Viewing archives for Academic enrichment

Sixth-former’s video wins runner-up prize in national Economics competition

Year 12’s Karanvir Singh Kumar has been named as one of three runners-up in a national schools competition run by economists seeking to challenge conventional thinking in the discipline.

His three-minute film won plaudits from judges for its ideas, its coherence and its clarity.

QE’s Head of Economics Shamendra Uduwawala said: “My congratulations go to Karanvir for his achievement. He formulated an effective argument and then delivered it to camera with considerable aplomb.”

The competition was entitled What’s the 8th Way to Think Like a 21st Century Economist? and was run jointly by Doughnut Economics and Rethinking Economics.

Doughnut Economics is the organisation and website run by Kate Raworth, of Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, whose 2017 book, Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist has been translated into 15 languages. She has presented her ideas to the UN General Assembly and has been described by environmental activist and Guardian columnist George Monbiot as “the John Maynard Keynes of the 21st century”.

Rethinking Economics is an international network of students, academics and professionals working towards “building a better economics in society and the classroom”.

In his video, Karanvir began by arguing that the very etymology of the word ‘Economics’ – it derives from the Greek word ‘οἰκονόμος’, meaning ‘household management’ – provides a good starting point for addressing the topic. “The way consumers manage their households is the main influence over what is demanded from the economy and what they consume,” he said.

“Traditionally it’s argued that ‘change demands, and supply will follow’.” But, said Karanvir: “I believe both aspects need to change in tandem to achieve any equilibrium goal. I believe that in  the 21st century we should finally re-centre Economics around the household, and not just by analysing consumer habits, but by aiming to change the deep, underlying human needs behind those habits to more sustainable ones.

“Valuing sustainability in supply, mindfulness in demand, and changing market incentives to reflect sustainability in change is the ‘eighth way to think like a 21st century economist’,” he concluded.

One of the judges, Naila Kabeer, Professor of Gender & Development at London School of Economics, praised his entry: “The different parts of the argument fitted together well. I liked: the focus on the household as a way of thinking about consumers; the need for innovation to make sustainable living easy; and ‘mindfulness in demand and sustainability in supply’. Congratulations!”

Fellow judge Nancy Folbre, Professor Emerita of Economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst added: “Good substance with a clear presentation!”

Poster on the pros and cons of plastics takes top prize in Chemistry competition

Year 8 pupil Maxwell Johnson’s colourful and carefully researched poster about plastics won first prize in a Royal Society of Chemistry regional competition.

Entrants in the under-13 competition run by the RSC’s Chilterns and Middlesex Division were challenged to prepare a poster under the heading of The Chemistry Around Us.

Maxwell’s multi-coloured entry spelled out his title using letters from the Periodic Table and then set out the advantages of plastics – a ‘wonder substance’ – while contrasting these with the problems this ‘material mess’ causes.

He received a certificate signed by RSC divisional committee member Vanessa Nottage, together with £25-worth of Amazon vouchers.

QE Chemistry teacher and Extra-curricular Enrichment Tutor Keith Bugler said: “Many congratulations to Maxwell on the research and care he put into his entry: I thought his poster was awesome!”

Among the positive attributes of plastics that Maxwell listed were its light weight, durability and versatility, Dr Bugler said. However, Maxwell pointed out the problems caused in the oceans when UV rays make plastics crumble into microplastics less than 5mm long. These endanger many sea animals, including birds and whales, and also enter the human food chain, causing health problems such as hormonal dysfunction and cancers.

“The best day of my life”: QE at the VEX Robotics national and world finals – full report

Having swept all before them at the UK national VEX Robotics finals, a record four junior teams set off for the world championships in Kentucky, together with a newly formed senior team.

And great as their achievement was in qualifying for the world championships, there were still greater triumphs to come, as the junior (IQ) teams picked up a string of awards, with one of them – Technogear – becoming the first-ever UK team to reach the Teamwork Challenge finals, held in the 20,000-seater Freedom Hall.

This year’s competitors were building on the success of 2018, when the awards won in Kentucky by QE included the first-ever world title – the Excellence Award – to be won by a UK school.

