Headmaster’s update

Headmaster’s update

The Spring Term began on a high note following the announcement in the New Year’s Honours List of an MBE for our Chairman of Governors, Barrie Martin, for services to education. In the ensuing weeks, I was struck by the warm reaction this news generated from so many, including Old Elizabethans.

I was personally delighted that Barrie, his wife, Perin, and sons, Piers and Giles, so enjoyed their day together in February, when they travelled to Buckingham Palace for the investiture at which Barrie received the award from the Prince of Wales.

Piers and Giles are, of course, both QE alumni. Indeed, Barrie first became a Governor at QE in 1987, when Piers (OE 1987-1994) joined as a pupil. Giles then followed his brother to the School in 1992. Since 1999, the year in which Giles left, Barrie has been Chairman of both the Governing Body and also of the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s.

His MBE is an honour richly deserved. In many ways, our Chairman of Governors embodies qualities which Queen Elizabeth’s School seeks to nurture and develop in its pupils. These include a tremendous capacity for hard work and an outstanding talent for enlisting and then retaining the support of others. Most of all, Barrie brings to QE a strong sense of moral purpose and constancy.

These qualities are in fact seen in all areas of his life, both personal and professional. He still works as a consultant for the chartered surveyor’s practice that he owned and founded, and which he worked in full-time until he sold it last spring. In addition to his support for QE and for his sons’ primary school, St Paul’s C of E Primary School (where he has been a Governor even longer than he has been with QE!), Barrie leads Junior Church at Hendon Baptist Church in north London, teaching the Bible to children every Sunday.

Barrie has always supported our emphasis on extra-curricular activities alongside academic studies, and I have had ample opportunity this term to see boys seizing the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular events.

Our 38th Rugby Sevens tournament was a great day and it was good to see our own boys playing so well. The performance of the U14 squad, runners-up in the Plate for their age group, augurs well for the future.

I also enjoyed another term of impressive music-making. Our Music Scholarship concert was an opportunity to see some high-quality musicians at the lower end of the School. A very good jazz concert and the main Seven Ages of Man concert very effectively showcased boys’ talents.

To highlight one other extra-curricular opportunity, our Combined Cadet Force are a much-valued element of our School life. I was pleased to hear of their successful visit to Sandhurst, and we were happy to welcome members of the Parachute Regiment here to a special History Society event.

Our most illustrious guest this term was Professor Andrew Hamilton, the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, who was our speaker at Senior Awards. His attendance was timely: with 37 offers received, we are set to equal our previous record for number of places at Oxford or Cambridge.

The publication of the Government’s secondary school league tables during the term brought evidence of academic achievement slightly lower down the School. They revealed that QE is the first school in London to achieve a 100 per cent pass rate in the English Baccalaureate, based on our 2013 GCSE results. This key Government measure introduced in 2010 requires pupils to achieve A*-C grades in English, Mathematics, at least two sciences, a foreign language and History or Geography. Only one other school in the country achieved a 100 per cent EBacc pass rate this year.

Such achievements have brought with them greater prominence for our School in the national media; our focus remains as ever on fulfilling our mission of producing young men who are confident, able and responsible.

The opening of the new Queen’s Library for Sixth-Formers has been cause for considerable celebration. I am also pleased to say that the new Fern Building roof is now finished, the work having taken less than 12 months from planning consent to completion. It has been a complex job, but one which secures the future of this very large 1970s building and will thus pay dividends in the years to come.

I wish all old boys of the School a pleasant Easter.

Neil Enright