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First-ever QE boy to gain place at a Canadian university also wins prestigious full scholarship

Aly Sayani has won a sought-after scholarship to the University of Toronto, one of only 37 applicants from around the world to taste this success.

The coveted Lester B Pearson International Scholarship will cover Aly’s tuition, accommodation, materials and living expenses for the four years in which he reads Social Sciences at the Mississauga campus.

The letter he received offering him the scholarship also specified that in addition to the wide range of academic and co-curricular opportunities the university has to offer, “Pearson Scholars become part of a unique cohort, with access to specially enriched programming and select opportunities.”

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “We are naturally delighted for Aly on his successful application for this prestigious scholarship. I am always pleased to see our boys exploring overseas opportunities at top universities, and we believe he is the first Elizabethan to take up an undergraduate place in Canada.

“This has been a remarkable year in more ways than one: quite apart from the challenges posed by Covid-19, we have 40 boys with Oxbridge offers – a School record – and many others who will take up places on prestigious courses at Russell Group universities.”

The Lester B Pearson scholarship programme is intended to recognise students who demonstrate exceptional academic achievement and creativity and who are acknowledged as leaders within their schools.

Aly, of Year 13, says: “I am immensely grateful and honoured to be a recipient of this scholarship. I was born in Karachi and raised in cosmopolitan London; I look forward to continuing to experience a wide range of beautiful and vibrant cultures, traditions and communities in the multicultural city of Toronto. I hope to learn how I can tackle problems such as poverty, inequality and climate change through my time at U of T.”

On its website, the University of Toronto says: “A special emphasis is placed on the impact the student has had on the life of their school and community, and their future potential to contribute positively to the global community.”

Only overseas students can apply for the scholarship, which is named after a former Prime Minister of Canada who in 1957 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to resolve the Suez Crisis.

Students’ applications must be supported with a strong recommendation from their school and the university will only allow one applicant from any school.

In writing a letter to support Aly’s application, QE Assistant Headteacher and Head of Year 13, Michael Feven highlighted the many ways in which Aly met and even surpassed the criteria. He passed nine out of his ten GCSEs with the highest possible grade and also received the top grade for Mathematics, History, Economics and French at AS Level.

Mr Feven continued: “I cannot recommend Aly highly enough. He is a hard-working, ambitious and scholarly pupil, one who I have complete confidence would be appropriate for a programme such as yours. Academically, he ranks among the brightest that the UK has to offer.”

He went on to describe Aly’s activities within School and in his home community, where he supports the Ismaili community, acting as a youth club team member and chairman. “Additional evidence of his excellent community contribution can be demonstrated in his role as a volunteer at Hillingdon Refugee Support Group. Here, Aly has helped to lead and organise life skills sessions for refugees fleeing conflict to help them settle into new lives in the UK.”

Aly was one of the School’s prefects in 2019 and played his part in monitoring younger boys at breaks and events. “His willingness to give up much of his free time over the year to support the smooth running of the School’s celebrations, open evenings and charity events is symptomatic of his engaged community spirit,” concluded Mr Feven.

Golden generation: QE boys set new School record with 40 Oxbridge offers

Forty boys have been offered places at Oxford or Cambridge this year – a new record high for Queen Elizabeth’s School.

The figure surpasses the previous QE record of 37 set in 2008 and repeated in 2014. Twenty-seven of this year’s 40 offers are for places at Cambridge and the remaining 13 are for Oxford.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “This is a remarkable achievement, both individually for each of the boys and collectively for the School.”

“It reflects, on the one hand, the hard work and consistent application of these pupils, certainly in their academic studies, but also in the extra-curricular and voluntary pursuits by which they showed themselves to be, in the words of our School mission, ‘confident, able and responsible’ candidates of the calibre sought by our leading universities.

“And, on the other, their success is evidence of the meticulous work undertaken at the School to assist pupils as they move into higher education, much of it delivered through our QE University admissions Support Programme (or USP), which is supported by many Old Elizabethans. This work includes a great deal of focus on UCAS statements, as well as expert preparation for the various Oxbridge admissions tests and interview practice.

