Viewing archives for 450th anniversary

Record numbers turn out for 450th anniversary Old Elizabethans Annual Reunion Dinner

Guests at this year’s QE alumni dinner enjoyed a new, more relaxed approach to the occasion, while also making the most of a few additional activities during the evening.

Always a highlight of the Autumn Term, the dinner gained additional importance this year since it came in the School’s 450th anniversary year. One hundred and fifteen diners – a record attendance in recent years – gathered at Queen’s Road.

They were overlooked – but hopefully not put off their sumptuous fare! – by portraits of the two key figures in the School’s 1573 founding, Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, in the Dining Hall.

The guests ranged widely in age, from those who were pupils in the 1950s to a group of 31 who all left the School in 2020 during the first year of the Covid pandemic.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “The OE dinner is a great reminder and celebration of the strength of our Elizabethan community.

“While our guests certainly seemed to appreciate the extra attractions we laid on for them to enjoy in our anniversary year, the dinner is mainly about people spending time with friends, making new connections and remembering their time at QE. And in this, it was a great success, with a lovely atmosphere, excellent food and some really positive feedback afterwards.”

The evening began with the QE Saxophone Ensemble playing in the Main School Hall while guests enjoyed welcome drinks. Their tunes included Irving Berlin’s 1929 song, Puttin’ on the Ritz, its title a reference to a slang expression of the time meaning to dress conspicuously and fashionably. With the black-tie dress code of previous years relaxed for this year’s new-style dinner, there was plenty of opportunity for guests to do just that: colourful ties were there in abundance (although, in fact, even ties were not compulsory).

Guests had the opportunity before and after dinner to look through materials from the School’s archives. There were also tours of the Mayes and Main buildings, with current Sixth Form students Danylo Gutsulyak, Maxwell Johnson and Sena Lai-Fujiwara all playing the piano in the Friends’ Recital Hall, entertaining the visitors and amply demonstrating the acoustics in this major new facility opened in May 2022.

Personal messages written by the Headmaster on specially produced postcards were provided for each guest.

In his words of welcome, Mr Enright recapped on the anniversary year, including the launch on 1st March of former Headmaster John Marincowitz’s “excellent” new history of the School, Queen Elizabeth’s School: 1573–2023. “It is never too early for some QE-themed Christmas shopping!” he said.

While some of the formalities involved in previous years’ dinners were dispensed with, the evening still featured the presentation of the Eric Shearly Memorial Prize awarded to 2023 School Captain Darren Lee by Martyn Bradish, Chairman of the Old Elizabethans Association.

Also retained were the traditional toasts. Eric Houston – President of the association, Master 1976–2010, and Second Master 1999–2010 – duly toasted: His Majesty The King; The pious memory of Queen Elizabeth I, our founder; Friends, present and absent; and The School.

The dinner included confit lamb shoulder croquettes and roasted chicken breast (with cauliflower bhaji and autumnal vegetable pithivier as vegetarian options), followed by dark chocolate torte and then tea or coffee, served with homemade petit fours.

  • Click on the thumbnails below to view a selection of photos. (QE alumni can see all the images from the evening on QE Connect.)
How did we get here? The Arabella magazine explores 450th anniversary theme

QE’s pupil-run arts magazine, The Arabella, looks both to the past and the future in a special edition for the School’s 450th anniversary year.

The 44-page publication features 26 pieces of poetry, prose, and art, many of them inspired by its anniversary-related theme, How did we get here? The approach, looking both backward and forward, mirrors that of the School’s anniversary celebrations on Founder’s Day which included a display of the School’s 1573 Royal Charter alongside the burying of a time capsule intended for the pupils of 2073, when QE will mark its 500th anniversary. Work on the magazine began last academic year, but it has only now been published.

Assistant Head (Pupil Involvement) Crispin Bonham-Carter said: “The ninth edition of The Arabella has been worth the wait: with its expanded contents and an eclectic mix of topics and styles, it is a great demonstration of the fruits of free-thinking scholarship and academic curiosity.”

The magazine includes contributions from boys throughout the School, although boys from the current Years 8 and 9 feature especially heavily.

In his introduction, one of the editors, Chanakya Seetharam, of Year 12, addresses his fellow QE pupils: “Just as the [450th anniversary thanksgiving] service at Westminster Abbey in the Spring Term so well captured, this is as much cause to look back with an inquisitive eye into the past as to look forward to the future. It is this spirit of investigation that is the kernel of this edition, and which was so well taken up by you….

“You are what keeps The Arabella alive. This is a magazine by you and for you. We hope you will find all of the work here thoroughly insightful, interesting, and enjoyable, and here’s to a great next edition!”

