Head’s Blog

Sixth Form Open Evening

Thank you to all those parents and pupils who attended last night’s Open Evening. I hope you found it to be a useful and informative event.

As decisions approach regarding A Level choices, please don’t hesitate to contact Mr Mount (Head of Sixth Form) or subject teachers if you need advice.

WW1 Remembered

A brilliant assembly on Monday led by Mr Morrissey.

Following our Remembrance Service last week, our Head of History talked expertly on the last two years of the Great War. History syllabi over the years have neglected the importance of the campaigns of 1917 and 1918. Mr Morrissey explained their significance and dispelled many other myths about the war.

It was a fantastic presentation that held the attention of the whole school and was a fitting end to our remembrance period.

St Ed’s Heads v Baker

Yesterday lunchtime, the sharpest minds in Baker House took on the combined academic might of the Senior School Staff Quiz team. It was a savage encounter, a rumble in the jungle (in the Library) where no punches were pulled and no quarter given. The format is a series of one-on-one question rounds between pupils and staff. It is fierce, funny and informative. The audience learned a great deal too.

We learned that Tim Smith is a razor sharp Geographer, that Mrs Wightman is actually a secret historian and that Mr Dawson thinks Cleethorpes is in Wales.The highlight of the quiz was an epic tussle: Horder v Comfort (Senior).  Both dazzled with their knowledge of world cuisine. Horder, I think, surprised herself with some spectacular answers on Middle Eastern cookery.  The round went to sudden death after Comfort (Senior) erroneously declared that Philadelphia Cheese Steak comes from New York. Like that famous son of Philadelphia Rocky Balboa, Comfort (Senior) was on the ropes. But, the proud old academic prize-fighter, facing a nimble footed young pretender,  dragged himself up back relying on wisdom gained across the years. He counter punched by remembering that “vongole” means “clam” and then from nowhere swung the knockout blow –  somehow translating an obscure South American dish in to English by cross-referencing the French, Spanish and Latin words for potato. It was an unbelievable comeback and it inspired the staff team to their eventual victory.

My thanks to Mr Comfort (Junior) for compering so expertly despite his plaster cast! Great fun.

A Passage from India…

India Tabony in the Lower Sixth is already forging a career for herself as an online journalist. She has started writing pieces for the website Celebmix and is building up quite a portfolio.  Her work so far has included interviews, concert and festival reviews and general news relating to celebrities or charity work. India has interviewed Ava Cota from Dance Moms, Novul (the up and coming solo artist), Dusky Grey (a Welsh pop duo) and DJ James HypeShe has also successfully reviewed many shows including The BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards, Summer in the City and The Vamps when they headlined at Newmarket Race Course. I am hugely impressed with India’s rapid progress and her determination to break into the exciting world of online media.

Reception refurb

Visitors to St Edmund’s are always guaranteed a warm reception. Now they will enjoy a redecorated one too!  Over half term, under the guidance of our creative guru Ms Florence, our Main Reception has had a rather impressive makeover.  Next door, the new post room should also spell the end of parcels piling up in the corridor outside.  When you have a chance, pop in to Reception and have a look – the new sofas are a sight to behold…

Alex Millard – British Athletics Pathway

Athletic prowess certainly runs in the family.

Alexandra Millard in Year 12 is a superb middle distance runner and has been selected for The British Athletics Pathway. This is an elite athlete programme consisting of 11 training weekends over two years. It is designed to prepare outstanding young athletes across the UK for competition at international level. It is a great achievement to be chosen and my warmest congratulations go to Alexandra (No. 8)


Helena Millard – Amsterdam Marathon

Our Head of Sport Helena Millard, recently competed in the Amsterdam Marathon. Helena has been training hard for the event and finished in an extremely impressive time of 3 hours and 49 minutes. This matches the time that Helena achieved in the Florence Marathon last year. Well done to Helena on another excellent performance!

Focus on Science: Physics

What is light? This question has occupied many scientists throughout history.  It has also been a focus for our L6th physicists since September.

For example, in the early 17th century, Sir Isaac Newton theorised that light is a stream of particles he called “corpuscules”.  He suggested that different colours of light were corpuscules of different sizes and, the intensity or brightness of light was affected by the number of corpuscules received per unit time.

However, light can be diffracted and show interference suggesting it must be some kind of wave. Experiments in the 19th century with photo-electric effect confused things further by demonstrating light cannot always behave like a wave. Einstein then suggested that light is a stream of particles called photons with their individual energies related to their frequency or, paradoxically, their wavelength.

So is light a wave or a particle or both?

And what is an electron?

More fundamental questions await the L6 physicists next half term…!


Focus on Science: Biology

This term the U5th have carried out micropropagation to clone cauliflowers.  They take and sterilise a piece of cauliflower tissue (about 1mm cubed) and add it to Kinetin (TM) gel.  It grows roots and leaves to produce tiny plantlets.  This method is commercially used to mass produce clones of expensive plants such as orchids.  Our pupils then contrasted this form of cloning with traditional cuttings, using roses from outside the science block and bean seeds! Next stop, Dolly the Sheep!

Focus on Science: Chemistry

As someone who is prone to the occasional migraine, I was interested to learn from Dr Fernandez that the Sixth Form chemists have been learning how to create aspirin!

This term, U6th pupils have been busy expanding their knowledge of Organic Chemistry. This focuses on substances which are carbon-based such as aminoacids, proteins and most other molecules found in living things. Needless to say, the course has a strong cross-curricular connection with Biology. Students have learnt about esters and their application in food flavourings and scents – if you are a fan of pear drops, I am reliably informed that what you are probably smelling and testing is ethyl ethanoate!

As part of the practical skills element students have synthesised samples of aspirin and sent them for analysis to RLC labs (a project run in conjunction with Loughborough University).

We are now looking forward to receiving the results to see how pure our aspirin is!