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Climate change or over-population? Debating the ‘real’ issue

Broughton overcame Pearce by just two points in the final of the Year 7 Inter-House Debating Competition.

Broughton proposed the motion: This house believes that climate change is the biggest danger facing the modern world. The debate took place just before the current Coronavirus crisis erupted globally.

The debate provoked passionate and even provocative contributions, including the view that climate change was largely a ‘first world’ preoccupation, and a claim that a rising death toll due to climate change would have a positive side.

Pranav Challa, the main speaker, had five minutes to make his case. In support of the motion. Head of English, Robert Hyland, who organised the event said: “He was a confident, articulate speaker. He described what he sees as the three ‘cruxes’ of the dangers we face: food production, shelter and water.”

Pranav went on to describe how climate change will affect food production in a world in which more than 1 billion people are already suffering from malnutrition. He said that extreme weather could affect our future supply of drinking water, that rising sea levels are putting coastal communities in danger, and that 200 million people will be displaced in the next 20 years.

Pranav was supported by the second speaker, Kavin Rameshshanker, who spoke about drought, the impact of climate change on the global economy and the loss of bio-diversity, ten species becoming extinct every day.

In his five-minute response, Adokshaj Magge, of Pearce, sought to challenge the terms of the motion. He suggested that the preoccupation with climate change comes from the privileged perspective of developed countries. “He spoke passionately about poverty, about disease and about the lack of basic healthcare in many countries,” said Mr Hyland.

Adokshaj described the overuse of forest fuels and deforestation as the “mother of all problems” and argued that the 3 billion people living in, or facing, poverty do not have time to worry about climate change when they are battling for day-to-day survival, while often being denied their human rights. He argued that changes in the weather have been going on since the dawn of time.

Pearce’s second speaker, Colin Copcea,  suggested that we face more important issues than climate change, such as who will be the next president of the US, Brexit and terrorism. “Right now, climate change is not at the top of the list,” he said. He also talked about economic crises, referencing, in particular, Venezuela.

In the following floor debate, Adam Liang, Kayilai Dinesh and Ishaan Bhandari for Broughton pitted their wits against Jamie Reeve, Ayan Hirani and Johnny Yassa from Pearce. “Some great points were made,” said Mr Hyland.

Adam said that problems caused by human greed, such as deforestation, were intrinsic to the issue of climate change.

“There was a suggestion that climate change is actually helping to reduce over-population,” said Mr Hyland. “This was vigorously challenged!”

The opposition suggested that our focus should be on tackling treatable and preventable diseases, as climate change might not have a solution.

Chairing the event, Crispin Bonham-Carter, who is Assistant Head (Pupil Involvement), commended the boys on the quality of the debate. He announced the indicative vote from the floor was an exact draw – 68 to 68 – and noted that some boys on each side had voted against their own House.

Year 13’s Ryan Ratnam, who invigilated, congratulated all the speakers. “I was very impressed with the ‘three cruxes’ argument and the summary speech from the proposers. I also thought Broughton was a good team; there was good synergy between the two main speakers,” he said.

“Pearce made a very good point about our stance, as a developed country, being privileged. They also presented some really good information. I thought the floor contribution about over-population was intriguing.”

He described it as a very even and well-argued debate, but gave a decision to the proposing team, Broughton by two points.

Quiz brings out ruthless, competitive streak…and that’s just the teachers

Underne emerged as victors in the close-fought inter-House World Book Day quiz, defeating the boys from Stapylton on a tie-break question.

And the competition was equally ferocious among the staff teams, with some (not entirely serious) dark mutterings being heard from teachers when their own result was announced!

Simi Bloom, of Year 7, Hamza Mohamed, of Year 8, along with Year 9’s Aryan Patel and Year 10’s Amin Mohamed, formed the winning team, with Hamza first off the mark for the all-important tie-break question: Who was the poet Laureate before Simon Armitage? (Answer: Carol Ann Duffy).

The questions covered a gamut of authors from Charles Dickens to Ruta Sepetys, and from Chaucer to J K Rowling, with a special Shakespeare round included for good measure.

The House teams were joined by five staff teams and one Sixth Form team in the event held in the Main School Hall, which was organised by English teacher Panayiota Menelaou.

