Stowe School Buckinghamshire

(64 Posts)
Flowertop Sun 02-Jan-11 17:12:14

Wondering about this school for my DS year 9. If anyone knows of the school or has attended would appreciate feedback.

BlessingsGalore Sun 02-Jan-11 18:18:52

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

BlessingsGalore Sun 02-Jan-11 18:20:36

Meant to add that I would not be sending DS to a school where he shares his grounds with the general public - Stowe Gardens, National Trust. Other schools cost the same but their 800+ acres are solely for the pupils use.

Flowertop Sun 02-Jan-11 18:48:56

Oh dear that doesn't sound too good. Thanks for your feedback. X

thinkingaboutschools Mon 03-Jan-11 12:02:14

I recently heard some really not very nice things about Stowe - came across as extremely arrogant etc.

Litchick Mon 03-Jan-11 19:08:56

Stowe is very beautiful indeed.
And the education there is of a high standard and what one might describe as classical.

However, there is no getting away from the fact that it is very easy to get into academically, and so is seen as somewhere to send not-so-bright children.

Obviously bright children do go there. But not in numbers.

Litchick Mon 03-Jan-11 19:10:13

Flowertop - given this school is termly boarding, I'm assuming geography isn't an issue. How about Rugby, or Haileybury?

Flowertop Mon 03-Jan-11 20:20:55

Thanks for your feedback. LP as well as boarding they also take day pupils which we could do. I understand they have about 70 plus day pupils which is why I was asking for feedback. We don't have much in our area and need a school for year 9. My concern is that the captive audience is VERY wealthy and DS would not be living in the real world. We are ok with the fees but certainly no planes/boats/mansions. I was hoping for someone to come on and say that they do also have 'normal' kids too.

Flowertop Mon 03-Jan-11 20:23:29

Could I also add that DS falls into the 'not-so- bright' category so the fact is not academic is a bit of a plus for us.

thinkingaboutschools Mon 03-Jan-11 22:12:17

I have heard good things about Bradfield - have you considered this school?

Jajas Mon 03-Jan-11 22:16:46

Stowe is stunning, sharing it with a few national trusters isn't really a huge problem.

I know some people who's children go there and they are ghastly tbh but they don't have a yacht or a mansion (oh well ok but only a little one). They are extremely arrogant and so are their oiks offspring.

I would go and visit if I were you.

beachyhead Mon 03-Jan-11 22:20:42

It does have the reputation of being Eton for the thick.....I'm sure there are other better options. Also, a friend went to look around recdently and said it looked a little run down - probably because it has such expensive listed premises to upkeep....

beachyhead Mon 03-Jan-11 22:21:11

Sorry, recently....

Quattrocento Mon 03-Jan-11 22:21:25

The best thing about Stowe is I think the name of the old boys association - which is charmingly - 'Old Stoics'

Am looking into boarding for the DCs in the 6th form - a couple of years away yet, and did look at the school. The grounds are lovely however it did seem to be populated by the naice but dim (and stonkingly wealthy). I didn't think that either of my DCs fitted either of those three categories so I've crossed it off the list.

Jajas Tue 04-Jan-11 00:26:50

Oh god it's beautiful as a 'hice', had loads of work done on it over the last few years. Honestly it really is a swoonworthy location.

Atomant Tue 04-Jan-11 00:45:52

Went to university with an old stoic. Extremely wealthy & very arrogant (to the point where classmates actively avoided him) he dropped out after 2 years as he was failing miserably. He had no life skills what so ever.

That said he was actually quite a nice chap who just had no idea about the real world, or how to interact with other human beings...

Litchick Tue 04-Jan-11 09:28:05

I do think it's a bit daft to draw any conclusions from having met someone who once went there who was a bit of a twat.

From my comp, at least three are in prison. A couple dead. And one joined a commune. That's only the ones I know about...

But back to Stowe. Utterly beautiful setting. Academically not particularly rigourous. Kids pretty wealthy and from trad backgrounds.