“We are a state school like no other; fiercely ambitious in nurturing high levels of aspiration among our pupils and their families, and then in helping them fulfil these aspirations. The fact that a good proportion of our boys are the first in their families to go to university is a compelling example of QE’s success in advancing social mobility.”

The Oxbridge places offered span the arts and the sciences, from Modern Languages to Medicine, and Natural Sciences at Cambridge to Politics, Philosophy & Economics at Oxford. One feature of this year’s offers is that there are a number for degrees in a combination of subjects, such as History & German.

The offers come from a wide range of colleges, from the 13th-century University College Oxford to Cambridge’s Girton, which gained full university college status in 1948.

Mr Enright added: “We do, of course, have many other very able boys – including strong Oxbridge candidates who nevertheless did not receive offers. Whilst they may feel some disappointment now, a large majority of Year 13 are in receipt of offers at other prestigious and highly competitive institutions across the Russell Group and beyond, where I am confident that they will similarly thrive and excel.”

  • The photo, top, shows 32 of the 35 boys in Year 13 who have gained Oxbridge offers, together with Mr Enright. The remaining five candidates offered places are from among last year’s leavers.
Top again! QE crowned country’s leading state school for second year

Queen Elizabeth’s School has been named the State School of the Year for the second consecutive year in the Sunday Times’ Parent Power survey.

QE leads both the London and national rankings in the influential annual table, which is based on GCSE and A-level results.

And the survey revealed that QE is in fact among the uppermost echelon for schools of any stripe, state or private, since only four independent schools surpassed the School’s 2019 figure of 95.7% for the proportion of A-levels passed at A*-B (namely St Paul’s Girls’ School, Godolphin and Latymer School and King’s College School in London, together with Brighton College).

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “This is very welcome news and I feel tremendously proud to have the privilege of leading this School. Our position as the leading state school reflects both a substantial amount of hard work on the part of my colleagues and the boys, and our sustained commitment to pursuing the highest levels of achievement across all areas of School life.

“Good examination results, while important for our boys in securing places at the world’s best universities, are by no means our only priority. Through our broad and balanced curriculum, together with our extra-curricular academic enrichment programme, we seek to nurture a genuine spirit of scholarship among our boys.

“In addition, consonant with our mission ‘to produce young men who are confident, able and responsible’, we expect pupils to take advantage of the many other worthwhile activities available to them, whether top-quality music and drama, our wide range of sports, or our popular clubs, such as chess and robotics.”

The Parent Power rankings are determined by the percentage of examination entries gaining A* to B grades at A-level this summer (which is given double weighting) and the percentage of entries awarded A* and A grades, or their numerical equivalents, at GCSE. For QE, the GCSE figure was 90.8%.

Parent Power’s editor, Alistair McCall, wrote: “Despite the rapid advance of several relatively new schools in the capital, age is no barrier to success. Once again, Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet – founded in 1573 – tops both the London and the UK state school rankings. Competition for places at this boys’ grammar is not for the faint-hearted: 2,400 sat the entrance exam last year – a pool that is 50% larger than just five years ago.”

Immediately below QE in the state school table was Wilson’s School in Wallington, with local girls’ school, The Henrietta Barnett School, in third place.

The high position of these and other selective state schools in the rankings has not gone unnoticed among commentators. Professor Alan Smithers, a well-known educationalist from the University of Buckingham, highlighted the widespread national problem of bright children from disadvantaged backgrounds doing well at primary school, but then failing to make progress at secondary level. “Could the reintroduction of grammar schools be the answer to enable bright children to fulfil their potential?” he wrote in the Sunday Times.

“Curiosity, ambitious thinking and intellectual risk”: Headmaster Neil Enright explains QE’s vision for free-thinking scholarship at heads’ conference

Headmaster Neil Enright delivered a speech on QE’s focus on ‘free-thinking scholarship’ to an influential conference of heads from independent schools.

Mr Enright was invited as one of a small number of guest speakers at the Girls’ Schools Association’s Annual Conference for Heads in Bristol.

In his speech during a plenary session entitled Keeping scholarship at the heart of education, he set out QE’s work to cultivate habits of independent learning and academic curiosity.

“We summarise this approach as free-thinking scholarship – a relatively new phrase in the QE lexicon,” he told his audience, who were drawn from some of the country’s most famous girls’ schools.