QE’s Head of Library Services, Surya Bowyer, paid tribute to her work and reflected on the event as a whole: “What struck me was how universal the event was. There were boys from Years 7 through to 11 in the House teams, along with teams comprising sixth-formers, teachers and non-teaching staff. It was brilliant to see how literature can be such an effective unifier. The universality of the event was reflected also in Ms Menelaou’s careful curation of the questions, which produced a real mix of niche versus populist, and ensured that every participant knew at least one answer.”

When the winning staff team of Dr Corinna Illingworth, Mr Robert Hyland, Ms Audrey Poppy and Mr Jonathan Brooke was announced, there were rumblings from other competitors. Helen MacGregor, Head of History, said: “The History department was robbed of victory! We are already in training for next year…” while Mr Bowyer added: “With Mr Hyland’s team claiming victory, there is some chatter among the staff body that perhaps the contest was fixed….” Ms Menelaou countered she had distributed the English department staff and two librarians as evenly and fairly as possible among the staff teams!

Below is a selection of the questions and answers:

  1. Which two cities provide the setting for Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities?
  2. Which book by Ruta Sepetys won the 2017 Carnegie book award?
  3. How many Canterbury Tales were written by Chaucer?
  4. Who split his soul into horcruxes?
  5. Which Shakespearean play features the characters of Goneril, Regan and Cordelia?
  6. Which two Shakespeare plays are translated into Klingon?


  1. London and Paris
  2. Salt to the Sea
  3.  24
  4. Voldemort
  5. King Lear
  6. Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing
Debating the pros and cons of censorship – the noes have it!

The Year 8 Inter-House Debating Final was won by the finest of margins, following an evenly matched contest between Stapylton and Leicester.

After fluent and compelling debate from both sides, the Leicester team, opposing the motion, This house believes that censorship has no place in a democracy, prevailed by just a single point.

Head of English Robert Hyland, who organised the event, said: “At QE, we are fully persuaded of the importance of nurturing effective oracy and skills in public speaking and debating among our pupils. All the boys who took part in this final are therefore to be congratulated, as they presented an excellent, well-argued debate in the best QE tradition of closely competed inter-house competitions.”

Zaki Mustafa, the first main speaker for Stapylton, presented the proposition in his allocated five minutes. He argued that freedom of speech is a pillar of democracy and a key human right, adding: “Democracy means that we decide how our country is run – the government is there to implement our decisions, not to make them.”

He also referenced the Watergate scandal, suggesting that the suppression of information resulted in “disastrous consequences” leading to US President Nixon’s resignation. He also pointed out that in Turkey, censorship has led to the arrest of journalists which, in turn, has affected information flow to the public.

Ady Tiwari, who recorded the highest individual score on the day, presented a robust argument for the opposition in his five minutes: “Not all speech is equal,” he said. “Censorship reduces the impact of hate speech. Hate speech historically has led to oppression such as slavery and the denial of the vote to women.” He pointed out that live broadcasts by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan are illegal – clearly a case where censorship “stops hate and promotes equality and justice”, he said.

He also suggested that, for reasons of national security, government information needs to be kept secret. He argued that removing censorship would help terrorists and other criminals, such as identity thieves.

Ady added that censorship is needed in many key areas of society, including the internet, television, film and the media, and that, without censorship, children could search online for information about pornography and buying drugs. Democracy necessarily “includes censorship and we should use it to make the world a better place”, Ady concluded.

Among the topics covered by Stapylton’s second main speaker, Koustuv Bhowmick, were parental controls: these were an effective way of controlling children’s internet use, yet they could be classified as restriction, rather than censorship. He also looked at the deleterious effects of censorship in regimes such as North Korea and China, arguing that, in the latter case, it was abuse of censorship that had led to the coronavirus scandal.

The opposition’s second main speaker, Adi Kaneshanatha, returned to the dangers of hate speech, stating that “hate crime causes violence” and warning that it increases the social stigma of the groups discriminated against, which, in turn, affects mental health. He looked at the issue of fake news, arguing that censorship will help stop it, and urged speakers to trust the Government’s judgement in ensuring that its citizens are not exposed to inappropriate material.

