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Queen Elizabeth’s School and Atom Learning unite to break down barriers for disadvantaged children applying to grammar schools

QE has teamed up with education technology specialists Atom Learning to support primary school children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Children aged 7–11 who are eligible for Pupil Premium will have free access to online learning resources and to preparation for grammar school entrance tests.

The new support programme, which is open to both girls and boys, helps children extend their learning, developing their core academic skills and building their confidence.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “At QE, we are firmly committed to the principles of meritocracy and of inclusivity. Our admissions process is strictly meritocratic: anyone can apply for places here, irrespective of their financial background. Furthermore, although we welcome pupils from a wide geographical area, QE is very much part of the local community – a Barnet school, just as our 1573 royal charter envisaged. We are, therefore, especially keen to encourage social mobility in areas close to the School.

“This partnership with Atom is about removing barriers: we are equipping disadvantaged children to thrive in their education, helping to ensure that they do not miss out on opportunities. While families do not have to be aspiring to selective secondary schools to take part in the programme, we hope that it will help further broaden access to grammar schools, making them even more socially representative. We naturally hope, too, that some of these families will consider QE for their sons.”

Atom Learning provides an online learning and 11+ preparation platform, giving access to a range of fun and engaging materials to help children during Key Stage 2. It is used by over 100,000 families across the UK, including 14,400 families with children preparing for 11+ exams.

With some families nationwide paying for private tuition and coaching to prepare their children for grammar school entrance tests, the partnership between QE and Atom, with the free support that it offers, should help create a more level playing field for applicants. The programme is open to any child who has been eligible for free school meals at any point in the last six years, as well as looked after children.

It is designed to benefit all children, whatever their current attainment level; it may also be helpful in familiarising those hoping to apply to academically selective secondary schools with some of the topics and skills that they might encounter in those processes. The programme will not prepare candidates specifically for the QE entrance test.

QE is one of more than 20 grammar schools across the UK with which Atom is running partnerships. The value of the programme nationally is put at £1.1m. Those who qualify will be given free access to Atom Home, usually priced at £575.90 per year.

Atom Learning gained prominence a few years ago for raising the largest-ever Series-A funding round for a UK EdTech company. Its Chief Operating Officer, Flo Simpson, who leads its Outreach and Access department, said: “At Atom, our mission is to make exceptional education accessible to all, and our partnership with Queen Elizabeth’s will bring our award-winning learning technology to even more families. Atom empowers children to not only excel on their 11+ exam day, but to build a lasting love for learning and confidence that will pave their path to success throughout their lives. We’re dedicated to widening access to incredible education resources, and we’re delighted that grammar schools are putting pupil premium support at the top of their agendas.”

 

Making history at the 450th anniversary year Founder’s Day

Past, present and future came together to make Founder’s Day in Queen Elizabeth’s School’s 450th anniversary year an unforgettable occasion.

Always a highlight of the School calendar, Founder’s Day this year featured a string of anniversary-related special events, including the burial of a time capsule, as well as time-honoured traditions, from the reading of the School Chronicle to a cricket match between the current School XI and alumni.

The afternoon fete, run by the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s, drew the biggest numbers in recent memory, while there was a moving retirement ceremony for Barrie Martin MBE, QE’s long-standing Chairman of Governors, who steps down from the role this summer.

The event, which raises funds for the School, was a financial success, too. Having raised their target to £25,000, the Friends saw this figure comprehensively beaten: the current total stands at £41,042.48, including more than £28,000 on the day itself.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “Our anniversary slogan is ‘thriving from ancient roots’ – and Founder’s Day 2023 exemplified this to the full. In the morning we reflected together on our long and rich history in the thanksgiving service at the parish church, while the happy crowds at our colourful afternoon fete were a reminder of just how vibrant and successful is the Elizabethan community of today.

“Barrie Martin made an immeasurable contribution to that success: the 24 years since he became Chairman of Governors have seen QE rise steadily to its position today as one of the UK’s leading schools, and generations of boys owe him a debt of gratitude.

