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QE trio reach final of Oxford video competition

Three QE boys were finalists in a national Geography competition run by Christ Church, Oxford.

Shreyas Mone, of Year 10, Zhuoer Chen, of Year 9, and Sarang Nair, of Year 7, were among just ten finalists nationwide.

All three were invited with their parents to a special prize-giving day at Christ Church, one of the largest and most famous of all the Oxford University colleges. The day included a pitch to encourage the visiting high-flyers to consider studying Geography there.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “My congratulations go to Shreyas and to Zhuoer and Sarang on their success.”

The competition, which is part of Christ Church’s outreach work, was open to all UK state school pupils in Years 7–10. Entrants had to submit a video 2–5 minutes long on a geographical issue or phenomenon that was local to them.

The day featured screenings of the videos, a prize-giving ceremony, a tour of the college, and talks from current students and staff. There was also a workshop about geopolitics in popular culture, which covered, inter alia, the issues of missile tests in Iron Man and mineral resources in Black Panther, as well as how Bond villains were supposedly based upon enemies of the USA.

Shreyas’s video – entitled Why is the UK’s weather so dismal? – explored why the UK has mild temperatures and high rainfall, compared to the cold, dry conditions of Canada, when, for example, Calgary is on a latitude slightly to the south of London.

The video compared average yearly temperatures at Greenwich weather station with those at Calgary and found they were 11.35C higher.

This, Shreyas explained, is partly because of the Gulf Stream bringing warm water to Britain and conversely the Labrador current taking cold water to southern Canada. In the video, he addresses why this affects the weather in inland areas, rather than just the coast.

His video was illustrated by a range of maps and photos and even a clip of a fox jumping into snow, with colourful captions setting out his argument.

Shreyas was inspired to enter the competition after seeing it advertised by Head of Geography Emily Parry on eQE, the School’s remote learning platform.

Sarang’s video on the Effects of floods in Hertfordshire included photos of recent floods; it looked at where flood plains are and explored whether houses should be built on flood plains.

Easy as pi? QE team work together to put in perfect performance at Maths Feast

Four Year 10 boys won every round when they took on other regional schools in the Maths Feast competition.

After being selected to represent the School in the event, the four emerged with a perfect score of 121 out of 121.

Mathematics teacher Kirtan Shah said: “This was the first time I’ve seen full marks in every round of the Maths Feast competition since I started working here in 2018. So they did really, really well: definitely something to be proud of!

“They worked so well together as a team; by building on each other’s arguments, they were able to successfully reach sensible solutions to some challenging problems. They knew what each member’s strengths were and that really helped them gain their clean sweep.”

Hadi Al-Esia, Kovid Gothi, Saim Khan and Shreyaas Sandeep travelled to St Dominic’s Sixth Form College in Harrow on the Hill for the competition run by Advanced Mathematics Support Programme – a Government-funded national initiative.

They faced four rounds: team captain Hadi said each involved “intriguing puzzles that stretched our knowledge and problem-solving skills”.

The rounds were as follows:

  1. What No Words? All teams were given a series of problems to solve, with the catch that they were only given diagrams. Not only did they have to work out the answer; they first had to work out what the question was!
  2. Four for Forty: Students were given four long problems, including logic puzzles, which all required outside-the-box problem-solving, including logic puzzles. “They were able to deftly negotiate this round by each member of the team taking the problem which suited their strengths the most,” said Mr Shah.
  3. Card Sort: Competitors had to reimagine every 3D shape (such as cubes) to try to unravel the shortest way to pass through or over them. “This was by far the most challenging round for the team to tackle as it involved a new dimension of geometry for them – a combination of Pythagoras and 3D visualisation,” Mr Shah added. “They finished the round with less than 20 seconds to spare.” The team’s favourite problem came from this round (see picture right): competitors were asked to calculate the distance from A to B if the net [what a 3D shape looks like if opened out flat] were open for the cone.Saim said: I particularly enjoyed the card sort round – trying to reimagine and visualise the shapes in a new way was challenging but immensely rewarding too!”
  4. Four in a Row: A relay round, with teams splitting into two pairs to solve two separate sets of questions. “Our boys were able to comfortably finish the round, with eight minutes to spare,” said Mr Shah.

