Providing stretch for our most able and talented pupils
At The Queen’s School we pride ourselves on nurturing every girl’s gifts and talents. Whether through stimulating lessons which encourage academic rigour and challenge, through extension activities such as competitions or through our busy enrichment programme, we aim to support all girls in their aspirations.
Musicians are given opportunities to perform at school and public events from a very young age, mathematicians enter and succeed in regional and national competitions, linguists practise their skills on numerous exciting trips and visits, scientists attend academic residentials where they meet like-minded students, talented sportswomen are given expert tuition to raise their game to the highest possible level, artists exhibit at regional exhibitions, aspiring actors immerse themselves in theatre, scrutinising professional performances and learning how to hone their own craft and Medics and Oxbridge hopefuls are given the best possible support, advice and guidance in university entrance to help them realise their dreams in a competitive environment.
We are also very proud of our Holdich Society which gives senior girls the chance to speak in a public forum about topics that truly inspire them, from the cilia of cells, to neurolinguistic programming, to the ethics of the cosmetics industry. Our aim is to bring out the best in all our students by giving them a rich and diverse programme of opportunities to extend their talents to the very highest levels. Some examples are showcased below:
National CyberFirst Competition - The CyberFirst Girls competition is organised by the National Cyber Security Centre, a part of GCHQ, and saw more than 8,000 young women aged 13-15 from across the UK enter in teams of three or four. The Queen’s School team made the final 10 last year and travelled to the historic Lancaster House in the heart of Westminster to pit their technological wits against girls from nine other schools from across the country. The girls took part in a full-day of coding to unravel a fictional mystery that had seen the pretend Paddock Hill School website hacked. They then presented their findings to a panel of industry champions featuring TalkTalk Chief Executive Dido Harding, TechUK President Jacqueline de Rojas, NCSC Director for Digital Government Alison Whitney and NCSC Director for Skills Chris Ensor. The girls came fifth out of the ten teams on the day, which is a significant achievement and we are excited to see what the next competition brings.
Holland hockey tour - Our talented hockey players enjoyed a fabulous trip to the hockey capital of Holland, Amsterdam where they challenged themselves and learnt new skills in the spiritual home of the game. The girls played matches and were put through their paces in a two coaching sessions with Premier League players and Qui-Vive Head Coach. After watching a premier league ladies' game the girls got to play on the pitch and meet all the players at the end, getting autographs and photos. The trip really inspired the girls with comments including: "After such an intense hockey practice, I am now eager to achieve higher levels of success" and "The cultural attitude to hockey and skills we learnt have truly inspired my game- unforgettable."
A love of literature – Book Clubs for specific year groups are a really popular activity with our pupils who discuss and recommend their favourite reads. Girls benefit from reading lists prepared by our librarian and they take part in a regional inter-schools book quiz annually. Book Clubs allow pupils to make friends from across their year with similar interests and tastes in literature. The groups are fun and the girls regularly organise themed fund-raising events. Year 12 and 13 students with an interest in all things literary attend a popular monthly ‘Literacy Lunch’ where they talk about and review the latest releases and revisit the classics while enjoying a lunch provided by school.
Geographical Association WorldWise Quiz – Hosted at Chester University, the Quiz is coordinated by the Geographical Association which sets the questions each year. It provides an opportunity for pupils to demonstrate their geographical knowledge, understanding and skills, especially in relation to current events and matters of global and local significance. The topics chosen as a basis for the rounds of the quiz are of general interest, relevance and topicality, and will reflect the background knowledge that can be expected of Years 8-10 pupils.
Word Mania Competition – Year 7 were crowned UK winners of the world’s biggest school literacy competition in, Word Mania International in 2017. The girls finished seventh in the ENTIRE WORLD in the digital word building exercise that challenges students to create as many words as they can from a board of 15 randomly generated letters in three minutes. Almost 400,000 school students from 100 countries took part building more than 35 million words.
Cranmer Awards - The Cranmer Awards is an annual competition run by the Prayer Book Society to introduce young people to the language of the Book of Common Prayer and to encourage the skill of reading aloud with fluency, enjoyment, expression and confidence. Local heats are held around the country, and the winners of the heats go through to the National Final where competitors must recite their chosen passage by heart. Last year three of our girls achieved a second or third place in the Junior and Senior Heats held here at The Queen’s School where they performed to a distinguished panel of judges including the Bishop of Chester.
Music and Drama – We offer an array of musical and dramatic events throughout the academic year to give pupils the opportunity to grow in confidence and showcase their talents. Our annual Cabaret event involves two evenings of musical and dramatic performances and two thirds of pupils take part. From classical pieces, through to pop renditions, Bollywood and K-pop dance, poetry recital, stand up and dramatic performances, it is an event not to be missed and the chance for talent of all genres to shine. The annual school production is always of the highest standard, as is the the Queen’s Music Festival held in the summer with an array of prizes for singing, woodwind, brass and strings. Other opportunities to perform include the Summer Music Concert, our EPIC and Ensemble theatre groups and specialist year group performances. Through these opportunities our talented girls are able to stretch and challenge themselves in a warm, nurturing environment enabling them to thrive and grow as individuals.
