Academic News


Monday 20 February 2017

  • Shrewsbury School SparkPoint - 'Love is in the Air'
    This week's issue is themed around 'love'.

    Please click on the image below to open 'Shrewsbury School SparkPoint - Love is in the Air' as a pdf file:

Friday 10 February 2017

  • National finalists in the Senior Team Maths Challenge
    On the 7th day of the 2nd Month of 2017, 5 Salopians (David Gao, Linda Zhao, Angela Liang, Isaac Dai and Dr Oakley) went to London for the National Final of the Senior Team Maths Challenge.  1291 teams had entered the competition but fewer than 89 remained to compete for the title.

    Report by Dr Oakley (who wins this week’s ‘Most Prime Numbers in a News Article’ prize).

    We took the 0733 train and were 73rd to register at Lindley Hall in Westminster.  This gave us a well-positioned table on the periphery of the packed arena.  The opening round was a poster round. This is a disjoint competition to the main event but gives the pupils time to settle their nerves and the remaining few teams who were stuck in traffic to arrive.  The topic was ‘cellular automata’.  Teams were allowed to research this topic before they came but had to answer three unseen questions to secure a good mark.  RGS Newcastle were deemed to have made the best attempt and they can look forward to seeing their poster duplicated on the walls of Maths departments around the country.

    Dr Oakley was then transferred to table 29 to umpire another team, leaving the Shrewsbury team to tackle the first round of the main event.  The group round comprises a decad of problems of varying difficulty and it is up to the team how they spend their time on each one.  One part flummoxed them but they only dropped a total of 3 points in the first round, putting them in joint 5th place.

    The next round was the crossnumber: like a crossword but with numbers only. One pair is given the across clues and the other the down clues, and the only form of communication is through their entries on a common answer sheet.  This is by far the easiest round and it should be a case of minimising the mistakes.  An elementary error in angles led to the confusion between 179 and 359, which slipped us down the rankings.

    The penultimate round was the ‘Shuttle’.  There were a quartet of mini relays with the answer of one feeding into the next question.  Speed is key, as there are bonuses if the relay is finished within 5 minutes.  The team did very well on this, missing out on the marks for only 3 constituent elements.  They were still in the hunt.

    The final round was new.  It was a relay that required a physical element; the definitive ‘Mathletics’ event.  Still in pairs but separated by the width of the hall, the first pair would start, answer their question, then ‘race-walk’ to their umpire for checking. If they were correct, then they would receive the next question to pass to the other pair; otherwise they were sent back to their table for another go.  There were more questions in this round than one could feasibly answer in the allotted time, so reaching question 13 was a fair effort. It was a bit of a tricky one but essentially required nothing more than Third Form maths.  The question is after the end of this write up.  One team managed to get 19 questions correct, which was very impressive.

    The results then came in. Shrewsbury finished in a very impressive 7th position, our best ever performance in this competition. 

    Congratulations to David, Linda, Angela and Isaac for their mental and physical stamina in what is a demanding challenge.  Given that 3 of them are in Lower Sixth, the prospects for next year look very good.


    How would you have done?
    In the triangle ABC, AB has length 20, BC has length 11 and CA has length 13.

    A line through A perpendicular to BC meets the line through B and C at D.

    What is the length of AD?

    (With acknowlegement to United Kingdom Mathematics Trust

  • Careers Bulletin for Sixth Formers

    Please click here to read this week's edition.

  • Inaugural Darwin Science Competition for Prep Schools
    Yesterday we welcomed teams of young and enthusiastic scientists to take part in our first ever Darwin Science Competition at Shrewsbury School.

    It wasn’t hard to decide to name a flagship Prep School event after our most famous former pupil.

    The competition pitted teams of Year 7 pupils from five different prep schools against each other over a number of both written and practical rounds.

    In the quiz rounds during the morning, the teams of four demonstrated their general scientific knowledge, answering questions drawn from biology, chemistry and physics together with picture rounds, apparatus, specimens to identify and physics calculations.  Particular fun was had with rounds to identify sounds from the animal kingdom and some fiendishly tricky chemistry smells.

    After a quick refuel in KH, the pupils moved on to complete a series of fun practical investigations across the Biology, Chemistry and Physics faculties. From structures, to skeletons, to silver reactions, the teams battled to accumulate points through the sessions, as each investigation was judged.  Scientific analysis, laboratory skills and teamwork were demonstrated in abundance by all of the teams who took part.

    The pupils were able to experience working in our laboratories with equipment and chemicals that they do not have access to at their own schools.

    The standard was very high and the results were very tight. Only seven points separated the top four teams in the written quiz! The overall champions of the Darwin Science Competition 2017 were Bilton Grange (Team 1), with the Prestfelde teams coming a close second and third.  The winning team was presented with a bespoke designed glass trophy featuring Darwin’s ‘I Think’ Tree of Life doodle and a voucher worth £50 for science supplies for their school.  Team members also received individual copies of Darwin’s Notebook and a specially designed ‘Winners’ mug.

