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Up for debate: sixth-formers narrowly defeat alumni over climate change

Victory went to the School in this year’s Dinner Debate – the Elizabethan Union’s historic showpiece event.

Combining formal elements with a relaxed atmosphere and plenty of high-calibre debating, the 57th Annual Elizabethan Union Debate saw Year 13 gather in good spirits, enjoying the opportunity to socialise in a different context away from their normal day-to-day routine.

Year 13’s Anish Kumar and Shubh Rathod proposed the motion, This House believes governments are more responsible for climate change than citizens. They were opposed by Old Elizabethans Siddhant Kansal and Mark Markov (both 2015–2022).

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “The Dinner Debate is an event that intentionally bridges the gap from school to university. It blends the formality of black-tie dress, toasts and a traditional Extended Mace debating format with a relaxed atmosphere where the focus is primarily on enjoyment.”

The Elizabethan Union, QE’s debating society, is currently thriving, with debaters enjoying considerable success.

Proposing the toast to the Union, Siddhant Kansal (who was School Captain in 2021) reflected on his time at QE. Regaling his audience with a few anecdotes from his own Sixth Form experience, he also highlighted all the opportunities that were on offer within and beyond the classroom. Whilst QE can occasionally push you hard, it is all worth it and a time you will look back on fondly with great memories, he told the sixth-formers. Siddhant added that QE really does prepare you well for life at university, thanking staff for both pushing him and supporting him.

The debate itself was wide-ranging and packed with content. It was ultimately a victory for the proposition, but by a relatively narrow margin (45% to 37%, with 18% abstaining).

For the School, Anish and Shubh argued that governments have much greater ability to tackle climate change than citizens and should take responsibility for doing so. The role of governments is to protect their citizens, and they are failing in that task if they do not take more significant action. They stressed the importance of government regulation, and gave examples of how quickly action can be taken when there is determination to do so.

The opposition argued that the ability of governments is actually more limited and that big multi-national companies frequently have more influence and impact (and often more wealth). They spoke, therefore, about the power citizens have as consumers in a globalised, largely capitalist, world. Individuals can make choices about what they buy and from where. Mark stated that this power extended to what people eat: he stressed the significant impact of meat-eating on global emissions. The collective impact from these decisions could be profound. The alumni pair also highlighted the power of electorates to put into office people who care about the environment, and said that democratic participation is therefore crucial. They emphasised that, importantly, people do have agency – including everyone who had gathered in the Main School Hall for the debate.

However, the proposition pair noted that much of the world – including many of the largest polluters and contributors to climate change – is not governed democratically. People in those countries have no, or limited, choice in terms of the shape of their government. They argued that it is these governments, rather than their citizens, that have the wrong priorities and are choosing to promote projects and policies that worsen rather than lessen climate change, such as mega-building projects in the Middle East. There was discussion of the US Presidential Election and its potential consequences for climate action, and of the USA’s commitment to the Paris Climate accord.

The floor debate was finely balanced.

  • Click on the thumbnails below to view the photos.
After celebrating season’s rugby successes, School now looks forward to the QE Sevens

As the School’s U14 and U16 rugby squads prepare to welcome teams from around the country to the 48th annual QE Sevens tournament, their U15 counterparts are reflecting on a strong national competition run.

Another recent highlight was the first-ever QE Rugby Dinner, which saw top players from all year groups come together to celebrate their love of the game.

The QE Sevens, held this year on Sunday 10th March, is one of the country’s biggest school sevens tournaments. It has cup and plate competitions for both U16 and U14 age groups. QE’s own players recently got some practice in at warm-up sevens tournaments at Haberdashers’ and London Oratory schools.

Head of Rugby James Clarke said: “We are busy putting in place the final preparations for the big day. QE Sevens provides invaluable opportunities for our rising players to test themselves against strong opposition. It’s an event at which QE families, alumni and staff can welcome old friends and make new ones.

“Most of all, it’s a great day out at the School – an opportunity to cheer on the home teams and to watch highly competitive, fast-moving rugby in a convivial atmosphere. The action starts at 11:00am. It’s free, and spectators are welcome just to turn up on the day: we look forward, as usual, to seeing many supporters on the touchline!”

The U15s stormed through three rounds of the National Bowl to reach a fifth-round home game against Emanuel School in Battersea. With no first round played, they had kicked off their campaign by securing a convincing 36-7 win in October against Hampstead’s University College School.

They then dispatched both Parmiter’s School, from Garston – whom they defeated 15-12 in round 3 – and Debden Park High School, from Loughton in Essex – against whom the winning margin was greater, with the final score at 25-14.

