Headmaster’s update

Headmaster’s update

This term, we have again enjoyed the privilege of welcoming a varied list of guests to the School, all bringing their particular expertise to enrich our boys’ education.

To name but a few, Dr Elizabeth Glennon, from King’s College London, provided our Year 13 biologists with hands-on experience of genetically modifying bacteria, while senior boys also benefited from a visit by two 2012 leavers, Jonathan Fiber and Oli Palmer, who spoke on how to get the most out of life at university. Jonathan and Oli have just graduated from Warwick with first-class degrees. Five Old Elizabethans spoke to Year 11 students and their parents at our information evening for those interested in making an application to Oxford or Cambridge in due course. And at the lower end of the School, Year 8 boys were given an insight into the implications of a lack of clean water in the developing world in a visit from international charity WaterAid.

In addition to a busy term here at the School site, our pupils’ education has been enriched by a wealth of trips to locations elsewhere. These included the visit by a large Year 9 party to Kew Gardens on a cross-curricular trip organised jointly by the Mathematics and Biology departments. There have been successful visits to Sicily and Germany, while our sportsmen have put in good performances at cricket and athletics fixtures.

As well as welcoming Old Elizabethans back to the School, I have been delighted to see so many parents in attendance this term at events such as parents’ evenings, the Artist’s Palette Concert, Junior Awards and summer sports fixtures. Not only is parental support important in enhancing such occasions and thus in strengthening the life of the School, but research indicates that it is also a factor in the success of a child’s education. Instances of a successful partnership between home and School include financial giving from parents. Having launched our Amazon wishlists scheme to provide books for The Queen’s Library among the alumni a few months ago, I have been pleased to see that its extension to include parents has proved successful. The FQE Fête on Founder’s Day is of course the example par excellence of parental engagement at QE. By getting involved, both parents and Old Elizabethans are tapping into the history of the School, which is exemplified on the day by the morning church service, the procession, and the Reading of the School Roll and Chronicle. We are proud to celebrate such traditions. Our guest speaker at the service, Andrew Kramer (OE 2001-2008), alluded to their importance, reminding boys that in processing from church to School they were following a 442-year-old pattern.

While the past is important, we must look to the future, too. Next year will be the final year of our 2012-2016 School Development Plan, so we will be consulting with parents, pupils and staff to formulate our 2016-2020 plan. In evaluating the fulfilment of the current plan, there is much to celebrate. We have seen further enhancements to the classroom experience, our pastoral system has also been substantially revised and there have been curriculum changes, most notably in Languages. German is now introduced from Year 7, there are at least three years of Latin for all boys in the School and there has been a strong uptake for our new Latin GCSE course beginning in September 2015. Aspiring classicists will also be able to benefit from the introduction of Ancient Greek from September as a club for younger boys and as more formal lessons for older pupils, hopefully building towards an AS-level qualification in the years to come.

Our School is rightly known for success in public examinations, but it should never be thought that that is our sole focus: those revised pastoral arrangements are planned very specifically to nurture the development of good character. ‘Character education’ is a topic that is currently enjoying a vogue in educational circles, but at QE it is neither a superficial fad nor a recent innovation; it has long been embedded into all that we do, including academic studies and in the provision of worthwhile extra-curricular activities.

I wish all our alumni an enjoyable summer.

Neil Enright