Three speakers from each side raised points or questions from the floor. For Stapylton, Joel Swedensky, Harrshiv Vyas and Akshat Bajaj touched on the importance of educating people with negative or hateful views rather than just silencing them. Leicester’s floor speakers, opposing the motion, were Abhay Halyal, Nikhil Mark and Pranav Haller, who cited as an example of the serious dangers of an absence of censorship the fact that terrorists can learn to make bombs online.

The event was adjudicated by Dharrshan Viramuthu, of Year 12, who is a member of QE’s Cambridge Union Schools Debating Competition team. He congratulated all the speakers and also dispensed some advice, suggesting inter alia that they try to minimise reliance on scripts.

He awarded opponents Leicester 59 points out of a possible 70, thus just pipping proposers Stapylton, who picked up 58 points. An indicative vote from the floor was fairly evenly split, but again just favoured the opposition.

All to play for in 2020 with House Competition neck and neck at Christmas

Just a single point separates Broughton and Harrisons’ as the QE House Competition enters the New Year.

The unusually close situation in the 2019-2020 contest follows a term in which boys have accrued Merits and Good Notes for their work and good deeds.

The House Competition is, however, very broad, and involves many House challenges and special events: it was victory in the recent QIQE quiz competition that put Broughton in first place on 111 points, ahead of Harrisons’ on 110.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “As the reigning House champions and holders of the Eric Shearly House Cup, Broughton are undoubtedly mounting a strong defence of their title, but there is a very long way to go and many more events to be held before the final 2019-2020 results are announced in July.

“With the competition so close, there really is everything still to play for.”

Broughton claimed their victory in QIQE – the School’s University Challenge-style Autumn Term quiz competition – by beating Underne in the final. The Autumn Term also saw a video competition in Year 9, although most of the House competitive events are held after Christmas.

Among the biggest sources of points is Sports Day, which comes in the Summer Term, shortly before the overall winner of the House Competition is announced at a special assembly. In 2019, a strong performance at Sports Day helped Broughton overtake Pearce to claim their victory as the 2018–2019 top House.

In addition to competing for points, QE’s six Houses also raise money for charity. Last year, an inter-House dodgeball tournament run by Broughton and Harrisons’ for Years 7–9 raised £280. Leicester and Pearce organised an interactive quiz for Years 7-10, which brought in £168. And Stapylton and Underne organised a guess-the-teacher baby photo competition, raising £87.70.

The points tally and positions at the end of the 2019 Autumn Term are as follows:

  • Broughton, 111, first
  • Harrisons’, 110, second
  • Underne, 100, third
  • Leicester, 91, fourth
  • Pearce, 89, fifth
  • Stapylton, 81, sixth.
Champions! Broughton are leading House for 2018–19

Broughton have been crowned this year’s top House at Queen Elizabeth’s School, following intense competition in fields as diverse as architecture and dodgeball.

A strong performance at Sports Day helped Broughton overtake Pearce to claim overall victory as the leader of QE’s six houses – a victory announced to great excitement at the end-of-year House Assembly.

Broughton’s House Captain, Saifullah Shah, and Deputy House Captain, Jamie Watkin-Rees, both of Year 12, were duly presented with the coveted House Cup by Headmaster Neil Enright.

Mr Enright said afterwards: “It has been another year of outstanding endeavour among the Houses, which play such an important role in fostering teamwork and friendship. My sincere congratulations go to all Broughton boys on their hard-won victory.”

During the assembly, Year 12’s Kieran Dhrona and Rishi Shah gave a presentation on the extensive fund-raising that takes place during the year in support of various charities as well as QE’s long-running Sai School Appeal, which aims to help the Sri Sathya Sai English Medium School in Kerala, India.

QE’s overall charity this year was the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity, while there were also Christmas collections of food for the Chipping Barnet Foodbank and of clothing for a charity helping some of the 168,000 people homeless people in London.

Among the charity events staged were an inter-House dodgeball tournament run by Broughton and Harrisons’ for Years 7–9, which raised £280. Leicester and Pearce ran an interactive quiz for Years 7–10, raising £168. And Stapylton and Underne organised a guess-the-teacher baby photo competition, raising £87.70.

