Queen Elizabeth's School, Barnet

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Queen Elizabeth's School, Barnet
Queen Elizabeth's School Crest..gif
Established 1573
Type Grammar school
Headmaster Mr Neil Enright MA (Oxon)
Chairman of the Governors Mr B R Martin
Location Queen's Road
Greater London

United Kingdom
Coordinates: 51°39′06″N 0°11′48″W / 51.6518°N 0.1968°W / 51.6518; -0.1968
DfE number 302/5401
DfE URN 136290 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Students 1,185
Gender Boys
Ages 11–18
Houses Broughton

Navy blue and pale blue

Former pupils Old Elizabethans
Website www.qebarnet.co.uk

Queen Elizabeth's School, Barnet is a boys' grammar school in Barnet, north London, which was founded in 1573 by Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester and others, in the name of Queen Elizabeth I.

It is one of the most academically successful secondary schools in England and was chosen by the Sunday Times as "State School of the Year" in 2007.[1][2][3] The school was the subject of some controversy in the 1990s,[4] but an Ofsted report published in January 2008 stated: "It is held in very high regard by the vast majority of students and their parents, and rightly so."[5][6] It has a specialism in Music[7] and also from April 2009 is a Training School[8]


Foundation and location[edit]

The school was founded in 1573 by Queen Elizabeth I, petitioned by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and assisted by local alderman Edward Underne.[9] Elizabeth I's charter of 1573 describes the school's purpose thus:

"a grammar school which shall be called the Free Grammar School of Queen Elizabeth for the education, bringing up and instruction of boys and youth, to be brought up in grammar and other learning, and the same to continue for ever, and the said School for one Master and one Usher for ever to continue and remain and that there shall be for ever four-and-twenty discreet, honest governors of the said Free Grammar School."[10]

The original Tudor building, known as Tudor Hall, was erected in 1577 opposite the Church of St John the Baptist on Wood Street, with money raised by the first governors of the school and by collections in London churches. It was repaired in 1597 and again in 1637. During the 17th century, further extensive repairs were carried out, in spite of a poor financial situation following the Civil War. Financial conditions became progressively more comfortable during the 18th century.[11]

Tudor Hall, where the school began in the sixteenth century

The trustees of Elizabeth Allen’s Charity, which had been established by her will dated 10 February 1725, gave financial assistance to save it from a state "very ruinous and unfit for habitation".[10] It then became a private boarding school.[10] It was closed in 1872 and restored in 1874 with many additions. In 1885 a governor, H E Chetwynd Stapleton, bought a plot of land behind the Jesus Hospital, a building in Wood Street dating back to 1679; today the Stapylton field stands in front of the main School building and is used for rugby and cricket.[11] As the number of pupils outgrew the capacity of Tudor Hall, so the school was transferred in 1932 to a new site in Queen’s Road, which backed on to the Stapylton field. It was administered by the South Herts Division of Hertfordshire County Council, until 1965 when it became part of the borough of Barnet. In the 1960s, there were around 550 boys with 150 in the sixth form. Tudor Hall was completely restored in 1968 by the London Borough of Barnet, and is now part of Barnet College.[10]

Two plaques are located on the walls of the original school building, Tudor Hall. Inscribed on the stone plaque is:

"This is to commemorate the original school founded here by Queen Elizabeth and built in 1573. The school was removed in 1932 to new building in Queens Road, Barnet. This plaque was erected by the Visitors of Jesus Hospital Charity, the present owners in 1952."[11]

A more recent blue plaque was erected by the London borough of Barnet which dictates:

"This Tudor Hall housed the free grammar school of Queen Elizabeth I who granted its charter in 1573."[11]

Grammar school reinstatement[edit]

It returned to its previous selective grammar school status in August 1994, having opted out of the London borough and become a grant-maintained school in 1989. Other schools in London (outer London) did this, and many became partially selective (up to 50%) at this time. In the 1990s it went on to become England's top state school for A-Levels.[12] The girls' school remained a comprehensive.