The poetry section is highly varied, with contributions ranging from Year 9 boy Yingqiao Zhao’s piece about the moon – which is in the shape of a crescent and has key words picked out in different colours – to the nine-stanza rhyming French poem, La Mort de L’Ancien, composed by Year 13’s Aayush Backory. The poetry section closes with Nikhil Francine, of Year 9, addressing the anniversary directly with a poem entitled Thriving from Ancient Roots – the School’s slogan for the anniversary year.

The creative writing pages included Year 9 pupil Raaghav Dhanasekaran predicting a dystopian future amid huge hurricanes caused by climate change.

The music writing section on the other hand looks mostly to the past, from Nikhil Francine’s essay on A brief history of song to Moneshan Rathaparan and Eshwara Masina, both of Year 8, jointly exploring The Enduring Influence of Classical and Baroque Music on Contemporary Culture.

Year 12 student Akheel Kale, from the editorial team, praises the quality of Year 13 pupil Ashish Yeruva’s essay on Justice for Ukraine: How to Put Russian Leaders on Trial Using International Law. Ashish’s contribution had inspired the team to open a current affairs section in the magazine and to invite further such submissions in the future, Akheel says.

Similarly, the magazine has a new section on Science, featuring Year 10 boy Zain Syed’s submission of an extensive flow chart setting out A Natural History of the Earth.

Interspersed throughout The Arabella are artworks exploring themes including Expressive Heads, Distortion and Identity; Dystopian Landscape; and Art Inspired by Music. Shown in this news story, from top to bottom, are:

  • Expressive Heads, Distortion and Identity, by Sushan Naresh, Year 10 (main image)
  • Dystopian Landscape, by Krishav Sundar Rajan, Year 9
  • Art Inspired by Music, by Galinghan Balamurugan, Year 8
  • Expressive Heads, Distortion and Identity, by Ayush Saha, Year 10

The magazine is named after Arabella Stuart, a descendant of Henry VII and sixth in line to the throne, who fell foul of King James I when in 1610 she secretly married another potential heir to the throne, William Seymore. Her husband was sent to the Tower of London, while Arabella was committed to the care of the Bishop of Durham, but fell ill in Barnet en route. She stayed for some months at the home of QE Governor Thomas Conyers, her spiritual needs attended to by another Governor, Rev Matthias Milward, who was subsequently appointed Master (Headmaster) of the School.

  • For anyone with access to the School’s eQE portal, The Arabella is available to read here.
Making history: A-level winners excel in Queen Elizabeth School’s 450th anniversary year

As A-level grading returns to pre-pandemic standards this year, QE is celebrating “brilliant” results that cement the School’s place in the very top echelons of the country’s academic schools – a proud pinnacle in its 450-year history.

At the highest possible grade, the School improved significantly on its 2019 figures, with 58.2% of A-levels being awarded A* – easily beating the pre-pandemic record of 46.9% set in 2018. It was a similar record-breaking performance for combined A–A*: 89.1% of A-levels had these grades, well above the equivalent figure in the pre-Covid years.

And at the benchmark A*–B, QE continues to shine, achieving 96.9% in 2023, the 18th consecutive year in which QE has exceeded 95%.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “We are very pleased indeed with this brilliant performance. Like the record-breaking 47 Oxbridge offers made to QE boys in the spring, these A-level results demonstrate that, in our 450th anniversary year, the School is thriving and continues to go from strength to strength.

“We recognise that this Year 13 cohort has not always had an easy journey: they were unable to sit their GCSEs because of Covid, so, like their peers across the country, this was the first time they had faced high-stakes testing.

“Ofqual, the examinations regulator, told examination boards to aim for the proportion of top grades to be in line with the levels recorded in 2019, so for our boys to have comfortably exceeded that level is really quite an achievement – one which demonstrates that the highest standards were maintained at QE throughout the pandemic. They should be very proud of what they have achieved.

“The pandemic has in fact helped us accelerate the technological development of the School; we have taken great strides in our digital strategy, whilst continuing to invest in our campus, its facilities and the further opportunities that this generates for our boys.”

Among many successes across the subjects this year, French stands out for its 100% performance – all five candidates achieved A*.

In purely numerical terms, Mathematics had the most A* grades, with 106, followed by Chemistry (44) and Further Maths (43).

“While examination performance certainly matters, what goes on beyond the classroom here, including all the many opportunities available through our QE Flourish enrichment programme, is of equal performance,” added Mr Enright.

“This cohort at QE have taken full advantage, making an impact on a national and international stage, not least in providing members of the team that won the VEX Robotics World Championships in 2018. We have many stars – one of their number, Rahul Doshi, won Channel 4’s Child Genius programme some years ago, for example – but he and his peers wear their intelligence, talent and ambitious aspirations lightly.

