EAL information for agents

English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Our exceptional EAL provision is embedded in our curriculum, at no additional cost.

EAL provision

Learn more about our EAL provision and the qualifications on offer, across our Senior School and Sixth Form.

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St Mary’s has a very experienced team with many years of experience in teaching English to international students.

Each student is supported to develop her command of the English language enabling her to pursue subject studies to the best of her abilities.

EAL qualifications

Senior School
Cambridge English qualifications

Girls can opt to prepare for internationally recognised Cambridge English EAL qualifications, as an alternative to studying English Language and English Literature GCSEs.

  • Year 10: Cambridge English: First
  • Year 11: Cambridge English: Advanced

The Cambridge English: Advanced qualification does not have an expiry date, so students who perform well may use it for some of their university applications. Oxford University, for instance, requires an overall score of 191, with a minimum of 185 in each component; the London School of Economics (LSE) requires an overall score of 185, with a minimum of 185 in Reading and of 176 in the other components; the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College requires 185 overall, with a minimum of 176 in each component.

In Years 7 to 9, students only spending a year in the UK can prepare for the Cambridge English: Preliminary for Schools or Cambridge English: First for Schools examinations.

Cambridge English

Sixth Form
IELTS qualification

International students joining in Sixth Form, or those who wish to improve their current EAL grades, take the IELTS qualification in Year 12 or Year 13.

This ensures it is valid for UK visa purposes when students embark on university studies. IELTS meets the English language requirements for English-medium university courses throughout the world. Some Lower Sixth students take the IELTS examination in June, and do not attend further classes, but others continue Upper Sixth.

The majority of our IELTS students score Band 7 and frequently higher, against the most recently reported global average for female students of Band 6.

In the past five years, students from Germany, Italy and Spain have joined the Sixth Form for just one, two or three terms in the Lower Sixth. Although they have also studied subjects at A Level, their key aim has been to improve their English.


EAL in Senior School

In Senior School we offer:

  • 6 x EAL lessons every two weeks Year 7 to 9
  • 7 x EAL lessons every two weeks Year 10 and 11
Year 7 to 9


Using a diverse range of resources, we focus on the following skills:

  • The ability to read, listen to, write and speak English at a level that will enable students to fulfil their potential in their other subjects
  • The ability to proof-read what they write to eliminate as many errors as possible before these come to the reader’s attention
  • An understanding of register and the ability to choose an appropriate level of English in both speech and writing
  • A knowledge of and ability to use appropriate reference materials, especially online
  • Vocabulary learning techniques


  • Textbooks according to the level of the students, such as Activate A2 (Year 8) and Activate B1 and Cambridge Active Grammar Level 2 (Year 9)
  • Articles from the national press and from BBC Online
  • Excerpts from television and feature films
  • iPad learning apps
  • Online learning resources such as the Macmillan, Oxford and Cambridge Dictionaries and the Oxford Collocations Dictionary
  • A wide range of materials produced by the teachers in line with the particular interests of the students


In all three years, a decision is made whether it is in the best interests of the student to be taught with native speakers of English in English Language and Literature classes or to work on a course in contemporary English which focuses on aspects of the language that present particular difficulties for non-native speakers.

In Year 7 and Year 8, if a student is an able linguist but lacks the experience to do well in mainstream English without support, she may be supported by an EAL specialist working with her English teacher in her English class.

Students who are only spending a year in the UK may prepare for the Cambridge English: Preliminary for Schools or Cambridge English: First for Schools examinations if desired.

Year 10 and 11

You can choose EAL Cambridge English qualifications as an alternative to studying English Language and English Literature GCSEs.

EAL in Year 10 and 11

EAL in Sixth Form

EAL in Sixth Form

EAL students attend five EAL lessons every two weeks, in addition to their A Level subject studies.

As well as preparing you for the IELTS qualification, your EAL studies will:

  • support A Level subject studies
  • facilitate full access to our extra-curricular activities and work experience
  • extend knowledge of the UK, other countries and your own country
  • build an appreciation of, and respect for, your own and other cultures

We provide EAL students with formative feedback on homework and encourage self-reflection on the learning process. All students are encouraged to strengthen their ability to research, plan and organise work and to become independent and lifelong learners.

Sixth Form EAL students who do not have an English Language qualification that meets their university entrance requirements are prepared for the IELTS examination. (See Qualification section for information).



English Language Support for Study

Our English Language Support (ELS) provides extra assistance with language skills specifically to aid progression in other curriculum subjects.

ELS in Senior School

In Year 10 and 11, ELS can be taken as an alternative to a Modern Foreign Language subject.

Your ELS support will be tailored to match your subject range and individual learning needs.

ELS will enable you to:

  • Make the most of your GCSE subject lessons
  • Keep on top of your homework
  • Build language confidence to reach your full potential across the curriculum

ELS for GCSE study

ELS in Sixth Form

Some Sixth Form students take English Language Support lessons to support their study of subjects such as Art or History.

This involves: 

  • Working with students to identify and meet language needs specific to the subject – lexical or grammatical
  • Providing support material, such as that provided for Personal Studies in Art.

Our EAL department are also happy to support students with:

  • Presentations for special events such as assemblies
  • Writing UCAS personal statements for university applications
  • University interviews for courses such as Medicine