Since 1999, the Headmaster has been Dr John Marincowitz, who commissioned the new Martin swimming pool, opened in 2006, Shearly Hall, opened in 2009, and a digital library which is currently in construction. In 2011, Neil Enright became the 40th Headmaster.

Culture and sports[edit]

Queen Elizabeth's School is divided into six houses, named after famous old boys, patrons and former teachers. They are Broughton, Harrison, Leicester, Pearce, Stapylton and Underne.[13] There are many inter-house competitions, from rugby to creative writing. The inter-house debating tournaments, for all years, take place at the end of the year and are probably the most fiercely contested non-physical inter-house competition.

Rugby union, played during the winter and spring terms, is compulsory for boys in their first four years at the school, as are cross-country running and most other school sports, which include orienteering, swimming, basketball, tennis, cricket, Eton Fives and athletics.[14][15] QE is well known for not practising football in lessons or playing football competitively against other schools. A particularly boggy part of the cross-country route, suitably nicknamed the 'Elephant Dip', owing to its depth, links Barnet Rugby Club and the north-west gate of the bottom fields.

There is much competition in the summer term when frequent competitions between houses are held before the summer examinations begin in June, including the QE Sevens Tournament which takes place in the school for the U14's and U16's it is normally held at the end of the Spring Term.[16]

Sixth form[edit]

Boys usually choose four subjects which will be studied for both AS and A-level, although provision can be made for five to be taken. These subjects can only be chosen after receiving recommendations from that subject teacher. Entry to the Sixth Form is dependent on gaining enough such recommendations, meeting heavy criticism for selectively picking students they believe to do well in the future, from parents, students and the media.[citation needed] All boys in the Sixth Form are made to wear a suit. One of the main focuses of sixth form is preparation for entry into higher education. As a result, the school focuses on career advice, the UCAS application process, personal statements, finance and other things related to university entry. The school also encourages that students partake in a wide range of extra curricular actives both outside of and during school time.

Founder's Day Fête[edit]

The Founder's Day Fête, and the preceding service of celebration at St John the Baptist's Church, Barnet, is the largest cultural event in the school calendar. Steeped in tradition, it is held every year, regardless of weather, on the third Saturday in June, and celebrates the founding of the school in 1573.[17][18]

All Year 7 boys must attend the church service. The governors also attend, as do most teachers, in academic dress. The head boys, past and present, are readers at the service,[citation needed] and the school choir sings. The boys then walk back to the school along Wood Street and prepare for the roll call on Staplyton Field. This is again compulsory for all of Year 7, with five boys from each house attending from all other senior years. In the past, this was compulsory for the whole school. The boys troop in from the two wings of the main building and form three lines stretching across the School Field. The boys of each house sit together, although traditionally they had to stand.[citation needed]

The Fête itself is attended by some three thousand people every year, and is a source of funds for the school.

The School Chronicle is read out each year at Founder's Day during the Role Call, with minor additions as necessary. It was originally prepared in 1930 by Ernest H. Jenkins, the headmaster, Cecil Tripp, Secretary of the Old Elizabethan Association and a Governor of the school for twenty-four years. The most up to date school chronicle is listed on the school website and was read out during the Roll Call at Founder's Day 2013.

School Chronicle

BE IT KNOWN that on the 24th March in the year 1573 Her Most Gracious Majesty Elizabeth, by the grace of God of England, France and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, did at the humble request of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, grant on behalf of her faithful subjects of the town of Barnet, in the County of Hertford and Middlesex, a Charter for the erection and establishment of a common Grammar School which should be called the Free Grammar School of Queen Elizabeth, for the education, bringing up and instruction of boys and youth, in Grammar and other learning: and the same to continue for ever.

