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Génial! Creativity to the fore as linguists show their mettle

Pearce took the honours in two separate competitions run by the Languages department to encourage boys to flex their linguistic muscles and show off their creativity during the lockdown.

For both contests, boys had to show their mastery of written French or German, while a challenge set by Languages teacher Rosie Hall additionally gave Year 10 pupils the opportunity to display visual ability alongside their verbal skill.

Head of Languages Nora Schlatte said: “We have been impressed both by the number of boys choosing to take part in the competitions and by the quality of their contributions. My congratulations go to all the winners.”

For a competition open to boys throughout Key Stage 3, pupils had to choose a German or French song and write a paragraph about why they liked it.

Tristan Chanda was the Year 7 winner. In his piece on Parle à ta tête, the 2019 hit by French singer-songwriter Indila, he wrote: “Ça me donne envie de danser!” – it makes me want to dance. He explained that he likes pop music “parce que c’est branché et génial” – because it’s trendy and great!

Saim Khan won the Year 8 prize with a paragraph about Alain le Lait’s song, J’aime les fruits, in which he explained that he also liked the singer’s other songs: “Elles sont aussi très intéressantes et vraiment cool!” – they are very interesting, too, and really cool!”

Darren Lee, the Year 9 winner, took a close look at the life of rapper Georgio, observing that while many have lost hope because of the Covid-19 virus, his song L’Espoir Meurt en Dernier strikes a note of hope that is essential at the present time.

House points were awarded, with Pearce taking first place, followed by Broughton and then Underne.

Languages teacher Rebecca Grundy also ran a House competition for Years 10 and 11, for which they were required simply to submit a piece of creative writing in French or German. “There was great variety in the entries, with boys submitting poems, articles and adverts,” she said.

First prize went to Year 10’s Olly Salter, for his poem, Le Café, about a chance encounter in a café.

Other highly commended entries included:

  • Year 11 Shivas Patel’s illustrated biography of Beethoven
  • A piece by Om Chakrapani, of Year 10, about Ferdinand Porsche, engineer and founder of the eponymous car company
  • A review of the 1945 classic film, Les Enfants du Paradis, by Aadarsh Khimasia, of Year 11
  • A brochure-style paeon of praise for the city of Lyon penned by Siddhant Kansal, of Year 11, who fell in love with the city when he went there on an exchange
  • Sushant Despande’s poem, Mein Handy. Sushant is in Year 10.

Pearce again took first prize in this competition; Leicester were second and Broughton third.
Miss Hall praised the “great work” done by her set 2 Year 10 class based on Jean de la Fontaine’s fable Le rat de ville et de champs.

The boys watched some French cartoon clips and then were asked to create a comic strip or storyboard, re-imagining the story and using the vocabulary they learned to explain relative advantages and disadvantages of living in the town and the countryside.

Mukund Soni produced a hand-drawn strip, while Kirtinandan Koramutla, Arya Bhatt and Danny Adey all showed distinctive visual approaches in creating their storyboards with computers.

“I’ve been really impressed with their creativity and use of language,” Miss Hall added.

A journey from another time: Sixth-formers head for Paris, with the accent firmly on learning the language

A-level French students had plenty of opportunity to practise their skills in the language on a trip to Paris that also gave them a grounding in the culture while taking in all the sights.

They saw the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysees and the Louvre, as well as visiting attractions specially selected to correspond to their interests in French cuisine, sport and politics.

Head of Languages Nora Schlatte said: “Each day, the students enjoyed guided visits by native speakers, requiring them to understand and ask questions in French: they coped extremely well with this high level of challenge. Indeed, many guides commented on the impressive level of competency shown by the boys.”

The Languages department runs a trip to the French capital every two years, ensuring that all boys can go to Paris at least once during their French A-level studies.

For this visit, undertaken shortly before coronavirus restrictions were introduced, 23 Year 12 and Year 13 pupils headed off on the Eurostar along with three staff: Ms Schlatte; French teacher Gillian Ross, who organised the trip, and David Ryan, Deputy Head.

The party stayed in the Louis Blanc hotel near the Gare du Nord and conveniently situated opposite a Métro station, enabling the boys to reach the sights easily.