“Fittingly, the burying of the time capsule on Staplyton Field gave us an opportunity to look to the future, as any organisation must do if it is to maintain its success. The artefacts in the capsule include predictions from our current Year 7 about what the School might be like in 2073, when we hope the capsule will be opened on QE’s 500th anniversary.

“My thanks go to the small army of people – including FQE volunteers, staff and pupils – who made the day such a success, and to the many who contributed so generously to maximising FQE’s income, which will be invested in the School.

“I hope many will be inspired to help in the future: you can put the third Saturday of June in 2024 in your diaries now!” Mr Enright added.

The day began with an innovation: a procession from Tudor Hall – the School’s home from its founding through to 1932 – which arrived at St John the Baptist Church promptly for the 11am service.

There, Giles Martin (OE 1992–1999) the son of the Chairman of Governors and the Programme Leader for Higher Education Practice at Bath Spa University’s School of Education, reminded the boys and wider congregation of the words of Gandhi: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as it you were to live forever.”

Reflecting on his memories and experiences at the School in music, debating and sport, he stressed the importance of teamwork. He was part of QE’s undefeated water polo team of the late 1990s.

After staff and boys made their way to Queen’s Road, the Roll Call and Reading of the School Chronicle took place in front of Main Building, with two paragraphs added to the latter’s account of QE’s history, covering the royal visit in November by The Duke of Gloucester and the 450th anniversary celebrations, including the March service in Westminster Abbey.

School Captain Darren Lee, of Year 12, stepped forward to fill the deep hole dug for the time capsule. This included:

  • A letter from the Headmaster to the Elizabethans of 2073;
  • Darren’s reflections on the 450th celebrations;
  • 450th memorabilia including a 450 badge, documents and flowers from the abbey preserved in resin by Art teacher Jeanne Nicodemus;
  • A copy of the recent whole-school photo;
  • The Year 7 pupil’s predictions – intended as a surprise for the Elizabethans of the future, it can however be noted that the boys predict technology, and AI in particular, will radically change education methods!

The Barrie Martin retirement ceremony included the presentation of a book of photos from his years of service, a framed sketch of the School and other mementos. Flowers were presented to his wife, Perin, as well as another of the resin cubes containing flowers from the 450th anniversary service (supplied by the florist who also provided flowers for the Queen’s funeral and King’s coronation).

A photographic portrait of Barrie will be placed in the ‘crush hall’ in the Main Building upon his retirement. It was taken by the School’s photographer Eleanor Bentall, who has also taken portraits of subjects including Boris Johnson, former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, Clare Balding and Tinie Tempah.

Thanking those present, Barrie, who is also Chairman of FQE, recounted how he came on board with the Friends after being approached by FQE stalwart Diane Mason. He joined the Governing Body in 1989, having been invited by Eamonn Harris (Headmaster 1984–1999): “I wasn’t stupid enough to say no to the Headmaster!”

Recalling some of the key milestones in the years that followed, he said he was unable to thank all those “exceptional people” that he had worked with, who had “made what I did possible”. Particular thanks were, however, given to the three Vice-Chairmen of Governors he worked alongside: the late Sid Clark; Ken Cooper; and Nick Gaskell, who will succeed Barrie as Chairman on 1 September this year.

The 1pm–5pm fete brought together current and past pupils with their families, as well as families of boys who will join Year 7 in September, large numbers of Old Elizabethans from different eras, local residents, former staff and other supporters.

The ever-popular international food tents were extended this year, while there was a range of impressive culinary creations battling it out in the Cake Competition. Additional attractions included a VEX Robotics tent – popular with parents as much as anyone! – and Ju Jitsu, where, rumour has it, Barrie Martin was seen performing a martial arts hold.

Away from the Stapylton Field, the QE Collections mini-exhibition included a rare opportunity to see the original 1573 Royal Charter that brought about the founding of the School. A particular draw was a book-signing by Dr John Marincowitz (Headmaster 1999–2011), whose new history of the School was published in March. This had to be extended due to the long queues. He said: “I met many lovely boys, old boys, parents and even a descendant of former Master James Barcock (1689-1719)! Such a variety of really interesting people.”