QE’s Head of Technology Michael Noonan, who accompanied the boys to the US this year, said afterwards: “Although Technogear narrowly missed out on an overall podium finish, this couldn’t detract from their high spirits, nor from the immense pride felt by mentors, VEX UK staff and members of other UK teams in their incredible achievement in winning their division and reaching the Teamwork Challenge finals.

“All the QE students felt that their experiences in Louisville, the Kentucky Exposition Center and the Freedom hall were once-in-a-lifetime,” added Mr Noonan, who had himself earlier been crowned Teacher of the Year at the VEX Robotics UK national finals in Telford. “Having paused to enjoy the rollercoasters and fun of the Kentucky Kingdom amusement park, they have already started planning for next year!”

Mr Noonan also asked Technogear drivers Yash Shah and Anubhav Rathore how they felt while they were waiting for the final results to come in. “This is the best day of my life. I don’t care if we win or not; this experience alone has been incredible, and incredibly beats that of winning the Excellence Award last year!” said Yash, while Anubhav expressed similar sentiments: “It doesn’t really matter if we win or not. Just getting here, to meet all of these people from around the world and share our experiences and make new friendships, is reward enough.”

The QE teams’ path to Kentucky was confirmed after their barnstorming performances at the national finals in Telford in March. Eight teams (three from the senior EDR competition, for pupils in Years 10–13 and five IQ teams, for Years 5-9) competed: the EDR teams were APEX, Cobra and HYBRID; the IQ teams were Gearsquad, Hyperdrive, ECHO, Technogear and Supercharge.

“After a tough first day, all three EDR teams were excellently placed for qualification, with HYBRID and APEX in particular in commanding positions,” said Mr Noonan. In the later stages, however, the EDR teams found the competition tough. Nevertheless, Team Cobra won the Innovate Award, when “their unusual ‘side-shooting’ design caught the judges’ eye”. It was HYBRID, however, who came away with the top prize – the overall Excellence Award. This, Mr Noonan said, was “for a terrific performance in all aspects of the competition, ranging from judging interviews and coding an efficient autonomous routine to overall performance in the teamwork championship”. This award sealed the team’s entry to the world championships for the second year running.

Starting a day later, the IQ competitors were spurred on by the success of their older Elizabethan counterparts. “There was an air of trepidation amongst the Queen Elizabeth’s IQ teams when they arrived at Telford, as the British season leading up to these finals had been highly competitive, and the teams had never found it as difficult to accrue regional awards. However, it was clear from the outset that the teams from Barnet were intent on changing that fact, with some of the highest scores of the day set right from the outset by Gearsquad (30, 28) and Supercharge (27).”

In the final rounds at Telford, “the greatest shock of the entire competition” occurred, when a pairing of QE’s ECHO with a team from Highgate School scored 38 points, thus setting a new UK record and equalling the current world record.

The last day ended in triumph for QE, with IQ teams from the School taking first, second and third places in the Teamwork competition and also winning the Skills championship. In addition: ECHO and Supercharge both won an Amaze Award; Gearsquad won the Build Award; Hyperdrive won the Judges Award, and Technogear took both the Sportsmanship and Design awards. Four IQ teams qualified for the world finals in Louisville – ECHO, Gearsquad, Supercharge and Technogear.

At EDR level, examination commitments meant that some of the HYBRID team were unable to make the trip to Kentucky, so boys from the APEX team were drafted in as replacements. “As if competing against 600 of the world’s finest teams (the equivalent of the top 1%) was not enough of a challenge, the prospect of forming a new team with just one month to go added to the overall difficulty,” said Mr Noonan.

On arrival in Louisville, after enjoying the ceremonial Parade of Nations, the new team threw themselves enthusiastically into the inter-team co-operation that is an important facet of VEX Robotics. “The students made their way to competition on the first day and began to strategise (sometimes in Mandarin and Spanish) with other teams from around the globe.”

After a successful first day of practice, day two brought mixed fortunes – won 2, lost 2 – and day three brought a three-game losing streak after an initial victory. “To their immense credit, they rallied and recorded two excellent wins in their final two games, finishing with a 5-6 win:loss ratio. “The students were not despondent but proud of their efforts, especially when the judges bestowed the Service Award on the team, recognising their efforts both in mentoring younger teams in school and in the technology ‘Showcase.’ This represents the first award won by this school at EDR level in the World Championships.”

