Sixth Form symposium stimulates flexible thinking

Thirty-six pupils from the Upper Sixth took part in the latest research symposium to be held jointly by QE and one of the country’s leading independent girls’ schools.

The collaborative events with North London Collegiate School (NLCS) allow pupils to experience discussion in mixed-gender groups, encouraging them to think flexibly as they respond to previously unseen source material.

“The aim is to increase students’ awareness of subject material beyond the confines of the taught curriculum, whilst developing their skills of analysis and debate,” said QE’s Head of Pupil Progression, Dr. Sarah Westcott.

In the most recent symposium, eight Year 13 students from QE focused on English, eight on Economics, twelve on Medicine and eight on Natural Sciences. A similar number of girls from NLCS took part across all subjects.

“This event was challenging for the students on many intellectual levels,” added Dr Westcott. “They had to present their ideas articulately both on material which they had been given time to read and analyse, as well as on source material which they were given on the day to evaluate. These sessions represent an excellent opportunity for our students to experience the type of high-level, argument-based discussion which forms the core of many of the degree courses at the universities they aspire to.”

Among the topics discussed was What advances has science made in the treatment and prevention of HIV transmission and progression in to AIDS? The English group looked at six works, including A Defence of Cosmetics by Max Beerbohm and Reticence in Fiction by Hubert Crackanthorpe.

""QE is involved in a number of joint academic symposia with both NLCS and another girls’ school, The Henrietta Barnett School in Hampstead. These have involved students from a number of different year groups.