Year 7 and 8 trip to Comillas, Spain, June 2018

It was a case of second time lucky for our hotly anticipated Spanish immersion trip earlier this month, after our first flight was cancelled because of the French air traffic controllers’ strike.

But that didn’t deter our Spanish adventure and with something of a sense of déjà vu just over a week later, we set out for the second time to Stansted bound for Bilbao and the small coastal village of Comillas in northern Spain.

Our wonderful host, Jose Herrera, who organised the trip in Bilbao, met us at the airport and took us off to our hotel. After a swim in the pool before dinner, we had a ‘relatively’ early night to be ready for our first action-packed day and experience all that Spain had to offer.

This began with several hours of intensive Spanish tuition in the beautiful historic tourist centre-cum-town hall with Ana and Estella. We then departed for El Soplao, an amazing network of caves with some of the finest examples of stalactites and stalagmites in Europe.

Day 2 began with a visit to a Spanish school ‘Antonio Robinet’ where our students had the opportunity to put what they had learned into practice with Spanish students of a similar age. It didn’t take long for our students to get into the spirit of Spanish culture with some of them learning some traditional Flamenco dancing while the rest took part in a football tournament with our Spanish hosts.

We then went for some retail therapy in a shopping mall in Santander followed by more culture at the Capriche de Gaudi, a wonderful art deco house designed by Gaudi himself.

Day 3 we set out early for a trip to the Cabarceno Wildlife Park. Spanning across acres of parkland, our students enjoyed seeing a whole variety of wild animals up close including bears, rhinos, elephants, tigers, leopards and much more. We were even treated to a spectacular falconry display and a thrilling cable car ride which took us high above the tree tops.

On our return to the hotel we enjoyed a Spanish treat of ‘churros and chocolate’ before a treasure hunt around the village aided by the local villagers which gave us the opportunity to practise our Spanish. After another swim followed by dinner, our students couldn’t resist some more flamenco practice before we headed for bed.

Day 4 started with Spanish immersion lessons in Comillas with Ana and Estella before heading out to the museum at Altamira. We enjoyed a traditional lunch of paella followed by a visit to a replica of the prehistoric caves of Altamira, renowned for its numerous cave paintings of local fauna and human hands.

Our visit was almost at an end but not before Alis explained about prehistoric man and showed how to make fire without matches! A spectacular end to an action packed and exciting trip.

Stoke College extends our special thanks to Mrs Smith and Miss Stansfield for organising and accompanying the trip, and to our students who were excellent ambassadors for the school throughout the trip.


Head’s Blog – Fire and Lightning

The Prep School pupils had a good week last week. The youngest class, the Finches, had a visit from the local fire brigade so that they could bring a dramatic end to their Great Fire of London project.

Finches have been studying the Stuart disaster this term and built model Pudding Lane houses as part of the project. On Monday they had the practical experience of observing the dangers of building houses out of flammable materials. Just as importantly, they also got to see first-hand how the local fire brigade puts out fires.

The site of an operational fire engine at work on the play ground brought the rest of the Prep School out to watch and also a number of staff. The lucky members of Finches then got the chance to use the fire hose for themselves!

On Tuesday senior school students in Years 9 and 10 got the opportunity to attend a fascinating talk at The Welding Institute. This is the fourth lecture we have attended this year and it proved to be the most popular. The talk was on the new combat plane for the RAF, the F35 B Lightning. As part of the talk, the students also got to hear about how the latest Navy aircraft carrier has been designed specifically for this ultra-modern plane and to appreciated some of the complex logistics involved. It was a fascinating evening for anyone with an interest in cutting-edge engineering.

The Prep School finished the week with a thoroughly enjoyable visit to Thurlow Country Park and there were many happy smiles and excited talk of puppies on the way home on Friday.

In the meantime the Year 11 students have been hard at work with their GCSE examinations. They are now into the full flow of public exams and we are very grateful to all the volunteers who are helping as scribes and readers.

Next week will be equally busy for them and we will ensure they have all the study support they need.

Others however are looking forward to the ISA National Athletics on Tuesday – we wish them the best of luck. Meanwhile many younger members of Senior School will be heading to Spain with Mrs Smith. Que te vayas bien! 

Maths Challenge Success

We have recently received the results for the Senior Maths Challenge, sat by our A Level Maths students. We are very pleased to announce that Howard achieved a Bronze award, Danny achieved a Silver, and Amaris not only achieved the Gold award for best in year and best in school, but scored so highly that she qualified for the next round, the Kangaroo Round, which she sat on Friday 1st December.

Students will be presented with their awards when we receive them from the competition organisers, and you can expect to see pictures of our very proud students (and their very proud teachers!) in due course.

Cross Country Winner!