With its record contingent at IQ level, QE contributed to the general excitement felt among the UK teams. “Having attended the World Championships last year, Technogear were well placed to pass on their experience of the event to their less-experienced school mates, and an overall great air of co-operation was evident amongst the QE teams,” said Mr Noonan.

Initial results were patchy, with ECHO’s 30 points the highlight. On the second day, Gearsquad battled through some tough fixtures before combining with girls from The Henrietta Barnett School to finish the day with “a fantastic 38”. Mr Noonan said: “As day two closed, the QE teams were ranked in or around the top 20, with the exception of Technogear, who were temporarily languishing at 59th.”

Day three saw Technogear bounce back in style: “Paired with Dragon Tech. from California (an early favourite for world glory), they equalled the world record with a seismic 41 points!” – a performance that led to their ranking instantly soaring to 15th. “No doubt inspired by their actions, all the other QE teams opened in similarly strong fashion.”

From that position, all the QE teams could theoretically have gone on to qualify for the final stages, but for ECHO, Gearsquad and Supercharge, it was not to be, although ECHO were able to take solace in an extremely strong season which left them ranked as the world’s 19th highest team for skills.

Paired once again with Dragon Tech., Technogear continued to score highly. In the middle match of the divisional final, their 40-point tally proved decisive. “The nervous wait watching the remaining final games of the division proved difficult for Technogear and the Queen Elizabeth’s teams, but ultimately their score stood, and they were crowned champions of the Arts Division: they were heading to the World Teamwork Finals in the 20,000 seater-Freedom Hall and a worldwide audience of many thousands on the livestream!”

Once in this daunting arena, where the huge audience included the other QE teams and staff, “the cool and collected demeanour” of both Technogear and their Californian allies was impressive, Mr Noonan reported. They were, he said, perhaps unfortunate to score only 33 after a valiant battle on the competition floor. “This left QE in 3rd place, and with a chance of the podium, but ultimately the final two would outscore them, leaving Technogear in fifth place.”

Technogear not only won a Champions Trophy for winning their division, but also took an Innovate Award. Supercharge picked up the Build Award for their division, while Gearsquad picked up the Sportsmanship Award. This was just reward for Gearsquad’s “fantastic attitude”, Mr Noonan reported – an attitude reflected in the comments of Gearsquad team member Darren Lee: “We said that we’d congratulate our drivers and our partners’ drivers after every game, regardless of whether we set a world record or had a tough score to take, and that proved to be the best part of the experience.”

During the trip, the QE boys took the opportunity to see attractions including the picturesque Waterfront Park, the Muhammad Ali Museum and the Louisville Slugger baseball bat factory, while also enjoying the spectacle of a baseball game between the local Louisville Bats and the Durham Bulls.

  • The EDR teams at the national finals were:
    • APEX – Nirmay Jadhav, Swattik Das, Ansh Jaiswal, Siddh Patel, George Sewell and Lucas Lu, all from Year 10
    • Cobra – Jimmy Ou, Leo Yang, Akram Ahmad and Mahdi Dhirani, all from Year 12
    • HYBRID – Dillan Shah, of Year 10; Alex Woodcock, of Year 10; Kayan Intwala, of Year 10; Deshraam Ganeshamoorthy, of Year 11; James Tan, of Year 11; Daniel Radzik-Rahman, of Year 11, and Devin Karia, of Year 11.
  • The IQ teams were:
    • Gearsquad – Niyam Shah, Jai Akilesh Kaza Venkata, Darren Lee, Nathan Woodcock and Dipesh Dhavala, all from Year 8
    • Hyperdrive – Shivam Singh, Aadarsh Aggarwal, Ashish Yeruva, Aarush Verma, Vedant Shah, Maxwell Johnson and Varun Srirambhatla, all from Year 8
    • ECHO – Heemy Kalam, Bhunit Santhiramouselan, Indy Potluri, Akhil Walia and Abhiraj Singh, all from Year 9
    • Technogear – Dylan Domb, Yash Shah, Anubhav Rathore, Ashwin Sridhar and Anish Rana, all from Year 9
    • Supercharge – Arya Bhatt, Pranav Chawla, Raghav Rajaganesh, Chakshu Chopra, Frank Zhang, all from Year 9.
QE’s top chemists strike gold and silver in Olympiad

A dozen final-year QE boys won medals in the 51st Chemistry Olympiad, with one, Kiran Aberdeen, selected to go through to the élite competition’s second round, hosted by Cambridge University.