In their encounter with Emanuel School, they led throughout, amassing a 14-3 lead in the second half. However, after a strong fightback by the visitors, they saw victory snatched from their grasp by an Emanuel try in the last play of the match.

“It was a truly painful defeat,” said Mr Clarke. “Had the boys managed to hold on and see out the match, they would only have been two games from the final at Twickenham. But they should be congratulated on playing some fantastic rugby, both in this game and throughout their run.”

There was some consolation for several of the U15 backline when they found themselves named in the QE Team of the Year, which was announced at the inaugural Rugby Dinner in the Shearly Hall.

There were also prizes for boys of all ages in the Most Improved Player, Players’ Player, and Player of the Season categories.

Inspirational speeches came in the form of videos from current South African captain Siya Kolisi and London’s Maggie Alphonsi MBE, former flanker for Saracens and England.

Also speaking on video was guest speaker Desh Ganeshamoorthy (OE 2014–2021), a former First XV player, who fondly recalled his own QE rugby memories: “I think I ended up playing every position but fly half and scrum half…it was so much fun.”


Smashed it! QE shatters previous record, with 62 Oxbridge offers

Queen Elizabeth’s School has set a new all-time record for the number of places offered by Oxford and Cambridge universities, with the 2024 figure of 62 offers easily surpassing the previous school record of 47, set only last year.

There were record numbers of offers from both universities – 46 from Cambridge and 16 from Oxford – with just over one in three boys in Year 13 receiving an Oxbridge offer.

The offers cover a wide range of disciplines – from Law and Medicine to History and Asian & Middle Eastern Studies – and come from 33 colleges.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “This is brilliant news! It’s a huge jump up from last year’s figure of 47, which itself comfortably exceeded our previous record of 40.

“These offers are testament to the academic accomplishment and sustained application of these students, both in public examinations and in their university admissions tests.

“They also demonstrate that these candidates were able to a make a convincing case at interview, where they were invariably up against very stiff competition. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many Old Elizabethans and other friends of the School who conducted mock interviews with our boys in the autumn.

“This record is a very auspicious start to our new QE Futures programme, which seeks to further refine and enhance university admissions support and preparation, building on much excellent work embedded here over recent years.”

The highest number of offers came from the following colleges:

  • Queens’, Cambridge – five
  • St Catharine’s, Cambridge – five
  • Trinity, Cambridge – four

There were: 18 offers for Medicine: eight for Economics, or Economics and Management; eight for Engineering; seven for Mathematics, as well as smaller numbers for other subjects, including famous courses such as Cambridge’s Natural Sciences and Oxford’s PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics).

Digging down into the statistics reveals a steady improvement in QE’s offer-to-application and offer-to-interview ratios over the past five years. This year, 90% of Oxford and Cambridge applicants were called for interview and 49% of applicants offered a place.

Assistant Head (Pupil Destinations) James Kane, who heads QE Futures, said: “To have reached a point this year where very nearly half our Oxford and Cambridge applicants have received an offer demonstrates how strong those ratios have become.

“We are confident that these students will make a positive impact on the life of their respective colleges and universities. Of course, receiving an offer is not the end of the process: the hard work continues as these boys strive to meet the conditions of their offers.

“There has been an encouraging picture more broadly, with other students securing a range of offers from other leading institutions: 344 offers so far across 119 courses at 32 different universities.

“As ever, we are mindful that there are some strong and credible candidates disappointed at not receiving the offers for which they had hoped.”


Science department trialling new education app developed by QE alumni that harnesses the power of AI

Two Old Elizabethan medics are working with the School to trial an innovative education app that uses AI to support both pupils and their teachers.

QE contemporaries Kavi Samra and Paul Jung (both 2008–2015) have developed Medly AI to help pupils from backgrounds like theirs who may not have access to all the educational resources available to others.

They only started working on the business in August, yet already it has won funding and been accepted into Microsoft’s start-up programme.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “We are very pleased to be working with Kavi and Paul as they develop this exciting venture that is showing great potential to support our boys, and other young people, with their consolidation and revision.”

After approaching the School about trialling the app with QE pupils, the pair had a meeting with the Headmaster and with Gillian Ridge and Amy Irvine, Heads of Biology and Chemistry respectively, in which they demonstrated the platform and introduced its teacher mode. “This is where teachers are able to set questions (from a large database, or their own custom questions) to their respective classes for homework, or in a test format,” said Kavi.

Medley AI can then:

  • Understand the questions
  • Work out how they fit into the curriculum of the subject
  • Assign them to a specification point
  • Mark the students’ answers.