AND that funds for the building and maintenance of the said School were raised by Edward Underne, Rector of East and Chipping Barnet, and that the control and government of the said School was vested in twenty-four discreet and honest men who were to be a body corporate and to have perpetual succession, and that when any of them should die, the surviving Governors should elect other fit persons in their places, and that they should appoint the Master according to their discretion.

AND be it known that in or about the year 1587 John Lonison, Citizen and Goldsmith of London, did add to the foundation the gift of one hundred pounds for the good of the School, from the interest upon which a large proportion of its expenses were for many years borne.

AND that in and from the year 1594 John Boyle, who was subsequently Bishop of Cork, was Master, and that in or about the year 1599 his cousin Richard Boyle, who subsequently became Archbishop of Tuam, was Master.

AND that by their diligence and good discretion the School flourished, and it was ordered by the Governors that children of townsmen should be admitted upon the payment of twelve pence, and that children of others should be admitted upon the payment of two shillings, and that each scholar should be present in his appointed place in the Church upon the Sabbath day under pain of six lashes, and that the Scholars should attend the Master to the Church in an orderly manner, and not negligently nor in uncomely sort; in memory of which the Scholars of this School do to this day each year upon Founder's Day attend Church in like manner.

AND be it known that in the year 1633 Matthias Millward, Rector of Barnet, was Master, and that under his successor, George Smallwood, additional buildings were added to the School, and that in his Mastership the Governors, after careful consideration, drew up a fresh code of regulations for the government of the School, to the end that youth there placed should receive good education as well in religion and good manners as in nurture for learning.

AND that in the year 1637 the Governors made decisions to admit the first free pupils, these being four children, toties quoties, towardly and docible, of poor parents not able to disburse the set stipend, which practice of admitting free pupils is therefore continued by the School unto the present day.

AND be it known that during the great Rebellion in the reign of His Majesty King Charles I the School was noticeably loyal, and this it continued even to the extent of appointing as Master in 1654 William Sclater who had served as Cornet of Horse in the Army of His Majesty, and who upon the King's execution had suffered imprisonment and trial for his life for his steadfast adherence to the Royal Family.

AND that John Owen, Citizen and Fishmonger of London, Governor of the School, gave to the School the sum of six pounds annually, and be it also known that during the political difficulties of the reigns of James II, William and Mary, and George I, the School declined noticeably from its former prosperity, through thirty of which years from the year 1689 to the year 1719, James Barcock was Master.

AND that in the year 1754 the Reverend Humphrey Hall gave to the School the sum of one hundred pounds for the better support and maintenance of the School and for no other use or purpose whatsoever.

AND that throughout the Eighteenth Century the School failed noticeably to prosper, and that the majority of its pupils were boarders at the School for the greater profit of the Master, wherefore to them he devoted the greater part of his attention.

AND that in the year 1740 John Gray was appointed Master, he holding the position longer than any of his predecessors or successors, being Master for forty-seven years, until the year 1787, and that during this long Mastership the pupils admitted privately for the Master's profit continued to out-number the public pupils, and did so continue until the remodelling of the Foundation in the year 1873.

AND be it known that in the year 1828 William Grant Broughton, Old Elizabethan, was appointed first Archdeacon of New South Wales, subsequently to become first Bishop and Metropolitan of Australia, in commemoration of which distinguished Old Boy a yearly prize for Divinity is to this day awarded.

AND be it known that in the year 1853 the income of the Foundation was found inadequate to carry on the School and maintain the buildings, wherefore a public subscription which amounted to more than four hundred pounds was raised in Barnet, and be it known that following upon the Schools Enquiry Commission of the year 1866, and the passing of the Endowed Schools Act in the year 1869, the Scheme for the reconstruction of the School was prepared, and received the assent of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria in the year 1873, whereby the endowment was increased by a portion of the surplus income of the local charity of Jesus Hospital and new land obtained round about the School whereon new buildings and a house for the Headmaster were erected, and that in the year 1875 the School with its new buildings and under its new Scheme of Management the Headmaster was the Reverend John Bond Lee, Master in Arts of Oxford University, he being the Headmaster in honour of whom an annual prize in Classics has been endowed and is awarded to this day.