However, the vast majority termly board, so being a day pupil would certainly set your DS apart. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Why not ask to be shown around by a day boy and cross question him?

Flowertop Tue 04-Jan-11 09:46:10

Thanks for all your posts. Have made appointment for later this month and will report my findings back. Must admit all my fears have been highlighted on here so it's probably going to be a no.

OneMoreMum Thu 06-Jan-11 13:29:52

If you wanted a day school in that area but a bit less of the helicopters & yachts brigade then Akely Wood is only a few miles away.

They also don't have the cream of the academics (Royal Latin grammar school in Buckingham takes them for free) but it has a lovely friendly atmosphere.

mumzy Thu 06-Jan-11 17:40:28

My friend's son went there on a music scholarship (v. gifted musician)so do have ordinary kids and families. The grounds are beautiful and was'nt it Richard Bransons old school?

sweetcornfortea Thu 06-Jan-11 18:54:33

OneMOreMum, do you know any more about Akeley Wood? We are hoping to send our children there sometime in the near future. It seems lovely but you just never know until you start somewhere, bit like a new job!

OneMoreMum Fri 07-Jan-11 12:16:40

Hi Sweetcorn

We had a senior school place there for our DS but were lucky enough to get a good out-of-catchment state school place so didn't take it up.

Quite a few kids from our prep school go there - usually the less academic ones to be honest - and so far I've heard good things about it.

They seem to have put a lot of money into the facilities in the last few years which used to let them down a bit. Nice, sporty & friendly is the impression I get. Not academically high achieving (as I said the brightest kids tend to go to the Latin) or the poshest (Stowe) but a good middle ground.

sweetcornfortea Fri 07-Jan-11 18:57:58

Thank you!

Mine aren't made for grammar and the local alternative isn't great as I'm sure you know!
So a less academic but good school would be perfect I think. Do you happen to know if the assessment day is difficult or just routine? Worried that they won't get in!

Glad to hear that it is friendly and nice, just what we are looking for, thank you again!

Sorry to hijack thread OP, good luck with your search.

OneMoreMum Sat 08-Jan-11 14:59:18

The assessment day was fine, DS enjoyed it and had no problems, he is pretty average ablity.

Everyone I know was offered a place, although some on condition of taking up extra help in either maths or english for extra ££ which is a bit cheeky!

Good luck

itsatiggerday Sat 08-Jan-11 15:07:25

Just to say re Stowe, the 'nice but dim' is a bit accusatory. Its value add is exceptional, very small class sizes and effective setting so the kids who need more attention in class get it. I've spent some time there in an affiliated capacity and know quite a few old boys and girls, many of whom are lovely. Yes, there's money, but don't underestimate the influence of family in these places, the 'oiks' are usually already that when they arrive and the normal ones likewise! Worth having a look with an open mind I'd say.

fran58 Sun 09-Jan-11 16:22:48

Hi Flowertop, Have two children at Stowe and we are all very happy there. Back in the day may have had a rep for poor results but times change. Not full of yachts or planes either! I quite like the fact that unlike other schools they do not filter the intake to high achievers only as it makes for more varied community. They are not obsessed by league tables. The school has a lot to offer. My teenagers are bright kids and are getting good grades and enjoying the sport, music and drama available.The school has just spent a fortune on new facilities. We made our decision because both ourselves and the kids liked the ethos of the school, the boarding houses, the teachers and the very impressive and down to earth Headmaster. Go and visit the school and ask any questions you like. I think you will be impressed by what you hear and see. Its a great school. Good Luck! PS You can borrow my helicopter to get there if you like!!

whoatethelastbiscuit Sun 09-Jan-11 16:46:59

Just thought I'd chip in, the only person I know who went to Stowe went on to Cambridge, and is definately not "thick". Best to judge for yourself what would suit your dc.

flowertop Mon 10-Jan-11 10:38:47

Thanks so much for all your replies so far. Fran58 that is really encouraging so thanks for your comments. btw do you happen to know of any day pupils who are in your DC's year and if so how do they seem to cope with the fact that they are in the minority in terms of boarders vs day.
thanks again. I may take you up on the helicopter offer grin

civil Mon 10-Jan-11 10:49:26

Didn't some of the students get poisoned by a chef their?

civil Mon 10-Jan-11 10:49:34


CameronCook Mon 10-Jan-11 10:51:34

Yes civil there was something in the local paper last year about chemicals in the soup I think.