“They should be proud of the wider contribution they have made. Known for their kindness and empathy, they have supported each other as friends, and those lower in the School as peer mentors. They have also helped to establish and develop connections with the local Barnet community, such as our QE Together partnership with Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’ School.”

“We hope that these students take away from QE not only great results, but a broad range of experiences that will have shaped them into well-rounded young men of good character, ready to step into the world and make a positive difference to the lives of others, living up to, and perhaps even exceeding, the example set by many illustrious Elizabethans over the past 450 years.

“Congratulations to the boys and their families on their fantastic achievements.”

Figures in this article were updated following the outcome of re-marks in early October 2023.

Winners one and all: prize-winners collect their awards besides Saracens’ giant trophy

Almost 120 prizes were awarded to boys in the first three years of the School at Junior Awards.

Former QE First XI cricket captain and First XV rugby player Sunil Tailor (OE 1996–2006) was the guest of honour, telling the boys that he had now united his love for sport with his career in accountancy: he is the Head of Commercial Finance at reigning Premiership champions Saracens.

He even brought along the huge Premiership trophy to show the audience in the Main School Hall, where VIPs took their places, together with prize-winners, their families and staff for the afternoon ceremony.

Headmaster Neil Enright said afterwards: “Junior Awards is always one of the highlights of the end of our School year – an opportunity publicly to recognise the achievement of those who have stood out even in such a high-achieving context as Queen Elizabeth’s School.

“Gaining an award here is thus a considerable honour, and doubly so this year because the prize-winners achieved their success in our 450th anniversary year.”

The afternoon saw musical interludes played by the three year groups’ Music prize-winners. Year 7’s Eshaan Anil performed Fauré’s Elegie Op. 24 on the cello; violinist Joseph Donovan, of Year 8, played Nikki Iles’ Hay Barn Blues, and Year 9’s Shreyas Iyengar performed Beethoven’s Sonata No.8 in C minor Op.13 Pathétique Movement I Grave, Allegro di molto e con brio.

In addition to prizes for curriculum subjects, there are House awards, prizes for overall commitment and awards for extra-curricular.

In additional to congratulating the prize-winners and their families, Sunil spoke about topics including values in sport and organisational culture.

Sunil read Economics at UCL, graduating in 2009, and was a cricket coach at Middlesex from 2007–2011. He worked for more than ten years for accountancy firm MHA MacIntyre Hudson before joining Saracens in November 2022.

He chairs the newly formed Equality, Diversity and Inclusion group at Saracens and last year, following the racism scandal in English cricket, he was consulted about his own experiences by Middlesex CCC.

After Sunil’s address, the winner of the Year 7 award for debating & public speaking, Afraz Khan, gave a vote of thanks.

Following the ceremony, guests and staff enjoyed refreshments on Stapylton Field.


Saving the founder: QE 450th anniversary competition winners enjoy rare chance to see National Archives treasure

Twenty-three boys whose work was chosen as the best in the QE 450th anniversary research project were treated to a rare look at one of the nation’s most treasured documents on a trip to the National Archives.

Among the artefacts viewed by the group during their visit to Kew was the actual letter – known as the ‘Tide Letter’ – written by the future Queen Elizabeth I, founder of Queen Elizabeth’s School, as she battled for survival following her arrest in 1554.

Jenni Blackford, Curator of QE Collections and Head of Library Services, said: “It was amazing to see such fabulous documents close up and it was a testament to our students’ conduct, interest and behaviour that they brought the Tide Letter out to show them at the end of the session.”

The visit was a reward for the boys who submitted the best entries to Project 1573. This involved small groups of boys being given three primary sources relating to a particular aspect of QE’s history and then asked to produce a three-minute presentation after accessing QE Collections – the School’s online archive – and other archival materials.

The winners were:

  • Navieeneish Kirubaharan, Param Kapadia, Aarnav Mahajan and Advay Zore, all from Year 8 Pearce form, who researched Timothy Edwards, Headmaster 1961–1983
  • Kelvin Chen, Ethan Yao, Jonas Dawit and Rishi Sen, also of Year 8 Pearce, researching E W Harrison, a long-serving teacher who retired in 1950 and is one of the two unrelated people after whom the Harrisons’ House is named
  • Shravanth Sadheesh, Pranav Nayak, Arya Ratnakaram and Sriram Muthukumaran, from Year 8, Stapylton, who looked into QE’s 350th anniversary celebrations in 1923
  • Snehal Das, Samir Cheema and Ozgan Cakir, of Year 9, Stapylton, who researched QE becoming a grant-maintained school in 1989, giving it new freedoms to govern its own affairs
  • Keeyan Shah, Alex Stack, Shlok Gajjar and Pranith Turaga, also of Year 9, Stapylton, looked into the foundation of the School
  • Aahan Shah, Abhinav Sandeep, Jack Tan and Tunishq Mitra, of the Year 9 Broughton form, who investigated the history of Eton Fives at the School.