AND be it known that during his Headmastership, in the year 1885, H.E. Chetwynd Stapylton, Chairman of the Governors, purchased for the School the Stapylton field, whereon the XI and the XV do play to this day, and that upon his retirement in the year 1906 William Lattimer, Master of Arts of Cambridge University, was appointed Headmaster, under whom, as under his predecessor, the School continued to grow in numbers and to flourish, and did so in peace and prosperity until the outbreak of the European War of 1914, and, this in perpetual honour of those who fell in this War, their contemporaries have endowed a prize to be awarded on each year to the boy who, like them most unselfishly serves the School, and that the manner in which its Scholars bore themselves during that War was testified by the memorial tablet placed in the School Hall. And that, when new buildings were erected and were opened by H.R.H. The Prince George in Michaelmas 1932, this tablet was given the place of honour in the Entrance Hall.

AND be it known that in January 1930, Ernest Harold Jenkins, Master of Arts of Oxford University, became Headmaster with the particular charge of arranging to move the School to the new buildings and with the able and enthusiastic support of the Chairman of Governors, Alderman Harold Fern, the School greatly increased, not only in numbers, but in the scope both of its learning and of its interests, so that many more University Scholarships were won than before and many successes were gained in other fields, among them the winning of the Public Schools' Athletic Cup upon several occasions.

AND be it known that in 1938 the Governors and parents provided the School with a Swimming Bath.

AND be it further known that, during the Second Great War, the School continued its work without intermission despite difficulties that were grave, since it was in an area subject to enemy attack and did in fact suffer great damage from several bombs that struck it and fell nearby in January, 1941.

AND be it known that in this War, as in the first Great War, former Scholars of the School served their country with devotion and sacrifice, and that in memory of those who fell, a further tablet was dedicated in 1948, being placed as near to the former tablet as might suitably be, both tablets being placed in the Entrance Hall to the end that each present Scholar may bear it in mind so always honourably to do.

AND be it known that in the year 1961 Timothy Edwards, Master of Arts of Oxford University was Headmaster and guided the School through the difficult period of reorganisation. He it was who caused to be built the Fern Building and under his care the numbers of boys doubled.

AND be it known that during the Headmastership of Eamonn Harris from 1984 the School flourished. Following the Education Reform Act of 1988 the Board of Governors under the leadership of Luxton Robert Heard, Old Elizabethan, successfully petitioned the Secretary of State to empower the Governors to conduct the affairs of the School in accordance with Grant Maintained Status. And that in the year 1994, the Secretary of State granted the Governors' petition for the admission of pupils by virtue of their ability and aptitude. And so by these Orders the School was restored to that independence and status spoken in its ancient title - the Free Grammar School of Elizabeth I. And that in the 425th year of the School, new buildings were erected: the Heard Building to accommodate the enlarged Sixth Form; the Friends' Music Rooms to serve the many musicians; the Clark Laboratories to provide for the growth of the sciences. And all of this was made possible by the labours and donations of parents, by a grant from the Wolfson Foundation and by further grants from Her Majesty's Government.

AND be it known that in the year 1999, John Marincowitz, Doctor of Philosophy of London University, succeeded as the 39th Headmaster. And that the Board of Governors, in accordance with the School Standards and Framework Act of 1999, and under the guidance of the Chairman Barrie Martin, secured the School’s Foundation Status with an Instrument of Government that increased representation of the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s, the parents, Foundation Trustees and Old Elizabethans. Their unity of purpose enabled considerable development of the School: new buildings included the Martin Swimming Pool and Shearly Hall; and many refinements to teaching and learning facilitated the School’s emergence as a centre of national excellence in the education of young men. And in 2010, the Governors with the steadfast leadership of the Chairman, Barrie Martin, further consolidated the School’s autonomy by converting to Academy status on the express invitation of the Secretary of State in terms of the Academies Act of 2010.