For the Sai School Appeal, a FIFA Tournament saw staff and pupils battle it out, games controllers in hand, in what was perhaps the most popular charity event of the year. One notable match included that between the Headmaster and the 2019 School Captain, Bhiramah Rammanohar.

The tournament raised £120.60, while a swimathon raised £609.65 and a guess-the-number-of-sweets-in-the-jar challenge at the Founder’s Day Fete brought in £62.

The House competitions reported on during the assembly included the:

  • Year 7 House afternoon won by Stapylton
  • In the Scoop news contest for Year 8 won by Pearce
  • Languages competition, in which boys were challenged to design a poster about an influential linguist or speaker of German. French or Latin
  • Architectural Enrichment Competition, won by Harrisons’
  • QIQE quiz, won by Broughton in a tough final against Stapylton.

The assembly also reviewed other activities of the year.

For drama, as well as looking back at the performances at the Shakespeare Schools Festival and at the School Play, Lord of the Flies, the presentation revealed the names of boys who have successfully auditioned for roles in next term’s Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice.

Hundreds of boys have taken part in musical extra-curricular activities during the year. There are currently more than 20 ensembles, many of them pupil-led, involving 150 singers and nearly 200 instrumentalists. The 35 winners of Music colours from across the year groups were announced.

The assembly celebrated the winners of the separate QE chess championships for Year 7 and for Years 8-11, as well as those who performed strongly in the UK Chess Challenge. Junior, intermediate and senior chess colours were presented.

A report on the Duke of Edinburgh Award revealed that 87 Year 11 boys completed their bronze awards. Twenty-six Year 12s finished their silver awards, while 11 Year 13s completed D of E at gold level.

In sport, the assembly covered the following highlights:

  • Cricket: The Year 8 team reached the quarter-finals of the National Cup, where they lost on the last ball
  • Rugby: The U16s won the Hertfordshire plate; several boys gained county honours and a successful tour to Holland took place
  • Eton fives: Record levels of participation at QE brought encouraging successes at the sport’s national finals
  • Athletics: Combined Year 7 & 8 and 9 & 10 teams reached regional finals, and stand-out individual performances were listed
  • Water polo: Both the seniors and Year 10 reached their respective national cup plate finals.

‘Teams of the year’, comprising selections from across the year groups, were announced for cricket and rugby.

Broughton triumph at successful Sports Day

Sports Day 2019 saw boys competing and having fun together, while producing impressive performances in disciplines ranging from hurdles and javelin to rowing and Eton fives.

More than 730 boys from Years 7–10 took part during the day and, with athletics alone accounting for 53 separate events, some 70 staff were drafted in from all departments to help meet one of the most complex organisational challenges of the School year.

At the conclusion of a day of intense but friendly inter-House competition in good weather, Headmaster Neil Enright presented the much-coveted Sports Day cup to Broughton, narrow winners on 600 points ahead of Underne on 590.

QE’s Head of Rugby James Clarke (OE 1999–2004), who organised the day, said: “It was great to have so many pupils competing and I am grateful to my colleagues for making it all possible. My congratulations go both to Broughton House on their overall victory and to the very many boys from all Houses who performed strongly and, in many cases, achieved personal bests.”

The day’s events began at 10.30am sharp, with: Year 7 & 8 triathlon; Year 7 tug of war; Year 9 table tennis; Year 7 tennis, and with discus, long jump, shot put and high jump for the first three years.

Competitions continued through the morning, with the action varying from the short intensity of 80m hurdles and 100m sprints to the endurance required for the rowing, in which the Houses were allocated two-hour sessions comprising 10-minute stints for each boy.

The afternoon brought the Eton fives and volleyball competitions, as well as the conclusion of the rowing, while the track events continued, culminating in the four 4 x 100m relays for Years 7–10, the all-years 4 x 400m relay and, last of all, the traditional QE Mile.
This event, a 16 x 100m relay pitting boys against staff, was won this year by the staff: “A great win!” added Mr Clarke.

Throughout the day, staff fulfilled roles including timekeeping, race-starting, judging, commentary and photography, as well as general supervision.

