Head’s Blog

Head’s Blog

We are very much looking forward to the Open Morning in two weeks time on Saturday 30th September and are pleased to see that a good number of enquiries are coming in. We are advertising locally in the press as well as on line and leaflets are going out to local businesses too. If any parents would be happy to take a few to pass on to friends or through their businesses, please do let Mrs Wheeler know. We would greatly appreciate your help and support.

In the meantime school life has settled into a routine very quickly. The boarders had a lot of fun in Thetford Forest on Saturday mountain-biking and at least one of our new boarders from overseas has discovered what nettles are. I have promised to show her what a dock leaf looks like too so that she will be better prepared next time!

Our new Sixth Form study centre is now in action and it is very good to see that it is being well used. It is rare not to find someone in there, even in the late evening, working hard on their home work. Our Sixth Formers have made a very positive start and have embraced the challenge of their new courses.

Last week we held our Parent Teacher Association AGM and were delighted to see a number of new parents come along. The meeting was buzzing with ideas and we are looking forward to building on the hard work of last year’s committee as the new team, led by Mrs Sophia Parker, set to work on this year’s events.

This week we are looking forward to meeting parents on Wednesday evening at the Parent Tutor meetings. This is an important meeting allowing parents to get to know their child’s tutor as they act as the first point of contact for all pastoral and academic matters. Now that we are two weeks into term it is a good moment to review how well your child is settling in to the new academic year and to raise any questions you might have face-to-face. However, if you cannot make the evening, do feel free to contact your child’s tutor at any time.

I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday.

Head’s Blog

Sunday 10th September

These past few days have been long awaited. After all the planning, the preparatory inspection and refurbishment work, we have become once again a school with a sixth form. Not only that, but one welcoming full-time boarders from both the UK and across the globe.

New boarders arrived on Monday for orientation and team-building, and were joined by existing boarders the following day. On Wednesday we welcomed back all the pupils and held a whole school assembly. The new staff and pupil leaders were introduced and we spent some time thinking about what we could each achieve this year.

The previous Year 11s were an inspiration with their hard work and engagement with the Stoke ethos. They were good at helping each other, as well as working with staff and they succeeded together. The message of the growth mind set was not lost on the pupils and students and the parable of the talents was clearly understood. As Tommy rightly said in the assembly, it is about making the very best with the talents you have and not being afraid to use them.

Taking intellectual risks and not being afraid to suggest ideas even if they might be wrong, is hugely important. We are so fortunate that our pupils are keen to support each other. Ideas are not mocked if they aren’t quite right but praised for effort and imagination.

It was a good start to the term and the pupils left to meet their new tutors and to receive their timetables. Tutors at Stoke are very much there to help their tutees, whether they are having any pastoral or academic concerns, and parents should feel free to contact them.

Our new sixth formers had an interesting week too. After a number of induction meetings, and first lessons in each of their A levels, they had an welcome meal at the Cock Inn, Clare on Thursday night with their new teachers and then Mr Stuart, Head of Sixth Form, took them to Cambridge for the day on Friday. They were hugely fortunate to be able to visit the Wren Library at Trinity College and meet one of the admissions tutors too. The Wren Library was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, most famous as the architect of St Paul’s Cathedral, London and whose staircase, from his London home, is now in use in the Main House at Stoke College.

This weekend has seen the boarders have a day out in Bury, buying any last minute items of equipment and clothing for the term and spending some time getting to know each other while they had fun bowling.

Next week will be the first full week of lessons (week B), evening activities will begin and the homework timetable will be published. We will be very much back to the natural rhythm of school life.

Finally, a reminder that the AGM of our Parent Teacher Association is on Wednesday evening at 7 pm. New members are very welcome and it provides an excellent way for families new to the school to get to know everyone better. I hope to see lots of new faces there!

Head’s Blog

Tuesday 27th June

We are in the midst of the traditional end of term events at Stoke. This week the senior pupils are currently following a special timetable for the Arts Festival, which culminates in our Gala Concert tomorrow night at 7 pm in the Sports Hall.

The theme of the Arts Festival is British Values; Global Identity expressed through singing, playing instruments, dancing and art. The students have worked in mixed age groups with each team focussing on one of the four core values: Democracy, respect for the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect for all faiths and none.

The final art pieces will be displayed in the PAB at the end of the festival and parents will be able to view these as part of the Gala as well as on Speech Day next week.

Last Friday was a fantastic day for Stoke too. After the washout of last year it was great to have near-perfect weather for our Sports Day. A great deal went into organising the day, led by the Games staff and supported by the maintenance staff, the catering staff and the academic staff too.

Particularly popular was Mrs Burchell’s Pimms (and Elderflower Cordial!) tent, which at times threatened to blow away in the breeze. It was impressive to see drinks served by one hand whilst the other held the gazebo firmly to the ground!

I am sure all parents would support Mrs Burchell’s compliment to the children on their manners and absolute politeness when getting refreshments. She noted that they also made sure they put their empties back in the correct place (unlike Glastonbury!)

