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Good neighbours! QE begins partnership with nearby charity

A team of Sixth Form leaders made the short journey to help out at a family charity’s new base just yards from the School.

The Year 12 House Captains and Deputy House Captains got to work on a ‘packathon’ organised by Sebby’s Corner, which offers support to families across Barnet, Hertfordshire and London.

The packathon, a follow-up event from Mother’s Day, had a target of providing 100 hospital bags with essentials for expectant mothers and their newborn babies.

Sebby’s Corner’s new hub, which was visited by The Princess of Wales before Christmas, is based on the Queen’s Road industrial estate, close to the main QE gates.

Assistant Head (Pupil Involvement) Crispin Bonham-Carter said: “QE has a long tradition of supporting charities, which is very much in line with a key aspect of our mission – that we nurture responsible young men who seek to change things for the better.

“Sebby’s Corner does excellent work in supporting families in real need, and we are therefore delighted to be supporting them, especially since they are now our near-neighbours.”

The 12-strong team from QE’s six houses were invited to spend a morning helping staff sort supplies so that they were ready to be packed into bags. Many of these bags were provided to Barnet Hospital, with some also going to mothers referred to the charity who are refugees, are escaping domestic violence, or are living in poverty.

Founded in 2021 by Bianca Sakol MBE, Sebby’s Corner operates on the principle that no child should go without the basic essentials she or he needs to thrive.

Through referrals from professionals such as midwives, health visitors and teachers, it provides items such as clothing, nappies, formula milk, toiletries and baby equipment. Its Birthday Club also provides presents for children in need on their birthdays.


QE’s ‘New Year’s honours’: 2024 top team take up their places

Chanakya Seetharam this week begins his year as the 2024 School Captain, supported by Senior Vice-Captains Saim Khan and Rohan Kumar.

The three, who were appointed by Headmaster Neil Enright, head a team of ten Vice-Captains, as well as House Captains, their deputies and other prefects.

Mr Enright said: “My congratulations go to Chanakya, Saim and Rohan – a talented trio, who were chosen from a strong field of candidates in Year 12 – and indeed to all our new prefects. These appointments reflect the confidence of their peers and of School staff, who all had the chance to vote in the process.

“Pupil leadership is a significant part of the culture at QE and all the new office-holders will be invested with wide-ranging responsibilities and the opportunity to shape the continued development of the School.

“I must thank our 2023 School Captain Darren Lee and his team for shouldering the responsibility of leadership during our 450th anniversary year with such distinction.”

Head of Year 12 Micah King also congratulated the new top three. “Chanakya exemplifies what it means to be a QE boy. He is kind, and this come across in his interactions with peers. He is exceptionally able, achieving top grades in his GCSEs and routinely standing out in his classes for his high ability. And Chanakya is extremely responsible. I have no doubt that he will rise to the challenges and demands of being School Captain with aplomb.”

Chanakya is a strong musician, while he, Saim and Rohan are all involved in debating and have therefore contributed to the current strength of the Elizabethan Union, QE’s own debating society.

Rohan plays rugby for the School. He also holds the distinction of having played a role during the 450th anniversary service in Westminster Abbey in March last year: Rohan’s poem was the winning entry in the anniversary poetry competition and he, therefore, read it during the service.

“Rohan is dedicated and determined,” said Mr King. “He’s consistently stood out during his time at QE for his effort and perseverance. He’s also extremely dependable and calm under pressure. In a challenging situation, you’d want Rohan’s steady and thoughtful nature to guide you through it. He has earned the respect of his teachers and peers. I am confident he will shine as a Senior Vice-Captain.”

“Saim has similarly been a model student throughout his time at QE. He has stood out for his studious nature and willingness to contribute wherever he can to the School community.  Having won a superb number of accolades throughout his time at QE, his appointment is a crowning achievement. He will be a superb Senior Vice-Captain.”


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.

Actively anti-racist: celebrating achievement, engaging with the issues

Pupils throughout the School celebrated Black History Month, participating in art and essay competitions, and learning together in student-led House assemblies.

Members of the club run by the School’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Ambassadors have been working on updating the EDI-related Perspective pages on the eQE portal (open to pupils and parents), as well as more generally building student leadership in areas such as combatting racism.

And Black History Month (BHM), with its theme of Saluting our Sisters, was also the focus of the latest edition of the Econobethan magazine.

