Welcome to the Stoverview

Welcome to the Stoverview which, it is hoped, will be of interest to those connected with Stover School - and also to the wider community involved with secondary education, and perhaps to those just interested in 'bits and pieces' about science, history and stuff! See here for more.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The oldest Devonian of us all?

Teeth of the First Devonian from Kent's Cavern
The first known truly human inhabitant of Devon is one of the oldest European Homo sapiens people ever discovered, dating back over 41,000 years. They lived (or at least died) just 14 km away from Stover in Kents Cavern, Torquay – although sadly all that is left of them now is a piece of upper jaw.

Some time after the existence of the Kents Cavern individual the ‘ice age’seems to have got much colder for a while and glacial conditions gripped most of the British Isles - pushing humans southwards until about 10,000 years ago, when the ice finally started to melt. Around 6,000 years ago early farmers, who had a ‘neolithic’ (new stone age) culture, were living on Dartmoor, just to the north of Stover.
Cut Hill recumbent stone row

A stone row at Cut Hill in the middle of north Dartmoor has recently been dated as being 5,500 years old – pointing to the fact that complex human societies have existed in Devon since before the time of the Egyptian pyramids. The precise dating of the stone row was possible because it was buried in peat – allowing dates to be obtained from immediately above and beneath the stones. Although older than the monument of Stonehenge, the Cut Hill row also has its stones aligned with the midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset. None of the hundreds of stone rows in Britain and northern France have been accurately dated up to now, but the Cut Hill example shows that some at least are Neolithic rather than Bronze Age structures.

The remains of a Devonian who belonged to an early Bronze Age society, and died just 4,000 years ago, have recently been unearthed from a stone burial chamber (or ‘cist’) at Whitehorse Hill (near the Cut Hill stone row). Cremated bones and a woven bag have been recovered from what the Dartmoor National Park Authority have described as ‘one of the most important archaeological finds of the last 100 years.’ The bag (or basket) contained shale disc beads, amber spherical beads and a circular textile band.

The Whitehorse Hill cist
The peat and pollen surrounding the cist are due to be analysed and carbon-dated to provide evidence of vegetation and climate at the time of the burial, and the items will be analysed to reveal how they were made and what materials were used.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Stover ICT Trip to London's Olympic Park

In October 40 pupils and 5 staff set off for London, to visit the Olympic Park. After spending some time visiting the main attractions such as the London Eye, Westminster, Whitehall and Trafalgar Square, some free time was enjoyed followed by an evening meal in Covent Garden. After a night at the Holiday Inn there was a 6.30 wake-up call in preparation for a hearty breakfast and another busy day.

Day two saw the group visiting the Olympic site, where a classroom session explored the use of ICT when hosting an event as big as the Olympic Games. Pupils were put into groups and had to consider everything from the original bid to the advertising, building, merchandising and even the legacy. Pupils were also shown videos of athletes using technology to enhance their performance.

Next there was a two mile walk around the Olympic Park with information on each venue, and a stop at the View Tube - which gave a good view of the stadium and its surrounding area. The guide was very informative and explained what will happen to the accommodation for the athletes and the other buildings after the games are over. She also spoke about the area and its associated regeneration project and how this will help the local community. Eventually we set off on our journey back to Stover, very tired but feeling like we had been part of something special.

Thanks to Mrs Machin for this post

Monday, 28 November 2011

Annual Concert for St. Cecilia's Day

Teigngrace Church
Last week saw twenty pupils from Stover giving a very polished performance at Teigngrace Church in a concert to celebrate the feast of St. Cecilia (the patron saint of musicians). Teigngrace is our local church, and we are linked to it historically through the Templer family, as it was rebuilt by the children of James Templer - who built our school.

The concert was a mixture of solo items by singers and instrumentalists, with some vocal and piano duets. The programme concluded with all the singers who had taken part singing ‘The Rose’ and ‘A Clare Benediction’ as an encore.


This morning’s Senior School assembly was taken by Miss Titterton, of the PE Department, who introduced us to the world of Futsal.