AND be it known that in the year 2011, Neil Enright, Master of Arts of Oxford University, succeeded as the School’s 40th Headmaster.

AND so the efforts and generosity of many: the Governors, Trustees, parents, teachers, boys and old boys, all have made the School renowned and all have made the School to flourish - may it always flourish.

Senior staff list[edit]

  • Headmaster: Mr N Enright
  • Second Master: Mr C Price
  • Assistant Heads: Mr T Bennett, Mr D Ryan, Mrs A Macdonald, Mrs E Aghidran

Kerala partnership[edit]

QE Boys has formed a long-term successful partnership with a school in Kerala called the Sri Sathya Sai School, funded by the 'Sathya Sai Appeal'. In addition, the school has strong links with charities through the house system, and each house holds at least one event a year to generate funds for its associated charity.


  • The name of every head boy of the school is written on two boards in the school's main hall.[citation needed]
  • Each house has its own colour, represented by colored stripes for the corresponding house on ties. The colors used to be on the boys' caps, but these are no longer worn. Red denotes Broughton, brown for Harrisons', yellow for Leicester, purple for Pearce, blue for Stapylton and green for Underne.
  • In the Lower School, subjects which aren't divided into ability based sets are set either in forms, or in two halves of the year - Broughton, Harrisons' and Leicester, and Pearce, Stapylton and Underne.
  • Different ties are used denote achievement or position, e.g. school prefects can be identified with their ties which are patterned with thick light-blue stripes.

House System[edit]

The foundation and naming of the six houses is listed on the school's website:

  • Broughton — Named in memory of William Grant Broughton, an Old Elizabethan, who was appointed Archdeacon of New South Wales in 1828 and subsequently became the first Bishop of Australia.
  • Harrisons' — The only House to honour two people, Harrisons' was established in 1954. It was named after a senior master, G W N Harrison, who had taught at the school for 41 years until 1929, and E W Harrison (no relation), another long-serving and dedicated Schoolmaster who retired in 1950.
  • Leicester — A continuing reminder of the School’s beginnings: Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester made the request to Queen Elizabeth for a charter for the School in 1573.
  • Pearce — John Pearce began his teaching career at the School in 1932, aged 23. In 1950 he became Senior Master, a post he held until he retired in 1971. The sixth House was named after him on its creation in 1971 when the School became comprehensive and expanded.
  • Stapylton — Named after former Chairman of Governors H E Chetwynd-Stapylton, who in 1885 bought the Stapylton field for the school, which is still very much in use today.
  • Underne — Once Queen Elizabeth had granted the Charter for the school, funds were needed to finance it. Edward Underne, Rector of Chipping Barnet Church, was responsible for raising the money for the original building of the School in the 1570s.

House competitions are run yearly in:

  • Music
  • Public Speaking
  • Geography
  • Drama
  • Debating
  • Creative Writing
  • Poetry Reading
  • Instrumental competitions
  • Art
  • Spelling Bees
  • Mini-Enterprise competitions
  • Languages
  • Water-polo
  • Rugby
  • Athletics
  • Basketball
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Table tennis
  • Cross Country
  • Cricket
  • Chess

Academic performance[edit]

In 2007, QE came first in the A-Level league table for state schools, and twelfth in the GCSE league table for state schools.[19][20] In 2008 QE again topped the league table in A-level results and a record number of 37 pupils gained a place in Oxbridge Universities.[21][22] In 2009 QE topped the league table in A-level results for the third consecutive year. Students are only allowed to progress to the Sixth Form if subject teachers feel they will be capable of obtaining the highest grades, regardless of performance in other subjects or participation in the extracurricular life of the school. This has led to the accusation that the school has been putting their position in league tables above the interests of pupils.