Well done to the Unicorns for being the final winners of the day but the determination and participation was there to see from all the athletes. The Year 5 tug-of-war was particularly competitive! We are lucky to have such a beautiful setting to hold such an uplifting yet traditional day.

The PTA Summer Barbecue is on Friday from 6:30 pm. We are holding it in the Quadrangle by the Performing Arts Block where the Prep School Garden Party was held before half term. It is a lovely setting and we hope as many families as possible will be able to come. Tickets can be bought on the night so don’t worry if you haven’t been able to buy in advance.

Head’s Blog

As we enter the last four weeks of the academic year, we are very much in the middle of the GCSE examination season. The Year 11s have overcome their pre-exam nerves and have settled in to a routine of revision and performance. Staff are continuing to support them in their revision and anyone who needs extra help should feel they can contact staff at any time.

Our Year 10s will be out tomorrow for a week’s work experience at Cambridge University. They will be experiencing a number of areas of operations in this world-class organisation, currently ranked the fifth best university in the world, and will get a genuine taste of adult working life.

The developments and refurbishments at Stoke are progressing well, with the Stable Block conversion nearing completion. In addition, the Library and Chinese Room will be restored over the summer to provide our Sixth Form with space to both study and socialise.

We are completing our staff recruitment for next year over the coming fortnight and will be in touch with parents before the end of term with a complete update.

The past few weeks have been extraordinarily unsettled for us as a country but at such times all parents feel a determination to ensure that their children’s lives remain happy and secure. We are very aware of this at Stoke and whilst we will of course continue with the routine of school life and the special events of the summer term, there is something more that underpins our work. It is a determination and belief that the education we are providing both nurtures children as they grow and prepares them with the knowledge, skills and personal qualities they will need for their future lives.

Head’s Blog

Study leave has started! Our Year 11s gave a farewell assembly on Wednesday and on Friday staff were invited to the Performing Arts Block. We were treated to a farewell tea from the students and shared a nostalgic moment watching a slideshow of their years at Stoke. It was a lovely occasion and I am sure the students will treasure the memories of their time here for many years to come.

This week, of course, it is very much back to business. We have the first English GCSE examination tomorrow, followed by a busy week of further examinations before we break for half term. Year 11s are welcome to be in school when they don’t have examinations, if they wish to revise here, but should remember to sign in and out from reception so that we know who is on site.

It promises to be another busy week for visitors too. A lot of prospective pupils have been visiting over the past 10 days and this will continue into next week. It is a very positive time for the school and we are delighted that so many more families are becoming aware of what Stoke can offer for their children.

Two key dates to note for this week. Tomorrow is the first day of summer dress code and Friday we hold our Prep School Garden Party at 2:30pm. The weather will match the occasion with high temperatures forecast but do please make sure your children put on sun cream in the morning and bring some to school so that they can reapply during the day.

Stoke grounds are strikingly beautiful in the Spring.

Head’s Blog

The main GCSE examinations are fast approaching and Year 11 will go on study leave this Thursday. However, this didn’t stop them showing their strong support for the school on Saturday, giving up some of their precious time to be guides for our Open Morning.

We are very grateful to them and to all the pupils who came in to help (as well as to parents for driving them in too). We had an extremely busy day. Between 150 and 200 visitors were welcomed to the College, many of them discovering for the first time just what a wonderful place our school is.Read More

Head’s Blog

Picture: Our Knights of the Road (Deputy Head Mr Jaina & Ed in Year 11) came to the rescue this week.

In the 1980s Nissan arrived in England and brought with them the Japanese concept of Kaizen – improvement by small steps. The idea is that as an organisation you don’t make the most progress by implementing one great change but by everyone in the firm focusing on contributing small improvements regularly. Today, the Nissan plant in Sunderland is amongst the most efficient in Europe and the chaos of British car manufacturing in the 1970s is a distant memory.Read More

Head’s Blog

Saturday 29th April

We have welcomed two new starters, one to Prep and another to our Senior School as we begin the summer term. Both are settling in well and seem to be enjoying life at Stoke. It has been very good to hear the same experience also reflected by so many parents in the past few days. Stoke has had a transformative effect on many children.

We are very proud of the unique relationships between pupils and staff at Stoke and realise we work in a very privileged environment. The cooperation in and outside the classroom is second to none and for teachers it is wonderful to be able to share the passion we have for our subjects and to meet with such enthusiastic responses from our pupils.Read More

Head’s Blog

Sunday 26th March

Following on from the highly entertaining Prep School production, this past week saw the Senior School take its turn with the musical ‘Olivia!’. It was great to see such a good audience for both nights at the Haverhill Arts Centre. I know that all the parents who came to see their children act and sing were extremely proud. We are lucky to have so many children who are so artistically talented and see them work together to put on such an entertaining evening.

Read More

Head’s Blog

Sunday 19th March

It’s good to be sitting here writing the blog whilst looking out on what has been an unexpectely lovely spring day. The sun shone and the daffodils in the grounds are in full bloom. It marks the turn of a really positive time for the school.Read More