The Cambridge connection: University Vice-Chancellor salutes QE’s academic excellence at Senior Awards Ceremony

Cambridge University’s Vice-Chancellor highlighted all that Queen Elizabeth’s School and the university have in common at this year’s Senior Awards Ceremony.

Guest of Honour Sir Leszek Borysiewicz said both institutions have an uncompromising emphasis on academic excellence and both also accept and nurture applicants from all sections of society, regardless of their social or ethnic background. Consequently, unlike some other state schools he has encountered through Cambridge’s outreach work, QE identifies very comfortably with the university’s needs-blind, meritocratic approach to admissions.

""Headmaster Neil Enright said: “We were delighted and honoured to welcome Sir Leszek. He not only gave an inspirational speech, but was also generous with his time after the ceremony, happily chatting with parents and boys at the drinks and buffet reception in the Shearly Hall.”

In his speech, Sir Leszek, who was appointed the 345th Vice-Chancellor in 2010, touched on his background. Born in Wales to Polish parents who came to the UK in search of a better life after World War II, he grew up in Cardiff and attended Cardiff High School.

He explained how the power of intellectual curiosity can lead one in unexpected directions. He, for example, trained as a medical doctor but soon went into medical research (virology and infectious diseases) and then later into administration. He had never imagined he would one day become Vice-Chancellor at Cambridge. Boys should therefore, to a certain extent, keep an open mind as to where their career might lead them.

""During the ceremony in the School Hall, some 100 prizes were awarded to boys from Years 10 and 11 as well as the Sixth Form. The presentations of prizes were punctuated by musical interludes performed by the School’s musicians: these included pieces by Rutter, Vivaldi and Chopin, as well as by QE’s Director of Music, Kieron Howe. School Captain Nigethan Sathiyalingam gave the vote of thanks at the end of the evening.

In his first Senior Awards since becoming Headmaster last September, Mr Enright congratulated the prize winners for achievement that went well beyond merely fulfilling the requirements of a curriculum: to shine at QE required intelligence, creativity and a capacity for sustained hard work, he said.

He cautioned against boys adopting a utilitarian approach to their education: they should not be concerned if the particular studies they wished to pursue did not lie within a discipline that linked to a particular profession.

Mr Enright heralded the achievement of the 26 boys offered places this year by Cambridge and Oxford, as well as very many others who had gained offers from other Russell Group universities.

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