In January 2014, it was announced that Barrie Martin, Chairman of the QE Governing Body and the Friends of Queen Elizabeth's was awarded an MBE for 'Services to Education'. Current Headmaster Neil Enright described Martin as: 'an asset to QE in so many ways, combining a tireless work ethic with tremendous focus and an utterly reliable good nature'[23]

Notable former pupils[edit]

During the Second World War the famous athletics coach Franz Stampfl taught physical education at the school until his internment in 1940 as an enemy alien.[34] The future headmaster of Eton John Lewis briefly taught Latin in the early 1970s.


Admissions procedure[edit]

Parents of boys not admitted to the school have protested and appealed against the school's selective admissions policy. Some have come about because the prospective boy's parents have moved to the area assuming a place will be guaranteed,[citation needed] when this is not the case.[35] In addition there have been calls throughout the United Kingdom for the end of selective grammar schools in favour of selection by distance to school or lottery.[36] The school was also on a list of schools breaching admissions laws in England.[37] Many parents have voiced concern in the past, due to the facts of claims brought up on numerous occasions that parents were being persuaded to withdraw pupils, with parents pointing to recommendations from the school that they take their child out based upon behavior and poor academic records. Although not possessing direct authority over the school, the Barnet education authority had asked for an investigation by Her Majesty's Inspectorate.[37]


  1. ^ Honoured by the Standard: best state schools in London (2009)
  2. ^ Department for children, schools and families Achievement and attainment tables
  3. ^ Queen Elizabeth's School website: State School of the Year
  4. ^ The Independent: Getting rid of troublesome boys (1992), retrieved May 2009
  5. ^ January 2008 Office for Standards in Education Report
  6. ^ Queen Elizabeth's School website: January 2008 Ofsted report
  7. ^ OFSTED summary for Queen Elizabeth's School
  8. ^ Queen Elizabeth's School - Training School Status
  9. ^ School Website: History
  10. ^ a b c d The London Encyclopedia: Weinreb, Hibbert, Keay and Keay (2008)
  11. ^ a b c d Queen Elizabeth's School - Our history Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "autogenerated1" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "autogenerated1" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  12. ^ Telegraph: Queen-Elizabeth's boys show the girls they too can excel (2002), retrieved May 2009
  13. ^ School Website: Houses
  14. ^ ___extra_curricular qebarnet.co.uk: Clubs and Extra curricular
  15. ^ ___extra_curricular/our_clubs___activities qebarnet.co.uk: List of Clubs and Activities
  16. ^ qebarnet.co.uk: PE
  17. ^ Friends of QE Founder's Day Fete
  18. ^ ___forthcoming_fqe_events qebarnet.co.uk Friends of QE events
  19. ^ Daily Mail: A-grades all the way as grammar school gulf grows
  20. ^ Telegraph: Two Grammars Lead the Field
  21. ^ qebarnet.co.uk: QE is top state school
  22. ^ Telegraph. Grammar tops table for third year in a row
  23. ^ http://www.qebarnet.co.uk/new_and_noteworthy?newsID=649
  24. ^ Queen Elizabeth's, Barnet 1573-1973 (1973)
  25. ^ Listed as an old boy on a QE WW1 memorial within the school
  26. ^ Queen Elizabeth's School - New & Noteworthy
  27. ^ Who's Who (annually)
  28. ^ It’s teachers who make good schools
  29. ^ Kelvin Hopkins: Electoral history and profile | Politics | The Guardian
  30. ^ Cameron McVey – Free listening, concerts, stats, & pictures at Last.fm
  31. ^ See De'Ath (1970) Barbara Castle
  32. ^ Edward Blishen
  33. ^ Queen Elizabeth's School - New & Noteworthy
  34. ^ E. H. Jenkins (1972) Elizabethan Headmaster 1930-1961
  35. ^ Admissions Policy
  36. ^ Independent: Top Grammar under siege (1998)
  37. ^ a b "Balls names schools that broke rules". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2016-01-07. 

External links[edit]

News items[edit]