At the back of the School, the Stanley Busby Memorial Cricket Match on Third Field saw the old boys claiming what Head of Cricket Richard Scally described as “a well-deserved victory”. He added: “Both openers for the OEs – Omar Mohamed and Shahil Sheth – scored quickly, amassing 50 runs each and setting a challenging total of 159. In reply, the School lost early wickets and the run rate became too high, and although there was some strong resistance from Year 12’s Rohan Belavadi and Ranvir Sinha, it all proved too little too late, and the old boys won by 39 runs.”

  • Donations can still be made through the dedicated Founder’s Day JustGiving page. The fundraising total includes money taken on the day, online giving, sponsorship from a House Music competition on the eve of Founder’s Day and the sale of advertising.
  • The full-colour, 56-page fete programme includes a range of features, as well as advertisements from donors and supporters. You can read it here.
Take us to the river: QE Together open up a new front in their war on litter

Sixth-formers from QE and Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’ School lent their support to efforts to clean up the River Brent in their battle against the scourge of litter.

The litter pick in Dollis Valley Park was the latest activity for QE Together – a Sixth Form partnership between the two Barnet schools formed early in 2022 that has a focus on projects to support the local community. As well as litter picks, QE Together has undertaken a primary school assembly and a concert for nursing home residents.

For this activity, they first worked in small teams comprising pupils from both schools in various areas of the park, before converging on Dollis Brook, a tributary of the Brent, where they laboured with Ben Morris, founder of CURB (Clean Up the River Brent), to clean up the waterway.

Crispin Bonham-Carter, Assistant Head (Pupil Involvement), said: “I congratulate all the students for working hard and persevering to complete what was, at times, an unpleasant task.

“We were both exhilarated and a little depressed at how much rubbish the QE Together team pulled out of a tiny section of the Dollis Brook. Thanks also to Ben from CURB for the inspiration!”

The afternoon began with the groups of three or four students amassing litter such as plastic bags snagged in brambles and bottles buried in the earth. They used bags, gloves and litter-pickers provided by the venture’s sponsors, Signature Care Homes.

Omar Siddick, of Year 12, said: “We were struck by the sheer amount of commercial packaging we found littering the grass, hedges and riverbank. Cans of beer and drink were among the most frequent findings, but we uncovered even more obscure items, such as derelict tents and car batteries.”

With stage 1 of the day complete, and nine or ten bin bags duly tied up and piled together, the whole Sixth Form team came together to tackle the brook.

Seyi Esan, also of Year 12, said: “With the help of Mr Morris, we were able to recover a host of surprising items from the riverbed, such as: a heater; two big trolleys; one small trolley, a plastic tricycle and a bike.

“Retrieving these (and more) items seemed easy, but pulling them up the steep riverbank proved more difficult than anticipated,” Seyi said, adding that teamwork was the key to completing the job successfully.

At the end of the day, everything collected was placed next to the public bin in the park, ready for the municipal waste collectors.

It had been, Omar concluded, “a productive and enriching exercise”, both because of the public service performed in collecting the litter and because it provided the QE boys with a welcome opportunity to collaborate with the girls.

 

Bin there, done that: sixth-formers at Barnet’s QE schools team up to combat the scourge of plastic waste

Senior boys from QE and their counterparts at Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’ School went on a litter pick – the latest event in the community-oriented QE Together partnership.

Shocked by the amount of plastic waste discarded in the Dollis Valley, twenty sixth-formers from the two schools decided to take matters into their own hands, heading into the great outdoors armed with protective gloves and bin bags.

Since the start of 2022, QE Together, a new partnership led by the QE and QEGS sixth-formers themselves, has organised a series of successful community events.

Sushant Deshpande, who is in Year 13 at QE, said: “Our motivations were high and we were enthusiastic to clean up the park.

“We managed to collect quite a lot of litter and thoroughly enjoyed the process, with both schools having a memorable time.

“We look forward to doing more events in the future, perhaps even involving more schools within our community.

“We’ve taken pride in giving back to our wider circle and have had multiple successes so far. We hope to sustain these initiatives for many more generations of QE Together,” he added.