The final presentations revealed the six Houses’ overall points tally for the day, as follows:

  • Broughton: 600
  • Underne: 590
  • Harrisons’: 576
  • Pearce: 552
  • Leicester: 549
  • Stapylton: 514.
QE’s New Year’s honours: top team take over at the start of 2019

New School Captain Bhiramah Rammanohar and his team take up their positions today at the start of the new term.

Together with his Senior Vice-Captains Fozy Ahmed and Oscar Smith, he heads a 120-strong group of School officials for 2019, who are all drawn from Year 12.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “I congratulate all the prefects upon their well-deserved appointments. They come from a much-liked and well-respected year-group within the School.”

“Bhiramah is a worthy recipient of this honour, as is made clear by a recent School report which described him in these words: ‘One of the most affable, decent young men that one could care to meet or teach; he marries his many innate talents with a determined industry, the combination of which allows him to be successful in all facets of his School life.’”

Bhiramah entered Year 12 in September fresh from celebrating a run of ten grade 9s in his GCSEs – the highest possible grade under the new marking system. His current Head of Year, Lottie Coleman, points to his “compassion, enthusiasm and commitment to all that he does”.

The team of officials includes ten Vice-Captains, six House Captains, six Deputy House Captains and 92 Prefects. One innovation this year is the appointment of three Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Ambassadors – Leo Kucera, Vithusan Kuganathan and Josh Osman: their new positions reflect the increasing focus upon these areas across School life. They have been introduced following discussions conducted with boys through QE’s pupil panel.

“We are committed to nurturing leadership skills among our pupils,” Mr Enright added. “There are opportunities to develop these, beginning from boys’ first arrival in Year 7 and with the prefect system being very much the pinnacle. For those boys who secure a place in this illustrious cohort, there are certainly significant duties and responsibilities, but their positions also serve as a reward for the commitment and broad contributions they have made to the School in their time with us.”

Senior Vice-Captain Fozy Ahmed is a First XV rugby player. Assistant Head David Ryan wrote about him in his Year 11 report that he “sets an excellent example to other students, always acting in a relaxed, but thoughtful manner; he is mature beyond his years but also kind and considerate towards those around him.”

Like the School Captain, Senior Vice-Captain Oscar Smith, performed outstandingly at GCSE, achieving a clean sweep of grade 9s. A particularly keen and able linguist, he is described by Head of Languages Christopher Kidd as “impressive in every way…diligent, industrious and [with] the desire to perform at the very top level. He is mature, acting and working as a young adult, and attaining the results that his hard industry deserves.”

Mr Enright thanked 2018 School Captain Aashish Khimasia and his outgoing team for their efforts and commitment over the course of the year.

Putting Science in the picture: diverse subjects chosen in poster competition

From Leonardo da Vinci to Stephen Hawking, this year’s entries to QE’s Science House competition covered a full gamut of top scientists across the ages.

Participants were required to research eminent and unusual scientists and produce a poster. First prize went to Year 7’s Hadi Al-Esia, from Stapylton House, who chose the brilliant, but slightly lesser-known, Nikola Tesla.

“This year we had 25 excellent entries,” said Biology teacher Melanie Haj Hussein. “The competition was open to boys in Years 7 and 8, and the standard was very high. We were very impressed with the effort they had put in. Not only had they chosen interesting scientists, but they had presented the information in creative and engaging ways.”

Hadi’s choice, the Austrian-American scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla, was born in what is modern-day Croatia in 1856, but emigrated to America in his early twenties to work at the Edison Machine Works in New York. He worked there for a brief period before striking out on his own and developing the Alternating Current (AC) induction motor and related AC patents.

Hadi’s fact-packed poster featured ‘electric’-style silver writing against a dark-blue background and also used visual effects related to the electricity theme, including a lightning flash and an image of the globe incorporated into a light bulb.

His poster and those of the runners-up, Omar Hashmi, Chanakya Seetharam, Theo Moses and Advik Balaji, all from Year 7, are being displayed in the Science Department.

Under pressure, but now they are the champions: Broughton triumphant in quiz competition

Broughton successfully took on last year’s champions, Stapylton, in the grand final of QIQE to claim the crown in this year’s inter-House quiz.