This is the internationally recognised version of what is known in the British Isles as ‘5-a-side football’. The name Futsal is derived from the Spanish for football (futbol) and hall (sala), and this form of reduced size indoor football is recognised and supported by FIFA and UEFA, who run World and European Championships for club and national teams.
In Futsal, unlike normal 5-a-side football, there are hockey-sized goals, a smaller ball with reduced bounce, and no side boards to use for rebounds. It is designed as a fast and fair game which rewards skill, tactical awareness and speed of thought (and action).

Futsal is now supported by the English FA, and in Devon Futsal leagues and competitions are being run at Plymstock School, Paignton Community and Sport College and Exeter City FC (among others).
Any Stover pupils who wish to get involved in playing Futsal are asked to contact Miss Titterton, and to sign the list in the Round Passage.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Maths Challenge

The Maths Department recently entered some of its star Year 12 and 13 performers in the Senior Mathematical Challenge competition which is run by the The UK Mathematics Trust - a ‘satellite’ of Leeds University which organises national mathematics competitions and other mathematical enrichment activities for 11-18 year old UK school pupils.

This was great fun and a very useful exercise for the Stover mathematicians. A big ‘congratulations’ is in order for Linh Nguyen who, despite only being in Year 12, came out as ‘Best in School’ and winner of a gold medal. Other top performers were Bobo Chan, Neo Kan, Sian Wood, Dauen Lee, Coco Lee, Carol Chan and Angel Sze. Well done to all concerned!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Mammals of the British Isles - The Squirrel

Grey Squirrel
Strangely enough, the cute and lovable grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) we see playing in the grounds of Stover School are in fact rodents – the same group of mammals as rats. Since their introduction from North America, they have had a catastrophic effect on the native red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) throughout the British Isles. Grey squirrels also cause significant damage to woodlands through ‘bark stripping’ and reduce density and diversity in populations of woodland birds.

Wild grey squirrels first appeared in Britain in the late 19th Century, with some possibly escaping from London Zoo. In Italy two pairs escaped from an ambassador's garden in Turin in 1948, although some sources suggest that pet grey squirrels had already escaped in Piedmont by the late 1800s. The spread of grey squirrels, at the expense of native red squirrels, appears to have had a more marked effect in the British Isles than on mainland Europe – so far at least.
Red Squirrel
There are now thought to be just 140,000 red squirrels in Britain, whilst there are over 2.5 million greys, and the future of the red squirrel is becoming increasingly uncertain as they are now extinct in southern England (except for a few on the Isle of Wight). Red Squirrels are still widespread in the North of England and Scotland, but even here their range is contracting. The grey squirrel is having such a profound impact on British wildlife that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has now listed it on their global list of the 100 worst invasive species. The UK Forestry Commission is working with partners in projects across Britain to develop a long-term conservation strategy that deters greys and encourages reds.

The Grey Squirrel is larger and more aggressive than its European cousin, and greys out-compete reds for food, feeding more on the ground and being able to digest acorns, which reds can’t. Contrary to popular opinion, red squirrels do not hibernate – but as greys can build up and store more fat they are better at surviving cold winters. Grey squirrels are also more generalist feeders eating: nuts, flowers, fruits, seeds, tree bark, fungi, bird eggs, nestlings and frogs - whilst reds prefer the seeds of coniferous forests, although they will diversify under pressure. Grey squirrels are also thought to have introduced the squirrelpox virus from North America which is deadly to red squirrels, although greys have a natural immunity.
Distribution of Grey Squirrel
Distribution of Red Squirrel

Grey squirrels, which can live at high population densities in broadleaved woodland, cause significant damage to trees such as sycamore, beech, oak, sweet chestnut, pine, Norway spruce and larch, by bark-stripping. This dramatically reduces the economic value of woodland – costing more than £10 million per year. They may also be partly responsible for recent declines in many woodland bird species - through predation of eggs and young chicks, competing for nest sites or because they consume food which would otherwise be available for birds.

Squirrels build large nests, called dreys, often in the forks of tree trunks. They can breed twice in a season, in spring and in late summer, but usually only breed once. There are between one and six young in a litter. The young are born naked and blind. Young squirrels may stay with their mother until she has her next litter. Mortality is quite high, with only one in five surviving to their first winter. Adult squirrels have few natural predators, as they are far too quick and agile for most.

this article is based on work by Jane Chen, Year 10

Saturday, 19 November 2011

The Prep School Choir

The Prep School Choir with their trophy
Congratulations to the Prep School Choir who won their class in the City of Plymouth Music Festival last week. Sixty young Stoverites performed two pieces in front of a large audience. The judges noted that the choir 'showed a good contrast in styles and was musical, energised and focused. A fun, great sound!’ Winning the trophy capped a wonderful day out for all, with the pupils giving of their very best and acting as excellent ambassadors for Stover.