Pupils from the two schools have met regularly over the past two terms, organising a string of events and activities:

  • Singing at Abbey Ravenscroft Park Nursing Home in a joint visit that built on a tradition of past visits by boys from QE
  • Running a joint assembly for Year 6 children at Whitings Hill Primary School, where the team discussed the move to secondary school, including both its challenges and the things to look forward to
  • Campaigning together for safer roads.

Crispin Bonham-Carter, Assistant Head (Pupil Involvement), said the QE Together team were grateful to their sponsors, Signature Care Homes, who donated the gloves and bin bags for the litter pick.

 

Strengthening community ties through partnerships with girls’ schools

Boys from QE picked up an existing pre-pandemic partnership with one girls’ school and staged a joint concert as part of their developing links with another.

Year 8 and Year 10 pupils from QE met their counterparts from The Henrietta Barnett School for debating – part of the well-established academic partnership between the two schools.

And QE Together – a recent initiative led by sixth-formers at QE and near-neighbour Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’ School – gained fresh momentum with the staging of the joint concert for residents at a nursing home.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “QE is very much part of the community and, as such, we value our local partnerships highly. Our academic links with HBS give our boys the chance to flex their intellectual muscles against their peers in activities such as debating, while the focus of our link with QEGS is on community action.

“In addition, both these connections offer our boys the opportunity to socialise and study with girls, thus better preparing them for university and careers.”

QE’s Head of Academic Enrichment, Nisha Mayer, said: “The Year 8s enjoyed an animated and enjoyable morning at HBS. They debated in mixed teams in breakout rooms before assembling for a grand final.”

Topics for the Year 8 event included ‘school strikes’ for climate change, and rich countries accepting more refugees.

The motion of the final debate – made up of the best debaters from both schools selected from the earlier sessions – was the prospect of extending the school day. “Unsurprisingly perhaps, the opposition won the debate, but the proposers certainly made an excellent case for making up time lost during the pandemic,” said Mrs Mayer.

Year 10 QE boys travelled to HBS for a preparatory workshop for their debates, which included agreeing on the motions to be discussed. The girls then came to QE for the debates themselves, with the final held in the new Friends’ Recital Hall.

For QE Together, a concert took place at Barnet’s Abbey Ravenscroft Park Nursing Home, involving musicians from both QE and QEGS.

Organised by QE Vice-Captain Dylan Domb, of Year 12, who is a regular voluntary helper at the home, the lunchtime event included music for clarinet played by the girls and songs sung by QE’s TTBB Vocal Group.

QE musician and fellow Vice-Captain Jao-Yong Tsai, of Year 12, said: “QE Together is aiming to foster greater connections with all aspects of the local community, and the presentation of a charity concert at a nursing home within walking distance of both schools was a strong illustration of such goals.

“Students at both schools have long enjoyed volunteering locally, and integrating the arts into both that and a project that brings the two schools together is but the beginning of a growing relationship with people in the local area.”

QE Together has plans for further events, including a Big Litter Pick.

Poetry, puzzles, castles, eco products…and a truly dastardly crime: it’s the QE 2022 Primary Challenge!

QE expanded its series of popular challenges for local primary school children this year, adding a humanities day to the programme.

The events, which are part of QE’s partnerships work with the local community, are aimed at giving Year 5 girls and boys an early taste of secondary school education.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “We are pleased to support local primary schools in this way.

“I know that our staff and pupils involved in running these enrichment activities greatly enjoy the opportunity to meet the visiting children.”

The first of the three days was the ever-popular Primary Forensics Workshop. The visitors were tasked with completing a number of experiments and analyses to work out who had murdered the Headmaster!

There were stations where the children could undertake: hair and fibre analysis using a microscope; fingerprint analysis, and blood spatter analysis (with a blood substitute).

The pupils worked to solve the ‘crime’, using the evidence they collected to build a case, while also weighing up the respective motives of the suspects.

Boys from Year 12 helped staff run this workshop, engaging with the children at each station.