A particular highlight was a visit to the Senate (Sénat) at the Palais de Luxembourg, the French equivalent of the House of Lords, where students were shown the impressive gold interiors of the staterooms designed by the famous Marie de’ Medici, a 16th and 17th-century queen of France and patron of the arts. The boys were given access to the main debating chamber, known as the Hemisphere, and were informed about the French system of government.

There was also a tour of the Stade de France, where the students were given access to the dressing rooms decorated for the Six Nations rugby tournament and enjoyed the opportunity to see strips belonging to several French football and rugby sporting heroes.

The sixth-formers were also taken round the vibrant Aligre market, where they learned about the importance of food and drink in French culture and how markets are still hugely popular with consumers.

They were particularly impressed with the range of produce available and enjoyed tasting the cheese and charcuterie, explained Ms Schlatte.

“It was great to give students the opportunity to use their excellent levels of French to interact with issues they are interested in,” she concluded.

Simply epic! Troy exhibition visit brings the legends to life

A visit to a critically acclaimed exhibition on Troy at the British Museum helped bring the city’s ancient legends to life for GCSE Latin students.

The 33 Year 11 boys taking Latin GCSE – the highest number since the subject was reintroduced at QE as a curriculum subject in 2012 – have been studying Troy as part of their set texts.

The story of Troy has endured for over 3,000 years and captured the imagination of countless generations with its tale of a ten-year war fought over the abduction of a beautiful woman, Helen of Troy, and of enemies infiltrating into the great city in a wooden horse.

Assistant Head of Languages (Classics) Dilprit Kaur said: “The boys loved how the story was told in a multi-sensory way. Using voices to tell the story and projecting elements of it on to the wall really brought the literature to life for them. It also made them appreciate how many versions and adaptations of the story there are.”

The exhibition, Troy: Myth and Reality, showcased art related to Troy and also examined the archaeological evidence demonstrating conclusively that the city actually existed.

“The boys don’t often get a chance to draw upon artefacts as part of the syllabus,” said Ms Kaur.

“They relished the way in which the story was presented in different media, encompassing sculpture, pottery and modern art.”

The boys were accompanied on their visit by Crispin Bonham-Carter, Assistant Head (Pupil Involvement), who teaches Latin, and English teacher, Tom Foster.

The exhibition has secured highly positive reviews from the BBC’s Arts Editor Will Gompertz and from publications including The Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Time Out. It runs until 8th March 2020.

In the afternoon, the group also toured the galleries at the British Museum to enhance further their appreciation of mythology and of the Roman Empire.

Magical success for QE’s multilinguists

Five boys have been named as winners in a national languages competition – with three of them enjoying success in the contest for the second year in a row.

The five impressed judges with their entries for the European Day of Languages Competition, to which they were asked to submit an entry based on the theme, A Magical Trip. They were selected from among many hundreds of entries nationally.

Designed to encourage creativity, the annual competition allows entrants to submit work in any format of their choice, with the only stipulations being that it include a language other than English and that it be no larger than an A4 sheet of paper.

  • Year 9 pupil Darren Lee’s entry was in the form of an article for French newspaper Le Monde, complete with his own drawing.
  • Shyam Jayabal, of Year 9, produced a day-by-day account of a memorable week spent on holiday with friends in a caravan in Dorset.
  • Vineeth Rajan, of Year 11, wrote his submission in not one but two foreign languages – French and Hindi.
  • Anik Singh, of Year 7, took a whimsical look in German at the possibilities for a holiday.
  • Chakshu Chopra, of Year 10, was more abstract, writing in German about how life is the most magical of all trips.

For Chakshu, Darren and Vineeth it was a repeat performance, since they were also winners last year.

Nationally, foreign languages at school have been in decline, but QE remains committed to language-learning. All boys take at least one GCSE in French, German or Latin, and all three of these languages are available at A-level.

There are extra-curricular options in Mandarin, Spanish and Ancient Greek. Some boys also study other languages outside school and there are many QE pupils who are native speakers in languages besides English.

The QE winners’ certificates were accompanied by a letter signed by the organisers. Steve Fawkes, Chair of the Association of Language Learning North East and René Koglbauer, Executive Director of the North Leadership Centre and Director of Network for Languages North East, wrote: “Once again, judges were impressed by the creativity with which pupils and students addressed the theme, alongside the imaginative and sometimes powerful use of language, humour, thoughtfulness and accuracy.”