They saw the Tide Letter, which was written by Elizabeth to her half-sister, Queen Mary I, when the princess was arrested following Wyatt’s Rebellion, an attempt to overthrow the queen, in 1554. Mary gave orders for Elizabeth to be taken to the Tower of London.

“The students were able to see the neat handwriting at the start of the letter become larger and messier as she was likely made to hurry by those waiting to escort her to the Tower. Fearing her enemies might alter the letter, Elizabeth struck lines through the blank space above her signature,” said Mrs Blackford.

“It is called the Tide Letter because it is believed Elizabeth deliberately wrote the letter to buy time so that the daylight low tide that enabled boats to pass safely through the narrow arches of London Bridge would have turned and she would avoid being taken to the Tower for an additional day.”

Eloquently protesting her innocence, the future queen finishes the letter: “Your hignes most faithful subject that hathe bine from the beginninge, and wylbe to my ende. Elizabeth.”

Her stratagem was successful: she was not taken to the Tower until the following day. Elizabeth was eventually released and then succeeded to the throne on Mary’s death four years later, in 1558.

The Year 8 and Year 9 boys saw a variety of later documents from Elizabeth’s reign, including letters, speeches, Plea Rolls (parchment court records) and the queen’s second Great Seal.

QE’s founding Royal Charter of 1573 was authorised with Queen Elizabeth’s first seal. This, however, wore out during her long reign, and, Ms Blackford said, the boys enjoyed finding out about its replacement: “It is noticeably more elaborate, as Elizabeth had started to closely monitor her image.”

The boys also learned about how the National Archives came into existence, hearing how in the 1830s, civil servant Henry Cole submitted to the Government a dead mummified rat with a stomach full of chewed documents among his evidence of the unsuitability of the premises where public records were then being stored.



Formal but fun: saying farewell to QE’s leavers

QE’s Valediction event for the Class of 2023 saw the 450th anniversary year cohort gather with their parents for an afternoon celebration.

There were prizes for some, while the contribution of all the leavers – or graduands – was celebrated during an occasion in Shearly Hall that featured speeches and presentations, followed by afternoon tea on Staplyton Field.

The guest speaker was Sahil Handa (OE 2009–2016), the first-ever Elizabethan to take up a place at Harvard in the US, who has already blazed a trail in several different fields, from the arts to founding IT startups.

As befitting an event which embraced a sense of fun alongside its formal aspects, the afternoon’s musical interludes looked to the lighter side: staff reportedly enjoyed processing in to the accompaniment of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, performed by the QE Jazz Lounge.

Headmaster Neil Enright thanked parents for their “huge support, both moral and financial, over the years” and urged both them and their sons to stay in touch with the School.

He told the boys: “I hope in the years to come that you will come back and see us; tell us about your adventures and careers; and, more importantly, tell those following in your footsteps through the School: that you will show them and their families the great variety of things that an OE can do, and an Elizabethan can be.”

The guest speaker was himself an example of that variety. Currently a Visiting Fellow at The John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Sahil is, among many other things:

  • A writer: he was a founder of Persuasion, a non-profit magazine devoted to liberal values and the defence of free speech
  • An entrepreneur: he has worked on both Typos, a messaging app for creatives and Lines, a messaging app offering verifiable communications in the blockchain-based web3, for which his company has raised over $6.5m in funding
  • A dancer: he ran the QE dance club for four years and lists “dance battles at nightclubs” among his present interests
  • An artist: he was selected for the Royal Academy of Arts’ AttRAct scheme while at QE and still enjoys painting on canvas.

Sahil attended Valediction together with his mother, cousin, friends and his brother, Nikhil Handa (OE 2013–2020). He recalled his first encounter with Deputy Head (Pastoral) David Ryan, who hauled him over the coals after spotting him dancing outside the classroom window to entertain his classmates during afternoon form time. This less-than-auspicious beginning soon turned into a supportive relationship, however, when he became part of Mr Ryan’s English class. “I thought he’d make my life miserable. But to my surprise, it seemed as though he’d forgotten the whole episode entirely. I went on to learn everything from him… Mr Ryan was also the first person who complimented me for being a generalist.”

Sahil spoke of: the trials and tribulations of being a writer – “if I did not write, I would not be true to myself”; the importance of confidence and of learning from rejection, and of “maintaining and strengthening the relationships that matter”.

In conclusion, he alluded to the former TV show, Takashi’s Castle. “There’s an activity where contestants try to skip across stones on a lake, avoiding falling into the sea. I like to imagine. It’s how I feel when I’m dancing: like melodies are being created for my feet. You are now leaving a place of constraints and the world will create stones for you, if only you skip. Write the email. Ask the question. Start the conversation. Say the tough thing. Make the difficult choice. Take a posture towards the world that makes you look up and laugh at its wonder. It’ll be as though somebody is creating stones for you to walk on.”

