Secondary school: Queen Elizabeth’s Boys School (2006 – 2013)
University destination: Imperial College, London – Physics
It’s got to be getting lost and arriving to RS late on the first day, with an unapologetic smile knowing my shoes, backpack and trousers weren’t from the official school store. My older brother had just left QE for University, so I was quietly confident that I could get away with the alternative dress code – it worked!
QE is competitive. Everyone is capable, and competition is encouraged, which often spills outside of the classroom. Some of the best memories are from, what seemed at the time, uneventful lunch breaks – depending on your preference there would be ‘jumpers for goal posts’ football matches going on, alongside numerous card game variations. As we grew older, those same breaks were spent with more stimulating conversation and opportunity to challenge yourself academically.
The rigid structure was intimidating and archaic at times. A little like a cog in a much bigger, unforgiving machine that needed to function in order to produce A*s and Oxbridge candidates. Although efficient, it could feel alienating at times dealing with issues outside of academia.
All sorts- I was part of the choir and later chamber choir throughout my time at QE, which meant church services, recitals and well-rehearsed concerts accompanied by the string or brass quartets. The school has six houses, split into two groups of three with whom you spend most of your younger school life. Inter-house traditions run across all disciplines.
Relentless and unwavering. Should you be struggling with anything, and have the self-awareness to seek help, there is support for every facet of the curriculum.
It’s a highly diverse school, with students from a wide variety of religions, ethnicities and cultures. The school isn’t particularly religious, however there is a Christmas and Founders’ Day Church service which is compulsory for Year 7 students.
Studying Design and Technology at GCSE level, in particular Resistant Materials taught by Mr Vincent, was an incredible time at school. In addition to the projects completed for GCSE assessments, we were encouraged to explore design and engineering to new levels. Find real world problems that need solving, and create prototypes to fix those problems. It became more than just a GCSE- I remember the two weeks before Easter in Year 11 (when we really should’ve been revising), our whole class came in everyday after school for two hours just to see what we could design.
This is a difficult question to answer. If the school thinks you’re capable, you’re encouraged to apply. However, that works both ways. I can think of two friends in particular, one an incredible mathematician and the other now a Junior Doctor in London, both recommended setting their sights elsewhere. 8 years on, they’re both Cambridge graduates doing amazing work within research.
Not so much with the school- however I’m only just getting my own life in order so that’ll likely change soon! We still have a big friend group from school and we’re quite close. The medics and dentists (there are A LOT of them) often help run BMAT and interview sessions for aspiring students.
Oh a few, they were almost routine once every 6 months for something completely unavoidable. ‘Bad notes’ were more common than detentions, with a detention being served by the Head of Year in return for an accumulation of bad notes.
From my time at QE, it’s difficult to give an honest answer. I feel they weren’t great, but the onus has to also be on the student to seek help which requires quite a high level of maturity at a young age. From what I’ve heard, the school is strong at this now and have put staff positions in place to deal with pastoral concerns. For me, there was always a teacher that everyone could rely on for advice- Mr Roberts from the Maths department wins that award!
Stimulating, Rigorous, Competitive.