QE also gained its own certificate and was commended for both the number and the quality of its entries. The winning boys are pictured above, accompanied by Languages teacher Rosie Hall.

Brexit, bridge-building and a barn dance!

QE sixth-formers devised a quiz for visiting exchange students that not only included questions on both the UK and Germany, but also tested the visitors’ knowledge of the unprecedented political situation here.

Twenty-seven Year 10 boys were hosting their German exchange partners, having previously visited Germany for the first leg of the language exchange when they were in Year 9.

During their stay of just under a week, the German group undertook a packed programme featuring cultural and social activities, as well as the opportunity to take part in lessons at QE. The exchange is with a co-educational grammar school (or ‘Gymnasium’), Friedrich von Bodelschwingh Gymnasium, in Bielefeld, near the cities of Hannover and Dortmund.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “We have maintained this partnership for many years and it is always good to welcome the boys and girls visiting from Bielefeld.

“At a time when uptake of languages in schools has fallen nationally, at QE we continue to place a high importance on language-learning, with all boys taking at least one foreign language – French or German – at GCSE.

“Although our teachers lay the foundations very effectively in the classroom, for serious language-learners there really is no substitute for the experience of an international exchange. The boys’ confidence and facility in spoken German are inevitably strengthened as they chat with their exchange partners and with other native speakers, while at the same time they derive considerable benefit from experiencing the culture at first-hand.”

In addition to the quiz developed and delivered by sixth-formers, joint activities arranged for the visitors included a:

  • Trip to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre for a workshop on Hamlet run by the Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Boat trip down to Greenwich, where the pupils could visit attractions such as the observatory or planetarium
  • Visit to the West End to see the Thriller Live show featuring the songs of Michael Jackson
  • Barn dance and pizza evening
  • Celebratory breakfast before departure.

A number of lessons at QE were specially tailored to make the most of the opportunity presented by the visitors’ presence. In German classes, pupils were set the task of preparing and delivering bilingual group presentations; in English, they looked together at Romeo and Juliet, and in Technology, the metaphorical links created by the exchange were celebrated in a physical way through a bridge-building challenge. The visitors and their QE partners also took part in a Music lesson together.

Language exchanges and other trips to France and Germany organised by the Languages department represent only one aspect of the many opportunities for international travel enjoyed by boys at QE. There are regular overseas trips organised by departments such as History, Geography and Music. The annual skiing trip is always popular, and there are sports tours to destinations as diverse as Holland, Sri Lanka and Canada. In addition, team and individual successes in competitions have in recent years taken QE boys to a variety of international finals, including, for example, the International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics in Beijing, the VEX Robotics finals in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Empire Mock Trial legal competition in New York.


Aeroball, Arromanches, animals and ‘animateurs’: a varied programme in Normandy as boys throw themselves into learning French

Boys from both ends of the School were plunged into intensive language-learning during a week at a château in Normandy.

Forty of last year’s Year 7 pupils enjoyed a range of fun activities at the Château de la Baudonnière, near Avranches, with all the instructions for these – and for mealtimes – given in French.

Ten Year 12s also made the summer trip, during which they completed work experience placements designed to boost their language skills, such as working in a restaurant, where they were expected to take the orders and converse with customers. In addition, they helped the château’s ‘animateurs’ (activity leaders).

Languages teacher Rebecca Grundy said: “We aim for a completely immersive experience to give the boys some intensive help with their language-learning, while making sure they learn something of the culture and history of Normandy and France.”

The activities at the château site enjoyed by the Year 7 boys included raft-building, tackling an assault course, practising archery, playing aeroball and climbing. They spent time feeding animals at a farm, tried some traditional delicacies, including snails, and learned about making cider, or ‘cidre’, a popular drink in the region.

On a day out, the younger boys visited two Norman cities of historical importance, Arromanches and Bayeux.

At Bayeux, they saw the famous tapestry depicting the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

And in Arromanches, they went to a 360-degree cinema to learn about the importance of World War II’s D-Day to the region, also walking the beaches that were the sites of the D-Day landings on 6th June 1944.

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.

