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Target or trap? Economist tells sixth-formers why the Government’s 2% inflation goal is too low

Old Elizabethan academic and economist Sandeep Mazumder queried the Bank of England’s 2% inflation target and suggested it should be higher – not because it is too cautious, but paradoxically because it is too risky.

Sandeep (OE 1993–2000), who is Dean of Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University, Texas, spoke to the group of Year 12 economists before yesterday’s news that the inflation rate had fallen to 2.3%.

Although this is its lowest level in almost three years, the figure was still higher than expected. Political commentators believe that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called the early General Election on the strength of the apparently improving economic outlook.

Dean Sandeep, who has published widely on inflation dynamics and the Great Recession of 2007–2009, argued that inflation at 2% would limit the Government’s room for manoeuvre in cutting interest rates during times of economic difficulty, making it hard to escape a recession.

He argued instead for adopting a 3 or 4% target, which would give more flexibility with interest rate cuts, without the risk of inflation dropping to 0%. This is the level below which rates cannot be cut (the ‘zero lower bound’) without the potentially disastrous economic risk of people hoarding cash, rather than saving it in banks, the so-called ‘liquidity trap’.

Economics teacher Celia Wallace thanked Dean Sandeep, who spoke remotely to the School’s Gresham Society for Economics. He is a member of QE’s 450 Club member and has been very supportive of the Economics department.

“Sandeep introduced several new concepts to improve pupils’ depth of understanding, including the Fisher Equation to calculate real interest rates and the problem of the zero lower bound, which was the main basis of his talk.

“Within his critique of inflation targeting, Sandeep showed other policy options which countries can often consider, including price-level targeting – where a specific price index is targeted, rather than a growth rate.”

Afterwards, the sixth-formers asked a range of questions, including Avi Juneja’s cautious query about the issue of real wage cuts with a target of 3% or 4% inflation, and Abyan Shah asking about which method of targeting would be most effective for the UK: inflation targeting, price-level targeting, or average inflation targeting (a hybrid of both systems).

Sandeep gave plentiful career advice to all. He strongly expressed the need to follow one’s strengths and passions. He said he had chosen to go into academia and research as it was his passion, while also giving more of a life balance compared to other options, such as  banking.

 

Toughing it out: Sir Vince Cable spells out need for resilience on visit to QE

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable first came to QE in 2016, a few months after losing his Twickenham parliamentary seat and more than a year before he won it back in the 2017 General Election.

Appropriately, then, during a lecture on his second visit, he urged on the boys the need for stamina and resilience.

His lecture came at the invitation of the School’s Politics Society. He duly gave afficionados of British Politics plenty to ponder on, giving his assessment of the likely result of the forthcoming General Election, while addressing the “more interesting questions” about what happens afterwards.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “Sir Vince is a substantial figure in the British political scene, with a lifetime of experience to draw upon. We are grateful to him for visiting and sharing with the boys his valuable insights and advice.

“He stayed to answer further questions after the end of the formal session and was candid in his views with students. He was also generous with his time, and kindly donated a copy of his book, How to be a Politician, to The Queen’s Library.”

Earlier in the year, the Politics Society welcomed Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Chipping Barnet, Dan Tomlinson, and it has previously hosted Theresa Villiers MP, who has held Chipping Barnet for the Conservatives since 2005.

Sir Vince announced his intention to retire from front-line politicis in 2019 and stood down at that year’s General Election. In July 2022, he was announced as Vice President of the European Movement.

His afternoon visit to QE was led by the society’s Rishabh Bhatt, of Year 12. Before taking questions from an audience drawn from all year groups in the Main School Hall, he gave some brief advice to any aspiring politicians. They should understand the importance of:

  • Being a good communicator – across all channels, including broadcasting and social media, yet without neglecting the skills required for speaking to people in person on the ground;
  • Building a team – recognising that even though the focus can often be on individuals, politics is ultimately a team game, so one needs to build a team and work cooperatively with others to get things done;
  • Developing persistence and resilience, cognisant of the fact that any politician is likely to face many setbacks.

With regard to the final point, he recalled that it took five attempts at running for Parliament before he first became an MP: he eventually won his Twickenham seat in 1997. His two-year hiatus from Parliament began as a result of the near-wipeout of the Lib Dems in 2015, yet after he won his seat back, he went on to become his party’s leader, serving for two years before retiring from front-line politics.