The fiercely fought battle in front of the whole of Years 7–10 saw Broughton win with a total of 180 points, ahead of Stapylton’s 100, notwithstanding the presence in the Stapylton team of Year 9 boy Rahul Doshi, who was Channel 4’s Child Genius in 2017.

Both Houses had secured their places in the final after topping their respective group rounds in the earlier stages of the competition, which is modelled on the BBC’s University Challenge.

Organiser James Clarke (OE), who is an Extra-curricular Enrichment Tutor, said: “In recent years, QIQE has established itself as a key fixture within our eclectic programme of events that make up the overall House Competition.

“The final was an exciting and enjoyable event which showcased the boys’ impressive general knowledge and involved their competing under considerable time pressure and in front of a very large and enthusiastic audience of their peers. Credit must go to all the participants, and my congratulations to Broughton.”

Biology teacher Hinesh Shah (OE) acted as quiz master for the final in the Shearly Hall, which followed the familiar format of a starter-for-ten, followed by three bonus questions worth 5 points each, with 5 points lost for those who ‘buzzed’ (or, in fact, raised their paddle) before the question was finished and then got the answer wrong. The final lasted 20 minutes.

Each team comprised one boy from each of years 7, 8, 9 and 10. Boys are restricted to only competing in the quiz once, so, for example, last year’s competitors were ineligible.

While Stapylton were strong on buildings & architecture, car manufacturers, food and capital cities, the Broughton boys’ impressive knowledge of astronomy & astrophysics, television characters, authors, football grounds and film scores helped see them to victory.

The Broughton finalists were: Sultan Khokhar (Year 10); Ishaan Mehta (Year 9), Aradhya Singh (Year 8) and Kaushik Reddy Nakki Reddy (Year 7). Stapylton’s team were: Aarav Shah (Year 10); Rahul Doshi (Year 9); Madhav Menon (Year 8) and Koustuv Bhowmick (Year 7).

The full placings of QE’s six Houses were as follows:
1st – Broughton (180 points in the final; topped their group with 115 points)
2nd – Stapylton (100 points in the final; topped their group with 160 points)
3rd – Underne (115 points in group)
4th – Pearce (110 points in group)
5th – Leicester (95 points in group)
6th – Harrisons’ (50 points)

  • How would you have fared? Here are six sample questions. Answers at the bottom.
    1. Puck, Bottom and Titania are all characters in which Shakespeare play?
    2. For this airport code, name the European city that you would be flying to:
    3. How many colours are there in the spectrum when white light is separated?
    4. Which recently deceased comic book writer has had a cameo in the majority of Marvel films?
    5. The Allianz Arena football ground is home to which European club?
    6. What is the jellylike material that makes up much of a cell inside the cell membrane?

  • Answers:
    1. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    2. Porto
    3. Seven
    4. Stan Lee
    5. Bayern Munich
    6. Cytoplasm
Off to a good start! QE’s newest pupils throw themselves into an exciting first House event

Stapylton emerged as winners from the Year 7 House afternoon – an event designed as an enjoyable ice-breaker for the School’s youngest boys.

The reigning champion House and holder of the Eric Shearly Memorial Cup, Stapylton’s prospects for the new academic year were immediately enhanced by its new cohort’s victory.

Head of Extra-Curricular Enrichment Rebecca Grundy said, however, that the event, which came at the end of the first week of term, is primarily aimed at helping all the new boys get to know each other and learn about the key role that the House system plays in QE life.

“In order that they get to know more of their peers, we get them to work in close collaboration within their Houses on a number of competitive tasks against the clock.”

Alongside quizzes and word-searches, there was the challenge of trying to build the tallest self-supporting tower out of nothing but ordinary drinking straws and Sellotape. With only a short amount of time at their disposal, boys had to formulate a plan and execute it – finding a balance between, on the one hand, making it tall enough to be in with a chance of victory and, on the other, ensuring that it was stable enough to be free-standing and so avoid disqualification.

“It was fevered and, at times, frantic, but the boys all seemed very engaged in their attempts to win their first points for their House,” said Miss Grundy, who organised and led the afternoon. “Stapylton won both the tower challenge and the word-search, helping them to overall victory, with Underne in second place.”