Headmaster’s update

Headmaster’s update

The Autumn Term began on a high note, with the School still celebrating our most successful year to date for A-level results. The proportion of A*, A and B grades achieved rose to 98.5%. By this measure, in 2012 QE is probably the best-performing state school in the country. This was, and is, a superlative academic performance to be savoured by all and, I trust, one that will be emulated in the years to come.

The Autumn Term brought further external recognition of the School’s achievements. First came news that, based on 2011 examination results, we had been named the best boys’ state school in the Financial Times Top 1,000 Schools table. Similarly, QE retained its place as the best boys’ state school in the Sunday Times’ Top 200 State Secondary Schools league table and, in terms of A-level statistics published in the newspaper’s table for independent schools, matched the top-placed boys’ school, St Paul’s, while outstripping the runner-up, Westminster.

I am very pleased to be able to announce that Queen Elizabeth’s School has also won the Academic Excellence Award in the annual London Evening Standard School Awards: at time of writing, we await confirmation of the date of the presentation ceremony.

Gratifying though such awards are, there is, of course, no room for complacency. This term, we have held meetings for parents in each year group to explain our School Development Plan. Aspects of the plan that we are tackling this year include taking a fresh look at how we use questioning in lessons to prompt better responses from all boys. We hope that the boys will become more adept at expressing their points of view, articulating extended and complex arguments. Encouraging such high-level discourse is a key factor in maximising academic progress among very able boys. Teachers are working on how to best facilitate this.

We are also evaluating the use of the time that boys spend with their form tutors, examining how we might better use this time to support boys’ personal development. This evaluation has involved, inter alia, consulting the boys themselves for their views through the medium of the termly Pupil Conference.

There has been much talk recently in the news media about the importance of balanced parenting in producing children who are confident and, therefore, ultimately successful. At QE, we contend that it is most important to give boys the freedom to identify their own genuine academic interests and, indeed, to find and develop wider interests, too. I urge boys of all ages to discover these and then to throw themselves wholeheartedly into pursuing them through their studies and through our extensive range of extra-curricular clubs and activities. On a personal note, I am greatly looking forward to joining the German exchange to Bielefeld next summer.

Improvements to the School campus have continued this term. Recent work has included decoration and the fitting of new windows in our School Hall, as well as the refurbishment of other parts of our Main Building. As you can read elsewhere in this newsletter, this autumn we have been celebrating the 80th anniversary of the opening of these buildings. We continue to make progress towards the creation of our new Library and Dining Hall, which is proving to be a complicated build.

The Autumn Term has been a time of preparation for university entrance among our Sixth Form, involving many mock interviews. I am optimistic that we can look forward to good news following boys’ real-life university interviews.

This term, I have also enjoyed several social gatherings, including the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s quiz. Similarly, I greatly enjoyed our Christmas Concert: it is always pleasant to meet parents, friends and old boys of the School at such informal occasions.

May I conclude by wishing you a restful and happy festive season and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Neil Enright