He also gave the example of Yvette Cooper, likely to be the next Home Secretary if Labour  win the forthcoming General Election. Although she has always retained her own seat, she has seen her party lose four elections since she was last in the Cabinet from 2008–2010 under Gordon Brown’s premiership.

He noted that the UK’s first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system is very significant and makes life difficult for smaller parties to break through, with only two parties ever really being in contention. The Lib Dems were aiming to get back to being the third party in the Commons, with the opportunities that presents, such as being able to ask regular questions at PMQs. But, he said, this will depend on what happens in Scotland with the SNP.

Assessing how the General Election may go overall, he said that a Labour government seems the most likely at present, but that it was entirely possible that it would not have the big majority that some, taking their cue from opinion polls, are assuming.

He focused on two questions relating to the election’s aftermath. Firstly, what would become of the Conservative Party if it did suffer the predicted heavy defeat. Would the Conservatives move to the populist right, closer to, or perhaps merging with, Reform UK? Would they attempt to position themselves as moderates in the centre-right – more like PM David Cameron’s coalition in which he served as Business Secretary? Or could the Conservative Party even cease to exist as an election-winning force – declining like the Liberal Party in the 1920s?

Secondly, he wondered, what would Labour actually do in power? They would face a difficult economic situation and the same long-term challenges as the current government, he pointed out, and it was unclear as yet as to how they would respond.

Sir Vince answered questions focussing on his career. These included: his move from Labour to what became the Liberal Democrats alongside the Gang of Four (a group of leading politicians who broke away from Labour in 1981); the 2010–2015 Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition (“a good, stable government… good for the country, but bad for the [Liberal Democrat] party”); the role of tactical voting in the next General Election (“always important”); the prospects in that election for the Lib Dems – they were targeting a return to 30-35 seats, he said; and the sale of Royal Mail when he was Business Secretary (it was necessary and not a bad deal at the time, he said, given that people now communicate electronically, not by letter, so the business model had to change in any case).

 

Discovering the Dudleys: academic sheds light on family with huge significance for QE – and for the nation, too

In one of the final special activities for QE’s 450th anniversary year, historian Joanne Paul delivered a talk on the family of Robert Dudley – a figure of enormous importance in the School’s founding, second only to Queen Elizabeth I herself.

Dr Paul, author of the acclaimed 2022 book, The House of Dudley, delivered a lecture assembly to Years 8 & 9, before conducting a source-based workshop to A-level historians.

It was at the request of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, that Elizabeth I granted the royal charter founding the School in 1573. But, Dr Paul argued, the significance of the Dudley family extended well beyond the life and achievements of its most famous son: it was the Dudleys who shaped, defined and even made the Tudor dynasty.

An Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Sussex who now works freelance on various projects, she specialises in the Early Modern Period, including both the Tudors and the Stuarts.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “We are tremendously grateful to Dr Paul for giving us her time and providing these insights into the family as we wrap up our anniversary year. It seems clear that without the Dudleys, not only would Queen Elizabeth’s School not exist, but neither would the Tudors – or not as we know them, in any case.”

In a lecture in the Main School Hall, which featured a presentation lavishly illustrated with portraits from the period, the younger boys looked at the rise, fall, rise, fall and rise again of the House of Dudley. Dr Paul identified five respects in which she considered the family particularly important:

  • Edmund Dudley’s fundraising for Henry VII: enabled by his intimate legal knowledge of the King’s prerogative, and ruthless exploitation of these often-archaic points of law, this allowed for the grandeur of King Henry VIII’s reign, even if it made Edmund so unpopular that he was imprisoned and eventually executed.
  • John Dudley’s success in building up the Royal Navy, as Admiral of the Fleet. He prepared it for the successes it was to enjoy in the second half of the 16th century. He added to the fleet and to the armoury, while developing Portsmouth as a great port. His military experience and leadership were important at the 1545 Battle of the Solent against the French, which, Dr Paul said, was a greater threat to England than the later Spanish Armada. John Dudley was nearly on the Mary Rose, which famously sank, but had moved across to the larger Great Harry with the king, Henry VIII.
  • Their involvement in the nine-day reign of Lady Jane Grey. At the point of Edward VI death’s, she was actually Lady Jane Dudley, having married Guildford Dudley (son of John Dudley and brother of Robert). John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, is considered to have engineered her accession. Jane, Guildford and John were all executed under Mary I.
  • Robert Dudley’s role as royal suitor. It was widely reported among Europe’s ambassadors that the queen visited Robert’s bedchamber day and night. The death of Robert’s wife, Amy Robsart, in suspicious circumstances (a broken neck at the bottoms of the stairs – ruled an accident by the jury, but with suicide, and even murder, widely gossiped about) made it too scandalous for any marriage to go ahead. Robert would have known that such a reaction was likely – a good reason for doubting that he was responsible for the death, Dr Paul said. Robert Dudley was perhaps the one suitor Elizabeth seriously considered, and these events led to her remaining The Virgin Queen. Dr Paul said it was at Robert’s suggestion that Elizabeth made the famous Tilbury Docks speech in 1588 (“I know I have the body but of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too…”)
  • Robert’s patronage of the arts. This helped culture to flourish. He commissioned some 20 portraits of himself in 30 years – “more than any prince in Europe, or the queen herself” – seven of which depicted him in a pair with the queen, showing his proximity. He also supported a troupe of actors, Leicester’s Men, which had direct connections to Shakespeare.

The boys asked many questions. One wondered why so many grammar schools like QE were established under Elizabeth. Because, Dr Paul said, men such as Robert Dudley and William Cecil, her chief adviser, had received a humanist education and sought to spread that widely. Another asked why Henry VIII had had Edmund killed, given that he had brought  so much money into royal coffers. She concluded that Henry probably had no personal animus against him, but that Edmund’s unpopularity made his death a good political move.

Dr Paul also spoke of her two favourite things about the Dudleys. Firstly, she relished the fact that a non-royal family could have so much power and influence, and liked the dramatic story of their ups and downs. Secondly, she appreciated that it was the women of the family who were so often at the heart of rescuing and restoring the family name when it had fallen.

With the A-level course including the Stuart period, the Sixth Form workshop focused on changing ideas of counsel under the Stuarts.

The boys looked at the XIX Propositions – the 19 demands made of Charles I by the Long Parliament in 1642 – and at the chapter on counsel in Hobbes’s Leviathan, and then came together to discuss.

A signed copy of Dr Paul’s book is now available for boys to borrow from The Queen’s Library.

 

Hearing from Heseltine: grandee’s insights from the heart of British politics

Former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Michael Heseltine delivered a lunchtime lecture giving an insider’s view of the key characters and issues that have shaped modern British politics.

The Conservative politician, who worked directly with four Prime Ministers, spoke to a packed house drawn from all year groups in the Friends’ Recital Hall. The optional lecture, part of QE’s Flourish extra-curricular programme, was organised by Year 13 pupil Anish Kumar and the QE Politics Society.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “We are keen for the boys to hear from leaders and influential thinkers in their respective fields. Lord Heseltine is a towering figure in British politics: it was an honour to welcome him to the School and we are most grateful to him for taking the time to visit and deliver such an insightful lecture drawn from a political career spanning some 50 years.”

Mr Enright thanked Anish and the Politics Society for organising the visit and paid tribute to all who had worked to ensure it passed off smoothly.

Lord Heseltine, who is 90, began his career as a property developer, before becoming one of the founders of the Haymarket publishing house. He served as a Conservative Member of Parliament from 1966 to 2001, when he was created a life peer.

Having previously served Ted Heath, he entered the Cabinet in 1979 under Margaret Thatcher as Secretary of State for the Environment. He served as Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State within John Major’s  administration. Later, he fulfilled advisory roles when David Cameron was Prime Minister.

Lord Heseltine began his lecture after a welcome from Anish – who introduced him as “one of [his] political heroes” ­– and warm applause from the boys.

In his lecture, he covered topics ranging from industrial strategy (a particular interest and area of expertise of his) and the revitalisation of the city of Liverpool (with which he has a special, and perhaps unique, relationship as a Conservative politician), to devolution. Famously a supporter of the European Union and opponent of Eurosceptics, he expressed his desire to see the UK return to the EU fold in the future.

In a Q & A session chaired by Anish, pupils then posed their own questions.