A large majority of Year 13 students attended. All received a set of QE cufflinks, while the prizewinners also received a copy of former Headmaster Dr John Marincowitz’s new history of the School, Queen Elizabeth’s School: 1573–2023. Among the speakers was Theo Mama-Kahn, School Captain 2022, who was one of the leavers. He gave a vote of thanks.

During tea afterwards, there were performances by four forms who shone recently in an inter-House music competition.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Enright said: “We began a Valediction event both because we wanted to say farewell formally as a School, but also to give people an opportunity to say their own goodbyes: the chats and well-wishing out on the field, with boys, families and staff thanking each other for all they have done over the past seven years, was an important element of the occasion.

“The Class of 2023 have distinguished themselves not only as a highly able cohort, but one characterised by kindness and positivity. They have served as great ambassadors to those younger in the School and I look forward to them continuing this record within our alumni community.”


Making history at the 450th anniversary year Founder’s Day

Past, present and future came together to make Founder’s Day in Queen Elizabeth’s School’s 450th anniversary year an unforgettable occasion.

Always a highlight of the School calendar, Founder’s Day this year featured a string of anniversary-related special events, including the burial of a time capsule, as well as time-honoured traditions, from the reading of the School Chronicle to a cricket match between the current School XI and alumni.

The afternoon fete, run by the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s, drew the biggest numbers in recent memory, while there was a moving retirement ceremony for Barrie Martin MBE, QE’s long-standing Chairman of Governors, who steps down from the role this summer.

The event, which raises funds for the School, was a financial success, too. Having raised their target to £25,000, the Friends saw this figure comprehensively beaten: the current total stands at £41,042.48, including more than £28,000 on the day itself.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “Our anniversary slogan is ‘thriving from ancient roots’ – and Founder’s Day 2023 exemplified this to the full. In the morning we reflected together on our long and rich history in the thanksgiving service at the parish church, while the happy crowds at our colourful afternoon fete were a reminder of just how vibrant and successful is the Elizabethan community of today.

“Barrie Martin made an immeasurable contribution to that success: the 24 years since he became Chairman of Governors have seen QE rise steadily to its position today as one of the UK’s leading schools, and generations of boys owe him a debt of gratitude.

“Fittingly, the burying of the time capsule on Staplyton Field gave us an opportunity to look to the future, as any organisation must do if it is to maintain its success. The artefacts in the capsule include predictions from our current Year 7 about what the School might be like in 2073, when we hope the capsule will be opened on QE’s 500th anniversary.

“My thanks go to the small army of people – including FQE volunteers, staff and pupils – who made the day such a success, and to the many who contributed so generously to maximising FQE’s income, which will be invested in the School.

“I hope many will be inspired to help in the future: you can put the third Saturday of June in 2024 in your diaries now!” Mr Enright added.

The day began with an innovation: a procession from Tudor Hall – the School’s home from its founding through to 1932 – which arrived at St John the Baptist Church promptly for the 11am service.

There, Giles Martin (OE 1992–1999) the son of the Chairman of Governors and the Programme Leader for Higher Education Practice at Bath Spa University’s School of Education, reminded the boys and wider congregation of the words of Gandhi: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as it you were to live forever.”

Reflecting on his memories and experiences at the School in music, debating and sport, he stressed the importance of teamwork. He was part of QE’s undefeated water polo team of the late 1990s.

After staff and boys made their way to Queen’s Road, the Roll Call and Reading of the School Chronicle took place in front of Main Building, with two paragraphs added to the latter’s account of QE’s history, covering the royal visit in November by The Duke of Gloucester and the 450th anniversary celebrations, including the March service in Westminster Abbey.

School Captain Darren Lee, of Year 12, stepped forward to fill the deep hole dug for the time capsule. This included:

  • A letter from the Headmaster to the Elizabethans of 2073;
  • Darren’s reflections on the 450th celebrations;
  • 450th memorabilia including a 450 badge, documents and flowers from the abbey preserved in resin by Art teacher Jeanne Nicodemus;
  • A copy of the recent whole-school photo;
  • The Year 7 pupil’s predictions – intended as a surprise for the Elizabethans of the future, it can however be noted that the boys predict technology, and AI in particular, will radically change education methods!

The Barrie Martin retirement ceremony included the presentation of a book of photos from his years of service, a framed sketch of the School and other mementos. Flowers were presented to his wife, Perin, as well as another of the resin cubes containing flowers from the 450th anniversary service (supplied by the florist who also provided flowers for the Queen’s funeral and King’s coronation).

