Headmaster’s update

Headmaster’s update

The Autumn Term started with Queen Elizabeth’s School in good heart following another set of exceptional exam results.

QE has subsequently been named the country’s leading state school for the second consecutive year by the Sunday Times’s respected Parent Power survey, a position we have now held for five of the past seven years.

In fact, Parent Power revealed that not only were we the top state school, but were among a mere handful of top-performing schools of any stripe, selective or comprehensive, state or fee-paying. Nationwide, just four independent schools matched QE’s 95.7% figure for the proportion of A-levels passed at A*-B. Remarkable as our boys’ performance this summer certainly was, there is a further aspect that is not apparent from the league tables, and that is the extraordinary long-term consistency in our A-level results: 2019 was the 14th consecutive year in which the A*-B figure has remained above the 95% threshold.

This extended record of achievement thus goes back to the headmastership of my immediate predecessor, Dr John Marincowitz. But John would, I am sure, agree with me that the platform for our exceptional results was built under the leadership of his predecessor, Eamonn Harris (Headmaster 1984-1999), the sad news of whose passing we received last month.

The ongoing programme of improvement to our facilities begun during Eamonn’s tenure continues. Our project to build a new Music School is on track, with the demolition of the Mayes Building to clear the site completed successfully over the summer. We are currently working on plans to fit out the building, including consideration of interior design. A full tender process for the project will be launched in the spring so that work can start in July next year, once public examinations are over.

This has been a busy term for Music, and for the arts in general, with a full programme of concerts and performances. Sergio Ronchetti (OE 2004-2011), who is a freelance composer and sound designer enjoying success in the gaming sector, visited to deliver a careers lecture to senior boys. After leaving school, Sergio first worked for four years as a professional musician, only then going to Goldsmiths, where he took a First in Music.

The boys participated very successfully in the Shakespeare Schools Festival, performing The Merchant of Venice (pictured above right). Such events are tremendously important not only in enhancing School life in general but also in the development of confident, rounded individuals.

Our new catering arrangements have met with widespread approval from the boys, who appreciate the additional choice and better presentation, the theme days and food demonstrations. The food served now has improved environmental credentials in response to feedback: there is reduced packaging and improved sorting of waste, while our new caterers, Holroyd Howe, are diligently making ethical choices with regards to their own suppliers and the food products that they sell here.

QE recently took on St Albans in a special match marking 100 years since the first encounter between the two schools. The game in 1919, which QE won, was St Albans’ very first fixture, while QE had itself only been playing the sport for a few years. At the centenary match, which St Albans won 36-19, I presented St Albans with this photo (right) of the Elizabethan team from the following season, 1920-21, the earliest rugby team photo that either school possesses.

I was honoured to be invited to give a speech at the Girls’ Schools Association’s Annual Conference for Heads, where I explained our emphasis on creating a culture that nurtures free-thinking scholarship. Of course, if we are to sustain such a culture, we must not rest on our laurels. As we look to the future, we have been gathering feedback from both parents and pupils to inform our next exciting development plan, which will drive the School forward over the next four years. That period includes the 450th anniversary of the School, which we celebrate in 2023, and is personally significant for me, since within this time I will mark a decade of my headship and two decades since I first began working at QE.

We are now in the last year of the current School plan, covering 2016–2020. It is still proving highly relevant; we continue to actively pursue its aims. For example, it was with Enhancing future prospects in mind – one of the plan’s four priority areas – that we launched our inaugural university mock interview evening, which was supported by a considerable number of alumni.

The School’s online presence continues to develop. As many old boys will already know, QE Connect, our new online community for Old Elizabethans, was launched earlier this term and has met with a good initial response. We have many plans to develop it. People from across the wider Elizabethan community also seem to be enjoying interacting with our new QE Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Ivin Jose has been chosen as our 2020 School Captain and is pictured above with his senior team.

My best wishes to all Old Elizabethans for an enjoyable Christmas holiday and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Neil Enright, Headmaster