In the first round of the Royal Society of Chemistry competition, five QE pupils were awarded gold medals, which went to just 8% of the 7,036 entrants nationwide. A further seven took silver, which went to 25% of participants across the country.

Chemistry teacher Elizabeth Kuo said: “The Olympiad is the UK’s leading secondary school-age competition in our subject and is designed to stretch even the brightest, so all our medal-winners did very well.

“To reach round 2, as Kiran did, represents an exceptional performance, because only the top 30 highest-scoring students nationally are invited to take part. So, although in the end he missed out on selection for the final four representing the UK at the International Chemistry Olympiad, he nevertheless deserves to be heartily congratulated on his achievement.” Kiran is pictured in the front row, centre.

Run annually, the Olympiad aims to develop creative thinking, and help pupils apply their existing knowledge in new and interesting contexts.

Round 1 involves a written test of chemical knowledge, based on real-world chemistry problems, and is sat in school.

The second round at Cambridge is held over a long weekend and features lessons and demonstrations on new topics from respected academics, teachers and technicians, followed by theoretical and practical tests.

  • The gold medal-winners were: Kiran Aberdeen; Kishan Patel; Binu Perera; Essam Rama, and Tharunkumar Muthu Gurunath. Silver medals went to: Bashmy Basheer; Aashish Khimasia; Shiva Pingle; Varun Wignarajah; Tharshan Sriskantha; Rawan Ebrahim, and Mukund Murali. All medal-winners were from Year 13.
Top physicists honoured at national prize-giving

Two senior pupils were invited to attend a special awards ceremony after their impressive performances in the élite British Physics Olympiad competitions.

Year 11’s Tanishq Mehta was a gold award-winner in this year’s British Physics Olympiad GCSE Physics Challenge, in which his performance placed him within the top five of some 6,000 competition entrants nationwide.

And Niam Vaishnav, of Year 13, is celebrating another exceptional showing in the British Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad (BAAO) this year, having last year been chosen to represent the UK and then winning one of only two silver medals given to the national team at the International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics in Beijing.

The pair were presented with certificates at the prize-giving at the Royal Institution in central London. QE Physics teacher Gillian Deakin said: “The honour given to these two young physicists at such a prestigious venue was a fitting recognition of their talent and dedication to the subject.

“They enjoyed the opportunity to meet fellow high-achievers from schools across the country and the British Physics Olympiad organisers.”

Tanishq Mehta spent several months preparing for the challenge – one of a number of competitions run by the British Physics Olympiad organisation – by practising past papers.

He recently sat the challenge’s one-hour paper, which featured both multiple-choice and short-answer sections. Teachers initially marked the papers and then sent high-scoring scripts through to the Olympiad office at Oxford. Only the top five were invited to the prize-giving.

With regard to Niam, even to have taken part in the BAAO in two consecutive years is a considerable achievement – entry is generally by invitation only.

He once again excelled in the competition: his score was among the highest in the country, which secured him an invitation to attend a training camp at Oxford University to compete for selection to the UK team.

He only narrowly missed out on that selection.

Trio’s terrific performance puts them among the mathematical élite – while one boy achieves perfection

This year’s leading national Mathematics competition for Years 9–11 features a QE boy in each 50-strong group of the top prize-winners.

Across the whole country, only 50 young mathematicians from each of the three year groups competing in the 2019 Intermediate Olympiad won the top prizes.

Even to reach the Olympiad is a significant achievement – it is open only to the top 500 performers in each year group in the UK Mathematics Trust’s Intermediate Challenge – so it took very strong performances by Shankar Vallinayagam, of Year 9, Dan Suciu, of Year 10, and James Tan, of Year 11, to win a place among the country’s very best.

In fact, James’ score of 53 out of 60 smashed through the threshold for winning one of the sought-after book prizes by a full ten points. He said later that he had found the geometry question particularly interesting, while Shankar added: “I like abstract Maths and that’s what the Olympiad is.”