Mr Enright spoke of the importance of maintaining a focus on free-thinking scholarship within a curriculum that is designed to be intellectually rigorous yet also to be exciting and to embrace worthwhile innovation.

However, he also highlighted QE’s commitment to its academic enrichment programme, through which it offers activities that go beyond the classroom curriculum and the requirements of public examinations.

Mr Enright pointed to the role here of the academic symposia that QE holds with local girls’ schools, including North London Collegiate School (whose Headmistress, Sarah Clark, also spoke in the session and through whom Mr Enright’s invitation had come) and The Henrietta Barnett School. On the day Mr Enright spoke, a group of Year 13 girls from NLCS were visiting QE for a symposium, while a group of Year 11 boys headed in the opposite direction the following day.

While scholarship might be seen as “somewhat of a heritage brand” – gothic libraries, decanters of port and the like – the focus at QE was instead on the fundamental attributes that underpin scholarship: “We must be open to expressions of scholarship which look rather different.”

And Mr Enright cited as a recent example the work of old boy George the Poet (George Mpanga OE 2003–2010), an award-winning podcaster, who opened the coverage of the 2018 Royal Wedding, performed at the opening ceremony of the 2015 Rugby World Cup and has been a regular panellist on BBC’s Question Time. “His work is now undoubtedly a great example of scholarship – a contemporary, urban, forward-looking, free-thinking scholarship,” said Mr Enright.

He also mentioned Anthony Anaxagorou (OE 1994–1999), QE’s poet-in-residence, who was recently shortlisted for the prestigious TS Eliot prize and whose “radical perspective [is] grounded in his experience of race and identity”. Acknowledging that neither Anthony’s nor George’s work found ready recognition at the School when they were pupils, Mr Enright added: “I would like to think that the School would be better placed now to value and support their brands of free-thinking scholarship.”

To inspire and facilitate scholarship in their pupils, schools must identify, attract and then develop staff who have a “deep-rooted interest to continue to explore their [own] interests” and can model “scholastic traits”.

“Our boys expect their teachers to be on top of not just the course material, but the hot topics in their field, the emerging theories and technologies,” he said.

One significant factor in QE’s success in supporting staff had been the work of many departments with the Prince’s Teaching Institute, which, Mr Enright said, had “proved a great way of stretching our subject leaders, giving them the opportunity to collaborate across different schools, learn from best practice and then train others”. Several staff, including Mr Enright himself as well as Assistant Head Sarah Westcott, Head of History & Politics Helen MacGregor and Head of Mathematics Jessica Steer, have current leadership roles within the charity.

Mr Enright set out several other steps the School takes to promote scholarship, all of which, he said aimed at “trying to create and maintain a culture whereby curiosity, ambitious thinking and intellectual risk-taking feels safe”.

Even better than last year! School record extended as almost four out of every five GCSEs taken at QE are awarded top grade

Pupils at Queen Elizabeth’s School have topped last year’s record results with a GCSE performance that saw the proportion of examinations awarded levels 8 & 9 – the equivalent of A* – rising to 79%.

Forty-nine boys – well over a quarter of the 180-strong Year 11 – gained A* grades (8s & 9s) across all of their GCSEs. Over 55% of examinations were given the highest grade possible, a level 9. And 13 of the 49 achieved the ultimate clean sweep – all grade 9s.

In total, 55% of QE’s GCSE candidates (99 boys) learned today that they had achieved grades 7-9 (grades A*-A) in all their subjects. A 100% pass rate for the Government-supported English Baccalaureate (EBacc*) further underlines the strength in depth of this year’s GCSE performance at the School.

The GCSE figures follow last week’s very strong A-level results, which saw QE identified in the league table published by The Times as London’s top secondary school across both the private and state sectors, and as the leading state secondary nationally.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “This is a lovely day of great celebration at Queen Elizabeth’s School. We made a big leap at the very top end in last year’s GCSE results, so it is most impressive that this year’s cohort have been able to extend that record.

“The introduction of level 9 has been very helpful for our pupils, giving them the opportunity to distinguish themselves by demonstrating just what they can do at the uppermost end of the academic spectrum.