Back in the warm indoors, Lilia enjoys her Gold medal

Twenty of our students from the Prep and Senior Schools competed in last week’s Cut Hedge Cross Country Trophy event at Gosfield School. The students faced wet and windy conditions, hardly conducive to this open air endurance event, but we were delighted with our results, competing against thirteen other schools.

Lilia came first out of 80 girls in the Years 5&6 race, and is pictured here with her gold medal. Lilia ran a superb race, really impressing our own and other schools’ PE teachers with her pace and determination.

Patrick also performed really well, coming fifth in a field of nearly 50 Years 7&8 boys.

We are very grateful to Mr Kelsall and Miss Fryers for all that they do to train students for these competitions, and to all the students who took part for representing Stoke College so exceptionally well at external events.

We’ve Been to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo

Thumbs up, boys!


On Tuesday 14th November Year 6, Eagles class went to Colchester Zoo to investigate the different adaptations of the animals at the zoo. We followed in the footsteps of Charles Darwin to classify insects and considered the evolutionary traits of different birds by the features of their feet and beaks.

We fed lorikeet birds with nectar and were fascinated by their long furry tongues for drinking sticky nectar, we also fed the giraffes and the elephants and discussed the different ways the animals have evolved to solve the same problems of living and finding food in the African savannah.

It was a brilliant day, very educational but also great fun.

Stained Glass Museum Trip

On Monday the Kingfishers (Years 3 & 4) and Owls (Year 5) went to the Stained Glass Museum inside Ely Cathedral.  The children were greeted by a monk from the 12th century who spoke to them about the history of stained glass.  Then all the pupils made their own stained ‘glass’ leaf picture and a glass bead buddy as well as learning about how to ‘read’ stained glass pictures and the meaning behind them.  It was a great day and we are looking forward to visiting again next year.

Watch this space for an update on the Eagles’ (Year 6) trip to Colchester Zoo, which is taking place today!

Stoke Remembers

Mr Moss and Jacob, who laid our wreath

At 11.00 am on Friday 10th November, all students and staff gathered at the Stoke by Clare war memorial which commemorates the soldiers of the First and Second World Wars. We were very pleased to welcome parents and members of the local community to join with us for the first time.

Mr Jaina led the ceremony, delivering a talk about the significance of the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917, before Year 9 students gave readings about four of the men from Stoke by Clare who were killed in action during the First World War. That two of these soldiers were brothers, and that two other men of the Pledger family were killed during the war, made this even more poignant.

Jacob and Ebbie, two of our Army cadet students, laid a wreath and cross of remembrance, and Olivia read The Crosses, a contemporary poem of remembrance by Bill Mitton.

Mr Moss, an Army veteran, led The Last Post, two minutes’ silence followed by The Reveille, as we all reflected on the loss of life in conflicts past and present.

Students reflect during the ceremony

Our Day Out

On Wednesday 11 October all students in Years 7 and 8, along with all GCSE Drama students, travelled to London for a two-part trip to The Tower of London and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, there to watch Much Ado About Nothing.

After travelling by coach we gathered at the Tower of London and received our entry wristbands, ready to explore all there was to see inside. Split into groups, we marvelled at the Crown Jewels; having studied this period in History lessons, we could easily see why Charles II is now referred to as the King of Bling!

Charles II with some of the robes and royal jewels that we saw on display

We also took in The Bloody Tower, where Richard III is alleged to have killed the two princes, and the tower cells where many famous people have been held prisoner over the centuries, from the the Tudor Princess Elizabeth to the Kray twins. The weather was even warm enough for us to sample the delicious ice cream!

After enjoying our packed lunched we started our walk across Tower Bridge to Southwark, stopping for photos and to take in the sights on the South Bank. Although it began to drizzle, we all loved seeing the London sights from Tower Bridge.

After lightening a few purses in the gift shop, we took our places in the Yard at Shakespeare’s Globe, ready for Much Ado About Nothing to begin. Transported to the Mexican Revolution of 1914, this was an incredibly colourful, noisy and physical performance. We loved having the actors and actresses move among us as we stood: we were so close to the action and the GCSE Drama students were able to take lots of notes on the production.

We all had an incredible day out and are looking forward to more theatre trips this year and next! Many thanks to Mrs Hunn-Smith and Mr Jaina for organising the trip, and to Mrs Bull, Mr Bennett and Mrs Waite for joining us.

Flowers blooming in Autumn

We have just bid farewell to our visitors from the Xicheng Primary School of Beijing. A group of 48 Year 7 pupils, with their teachers, spent the last two days with us working on an Art project. Led by Mr Reeves, they produced flowers and feathers based around the theme of an English garden.

The children’s school specialises in artistic endeavour and working with our own Year 7 pupils, they produced some beautiful pieces of work.

We wish them a safe journey as they continue their tour of the UK and I would particularly like to thank Mr Reeves for preparing and leading such a thoroughly enjoyable two day experience.