Over the course of the last year, Stowe has been continuing to work upon its development as AWARD a multicultural and international School. This has taken a huge amount of work to ensure the pastoral, academic and whole-school elements of the School, promote and encourage a celebration of diversity and identity amongst both the Staff and Stoic body. These efforts have seen Stowe be awarded the Intermediate Level of the British Council International School Award.
This Award recognises Stowe’s commitment to international teaching and learning, and the appreciation the School has for embedding and developing international activities within the community. In the academic world, the School has made great efforts to incorporate greater amounts of this in a range of subjects. Most notably, this has been demonstrated within the PSHE curriculum, designed by Ms Huxley Capurro, which ensures pupils reflect upon the formation of their own identity, and issues such as unconscious bias. These crucial elements of multiculturalism have been furthered across the entire School, with Ms Clark and members of the leadership team reflecting upon and amending School policies related to this. Ms Clark has also been sharing best practice in this area with local teacher training providers, ensuring that Stowe supports others with their journey towards internationalism.
The School has also made great strides forward in developing the activities and co-curricular provision to ensure that Stoics can engage with the entire global community. Links and connections have been fostered with Daly College in India, which saw a fruitful exchange programme take place online. The Service@ Stowe programme has also seen many opportunities for Stoics to develop their understanding and awareness of the global environment. Activities such as Amnesty International, run by Ms Holloway, and the Eco Schools project led by Ms Rowley, allow Stoics to recognise the impact that their own lives can have upon those around the world. The Community Project Team has also worked hard to ensure Stoics have been able to effectively support those living in more dangerous or vulnerable parts of the world, with initiatives such as the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Campaign being launched.
Alongside this, the School has continued to support international pupils pastorally, with the mentoring of pupils from abroad taking place more regularly. Despite the pandemic, the School has also ensured that international festivals are celebrated, such as Thanksgiving in November, to allow all Stoics to truly feel that Stowe is a home away from home. Our international pupils are also regularly provided with the opportunity to give feedback upon how they are finding life at Stowe and make suggestions for how their culture can be further represented. This use of pupil voice is something on which the School prides itself and many Stoics engage with well.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have worked so hard in ensuring that Stowe becomes more international in its nature - without the efforts of Ms Huxley-Capurro, Ms Clark, Ms Holloway and Ms Rowley, the reach of internationalism within the School would be very limited. However, thanks to their hard efforts, we have been able to see Stowe progress on its journey to develop pupil and Staff understanding of multiculturalism and globalism.
Fran Shah, Deputy Co-Curricular Co-ordinator
In February 2020, Staff from Stowe School met with Staff from Daly College, India, to begin preparing for an exchange programme to take place during the academic year of 2020-2021. Initial plans were very exciting - with trips to local cultural sights, taking part in School activities and celebrations and also gaining a deeper insight into the political and cultural life of each country. Unfortunately, the pandemic saw these plans being shelved, as travel became impossible.
Staff didn’t let this prevent the exchange from taking place though, and resolved to hold a Virtual Exchange programme between the two schools. Stoics from the Sixth Form were invited to join this programme, and this was an opportunity which was taken up by Thanassi Ghertsos (Lower Sixth, Chandos), Poppy Goaman (Lower Sixth, Lyttelton), Amalie Mager (Lower Sixth, Lyttelton), Grace Hurrell (Lower Sixth, Cheshire) and Mimi Pearson-Gee (Upper Sixth, Nugent). The meeting saw Stoics and Dalians get to know each other during a game of Charades, in which Thanassi gave an interesting performance to represent the film, Pirates of the Caribbean! It didn’t take long for pupils from both schools to relax and enjoy one another’s company.
After this icebreaker, Dalians then presented to Stoics about Diwali, a national celebration which is taking place this week. The Stoics involved had very little prior knowledge about this festival, and were taken aback by how much the celebration impacts people’s lives in India. They also were very jealous of the fact that the celebration lasts a whole week, and many stated that they wish we had a similar festival in the UK! The initial exchange meeting was a rousing success, with Stoics and Dalians promising to keep in touch in the coming weeks.