“I congratulate the boys both on their consistent hard work over the past two years and on their diligence in revising for their final examinations. Credit must also go to my colleagues: these results would not have been achieved without their often-inspirational teaching and the meticulous individual support they provide for the boys.”

Individual success stories included that of Aqif Choudhury, who was the top performer across the whole country in his GCSE Economics examination (OCR board).

Among other highlights is the performance of those who opted to take Latin, with 100% of candidates achieving grade 8 or 9 in this subject, which was re-introduced at the School in 2012.

Mr Enright added: “Important though examination results are, they remain only one facet of the rounded education provided at QE today, where we lay great emphasis on service to others and expect boys to participate in our full range of extra-curricular activities, including the performing arts and sport. I am looking forward to these Year 11 boys returning for the Sixth Form next month and to catching up with them on their adventures over the summer, when many have been on work experience placements and taking part in NCS – the Government-backed programme that brings together young people from different backgrounds.”

*The EBacc is achieved by gaining passes at levels 9-4 (equivalent to A*–C) in all of the following: English, Mathematics, History or Geography, Science and a language.

Reaping the rewards: Queen Elizabeth’s School celebrates A-level success at the highest level

Boys at Queen Elizabeth’s School have consolidated last year’s record-breaking A-level achievements with another emphatic performance at the very highest grade.

In total, 229 A* grades were awarded out of the 506 A-levels taken in Year 13. The proportion gaining this highest-possible grade stands at 45.3%, second only to 2018’s best-ever figure of 46.9%. 86.2% of grades were at A*-A.

The proportion of A*-B grades – a benchmark measure used widely by the country’s leading schools – remained above the 95% threshold, where it has now been for a remarkable 14 consecutive years.

QE pupils also excelled in Year 12 at AS-level: 82.7% of the 606 examinations taken were given grade A (the highest AS grade), which is QE’s best-ever figure.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “My huge congratulations go to the boys and their teachers on a very good set of results: this is another happy day of great celebration at QE.

“Having secured their places on degree courses through achieving the grades they required, many of our leavers will now be going on to leading universities in the UK and abroad.

“And this year’s AS results, with our highest-ever percentage of A grades, will spur many of the Year 12 boys on to be even more ambitious this autumn in their university applications.”

Among the A-level results, highlights were:

  • A large increase in the number of boys gaining A* in Mathematics, from 56 last year to 76 in 2019, or 62% of the candidates
  • Further gains on last year’s strong figures in subjects including Geography, Art, Physics and Politics
  • The inclusion of Latin among the subjects taken, for the first time in several decades. It follows the School’s reintroduction of Latin in the Lower School in 2012.

“QE really is a state school like no other, offering a very broad experience in the Sixth Form – not just A-levels, but also AS and the Extended Project Qualification, as well as a host of enriching activities including sport, music, drama and opportunities to participate in competitive events up and down the country and internationally,” said Mr Enright.

“Strong examination results are certainly important, but we keep them in their proper perspective, recognising that they are in many ways a happy by-product of bringing together the brightest minds, both boys and teachers, in an environment that cultivates intellectual curiosity and rigorous scholarship. Moreover, boys at QE are grounded and spirited, not stuffy. And they are witty, too: we laugh a lot at the School!

“This is a very exciting period in our history, in which we are reaping the rewards of the thoroughgoing work that has been done over recent years to regain the School’s high standing. QE is the reigning top state school in the Sunday Times Parent Power survey; recent Government analysis showed that we sent more pupils to Russell Group universities than any other state school over the past three years, and we are also the top selective school when measured by the Department for Education’s Progress 8 figure, which charts academic progress between the last year of primary school and GCSEs. Furthermore, we have recently had the exciting news of the success of our funding application for a new Music School – a major addition to our facilities,” Mr Enright concluded.

Thriving in a fast-changing world: Junior Awards 2019

With more than 100 prizes presented, the Junior Awards Ceremony in the final week of the academic year gave public recognition to the high achievement and outstanding commitment of QE’s youngest pupils.

The formal ceremony in the School Hall took its traditional form, with the audience of prize-winners, their parents, VIP guests and staff treated to classical music interludes during the prize-giving.

