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The beginning of their grand stories? Senior Awards guest speaker urges prize-winners to be “micro-ambitious”, expect the unexpected and take some risks

The President and Principal of King’s College London had some inspiring and very ‘relatable’ advice for the prize-winners at Senior Awards – one of the highlights of the Queen Elizabeth’s School calendar.

The formal ceremony in the Main School Hall was this year held in its full format, following the pandemic-restricted event of 2021, with Professor Shitij Kapur the Guest of Honour.

Pupils from Years 10-12 were awarded a total of around 80 prizes covering all the academic subjects, as well as a range of other areas, including academic excellence, debating & public speaking, contribution & responsibility and chess. In addition to a number of speeches and the prizegiving, the evening was punctuated by a series of musical interludes performed by the boys.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “It was very good to be able to invite everyone to Senior Awards this year – and what a return to form! Professor Kapur was a wonderful guest speaker, and I was so pleased that parents, governors and other friends of the School were all able to join us to see some of our brightest and best receive their awards.”

Professor Kapur, who was accompanied by his wife Sharmistha, spoke about his career path, which has seen him work in academic environments in five countries across four different continents.

Interlacing the account with words particularly relevant for the boys, he urged them to be brave, ready to take risks and prepared for sudden changes of direction. He recounted being invited by King’s College London to join them for the first time when he was living in America. His wife’s response was “Well, why not?” – and that, he said, is the attitude we need if we are to embrace new opportunities.

He urged the reading of books, rather than blog posts or articles, and also spoke about how we make decisions in context, pointing out that unpredictable events and developments often govern that context.

“Show a passionate dedication to the pursuit of short-term goals,” he said, an attitude he characterised as being “micro-ambitious”.

Alluding to the famous maxim of Apple’s Steve Jobs – “you cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward” – Professor Kapur concluded: “Start plotting the dots, and your life will be a grand story that will only make sense in hindsight.”

The idea is that you’ve got to be able to accept that and roll with it, being ambitious in terms of shorter-term goals and doing whatever you are doing now with pride, he explained.

In his speech, the Headmaster highlighted a number of qualities of effective leadership, including bravery, hard work, high standards, low tolerance of bad behaviour, and kindness.

Examples of poor leadership are legion, Mr Enright said. “This is why images of President Zelensky on the streets of Kyiv, or Her Majesty The Queen sat alone, socially distanced, at her husband’s funeral, have resonated, moved and inspired so strongly.”

Turning to the prize-winners, he added: “Boys, you’ve set your own high standards, so endeavour to stick to them or raise them still further.

“Your awards recognise past performance, so try to earn them again each day. Ensure that you remain worthy role models and leaders for your peers.”

Guests included the Deputy Mayor of the London Borough of Barnet, Councillor Saira Don, who also spoke during the ceremony.

The current School Captain, Theo Mama-Kahn, gave the vote of thanks.

Music performed by the School’s senior musicians included works by Handel and the Renaissance Italian composer, Gastoldi.

Fortitude and focus lie behind another year of outstanding Oxbridge success

Thirty-five Elizabethans received offers from Oxford and Cambridge universities this year, having successfully surmounted all the extra challenges posed by Covid throughout their A-level studies.

The 29 Cambridge and six Oxford places offered take the total number of Oxbridge offers secured by QE boys over the past three years to 114.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “Huge congratulations to these students for showing such fortitude and for maintaining their focus throughout their extraordinary Sixth Form years, when they have had to contend with extended lockdowns, the cancellation of all the public examinations they were to have sat, and university interviews that were held online.

“Despite all these difficulties, they were still able to demonstrate their ability, keen interest, and the positive contribution they would make to university life. Their success is the result of careful preparation, hard work over many years, the support of their families and others, and of the little bit of luck you need in such a highly competitive process – we have other very deserving candidates who did not secure Oxbridge offers.

“We are, of course, very proud to celebrate this achievement, which consolidates our consistent record of sending large numbers of leavers to Oxford and Cambridge every year. It should be said, however, that it is not the be all and end all here: many of our other Year 13s are currently receiving exciting offers for well-regarded courses at internationally respected universities around the country.”