Reflecting on how the last month had gone at QE, Assistant Head (Pupil Destinations) James Kane said: “I have been very pleased to see students from all year groups engaging positively with Black History Month, sharing their thoughts both during and after the House assemblies, and producing some excellent entries in our two competitions.”

Teams comprising House Captains and Form Representatives planned and delivered the six assemblies, which took Celebrating Black History Month as their theme.

“They spoke about what we can learn from the ways in which African, Asian and Caribbean people, and especially women, have overcome structural racism to achieve great things in different fields, linking these messages to anti-racism at QE and how we as a school, and as individuals, can be actively anti-racist and help to combat structural racism,” said Mr Kane.

For the art competition, pupils were asked to submit BHM-related designs of a suitable size and shape for display as ‘wallpaper’ on computer monitors. The winner, chosen by Mr Kane and Lead Enrichment Tutor Kanak Shah, was Vinuga Perera, of Stapylton’s Year 9 form. His entry was displayed on all computers across QE during the month.

His design, described by Mr Kane as “strikingly bold” uses the colours of BHM – black, yellow, red and green – with black representing resilience; yellow, optimism and justice; red, blood, and green, Africa’s rich greenery and other natural resources.

Vinuga said: “I chose to put a person of colour in the foreground because I believe that BHM is recognising all the amazing achievements that black people have accomplished. The poster’s just really about representation of culture and people.”

More than 20 boys from Years 7 to 13 submitted essays for the competition, which was judged by a panel consisting of senior EDI Ambassadors including Vice Captains Arjun Patel and Indrajit Datta, as well as Riann Mehta and Roshan Arora.

The Upper School winner was Anish Kumar, of Year 13, with an essay entitled The Civil Rights Movement: Why it never ended, and why the 50s and 60s matter. The judges’ panel described it as “a very comprehensive analysis of civil rights movements; very sensitive to issues and appropriately expressed”.

Rishabh Satsangi, from Year 7, penned the Lower School’s winning entry, its title simply Subnormal. The judges’ notes appraised it as “beautifully written. A nice structure – thorough analysis of historical racism. The author has a clear vision of the future of more positive racial treatment within society.”

  • Scroll down to read both essays.

The Civil Rights Movement: Why it never ended, and why the 50s and 60s matter
Anish Kumar

The plight of African-Americans in America is one that has become so ingrained in the cultural fabric of the nation that it is almost taken for granted how much of a disparity still exists not only in life outcomes but in the ability to exercise fundamental liberal rights that we may take for granted in the UK. Even in this country, to claim that society is now “post-racial” is to delude oneself into believing that a Britain where race and ethnicity still matter could ever truly be egalitarian. To understand the everyday inequalities faced by the Black community across the Atlantic, it is important to understand the social hierarchy built, first directly, and now indirectly upon racism. This essay will examine the experiences of African-Americans in America firstly through slavery and inferiority, followed by the century of Jim Crow and both de facto and de jure segregation, and then the Civil Rights Movement which reached its peak in the 1950s and 1960s, but never truly ended.

The historical oppression of an entire race within the US, while not unique globally, is the most significant of its kind within the developed world. An entire people with a near-universal shared common experience of the evils of slavery creates both a solidarity but a polarisation along racial lines unlike anywhere else, with the country displaying true heterogeneity. Racial division expresses itself in the United States not only politically (which alone is alarmingly stark), but also culturally and in the places where Americans live and work. Slavery was, for centuries, the “peculiar institution” that drove the Southern economy. The agrarian region largely lacked the North’s cities, industrial base and middle class, and remained dominated by the slave-owning planter class. It is clear here that African-Americans were brought across the Atlantic, against their will, to a nation where their economic destiny was preordained by a strict hierarchical system in which they were placed at the bottom not as workers but as property, dehumanised by not only society but by politics and the economy. The US Constitution, as written at the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention in 1787, was fundamentally enshrined as a racist document, defining slaves as 3/5 of a person as a “political compromise” between the north and south. African-Americans are dehumanised firstly in their economic status, but then again as bargaining chips. Indeed, the pre-Civil War court case Dred Scott v Sandford determined that African-Americans could not even be citizens in the country that was founded upon the liberal philosophies of life, liberty, and property, and the cruel reality is that within these three principles, only Whites and that too those of a particular class were seen as enjoying them in earnest and enslaved African-Americans were seen as only an economic tool, something to be fought for not as an identity but as a possession. The experiences of American African-Americans in the mid-19th century can be summarised by the Cornerstone Speech by Confederate Vice-President, Alexander H. Stephens:

We have settled, and, I trust, settled forever, the great question which was the prime cause of our separation from the United States: I mean the question of African Slavery.