In the Maths and English Challenge, the girls and boys had to solve a series of games and puzzles that ranged from a cross-number round to a session looking at composing and performing poetry.

There was a focus on teamwork and collaboration. Each team had the support of a QE Year 7 pupil.

Special plaudits went to Foulds School pupils, who achieved a near-clean sweep of the prizes, having impressed across the various disciplines on the day.

The new humanities day hosted by the History, Geography and Economics departments comprised two separate activities.

Firstly, teams were given the challenge of designing a castle on paper. They had to base their design on a certain set of criteria and follow a budget, requiring them to decide which features they wanted to prioritise.

They then faced a number of scenarios, presenting both challenges and opportunities for their fortifications. Could their castle and kingdom survive?

“This was a way of exploring history and strategy in a fun and engaging way,” said Mr Enright. “The Year 5 pupils also had to adapt their plans as the scenarios unfolded, which meant teams had to communicate well and quickly make decisions.”

There was then a Sustainability Challenge run jointly by Geography and Economics. The children had to work in groups and devise a sustainable product. They designed their product, chose a logo and decided on their target market. Then each group presented to the other children in attendance. Among the ideas generated were: a mobile phone where the case is a solar panel and charges the phone, and a ‘plastic’ bottle where the bottle itself is biodegradable.

“Our staff were really impressed with the confidence shown by the children in their presentations and by the creativity they brought to bear in designing their products,” said the Headmaster.

Participating Barnet primary schools this year included: Underhill, Whitings Hill, Christchurch, and Foulds.

“Supporting music in our community”: QE plays pioneering partnership role in Barnet festival

QE played a central role in the High Barnet Chamber Music Festival, with the School’s new Friends’ Recital Hall serving as the main venue and its own musicians performing in a special charity concert there.

Pupils and staff performed to support victims of the war in Ukraine, with donations going to UNICEF and the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.

Joshua Ballance, artistic director of the festival, which is now in its second year, told interviewer Nick Jones, of The Barnet Society, that QE had blazed a trail for others to follow. “It is a real breakthrough for the festival to stage a showcase concert by a school orchestra and jazz band, and we hope other schools will join us next year.

“To demonstrate our involvement with local schools, we shall be running master classes at Queen Elizabeth’s with some of the professional musicians who have performed at the festival, ” said Mr Ballance. “We want to extend our reach-out programme and offer master classes at other schools. Our link with Queen Elizabeth’s demonstrates the partnership we would like to create.”

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “QE is very much a part of Barnet, so it was splendid to support this new festival bringing professional music to our community. I was also pleased that our own musicians were involved and that we were able to showcase our new facilities to music-lovers beyond our immediate Elizabethan family. I look forward to many similar events in the future.”

During the charity concert, QE’s Director of Music, Ruth Partington, joined Year 12 pupil Jao-Yong Tsai and the School’s accompanist, Tadashi Imai, in a performance of Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio, for clarinet, viola and piano.

There was a performance of Brahms’ Clarinet Trio, Op. 114, i. Allegro & ii. Adagio. The Jazz Band and QE’s junior jazz group, conducted by Music teacher Caroline Grint, performed a medley for the concert’s finale that included Rock Around the Clock, Georgia on My Mind, and Bandstand Boogie.

Following the charity concert, audiences returned to the 230-seat recital hall – part of the School’s new Music complex officially opened in May – for the festival’s final two events.

First the Mad Song ensemble of young musicians, directed by Mr Ballance, performed a range of music by modern composers Missy Mazzoli, Kaija Saariaho, Joan Tower, Richard Causton, Barbara Monk Feldman, and Steve Reich. The evening was acclaimed by Bernard Hughes, reviewer for specialist website theartsdesk.com as an “ambitious and intriguing concert”.

More familiar musical fare came in the final concert held in The Friends’ Recital Hall, when cellist Ben Tarlton and pianist Robin Green played Beethoven’s Sonata in F for Cello and Piano, Nadia Boulanger’s Three Pieces for Cello and Piano and Rachmaninoff’s Sonata for Cello and Piano.