  • On the future of the Conservative Party, he opined that it will find power from the centre-ground – an answer that was especially topical, given the recent Government reshuffle and the return to government of David, now Lord, Cameron;
  • On the nature of a life in politics, Lord Heseltine said it was a privilege, but one that inescapably involved making unpopular decisions, often on “50:50” issues in which the side you support will think you reasonable and “a good, sensible bloke”, while those whose expectations are dashed will believe you don’t listen, don’t care and are in politics only for yourself!
  • When asked about his proudest moment, he referenced his 1981 party conference speech;
  • On whether he regrets not quite becoming Prime Minister, he answered in the affirmative and furthermore set out the approach he would take to transform the nation’s governance and economic strategy if he were in 10 Downing Street today.

 

From Kabul to Cambridge: former refugee, who is now a doctor and leader of two medical charities, urges boys to remember to give back

Former Afghan refugee Waheed Arian told Year 9 boys the remarkable story of his life, from arriving near-penniless in the UK aged 15 to becoming a doctor and the leader of medical charities that support both refugees in the UK and patients in conflict zones around the world.

Over the past 24 years, he has studied at Cambridge, Imperial and Harvard, qualified as a doctor, been recognised as a World Health Organisation digital health expert and won numerous awards.

Dr Arian recounted his astonishing life and career in his lecture – yet he concluded by instead focusing on the importance of community and of giving back.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “We are very grateful to Dr Arian for coming in to talk to Year 9.  His lecture was inspirational and it very much chimed with our mission to produce responsible young men who seek to change their world for the better.”

The assembly was led by Chris Butler, Head of Geography, who said: “His story is an important one: not only did Dr Arian highlight the need to be resilient and have ambition; he also outlined the importance of being kind to one another in our everyday lives and the strength that lies in community action and collaboration – values that the School holds dear. The refugee situation across Europe is increasingly becoming politicised, and it is important that QE boys have the opportunity to listen to those who have experienced life as a refugee and wish to re-tell their experience of the process.”

Dr Arian started his talk by outlining his own early years as a child fleeing from war. He was separated from his father and told Year 9 how he, his mother and his sisters would often cross Afghanistan to see his father in clandestine visits, explaining that this was necessary as his father had fled the army after being pressed into conscription.

Later, Dr Arian and his family fled to Pakistan to be together, with a journey that saw them having to avoid air strikes from Soviet forces who had mistaken the refugee column for Mujahideen rebels. Whilst safe in Pakistan, they were living in unimaginable poverty inside refugee camps and informal housing blocks. For most of the time they lived ten to a room, without basic sanitation or access to education. He largely taught himself, from textbooks bought from street-sellers, and learned English from the BBC World Service.

Reflecting on these experiences during the lecture, he emphasised the importance of compassion and empathy, revealing how it was often only the kindness of fellow refugees that allowed him and his family to get by. One example was when a local volunteer doctor treated his bout of tuberculosis – it was then that he determined to devote his life to healing others.

Arian’s family returned to Kabul following the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, but when the ensuing civil war intensified a decade later, his parents, wanting him to have better prospects in life, sent him to the UK.

The focus of the next portion of the talk was hope: alone, in a foreign country, and with just £60 – his parents’ meagre savings – in his pocket, he could have easily given up in despair at the dire hand life had dealt him. Yet instead he persevered. Working through anxiety and PTSD, he supported himself by taking jobs in shops and – disregarding the advice of those who suggested he set his sights on becoming a taxi driver – going to night school. After taking his A-levels, he was accepted into Trinity Hall, Cambridge, later finishing his clinical studies at Imperial.

He impressed upon the Year 9s the value of always holding on to hope, even in the toughest of times, explaining how his dream of becoming a doctor fuelled him during his studies, which culminated in him eventually getting a scholarship at Harvard Medical School. He now works as a Accident and Emergency doctor in North West England.

In the last part of the talk, Dr Arian focused on the importance of giving back to the community. He highlighted how his own experiences shaped his desire to start the charity, Arian Teleheal, in 2015. It links doctors in conflict zones such as Afghanistan with colleagues in the UK, helping to ensure that people living there can have a decent standard of healthcare, not least so that disease does not hold them back in their lives.

Dr Arian has risen to become one of the most influential medics in the NHS. In addition to working as an NHS doctor and running Arian Teleheal, in 2020 he also founded Arian Wellbeing, which aims to link psychologists, licensed therapists, personal trainers and nutritionists to offer unique, personalised holistic care for refugee trauma and PTSD patients.

He discussed his work with the two charities and took questions from the boys, declaring himself later to have been impressed with their eloquence and their understanding of the migration process.