Hadi said: “I’m proud of our teamwork and the dedication we showed on the day,” while his teammate Saim added: “The Maths Feast was a fantastic opportunity; the problem-solving and lateral thinking the rounds called for was a refreshing invigorating experience.”


After QE’s senior robotics teams lead the way, the juniors celebrate their best-ever performance at national finals

QE’s Year 8 and 9 VIQC robotics teams swept others before them in this year’s national finals to take top places at the end of the two-day competition in Telford.

The six junior teams also won a slew of the top awards, following in the footsteps of the senior VRC teams who had similarly taken awards in their competition over the previous two days.

Head of Technology Michael Noonan said: “This represents QE’s strongest-ever performance at the VIQC Nationals, with only the Excellence Award eluding us. Overall, the success of both our VIQC and VRC teams in Telford was a welcome show of the students’ potential and of their focus, particularly as it came just a few days ahead of many of them travelling to Dallas, Texas, for the still greater challenges and excitement of this month’s Vex Robotics World Championships.”

Four teams – two from Year 10, one from Year 12 and one with a mix of boys from the two year groups – competed in the senior VRC bracket at Telford International Center. HYBRID, Vortex Invicta, HEX Green and Hyperion pitted their wits against the very finest robotic talent in the UK. The VRC championships drew 58 teams from all over the UK to battle it out in the competition’s Brunel and Lovelace divisions.

On the first day, QE teams had a record total of 14 games. “The pace was manic and it did mean the learning curve was steep, especially for HEX Green and Hyperion, who each had a sole representative on that day – Jamie Hoang, of Year 12 and Tharsan Nimalan, of Year 10. This was as a result of clashing A-level mock examinations ruling out their teammates,” said Mr Noonan. “Great credit is therefore due to Jamie and Tharsan, our ‘one-man armies’ of day one!

“The QE teams exploded out of the blocks on the second day, driven to make up for some poorer results on the first day. HEX Green and Hyperion had their ranks bolstered by the returning Year 12 students, and the increase in manpower was telling, as Hyperion secured a top-ten place finish, and HEX Green shot to the top of the skills rankings, a lead which they would never surrender.

“Hyperion reached the Brunel divisional finals, while an all-QE alliance of HEX Green and HYBRID made it to the Lovelace division semi-final, only to be cruelly denied a finals place by a loose battery connection. The day was not over for QE teams, however: when the medal winners were announced, Hyperion won the coveted Design Award (considered the second-most prestigious in the whole competition), HEX Green achieved double success, winning both the Skills and Think awards, and Vortex Invicta received a Judges Award. “Vortex Invicta’s first award of the season thus arrived at the highest level of competition they had so far faced!” Mr Noonan said.

“Overall, the experience was a great one of learning, particularly for the two middle-school [Year 10} teams who were looking forward to facing some 400 other teams in Dallas.”

Watching and cheering on from the tiered seating were QE’s six IQ robotics teams. “They drew many lessons from their older peers regarding showing resilience, reacting to failure and the importance of thorough preparation. Excitement reached fever pitch as students headed away to their hotel ahead of their own National championships on Sunday,” said Mr Noonan.

When the day dawned, the younger boys did not disappoint: “Our T5 robotics suite is the perfect furnace to forge success and achievement in competitive robotics, and the QE teams duly excelled, leading in almost all aspects of competition from the starting gun to the finishing post.

“All teams were in a frenzy of activity from Sunday morning to Monday evening; responding to judges’ enquiries, attempting to improve their skills, practising effective teamwork routines with partnering schools, and developing strategies to gain the extra edge ahead of the showpiece finals on the Monday.”

The achievements began with Gearsquad posting an early National Record Skills score. After strong QE performances in the Qualification and Skills elements of the competition, all eyes turned to the finals. The alliances (15 pairs from the 30 teams taken part) faced off in reverse order, from lowest to highest ranked,  and the ‘Chair of Champions’ was unveiled – a seat reserved for the (current) highest-ranked teams.