Recounting the rise and fall – and rise again – of Classics at QE

Old Elizabethan Professor P J Rhodes, a leading ancient historian, highlights a QE connection in a new academic tribute to one of the world’s foremost experts on Greek art.

Peter John Rhodes (OE 1951–1959), who is usually cited as P J Rhodes, has penned a chapter entitled Buildings and History in a festschrift published this spring, Greek Art in Motion: Studies in honour of Sir John Boardman on the occasion of his 90th birthday.

In the chapter, Professor Rhodes, who is Honorary Professor and Emeritus Professor of Ancient History at the University of Durham, mentions that one of Sir John’s contemporaries at Chigwell School was J W Finnett. John Finnett went on to become a popular Classics master at QE, teaching Professor Rhodes when he was in the Sixth Form.

“In my 14th year of retirement, I remain reasonably compos et mentis et corporis,” says Professor Rhodes. “I am still academically active — reading, writing, participating in conferences, still doing a little teaching and higher-degree examining; an academically focused tour of Iran in 2000 gave me a taste for travelling to exotic places (all too often visiting them shortly before trouble strikes — but my reputation hasn’t yet led to my being denied entry to any country).”

He has also been inspired recently to look further into the history of Classics teaching at QE. In an article for the Old Elizabethans Association’s magazine, the Elizabethan, he charts the fluctuating fortunes of Latin and Greek at the School across the centuries, as well as recording his own memories of his teachers in these subjects.

He was at QE during the last of E H Jenkins’ three decades as Headmaster and was in the last year of two-form entry (60 boys) before the post-war expansion. The senior Latin master in that era was Percival Timson, who had been at the school since 1935. John Finnett joined QE in 1951, aged 23.

“Timson and Finnett were of different generations and different styles, but they made an effective pair,” Professor Rhodes recalls in the Elizabethan article. “Timson hated music: on one of the few occasions when he unbent, he explained that at Oxford he had done little work in his first year so needed to do a lot before taking Mods in his second, and at that stage found any sounds that might distract him intolerable. Finnett was keen on music, but regarded Mozart as the greatest composer of all time and everybody more recent as inferior to him.”

A particular inspiration was “rumbustious” Rex M Wingfield, who was his first-form master and first Latin teacher: “…I think he bears much of the responsibility for my having become a Classicist.”

Another Classics teacher was Lynton E Whiteley, from Cambridge. “…On arrival in 1953 he projected a fierce image, and though I think he mellowed I was always somewhat afraid of him.”
Professor Rhodes is the eldest of three brothers, of whom the youngest, John Andrew, also went to QE and later became a modern historian at Wadham College, Oxford (to which Prof Rhodes went as an undergraduate).

“At School I was in Underne House (under John Pearce); I was successful in the classroom but not on the games field (honour was eventually satisfied when I acted as scorer for cricket teams: the Second XI for two years and then the First XI for three); I was involved in music (as a pianist), in the Elizabethan Union and with the school’s printing press.”

He took Latin, Greek, Ancient History and History A-levels at QE. “I sailed through A Level and S Level, but it then took me two years in the Seventh Form to catch up with the kind of competitors who had started Latin at seven and Greek at nine and had spent their school time on little else.” [S Level, involving extra papers, was for those applying for state scholarships for university, before the later introduction of a universal grant system.]Perseverance, and my parents’ patience, were rewarded, and I did in the end in 1959 achieve the Holy Grail of an Oxford Scholarship in Classics.”

At Oxford, he was a prize-winning undergraduate at Wadham. “As it happens, Finnett later went to Wadham too…as a visiting Schoolmaster Fellow. Sadly, in 1971 he died of cancer, aged only 43.”

Professor Rhodes was awarded a double first-class degree from Oxford. “I continued as a [cricket] scorer in my first year but not thereafter, did not pursue a career in the Union Society, but was involved in music (singing tenor, and, in the absence of better players, acting as a not very good organist).”

He went to Durham as a young lecturer in Classics in 1965 and rose to become, firstly, a senior lecturer, and then, in 1983, Professor of Ancient History there. He retired in 2005 and still lives in Durham.

During his career, he has published extensively on the Classical Greek world; his works span the decades, from The Athenian Boule, published in 1972, to a forthcoming edition of Herodotus, Histories, V.

