Headmaster’s update

Headmaster’s update

We are currently living through turbulent times politically, but here the term has progressed calmly as normal. We continue to hold steadfastly to our values and will ensure that Queen Elizabeth’s School remains an open, tolerant community in which all can express their views.

The highlights of the Summer Term included, as ever, our Founder’s Day. The day’s formal elements proceeded smoothly, starting with the thanksgiving service at Chipping Barnet Parish Church, followed by the procession of staff and boys back to School and the reading of the Roll Call and School Chronicle. There was then the chance for everyone to relax at the afternoon Fête on the Stapylton Field.

It was a pleasure to welcome many Old Elizabethans during the course of the afternoon, including the cricketers who played against our current First XI in the annual Stanley Busby Memorial Cricket Match towards the end of the day.

In the morning, our Guest of Honour for the Founder’s Day thanksgiving service was an old boy, Edmund Watson. Since then, I have had the pleasure of welcoming another alumnus as a guest speaker: Benjamin Lichman presented the awards at our Junior Awards. You can read more about Edmund, Benjamin and about the cricket elsewhere in this e-newsletter.

This summer sees the departure of three senior members of staff who will be remembered by many Old Elizabethans.

Fauziah (‘Gee’) Scarisbrick was appointed by Headmaster Timothy Edwards in January 1983 after graduating from the University of Kent. She became Assistant Head of Mathematics in 1994 and then Head of the department in 1999. As the longest-serving teacher, Mrs Scarisbrick has for some time been Mother of the Common Room and is the only member of staff to have worked with four Headmasters.

Her long career at QE has seen the Mathematics department excel, even by the high standards of this School. She demonstrates great diligence and firmness of purpose, but also a genuine care for the boys in her charge. In June 2014, her service was recognised with an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Also departing are Tim Bennett and Mark Peplow. Tim, who left QE at half-term, joined us in 1996 and rose to become Assistant Head with responsibility for Pastoral Care. Mark Peplow has been with us since 2002, rising to be Head of Games. They have been two huge presences in the PE and Games Department over the years.

Mark, with his trademark dry wit, has presided over QE Games during a period in which we have had many successes in a variety of sports. He has taken a lead role in our major sports, as well as athletics and Eton Fives.

With responsibility for pastoral care and therefore discipline, Tim was well known for his toughness when necessary, but always tempered with a sense of humour and the ability to defuse a difficult situation with his charm.

Both Mark and Tim were involved in the Read Cricket Trophy, which we won again this year. Both have been key figures in the running of the QE Rugby Sevens competition. And both went on the first Sri Lanka combined cricket and rugby tour in 2014. Indeed, Mark is on the current tour, leaving the UK in the last week of term.

All three colleagues leave with my very best wishes for the future.

As the roll-out of our 2012–2016 School Development Plan has been drawing to a close, our subject heads and senior staff have spent a considerable time this term visiting lessons to evaluate them, and the staff as a whole have been reflecting on the progress made in the past four years. Now we look forward to our new School Development Plan, covering 2016–2020. Full details will be announced next term, but it is already clear that the importance of character attributes such as resilience will be to the fore.

Giving time to causes greater than ourselves is one of the ways in which resilience can be developed. We seek to encourage this through our voluntary service programme and, more broadly, in our mission to produce young people who are responsible as well as confident and able. Our emphasis on enrichment through extra-curricular activities also assists greatly in the fulfilment of that mission, with pupils’ wider involvement in School life outside lessons contributing heavily to their development as rounded individuals.

An important innovation this term has been the launch of our Enrichment Week. This featured a number of special activities l outside of the normal curriculum, with the aim of developing in Years 7–10 boys a range of academic, personal and thinking skills. I am pleased to report the week included contributions from Old Elizabethans. Poet and performer Anthony Anaxagorou (OE 1994–1999) led two workshops for the English department, while artist David Shillinglaw (OE 1994–1999) ran a competitive, inter-House Art activity.

In order to deliver our enrichment programme we need high-quality facilities, and we continue to invest in our Estates Strategy. I am pleased to say that work started on the Heard Building last month. When complete, the building will be entirely reorganised and structurally strengthened, and will incorporate a new link with the Fern Building. It will provide a self-contained home for our English Department, with eight classrooms and offices.

The project costs of more than £1m are being met exclusively by charitable giving through the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s – another remarkable feat of organisation and generosity by FQE and our families and supporters. The Heard Building is named after George Heard, Chairman of Governors before our current Chairman, Barrie Martin MBE. It dates back to the 1990s and was, in fact, one of the very first projects to be funded by FQE. This extensive refurbishment therefore bears testimony to some 20 years of liberal and resolute support for the School on the part of the Friends.

I wish all our alumni an enjoyable summer.


Neil Enright