First up from QE was Cyberforce, followed by Nova, Shattersquad, Eclipse and finally The Rubber Bands. QE teams duly took their places on the chair, with a strong performance from Gearsquad and their alliance partners, Highgate, securing a near-perfect score.

“In the end, the six QE teams ranked first–sixth in the finals rankings, proving their ability to manage pressure at the highest level,” said Mr Noonan.

They also gained the following awards:

  • Design, won by Cyberforce
  • Amaze, won by Gearsquad and Shattersquad in their respective divisions
  • Robot Skills and Teamwork National Champion, both won by Gearsquad
  • Build, won by The Rubber Bands.

“A special mention must go to Shattersquad, Eclipse and Nova; Shattersquad secured their first two trophies of the season at this, the highest standard of event, while Nova and Eclipse came within millimetres of a national podium finish, despite Nova being out of competition for many months and Eclipse having a driver, Year 8’s Jaydon Lad, in a plaster cast.”

QE’s VIQC contingent were shortly afterwards due to compete against nearly 600 other teams in the World Championships.

Best at the Fest: QE competition winner is among speakers at national Mathematics event for sixth-formers

Year 12’s Shankar Vallinayagam took his place on the stage alongside professional mathematicians as a speaker at the 2022 Maths Fest.

Shankar was among 45 Year 12 mathematicians from QE to attend the annual series of lectures at The Royal Institution in London.

He was selected as a speaker after his video submission for a related Mathematics competition – the Maths Slam – was picked as one of the winning entries by the judges. He was one of four winners who gave presentations on the day.

Mathematics teacher Kirtan Shah said: “I know that many of our boys not only enjoyed the day, but also really relished the opportunity to learn about fascinating aspects of maths and its applications in the real world. As one of our students, Haipei Jiang, put it afterwards ‘It was great to be in an environment where so many other students appreciated really cool maths.’”

As in previous years, the day was chaired by Mathematics YouTuber and ‘stand up mathematician’ Matt Parker.

The day began with Professor Jennifer Rogers, Vice President for Statistical Research and Consultancy at PHASTAR, the London-based international biometrics contract research organisation, giving a talk on Stats to Save the World. As the lead statistician on a treatment trial for Covid-19, she  explained the importance of sample size for clinical trials and the factors which help to determine how large a sample size should be.

Next was internet mathematician and public speaker James Grime, who talked about hidden Mathematics behind the digital world, from looking at how wifi signals are communicated to how cryptanalysis was used to break codes from Germany’s Lorenz cipher machines during World War II.

Host Matt Parker explained that our brains naturally think of numbers using a logarithmic scale, yet the modern world uses a linear system of numbers – which can easily confuse people in understanding how big large numbers actually are.

Puzzle expert and author Rob Eastaway looked at ‘fairness’ and ‘guilt’, telling the audience that chimpanzees have been seen to grasp the concept of fairness, refusing a treat if they felt they were receiving preferential treatment over their fellow chimps.

Mathematics teacher and examinations expert Nicole Cozens shared her top five tips for exam success from her experience of marking papers for 15 years, starting with: Always quote the formula first when using it in a question – this is to show the examiner that you know the formula, even if you end up making a mistake in how you use it.

Ben Sparks, musician and star of the educational YouTube channel, Numberphile, ended the day by explaining the Mathematics of the notes in an octave and sharing how sine waves, trigonometry and complex numbers are used to make noise-cancelling headphones work.

Shankar’s short talk was entitled The Alexander Horned Sphere: he came across the sphere, an object found in the branch of Mathematics known as topology, during his research for his Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) dissertation. Mr Shah said: “His talk interested the audience and got them thinking about why we shouldn’t say something is ‘obviously true’ in maths without proof.”

During breaks, the boys visited the event’s Maths Village, where they could enjoy mini-mathematical activities and meet people who use Mathematics every day at university and in commerce.

The boys were accompanied by Mr Shah and his fellow Mathematics teachers, Deljoo Mahdmina and Heena Haq.

Reflecting on the Maths Fest afterwards, pupil Rajveer Mukherjee said: “I particularly enjoyed it as although the talks were incredibly interesting, they also proved to be accessible to all, while leaving room for further research into the topics.” For his part, Abir Mohammed loved the opportunity to meet “renowned maths celebrities”.


