What it’s like
Founded in 1923, it lies in a magnificent park of 750 acres landscaped by
Vanbrugh, Bridgman, Kent and Brown. The main building, the original Stowe House,
is a huge and elegant country house furnished in 1770 to designs by Adam. It now
has modern facilities of every conceivable kind and is exceedingly well
equipped. Girls have been admitted to the sixth form for some years and, from
2005, the school will become co-educational throughout. Academic standards are
high and examination results good. Pupils are expected to work hard and display
good manners. There is a strong emphasis on the availability of personal help
and guidance. High standards are achieved in a wide variety of sports and games
and the school is tremendously strong in music, drama and art. A very large
number of clubs and societies caters for almost every extra-mural interest.
There is a strong commitment to local community schemes and the Duke of
Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. Health education and environmental issues form
integral parts of the general studies programme and there is a visual education
course, which fosters visual appreciation of architecture and the built
Pupils & entrance
Pupils: Age range 13–18; 600 pupils, 70 day (60 boys, 10 girls), 530
boarding (430 boys, 100 girls). Current numbers based on mixed sixth only; girls
admitted at 13 from 2005.
Entrance: Main entry ages 13 and 16. Common Entrance used (50% pass
mark). For sixth-form entry, 2 entry papers, verbal reasoning, school report and
6 GCSEs (3 at least grade C, 3 grade B), including sixth-form subjects. Any
special skill is of interest; no religious requirements but pupils must attend
religious services. 3% main intake from state schools; other pupils come from
prep schools across the country.
Scholarships, bursaries & extras 24 pa scholarships, value 10%–50%
fees: up to 8 academic, 5 all-rounder, 5 art, 6 music, variable sport (18 at 13,
6 at 16); also 3 awarded to younger pupils and carried into the school. Variable
number of bursaries for those receiving scholarships but still needing financial
support. Parents expected to buy textbooks; other extras variable.
Head & staff
Headmaster: Dr Anthony Wallersteiner, in post from 2003. Educated at
universities of Cambridge (history) and Kent (history & theory of art).
Previously taught at schools including St Paul’s, Sherborne and Tonbridge.
Teaching staff: 64 full time, 20 part time. Annual turnover 5%.
GCSE: In 2003, 107 pupils in upper fifth: 92% gained at least grade C in
5+ subjects. Average GCSE score 52 (50 over 5 years).
A-levels: 130 in upper sixth: 4% passed in 4+ subjects; 94% in 3
subjects. Average final point score achieved by upper sixth formers 304.
University & college entrance 96% of sixth-form leavers go on to a
degree course (35% after a gap year), 7% to Oxbridge. 3% take courses in
medicine, dentistry & veterinary science, 24% in science & engineering, 62% in
humanities & social sciences, 8% in art & design, 3% in eg drama, music. Others
typically go straight into careers or to art or other non-degree courses.
Curriculum GCSE, AS and A-levels. 16 GCSE subjects offered; 25 at
15% take science A-levels; 54% arts/humanities; 31% both.
Vocational: Work experience available.
Special provision: Regular part-time support for those with special
Languages: French, German and Spanish offered to GCSE, AS and A-level.
Regular individual exchanges for sixth formers to France and Germany,
occasionally Spain and Russia. French, German and Spanish nationals as assistant
teachers. Subsidiary Russian and Eurolingua Society in sixth form.
ICT: Taught across the curriculum, particularly in science (eg A-level
physics package delivered over school network as part of Institute of Physics
‘Advancing Physics’ project). 110+ computers for pupil use (15 hours a day),
many with e-mail and internet access (all pupils’ studies in boarding houses
have internet access). Total of 250 computers on network, including boarding
house workstations. Some 40% of pupils have their own computers
Music: Almost 33% of pupils learn a musical instrument; instrumental
exams can be taken. Some 15 musical groups including orchestra, choral society,
jazz bands, rock bands, chapel choir. Strong music technology unit.
Drama: Theatre studies A-level may be taken. Most pupils are involved in
school and/or other productions. Stowe Theatre Company; full-time crews learning
stagecraft, stage-management. Regular entrants to drama school and National
Theatre Company (several present pupils involved in films).
Art & design: On average, 25 take GCSE, 20 A-level. Graphic design,
pottery, textiles, photography, sculpture and theatre design also offered.
Sport & activities
Sport: Rugby, hockey, cricket are major sports for boys; netball,
lacrosse, hockey for girls. Optional: wide range of sports/activities, school
very strong at several minor sports eg clay pigeon, fly fishing, beagles,
sculling, sailing, scuba diving, fives.
Activities: Pupils take bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh’s
Award. CCF and community service optional. Expeditions to eg Himalayas,
Amazonia. Over 30 clubs, eg choral, drama, debating, literary, photographic,
Uniform: School uniform not worn but there are dress regulations.
Houses & prefects: Prefects, head boy/girl, head of house and house
prefects – appointed by the Headmaster.
Religion: Compulsory attendance at religious worship.
Social: Industrial Conference (with Royal Latin School), public-speaking
with other schools. Organised trips abroad, eg to Nepal (most years), Classics
trip to Greece/Italy, USA, South America, Russia, art trips to Italy. Pupils
allowed to bring own bike to school. Meals self-service. School shop. No tobacco
or alcohol allowed except beer, cider and wine in supervised bar for top year.
Discipline Pupils failing to produce satisfactory work once should
expect to do it again properly with possible further sanctions; those found
taking drugs at school can expect expulsion (the dangers of drug and alcohol
abuse are discussed in health and safety education programme).
Boarding All sixth form have own study bedroom. Houses of 50–60
pupils, full age range. Resident qualified nurse; doctor visits daily. Two
central dining rooms. Pupils can provide and cook their own food. Exeats at
half-term and up to two other weekends each term. Visits to the local town
Alumni association is run locally by Mr John Bridgewood, c/o the
school (in touch with
6000+ former pupils).
Former pupils Grp Capt Lord (Leonard) Cheshire; Sir Richard Branson;
David Shepherd; Sir Nicholas Henderson; Lord Sainsbury; Lord McAlpine; Laurence
Whistler; Lord Annan; Lord Boyd Carpenter; Lord Stephens; David Niven; George
Melly; Peregrine Worsthorne; Gavin Maxwell.