“I must mention the significant efforts of their teachers in helping these 35 Elizabethans secure their Oxbridge offers, whether through lessons, arranging mock interviews, running extension classes, producing UCAS references, co-ordinating entries for admissions assessments, or contributing to the many and wide-ranging enrichment opportunities available to our boys. I also thank the many Old Elizabethans and other friends of the School who rallied round to offer mock interviews in online format.”

Among the broad range of courses are:

  • Engineering (six offers)
  • Medicine (five)
  • Mathematics (four)
  • Human, Social & Political Sciences (three)
  • Economics (three).

The highest number of offers came from three Cambridge colleges, with four apiece from Gonville & Gaius, St Catharine’s and Girton.

While a large majority of the 35 offers received this year are for current Year 13 boys, two have been made to 2021 leavers, namely Deshraam Ganeshamoorthy and Yuvan Vasanthakumaran. Deshraam is spending this year working for Springboard Pro, a company that develops advanced medical devices, having won the placement through the national Year in Industry scheme. His success thus exemplifies the possibilities of pursuing an alternative route to university.

QE named Parent Power State Secondary School of the Year

Queen Elizabeth’s School was today named as the Sunday Times Parent Power State Secondary School of the Year 2022.

The coveted national award encompasses academic accomplishment, but is distinct from the annual Parent Power academic rankings also published today and recognises overall achievements across all aspects of the School’s life.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “The State Secondary School of the Year award is a significant accolade, so this is excellent news.

“The award reflects the breadth of the educational experience here at QE, with pupils taking full advantage of the opportunities available to enrich themselves, pursuing their intellectual interests well beyond the confines of course syllabuses and throwing themselves into our huge range of clubs and societies – more than 90 at the last count – many of them set up by the boys themselves.

“Our consistency of achievement at the highest level, spanning so many years, is truly remarkable and testament to the talent, ambition and dedication of our pupils, their families, our staff and all those involved in guiding and supporting the School. In short, it is a team effort, and I therefore hope everyone in the Elizabethan community will take both personal and collective pride in this award.”

As it has done in seven of the last nine years, QE again topped the latest Parent Power rankings, which this year are based on A-level and GCSE results aggregated from the last three pre-pandemic years, namely 2017–2019. The Parent Power table shows 96.3% of A-levels taken at QE were awarded grades A*-B and that 91.5% of GCSEs received grades 9-7 (or A* and A under the old grading system). A-level results were double-weighted by Parent Power.

Alastair McCall, editor of Parent Power, said: “Queen Elizabeth’s is making the top spot in our annual rankings its own and our award this year recognises that sustained excellence. However, this is no academic hothouse.

“Success in examinations comes as a by-product of a wider school ethos centred on fully developing the boys’ considerable talents. Boys leave the school confident young men capable of taking their place in the world, nurtured by a school with outstanding facilities and exceptional teaching.”

QE has won the State Secondary School of the Year award twice before, in 2001 and 2007. “With The Sunday Times Schools Guide and the Parent Power rankings remaining highly respected and influential within the education sector, we believe this triple success to be a rare achievement indeed,” the Headmaster said.

“This 2022 award will take us up to the start of our 450th anniversary year in 2023 and demonstrates that our shared vision, set out in our current School Plan, of ‘building on distinction’ is highly appropriate.

“With the challenges that all schools have faced over the past 20 months, the award comes as a welcome boost, and one that I think is well-deserved for the tireless and tenacious work put in by boys and staff.”

“I would add that, with public examinations cancelled over the past two summers, I understand Parent Power’s decision to base its rankings on 2017–2019 results. Yet while it is true that 2020 and 2021 results were achieved under very different conditions, we have strong internal evidence that the boys have been maintaining our very high standards and have progressed very well, despite the pandemic.”

Parent Power, The Sunday Times Schools Guide 2022 has been published online for subscribers this morning and will appear in a special supplement in this weekend’s Sunday Times.


Places of honour: new School Captain and 2022 prefect team named

QE today announced its biggest-ever prefect body – 120 sixth-formers led by the 2022 School Captain, Theo Mama-Kahn.