It's not all about performance however. Here at Queen's we run a popular script-writing club at lunchtimes and our head of Music Mrs Healey is a keen composer, having written the music for our school song Honour Wisdom and the NMC charity single in 2016 The Spirit of Christmas.
Recently, pupils with support from the Drama Department devised a play called The Raft which was submitted for The National Student Drama Festival. This competition is generally dominated by university drama groups. ‘The Raft’ explored issues around migration and the refugee crisis and the judge praised the way the girls worked together as an ensemble on such challenging subject matter and acknowledged the bravery needed to devise, produce and perform this completely new piece of theatre.
In addition to Drama at GCSE and A-level, girls are also offered LAMDA qualifications up to Grade 8.
Biology – Every year Sixth Form girls take part in the challenging British Biology Olympiad and achieve awards for their knowledge and understanding of biology. It is hoped that competing in the Olympiad, which is open to students around the world, will encourage students to continue their study beyond A-level. Year 11 pupils can take part in the British Biology challenge which enables GCSE pupils to show their extensive knowledge in a wide range of contexts.
Oxford University BEBRAS Computational Thinking Challenge - Nearly 200 girls took part in the latest competition, testing their ability to apply logic to a series of tasks against the clock. Over 40% of the girls earned distinctions in the competition and a number have qualified for the next round in the spring.
UKMT Senior Maths Challenge – Every year girls take part in the UKMT Senior Maths Challenge aimed at students in Years 12 and 13. This year 40 girls from Years 11, 12 and 13 took part as well as one girl in Year 8. Over 82,000 students from across the UK took part in this challenge where only the top 10% achieve a Gold award, the next 20% achieve a silver award and the next 30% bronze.
Tycoon for School competition - This entrepreneurial competition is organised and held by the Peter Jones (Dragons' Den) Foundation and is designed to allow students to gain valuable hands-on experience in running a business. Each team writes a business plan and receives a small loan to begin trading and (hopefully) make a profit. Students gain hands-on experience of costing, branding, team working, planning, coordinating and running a business. Our Footprint team won the National Sixth Form Tycoon in Schools competition in 2016 and attended Buckingham Palace to collect their prize. Their children’s book highlighted the importance of diversity in society and the girls were presented with their award by HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York.
Confucius Institute – As a Confucius Classroom, we offer girls access to Chinese language learning at all levels. The UCL Institute of Education Confucius Institute for Schools holds a one-day event to bring together UK schools and universities who offer Chinese language and cultural studies. The girls take part in Chinese writing and translation workshops, listen to a panel of current university students talk about their experience of studying Mandarin at university level and potential future prospects. The girls then speak to representatives from universities such as Cambridge, London School of Economics, Durham, Leeds and Nottingham and discuss the possibilities of doing a joint degree with Mandarin.
Trips – At The Queen’s School we value the importance of academic trips to further enhance and develop the knowledge and skills from the classroom in real life situations. From trips to Spain, France and China to experience the culture and develop language skills, to ordering food at a local restaurants in Mandarin and Spanish, science trips to Techniquest and CERN in Switzerland, geography field trips, London and Liverpool gallery trips for Art and west end theatre experiences for drama students, the girls are exposed to a wide variety of opportunities to expand their knowledge and understanding and develop their talent to the very highest level.
Visitors - In addition to trips away from the classroom, pupils benefit from a range of speakers who come to school to deliver lectures, talks and workshops. From a drama workshop on physical theatre delivered by Frantic Assembly, visits from Olympic sportswomen and authors and our programme of academic lectures for girls in Years 10-13, the girls are stimulated by alternative perspectives and voices. In addition to our formal visitors we regularly welcome back alumnae of the school to talk to smaller groups about their career paths and experiences to enable girls to make informed choices about their futures.
Model United Nations – After many years of successful participation in regional and national MUN conferences, in 2017 Queen’s sixth formers took their skills to the next level by taking part in an international conference in Berlin. The annual conference attracts participants of the highest calibre from around the world, with competition for places intense. We were thrilled to be one of only two UK schools to be selected.
MUN has been a well-established part of The Queen’s School’s extra-curricular programme for many years. The conferences simulate what happens at the UN – each school participating is allocated a country and dispatches a ‘delegation’ to represent that country’s interests in committees ranging from Environment, Economic and Technology to Human Rights, Disarmament and Politics. MUN is a challenging activity that demands a variety of skills from the ‘delegates’: preparation involves extensive research, writing policy statements and draft resolutions; participation in the debates hones public speaking skills and the ability to construct arguments; developing resolutions requires collaboration with others and balancing a diverse range of viewpoints; and defending the views of the country you are allocated can be challenging especially if they are controversial or differ from the student’s own views. MUN requires and fosters self-motivation and independence, intellectual curiosity and tenacity, and team-working as well as debating and public speaking skills.