He has held a number of visiting fellowships; Wolfson College, Oxford (1984), University of New England, Australia (1988), Corpus Christi College, Oxford (1993), and All Souls College, Oxford (1998). He served as President of the Classical Association from 2014 to 2015. In 1987, he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy and in 2005 was made a Foreign Member of the Royal Danish Academy.

“In Durham I continued with choral singing for many years, and again in the occasional absence of better players, as a not very good organist, and for a few years I was involved with a printing press; I have also been an active member (including two stints as secretary) of the Senior Common Room of University College.”

In the mid-2000s, soon after his retirement, the then-Headmaster, Dr John Marincowitz, told him on a visit to the School that he hoped to reintroduce Latin soon. Professor Rhodes has been heartened to learn not only that this was subsequently done – it is now a curriculum subject – but that Greek is today also available as an extra-curricular subject.

Moi, je parle français! Chateau trip gives boys a chance to put their French lessons to the test

A visit to a chateau in rural Normandy offered boys at both ends of the School the opportunity to throw themselves into French language and culture.

The 50-strong group, comprising mostly pupils from the current Year 8 together with a smaller number of Year 13 boys, spent a week based at the Château de la Baudonnière, near Avranches, on a trip organised by the Languages department.

The younger boys consolidated a year of language-learning, seizing the chance to practise their conversation skills with native speakers. The range of team-building activities provided meant the trip also helped the boys make new friends and deepen existing friendships.

For their part, the sixth-formers undertook work-experience placements in locations including a bakery, restaurant and shop.

Head of Extra-Curricular Enrichment Rebecca Grundy said: “We took a day out to see the Bayeux tapestry and the D-Day beaches, while the boys also watched a film about the Allied landings in June 1944 at a 360-degree cinema.”

The activities undertaken by the younger boys included rock-climbing, archery, raft-building and tackling an assault course, while there were also French lessons during the week.

Back on top! Stapylton regain their title as QE’s leading House after a year of competition

Stapylton House are the winners of the 2017/18 House Cup – reclaiming the coveted trophy from last year’s champions, Underne.

Stapylton’s victory means this House has now won the trophy – formally the Eric Shearly Memorial Cup – for three of the last four years.

The triumph was announced at the end-of-year House assembly, where the cup was presented to House Captain Oliver Than-Lu and his Deputy, Omar Taymani, both from Year 12 (pictured above).

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “My congratulations go to all Stapylton boys: this victory reflects their consistency of achievement in extra-curricular enrichment activities across the academic year, with the older boys’ efforts being boosted by a particularly strong Year 7 cohort. I trust that boys in other Houses will be inspired to redouble their efforts next year to challenge Stapylton for the crown.”

The assembly celebrated outstanding performances over a wide range of fields, including the performing arts, sport and charity work.

For this year’s House Drama competition, participants were challenged to produce original plays on the theme of a dystopian future: Leicester won the competition for the third consecutive year.

The House Music competition was won by Pearce.

In chess, the winners of various competitions were honoured, as were the boys chosen to receive junior, intermediate and senior colours.

Similarly, the assembly highlighted the names of boys who had won colours for music and sports.

There was a review of performances in sport throughout the year, including cricket, rugby, water polo, swimming and athletics. One innovation was the announcement of ‘teams of the year’ for cricket and rugby, which included leading performers from all year groups.

House charity fund-raising events during the year were celebrated, together with the work done to support the Sri Sathya Sai English Medium School in Kerala, India, with which QE has enjoyed a longstanding partnership.

Participation in The Duke of Edinburgh Award at QE remains strong: 100 boys from Year 10 enrolled for the bronze award in October and are due to complete their Qualifying Expedition in August, it was announced, while 34 Year 11 pupils signed up for the silver award and 18 Year 12 boys for the gold.

The assembly also recounted details of:

  • The various challenges run on a specially arranged House Afternoon
  • The QIQE quiz, which was by Stapylton
  • A number of House competitions run by the academic departments: these included, for example, a Languages competition to design a poster about a famous and influential linguist, which was won by Year 8 Stapylton pupil Jashwanth Parimi, and a photography competition for Years 7–9 run by the Geography department.