The old [American] Constitution set out with a wrong idea on this subject; it was based upon an erroneous principle; it was founded upon the idea that African Slavery is wrong, and it looked forward to the ultimate extinction of that institution. But time has proved the error, and we have corrected it in the new Constitution.

We have based ours upon principle of the inequality of races, and the principle is spreading — it is becoming appreciated and better understood; and though there are many, even in the South, who are still in the shell upon this subject, yet the day is not far distant when it will be generally understood and appreciated…

[Our Government’s] foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new Government, is the first, in the history of the world, based on this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth

The fundamental message here, that of the “inequality of the races”, is one that explains the plight of the pre-Civil War southern Black person. But this inferiority did not only apply to the enslaved Southern population, but also to the free people of the North. Racism was not a controversial belief system among 19th century American Whites, and it was Lincoln, who we see as a great emancipator today, who supported the American Colonisation Society’s efforts to resettle free African-Americans to a newly established colony rather than accept their integration into society. The active racism that has been experienced by the African-Americans in this era is a collective cultural trauma that still holds true today, and must always be kept in mind when arguments about “moving on” from the era are made. We can never truly move past such a deep scar on the collective imagination of an entire group, and the nature of race relations in the US is that we cannot move on from a system of oppression when the system is built on the foundation of racism.

The fight that the “redeemer” Whites of the South took to newly won Black freedoms after the Civil War and won is another in the long list of collective traumas that define modern heterogenous America. The Radical Republicans had in their ranks numerous elected, politically active African-Americans, popularly elected under the laws of the nation and under the principles that their people had never yet been able to enjoy the benefits of. There were no Black senators in the United States between 1881 (shortly after the end of Reconstruction) and 1967, and there were no Southern Black senators for 132 years after the Compromise of 1877 saw African-Americans once again sacrificed by Whites who sought to preserve their power. Throughout this era, and arguably even today, an entire group in society are routinely thrown under the bus for the political benefit of a class that, while no longer dehumanising them through a view of them as property, continues to do so by reducing them to statistics and acceptable “collateral damage” in power tussles.

Between the end of Reconstruction and the 1950s, it can hardly be said that the position of African-Americans improved to a dramatic degree, and the fact that race relations reached their nadir in the early 20th century teaches us the importance of civil rights today. The end of the military occupation of the South by Union troops meant that the Southern Democrats were able to establish control through violence and insurgency; groups like the KKK may seem a joke today but in their first iteration the Klan was a real threat to African-American suffrage, and in its second peak in the 1920s had significant influence, not only in the South but in northern states like Indiana. The black community in the United States experienced for a hundred years the injustices of Jim Crow: segregation, discrimination, disenfranchisement systematically by White Democrats who established a one-party state in the South. The near absence of any Republican politics meant that the real election was the selection of the Democratic nominee in the primary, which was limited only to Whites who could pass the local voting restriction laws, and therefore the interests of African-Americans were entirely excluded from government. While racism in early-to-mid 20th century America may have formed in the cultural imagination through southern legal segregation, the north remained de facto segregated, and in fact the Great Migration led in northern cities to racial tensions that were of a similar kind as seen in the South. Millions of African-Americans moved to escape the legally enforced inferiority they had assumed within the South, and found themselves in the industrial northern cities like Chicago and New York City. The continual theme of race relations in the time period covered here is that the white population has always resisted the progress of its African-American peers, and this manifested itself in the racial zoning laws of Chicago and Detroit, and the 1919 Chicago Race Riot which saw such destruction and brutality that it encouraged both groups to seek greater separation, even if it was not always strictly defined in law. The theme here, whether legally enforced or not, is that wherever those of darker complexion existed, their life was made poorer than it should have been by the conscious effort of white leaderships, whether that was for the reason of politics or prejudice. It was George Wallace who infamously said that when he tried to campaign on the issues of “roads and schools” hardly anyone listened, but when he began talking about “N——”, “the people] stamped the floor”.  It was not a leadership acting on its own to suppress the black people while the whites watched on, rather it was a concerted effort by a broad white majority to suppress the rights of a minority, which has shaped the attitudes towards race relations held today, on both sides of the divide.