The only person I know who went to Stowe is very bright and has a highly successful career as well as being an all round nice bloke.

His DW is dead set against boarding which is the only reason that their DCs will not go there as they are not close enough to go as day pupils.

fran58 Mon 10-Jan-11 19:20:31

Flowertop, I really don't think there are any issues for the day pupils. If anything they are very popular because they can take boarders they are friendly with home for Sunday lunch and the odd Exeat etc. They can also stay late to do prep etc so are fully integrated into the school. My children have made friends with boarders and day pupils alike. I wouldn't worry about it.

kittykat101 Fri 17-Jun-11 13:34:38

Flowertop, I have a son current in year 7 and have just done the school search. We have applied and accepted a place at Stowe for him to start Sept 2012. We do not have a helicopter etc..nor am I from some wealthy family. I was also concerned about the same issues as you - but my son just loved the visits there and the school seems to offer an all round education. My son is bright so we could have chosen other schools but he really like the staff at Stowe - so in the end it was his choice.
Please don't think it is just for the thru work I know of 4 other boys there and they are far from the helicopter type family.
hope this helps

a02ft Mon 20-Jun-11 12:05:48

I've accepted a place at stowe, I got offers from rugby, wellington college, stowe and harrow but accepted the stowe offer becoause I thaught it was the best school. Compered to the others stoics are the least arrogent - they were the only ones well manered enough to stand when you enterd the room and make the effot to speak to you.
It does have a bit of a reutarion for being thick but that's compared to eton and westminster (but the gap is closing). Stowe is much better academicaly than most day schools.

a02ft Mon 20-Jun-11 12:12:14

Sory *reputation (i am dyslexic so carn't spell, still prodicted A*s and As and doing an AS level early - we're not all thick!!!)

flowertop Mon 20-Jun-11 15:53:40

Kittykat101 and a02ft thanks for your encouraging responses. We have applied for a year 9 place in 2012 which is conditional on common entrance results. So fingers crossed! You never know we may meet up one day at school!

yogaqueen Mon 20-Jun-11 22:25:55

I agree you can't judge until you've been there. The school has a broad range of pupils like all public schools and the brightest kids are together in the top sets. It is certainly a great option and we are considering a day place as they are well integrated in the boarding houses

Colleger Tue 21-Jun-11 13:04:03

Does anyone know of a really bright child who didn't join in the sixth form and isn't from overseas at Stowe, and how are they getting on. Are bright children valued or bullied for being clever?

hev123 Sat 02-Jul-11 01:38:23

Hi there....My daughter is just coming to the end of her first year at Stowe. She gained an accademic scholarship and moved over from grammar school. I hope this answers your question about all of the parents having planes etc., And also your accademic concerns. (There are some extremely bright children at the school)

Stowe looks at every child as an individual and the range of the abilities of the children is very varied. The ethos of the school very much encourages all of the children to help eachother when and where they can. This is why I chose to apply in the first place. I also liked the fact that it is Co-ed.

Since being at Stowe my daughter has flourished. I have no worries. I am kept informed of her progress through regular reports, accademically she is being challenged for the first time in her life. Socially she is growing on a daily basis.

I think you have chosen a fantastic school, with an outstanding Headmaster.

hev123 Sat 02-Jul-11 03:57:05

hi colleger,

I asked my daughter about bullying and she said that they do not put up with it at Stowe. They will exclude bullies and take scholarships from anybody found bullying.

Also yes she is very bright and doing well. Her end of year test results included many A* and A grades. She is in the top set along with about 20 other very bright children. I would say that around 10% of her current year are potential grade A students accross the board. All very much integrated and living happily together with the rest of the school.