Live and in-person! Founder’s Day surpasses all expectations

Founder’s Day 2022 has been acclaimed as a resounding success, with large numbers of old boys among the crowds and the entire QE community giving generously, easily outstripping the fundraising target.

The first in-person Founder’s Day since before the pandemic proved a considerable draw, with large numbers coming along to enjoy the fun and family atmosphere at the afternoon fete organised by the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s. The formal aspects of the day – which this year included a memorial service for former Headmaster Eamonn Harris (1984–1999) – also ran smoothly, as the School marked its rich traditions in style.

Founder’s Day is always the biggest fundraiser in the School calendar, and this year was no exception. As of today, total takings stand at £32,392.04, some 62 per cent higher than the £20,000 target.

Current Headmaster Neil Enright said: “It was a very happy occasion and a great celebration of the School’s 449th birthday enjoyed by all parts of our community. I was particularly pleased to see so many Old Elizabethans – more than I can remember on similar occasions in the past – returning to their School.

“My thanks go to all the boys, staff and volunteers who worked so hard to make the day a great success on this important day for the School and for FQE. I also wish to express my gratitude to everyone who donated money: once again, the Elizabethan community has done us proud!”

After the morning Thanksgiving Service in Chipping Barnet Parish Church attended by Year 7 boys, their families and staff, pupils and teachers walked to the School for the traditional Roll Call and reading of the School Chronicle (an annually updated account of QE’s history) in front of Main Building.

After that, as the fete began on Stapylton Field, the memorial service for Mr Harris commenced in The Friends’ Recital Hall, which was officially opened last month. Mr Harris died in late 2019 and the memorial service was postponed from the early days of the pandemic.

The service featured music played by pupils including pieces by Brahms and Henryk Wieniawski.

After a welcome from Mr Enright, Chairman of Governors Barrie Martin MBE read Wordsworth’s A Poet! He hath put his heart to school.

There were tributes from two teachers who worked under Mr Harris: Eric Houston, a QE teacher from 1976 who was Second Master from 1999–2010, and Dr John Marincowitz, who went on to become his successor, serving as Headmaster from 1999 until his retirement in 2011.

“It was lovely to welcome back so many former pupils and members of staff for the Eamonn Harris memorial, alongside members of Eamonn’s family and friends,” said Mr Enright. “It was fitting that the re-arranged memorial took place on Founder’s Day. The current format of bringing everyone together for reflection and celebration on the third Saturday in June was reinstated by him.”

The fete, which took the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee as its theme, featured an array of food stalls, as well as attractions to suit all tastes, including Indian dancers, performances from School musicians and renditions of Shakespearean monologues from Year 8 dramatists.

The £32,392.04 total raised includes money collected at the fete, as well as sponsorship funds from the inter-House Music and The Voice concert challenge on Friday and online donations via the main Founder’s Day JustGiving page.

The afternoon also saw the playing of the Stanley Busby Memorial Cricket Match – an annual  Founder’s Day fixture for Old Elizabethans and current senior pupils – on Third Field at the rear of the School.

During the morning, the guest speaker at the service was Michael Stewart CBE (OE 1978–1985) whose career has been in in national security-related jobs, with a particular focus on counter-terrorism. He is currently the Director of Prevent, one of the four pillars of the UK’s counter-terrorist strategy.

In an entertaining address, he wove together examples from popular culture, social media, the natural world, his career and the School. His theme was that “appearances can be deceiving” – but only for a short time, since the truth comes out eventually. The School may look very similar to how it did in his day as you walk up to the Main Building, he pointed out to the congregation, but it is a place transformed and so much better. He noted the crucial role Eamonn Harris had played in this.

Other VIP guests included: the Mayor of the London Borough of Barnet, Cllr Alison Moore; the Representative Deputy Lieutenant of the London Borough of Barnet, Martin Russell, and the Headteacher of Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’ School, Violet Walker.

Old Elizabethans present during the day spanned all generations. Among them were a group of 17 celebrating 50 years since leaving in 1972; they have been meeting up with each other on Founder’s Day since the turn of the millennium. There was also a visit from Sir Lucian Grainge (OE 1971–1978), chairman and chief executive officer of the global music company, Universal Music Group, and his brother Justin Grainge (OE 1976–81).