Dr Arian was introduced to the Year 9 audience in the Friends’ Recital Hall by Saim Khan, a Year 12 geographer, who said afterwards: “It was an inspiring and insightful talk, and one which created much food for thought.”

A question of Economics: fun and games, with some serious thinking, too, in innovative subject festival

With events for all ages, QE’s Economics 450 Festival proved hugely popular with the boys.

The festival featured academic tutorials and a lecture from Old Elizabethans, board games, a quiz, a meeting of QE’s Gresham Society for Economics and a special edition of the department’s periodical, The Econobethan.

It was one of a series of innovative festivals being run by subject departments as part of QE’s new Flourish extra-curricular programme which are aimed at stimulating free-thinking scholarship among the boys. As QE celebrates its 450th anniversary, most have an anniversary theme.

Head of Economics Shamendra Uduwawala said: “Our events had huge turnouts and the festival may be regarded as a great success. I am grateful to everyone who contributed. The boys enjoyed the board games, the quiz and our visiting speakers, while our senior students have once again raised the bar with the festival edition of The Econobethan, which includes some really spectacular work.”

He also paid tribute to his Economics department colleagues, Krishna Shah, Celia Wallace, Abdoulaye Diallo and James Kane.

The festival’s biggest single event was the quiz for Years 7-11. Run in a similar style to the daily online Tradle Economics quiz, it involved boys answering questions delivered to their form groups as Microsoft Forms.

Staplyton, Underne and Harrisons’ tied for first place, with a score of 29, gaining them each 20 House points. Staplyton and Underne benefitted from particularly strong performances from Year 11, while Harrisons’ boys performed consistently across the year groups. The top form overall was 10H (Harrisons’), who scored 8 out of a possible 10 points.

Another highlight was a talk by economist and academic Sandeep Mazumder (OE 1993–2000), who is Dean of Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University, Texas.

Fellow alumnus Alistair Law (OE 2013–2020), who is in his final year at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where he is reading Geography with Economics, held academic tutorials with a number of Year 12 and 13 economists.

The special session of the Gresham Society involved boys presenting articles they had written for The Econobethan PechaKucha-style – that is, 20 slides, with a maximum 20 seconds per slide.

The 450th anniversary edition of the publication itself includes articles on Economics and related subjects written by boys in Years 10 to 13, as well as an introduction by the Headmaster, Neil Enright.

He wrote: “As my predecessor, Dr John Marincowitz (Headmaster 1999-2011), explained at this year’s Senior Awards Ceremony, when discussing his new published history of the School, the fortunes of the School have repeatedly been shaped by the political, economic and social context of the time. He emphasised that much of the interest in the development of Queen Elizabeth’s, and its multiple reinventions over the centuries, can be found in considering not just the ‘what’, but in the ‘how’ and the ‘why’.

“These are questions and discussions that this special edition of The Econobethan takes up with great skill.”

Extending to 52 pages, the journal’s first article looks at the origins and political significance of the School’s Elizabethan Charter.

The widely varied contents also cover topics including:

  • How the British Empire Used Economics to Rule the World: A Game Theoretic Analysis
  • The History of Chemical Process Economics and Its Impact on the UK Economy
  • What Happens When Central Banks Lose Credibility?
  • Regal Ruler or Rigid System? The Pros and Cons of Monarchy Unveiled
  • The Revolutionary Effectiveness of Nudge Economics

In addition, there is a Languages section, in which Year 12’s Aayush Backory gave an overview of post-World War II economic policy in Britain – Il était une fois au Royaume-Uni. In Die Geschichte von Sir Thomas Gresham, Aditya Tiwary looked at the life of the 16th-century financier and merchant, Sir Thomas Gresham, who was among the School’s supporters at its foundation in 1573. The Gresham Society is named after him.

The Econobethan was edited by the Year 12 team of Aditya, Aston Daniel, Avinash Srivastava and Nishanth Bhasuru.

 

 

 

 

 

 

QE’s new role in reviving classics

Queen Elizabeth’s School is to work with the charity, Classics for All, as a ‘Hub’ for developing the study of classics across schools in North London.

Based at King’s College London, Classics for All was established to halt the decline of classics in state schools nationwide. As a Hub School, QE will host events such as  debates, symposia and lectures for other local schools on topics related to classics.

