Headmaster’s Welcome

12th September 2019

Dear Parents, Pupils & Friends

Welcome to the Autumn Term at Stover School for the academic year 2019 to 2020. On the first day of term, I wandered around the school grounds while the pupils were completing their team building activities: the Prep School were out on the rugby pitches enjoying their first games sessions of the year, pupils in Year 7 and 8 were team building in their forms, Year 9 were ice-breaking with the army on the golf course, Key Stage 4 were problem-solving with “Escape Rooms” and the Sixth Form developing study skills and planning their Personal Development Profiles. All was a buzz of friendly excitement; the sun shone and the grounds looked immaculate. It felt good to be back! There was a comforting sense of Stover being how it should be, however, there has been a lot of positive change over the course of the summer holidays too.

On the staffing front Ben Noble has joined us from Millfield, to become Head of the Preparatory School. In the Senior School, Emily McEwen has joined the English Department, Hannah Rice the Modern Foreign Languages Department, Melanie Hulbert and Vincenzo Russo, as maternity cover in the Mathematics Department and full time in Mathematics and Science respectively. Following a successful series of supply lessons last year, Mick Mooney joins us to teach Games and Computer Science and Sadie Oliver will deliver the Year 8 dance lessons. In the Preparatory School, Louise Tyrrell joins Ben’s team as a class teacher. Sarah Gilbert has arrived as a House Parent to care for our boarders. To support our teaching, Emily Came becomes Assistant Girls’ Sports Tutor, Lucy Brown joins as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant and Melissa Belgeonne as a Teaching Assistant. Last but not least, Major Danny Yank will join our staff on Monday and Tuesday to assist with the delivery of our newly introduced Combined Cadet Force. We welcome them along with all our new pupils and wish them the very best of times while they are with us at Stover School.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Estates Team; they have taken on a huge amount of work this summer in order to improve the school for our pupils and the staff. Well done on delivering all of the projects for the start of the new term.  Two new science laboratories have been built on the top floor of the Mathematics and Science block; much needed to ensure that all science lessons will take place in laboratory spaces, enabling the RBL curriculum to be delivered at all times. The Mathematics Department has re-located to the Devon Ladies, as Modern Foreign Languages have taken up residence on the top floor of the Mansion House, following the removal of the last of our dorm boarding and a refurbishment to create suitable classroom spaces. Boarding has now been located entirely in Park House which has seen a complete facelift. The top floor has been sub-divided to create single, double and triple bedrooms rather than dorm accommodation. Sanitary facilities in the wing and first floor have been updated and the whole house has been re-carpeted and painted. Finally, all bedrooms have been furnished with new beds and furniture. All this makes the House much more comfortable and homely for our boarding pupils.

Stuart Condict has worked long hours to implement significant investment in the school ICT facilities. All our servers have been updated and our operating systems have been updated to Windows 10. We have increased our bandwidth by more than double to enable real time applications to run successfully, as required in lessons. The Senior School ICT suite has been completely refurbished with fit for purpose desk top machines and the Preparatory School ICT suite has been equipped with laptops for each pupil station. This much needed overhaul will mean our pupils can enjoy rapid and functional ICT facilities across the entire site which will complement their learning. The Nursery has been carpeted and painted along with a number of classrooms across the site.

The summer examinations season saw all of our Sixth Form pupils secure their destinations of choice in respect of their post 18 pathways. At GCSE level 84% of the cohort achieved pass grades, well above the national average; a considerable achievement for a genuinely mixed ability year group. Credit is due to all of the pupils and the staff who nurtured them through the 2 years of their examination preparation.

Could I urge all parents to encourage their children to engage fully with the wide variety of activities that are on offer this term. They provide a wonderful balance to the rigors of academic study and also offer a platform through which the pupils can discover new talents. This term sees us relaunch Christian Union in the Senior School; any pupils who wish to explore confirmation can use this club and should see Reverend Wimsett to lodge interest. Our CCF also launches on Tuesday evenings, with an initial cohort of 50 cadets aiming to parade for Remembrance Service.

Please remember to label all of your child’s uniform and kit. It helps items to be returned quickly and without fuss when they are misplaced. Also, do make sure that your son or daughter is fully equipped for lessons for the start of the year; there is a useful list for preparatory pupils on the school website and the same will be added for senior pupils by the week’s end, following feedback from all senior teachers. Lastly, while adding a few reminders, do please observe the site speed limit when driving around the grounds and remember, senior pupils can bring a mobile phone to school, but the devices should be switched off and remain in pockets in all circumstances other than genuine emergency or at a teacher’s request, in a lesson, to enhance learning. 

I would like to close by paying tribute to Liz Evans who retired in the summer, following 35 years of dedicated service here at Stover School. Miss Evans headed the Modern Foreign Languages Department for many years, acted as a House Leader, inspired many girls to play hockey, gave up her own school holidays to lead on school ski trips and was active with supervision for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and the Ten Tors Challenge. In short, she was the archetypal independent school teacher; dedicated to inspiring and affecting the lives of many pupils. We all wish her a fruitful and very well deserved retirement.

Kindest regards

Richard Notman

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