The Civil Rights Movement itself, while easy to view from across the Atlantic as having succeeded, was one settled not by politics, but rather by time. It is easy to forget that the end of Jim Crow was followed by the 1968 three-way election where the key theme was race and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F Kennedy. The Civil Rights Act 1964 was passed not along party lines, but along regional lines, and the vast majority of Senators and Representatives from the South, almost entirely Democrats, voted against the bill in both houses of Congress. The emancipation of African Americans in the South on legal lines was not immediate either, and the white elite, represented by the likes of Byrd, Thurmond (who had switched parties but not ideology), Wallace, Maddox and Faubus, remained firmly committed to their “Massive Resistance” campaign that had been the attitude towards integration throughout the Civil Rights Movement. A more romantic history of the time may be more inclined to look at the marches of King and the simple acts of defiance of Parks as the defining features of the campaign for rights, but it is, unfortunately, the case that the landmark Acts of the 1960s did not end racism, and, as with many “seminal” moments, only served to give the leadership an excuse to turn on the people they had just emancipated. Nixon and Wallace won 57% of the vote combined in 1968, campaigning implicitly and explicitly, respectively, appealing to the grievances of the White south. Humphrey, an old liberal, lost the election that went on to define the next five, with Nixon sweeping the South in 1972 on a Republican ticket that would have been consigned to single digit vote share just a few decades earlier, and the realignment of southern whites to the Republican party was one that took place on racial lines. The Civil Rights Acts and Voting Rights Act have spent the last five decades being chipped away by courts, and today southern states are strongly racially gerrymandered to the extent that when conservative Democrat John Bel Edwards won the Louisiana governor race in 2019, he won a majority of votes but won in only one congressional district out of the six. Civil Rights is portrayed by the education system as one of tension and resistance culminating in the acceptance of the three branches of government that change must finally come. This is true, to some degree: the judiciary passed the Brown decision unanimously, the legislature passed the Acts that ended legal Jim Crow laws entirely, and it was Kennedy and LBJ who pushed presidential support for desegregation. This would only ignore, however, the context of each of these decisions. Landmark moments were not so for their transformative effect on the status of African-Americans, but in how they catalysed resistance and support, often in equal measure, and despite obvious progress caused by the sacrifices that we focus on in our romanticised view of history, there is still so much to be done today.

In this sense, the Civil Rights movement never truly ended, or even begun. Shelby v Holder in 2013 struck down sections 4(b) and 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which has led to African-American disenfranchisement, while not on the same scale as the early 20th century, of the same political motivation. The Republican white Southern leadership is only following the inspiration of their Democratic predecessors, and the poll station closures and voter ID mandates in states like Texas and Georgia have had an unfortunate impact on the ease of voting for minorities, who heavily vote Democratic, especially in the South, and once again the white-majority governments have sacrificed the rights of black people for their own political objectives. The south is now so racially polarised that states in the South that do not contain large cities with enough liberal whites to swing elections (such as Georgia) can largely be electorally predicted along demographic lines. Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, are all states that have electoral margins close enough that split-ticket voting like that seen in the north prior to the 2010s would make their down-ballot races competitive, and yet the only one of the three that has elected a Democratic governor, senator or presidential candidate since Obama is Alabama, where Doug Jones won by less than 2% against a Republican candidate embroiled in allegations of improper sexual conduct with underage girls. America remains racially polarised, divided and often in active conflict, and the white grievance politics that carried the deep South for Wallace and Nixon in the 60s and 70s is not dissimilar from that which saw Southern and Appalachian whites finally abandon the Democrats after the election of the country’s first African-American president. Obama’s election was not the culmination of the Civil Rights movement, it was the reminder that racism never left and was merely buried by a leadership who felt they had “done enough”. The dog-whistle disparaging of those on “welfare” and those who “disturb law and order” is just the same attack on African-Americans as those made by the politicians of the last century, but disguised behind nicer terminology. Lee Atwater summed it up well in a 1981 interview:

Atwater: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry Dent and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now [Reagan] doesn’t have to do that. All you have to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he’s campaigned on since 1964 […] and that’s fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster…

Y’all don’t quote me on this. You start out in 1954 by saying, “N—–, N—–, N—–.” By 1968 you can’t say “n—–“—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N—–, N—–.”

