“One of the most inspiring learning environments we’ve ever come across”: The Good Schools Guide verdict on QE

“One of the most inspiring learning environments we’ve ever come across”: The Good Schools Guide verdict on QE

Queen Elizabeth’s School shines brightly in the latest report by the influential Good Schools Guide, with reviewers praising everything from public examination results – “right in the top branches of the academic league table tree” – to music, sport and drama.

The extensive review, written in GSG’s characteristic conversational style, is based on the result of reviewers visiting the School, interviewing Headmaster Neil Enright and speaking to current parents. Schools are not charged for entry in the selective guide and cannot pay to be included, leaving its reviewers free to report as they see fit, whether good or bad.

In its summary of QE, entitled “The last word”, the GSG writers state what they feel makes the School special: “Speculating, hypothesizing, synthesising – it’s all part and parcel of life at QE, where they cream off the most gifted and talented boys from miles around. For hard-working, aspirational boys in the top 10 per cent ability range, it will almost certainly feel like coming home.

“A place where boys can expect to get carried away with the collective will to learn both in and outside the classroom, the result of which is one of the most inspiring learning environments we’ve ever come across.”

Mr Enright welcomed the review’s publication: “This is a very positive review indeed, which captures many of the things that make Queen Elizabeth’s School a state school like no other. It is always gratifying to read third-party appreciation of what we are doing, particularly from an organisation such as GSG, whose reviewers do not mince their words if things are not up to scratch!”

The report, which is now available to GSG subscribers on the organisation’s website, gives an up-to-date view, noting that when the national coronavirus crisis struck in the spring, QE reacted quickly and well, but also learned from it, with IT, co-curricular activities and pastoral support all rapidly adapted to the unprecedented situation.

After outlining the highly competitive admissions process, the report notes that nearly all leavers go to Russell Group universities, with 40 heading to Oxbridge and 32 studying Medicine in 2020, and points out that many of those going to Oxford or Cambridge are the first in their families to go to any university at all.

Noting the importance of setting and of regular testing at the School, the reviewers turn to teaching and learning: “In the lessons we sat in on, the pace of learning took our breath away but what impressed us even more is that how it’s clearly cool to voice wacky ideas and this leads to boys feeling able to take risks in their learning.”

Academic enrichment is highlighted, with reviewers praising the rich array of clubs and societies offered, while also covering academic symposia with girls’ schools and the frequent competition successes in disciplines ranging from robotics to Economics.

The review sets out the large number of music ensembles and the high performance standards in concerts, while the plans for QE’s new Music School also receive a mention.

The popularity of drama, the “intellectual approach to Art”, the wide fixture list in sport and the broad range of trips offered are all covered.

The behaviour of the boys comes in for a special mention (“among the most courteous we’ve met – they take polite to a whole new level”), while the pastoral support, including the fact that all staff are trained in the area of mental health, is highlighted.

There is even a mention for alumni, with reviewers lauding QE Connect, an online networking platform that links current pupils with old boys happy to help in areas such as providing work experience and intern placements, mock interviews and mentoring.