In search of glory! Record ten robotics teams qualify for World Championships

Ten VEX robotics teams from QE – a School record – have won places at next month’s World Championships in the USA.

Their qualification follows a string of mid-season successes, including triumphs on home territory at the QE-hosted North London regional rounds of the junior IQ and senior VRC teams.

Congratulating them, Headmaster Neil Enright said: “Our robotics teams march on to ever-greater success, thanks to their technical skills, teamwork and great commitment.

“I wish them all the best for the national championships in Telford and then for Dallas in May.”

The qualifiers include six Vex IQ Challenge (VIQC) teams from Years 8 & 9 – Gearsquad, Nova, Eclipse, The Rubber Bands, CyberForce and Shattersquad – and four VRC teams from Years 10 & 12 – HYBRID, Vortex Invicta, Hex-Green and Hyperion.

In addition to its main current competitions (Pitching In for IQ teams and Tipping Point for VRC), VEX also organises a series of subsidiary challenges and competitive online events.

Among all recent VIQC highlights are:

  • Five QE teams holding a top-20 place in national skills rankings. Five were also finalists in the World Online challenge (the School’s previous best was one), gaining them automatic entry to the World Championships;
  • Gearsquad’s gaining of Excellence and Skills awards at the QE-hosted event, which secured them early qualification for the ‘Worlds’. At this point, Gearsquad also boasted the highest skills score in the UK;
  • Nova’s victory in the QE-hosted tournament. Nova were also finalists in the Career Readiness Online challenge, finalists in the Poster Design online challenge and among the winners in the VIQC STEM Research Project competition with their entry, Camelid Antibodies.
  • Eclipse taking first prize in the Theme it up online challenge, which involved creating and presenting a theme that ties the current IQ game’s objects, scoring, and rules into an engaging and creative story. Eclipse also won the double Teamwork Champion & Design awards at the Essex regional event;
  • The Rubber Bands gaining a ‘triple’ – the Excellence, Teamwork Champion and Skills Champion awards at the Essex event – as well as being among the winners in the STEM Research Project with their entry, The Foginator, and a runner-up in the Career Readiness online challenge.
  • Cyberforce’s winning of the Poster Design Online challenge.

Head of Technology Michael Noonan also paid tribute “Shattersquad for their sheer determination in increasing their skills score at the Worlds Qualifier event, securing one of the last seats on the plane to Texas”.

Among Spring Term VRC successes are:

  • HYBRID winning the Innovate award at the World Championship qualifier event in early March, and placing second in Skills at the Essex VRC regional event;
  • Year 10’s Panth Patel and Tharsan Nimalan on being selected as the newest members of their respective teams through their online challenge efforts; Panth joined team Vortex Invicta; Tharsan the experienced Hex-Green;
  • Hex-Green’s number 1 ranking in the UK for Skills, with a combined score for driver and programming skills of 430 ahead by a distance of the second-top team, on 386;
  • Hex-Green’s multiple competition successes: Excellence Award winner and overall runners-up at the Stowe Regional; Tournament Champion and Skills Champion at the QE-hosted North London Regional; Excellence Award and Skills Champion at the GCA Regional;
  • Hyperion’s securing the Excellence Award at the QE North London Regional and winning the Tournament Champions and Design awards at the Stowe VRC Regional.

While examination commitments prevent Year 12 from travelling, IQ teams from Years 8 and 9 VRC competitors from Year 10 will all be heading for the States.

Mr Noonan looked back on an unprecedently successful term for QE robotics: “The excitement levels were incredible in advance of the day in February day when the online challenge winners were released. We knew this could pave the way for our highest-ever number of teams qualifying for the World Championships, and so it proved!

“I commend all of our teams for their valiant efforts to date, and remind them that our biggest and most exciting challenge lies in wait. Over a two-week period in late April and early May, these teams will travel to Telford and Texas in search of glory!”



So you want to be an entrepreneur…

Thirty Year 10 pupils learned about both the highs and the lows of entrepreneurship in a “phenomenal” interactive workshop.

Their challenge was ostensibly to beat their classmates by building the tallest free-standing tower out of marshmallows and spaghetti – but the whole exercise was really a simulation for running a start-up company.