Fun, festivity and fund-raising: Founder’s Day 2022

Opportunity beckons for the QE community to come together to celebrate and to raise funds for future facilities on one of the most important occasions in the School year – Founder’s Day.

For the first time in three years, the day’s events, including the popular afternoon fete, are being held live and in-person. Founder’s Day takes place this Saturday, 18th June.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “It is wonderful that we can meet each other physically again after the pandemic-affected years. Founder’s Day is the School’s biggest individual fundraiser, so, as well as being a splendid occasion of celebration and community, it is the source of much-needed funds that will be used to enhance facilities and opportunities for current boys and those who will enter our doors in future years.”

Those unable to attend in person can still make what will be a valued donation, however large or small through the School’s JustGiving page, which has been retained for this purpose, Mr Enright added.

This year’s events starts tomorrow, Friday, with an inter-House Music and The Voice Challenge which will be live-streamed. Each house will have an hour to put on a concert which must feature not just music but also a vocal element. The challenge is for each house to raise as much sponsorship as possible, and the School has created online giving pages for each house, listed below, along with the times of the performances.

Money raised from this will be divided between the School’s planned Robert Dudley Studio – a 104-seat drama and spoken-word studio – and the cost of commissioning a piece of music for next year’s QE 450th anniversary celebrations.

“The music challenge promises to provide a plenitude of high-quality performances which display the boys’ creativity alongside their musical talent. More broadly, the Founder’s Day events themselves provide pageantry, fun, fellowship and a celebration of all that is great and good about the Elizabethan community,” said Mr Enright.

Founder’s Day itself will commence on Saturday morning with the traditional church service for Year 7 and invited guests at Chipping Barnet Parish Church. This will be followed by the Roll Call and reading of the School Chronicle, in front of the School’s Main Building.

The Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s (FQE) Fete will feature food and drink for all tastes, as well as stalls and games. It is promised that some members of staff will be found in somewhat less dignified circumstances than usual – stuck in the stocks!

There will be music to enjoy, as well as Shakespearean monologues delivered by Year 8 dramatists. The afternoon will also feature the Stanley Busby Memorial Cricket Match, played annually on Founder’s Day by Old Elizabethans and current senior pupils.

On an equally celebratory yet more reflective note, there will be a service for those who wish to honour the memory of Eamonn Harris (Headmaster 1984-1999). Mr Harris died in late 2019: a memorial service planned in 2020 had to be called off because of the pandemic.

“Eamonn was one of the most significant figures in QE recent history,” says Mr Enright. “He raised the stature of the School enormously, laying the foundations for our current success, and it was also under his leadership that the FQE, as we know it today, was born.”

The day is scheduled to come to a conclusion at 4.30pm. “My thanks go to all those involved who have worked so hard to bring everything together for what, I am sure, will be a great celebration,” said Mr Enright.

“By coming to the fete, or sponsoring the music challenge, you are supporting the FQE charity, which, in turn, benefits generations of pupils. Your contributions enable us to develop facilities and provide transformational opportunities to young people which we could not achieve based on our state funding alone.

“We appeal to you to give generously and trust you will thoroughly enjoy the events. Rest assured that we are most grateful for all support and donations, large and small,” added Mr Enright.

Details of the concert timings for the Music and The Voice Challenge are as follows. Each link is a click through to a House-specific sponsorship page:


9.15am Broughton
10.15am Harrisons’
11.15am Leicester
12.15pm Pearce
1.45pm Stapylton
2.45pm Underne 

 

 

A taste of the latest technology: partnering with local primary schools in robotics and 3D-printing

Pupils and teachers from QE’s Technology department have been visiting local primaries to help them dip their toes into 3D-printing and robotics.

First, QE donated 3D printers to Northside Primary in North Finchley and Foulds School in Barnet, sending along a group of sixth-formers to help set the machines up and explain how they can be used.