And in a related Mathematics competition, the European Kangaroo, Jude Hill, of Year 9, achieved a perfect score of 135 out of 135. This is a rare feat, achieved in previous years by only two or three internationally. (The total number of perfect scores this year has yet to be confirmed).

Assistant Head of Mathematics Wendy Fung said: “My congratulations go to these four talented young mathematicians on performing so well under pressure.”

In total, 30 QE boys took part in the Olympiad – an increase on last year’s figure of 27 – and almost all of them won book prizes, medals, distinction certificates or merit certificates. Year 9’s Aran Ismail, Ansh Jassra, Arnie Sahi and Mukund Soni were medal-winners. Abhinav Santhiramohan, of Year 10, was awarded a distinction certificate. And 20 boys won merit certificates.

A further 139 QE boys from Years 9-11 took part in the Intermediate Challenge’s other follow-on round, the European Kangaroo, with 47 of them awarded merit certificates. (This competition is organised by Kangourou sans Frontières, an independent association that was inspired by the Australian Mathematics Trust, hence the name.)

In addition to Jude’s perfect score, the top scorers in the other year groups were Year 11 pupil Rakul Maheswaran, with 112 points, together with Amudhu Anandarajah and Alexandre Lee, of Year 10, who both scored 106. Jude said afterwards that he enjoyed the opportunity the Kangaroo offered to “apply your knowledge in new contexts”.

Here is one of the ‘easier’ questions from this year’s Year 9 Intermediate Olympiad papers. The triangle ABC is isosceles with AB = BC. The point D is a point on BC, between B and C, so that AC = AD = BD. What is the size of angle ABC? (Scroll down for answer).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answer: the angle ABC is 36 degrees.

Top three finish for QE in prestigious national Chemistry competition

Having swept other schools aside to win the regional round of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Top of the Bench competition, QE went on to take third place at the national final.

The team of four were competing against 32 other finalists – mostly from across the UK, but with some teams even travelling from schools in Belgium – at the event held at the University of Birmingham.

Chemistry teacher Charani Dharmawardhane said: “I was extremely proud of the boys, and it was great to see their talents being recognised.”

QE has a strong record in Top of the Bench at both regional and national level. This year’s team, comprising Year 9’s Amogh Bhartia, Bikiran Behera, of Year 10, Hari Gajendran, of Year 11, and Heemy Kalam, of Year 9, led throughout the Chilterns and Middlesex regional heat at St Benedict’s School in Ealing in the autumn to claim their place in the national final.

At Birmingham, they faced a two-stage challenge in the competition, which assesses competitors’ knowledge, teamwork, and competency when faced with unknown situations. This year’s event theme was Materials.

After a welcome from Dr Mark Read from Birmingham University and Steve Nelmes from the Royal Society of Chemistry, the competitors first had to sit individual tests designed to assess their knowledge of Chemistry in areas well beyond what they would normally learn in the classroom.

Then they faced a practical challenge – an experiment based on biodegradable plastics, particularly those derived from polylactic acid (PLA).

Following the experiment, the boys attended an interactive lecture from Connor Stubbs, a Birmingham University expert on plastics and the environment, and had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with issues surrounding the use of plastics.

Commenting afterwards, Hari said: “I really enjoyed the day and the chance to explore Chemistry outside of the classroom.”

Rising legal stars soar in competition’s national final

QE pupils stormed through the early stages of the Bar Mock Trial National Final and drew praise from real-life judges and barristers for their performances.

The team reached the competition’s national final after winning their regional round. The event was held this year in the Court of Session – Scotland’s supreme civil court – in Edinburgh’s historic Old Town.

Jack Robertson, QE’s Head of Philosophy, Religion and Society, said: “The students were outstanding on the day and can be very proud of their efforts across the year. A number of judges and observing legal professionals commented on how the group’s conduct was exemplary, and that our barristers’ advocacy skills were on a par with qualified members of the bar.” Mr Robertson accompanied the team, together with Chemistry teacher Charani Dharmawardhane.

The competition, which is for 15-18 year-olds, involves competitors taking on a number of roles to simulate a real court case, including not only those of barristers, but also of witnesses, clerks, ushers and jury members. Twenty-four schools from across the UK took part in the national final.

In the first of their three rounds, the QE defence team delivered an “outstanding performance”, Mr Robertson said, winning the heat by several points. Year 12 pupil Oscar Smith’s highly rated closing speech gave him the top score of any participant in that particular trial.