The emotional wedge issue of race that boiled to the surface with the Riots of the early 20th century during the time of Wilson and the 1950s and 60s in the era of King, were just the same as those which prompted the riots in Minneapolis after the police murder of George Floyd. Alabamian African-Americans have only this year been returned a second congressional district to elect a candidate of their choice, having been gerrymandered to just 14% of representation in the House while comprising 27% of the population. The 50s and 60s matter, but not because they represented the ushering in of a new, equal society, but because they remind us that the prejudiced majority in power continue to seek to restrict the liberties of the embattled minority. Black History Month may seem an afterthought, especially to those of us on this side of the Atlantic, but the average African-American has a lower life expectancy, educational outcome, and political representation when compared to their white peers, as we approach 2 months from the 60th anniversary of Johnson’s signing of the Civil Rights Act. The neat period of history we call the “Civil Rights Movement” is better thought of as a particularly aggrieved era of the entire struggle for recognition and respect that the African-American minority has endured since they were first brought onto the shores of America against their will centuries ago. We must remember that the tyranny of the majority does not end, just because the majority concedes some of its unfairly gained power, and though events like the election of Obama in 2008 showed every black child that they can, and should, dream of anything and everything, the resistance that this incited reminds us that there is still so much progress to be achieved.

King once told us that he had a dream, one where his “four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character”. He told us that even after a Civil War, “a hundred years on, the Negro is still not free”. Sixty years on, they still are not free. Much like the parable of the Wise and Foolish Brothers, race relations in the United States are built on sand, and when the rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon it, great is its fall and descent into a chaos to which we have only responded by building upon those same shaky foundations. The Rights that have been violated for so long must be rebuilt, not by ignoring the foundational history of racism, but on the solid rock of the principle of equality that should guide us every day of our lives.

The fight continues to hold true the great foundational declaration of the world’s first liberal democracy:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”.

It is the duty of all that we never halt the Movement that will secure for all, at last, the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness that brings us the joys of humanity.

Subnormal – A government scandal that rocked the nation
Rishabh Satsangi

In 1948, the historic Empire Windrush arrived on British coasts, with hundreds of hopeful black Caribbean adults aboard in euphoria, entering – what they thought – was the mother nation. A couple of decades after this occurrence, the new generation created by these hard-working individuals trying to keep the nation afloat after WWII are facing severe discrimination despite the new laws introduced in 1948 British Nationality Act.

One of the main issues was the education they were receiving. West Indian parents saw education and schooling as a route to social mobility; they came here not for the financial benefits, but to ensure that the succeeding generations would prosper. During the 1960s, the Department of Education saw more and more black children entering schools, while more and more white parents began complaining about this. They suggested the arrival of them would hold back the future and potential of the current white generation – and the government agreed. The corrupt government of the time suggested that a meagre 30% of pupils should come from an immigrant background, taking them out of their own neighbourhood so they could be evenly distributed among schools. This example of institutional racism would wound the reputation of Britain as a welcoming country perpetually. Shortly after, scientific racism arose.

Many leading psychologists such as the German Hans Eysenck, falsely hypothesised that the average white child was born with more intelligence than an immigrant’s one. The influence of these people made the belief and racial discrimination spread like wildfire. So, the government created new educationally subnormal schools that were suited especially for students with learning difficulties and low academic ability. Majority of the time, the racist psychologists would create a test used to decipher who would need to go to an ESN school that required no such general knowledge. The average score was between 90 and 110; however, a survey showed that newly arrived West Indian children were scoring 70 on average. The government immediately seized the opportunity, bypassing any good logic. It was deduced that the immigrants were scoring low because of the cultural differences and traditions in the two places, but after they were accustomed to the British ways, they were scoring on a similar level to others.

However, all was not lost. Some adults were starting to believe that black children were being placed in these schools for no legitimate reason – one of them was a youth worker called Bernard Coard. Coard was not blind to this blatant racism, but he had no proof to directly accuse the government of this atrocious deed. An investigation began, starting at the Institute of Education of London University. It was there he uncovered the evidence that revealed a scandal that shocked the nation. He managed to carefully locate a report conducted by the Inner London Education Authority that explicitly revealed that “it is of considerable significance that heads thought 28% of their immigrant pupils wrongly placed compared with 7% of non-immigrant pupils”. Furthermore, it also explicitly stated that “the IQ distribution of the West Indian group is roughly the same as that of non-immigrants”. This was the undeniable confirmation that the fears many black parents were subject to was true. With a substantial amount of research, he published an influential book named, “How the West Indian child is made educationally sub-normal in the British school system”. Bernard’s book exposed the misgivings of the British school system and undermined the rumour that black children were born with less intelligence than white children. It was mainly addressed to the Caribbean community, pointing out that those in authority were not just doing something scandalously wrong, but more importantly, they knew it, and even more importantly, they were not providing any action on it.