“From here, the teacher can get in-depth statistical insights into each student’s weak topics, topic by topic and class by class. This then enables them to customise their classroom teaching according to class-wide weak topics and, of course, saves an incredible amount of time in terms of marking student work.

“Both Dr Irvine and Dr Ridge seemed quite impressed and were eager to start using Medly as a resource to save time and understand where their students don’t perform well.”

‘Onboarding’ for the Year 11 group took place before Christmas, and Paul and Kavi will now be working with the Science department. “This will involve teachers setting homework on the platform and providing feedback on what they’d like to see in our teacher mode to help us improve the platform,” said Kavi. “The students will, of course, have access to our base platform, too, in case they wish to do additional learning or practise questions or exams.”

“We’ve always wanted to try to democratise education,” says Kavi. “Medly AI was born from the vision of making quality education accessible and personalised through the power of AI. Both Paul and I noticed throughout our education how people often had advantages from their socio-economic background in terms of educational resources (e.g personal tuition): both of us come from backgrounds that didn’t allow us access to these resources.

“Recognising the gaps in traditional educational systems due to work pressures on teachers and staffing issues, we saw the potential of AI to fill these gaps and therefore conceptualised a platform that could act as a personal tutor, examiner, and classroom assistant, all integrated into one user-friendly interface.”

Paul is responsible for writing code and working on the technical side of the project, while Kavi takes on operations.

After just two months of development, Microsoft admitted Medly AI to its programme, providing Kavi and Paul with mentoring from a business development manager and meeting the costs of the platform up to £150,000. A month later, the project was also accepted into UCL’s Hatchery start-up accelerator, enabling its professional fees for legal, IP and accounting costs to be funded.

Both Paul and Kavi have deep connections with UCL. Paul holds a PhD in Neuropsychiatry from the university, and has an extensive background in coding and teaching. He included AI in his research, on which he has published and given international presentations. He has returned to his medical degree at UCL and is in his final year, completing his MBBS in August.

Kavi, who currently works as a doctor in anaesthetics, completed his medical degree at UCL in 2021 and is a clinical teacher within its medical school: his approaches to using teaching theory in a digital age earned him an Associate Fellowship of Higher Education Award from UCL and he is also one of the youngest recipients of an honorary fellow contract at UCL.


Farewell to a fantastic 450th anniversary year!

Boys from Years 7 & 8 lined up in front of the School to bid a colourful goodbye to Queen Elizabeth’s School’s 450th anniversary year.

With sixth-formers helping to ensure all looked good, and with a drone filming overhead, the junior boys filed on to Stapylton Field in front of Main Building to spell out #QE450. Click here to see the drone footage showing how it was done!

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “It has been a tremendous year, so we wanted to find a way to mark its conclusion which was both fun and which created an impressive spectacle involving a large number of boys. My thanks go to our Head of Technology, Michael Noonan, and his Year 12 Technology class for lining up the participants so accurately.

“More generally, I would like to thank the countless people – boys, staff, alumni, parents, Governors and other friends of the School – who have contributed in so many ways to making our anniversary year such a resounding success. We look back with gratitude on a fantastic 2023, and look forward with great anticipation to all that 2024 will bring.”

The Year 7 & 8 boys wore sports strip in their House colours for the shoot:

  • Broughton in red for the hash tag (#)
  • Harrisons’ in brown for Q
  • Leicester in yellow for E
  • Pearce in purple for 4
  • Stapylton in blue for 5
  • Underne in green for 0.

The anniversary celebrations were heralded close to the end of the 2022 Autumn Term with a royal visit from HRH The Duke of Gloucester.

Major events during the year itself began with the launch of a new authoritative history of the School, Queen Elizabeth’s School: 1573–2023, written by former Headmaster Dr John Marincowitz (1999–2011).

On 24th March, 450 years to the day since Queen Elizabeth I signed the Royal Charter to establish QE, the whole School gathered for a thanksgiving service in Westminster Abbey.

Founder’s Day on the third Saturday in June was heavily anniversary-themed, with events including the planting of a time capsule intended for exhumation on the School’s 500th anniversary in 2073.

The Old Elizabethans Annual Reunion Dinner this year had a special emphasis on the anniversary, including the opportunity for alumni to see items from the QE Collections archive.

The Chamber Choir were recorded performing And Be it Known, the anniversary anthem commissioned by the School from international composer Howard Goodall for the service in Westminster Abbey, where it was premiered. The recording was used as the soundtrack for a special anniversary video.

The traditional Service of Nine Lessons and Carols in Chipping Barnet parish church, which included the first-ever congregational rendering of And Be It Known.