A photographic portrait of Barrie will be placed in the ‘crush hall’ in the Main Building upon his retirement. It was taken by the School’s photographer Eleanor Bentall, who has also taken portraits of subjects including Boris Johnson, former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, Clare Balding and Tinie Tempah.

Thanking those present, Barrie, who is also Chairman of FQE, recounted how he came on board with the Friends after being approached by FQE stalwart Diane Mason. He joined the Governing Body in 1989, having been invited by Eamonn Harris (Headmaster 1984–1999): “I wasn’t stupid enough to say no to the Headmaster!”

Recalling some of the key milestones in the years that followed, he said he was unable to thank all those “exceptional people” that he had worked with, who had “made what I did possible”. Particular thanks were, however, given to the three Vice-Chairmen of Governors he worked alongside: the late Sid Clark; Ken Cooper; and Nick Gaskell, who will succeed Barrie as Chairman on 1 September this year.

The 1pm–5pm fete brought together current and past pupils with their families, as well as families of boys who will join Year 7 in September, large numbers of Old Elizabethans from different eras, local residents, former staff and other supporters.

The ever-popular international food tents were extended this year, while there was a range of impressive culinary creations battling it out in the Cake Competition. Additional attractions included a VEX Robotics tent – popular with parents as much as anyone! – and Ju Jitsu, where, rumour has it, Barrie Martin was seen performing a martial arts hold.

Away from the Stapylton Field, the QE Collections mini-exhibition included a rare opportunity to see the original 1573 Royal Charter that brought about the founding of the School. A particular draw was a book-signing by Dr John Marincowitz (Headmaster 1999–2011), whose new history of the School was published in March. This had to be extended due to the long queues. He said: “I met many lovely boys, old boys, parents and even a descendant of former Master James Barcock (1689-1719)! Such a variety of really interesting people.”

At the back of the School, the Stanley Busby Memorial Cricket Match on Third Field saw the old boys claiming what Head of Cricket Richard Scally described as “a well-deserved victory”. He added: “Both openers for the OEs – Omar Mohamed and Shahil Sheth – scored quickly, amassing 50 runs each and setting a challenging total of 159. In reply, the School lost early wickets and the run rate became too high, and although there was some strong resistance from Year 12’s Rohan Belavadi and Ranvir Sinha, it all proved too little too late, and the old boys won by 39 runs.”

  • Donations can still be made through the dedicated Founder’s Day JustGiving page. The fundraising total includes money taken on the day, online giving, sponsorship from a House Music competition on the eve of Founder’s Day and the sale of advertising.
  • The full-colour, 56-page fete programme includes a range of features, as well as advertisements from donors and supporters. You can read it here.
Anniversary to the fore at 56th Annual Elizabethan Union Dinner Debate

With the QE 450th anniversary celebrations at the forefront of everyone’s mind, the subject chosen for this year’s Dinner Debate was especially apt.

Sixth-formers gathered to take on the visiting Old Elizabethans, debating the motion, This House would leave the past behind us.

In his address, Saifullah Shah (OE 2013–2020) alluded to the anniversary year, which has as its slogan, Thriving from ancient roots.

And there were reminders of the 450th anniversary celebrations even during the meal: dessert was served accompanied by white chocolate discs bearing the anniversary logo.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “The Dinner Debate was a successful evening, continuing the happy and energetic mood from our thanksgiving service in Westminster Abbey and with a motion that caused us to think about the nature and importance of the past, while looking to the future. It certainly provoked some lively discussion, taking the debate down a number of interesting avenues.”

“The dinner participants also made a little bit of history themselves: our 2022 School, Captain Theo Mama-Kahn, led the loyal toast to ‘The King’, rather than ‘The Queen’, for the first time in the Dinner Debate’s history.”

The event, which this year was chaired by Jai Patel, of Year 13, helps prepare the boys for some of the social occasions they may encounter early in their time at university. The debate follows the Oxford/Cambridge Union style.

With its distinctive atmosphere, it also serves as somewhat of a staging post between the boys’ present as pupils and their future as Old Elizabethans.

“The Dinner Debate is important in promoting oracy and free-thinking scholarship, but it is also a fun and relaxed evening, which most seem to enjoy!” the Headmaster added.

Before the debate, the votes were counted as follows: 14 for; 126 against; 30 abstentions.

The motion was proposed by the Year 13 pair of Ashwin Sridhar and Sudhamshu Gummadavelly. Opposing it with Saifullah was Mipham Samten (OE 2012–2019). Many Year 13s contributed from the floor.

Ashwin and Sudhamshu argued that ‘leave’ does not mean ‘forget’, making the case that the past and its injustices should not be allowed to define the future, and that we should move forward with equality of opportunity (rather than imposing discrimination of a different form, such as quotas to seek redress). They cited as a positive example the reconciliation seen in Spain after its civil war and the end of General Franco’s regime, where old differences were left behind.