Yet in his speech, Headmaster Neil Enright reminded the young high-fliers that theirs is a changing world: “If rapid progress is a feature of our School, it most certainly is in aspects of the wider world. Whilst much focus this month is on the 50th anniversary of the moon landings, it is also the 100th anniversary of the first two-way crossing of the Atlantic by airship. That only fifty years should separate those landmark events, itself would seem to emphasise the point. The rate of technological and human progress has never been so great.”

This, said Mr Enright, provided the boys both with wonderful opportunities and new challenges. “Try new things and broaden your base of skills and knowledge, as your generation will need to adapt in an economy and a society disrupted by technology and associated structural change.”

Technological change was also making the globe “smaller, more connected and more accessible,” he added. “In the last year boys here have been variously to Canada (for rugby and skiing), Beijing (for astrophysics), Russia (for History and Politics), France and Germany (on language exchange programmes), Sicily (for Geography), Kentucky (for robotics) and New York (for an international mock trial competition), among other destinations.

“But” the Headmaster said, “we may have reached a moment when progress is not all about faster, further and bigger – at least in the non-digital world. Climate change, for example, means grappling with new imperatives, of doing things smarter, cleaner and more sustainably.”

The implications of this for QE’s pupils were clear: “It is through a rounded combination of academic, technical, creative and social skills that progress on the biggest issues facing us in the future will rely. This is a roundedness we try to prepare you for…You are in a privileged position to be well set to face that future with confidence and optimism, building on your prior success to progress further and further, to thrive in a changing world, and to change it.”

Among the VIP guests at the afternoon ceremony were Councillor Lachhya Gurung, Deputy Mayor of the Borough of Barnet, as well as governors and representatives of the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s. In his welcome to the Deputy Mayor, the Headmaster pointed to his 18 years of service with the Brigade of Gurkhas and his longstanding chairmanship of the Burnt Oak Nepalese Community.

The Headmaster also welcomed the Guest of Honour, Old Elizabethan Akash Gandhi (2005–2012), who, he told the audience, had himself picked up no fewer than five Junior Awards when he was in Year 7, for Geography, Mathematics, Science, Stapylton House and the overall Charles Fitch Memorial Award for Outstanding Commitment.

In his speech, Akash, who is currently working as a Junior Doctor, urged current boys not to forget the values and ethos of QE.

Akash threw himself into life as a pupil, playing cricket (he was described by the Headmaster as an “excellent all-rounder”), getting involved in debating, helping younger boys through peer mentoring, supporting the Sai School Appeal and serving as a Senior Lieutenant, then one of the leading positions within the prefect team.

On leaving, he went up to Queens’ College, Cambridge, to read Medicine, taking a first-class degree with prize & honours. From there, he went to University College London, for his clinical training, again excelling in his studies. Akash is now a Junior Doctor in Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, but carves out time every year to support QE’s aspiring Sixth Form medics with their UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) preparations.

Akash recalled the message instilled in him by his father: “It is not about what you do, but who you become by what you do.” It is, he said, more important to be concerned about what will be said in your eulogy than what is written in your CV.

And Akash had three specific areas of advice. The first was to find and follow your passions. “During my time at QE, my passions were my culture, cricket, charity work and football. And so, at university I found myself as the Vice-President of Cambridge University’s India Society. I also captained my college’s cricket team all the way to the final of the cup tournament – despite only ever representing QE’s C team.”

The second area was to find your mentors and to remember to thank them. “You are not alone, and you’d be a fool not to seek advice from those around you, especially in an establishment like this one.

“Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, embrace the power of true friendships – trust me on this one,” Akash told the boys. “From my experience, boys of this School look out for each other long after they have stopped sporting its badge. Joining Stapylton House with Mr [Mark] Peplow at the helm, little did I realise the everlasting friendships that I would go on to make. With some of them, I have travelled across central America, Asia and Australia. With others, I have worked together to help provide treatment for patients attending emergency departments across London.

“I can safely say that I am still surrounded by the values, ethos and ethic that I felt whilst studying at QE. I suppose that’s easy to say when I got to work last Friday to find that four out of the five doctors on my team were also QE boys. And as for the fifth? She’s a proud mother of a son who currently goes to QE!