Theo, pictured centre, and his two Senior Vice-Captains, Ansh Jassra (right) and Antony Yassa will take over at the start of the New Year at the helm of a Year 12 team that includes Vice-Captains, House Captains, Deputy House Captains and Prefects.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “My congratulations go to all who have been appointed to this, our largest-ever group, reflecting the current size of our Sixth Form. There were very many strong candidates.

“To be named in such positions at this School represents a significant honour and is reflective of the standing in which they are held by their peers and staff. They serve as role models and ambassadors for QE and our shared values. The prefect roles are aligned with the development priorities in our 2021–2025 School plan; these senior students thus make a lasting contribution, assisting us in our progress as an organisation.

“It was no surprise to see Theo, Ansh and Antony emerge out of the prefect selection process ­- all are hugely talented, hard-working, and epitomise what it means to be ‘confident, able and responsible’,” Mr Enright added. “They are each role models in their own way for other QE boys, whilst they complement each other well with their differing personalities.

“Their ability to take on the leadership responsibility that these roles bring with them cannot be questioned. Already, they have each demonstrated that they can juggle significant extra-curricular involvements with academic study at an impressive level.”

Mr Enright also thanked the outgoing 2021 School Captain, Siddhant Kansal, and his team. “During another disrupted year, they coped admirably with the vicissitudes of leading in the midst of a pandemic, and successfully made an impact in a number of areas of School life.”

Assistant Head (Pupil Development) Michael Feven detailed the attributes and accomplishments of the new Captain and his Senior Vice-Captains.

“Theo is notable for his altruism: he is kind and enjoys selflessly helping others. He is a star of the Music department, with wide involvement in a number of ensembles, including one which he leads. At this year’s Senior Awards Ceremony, he not only won an impressive trio of prizes – for Music and Geography and a year-group award for overall commitment – but also entertained the audience with a trumpet voluntary. In addition, he is a one of our eco representatives and helps out in the French & German clinics.

“Ansh is a hard-working, determined and focussed individual. He gives up his own time to tutor Mathematics to youngsters in deprived areas, while also running clinics in Maths and German here, and he has enjoyed success with LAMDA public speaking awards.

“Antony is outgoing and confident: he will undoubtedly bring new ideas to the group. Like Theo, he is heavily involved in Music, having sung in the School Choir and Chamber Choir for a number of years. He also exemplifies the School’s ethos of service: he is intending to work at an old people’s home as part of our Sixth Form Voluntary Service Programme.”

The roles of the ten Vice-Captains have been expanded and enhanced this year to support the new School development priorities. New leadership positions for the environment have been added, while the existing community engagement role has been strengthened. As a result, there are now two Vice-Captains with responsibility for each of the following areas:

  • Charity & Community Engagement
  • Enrichment & Involvement
  • Environment
  • Equality, Diversity & Inclusion
  • Student Voice.

The second picture shows the Headmaster and the Head of Year 12, Helen Davies, with the School Captain, Senior Vice-Captains and Vice-Captains. The Vice-Captains are: Victor Angelov; Suraj Cheema; Sushant Deshpande; Dylan Domb; Aryan Jindal; Heemy Kalam; Mithil Parmar; Olly Salter; Ryo Sato; and Jao-Yong Tsai.


Teacher, Governor and Trustee who “leaves a wonderful legacy”: Sid Clark (1933-2021)

Leading figures from the QE community today paid tribute to Sid Clark, an important figure at the School for half a century, who died this week.

Appointed as a Chemistry teacher in 1956, Mr Clark went on to play a significant role in maintaining standards at QE through some of the School’s most turbulent years and, before his retirement in 1987, helped newly arrived Headmaster Eamonn Harris in laying the groundwork for its subsequent success.

Having made a huge impact in his staff roles, among them Head of Chemistry and Head of Sixth Form, Mr Clark (pictured, centre, above)  continued to serve the School in retirement, as a Governor, and as a Trustee of the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s, who, together with Mr Harris, set up its covenant scheme.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “Sid made a truly significant contribution to our School during a long and distinguished period of service. The FQE covenant scheme, with which he was so involved, has formed the foundations for the ongoing transformation of the School site, allowing us to provide ever greater facilities and educational opportunities for the boys.”