The publishing of this book in May 1971 provided support for other debatable events, such as the New Cross house uprising in 1981 and others. Bernard’s book and this unfortunate debacle would have a major impact, for both the education of the developing black generation (the government decided to provide the book in teacher-training colleges shortly after) and the strenuous fight for equality in today’s modern society.


Stapylton storm through to take the House trophy, while Broughton’s long Sports Day winning streak continues

Stapylton were crowned winners of the 2022­–2023 House competition, with House Captain Shivam Singh and his deputy, Madhav Menon, proudly lifting the Shearly Cup.

The eagerly awaited result was announced to great excitement in the end-of-year assembly. This academic year’s competition was an emphatic reversal of last year: Stapylton not only enjoyed a certain margin of victory over runners-up Leicester, they also left the 2021–2022 winners, Harrisons’, languishing in the lower reaches of the points table.

One of the biggest sources of points in the House competition is Sports Day. Postponed twice because of inclement weather, or poor weather forecasts, Sports Day was eventually held this year on the penultimate day of term. It was won by Broughton for the fifth consecutive year. Because it came too late for the points to be added to this year’s total, they will be instead be rolled over into the new House competition for 2023­–2024.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “My congratulations go to Stapylton on their triumph in the House competition. Their success is the result of consistent effort in many aspects of School life by pupils of all ages. The Broughton boys gave their House a useful head start in next year’s competition with another splendid Sports Day performance.”

The House system is run by the boys themselves, with each of the six Houses having a House Captain, Deputy House Captain and Charities Officer. Each form within every year group also has a House representative.

In addition to raising money individually for a local charity, the Houses compete throughout the year and gain points for the competition in a wide variety of inter-House events, ranging from quizzes to Music contests.

Points are also awarded based on the totals of merits, good notes and commendations earned across the year groups.

Stapylton House, which has blue as its colour, is named after former Chairman of Governors H. E. Chetwynd Stapylton (1873–1885). In 1886, when the School was still based in its historic home of Tudor Hall, he bought the field in front of what is now the Main Building for the School’s use.

Not only is the Stapylton Field very much still in use today ­­– notably for cricket, rugby and the Founder’s Day Fete ­– but its acquisition helped QE secure a perfect site for the relocation of the School to its present Queen’s Road site in 1932.


Formal but fun: saying farewell to QE’s leavers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Anniversary festival celebrates rugby’s place in the School’s history

The PE department rounded off the season with its own anniversary celebrations in a QE 450 Rugby Festival.

With events targeted at players from all years, the festival was one of a number of innovative subject festivals being held as part of QE’s new Flourish extra-curricular programme.

Director of Sport Jon Hart said: “Competitive rugby has been played at QE for more than 100 years, so it occupies an important place in the School’s history. Therefore, we wanted to ensure the game was included in QE’s 450th anniversary celebrations.

“At the same time, our festival provided opportunities for boys of all ages – from giving our youngest Elizabethans the opportunity to have fun and develop a love of the game by playing against each other in an inter-House competition, through to helping our leading young sportsmen finesse their performance through learning about nutrition.”

The festival began with last month’s 47th Annual QE Rugby Sevens Tournament, the second-largest schools sevens tournament in the country.

Played at U14 as well as U16 level for the first time since before the pandemic, the tournament attracted 64 teams from many of England’s leading rugby schools. Tonbridge and Harrow schools took the U16 and U14 cups respectively, while QE’s own players performed well, achieving emphatic wins in both age categories.

The second event combined rugby skills with charity fundraising: a kicking event for pupils from Years 7–10 which raised money for the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice in Barnet. The hospice has for some years been a popular target for fundraising efforts at QE.

Next came a Year 7 inter-House rugby competition. All Year 7 boys took part in this event, which ran during the course of an afternoon. Each of the School’s six Houses took on all of the other Houses.

Finally, caterers Holroyd Howe gave a specialist nutrition presentation, to which selected sportsmen from Years 7–10, including top rugby players, were invited. The aim was to develop these young athletes’ understanding of the important effect that nutrition has on sporting performance.


Royal visit to herald 450th anniversary: from ancient roots to robotics, HRH The Duke of Gloucester enjoys a taste of life at Queen Elizabeth’s School

HRH The Duke of Gloucester today visited QE, as the reigning Sunday Times State Secondary School of the Year prepares to celebrate its 450th anniversary early next year.

Members of the School’s Combined Cadet Force flanked the main entrance and the senior rugby team provided a sporting backdrop as the Duke arrived for his visit, during which he marked the anniversary by planting an oak tree and by presenting a specially embroidered banner to Headmaster Neil Enright.