The next meeting between the two schools is scheduled to take place at the end of November, and will see pupils present to each other about the life, culture and traditions of their home nation. This will provide a great opportunity for Stoics to not only practice their public speaking skills, but also begin to question their own preconceptions about life in India. Alongside this, comparisons will be able to be made between the lifestyle of the two nations, and the reasons for the similarities and differences. The virtual exchange between the two schools will continue to take place until the end of 2020, and we do hope it can be furthered into 2021. Fingers crossed, once the world returns to some sort of normality, we will be able to couple this with an in-person exchange programme!
During October Half Term, unable to travel home, some Stoics remained at School for an October Staycation. The two-week period saw a rowing and cycling challenge take place, with Stoics competing to travel the furthest distance. Many of the boys enthusiastically got stuck in, eager to win the free take away offered to the winner. Yin Lin (Fourth Form, Bruce) impressed all with his daily cycles and rows, clocking in over 10k each day! Alongside this, Stoics were able to utilise the sports facilities. Basketball matches became a daily occurrence, as did some heated badminton matches between Ruo Han Zhang (Upper Sixth, West) and Ashlyn Jiang (Upper Sixth, West). Stoics were entertained in House as well, with evenings being filled with a variety of activities, ranging from cookie decorating to quiz nights. The mocktail making competition showed the creative side of Stoics, with them being judged not only on taste, but also appearance and theme. Some concoctions certainly tested the stomach of Dr West, with the winning one being devised by Aaryan Aswani (Lower Sixth, Temple), Arseny Savrasov (Lower Sixth, Chatham) and Daniel Garcia Bornholt (Lower Sixth, Cobham).
A Dragons’ Den style competition saw some strong ideas being presented, including Stowe branded ICT equipment such as chargers and phone cases. Evenings were filled with movie marathons, quiz nights and ice cream sundae bars, ensuring there was a range of ways for Stoics to keep themselves busy throughout their stay.
Many of the pupils made a great impression upon Staff, which resulted in the Head’s Special Prize being awarded to Yi Lin, Gilbert Xu (Third Form, Chandos), Wednesday Zhu (Lower Sixth, West) and Arseny Savraso. I would like to take this opportunity to publicly acknowledge and thank the hard work done by all staycation Staff; Giles Cuddy, Andrea Westmoreland, Gordon West, Louise Davitt-King, Steven Matthews, Rhea Stafford-Smith, Thalia Felton, Ben Coddington, Rob Ingham Clark, Sarah Bagshaw, Alice Kenny, Ben George and Matt Turner. Alongside this, the cleaning, security and catering teams all did a fantastic job and a big thanks must go to Jo Cross and Nikki Fhalora, who co-ordinated and organised all of the pupils and Staff brilliantly. The Staycation could not have been a success without them going above and beyond to ensure all Stoics are safe and happy at all times.
The first few weeks of Term have seen the International Society beginning to develop the multicultural nature of the School. Having had a number of oversees Stoics choose to base themselves at school for their quarantine period upon arrival to the UK, many of our international pupils have already built some strong connections with each other and developed good relationships across different year groups and Houses. This Term, the International Society is beginning to plan and organise its first whole school event of the year – an International Stoic Fair! This will be a chance for any oversees Stoics to share their culture from home – introducing pupils and Staff to new types of music, dance, food and more! Any Stoic who is interested in being involved, needs to contact Miss Shah to gain more information, and begin putting together resources for the fair.
Chinese New Year was celebrated across the globe on Saturday 25 January. The celebration, based around the lunar month marks the beginning of the year of the Rat. It is said that people born in this year like saving and that if they ever give you a gift, they clearly think a lot of you, as rarely spend money on others! Stowe partook in the festivities in a multitude of ways. The entire school wrote messages of positivity to each other, and placed them in Red Envelopes with a chocolate coin, to emulate the tradition of yasui qian. Houses were decorated in bright colours, with various Chinese dragons and symbols. The photos here show the incredible efforts of Mr and Mrs Cuddy in Walpole house to bring the festival to life! Stoics also visited the local primary schools to share their culture with younger pupils. Clarissa On, Mary Ding, Ruo Zhang and Sirui Jiang were joined by the matron of West, Mrs Harding, on their visit to Chackmore primary school. Whilst there, the girls taught the primary school pupils how to speak basic Chinese, Chinese calligraphy, and also how to make Chinese paper lanterns! Glue, coloured paper and felt pens galore, the pupils from both schools thoroughly enjoyed themselves!