Mr Enright’s predecessor, Dr John Marincowitz, Headmaster from 1999 to 2011, said: “I am saddened to hear of Sid Clark’s death. His enormous contribution as an educator over three decades in the Chemistry labs benefitted many boys. It was however, as Trustee and Governor for much of my Headship that I appreciated Sid most. He gave dedicated service as treasurer, securing FQE’s finances at a time of rapid growth and challenging capital projects. As Governor, he provided wise counsel and stalwart support.

“Sid held ambitious aspirations for the School and remained a pillar of continuity from the mid-1950s to the mid-2000s.  This was a time of considerable turbulence in education. It was also period of reinvention and regeneration at Queen Elizabeth’s.  We will remember Sid with gratitude for the part he played in the School’s emergence as a centre of national excellence.”

Former Second Master and President of the Old Elizabethans Association Eric Houston also paid tribute to Mr Clark: “Greatly respected by his colleagues for his formidable intellect, he will be remembered as an outstanding schoolmaster who dedicated so much of his working life to his pupils.”

Mr Houston, who remained in touch with Mr Clark and visited him in New Zealand (pictured left), where he moved in 2008, said: “Sid was so proud of the School’s outstanding achievements but it is true that he had a huge part to play in making this possible. He never sought any credit for his many contributions, but we should acknowledge with gratitude all he did over many years. He leaves a wonderful legacy.”

Having graduated with a first-class honours degree from the University of Wales, Mr Clark was appointed in 1956 by Headmaster E.H. Jenkins to teach Chemistry. He remained at QE for the rest of his teaching career.

Through his teaching, he helped launch a number highly successful and distinguished academic careers.

A one-time athlete of national standing himself, he gave coaching and encouragement to many boys on Third Field and Stapylton, while he also spent a great deal of his time driving the School’s most talented performers around the country for them to compete in national athletics competitions.

He was quickly promoted to Head of Chemistry, and, when the School was reorganised and became a comprehensive in 1971, he shortly after became Head of Sixth Form.

He maintained his insistence on high standards of behaviour and dress, and on the pursuit of academic excellence.

“Many Sixth Form students from that period owe the places they secured at top universities to the individual help and guidance they received from him,” said Mr Houston, who added that when Mr Harris arrived in 1984 and ushered in a period of great change, Mr Clark soon joined with him to form “a formidable partnership that was the foundation of QE’s subsequent success”.

His total commitment to the School did not diminish in the slightest following his retirement in 1987.  After QE opted out of local authority control in 1989, he became a Governor, serving for a period as Vice Chairman, and he unfailingly attended all School functions. He worked on a number of sub-committees and was an influential figure in the School regaining selective status in 1994.

Every major project that has taken place on the School site since 1990 has, to a greater or lesser extent, been made possible because of the covenant scheme he helped set in place and oversaw for many years. Pictured here is the signing for the contract for the Martin Swimming Pool – a demonstration of the impact of the work of FQE and the fruits of the covenant scheme.

In 2008, Mr Clark and his wife decided to relocate to New Zealand to be closer to their daughter and three grandchildren. He died peacefully in the North Island city of Hamilton earlier this week.

New research underlines QE’s glittering record in winning places at Oxford and Cambridge

A new analysis of the performance of top schools published by The Spectator magazine further highlights just how successful QE pupils are in securing Oxbridge places.

In the magazine’s table, based upon university destinations in 2020, Queen Elizabeth’s School won the second-highest number of places at Oxford and Cambridge universities of any 11-18 state school in England and Wales, beaten only by Brampton Manor Academy in East Ham.

Furthermore, Brampton Manor and the four specialist state sixth-form colleges ahead of QE in the magazine’s table all had significantly larger pupil numbers, with, for example, Peter Symonds College in Hampshire having around 4,000 students on its roll, compared with QE’s 340-strong Sixth Form.

And the figures collated by The Spectator also reveal that QE had an extremely high success rate in converting Oxbridge applications into places. Of QE’s 91 applicants, 40 boys, or 44 per cent, gained places – a figure beaten (narrowly) by only one of the handful of schools and colleges above QE in the table, the independent St Paul’s Girls’ School.