From my experience the school values effort as much as ability.

flowertop Sat 02-Jul-11 11:26:49

Thanks hav123 sounds so positive. Does your dd board?

hev123 Sat 02-Jul-11 12:29:01

Yes she boards. I would reccomend boarding. The children are kept busy till about 9.00pm and start their day early. The day students tend to be local. If you have a fair commute you may find thst you are picking your child up late just to sleep and return to school. Also the children have somebody there to help them with prep and more to the point....Make sure that they do their prep well. I felt that my dd would benefit more from boarding. It is a personal choice but one I am glad that I made.
The day students are completely integrated within their house and have there own desk and locker. Just not a bed. They can and do stay over on occassions. (production evenings etc,)

manicinsomniac Sun 03-Jul-11 12:52:52

I know about 10-15 children a year that go to Stowe. The vast majority of them are extremely happy there. They are of a wide range of ability (from 3 or 4 who won academic scholarships to 3 or 4 who didn't really reach the CE standard required but Stowe let them in anyway on sporting or monetary grounds). They are also not all very rich. Some of the parents have jobs that pay the fees, some get large bursaries etc.

I don't think Stowe if for the 'rich but thick' any more at all, it's very diverse and caters for all.

Having said that, it isn't a school I'd be prepared to pay £30000 a year for. The classroom behaviour is quite poor from what I've seen and the children (especially the girls) seem far too forward and look ridiculous (orange faces, hugely 'pouffed up' hair dos etc). I know you'd get this in most schools but I wouldn't expect to be paying for it!

Day children get very tired too.

yogaqueen Tue 13-Sep-11 17:05:21

I couldn't be more happy with Stowe - my son loves it and has settled in quickly thanks to the exceptional staff who are looking after him. He is bright and finding the work challenging academically - their recent public exams results were excellent. So forget the old stereotypes and don't miss out on a top school.

lyndyloo7 Sat 08-Oct-11 18:52:46

We have recently returned from a rugby match against Stowe...what a very arrogant lot they were, both the pupils and parents! They seemed to think that money made them better than anyone else. Infact they all came across and the 'lower lives'. Money doesn't mean you can treat others is a unsportsmanlike way and get away with it. But judging by everything we saw and heard they are obviously brought up to think they can and that they are superior to others. How wrong they are...they all need to live in the real world and be taught how to behave towards others.

mumwithintegrity Thu 13-Oct-11 22:06:30

Don't agree with negative posts about Stowe. My daughter joined Sixth Form last year, her friends are NOT arrogant oiks - all friendly young people. She's just got 4 x As at AS level and not even in top sets for every subject. Her peer group are very bright and academic standards there are rising. You really should go and visit rather than listen to ill-informed gossip.

mumwithintegrity Thu 13-Oct-11 22:08:35

Go visit - it is a great school for bright children. My daughter is there and got 4 x As in her AS levels last August. Lots of clever boys in her year group and younger children are very bright too.

PublicSchool Thu 14-Feb-13 14:12:09

Hi there, My son goes to Stowe and is currently in his final year. He tells me how he has grown so much as a person, the really cater to the individual, lots of societies to go to. My son does debating, the Literary Society and play football. Its has a fairly cosmopolitan student populace with scholars from South africa and exchange students from the Dune India. Apply to Stowe it really is wonderful.

BobbiFleckmann Thu 14-Feb-13 14:19:10

The old Stoics I know are not great rocket scientists, didn't get great results and generally speaking didn't go on to uni.

to a man however they have exquisite manners, are great company and have been highly entrepreneurial & successful in their businesses.
The grounds and buildings are stunning - a gorgeous environment to grow up in I imagine - & having to share with the Trust and their cows is presumably rather lovlier than having to share Eton High Street with the world and not having any discrete campus.