The boys had to negotiate ever-changing rules and regulations, cope with financial ups and downs, and even overcome natural disasters, all of which gave them valuable insights into what entrepreneurship actually involves.

Assistant Head (Pupil Involvement) Crispin Bonham-Carter said: “It was a fun simulation which the boys found tremendously enjoyable, but the overarching purpose was serious indeed: we wanted to get them thinking about all the different aspects of managing a business and to give them the chance to explore and practise skills of entrepreneurship.

“The world of work continues to evolve, such that start-ups and project work abound. Promoting the competencies needed to thrive in such a context, including effective planning, teamwork and communication, is an important element of our programmes supporting careers education and employability skills.”

The workshop was led by Makyth Ventures, an entrepreneurship hub established by Winchester College. Among those involved is the new Bursar at Winchester, Paresh Thakrar, who is an Old Elizabethan – he left QE in 1993 – and has established a connection with Mr Bonham-Carter.

During the morning, while they constructed their towers, the boys worked in teams to buy in not only raw materials, but also expertise. Through the session, things changed rapidly, with opportunities arising to pitch for investment (thus providing more money with which to purchase materials), pay for consultancy, purchase insurance and to forge joint ventures with other teams.

Challenges included storm damage – forcing participants to understand the extent to which their insurance covered their business – changes in building regulations and specifications, and the vicissitudes of the wider economic situation.

The afternoon session was an extended debrief, in which the various issues and strategies were discussed to draw out lessons that could be applied in real-world situations.

One of the boys involved, Pavan Kovuri, said he had expected only a “mundane PowerPoint slideshow” but had been pleasantly surprised: “I personally thought the workshop was phenomenal and an extremely enjoyable, practical, hands-on experience.

“The main tasks were making sure we had a stable building and had a sufficient amount of money left over. We had to choose carefully where to invest and especially had to focus on the decisions we made.”

Pavan said his main ‘takeaways’ from the workshop were:

  • Ask questions. No matter how stupid they might seem, ask them. It’s better to ask it now and maybe even be ridiculed; if you don’t, you will regret it later, and at that point, it might even be too late.
  • Some people will aim to bring you down. There are going to be obstacles in your way. There’s always going to be something, but it’s the way you react to it and how you deal with it that decides if you’re going to make it.
  • Finally, just think outside the box, be patient, wait, stay organised, and coordinate. Being an entrepreneur is hard, but if you push through and work as a team without belittling others as you seek ‘to pick up the pennies’, you will succeed.

The workshop facilitators from Makyth Ventures pronounced themselves highly impressed at the approach of the boys and their effectiveness in the simulation.

The beginning of their grand stories? Senior Awards guest speaker urges prize-winners to be “micro-ambitious”, expect the unexpected and take some risks

The President and Principal of King’s College London had some inspiring and very ‘relatable’ advice for the prize-winners at Senior Awards – one of the highlights of the Queen Elizabeth’s School calendar.

The formal ceremony in the Main School Hall was this year held in its full format, following the pandemic-restricted event of 2021, with Professor Shitij Kapur the Guest of Honour.

Pupils from Years 10-12 were awarded a total of around 80 prizes covering all the academic subjects, as well as a range of other areas, including academic excellence, debating & public speaking, contribution & responsibility and chess. In addition to a number of speeches and the prizegiving, the evening was punctuated by a series of musical interludes performed by the boys.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “It was very good to be able to invite everyone to Senior Awards this year – and what a return to form! Professor Kapur was a wonderful guest speaker, and I was so pleased that parents, governors and other friends of the School were all able to join us to see some of our brightest and best receive their awards.”

Professor Kapur, who was accompanied by his wife Sharmistha, spoke about his career path, which has seen him work in academic environments in five countries across four different continents.

Interlacing the account with words particularly relevant for the boys, he urged them to be brave, ready to take risks and prepared for sudden changes of direction. He recounted being invited by King’s College London to join them for the first time when he was living in America. His wife’s response was “Well, why not?” – and that, he said, is the attitude we need if we are to embrace new opportunities.