The visit had an eye to the future as well as the past: the Duke was given a demonstration of VEX Robotics – QE is a multi-time UK champion and was the first UK school to win a World Championship title – and even tried out driving the robots himself.

He came to QE almost exactly 90 years after another royal visit, by HRH The Prince George, Duke of Kent, who opened the new buildings – still in use as QE’s Main Building – following the School’s relocation from its historic Tudor Hall site in Wood Street, Barnet.

Following the visit, Mr Enright said: “It was a tremendous honour and my great pleasure to welcome HRH The Duke of Gloucester today. With the anniversary fast approaching, there was much to show him, including the School’s original 1573 Charter signed by Elizabeth I, our Ties through Time installation of 232 School photographs from the 1880s until comparatively modern times, and, to bring things right up to date, the robots and our new Music building, opened in May.

“The Duke showed a keen interest in everything, and I know our roboteers will be especially delighted that he was brave enough to try his hand at the controls of two of their creations.”

On his arrival, the Duke was presented to the Headmaster by Martin Russell, Representative Deputy Lieutenant of the London Borough of Barnet and a former QE parent.

He was then introduced to:

  • Barrie Martin, MBE (Chairman of Governors and Chairman of the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s)
  • Nick Gaskell (Vice-Chairman of Governors)
  • The three Deputy Heads: Anne Macdonald (Academic); David Ryan (Pastoral) and Tara O’Reilly (Operations)
  • School Captain (head boy) Theo Mama-Kahn, and Senior Vice-Captains Ansh Jassra and Antony Yassa, all of Year 13.

The Duke was shown the charter and Royal Seal, together with original artefacts from the 1932 royal visit drawn from the School’s archives. The materials were introduced by Jenni Blackford, Curator of QE Collections and Head of Library Services, and two Year 13 boys involved in the work with the archives, Ishaan Mehta and Gabriel Gulliford.

The Headmaster then gave a formal welcome to the Duke in front of 100 selected pupils in the Main School Hall. He said: “Your Royal Highness, it is my honour and privilege to offer you the warmest welcome on behalf of the Elizabethan community…2022 has been a year full of accomplishment at the School. We have had our status as an outstanding school confirmed by Ofsted, been named State Secondary School of the Year by The Sunday Times, and opened The Friends’ Recital Hall and Music Rooms – the latest enhancement to our campus, built from the generosity of our School community. You could say it has been our annus mirabilis.”

QE’s Senior Barbershop group sang the hymn Abide with Me while the new School banner was brought into the hall by a representative of the CCF. Commissioned in advance of the 450th anniversary service being held in Westminster Abbey on 24th March 2023, the banner was passed to the Duke, who presented it to the Headmaster.

After visiting the Ties through Time photographic installation and enjoying the robotics in the School’s Conference Centre, the royal party headed to the new Music building to watch rehearsals for this Thursday’s Winter Concert under the watchful eye of Director of Music Ruth Partington.

Then it was back to the front of the School before the Duke walked down the drive, lined by Year 7 pupils, stopping close to the gates to plant the anniversary oak tree. It is intended that the tree, which has been marked with a commemorative plaque, will come into full leaf for the first time at the School in the spring of 2023.

The tree will also form part of The Queen’s Green Canopy project inaugurated to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. Senior Vice-Captain Antony Yassa read a short extract from the wording of a new anthem composed for the anniversary year by internationally renowned composer, Howard Goodall, which is to receive its debut performance in Westminster Abbey in March: “Let us fill this place with hope. Face fate and fortune in our stride. That like an oak, we draw our strength from ancient roots spread deep and wide. From ancient roots spread deep and wide.”

Pupil representatives from the School’s Eco Network and its six Houses placed soil at the base of the tree, with the Duke invited to complete the process.

“What fun I had!” Newest Elizabethans make friends on adventure centre trip

Just a few weeks after starting at QE, Year 7 pupils headed off to an adventure centre to learn some new skills, test their nerve and have some fun together.

The visit to Stubbers Adventure Centre involved climbing, canoeing, archery and laser tag, with competition aplenty as the boys took on their friends and classmates.

The trip was open to the entire year group, with the Broughton, Harrisons’ and Leicester forms heading east to Essex on one day, and Pearce, Stapylton and Underne making the trip on another.