QE also won their second heat, with Rivu Chowdhury, of Year 12, conducting an “incisive cross examination” of the prosecution witnesses.

In their third round, QE lost by a single point. Nevertheless, one observing legal expert applauded the skill which QE barristers Hector Cooper (Year 12) and Yuvan Vasanthakumaran (Year 11) demonstrated in their advocacy.

The QE witnesses on the day were:

  • Dharrshan Viramuthu (Year 11), who gave a “very convincing performance as a computer hacker”, Mr Robertson said
  • Leo Kucera (Year 12) as an acid attack victim with severe burning to his left arm
  • Tobi Durojaiye (Year 12), who “locked horns with the eventual winner of the Best Barrister prize in a very engaging and heated back-and-forth” according to Mr Robertson. Tobi said afterwards that the day was “a great experience and opportunity for those interested in becoming a barrister or eventually a judge”
  • Jonathan Perry (Year 12), who played a timid student accused of carrying out the acid attack.

“There were also highly professional performances from Rukshaan Selvendira, of Year 11, as the macer [an official who keeps order in a Scottish court] and Karan Patel as court clerk. Jurors Denis O’Sullivan (Year 12), Euijin Lee (Year 11), Amaan Khan (Year 11), Saifullah Shah (Year 12) and Shakshum Bhagat (Year 12) performed their duties well and were a credit to the team,” Mr Robertson added.

The trials were judged by well-known real-life judges, including Lord Leveson, currently the President of the Queen’s Bench Division and Head of Criminal Justice, who is best known for chairing a public inquiry into the culture and practices of the British press.

“Many of the barristers and judges present mentioned to Miss Dharmawardhane and me that they fully expect to see some of the boys being called to the bar one day in the future,” Mr Robertson said.

The boys took advantage of an opportunity to visit Edinburgh Castle and to walk along the Royal Mile to see statues of the philosopher David Hume and political economist Adam Smith, and buildings such as St Giles’ Cathedral, where they are pictured above.

Juror Saifullah said: “Edinburgh was a lovely city, the courthouse a stunning example of architecture, and the chance to interact and converse with students from as far afield as Glasgow and Belfast was a genuine pleasure. A remarkable experience overall.”

Winning the vote? Deft debating shakes faith of some in democracy

Sixth-formers took on Old Elizabethan opposition to debate one of the biggest questions of our era – whether there is a future for democracy.

More than 170 guests, including Old Elizabethans, Year 12 pupils and staff, attended the 54th Elizabethan Union Annual Dinner Debate. The debate is a formal event which helps sixth-formers prepare for similar occasions at university and, later, in their professional lives.

At the start of the evening, an indicative vote on the motion, This House believes democracy has had its day, revealed that a large majority – around an 80:20 split – opposed it. However, the School team successfully shook the faith in democracy of some 15-20 people, who had swung to their side of the argument by the final vote, thus technically giving the School victory in the debate. Nevertheless, a majority – albeit now reduced to 70:30 – remained opposed to the motion.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “This was an enjoyable occasion, with some adroitly made arguments on both sides and contributions in the floor debate that were both enthusiastic and well-considered. I am grateful to the visiting alumni, including our guest speaker, Nikhil Patel.”

The School team of Chris Hall and Aryan Jain explained that democracy was failing to solve the big questions and, furthermore, was wrongly identifying what those big questions were. They gave as examples the fact that large amounts of effort were being spent in the UK on Europe and Brexit, but correspondingly less on issues such as climate change, education and welfare. The pair argued that the electorate’s greatest concerns were not always based upon real evidence – a problem they blamed on media distortion.

Instead they put forward a form of technocratic government under which the experts could get on with running the country and implementing the right policies, noting that we already entrust large and important sections of government, such as the legal system, to independent non-elected institutions – in this case, the judiciary.

“It was perhaps an idealised vision of how such a government might operate, but Chris Hall grounded it all strongly in logic,” said the Headmaster.

The motion was opposed by Ashwin Sharma (OE 2008–2015) and by Year 12 boy Alex Beard (replacing old boy Jason Thomas [OE 2010–2015], who was unable to attend).

