Research collaboration with girls’ school builds key skills for future success

Thirty Year 12 pupils from a girls’ school have teamed up with QE boys for an innovative research collaboration focusing on the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ).

During a one-day symposium at the start of the initiative, the girls from The Henrietta Barnett School in Hampstead came to Barnet and were paired with their QE counterparts. Each pair identified an EPQ research topic to work on together during the spring half-term holiday. (Devised by Sir Mike Tomlinson in 2006 during his review of education for 16-19 year-olds, the EPQ is equivalent to an AS level.) All the participants will then meet up again at QE on 11 March to present their findings.

The initiative has been organised by QE’s Head of Pupil Progression, Dr Sarah Westcott. She told the pupils involved: “The ability to research and synthesise information in an analytic fashion is a key skill, both for your future success at university but also beyond in your professional lives: this is why such collaborations between our schools are important.”""

The day was introduced by the Headmaster, Dr John Marincowitz, who similarly underlined the importance of independent learning skills, not only in an academic context but in pupils’ wider experiences. Joseph Masters, a current Year 13 EPQ student, then passed on the benefit of his experience in tackling a research project to the 60 participants.

Students spent the afternoon choosing a question from two lists: one for Science-based and the other for Humanities-based topics. Examples included:

  • Is the UK budget deficit being reduced too quickly? (Humanities)
  • Is laughter the best medicine? (Humanities) 
  • The language we speak shapes our entire being (Humanities) 
  • Alternative medicine makes a mockery of science and should be banned (Science) 
  • Mechanisms of cell differentiation (Science)
  • NICE should approve funding for all new medical treatments proven to have an effect (Science)""

Working in the recently refurbished Heard Sixth Form Centre, the pairs not only chose a topic but also identified suitable sources of information and planned their methodology for answering the question. On 11 March, they will have to deliver a five-minute presentation of their key findings and be questioned by their peers. They will also need to submit an activity record, clearly outlining how they apportioned the tasks between themselves and their research methodology.

  • This collaborative research project is the latest in a growing number of joint events involving QE and The Henrietta Barnett School. The two schools have much in common: both are selective schools with ‘outstanding’ Ofsted inspection reports; they are both specialist Music Colleges and both have gained The Prince’s Teaching Institute Schools Programme Mark (QE for Science and HBS for English).