QE is top school in prestigious national Biology competition

Queen Elizabeth’s School has been named the UK’s top school in this year’s British Biology Olympiad.

The School took the prize after its tally of 20 gold medals placed it first in the competition run by the Royal Society of Biology. QE thus ousts St Paul’s School from its accustomed position on the Top School trophy: the independent school took the title in 2013 and has won it every year since, apart from in 2014, when it went to Westminster School.

QE Headmaster Neil Enright said: “My congratulations go to the entire Biology department and to boys who entered this year’s Olympiad. We have some very talented biologists and this is a singular achievement, which is the result of a great deal of hard work on the part of all concerned.”

Head of Biology Gillian Ridge and Biology teacher Mev Armon attended the society’s Education Awards Ceremony at the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s Savoy Place venue in central London knowing that QE had won the Top School in England prize. However, it was only as the ceremony progressed that they learned that their medal total was more than any school in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, thus making QE the leading School in the UK.

Dr Ridge and Mr Armon were presented with the trophy by Professor Dame Jean Thomas, the society’s President and Dr Andrew Treharne, Chair of UK Biology Competitions, a Special Interest Group of the society set up to organise competitions including the Olympiad.

Mr Armon said: “A number of people came up to us during the event and congratulated Q E on knocking St Paul’s off the top spot!”

A total of 7,590 pupils took part in the Olympiad. In the first round, QE boys won 20 gold medals, 10 silvers, one bronze and three highly commended, which represents a School record.  The 100 top-scoring gold medallists nationwide were invited to take part in round 2. The 100 included seven boys from QE – Year 13 pupils Bushry Basheer, Sam Friend, Santhosh Ganeshamoorthy, Viral Gudiwala, Kavi Shah and Abhishek Srivastava, together with Michael Takla, the highest scorer in Year 12. Bushry performed so well in round 2 that he qualified for the national final of the 2017 Olympiad – only of only 16 finalists nationwide.

Rachel Lambert-Forsyth, Director of Membership and Professional Affairs at the society, said immediately after the event: “The annual Education Awards Ceremony showcases the talent our young biologists possess not just here in the UK but across the world, and it is very encouraging to see more and more students each year engage with our competitions and demonstrate their enthusiasm and passion for the subject.

“I would also like to congratulate not only our student medal winners, but those teachers who engage and enthuse this generation of students through their hard work, dedication and love of the subject. We were delighted to recognise and celebrate them also today.”

Professor Tim Birkhead FRS, a previous winner of the HE Bioscience Teacher of the Year Award, delivered the keynote lecture about his ongoing research on guillemots, which was warmly received by the audience.