And those are just some of the highlights: throughout the year, the anniversary was celebrated through a series of special events and activities, including: the 56th Annual Elizabethan Union Dinner Debate; competitions; festivals in areas as diverse as the Sciences, Economics & rugby; and the planting of trees in Heartwood Forest, as well as hundreds of bulbs around the QE site.

Out now! QE’s special anniversary video, offering a “great memento of a fabulous year”

With just a few days left until the end of Queen Elizabeth’s School’s 450th anniversary year, a special film published today provides an exciting whistlestop tour of the highlights of 2023.

Professionally produced, the film is set to the soundtrack of QE’s Chamber Choir singing And Be It Known – the anniversary anthem commissioned by the School from international composer Howard Goodall, which was recorded in a special session last month.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “I invite everyone to take a look at this video, which captures in just a few short minutes so much of what has made our anniversary celebrations so memorable, starting with the visit of HRH The Duke of Gloucester this time last year and including major events involving the whole School, such as our Westminster Abbey thanksgiving service in March and Founder’s Day in June.

“It’s a great watch, and with a super musical soundtrack: as we wrap up the celebrations and start to think about our exciting plans for 2024, I hope everyone will take a few moments to enjoy this memento and reflect on our fabulous year.”

The Chamber Choir was conducted by Director of Music Ruth Partington, with Music teachers Rebecca German and Jas Hutchinson-Bazely also closely involved in the recording session in The Friends’ Recital Hall. Miss German sang and Mr Hutchinson-Bazely played the School’s new electric organ.

Sound-recording was managed and produced by Year 13’s Indrajit Datta, with fellow pupil Abhinav Sandeep, of Year 10, operating the venue’s in-built camera to record the wide angles, alongside fellow Year 10 pupil Benjamin Newton. Indrajit, who is hoping to forge a career in this industry, used ten microphones, strategically placed, to record the different instruments and choir sections, including a feed directly from the organ.

The filming of the session was conducted by professional cameraman Andrew Litt, with video production by Dashing Duck. Stills photography is courtesy of Eleanor Bentall and Westminster Abbey.

The anthem was premiered at Westminster Abbey on 24th March, 450 years to the day since Queen Elizabeth I granted the charter for the establishment of the School. It was performed again on Founder’s Day, and the congregation will sing it at the end of the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols in Chipping Barnet Parish Church on Wednesday this week, with all boys in Year 7 learning it in advance so they can contribute.

The video covers many of the more formal events of the year, but there have been numerous other anniversary-related events, from subject festivals, tree and bulb plantings, lecture assemblies, competitions, and even the unique experience of QE hosting a TV film crew for a food programme popular in Korea!

Anthem recording session performers

Miss Ruth Partington, Director of Music

Chamber Choir
Year 7
Krish Bhatia

Year 8
Aarush Marti
Akein Athukoralage
Eshaan Anil
Sree Harsha Gullapali
Anirudh Premkumar
Aadi Chauhan
Mithun Madhu
Galinghan Balamurugan

Year 9
Adithya Ananthakrishnan
Parth Jain
Jamie Lam
Aayush Shukla
Akshay Shah
Kiran Wright
Joseph Donovan
Krishiv Karelia
Aatheethya Jeyanth
Arjun Anand
Nikhil Francine
Gyan Nadhavajhala
Krishna Gajendra
Kelvin Chen

Year 10
Keeyan Shah
Rishi Watsalya
Siddhant Pochalwar
Nafis Meah
Noah Morley

Year 11
Colin Copcea
Saahil Shah
Ram Chockalingam
William Joanes
Johnny Yassa
Simi Bloom
Adam Liang
Keon Robert

Year 12
Akshat Bajaj
Harrison Lee
Joel Swedensky
Nikhil Mark
Jason Tao

Year 13
Tharun Dhamodhran
Arjun Patel
Sena Lai-Fujiwara

Old Elizabethans
Mr George Raynor (2014–2021)
Mr Bhunit Santhiramoulesan (2016–2023)

Miss Rebecca German, Music teacher

Mr Peter Yarde Martin (OE 2002–2007)
Joel Swedensky, Year 12

Mr Eddie Morgan, QE peripatetic Music teacher

Mr William Barnes McCallum
Mr Tom Scaife

Mr Stuart Beard

Mr Neil Rowland, QE peripatetic Music teacher

Mr Jas Hutchinson-Bazely, QE Music teacher


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.)
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.

Boys’ mature response to film about assassination attempt on Hitler wins plaudits

QE boys were the first-ever under-18s to watch producer Ilana Metzger’s film about her father, a Holocaust survivor who once attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

And she was so impressed by the their mature response that she is now donating 30 copies of his autobiography – gifted to her by an anonymous viewer of the film – to the School.