drinkmilk Fri 06-Sep-13 13:01:47

Stowe is very high on my list of schools for my son. I have a check list of 4 things for my son: co-ed, idyllic country setting, campus based, access to everything from a literary society to polo. Stowe seems to tick all the boxes in ways other schools just don't. Nearly 900 beautiful acres & a truly gorgeous house that are maintained by the National Trust ... this means that parent money goes on education & facilities (can't say that about many other schools in historic buildings). All the top public schools will secure your child's future academic success, so you must look beyond grades & consider the environment & the community. Most Stoics I've come across are either successful entrepreneurs or bankers. That said, they're ranks are also made up of actors, tycoons, grocers & Superman too (Branson, Sainsbury, Niven, Cavill). And the Old Stoic community is very well organised & helpful ... from what I can tell ... from the outside. A difficult decision awaits me.

sixwoollydogs Fri 06-Sep-13 16:53:53

Drinkmilk - I thought that the grounds only were maintained by the National Trust and the house was completely different?

grovel Fri 06-Sep-13 17:57:14

drinkmilk, my godson is at Stowe. He loved the first 3 years but at sixteen finds it really claustrophobic "being stuck in the middle of nowhere and seeing only people connected with the school from Monday to Friday". And the towns he can reasonably access at week-ends are hardly exciting for teenagers. Just a thought.

BlackMogul Fri 06-Sep-13 20:46:56

My DD (6th form)turned it down on the grounds that it is too remote . I think there is a saying that he Lord makes work for idle hands and this is a bit true here as they cannot escape and grow up anywhere. It is better than 10 years ago and not everyone is dim. We also looked at Bradfield for DD 6th form. The admissions office were impossible to deal with. Senior staff say one thing and admissions do something completely different. Boarding facilities quite good but we know several girls who hated it. Too far from anything! Again! Radley?

Gunznroses Fri 06-Sep-13 21:32:12

I think there is a saying that he Lord makes work for idle hands

Actually its 'The devil makes work for idle hands. wink

But I completely agree with you its in the middle of absolutely nowhere, couldn't imagine living there for 5 yrs.

happygardening Sat 07-Sep-13 07:58:11

"I thought that the grounds only were maintained by the National Trust and the house was completely different?"
I also think the house is owned or at the very least maintained by the school. We went to an open day many many moons ago nd thought on closer inspection the house looked very scruffy.
At the open day a teacher gave a pretend lesson to the parents demonstrating their "wonderful IT". It just happened to be my my degree subject and I didn't understand a word of it. A friends DS went there a he complained about the poor quality of the teaching.

grovel Sat 07-Sep-13 14:14:36


In the meantime, the landscape gardens were becoming unmanageable. 750 acres of landscaped ground with 40 listed temples and monuments were proving too much for the School, despite inspired enthusiasm from both pupils and masters. In 1989, the world-renowned gardens were handed over to the National Trust with a large endowment and their long term restoration programme began. The vistas were opened up, paths and temples restored, trees planted and maintained and, most important of all, the estate was made accessible to the 100,000 visitors they now receive every year.

Incorporating the wider landscape and deer park, archaeological and architectural discoveries show how the grounds have evolved over the years. As the gardens emerged from their slumber, it was clear that the house now needed much attention. Unable to find an endowment for the National Trust to take it on, the Stowe House Preservation Trust was created in 1997 to raise funds for an ambitious six phase restoration plan. The house and associated auxiliary buildings were handed over to the Trust and are now leased back to Stowe School.

Beginning the restoration in 2000, the Trust has so far completed the first two phases, with phase three currently in progress.

Today, it is the mission of Stowe House Preservation Trust to restore and present Stowe House to the public. We open the state rooms for over 230 days a year to the public, in term time and during holidays. When closed the house is kept busy with school life, weddings, filming and commercial events.

ILoveChocolatePudding Tue 10-Sep-13 20:50:24

My DS started last week and seems happy. Still early days but children are being kept is very busy and he has little time to speak to us. Would say that the profile of children is becoming more academic. Not extremely so and more in line with other public schools.