Headmaster Neil Enright said today: “I am very proud of the achievements of our boys and of our staff, and it is gratifying to read further objective confirmation of QE’s outstanding success in securing places at Oxford and Cambridge.

“It is also interesting to note how favourably our conversion rate compares to other providers: we seek always to be realistically ambitious in matching our students to the courses and universities that are right for them. Through our University admissions Support Programme (our ‘USP’), staff and alumni provide help and advice for all senior boys, and this includes dedicated support for Oxbridge candidates.

“I should add that the 2020 figures on which The Spectator based its article are by no means a one-off: we have had consistently high numbers of boys heading to Oxford and Cambridge in recent years, and in August 2021, 39 pupils confirmed their Oxbridge offers, almost matching the previous year’s record.”

More broadly, the achievements of QE leavers this summer included securing:

  • 26 places to read Medicine (with 11 of these at UCL alone, where the medical school is ranked in the global top ten)
  • 18 places on ‘pure’ Economics courses – a figure which does not include several other leavers who will be joining courses with an Economics element, such as Economics & Geography and Oxford’s famous Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) course.
  • 31 places overall at UCL, 11 at Imperial College, 10 at Bristol and nine apiece at Kings College London and Nottingham, as well as dozens more at other Russell Group universities.

Bolstered by the success of their predecessors, the current Year 13 are now fully engaged in the UCAS university application process and working hard to finalise their applications, drawing on the support offered by staff and alumni.

Unwavering determination: QE boys reap the rewards of staying focused in tough times with a superb set of GCSE results

Year 11 pupils at Queen Elizabeth’s School today celebrated a very strong set of results, continuing a long pattern of outstanding success at GCSE.

In spite of the disruption caused by two lockdowns and other Covid restrictions, the year group showed great dedication to their studies.

Their results reflect this, with more than 19 out of every 20 grades being awarded at 9–7 (equivalent to the previous A* and A) and 85% at 9-8 (equivalent to the old A*).

Moreover, the results also demonstrate the breadth of education at QE: every Year 11 boy achieved the Government’s English Baccalaureate (awarded to pupils achieving level 5 or above in GCSEs in English, Mathematics, Science, a humanity and language), while there were also strong results in the Higher Project Qualification (HPQ), taken by 157 of the 184 boys in the cohort.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “My warm congratulations go to Year 11. They have shown great dedication, resilience and positivity, evincing a mature and considered approach to their studies and to the situation they have found themselves in. They and their families should take pride in all they have achieved.

“These superb results are also testament to the unstinting work of staff during the pandemic in maintaining high levels of academic, extra-curricular and pastoral provision, and to their rigorous application of the Government’s Teacher Assessed Grade (TAG) process.

“It is gratifying to reflect that these results, together with our A-level results announced on Tuesday and the continued high levels of participation in extra-curricular activities (online or otherwise) all strongly bear out the conclusions of the Good Schools Guide report on QE published earlier this academic year.”

The GSG report included the following, for example:

  • “[QE is] A place where boys can expect to get carried away with the collective will to learn both in and outside the classroom, the result of which is one of the most inspiring learning environments we’ve ever come across. An exceptional and rounded education that even private schools would struggle to match.
  • “As for COVID, school is reported not only to have flexed quickly and well, but learned from it too.”

Mr Enright added: “The work that Year 11 have undertaken during the pandemic, including this Summer Term’s Sixth Form bridging work, gives them strong foundations as they embark upon their A-levels.”

Bright and exciting futures beckon for QE’s pandemic-era A-level students

Queen Elizabeth’s School Year 13 pupils were today basking in the brilliance of outstanding A-level results that will propel them into top degree courses at world-leading universities.

In a second challenging, Covid-hit year, 39 boys confirmed their Oxbridge offers, while 26 boys have won places to read Medicine, including 11 at UCL alone, where the medical school is ranked in the global top ten.

Eighteen pupils were awarded places on ‘pure’ Economics courses, not counting several others joining courses with an Economics element, such as Economics & Geography and Oxford’s famous Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) course.