Crispin Bonham-Carter, Assistant Head (Pupil Involvement), said: “The timing and nature of this trip were quite deliberately chosen: through activities that required teamwork and collaboration, we wanted to give our youngest pupils the chance to cement some of the social bonds they have already formed over their first six weeks here, while also providing them with the opportunity to continue to make new friends.”

The trip was part of the new QE Flourish enrichment programme, which Mr Bonham-Carter oversees.

“We are keen that our boys get out beyond our campus to make the most of our location on the edge of the capital and of the opportunities nearby. Being out of doors and active was another key feature of the day.

“I was pleased that the boys had such a good time – and some of their tutors certainly got stuck in, too!”

The activities were run by the instructors at the centre near Upminster.

Alongside the healthy competition, some of the activities involved an element of trust. In the wall-climbing, for example, participants had to rely on their team-mates who were on the ground holding their ropes.

Siddharth Josyula, a member of Year 7’s Leicester form, said: “First, we went canoeing on the lake. After putting on our life-jackets, we learnt how to balance on the boat and paddle across the lake. My team, which consisted of me, Tahiyan [Khan] and Mr Batchelor [Chemistry teacher Thomas Batchelor], dominated 7L. We even turned around to help others who were struggling. Though my legs got a bit wet, overall, I enjoyed the experience of rowing for the first time.”

After lunch, he headed to the rock-climbing walls and then archery.

“The last activity of the day was laser tag and I was absolutely thrilled as the battlefield looked so cool, like in a movie. Our team lost 3-1, but it was a lot of fun running around and taking cover from shots.

“On the coach journey home, I had my left-over snacks from lunchtime, thinking what fun I had and what memories I made.”

His fellow Leicester form member, Somansh Patro, said afterwards: “That day was unbelievable! Overall, my favourite was rock-climbing – it blew my mind how far I had climbed. I probably stayed up for 10 minutes. Laser tag was fun too and a lot of us scored bull’s eyes in archery  in my team.”

Canoeing was the hardest of all, Somansh felt, because of the “fearsome” demands of paddling successfully. “But I enjoyed it, especially with the good co-ordination between me and Sarang [Venkatasubramaniam], my partner and friend. The amount of fun I had was utterly to the max!”

Broughton old boys’ visit brings back memories, but helps today’s pupils look to the future, too

Nine Old Elizabethan friends whose careers have taken very different paths found time to pass on tips to young pupils when they met up for a reunion at the School.

All but one of the group from the Class of 2016 (those who started at QE in 2009) were from Broughton House, and so they duly enjoyed the opportunity to talk to the young Broughtonians of today.

They also seized the chance to meet up with some of their old teachers and to marvel at the changes to the School campus since they left.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “It was good to learn that this group still retains great affection for their alma mater and to see that friendships formed at QE really do stand the test of time, even with some of this group having left before Year 13 (including one of their number, Brian Yoon, moving to South Korea as early as Year 9).”

The visit was arranged after one of the group, Alexander Ng, contacted Headmaster Neil Enright.

First stop was a trip down memory lane with a visit to 7B’s form time, where Languages teacher Marie-Jo Jacquin is still the form tutor, just as she was in their day back in 2009.

They then did a careers ‘speed-dating’ workshop in which they introduced their roles and industries, and the key skills and routes into it, to small groups of Year 8 boys. The group included doctors, engineers, a lawyer and a representative of the film industry. There was an opportunity for the boys to ask questions of the visitors.

As well as being taken on a tour of the campus, the group also caught up with some familiar faces, including: the Headmaster; Deputy Head (Pastoral) David Ryan; Sarah Westcott Assistant Head (Pupil Progress); Mathematics teacher & Head of Academic Administration Wendy Fung, and Head of Physics Jonathan Brooke.

The nine were:

  • Three medical doctors: Alexander Ng, who went to UCL and is now at Barnet Hospital; David Hao, and Michael Yeung (Cambridge);
  • Two engineers: mechanical engineer Lampojan Raveenthiranathan, who studied at UCL and now works for a company which designs and manufactures components for military aircraft ejector seats, and civil engineer Roderick Lee;
  • Brian Yoon, who works in finance;
  • Prahlad Patel, who studied Actuarial Science at City University, but is now in the film industry and has been working on Season 5 of Netflix’s The Crown, digitally refining the images;
  • Lawyer Meer Gala-Shah;
  • David Dubinsky, who read Physics & Astronomy at Durham.

Eight of the group were from Broughton, with odd man out Michael Yeung, of Leicester House, made an honorary Broughtonian for the day.