No denying that grounds are breath taking for a school. It is set in large grounds but the benefit to this is that the activities on offer are often matched only by the likes of Eton. Now beagling is something I know nothing about and not what I would like to do, but appreciate that it might be fun. As for the remoteness, the children do have school 6 days per week so have little time to venture out. There is a twice weekly bus into Buckingham. I believe that the older children do have access to Milton Keynes and Oxford. If you have any specific questions please post.

drinkmilk Sun 17-Nov-13 18:40:22

My DS started at Stowe in Sep 13. He got 75% at CE & has been placed in the B & C sets. Academic standards have risen hugely at Stowe. The grounds are Narnia like. There is absolutely nothing quite like it anywhere in the UK. The National Trust has spent £22m doing them up, meanwhile big name families have funded an equestrian centre, theatre & music school. Parent money gets spent on teachers, food & school operations. It is the very best solution. Parents seem to be entrepreneurs, business families, old money estates, media, bankers etc. My son gets 2.5 hours sport a day, fantastic teaching and gets to live in the most idyllic place I know of. I wish I was there instead of him.

TheWave Mon 18-Nov-13 10:07:43

I heard that the actual boarding houses and most of the teaching blocks where lessons are were unattractive and modern.

The bedrooms they share are small, and they don't actually do much in those grounds you see (apart from on the playing fields). For example at breaktime they go into their boarding houses, and are not hanging about on the fields as in (some) normal, even state, schools.

What the parents see might be different from the pupils' experience.

cjsevern Mon 27-Jan-14 13:20:41

There are two new girls boarding houses which actually won an architecture award and are modern and exactly what is required. An older girls boarding house, unattractive from the outside but lovely and light and friendly inside and a newish boys boarding house. The rest are in the old Mansion building. If new buildings are required they are obviously new. The developments have all been done to take nothing away from the beautiful mansion house from whichever side you look at it. This is a school that has changed beyond recognition in the last ten years under its excellent and inspirational Headmaster. It is certainly not for "thickies" just because it takes its pupils from a broader range of abilities, which is actually hugely in its favour as these children bring all sorts of other talents to the school. It is probably one of the few schools that really does deal with pupils as individuals. All schools say they do but the majority are all about exam results. It is interesting that all the posts from parents of children at the school are positive and all the negative posts are from people who dont really know anything about it but "have heard from someone". Go and see for yourselves.

Crowler Mon 27-Jan-14 14:07:48

It's so beautiful there, we are some of the aforementioned National Trust people that your son would be forced to share with :-)

I know a Stowe alumnus - one of my children's friend's father. My husband and I independently arrived at the conclusion that he is probably the nicest, most charming person we have ever met. After meeting him, I am favorably disposed towards Stowe.

SevenSpades Fri 14-Mar-14 00:50:11

My son is at Stowe and I can tell you the Head is amazing. My two elder sons went to Bradfield and we prefer Stowe. There is lots going on at Stowe for the children. There is a very full programme on offer for parents to get involved, from lectures, tours, concerts and plays. They have just built a new music and has ordered 24 Steinway pianos to compliment it. Any child who goes to tho school will come out a very nice well educated person.

SevenSpades Fri 14-Mar-14 00:52:28

I should add that whilst there are some children from modest backgrounds, many are from backgrounds of extreme wealth. The contrast with Bradfield is amazing, Bradfield represents a more "normal" public school intake.

cjsevern Wed 26-Mar-14 18:40:47

My DD left last summer, she and her friends are really good company, charming and confident and happy. They can get on with anyone and are well mannered and not arrogant but maybe she has just chosen her friends well. She will say there were one or two very wealthy girls who she had no time for because they considered themselves rather better than everyone else but they were hugely in the minority. A goodly number of them are rather bright but there are also top sportsmen/women, actors, musicians and artists among them. The issue of being in the country was not a problem and my DD was never bored, but then my DD is a country girl and the setting attracted her in the first place when she had to choose between Stowe and a 'townie' school. They certainly do use the grounds in their free time, and in her leavers book among the top memories for many of them were lazy summer days at the waterfalls, BBQ's or swimming in the lakes. Or 'lying in the rotunda gazing at the stars' - sounds blissful to me but then I am also a country girl.

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