Background and atmosphere
The place with 750 acres of parkland and gardens that are regarded as the embodiment of 18th century enlightenment is simply adored by the students. The campus is surprisingly compact with boarding houses, courts and other facilities nestled cosily in the wilderness, with the main building in neo-classical style modelled by Robert Adam in the mid-18th century that became a school only in 1923. In 1989 the house and gardens were passed to the National Trust and have been open to visitors ever since.
The results are considered fine given the comprehensive intake. A level results appear to be improving, while GCSE results show that approximately 46 per cent of grades have been A*/A. Stowe’s students are motivated to succeed, some of them aiming for traditional paths, medicine, economics, others for rather innovative courses. Good teaching and openness to new ideas which are delivered in a supportive environment are the priority at Stowe. Time is spent looking at how all individuals learn in order to improve the processes of teaching and learning. The School has evening clinics for every matter, so if students do not understand something the first time, there is always a second chance. Latin and Greek are still taught at Stowe, and chemistry and religious studies are among the most popular subjects. The headmaster hopes that the School will be able to offer farm-oriented courses soon.
All students at Stowe do CCF or D of E with a push towards community work. Sport is quite strong, with national representation in rowing, cricket, rugby, lacrosse, golf, fencing, and equestrian events. The School takes pride in having first division lacrosse champions, with similar levels of success in polo, hockey and rugby. They also have excellent facilities: playing fields, assault course, a new golf course, courts, sports hall, climbing wall, fencing salle, fives courts, and a pool. The annual arts festival taking place at Stowe encompasses science, sport, dance, music, art and drama. Music is also popular and plentiful, often with weekly summer performances being the perfect backdrop for the picnicking parents. Apart from having their own radio station with resident DJs, the School also hosts party nights ranging from themed skiing to bungee runs and magic.
Structure of students
Stowe represents a place where languages and cultures mix. It attracts solid and decent children, but also those who might be overlooked elsewhere. Students are polite, grounded and know how to behave and interact. Their parents are a mix of entrepreneurs, academics, country, creative and celebrity. Together, they argue that although some may regard them as being posh this is actually not quite true, as they come from different backgrounds.
Boarding and pastoral care
Everyone at Stowe is eager to help, and care is delivered abundantly with everybody from cleaners and caretakers, housemistresses and academic staff on hand to help. There are twelve boarding houses in total, with kitchens and communal rooms. Premises occupied by girls are brand new, with in-house gym, pool room and other facilities. The School is really strict when it comes to drugs, alcohol and cyber bullying, and whereas second chances are a possibility, they are never a given.
Entrance and exit
A number of students come from state schools, while the rest come from a range of preps, including Winchester House, The Dragon, Summer Fields and Ashdown House among others. The School’s reputation is no longer that of a “back-up plan”, but of a conscious first choice. High grades, although welcome, are not of greatest importance – instead, they are looking for a spark in each student, something they could ignite. The majority of students usually move on to a wide range of universities. Most popular are business-related courses and art schools.