    Winners of the practical sessions were: Physics - Terra Nova (Team 2); Biology - Bilton Grange (Team 2) and Chemistry - Prestfelde (Team 1). Each was awarded a fun prize for their efforts.

    All students went home with a goody bag to congratulate them for their participation, hard work and excellent science etiquette during the day.  The competition will run annually and we hope to encourage as many pupils as possible to investigate their scientific passions as thoroughly as Charles Darwin.

    Mrs Rachel Schofield
    Senior Chemistry Technician

  • Shrewsbury School SparkPoint - 'Back to the Beginning'
    This week's issue celebrates the work of those who have theorised about what might have happened at the dawn of time.

    Please click on the image below to open 'Shrewsbury School SparkPoint - Back to the Beginning' as a pdf file:

Thursday 9 February 2017

  • Finding inspiration at TEDxOxford
    On Sunday 5th February a group of 20 Fifth and Sixth Formers travelled to Oxford for the 2017 TEDxOxford event, the largest independent TED Talks in the UK, given to 1,800 people interested in hearing different ideas from 12 different speakers. 

    Topics ranged from how visual electronic maps can help people see how things work on a much simpler level to patterns in data affecting wide social relationships to the future psilocybin, more commonly known as Magic Mushrooms, in the treatment of depression. 

    Following a lecture on Creativity in Maths teaching (who knew it was possible?!), Mr Cowper was mentioned by the host of the talks, Old Salopian Chris Williams, who had clearly been so inspired by the Maths in his Spanish lessons.

    It will take far too long to cover all the lectures, so Ebrahim Jamshid (SH V) covers two he found particularly interesting. 

    David Troy, the creator of Mailstrom, based his talk on the mapping of social relationships using social media statistics and the implications of the patterns that can be observed. Though at first they looked like a Mondrian collection of colour, he soon demonstrated how the connections between different social groups could tell an interpreter about the culture, demographics and even political stances in uncanny precision. Our attention soon turned to the recent US Election and Donald Trump’s victory from using all this data.   He ended his talk with a rather sincere comment on the fragile foundation on which Western democracy stands and how it is something that needs to be fought for in order to keep.

    The second talk came from Priscilla Nagashima Boyd, who based her talk on the effect that driverless cars would have on people’s lives. She started with the huge implications that it would have on traffic: an adult driver spends an average of 127 hours in traffic every year and driverless cars could in theory almost eliminate this time altogether. However, she went on to say that it would inevitably create another area in which hackers could infringe upon a person’s privacy.

    Universally (well, in the opinion of Ebrahim and Chad Usher (S V), the most interesting talk came from Abhishek Parajuli. He talked about how foreign aid can end up hurting a developing country’s economy rather than benefitting it. He stated the fact that as humans we consider losses much more seriously than gains, which can be seen in how the news seems to be filled with tragic stories of death and destruction. Therefore, if a political figure is caught unlawfully using money from foreign aid, it is treated much less seriously than when this money was taken from the native people’s taxes. He also pointed out that a lot of these countries do not have a reliable system of collecting tax and thus the inhabitants of the country do not seem to care very much about how the government’s budget is being used.

    In a time in which people are becoming more polarised, Ted talks seem nevertheless to prevail in spreading and discussing ideas.  We are very thankful to Mr Percival and Mr Cowper for organising and accompanying such an inspiring day.

    Ebrahim Jamshid and Chad Usher

  • Bastille Society Lectures

    On Friday 3rd February, the Bastille Society was delighted to introduce Professor Andy Wood, Fellow of University College, Durham, to lecture on the question of: “To what extent was there a Mid-Tudor Crisis?”

    Professor Wood is an eminent historian of the Early Modern Period and is a real expert on the topic of social conflict and rebellion in the Tudor period. He provided us with an insight into the minds of the rebels of the reasons behind various rebellions throughout these tumultuous years.

    The lecture ranged across the period from Henry VIII right through to Elizabeth’s reign. Professor Wood demonstrated that the Mid-Tudor Crisis was an amalgam of religious, social, political, economic and, interestingly, ‘environmental’ change. One particular aspect he focused on was the idea of ‘cultural hegemony’ and how the dominance of one social order had created a ‘crisis of authority’. He discussed how the Kett’s rebellion and others in the period were essentially asking for a freer and more open society; demanding a dialogue to be opened between the ruler and the ruled.

    He is currently researching the initial Grammar Schools such as Shrewsbury and the role they had in creating a more fluid social order, as well as the Calvinist teachings headed by Thomas Ashton. It was deeply fascinating to see how our school played a part in the ‘Protestanisation’ of England in the wider context of the period. Certainly, what captivated the audience was the continuing relevance of the Mid-Tudor Crisis shown by the striking parallels Professor Wood was able to draw to the present day.

    We would like again to thank Professor Wood for giving up his time and delivering such a measured and insightful lecture and we wish him the best as he continues his research.

    James Whitaker (Rt UVI)

    On 9th February, the Bastille Society welcomed Mr Dominic Howell to continue the School’s lecture programme on the topic of ‘Persuasion’.