The results, which reflect the year group’s consistently high standards of work over many months, add to QE’s long-term record of excellence at the highest levels: 2021 is the 16th consecutive year in which the proportion of A*–B grades achieved by QE pupils has exceeded 95%. A total of 57 boys – more than a third of the 163-strong cohort – are recorded as having achieved straight A* grades.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “The boys’ hard work and resolve during the pandemic are well demonstrated by these deserved grades, and today gives us an opportunity to recognise and celebrate their efforts and their excellence.

“While the results data can’t be directly compared to those from other years, as it has been a unique set of circumstances, at QE we have been rigorous in drawing upon a range of highly credible evidence on which to base our teacher assessed grades.”

This evidence includes the post-Easter examinations, which gave pupils a final opportunity to show what they could do and demonstrate the fruits of their dedication during the lockdowns.

Mr Enright pointed out that the cohort’s Sixth Form experience has been very different from the norm, not only in terms of the way academic performance is assessed – with no final A-level examinations – but also in terms of the repeated switches between online and on-site lessons and extra-curricular activities.

“They have shown notable adaptability, determination, spirit and humour in navigating this situation. They will be equipped with skills of independent learning beyond those of previous year groups, which will stand them in strong stead for the next phase of their studies.

“Moreover, they can look forward to exciting futures, having secured fantastic university offers as a year group. Staff remain on hand to offer support to anyone who needs it.

“We do regret that Year 13 have necessarily missed out on some of the activities and opportunities that would normally characterise our Sixth Form experience. On the positive side, over their entire QE careers, they have certainly contributed to the extra-curricular life of the School. This group includes some of our first robotics competitors, while boys have also made their mark in sport, drama and music. As they reached the senior years, they have served as role models and leaders to younger pupils, both through mentoring and through specific endeavours, such as setting up our pupil-led Perspective initiative.

“In this most challenging year, QE leavers at least can make their next steps with confidence. We are proud of this cohort of confident, able and responsible Elizabethans and trust that they and their families are, too. We very much hope that they will stay connected with the School, and each other, for many years to come.”

Brightest and best: prize-winners challenged to be the “shining lights” of tomorrow

Prize-winners at Junior Awards should be proud of all they have achieved in the most testing times, Headmaster Neil Enright told them in his address.

After the live event was cancelled last July because of the pandemic (with an online version in its stead), the Junior Awards Ceremony went ahead in person this year, but in reduced format, without the usual audience of parents, VIP guests and the whole QE staff.

Nevertheless, more than 100 prizes were awarded in a formal afternoon ceremony in the Main School Hall that included speeches and musical interludes performed by the School’s young musicians. Pictured, top, is vocalist Rishi Watsalya performing Tachchur Singarachari’s Ninnu Kori. Rishi won both the Year 7 Music award and the House award for Harrisons’.

“We have gathered this afternoon, despite the challenges, because you are deserving of this recognition,” said Mr Enright to the assembled award-winners.

“To be part of this select occasion is particular testament to your motivation, dedication and resilience over the past year. You have not just coped with the circumstances caused by the pandemic, but have continued to thrive.

And the Headmaster concluded: “I am excited to see what you can achieve with further growth. How you can be beacons among your peers and be shining lights in your communities, industries, and in society, in the years ahead. What can you do, day-by-day, to make tomorrow brighter still, for you and for others?”

Prizes at Junior Awards are given for excellence and achievement in curriculum subjects, as well as in extra-curricular activities and in contributions to wider School life.

In total, 57 boys from the total of around 570 boys in Years 7–9 received prizes in the end-of-year ceremony.

In his address toward the conclusion of the afternoon, the 2021 School Captain, Siddhant Kansal, of Year 12, urged the prize recipients to “cherish the moment” and reminded them of the magnitude of their accomplishment in the particular context of QE: “Today, you are the one in ten who has been selected to win a prize out of all those fantastically talented other boys.”

Musical performances included a processional at the beginning of the event – Oblivion, by the Argentine tango composer, Piazzola.

Other pieces played were a Chopin Nocturne and Smetana’s Aus der Heimat No. 2. The recessional was the Waltz and Gavotte from Five Pieces for Two Violins and Piano by Shostakovich.