“Congratulations on your achievements, keep working hard, and the best of luck for the future,” Akash concluded.

During the afternoon, the School’s young musicians performed works by Handel, Bach, Chopin and the Bohemia-born Josef Fiala, who died in 1816. A Recessional piece was composed by Year 12’s Ifeatu Obiora and Federico Rocco.

The vote of thanks was delivered by Saim Khan, winner of the Year 7 award for public speaking.

The awards presented covered a full range of academic subjects and extra-curricular activities, with some also recognising service to the School.

After the ceremony, boys and their parents enjoyed refreshments with staff and other guests.

Queen Elizabeth’s School is best in country for places at top universities, according to new Government analysis

Queen Elizabeth’s School consistently sends more pupils to Russell Group universities than any other school in the country, new Government figures reveal.

The Department for Education analysed data showing how many Year 13 leavers went to the group of 24 leading UK universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, over the past three years. It found that QE came out on top, ahead of other selective schools such as The Henrietta Barnett School, The Tiffin Girls’ School in Kingston upon Thames and Colchester Royal Grammar School.

According to the DfE analysis, 78 per cent of the 421 boys who left QE over the past three years have gone on to study at Russell Group universities.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “We are pleased at this independent corroboration of the success of our boys in securing places at some of the UK’s best universities, particularly since the three-year period of measurement underlines that this was no ‘one-off’ related to an exceptional year.

“It is a reflection both of the hard work of the pupils and of the strength of our programmes to help boys through the university application process: these programmes offer our boys extensive support and are also highly tailored to specific needs.

“It should be noted, however, that, impressive though these figures are, they do not tell the whole story. They do not include, for example, the small but growing number of our boys applying to, and winning places at, top universities in the US, such as Harvard, Yale and Stanford.

“Neither do they include those boys who go to respected UK universities which, for historical reasons, do not belong to the Russell Group, such as Bath, Loughborough and St Andrews, nor those who take up places on highly regarded, specialised degree courses elsewhere.”

Founded in 1994, the Russell Group comprises universities that are research-intensive institutions with a reputation for academic achievement. They include leading universities from England, Scotland and Wales.

Schools Minister praises QE for “continuing the drive towards higher academic standards”

Government Minister Nick Gibb has praised Queen Elizabeth’s School in a special letter following last summer’s record-breaking GCSE results.

The Minister of State for School Standards highlighted the fact that QE was in the top 1 per cent of all state-funded mainstream schools for its performance in two separate areas. One was the School’s score in the Government’s Progress 8 measure, while the other was for the proportion of QE pupils – in fact, 100 per cent – entering the English Baccalaureate.

In his letter, Mr Gibb told QE Headmaster Neil Enright: “I would like to congratulate you, your staff and pupils on the outstanding progress your pupils are making and your school’s high level of EBacc entry in 2018.”

Progress 8 shows the improvement made by children across eight key subjects between the end of primary school and GCSE. QE’s score of 1.22 puts it above every other selective school in the country and in the top 15 of schools of any type nationwide. In 2018, 78% of all GCSEs sat at the School received the top grade (A* or 8-9, its numerical equivalent), which was a new QE record.

The EBacc is not a qualification but a combination of core GCSE subjects recommended by the Department for Education, including English, Mathematics, Science, History or Geography, and a foreign language.

“We want to ensure that every child, regardless of their background, has the chance to study the EBacc at GCSE, which is why I was delighted to see your results,” Mr Gibb wrote.

His letter concluded: “Thank you for your work in continuing the drive towards higher academic standards, and congratulations again to you and your staff for your hard work and professionalism.”

In response, Mr Enright said: “I am grateful to the Minister for recognising the achievements of the boys here and of my colleagues. We are committed to providing a rounded education and to stretching all our boys to ensure they reach their full potential.

“Selective schools are sometimes accused of merely creaming off the brightest students and then relying on their innate ability, but our Progress 8 score emphatically demonstrates that, in our case, this is not so. Despite the already-high calibre of our intake, boys at QE can expect to achieve more than a whole grade higher at 16 than would have been predicted based on their prior ability.”

