insight not only into the ancient classical world, but also into our Western way of life and mores.

Latin’s educational worth is indisputable. It is an exacting subject that trains the mind to respond logically, accurately, analytically and critically. These invaluable cognitive skills enhance insight and understanding, and transfer positively to many other disciplines and subjects.

As not many girls choose to study Latin, St Mary’s is able to offer individual tuition and attention to our students. Our academic record in the final IEB matriculation examinations is outstanding, and our best students are among the country’s top achievers.

Life Orientation

Life Orientation is an exciting part of the curriculum. It is examined through a portfolio of work which is generated during each academic year. The subject can best be described according to its outcomes:

  • Self
  • Community
  • Citizenship
  • Careers
  • Physical self

This subject provides the opportunity for discussion and critical thinking about important life issues. It allows for the use of multiple intelligences and provides the opportunity for all girls to excel.

THE ROLE OF COMMUNITY SERVICE

The Life Orientation department is passionate about community service. We believe that encouraging ongoing commitment to serving our community in various ways to our girls helps us to remain aware that there are many people who need our assistance – and that a small commitment of time can make a vast difference to others.

Life Sciences

Our Life Sciences department develops an interest in, and passion for, the study of organisms and their organisation, life processes and relationships to each other and their environment. This discipline is dynamic, interesting and stimulating, and teaches a wide range of skills that can be employed in many different careers.

The curriculum and the style of teaching have been adapted to cope with increasing knowledge and advances in technology, such as genetic engineering and biotechnology. It is essential that the students be educated enough to consider the implications of these biotechnological advances.

At St Mary’s School, we are fortunate to have state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment, enabling us to prepare our students for the rigorous demands of tertiary education.

Mathematics

In Forms I and II we do not stream our classes and all the staff members teach at least one junior class. From Form III onwards, we arrange our classes according to the girls’ abilities so that they are taught at a rate commensurate with their understanding of the concepts. We offer Advanced Programme Mathematics as an optional, eighth subject.

Girls are entered in the Maths Olympiad and other mathematics competitions. They have the opportunity to take part in the Tour de Maths, which takes place once a month.

Before the Form V pupils write their preliminary examinations in September, we take them on a weekend revision camp which we have found to be beneficial. Our matric results are exceptional, and higher than the IEB average.

Mathematical Literacy

Mathematical Literacy, which is accepted at university faculties where core Mathematics is not a prerequisite, is offered as a matriculation subject from Form III at St Mary’s.

The subject focuses on real-life situations and is perfect for the girl who finds difficulty with the more abstract facets of core Mathematics.

It enables girls to approach problems with confidence and allows them to discover methods that work for them, equipping them with techniques, knowledge, skills, values and attitudes for self-fulfilment and growth. Mathematical Literacy lends itself successfully to activities such as presentations, research, debates, interviews, questionnaires, project work, assignments and practical investigations.

Music

Music is offered as part of the Arts and Culture programme in Forms I and II and then as a chosen academic subject in Forms III to V. The curriculum is broad and interesting, from jazz and contemporary music to improvisation, composition and arrangement, ensemble playing, world and South African music, as well as Western classical music.

In order to benefit from all the streams available, it is recommended that girls are at a minimum level of Grade 2 theory and Grade 3 practical when they start the course in Form III. The practical standard required for the solo instrument at matric level is a minimum standard of between Grade 5 and 6 of any recognised examination board. These include ABRSM, UNISA, Trinity and Rock School.

Many music students have gone on to study music at university and are highly competent musicians. It is naturally a tremendous source of pride for St Mary’s when former pupils go on to become professional musicians. There have been some notable examples: pianist Jill Richards and internationally acclaimed singer Sandra Ford are both St Mary’s Old Girls.

The music curriculum aims to:

  • Equip students with skills to make effective use of music technology for creative processes
  • Develop the entrepreneurial skills and attitudes that encourage a culture of self-employment
  • Provide knowledge of the elements of music and then apply them in the creation, performance and appreciation of music
  • Apply creative problem-solving through performance, composition and analysis of musical works
  • Promote artistic expression through a variety of musical styles and available resources
  • Create an environment where students’ love for music-making is stimulated

 

Physical Sciences

The Physical Sciences challenge, enthral and satisfy the curiosity of the current generation of teenagers. The course follows a spiral approach, in which concepts are first introduced in a simple way and, in later years, these concepts are revisited and studied in greater depth. This conceptual progression allows for increased cognition.

The course covers concepts within the realms of physics and chemistry, and is further broken down into the following strands:

  • Mechanics
  • Electricity and magnetism
  • Waves, sound and light
  • Matter and materials
  • Chemical change
  • Chemical system

The facilities available for our girls to learn Science are modern and cutting edge. Practical work is a large part of the curriculum. Our girls leave St Mary’s extremely well equipped to tackle the sciences at university level.

This department also administers and designs the curriculum for the Natural Sciences, which provides girls with the opportunities to explore science in a hands-on manner at their own pace, while obtaining the scientific skills required to proceed to senior-level Physical Sciences and Life Sciences.

Visual Arts

Visual Arts is an important subject, as it develops creativity and thinking skills. Our economy depends on creativity by helping to find new solutions to problems. Studying Visual Arts and acquiring visual literacy prepares our girls to pursue a variety of careers, including architecture, advertising, interiors, fashion, graphic design, gallery management and curatorship.

Visual Arts provides a balance in the curriculum, as both sides of the brain are developed. In the practical side of Visual Arts, we encourage self-expression. The girls develop both technical and conceptual thinking skills. Visual Culture Studies is the theoretical component of the subject, which connects with our cultural past. We study prehistoric art through to the Renaissance, contemporary and African art. This gives the girls a wide knowledge of visual culture and the debates surrounding it.

We are proud of our matric results in the IEB examination, and St Mary’s girls have excelled in the Design-an-Ad competition. Overseas art tours are arranged every two to three years, to broaden the girls’ outlook on and knowledge of the arts.

LOVE | COMMUNITY | INTEGRITY