The opposing OEs defined the key term differently, accusing the boys of wanting to ‘have their cake and eat it’. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat its errors.

However, at the end of the debate, the proposers’ case had won many over, and the final totals were: 76 for; 55 against; and 39 abstentions. Thus, it was a victory for the School, the Upper Sixth pair successfully convincing people that the past could be left behind, even while its lessons were still being learned.

In his address, Saifullah, a third-year Law student at Downing College, Cambridge, began thus: “From the celebration of this School’s 450th anniversary, the motion of the upcoming debate and the range of familiar faces on display, the past would appear to have all of us in its embrace tonight.”

He related how he had suffered some early disappointments at Cambridge in moots (mock judicial proceedings set up to examine a hypothetical case as an academic exercise) and was considering stopping doing them altogether, but then scored a memorable success after applying to take part in a Cambridge Union debate. “Given the stakes and the competition, I had no expectations going into the audition. But I also had nothing to lose and, against all the odds, I prevailed. My fellow speakers included a Queen’s Counsel, a Cambridge Professor and most memorably, Lord Neuberger and Lord Sumption, two former justices of the Supreme Court. Debating alongside my childhood heroes whose judgements had helped inspire me to study law was a surreal experience, and one that I will never forget.”

The experience heralded an era of competition success for Saifullah: he has now a record ten mooting and mock trial competitions, and has been a student speaker in six Cambridge Union Debates, the most in recent history.

He concluded by telling the assembled sixth-formers: “Your time in school will not define your legacy and your purpose as students is not to reap fruit but to sow seeds. You don’t need to be School Captain or valedictorian, and it is often the trees that bloom latest that have the perfect blossom. The road ahead of you is tough, it is treacherous, and it will push you to your limits. But if you walk your path with courage, with conviction and with hope, then you will not only survive but thrive.”


Thriving from ancient roots: Queen Elizabeth’s School celebrates its 450th anniversary in Westminster Abbey

Four hundred and fifty years to the day since Queen Elizabeth I granted the Charter for the establishment of Queen Elizabeth’s School in Barnet, the Elizabethan community gathered in Westminster Abbey to celebrate in a special service of thanksgiving.

Featuring elements ancient and modern, today’s service reflected the past, present and future of a school that has in recent years risen to a place of high national repute.

All 1,295 pupils attended, together with almost all staff, as well as governors, Directors of the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s, Foundation Trustees, former staff, Old Elizabethans and around 300 current parents – a congregation of some 1,800 people.

Carried into the abbey were the Royal Charter itself, granted by Elizabeth I on 24th March 1573, and a banner that was presented to the School by HRH Prince Richard, The Duke of Gloucester, during his visit in November 2022.

The service included religious and literary readings, with Year 11 pupil Rohan Kumar’s winning entry in the School’s 450th Anniversary Poetry Competition, and music from every century of the School’s existence, culminating in a premiere performance of an anthem commissioned from internationally renowned composer Howard Goodall.

In his address, Neil Enright, 40th Headmaster of the School, said: “Today, we gather in this sacred and magnificent place to celebrate our School’s foundation. The place where our founder, Queen Elizabeth I, was crowned and is buried – a place of national celebration and commemoration. But, also, a place which inspires us to reflect upon our foundations, as much as our founding.”

Drawing an analogy with Jesus’s parable of the foolish man who built a house on the sand and the wise man who built his house on the rock, Mr Enright said: “There have been many times over the past 450 years when the rain descended and the floods came and the wind blew and the School’s foundations were tested.”

These storms included an outbreak of plague in 1603, when the School was said to have grown ‘sick in decay’, the imprisonment and even execution of governors for their support of the Crown during the English Civil War, straitened financial circumstances in the 18th century, the bombing of the School by the Luftwaffe in the Second World War, and the School’s decline in the 1970s and early 1980s, which saw it earmarked for closure by the local authority.

“Over the past 450 years, our remarkable school has often flourished, and always survived,” said Mr Enright.

“Our challenge is to ensure, in a world of shifting sands, where the rain will again descend, and the floods will come and the wind will blow and beat down upon us, that we will not fall. That we will stand firm on our foundations and draw strength from our roots, spread deep and wide, and meet the bold assertion of our Charter that we will be: ‘one Common Grammar School in or near the town of Barnet… for the education, bringing up and instruction of boys and youth…… and the same to continue forever’.”

The service covered four broad themes of: foundations; challenges; service to others and hope for the future.