He urged the reading of books, rather than blog posts or articles, and also spoke about how we make decisions in context, pointing out that unpredictable events and developments often govern that context.

“Show a passionate dedication to the pursuit of short-term goals,” he said, an attitude he characterised as being “micro-ambitious”.

Alluding to the famous maxim of Apple’s Steve Jobs – “you cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward” – Professor Kapur concluded: “Start plotting the dots, and your life will be a grand story that will only make sense in hindsight.”

The idea is that you’ve got to be able to accept that and roll with it, being ambitious in terms of shorter-term goals and doing whatever you are doing now with pride, he explained.

In his speech, the Headmaster highlighted a number of qualities of effective leadership, including bravery, hard work, high standards, low tolerance of bad behaviour, and kindness.

Examples of poor leadership are legion, Mr Enright said. “This is why images of President Zelensky on the streets of Kyiv, or Her Majesty The Queen sat alone, socially distanced, at her husband’s funeral, have resonated, moved and inspired so strongly.”

Turning to the prize-winners, he added: “Boys, you’ve set your own high standards, so endeavour to stick to them or raise them still further.

“Your awards recognise past performance, so try to earn them again each day. Ensure that you remain worthy role models and leaders for your peers.”

Guests included the Deputy Mayor of the London Borough of Barnet, Councillor Saira Don, who also spoke during the ceremony.

The current School Captain, Theo Mama-Kahn, gave the vote of thanks.

Music performed by the School’s senior musicians included works by Handel and the Renaissance Italian composer, Gastoldi.

Story of a genius: award-winning biographer tells sixth-formers about one of the world’s greatest minds

Author, scientist and QE parent Dr Ananyo Bhattacharya gave a talk to senior pupils on his book about John von Neumann, the brilliant Hungarian-American polymath who made breakthroughs in fields ranging from nuclear energy to economics.

Dr Bhattacharya’s book, entitled The Man from the Future: The Visionary Life of John von Neumann, was named a Financial Times and Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year in 2021.

His lunchtime talk to A-level Mathematics, Physics and Economics students explored how von Neumann’s advances in mathematics 70–80 years ago continue to inform the science of today.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “We are grateful to Dr Bhattacharya, as a QE parent, for coming in to School to share his expertise and to inspire our senior boys. It is great that we can draw upon different constituencies within the Elizabethan community, including parents and alumni, to enhance the educational experience offered here.”

Dr Bhattacharya, whose son, Callistus, is in Year 7, is a science writer who has worked for The Economist and Nature, the weekly multi-disciplinary scientific journal. Prior to that, he worked as a medical researcher at the Burnham Institute in San Diego. He has a degree in Physics from Oxford and a PhD, also in Physics, from Imperial College London.

The subject of his book, von Neumann, was born in 1903 to a wealthy Jewish family in Budapest. A child prodigy, he had published two major mathematical papers by the age of 19.

After an early career in German academia during the late 1920s, he took up an invitation to Princeton University in October 1929, becoming a naturalised citizen of the USA in 1937.

In a life of only 53 years – he died of cancer in February 1957 – he made major contributions in subjects including mathematics, physics, economics, computing and statistics.

During World War II, he worked on the Manhattan Project – the research and development that produced the first nuclear weapons – and after the war, he served on the General Advisory Committee of the United States Atomic Energy Commission.

In his talk, Dr Bhattacharya mentioned the Manhattan Project as well as, inter alia, von Neumann’s contributions to set theory, game theory and the development of the first programmable digital computer.

Head of Library Services Jenni Blackford said: “Dr Bhattacharya delivered a friendly, accessible and vastly informative talk about the life and accomplishments of von Neumann.”



A first for QE? Sixth-formers delve deep into the School’s history through new Palaeography Society

A new School society – believed to be the first of its kind in the country – is working hard to decipher QE’s earliest written records.

English teacher Kanak Shah has brought together a group of dedicated Year 12 boys and trained them in palaeography – the study of ancient and pre-modern manuscripts.

Now they have started transcribing QE Governors’ meeting minutes, starting with Volume I, which begins in 1587, and also researching the School Charter, which dates back to the School’s founding year, 1573.