On Saturday 2 November, members of the Stowe badminton team played a set of friendly matches against students from Buckingham University. Both establishments have a great number of international students who are interested in the sport, and as such this proved an ideal opportunity to support Stoics from all nations. Many of the university students have only been in the UK for a few months, and found this a great way to practice their English as well as develop new skills. For Stoics, it allowed for time to converse within their native language, and also discuss the challenges that come with beginning education in a foreign country. The badminton matches were played well, with the Stoics being praised frequently by the university students for their outstanding skills in the sport, as well as their humility and welcoming nature. Some excellent connections have been formed between students from both locations, with the university students being keen to participate not only in further sports tournaments, but also to support the school through delivering academic talks and lectures.
Stowe School houses a great variety of cultures, faiths and ethnicities. We are home to students and staff from over 40 different countries, ranging from Ghana to Australia and beyond. With such a diverse population within our school body, the school is developing the support and care offered for students who have joined us from abroad. Some students from other nations may initially find they experience culture shock or homesickness when arriving in Britain, and as such, may need additional guidance in their first few weeks at Stowe. The first International Student Dinner was held on Tuesday 10 September, and provided an opportunity for our international students to mix with others who have a similar culture to themselves, and also to meet those from other countries too. The time was also used for the students to voice any concerns or difficulties they have about being in the UK, and to provide ideas of how we could grow the multicultural nature of the school. Many students have since opted to join an International Student Council, which will be meeting at least once a half term to build upon the initiatives proposed on this evening.
On Thursday 28 November, Stowe celebrated Thanksgiving in style! As we are home to over 20 American and Canadian pupils and Staff, we wanted to ensure they were able to celebrate as they usually would at home. Thanksgiving is a federal holiday in the United States, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. It was originated as a harvest festival. Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, and now Thanksgiving is one of the United States’ most important holidays. As such, Constance and Helen Sharp (Third Form, Lyttelton) offered to teach Stoics how to play American football. They explained the rules of the game well, and although tackling was not allowed, pupils thoroughly enjoyed getting involved in learning a new sport!
The Music Department hosted a concert in the Ugland. A short talk was provided by Alice Scheffey (Fourth Form, Queen’s) about the importance of Thanksgiving, followed by performances from Theo Hayes (Upper Sixth, Chatham), Poppy Baker (Lower Sixth, Cheshire) and Purva Shegunshi (Lower Sixth, Cheshire). All pupils involved delivered outstanding pieces, and it was an excellent celebration of just some of what the USA has provided to the musical world. The Catering Staff supported this celebration by providing a delicious Thanksgiving meal in the evening, made up of not only the traditional roast dinner, but also pumpkin pie for dessert! Decorations were put up around the State Dining Room, and American pupils competed to name as many US states and American Presidents as possible. With full stomachs, Stoics were then encouraged to reflect in House about what they are thankful for, showing a great air of gratitude and thankfulness throughout the entire School body.
The optional Exeat in December comes as a welcome break for our pupils, with the opportunity to see friends and family before the final hurdle into Christmas. However, many of our international pupils can find it difficult being away from loved ones so close to the festive period. As such, a trip to London was arranged for the International Pupil Council. Pupils undertook a tour of the London Dungeons, hearing all about the wicked and dangerous past of the city. The Stowe pupils got involved in the fun, with Alicia Wilson (Third Form, Lyttelton) acting as a runner for Guy Fawkes, and Michael Chen (Lower Sixth, Chandos) being found guilty and hung, simply for being from Hong Kong! Dr Dennis didn’t escape easily either, having to undergo various torture methods, including having his manhood removed! After the fun and games, Stoics then spent some time Christmas shopping in the capital, with many enjoying lunch in Chinatown before returning to school. A fantastic first outing of the International Pupil Council, with many more on the horizon.
Francesca Shah, Head of International Pupils