It was conducted by The Right Reverend Anthony Ball, Canon in Residence, and sung by QE’s Chamber Choir, with guest singers from the staff, Old Elizabethans, and St Albans High School for Girls, all conducted by Director of Music Ruth Partington. The School Orchestra was conducted by Caroline Grint, QE’s Assistant Director of Music, and the organ played by Mr Peter Holder, Sub-Organist.

Before the service, the congregation listened to the orchestra’s performance of William Walton’s Crown Imperial and the Indian Ensemble’s performance of Tani Avartaram.

Among the guests were the headteachers of many partner schools, together with councillors, former Mayors of Barnet, and other supporters of the School.

The VIP party included: The Worshipful the Mayor of the London Borough of Barnet, Cllr Alison Moore; The Deputy Mayor of the London Borough of Barnet, Cllr Nagus Narenthira; Representative for The Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, Vice Lord-Lieutenant Colonel Jane Davis OBE QVRM TD DL; and The Lord Mayor of Westminster, Cllr Hamza Taouzzale.

After the first hymn, Helen Edmunds, Head of History, read from the Charter. Other readings were given by pupils of all ages, including 2023 School Captain Darren Lee, who is in Year 12.

The Headmaster said the traditional Founder’s Day prayer, while others leading in prayer included Mrs Emi Aghdiran, Governor and Director of FQE, and Matthew Rose (OE 2002–09), Head of External Relations.

Years 7–10 had travelled to the abbey by coach; Years 11–13 came on the tube. The Headmaster led them all in an act of rededication to the School’s mission, with each of the six Houses invited to respond, in turn, with “Adsumus” (We are present).

Before the final blessing and procession, the Chamber Choir gave the first-ever performance of the new anthem commissioned by QE, which has as its refrain:

That like an oak, it draws its strength
From ancient roots spread deep and wide.
From ancient roots
From ancient roots
From ancient roots spread deep and wide.

As the congregation departed to enjoy refreshments together, the bells of the abbey rang out.

  • To view the order of service, which includes the full lyrics to Howard Goodall’s new anthem and Rohan Kumar’s competition-winning poem, click here.
  • For more photos from before and after the service, click on the thumbnail images below.
  • For more 450th anniversary news, click here.
Writing history, making history: former Headmaster is Guest of Honour at prize-giving

Dr John Marincowitz, former Headmaster and author of a new history of Queen Elizabeth’s School published this month, was the special guest at the annual Senior Awards Ceremony – one of the highlights of QE’s academic year.

Current Headmaster Neil Enright said it was entirely appropriate that, as QE prepares to celebrate its 450th anniversary tomorrow, the place of honour should go to one of the School’s own. Dr Marincowitz was Mr Enright’s predecessor, holding the role from 1999 until his retirement in 2011.

“John’s new book, Queen Elizabeth’s School: 1573–2023, which was based on ten years of research, adds significantly to our understanding of the School. But of course John has not just written our School’s history; he has played a significant part in shaping it, too.

“In his years as Headmaster, and before that, in the late 1980s and through the 1990s, he was a key figure here. He was instrumental, firstly in the turn-around of a struggling, under-subscribed institution and secondly in laying the foundations for its emergence as one of the most celebrated state schools in the country.”

At the start of the evening, the VIP party processed into the School Hall to Byrd’s O Lord, make thy servant, Elizabeth, sung by the Chamber Choir.

Dr Marincowitz, who first arrived at QE to join the History department in 1985, then presented prizes – which this year included copies of his book – to scores of prizewinners drawn from Years 10, 11 and 12. There were awards for all the academic subjects, for overall academic excellence, for contribution & responsibility and for outstanding performance or contribution in extra-curricular activities such as debating & public speaking, chess, drama and the Combined Cadet Force.

In his address, he told the prizewinners in the audience: “You are the authors of your own stories.”

During his tenure as Headmaster, Dr Marincowitz not only oversaw steady improvements in academic results but also worked to improve the learning environment, making make good use of the money raised by the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s. Major new facilities including the Martin Pool and Shearly Hall were opened during his headmastership.

There were the customary musical interludes at the Senior Awards Ceremony, featuring performances by Music prizewinners. The interludes were: 20th-century French composer Paule Maurice’s Tableaux de Provence, performed by Year 10 saxophonist, Leo Sellis; Beethoven’s Romanze, played by violinist Jason Tao, of Year 11, and Rupak Kaida, performed by Year 12 pupil Isher Jagdev, on the tabla.

A vote of thanks was given by the 2023 School Captain, Darren Lee, of Year 12.

After that, the recessional was Offenbach’s Gendarmes’ Duet, performed by vocalists Year 12’s Arjun Patel, Koustuv Bhowmick, of Year 11, Joel Swedensky, of Year 11, and Robin Bickers, also of Year 11.

With the formal elements of the evening complete, prizewinners and their families were able to join staff for refreshments.