The School re-introduced Latin as a full curriculum subject in 2012, and all boys opting to study more than one language at GCSE are invited to take classes in Ancient Greek. The announcement follows QE’s inaugural Shakespeare and Latin Festival, which got under way towards the end of the Autumn Term.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “I welcome this announcement and congratulate our teachers on all the creative work they are doing to enrich our pupils’ appreciation of classics. Learning Latin and Greek not only gives the boys insights into the rich cultures of Ancient Greece and Rome, but also instils academic rigour generally and is of particular help in the learning of modern languages.”

The announcement of QE’s new role is one of a series of recent announcements from external organisations which have further underlined QE’s academic credentials. Earlier this month, the influential Sunday Times Parent Power survey confirmed that this year’s QE A-level results were the best of any state school in the country. Before that, Schools Minister Nick Gibb wrote to Mr Enright to congratulate the School on its “leadership in continuing to promote the teaching of languages”. All 191 boys in last year’s Year 11 were entered for at least one modern foreign language GCSE – a 100% rate which puts QE “amongst the top schools in England for the proportion of pupils studying a language at GCSE”, Mr Gibb wrote.

In addition to a School production of Julius Caesar (staged in School and at Finchley’s artsdepot as part of this year’s Shakespeare Schools Festival), the QE Shakespeare and Latin Festival has featured lectures by academics from UCL and King’s College London. Boys across the School have also been getting involved in mythology quizzes and recital competitions.

Crispin Bonham-Carter, Assistant Head (Pupil Involvement), said: “Since we are one of the few state schools to teach Latin to all, it’s not surprising that universities are keen to forge closer links.”

In her lecture delivered at the School, Dr Emily Pillinger, Senior Lecturer in Latin Language and Literature at King’s, looked at Decadence in New York and Ancient Rome. Her well-attended talk was open to senior Latinists and English Literature GCSE and A-level students. “Dr Pillinger drew out the links between Baz Luhrmann’s film of The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald’s novel and the ancient Latin text, The Feast of Trimalchio,” said Mr Bonham-Carter.

For her part, UCL Professor of Latin Gesine Manuwald lectured on the real-life characters of Julius Caesar, Mark Anthony and Cicero.

“Both academics were hugely impressed by how engaged and knowledgeable our young classicists are,” Mr Bonham-Carter added.

 

 

 

“Fall in love with the problem, not the solution”

Deloitte innovation specialist Ed Greig demonstrated robots on his visit to QE – but told the boys to focus on the nature of any problem, not the technology involved in the solution.

Mr Greig, who works for Deloitte Digital (part of the global Deloitte financial services and consultancy group) as its Chief Disruptor, made it through the snow to give a lunchtime lecture about his work, which involves working with new technologies to understand how they can benefit clients.

He told the boys: “The mantra of my team is to fall in love with the problem, not the solution.”

He stressed the importance of understanding the true nature of problems, suggesting that invariably they are really about cultural change rather than technology – even if technology might be involved in the solution.

He gave the real-life example of a prosthetic arm for a six-year-old girl, where the issue was not merely the functionality of the limb, but making sure the girl would actually wear it by ensuring its design was fashionable and appealing, so that she would want to put it on.

There were now so many more opportunities to create and replicate experiences than even ten years ago, he said.

He gave demonstrations of both AI-powered software robots and hardware robots: having brought along a robot dog, he made it climb the stairs leading to the stage in the hall in QE’s Main Building.

He also sent a robot around Deloitte’s offices looking for people to say ‘hello’ to members of his QE audience – a task complicated by the fact that, as a result of the snow, the offices were virtually empty!

Mr Greig, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Warwick. After running his own web design business, he joined Deloitte in 2009 as a Technology, Creative and User Experience Consultant in 2009.

In his current role, his work involves demonstrating the benefits of new technologies in a tangible way by building proofs-of-concept and minimum viable products.

Break the bias! Marking International Women’s Day at an all-boys school

Businesswoman, author and coach Gifty Enright explained to sixth-formers how ‘gender bias traps’ blight the world of work – and set out ways in which men can act as allies and support women in escaping them.

Her virtual talk was one of a number of activities held at the School during the week of International Women’s Day (IWD), which this year had the theme of #BreakTheBias.

Several discussion societies run by pupils held IWD-inspired sessions, while tutors also covered IWD topics during boys’ Personal Development Time lessons.