The visit had been suggested to the Headmaster, Neil Enright, by Old Elizabethan Alan Solomon (OE 1951–1957), pictured here.

He had been impressed by the way the documentary told the story of Ilana’s father, Henry Wermuth, and also looked more widely at the Holocaust and its origins.

Following the screening of the film, Breathe Deeply My Son, to last year’s Year 9 during the Summer Term, the boys took part in a question-and-answer session.

In a message sent to the Headmaster subsequently, Ilana praised the QE pupils for their “interesting and insightful questions” and high level of maturity.

In the film, Mr Wermuth, pictured here with Ilana, explains how in 1942 he broke out of Klaj ammunition camp in Poland when he learned that Hitler was scheduled to pass through the village.

He piled sticks and rocks on the railway track, but the attempted derailment was unsuccessful.

He told The Jewish Chronicle in 2013: “A train passed with three wagons, and in the window was a man who I recognised by the moustache as Hitler. I stood there mesmerised, waiting for the crash, but it never came. Either a local farmer or someone patrolling must have removed the logs.”

Mr Wermuth survived the war weighing just 5st 3lb (33kg). His father, mother and sister all died in concentration camps.

He was awarded a medal for his attempt by the German city of Frankfurt in 1995.

After liberation, he settled in the UK and built a property business in London. He died in 2020, aged 97.


Entrepreneur Arian passes on lessons from Silicon Valley

3D printing entrepreneur Arian Aghababaie, co-founder of California-based Holo, shared insights into the latest developments in additive manufacturing and gave advice on engineering careers when he led two inspirational events at QE during a visit to the UK.

After working for global software firm Autodesk, based in San Francisco, Arian (OE 1998–2003) raised venture capital and successfully spun out its additive manufacturing team to form Holo, while also transitioning its technology from the 3D printing of polymers to metals. Six-and-a-half years later, Holo is at the forefront of innovation, using its proprietary digital platform to enable the manufacturing at scale of high-performance parts across a range of materials, including metals, ceramics and composites. Holo is supported by top-tier Silicon Valley investors and strategic partners.

Arian’s morning at QE began with a tour of the School, before he led a Sixth Form additive manufacturing workshop, with five of QE’s own 3D printers on hand. Later, he delivered a lunchtime talk, giving his take on careers in engineering and 3D printing.

Head of Technology Michael Noonan said: “Arian provided Year 12 with a workshop which firstly covered his professional journey to date, from his early days post PhD working on founding his own company (The Invention Works) through to his position as Senior Principal Engineer at Autodesk. Most of the workshop, however, focussed on his current company, Holo. He explained that he and the other co-founders could see the enormous potential to create a viable business in this area and so pursued it as an opportunity.”

Arian went on to explain the details around the scale of production, the materials used and the fidelity of the products which Holo’s machines can make through its own PureForm Technology.

“His technologies have a unique advantage over competitors, and he works with many major companies in the healthcare, consumer electronics, robotics, and automotive sectors, to name a few,” said Mr Noonan.

He even set the Year 12 boys a challenge to develop a product using QE’s own 3D printers. They should design (and perhaps build) a scaled-up, minimally invasive surgical instrument. His requirements were that:

  • The instrument should have six degrees of freedom
  • It should be able to be cable or gear-driven
  • The boys’ work should include the design of at least two custom end-effectors (the devices at the end of a robotic arm, designed to interact with the environment)
  • They should determine its size and features based on the capabilities of their own printers.

Bonus points were offered for the designs with the fewest components and if the end-effectors could be easily changed within the same clevis pin (part of a fastener system)!

Two examples of the boys’ work in response to the challenge are shown here.

In the lunchtime talk to Year 10, Arian took a more personal look at his story, beginning with his time at QE, when he was in Stapylton House and was a musician and prefect.

After first presenting a version of his life which had him gliding seamlessly from his first engineering degree at Bristol to gaining his doctorate, also at Bristol, moving to San Francisco in 2016 and then founding Holo the following year, he next spoke about “what it’s actually been like” – a narrative that includes leaving QE early, dropping out of university, the financial crash and the huge impact of Covid.

The lessons he learned included “stay true to your authentic self” and “don’t fear failure”.

The visit came about after Headmaster Neil Enright struck up a conversation with Arian on LinkedIn.

Mr Noonan said: “It really was a tremendous day. One of the boys involved said to me afterwards: ‘Sir, are you aware that Arian is working in the job we all dream to have one day?’ I am immensely grateful to Arian for taking the time to give back to his School and for giving our students something amazing to aspire to.”