Then, the award-winning Hybrid robotics team took along two of its robots to Monken Hadley CE Primary School and gave the children there an introduction to exactly what is involved in competitive robotics.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “At Queen Elizabeth’s School, we cherish our place in the local community and are keen to work together with other schools and organisations in the area. Partnerships such as these benefit all who are involved, with our students gaining from the experience of presenting what they have learned in these informal, interactive workshops, while the primary schools are introduced to some very exciting, cutting-edge technologies.”

The 3D Printers donated to Northside and Foulds schools were among a large batch of machines given to QE technology company Cisco Meraki. During the early stages of the pandemic, they were used as part of a ‘print farm’ producing urgently needed PPE for the NHS under a London-wide initiative headed by QE Head of Technology Michael Noonan that involved the online 3D Crowd network.

“With supply chains subsequently catching up with demand for PPE, we were looking to retire the machines to schools that needed them,” Mr Noonan said. “We gave a commitment as the Technology department to support the two schools in setting them up and in helping to train staff so they could bring 3D printing into their curriculum.

“Students on our new Year 12 course – part of the two-year A-level in Product Design – have been gaining far greater knowledge of 3D-printing recently through setting up the two dedicated Sixth Form printers. So, once they were sufficiently confident, we were very happy for them to travel to these local schools to spearhead technical education sessions benefitting both staff and children there.”

The visiting sixth-formers first finessed the set-up of the printers and calibrated them, before moving on to instructing staff on best practice, introducing Computer-Aided Design (CAD) to the children, and helping the schools establish a CAD/3D-printing curriculum.

“The exercise was highly beneficial for these students, deepening their competence in using the technology, while also developing their personal confidence as they gave their presentation and fielded questions both from education professionals and from some very keen members of Years 5 and 6!

“The Technology department will look to continue to grow this partnership in the coming years, so that we develop the best opportunities for our A-level Product Design students, while at the same time helping local schools access and benefit from the type of technologies which have greatly enhanced the learning experience at Queen Elizabeth’s.”

Mr Noonan accompanied senior boys from Team Hybrid – one of four senior QE robotics teams to have taken part in last year’s international VEX robotics finals – to Monkton Hadley.

The Year 10 boys spoke to a mixed group of Year 5 and 6 children about their journey in robotics to date, detailing their achievements and what they have learned. They brought along the robot they are using in senior competitions this year, as well as the robot they used in the VIQC junior events.

“It was an opportunity to demonstrate the impressive capabilities of bespoke designed, programmable robotics. The primary school students were amazed by the technology on show, and particularly taken aback by the sheer scale of the effort put in by the team members as they strive for excellence,” said Mr Noonan.

The visiting QE team proudly displayed their award trophies and gave the younger pupils a glimpse of their design notebooks. They tantalised them with the prospect of one day competing themselves in the international VEX championships, which in non-pandemic years are normally held in the US. There was also an opportunity for the primary school children to test-drive the robots – an experience which left them “ecstatic”, Mr Noonan said.

“At the end of the session, the voting was unanimous: all present wanted to take up VEX in the following academic year (staff included!). QE will now look to host the school and others like it; we’ll start with a visit of our facilities and then eventually perhaps they could take part in the annual VEX competitions we now host, just as Lochinver House School did last term.”

After the visit, Julie Eyres, Head at Monken Hadley, wrote to QE’s Head of Technology, Michael Noonan to say how much the children had enjoyed the visit, adding that they were now keen for their school to acquire robotics equipment of its own!

The children from Monken Hadley gave their own account in their school newsletter: “These robots were amazing…[The QE boys] play in many different competitions; the robot they are using…is so cool. It has a small conveyor belt, where rings go up, and it also collects big circles with poles on them.”

Working with Mr Noonan on these partnership initiatives are Technology teachers Lauren Fagan and Stephanie Tomlinson, and Technology Assistant Kirsten Evans.

“It was great to see that our students emphasised the accessibility of robotics to both young men and women, thus highlighting the opportunities that exist for women in STEM careers,” Miss Tomlinson said.

  • Team Hybrid have applied for Vex Robotics Competition (VRC) Online Challenge Community Award and have created a video entry. They hope to be able to visit other primary schools in due course.