“Ashwin and Alex worked very well together to argue a compelling case, with Alex stepping in very well to complete the opposition and contributing significantly to the very high standard of debating across all the speakers,” said the Headmaster.

They argued that democracy is the best system we have. Moreover, the rise of the internet and other new technologies are increasing democratic opportunities around the world, including in countries not typically classed as democracies. Democracy is more than just elections, they pointed out, stating that the very fact that the Elizabethan Union Dinner Debate was taking place was itself evidence of a functioning democracy.

In his after-dinner address Nikhil Patel (OE 2007–2014) recalled his own School days. He heeded the advice given on his very first day by the then-Headmaster Dr John Marincowitz to “get stuck in”,  throwing himself into School life and later becoming School Captain (in 2013), as well as playing in the First XI cricket squad, captaining the Second XV rugby team and playing the saxophone in several ensembles.

He advised the assembled sixth-formers similarly: “Always endeavour to challenge yourself, push the boundaries of what you previously thought and attempt new things, whether that be a language, a sport or an activity.”

They should pursue things about which they are “truly passionate”, he said, before espousing the power and value of friendship: “…always remember your roots and who was with you on this journey when it all started.

After leaving QE, Nikhil studied Geography and Management at Cambridge University where he was President of the India Society and captain of the Fitzwilliam College cricket team when they were twice winners of the Cuppers inter-collegiate competition. After university he took a gap year and now works as a Management Consultant for EY and an advisor to WOAW, a content marketing firm. He was accompanied by his partner, Aparna Joshi.

Nikhil finished his address with a toast to the Elizabethan Union. Current School Captain Bhiramah Rammanohar proposed a toast to ‘The Visitors’, while there were also the customary toasts to ‘Her Majesty, the Queen’ and to ‘The Pious Memory of Queen Elizabeth I’. Year 12 pupil Viraj Mehta chaired the debate.

The guests enjoyed a dinner of spicy parsnip soup followed by confit of lamb (or pulled vegetables) and chocolate cake.

Theory and practice: sixth-formers learn about the real-world importance of Economic Geography

A young Elizabethan now forging a career in private banking with a global finance giant returned to the School to lead a Sixth Form discussion on Economic Geography.

Hemang Hirani (OE 2008-15), who studied Geography and Economics at the London School of Economics and is now working for Barclays, gave a presentation to the select group of Year 12 geographers entitled The role of cities: an introduction to the field of Economic Geography.

Thanking him for his visit, Headmaster Neil Enright said: “This is an important aspect of alumni support – Old Elizabethans coming back to the School to help stretch the older boys academically by giving them an insight into, and a taste of, university-level material and discussion.”

In a lavishly illustrated talk, Hemang included: a satellite picture of Earth by night; a world map showing the growing percentage of the planet’s population in urban areas since 1950, and colour-coded maps of the USA and India depicting the importance of cities in both advanced and emerging economies.

He considered an influential academic paper on the topic, taking the boys through theoretical aspects such as labour market pooling, input-output linkages and knowledge spill-overs, as well as examining complex equations used by economic geographers.

The event was organised by Geography teacher Anne Macdonald, who said Hemang also answered questions about university, including the experience of studying at LSE and the benefits of studying Geography and Economics as a combination. “Indeed, he explained that his new employers – Barclays Private Banking – indicated that one of the things that persuaded them to offer Hemang the job was the broad perspective he was able to offer as a results of having studied Economic Geography.”

In his own time in the Sixth Form at QE, Hemang was a Senior Vice Captain. He has previously been involved in helping QE’s sixth-formers apply for Geography places at university.

In addition, during his time at LSE, Hemang was a Widening Participation Mentor, undertaking weekly visits to state secondary schools in the City of London area to help underachieving groups of Year 12 pupils with university applications.

He has been involved in volunteering ventures ranging from mentoring pupils at under-performing London schools to supporting poor cancer patients in Mumbai.

After graduating, he undertook a number of internships, including three months with Swiss investment bank and financial services company UBS as a Summer Analyst. He joined Barclays Private Bank in a similar role in June last year.

“I enjoyed my internship within the Real Estate Finance team and was offered a role to bridge the gap between the internship and the graduate programme starting this July,” Hemang said. “In the current role, we work closely with hedge fund and private equity professionals from a wealth management perspective.”