 The Prep School Choir's next public performance will be in Exeter Cathedral at the School Carol Service on Monday 12th December.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Stover Artists win Christmas Card Competition

Many congratulations to Hugo Longrigg and Henri Poole-Birrel who have been selected as winners of the Anne Marie Morris MP Christmas Card Competition. This competition was open to Year 5 and 6 pupils from all the schools in her Teignbridge constituency. Hugo and Henri’s designs will now be made into Christmas cards and used for Ms Morris’ official correspondence. What an excellent achievement boys!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Rugby Victory for Stover Prep

Saturday was certainly a great day for Stover rugby, when our Under 10 team came home victorious from the Queens’ Rugby Tournament. The team were quietly confident going into the pool games and thought they had a good chance of making the knockout stages. As the day progressed our defence held strong and we beat the following schools: All Hallows (20 – 0); Paragon (10 – 0); Exeter Cathedral (15 – 0). In the quarter final we beat Queens (5 – 0) and in the semi- final we beat Exeter School (10 – 5). This was the only team to score against us all day. Our opponents in the final were Sherborne School, who were unbeaten all season and had defeated the much fancied Millfield team en route to the final.

The decider was a tight, physical game which we won 5 - 0 thanks to an Alfie Raynor try. Alfie was outstanding and really set the tournament alight with his running. A special mention goes to Reuben Ash who was captain; and led from the front at all times. The coach, parents, staff and pupils of SPS are all very proud of this magnificent achievement. The splendid cup and individual medals were presented to the team in our Awards Assembly on Monday. Well done lads!

Stover Prep in TOP FIVE for ‘The Best Preparatory School’

Stover was nominated for ‘The Best Preparatory School’ at The Archant Good Schools Show held at Olympia, London earlier this term. Stover was shortlisted with four other Independent Preparatory Schools nationally and was invited to attend The Archant Good Schools Award Ceremony in London. The Ceremony is designed to bring together many of the UK’s top independent schools and allow parents and pupils the opportunity to vote if they believe their school has something special to offer.

At this same event, Mr Brown was nominated for 'Best Teacher' and he, too was in the final. We are absolutely delighted to be the finalists for such a prestigious award and thank all the pupils and parents who nominated the Prep School and Mr Brown.

Devon Schools Maths Challenge

The Team: Neo, Alex, Daeun and Linh
Blundells School in Tiverton recently played host to teams of top mathematicians. Three rounds of rigorous and testing calculations saw a very close finish ending with the Stover team in a highly creditable fourth place after Shebbear, West Buckland and Colyton Grammar.

Mrs Skuckova from our Maths Department reports:

There were 3 rounds. Round 1 consisted of 10 challenging and complex questions, and we only scored 50% - a shaky start – perhaps due to nerves! This only made our team pull together and the fighting spirit kicked in.

Round 2 was a Crossnumber round, requiring excellent team communication between pairs and good nerves. Our team achieved 55 out of 56 – Wow – Excellent stuff. I was feeling very proud!

Round 3 was the nerve-wracking Relay round – a demanding and tricky format in which each pair has to get a question absolutely correct for their team to use that number to solve a further question. We scored 45 out of 60 (West Buckland got 42), and as there were 4 questions and only 8 minutes, there was real pressure, but our team excelled!

We were so close to a top place, but could take pride in our best result so far. Our pupils worked very hard to prepare themselves and showed great enthusiasm and joy during the competition itself. I was excited to see such emotion generated by people doing mathematics!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The Gunners come to Stover

Monday assembly this week saw a change from the normal routine, when we saw a presentation by Mark Titchard of Arsenal football club, who is the South Devon Co-ordinator for 'Arsenal Soccer Schools'.

Being a life-long follower of the Grecians (Exeter City), this is heady stuff indeed as the 'Play the Arsenal Way' soccer programme comes to Stover for a 12 week course, for boys and girls from Years 5 to 13. Starting in January they will spend an hour every Friday after school going through warm up activities, technical ability exercises and mini matches with the Arsenal coaches. Our thanks are due to Head of boys PE Mr. Veal for setting up this wonderful opportunity for Stover pupils.