You are among the very best – now go into the world and help others: UCL Provost’s message to QE prize-winners

More than 130 prizes were awarded to boys in the top four years of the School at the 2019 Senior Awards Ceremony – one of the highlights of QE’s academic year.

Parents, prize-winners, VIP guests, governors and staff assembled in the School Hall for an evening in which the achievements and endeavours of boys were publicly celebrated in a formal ceremony punctuated by musical interludes performed by the School’s musicians.

The Guest of Honour was Professor Michael Arthur, President and Provost of University College London. Since he took up his post in September 2013, nearly one hundred Old Elizabethans have taken up undergraduate courses at UCL.

Professor Arthur awarded prizes to boys in Years 10 to 13, which ranged from awards spanning the curriculum from Art & Design to Technology, to Sixth Form prizes for commitment and service. The extensive list of endowed prizes and special awards which were also presented reflects significant individuals and events in the School’s history. It includes, for example, two prizes named after former Headmaster E H Jenkins, the Bishop Broughton Prize for Divinity (the bishop, after whom one of QE’s Houses is also named, was a pupil in the late 18th century), and the Old Elizabethan War Memorial Prize.

The professor began his address by congratulating the high-fliers gathered before him: “You are the best of the best in this School, which, by definition, makes you among the very best in the country.”

Their prizes notwithstanding, all were still at an early stage in life, he pointed out. With regards to those leaving this summer, he quoted Churchill: “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

He encouraged boys to apply to the best universities – particularly UCL, of course – where they would be taught to think critically, to understand what knowledge is and where it comes from.

There they would benefit from the collaboration between research and education, he said, affirming his strong belief in the desirability of a close connection between research and teaching.

Professor Arthur, who is a hepatologist, shared much of his own story, from being someone at school whose prize was for being ‘most improved’, to making his first medical discovery, related to diabetes. It was not necessarily his best research paper, he said, but one of the most cherished, giving him a “a very special feeling, realising that for a short time I was the only person in the world to know that thing”.

He encouraged the boys to “aim high” and “think big”, whilst also stressing the value of retaining humility. Citing former UN Secretary General, the late Kofi Annan, he spoke about the importance of making a contribution to society and the world, and helping those less fortunate – a theme also reflected in the vote of thanks delivered by the School Captain, Bhiramah Rammanohar.

Other notable guests at the ceremony included: the Deputy Mayor of Barnet, Cllr Caroline Stock (who, as well as congratulating the boys, expressed the pride that the borough has for the School and its achievements); her husband, Dr Richard Stock, who is an Old Elizabethan himself (OE 1967-75), and Martin Russell, the borough’s Representative Deputy Lieutenant.

In his speech, after welcoming all the guests, Headmaster Neil Enright thanked the Foundation Trustees for their sponsorship of the awards and the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s for their support both at Senior Awards and on many other occasions throughout the School calendar.

He first acknowledged the particular accomplishments for which the prizewinners were being rewarded, then told them: “A specific award does not, though, define you – nor should it restrict the celebration of your broader achievements.”

Reflecting on the fact that this year marks the quincentenary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci – “perhaps human history’s most celebrated and archetypal polymath” – he highlighted the “unquenchable curiosity” and “feverishly inventive imagination” that da Vinci was reported to have had.

“That is why we are so intent on encouraging free-thinking scholarship, critical questioning, and equipping you with the skills for life-long learning. Creativity cannot be scheduled, nor inventiveness timetabled,” Mr Enright told the assembled boys.

“Follow what you have a passion for; pick the subjects you most enjoy; embrace trying to learn new skills at School and outside it.

“These topics and interests can be eclectic. History shows us that many discoveries and inventions have come from the cross-pollination of ideas and experiences.

“This is, though, no argument against expertise, or eventual specialism. Indeed, I am sure that this will be the outcome for many of you.

“What I would encourage is for you to keep open and expansive minds; to continue, through your studies here, at university, in your careers and in your hobbies, to try and develop an expertise in a range of areas to make you as rounded individuals as possible.”

Music performed during the ceremony covered a number of genres, from Shostakovich’s Sonata in D minor Op. 40 for Cello and Piano, Movement 2, to two pieces composed by American saxophonist Gordon Goodwin.