Ms Shah, who has an MPhil degree in Renaissance Literature from Cambridge, said: “Due to its complexity, palaeography is usually only studied at Master’s level. But since I myself have a keen interest in palaeography, manuscripts and the early modern period, and since QE boasts one of the most robust school archive collections in the UK, I was eager for the students to be involved in preserving and curating their own School’s history.”

Working together with Ms Shah and Jenni Blackford, Curator of QE Collections and Head of Library Services, are the following Year 12 A-level History students: Gabriel Gulliford, Ishaan Mehta, Muhammad Nayel Huda, Kai Mukherjee, Danny Adey, Conall Walker and Jeeve Singh. All are currently studying the early modern period and are considering pursuing courses in subjects such as History, Palaeography or Archaeology at university.

“We started by following Cambridge University’s English Handwriting 1500-1700 online course to develop the students’ transcription skills. We then began to transcribe the digitised manuscripts on QE Collections [the School’s publicly available digital archive, launched last year].

“The earliest documents present an interesting challenge as they were written before the standardisation of handwriting, and so require careful decoding,” said Ms Shah.

Having initially familiarised themselves with the subject matter digitally, the group are now working with the original archive materials, guided by Mrs Blackford.

They plan to publish the transcripts on QE Collections in the Summer Term, while they will contribute their research to an exhibition of archival material planned for the School’s 450th anniversary next year.

“Looking forward to the future, we would be keen to establish a working relationship with Barnet Museum, who possess a complete transcription of these Governor’s minutes that was done many years ago,” said Ms Shah.

It is not clear who made the the Barnet Museum transcription, which was completed  some time prior to 1931. The preface to the museum’s collection of QE translations and transcriptions was written in May 1931 by Cecil L Tripp, author of A History of Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, published 1935.

“Transcriptions are often erroneous and subjective, so it is very interesting for the boys to compare their own work with the museum’s transcription, and to contribute to Barnet’s history in such an active way.”

Once the pupils’ transcription has been completed and it and the Barnet Museum transcription have been digitised, they will both be published on QE Collections.

Allez les bleus! QE teams impress in German and French debating competitions

Four Year 12 linguists have reached the next stage of a prestigious German debating competition after enjoying success in two early rounds.

Two of the four also appeared in a French competition, where the QE contingent won multiple debates against fierce opposition from sixth-formers from other schools, many of whom were older.

The next stage of the German competition – organised by the Goethe Institut, the Federal Republic of Germany’s highly respected cultural organisation – will be hosted by QE early next month, with the finals taking place at the Institut’s London headquarters at the end of March.

Head of Languages Nora Schlatte said: “I pay tribute to these dedicated and talented debating teams. I especially congratulate our German students: their progress in the Goethe Institut competition is a well-deserved result of the hard work, commitment and sheer linguistic ability they brought to two very different online debates.”

Towards the end of the Autumn Term, A-level German students Theo Mama-Kahn, Olly Salter, Ansh Jassra and Jai Patel beat Croydon’s Coloma Convent Girls’ School on the motion, School canteens should offer vegan and vegetarian food.

In the recent second round, the QE boys faced the Royal Grammar School Guildford. They were debating the motion The use of social media is harmful to the health of young people.

These first two rounds took place online, but QE has been asked to host the third round in person. Competitors will gather at the School on 3rd and 4th March.

Wishing the four boys well for the future rounds, Languages teacher Helen Shephard added: “Their spoken German is outstanding and their debating skills are second to none.”

Still basking in their success, current School Captain Theo and classmate Olly were then joined by fellow Year 12 pupils Alan Yee Kin Kan and Antony Yassa for the French debating competition, which was held at St Paul’s Girls’ School.

They found themselves competing against 24 other schools, mainly from the private sector, who fielded more than 30 teams.

The QE four were split into two teams, with each debating three motions. These covered very diverse topics: Korean pop music, the environment and politics. Both QE pairs won two of their three debates, often facing opponents who were already in Year 13.

“It takes a lot of confidence, preparation and an excellent standard of French to be able to participate so successfully in such an event, and we are very proud of these students!” added Ms Schlatte, who served as a judge at the competition, together with QE Languages Assistant Joelle Simpson.