A residential course will be held at Stover during the Summer holidays for gifted and talented players from the South West region.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Further Music Success at Plymouth

Helen, Harvey and Mrs Farleigh - amongst others
The week at the Plymouth Music Festival ended on a real high. The choirs all won their respective classes on Friday (including the Prep School Choir winning their first cup) and adjudicator, Bryan Husband, was highly impressed - ending his comment sheet with the phrase ‘Wonderful singing and fabulous music making!’

The senior vocal classes followed with Helen Te and Harvey Seale both collecting trophies in the adult singers classes. They gained enough marks to be entered for the Championship class on Saturday afternoon, and Harvey went on to win this, becoming the most successful adult vocal soloist in the festival.

Thanks must go to Mrs Farleigh, our singing teacher at Stover for all the hard work she has put in to prepare pupils not only for this competition but also the many other concerts and events that our singers take part in.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Plymouth Competitive Music Competition

Junior Vocal Category Prizewinners
Thanks to Mr Lea, our Director of Music, for passing on this penultimate instalment on the Plymouth Competitive music festival. It was the turn of the singing pupils on Thursday, and there was success for: Georgina Allen, Clara Finnigan, Annabel Kennedy, Venetia Blelloch, Amy Bellamy, Abigail Joint and Tim Lee, who all scored highly and received very favourable comments from the Adjudicator in the Junior Vocal classes. Our pupils were competing against a large number of other 11-16 year olds from local schools, and certainly did their bit to maintain and promote the strong reputation for singing at Stover.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Concert for Arthritis Care

Ten pupils from Stover School gave a very enjoyable concert for the Newton Abbot branch of Arthritis Care at St Paul’s church yesterday. The programme was a mixture of piano, instrumental and vocal solos which was well received by the audience. This is the fourth year the Music Department has been able to support the charity and the pupils welcomed the valuable experience of being able to perform to such an appreciative audience.

Many of the pupils have also been taking part in the Plymouth Competitive Music festival this week and so the concert gave them an opportunity to give their pieces a second performance.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Extra Curricular Activities

Prize winning pianists
As we know well, all work and no play makes Jack (or Jill) a dull boy (or girl). Stover pupils daily continue to be engaged in a wide range of extra-curricular activity. I write this piece to the background of ethereal piano music wafting down the stairs from the entrance hall as one of the music pupils works through their repertoire during prep. This is one of the great perks of my office being where it is!

Pianists Coco Lee, Alvin Lo, Velika Lee, Charlotte Lai and Venus Chim all gained success in their classes last Monday at the Plymouth Competitive Music festival. The vocal classes will be held on Thursday and Friday this week, when Stover will again be well represented.
SPS v Kelly College

As ever, last week saw a range of sports fixtures being played-out on the pitches by the front drive. These included the Under 9 Stover rugby festival, Under 13 rugby against St. John’s and the girls from the Prep School taking on Kelly College.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Year 13 Philosophy and Ethics: Voices and Visions

Year 13 Philosophy and Ethics students have recently been studying the topic of Religious Experience. They created a “mock” newspaper article describing the events leading up to the establishment of Lourdes as a centre for pilgrimage and healing.

Bernadette Soubiros, a 14 year old local girl is reported to have seen visions of a lady dressed in white who then told her to dig a hole in the ground, which she did. Water then sprung from the hole, the location of which has developed over the last 160 years into the pilgrimage site of Lourdes in the Pyrenees region of France. Lourdes is today visited by over five million people a year to bathe in or drink from the holy water which is said to have amazing healing powers.


The students reported the events surrounding the visions of the Virgin Mary in 1858, and then included “quotes” from eminent scholars in the field with their imagined views on the subject. For example, Sigmund Freud, the famous psychologist dismissed the experiences as “an illusion that derives from people’s psychological needs” whilst William James, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, said that he would be very keen to speak to Bernadette about her vision to include it in his forthcoming book about Religious Experience. “Bernadette has experienced union with something larger than herself and from this union she may find her greatest peace”.

Thanks to Mrs Bradley (Alison that is!) for this piece.