“Beacons among your peers, shining lights in society”: Headmaster sees a bright future for prize-winners at Senior Awards

Senior Awards is always an important event in the QE calendar, and, although arrangements for this year’s celebration were different because of the coronavirus, the unique situation did not make the achievements of the prize-winners any less significant, said Headmaster Neil Enright.

“Indeed, I would argue rather that it underlines them,” he told boys in the Main School Hall, adding: “We have gathered this afternoon, despite the challenges, because you are deserving of this recognition.”

Senior Awards was split into two ceremonies to enable year group bubbles to be maintained, with boys from Years 10–11 coming to the hall first, followed later by the Sixth Form. Because of Covid restrictions, it was not possible to invite parents, the whole staff and the VIP guests who normally attend.

Collectively, the boys received more than 140 separate prizes. In addition to subject awards and prizes for extra-curricular involvements such as debating & public speaking and chess in each year group, there were awards for the boy making the best overall contribution to his year.

There was also a large number of special prizes for particular areas – The Queen’s College, Oxford, Extended Project Awards, for example – while in the Sixth Form, 12 prizes were given this year for commitment & service and nine for leadership & involvement.

The prizegiving was interspersed with a number of musical interludes, with the music being performed by the School’s senior musicians.

In his address, the Headmaster told the audience of prize-winners and a small number of staff: “To be part of this select occasion is particular testament to your motivation, dedication and resilience over the past year. You have not just coped with the circumstances caused by the pandemic but have continued to thrive.”

He reflected on how much had changed since the last such ceremony at QE: “Looking back, it now seems utterly remarkable that our Senior Awards event in March of 2020 was in fact so normal, given the extraordinary situation that was about to unfold, and has continued to develop ever since. Both education and everyday life have been disrupted in a way not seen in our lifetimes.

“But, with increasing confidence, we can say we are now emerging, slowly but surely, from the crisis phase and, perhaps, into a new era of regeneration and renewal. We have done things as individuals, as a School, as a community, and as a country, that we probably couldn’t ever have imagined. If we can do that in an unprecedented crisis, then why not after it too?”

As with previous crises – he mentioned World War II and the Great Fire of London of 1666 following the plague outbreak of the previous year – the Covid-19 pandemic could become an “opportunity for progress”, he said, pointing to the argument of 20th-century Danish economist Ester Boserup in reference to population growth and agricultural production that “necessity is the mother of invention”.

Citing the watchword of Captain Sir Tom Moore, “Tomorrow will be a brighter day,” Mr Enright continued: “Despite the undoubted challenges, today is already bright for you.

“I am excited to see what you can achieve with further growth. How you can be beacons among your peers and be shining lights in your communities, industries, and in society at large, in the years ahead.

“Congratulations on your awards. Enjoy them, celebrate them with your families, but also reflect on what you have put in to achieve them.

“With continuity in the character you have shown, I am confident that you will succeed in navigating the changing world and have every reason to be optimistic about your tomorrow.”

In his traditional vote of thanks, the 2021 School Captain, Siddhant Kansal, of Year 12, told his fellow prize-winners: “Despite it being a smaller ceremony than it would usually be, the achievements that we are marking, your achievements, are as great, if not greater than they would be in a normal year because of the challenges that have been faced along the way in this most extraordinary of years.

“All of us know how good the competition out there is. So, without being smug, we can be rightfully and genuinely proud at being chosen to be here today.”

The musical contributions for the younger two year groups were from: Year 11 trumpeter Theo Mama-Kahn, performing William Boyce’s Trumpet Voluntary as a processional; pianist Harishan Thevalingham, of Year 10, with Rachmaninov’s Prelude in G Minor; Jao-Yong Tsai, of Year 11, playing Brahms’ Sonata in F minor Op. 120 No. 1 Movement 1, and Arjun Patel, of Year 10, playing Richard Kershaw’s Tango Till You Drop on the saxophone as a recessional.

For the Sixth Form awards, the processional was Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, performed by final-year saxophonist Khai Tran, who also played the recessional, Czardas by Vittorio Monti.  Year 12 cellist Raphael Herberg played Popper’s Tarantella, while Conor Parker-Delves, of Year 12, performed Prélude et Saltarelle by Robert Planel on the saxophone.  QE’s piano teacher, Tadashi Imai, was the accompanist.