Headmaster Neil Enright (no relation) said: “My huge thanks go to Gifty for her insightful and informative talk that highlighted exactly why International Women’s Day is both relevant and important in an all-boys’ school such as ours. Not only did she raise awareness of the issues that women continue to face routinely in society and the workplace, but she also had some very practical suggestions for how young men could make a positive contribution in challenging conscious and unconscious bias in a range of situations.

“Her talk and the other activities during the week complement the work we have been doing to encourage boys to adopt the stance of ‘active bystander’ and thus to oppose injustice and prejudice across society. Hearing from external expert speakers, with their different perspectives and experiences, is a very useful way for our boys to gain a deeper understanding, provoking both reflection and discussion.”

Born in Kumasi, the ancient capital of the Ashanti people in Ghana, Gifty Enright has lived in Hertfordshire for the past 35 years. Having trained as an accountant, she later moved into Information Technology and is today the managing director of a sports events company, and also provides IT consulting services on major transformation programmes to multi-national companies. She is married with two children.

In her Zoom lecture to Years 12 and 13, she outlined six gender bias traps that women face. In each case, she gave a scenario to explain how the trap might play out and then challenged the sixth-formers with a suggestion on what they could do to ameliorate the situation.

Under the topic of ‘attribution’, for example, she gave this scenario: “A female colleague says something in a meeting and is ignored but a male colleague says the same thing and everyone jumps on the idea.” The challenge she passed on was this: “Remind everyone that the idea originated from the female colleague.”

For ‘maternal’, the scenario imagined someone in a business setting discussing whether a particular woman should be entrusted with a major project in these words: “Do you think it is a good idea to burden her with such a big project straight out of maternity leave?” The challenge she gave was to respond in this way: “She still has the same skillset she did before her leave. How can we best support her?”

In a question-and-answer session afterwards, boys asked for advice on practical things such as their approach to what they read, what music they listen to and how that can impact upon their understanding of the issues facing women. Gifty replied that people should read and watch what they enjoy, but try to engage with material from a wide range of artists, including those of different genders, races and backgrounds.

Boys also asked about what she thought the impact of the war in Ukraine may have on women and on gender inequality. She responded that in such situations, gender inequality is usually exacerbated, whilst noting how dreadful the current situation is for everyone there.

Story of a genius: award-winning biographer tells sixth-formers about one of the world’s greatest minds

Author, scientist and QE parent Dr Ananyo Bhattacharya gave a talk to senior pupils on his book about John von Neumann, the brilliant Hungarian-American polymath who made breakthroughs in fields ranging from nuclear energy to economics.

Dr Bhattacharya’s book, entitled The Man from the Future: The Visionary Life of John von Neumann, was named a Financial Times and Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year in 2021.

His lunchtime talk to A-level Mathematics, Physics and Economics students explored how von Neumann’s advances in mathematics 70–80 years ago continue to inform the science of today.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “We are grateful to Dr Bhattacharya, as a QE parent, for coming in to School to share his expertise and to inspire our senior boys. It is great that we can draw upon different constituencies within the Elizabethan community, including parents and alumni, to enhance the educational experience offered here.”

Dr Bhattacharya, whose son, Callistus, is in Year 7, is a science writer who has worked for The Economist and Nature, the weekly multi-disciplinary scientific journal. Prior to that, he worked as a medical researcher at the Burnham Institute in San Diego. He has a degree in Physics from Oxford and a PhD, also in Physics, from Imperial College London.

The subject of his book, von Neumann, was born in 1903 to a wealthy Jewish family in Budapest. A child prodigy, he had published two major mathematical papers by the age of 19.

After an early career in German academia during the late 1920s, he took up an invitation to Princeton University in October 1929, becoming a naturalised citizen of the USA in 1937.

In a life of only 53 years – he died of cancer in February 1957 – he made major contributions in subjects including mathematics, physics, economics, computing and statistics.

During World War II, he worked on the Manhattan Project – the research and development that produced the first nuclear weapons – and after the war, he served on the General Advisory Committee of the United States Atomic Energy Commission.

In his talk, Dr Bhattacharya mentioned the Manhattan Project as well as, inter alia, von Neumann’s contributions to set theory, game theory and the development of the first programmable digital computer.

Head of Library Services Jenni Blackford said: “Dr Bhattacharya delivered a friendly, accessible and vastly informative talk about the life and accomplishments of von Neumann.”