    As an international election observer with years of experience observing the democratic process across the world, from elections in the Maasai Mara and Central Asia to Eastern Europe and Russia, Mr Howell’s lecture on “How Dictators Cheat” was as entertaining as it was insightful.

    Littered with interesting anecdotes about some of the most arcane methods used around the world, Mr Howell demonstrated how dictators can use tactics before election day, on election day and after election day to influence the results of elections and maintain power.

    It was also fascinating to hear his take on the electoral processes in the Western world, which are coming under ever closer scrutiny at the moment, and he also touched upon the very topical issue of democracy in the Middle East.

    It really was a great evening enjoyed by all – and the Society would like to once again extend its thanks to Mr Howell for coming to speak to us.
    Mr Mackridge (Head of History)

Friday 3 February 2017

  • Shrewsbury School SparkPoint - 'Words, words, words'
    This week's edition focuses on the power of language – and some of the people who have done extraordinary things with it.

    Please click on the image below to open 'Shrewsbury School SparkPoint – Words, Words, Words as a pdf file.

  • 'Mr Darwin's Tree'
    An account by Charlie Johns (I LVI) of a riveting performance of the one-man show Mr Darwin's Tree'. Originally written to coincide with the bicentenary of Darwin's birth, it has since toured England and the United States to critical acclaim. On Sunday, it 'came home' to Shrewsbury, the town of Darwin's birth, and to his alma mater, Shrewsbury School. 

    On Sunday 29th January, 250 members of the Sixth Form piled into the Ashton Theatre to watch the production of ‘Mr Darwin’s Tree’, written and directed by Murray Watts, with the solitary actor being Andrew Harrison.

    A seemingly last-minute but well received change of plan had led them to be in the Ashton Theatre instead of the usual evening chapel. Shockingly, some Sixth Formers were skeptical; others were keen and unbiased, open to having their preconceptions about one-man theatre obliterated by the hammer of dramatic performance. I would put myself in this camp.

    Mr Middleton, Deputy Head (Co-Curricular), descended the stairs onto the stage and stood blinking in the spotlight like a TV host. He told us of the critical acclaim that the play had received. I surveyed the packed arena and wondered if these critics would be doing similar acclaiming, or would be baying for blood like in the Colosseum. Actually, everyone was being quiet and well-behaved, obviously tired after the exhausting exertions that come hand in hand with a Sunday at Shrewsbury School.

    There was a great deal of intrigue about the stage set-up, and rightly so. To stage left was a lone chair, and centre stage was a bizarre construction, which consisted of a step ladder, from which wooden branches made of what looked like metre rulers, protruded. It bemused me at the time, but upon further rumination and reflection I’ve decided that it might be some conceptual reference to the tree of life which Darwin devised during his interesting and enduring life. Below that were a round table and two chairs, where Harrison enacted Darwin’s frantic writing scenes and also the deeply poignant deathbed sequences. A nice minimalist and portable set, I thought.

    But what of the actual acting?

    It’s astonishing how one man can hold the attention of 250 tired young men and women for upwards of an hour. As Mr Middleton perceptively put it in his summarising evening email, “There were moments when you could hear a pin drop”. Too right there were.

    There was writing from Watts that would not have looked out of place in a high-ranking poetry book. Harrison’s intonation, had this been delivered in French, would have gained him a distinction grade in a Pre-U oral exam. He rolled his ‘r’s with precision, and glided gracefully over some of the more tranquil narrations. At times he spoke rapidly and heatedly, at others he faltered and feigned, his voice quivered with emotion. This guy was able to portray Darwin as a squeamish university student, a young, shy, seasick yet passionate expeditionary aboard HMS Beagle, his traditional and domineering, yet benevolent father, and even his dying ten-year old daughter Annie. Mesmerising. I now feel like I’ve got a tangible grasp of the personalities of all these characters, despite having had no prior knowledge of them.

    The play challenges many preconceptions about Darwin and his legacy and the supposed conflict between faith and science. Along with the dramatic story of Darwin’s own life, struggles and scientific quest, there are the powerful themes of his wife Emma’s Christian faith and their poignant conflict on issues of belief in an otherwise perfect marriage, and the personal tragedies and joys of their journey through life together. As a philosophy student, I found it very engaging, and the ideas were discussed in a way that was very accessible, even to those who were new to the ideas being raised.

    I attempted to gauge the reception in the immediate aftermath, in Ingram’s Hall, a building that fills me with joy to be able to call home. One friend of mine said, “Yeah that was a really good!” I’d never seen such an outburst of passion, derived from a dramatic stimulus, from him before. We even had a brief debate in the Link about exactly what it was about it which was so enjoyable. The air in Ingram’s was positively thick with erudite debate; unanticipated.

    This was a very powerful piece of theatre. I have to say, my prejudice that one-man shows are naff and a bit boring was dismantled, destroyed and shattered in one hour. I’m sure this was true for all others present.

  • Biology Olympiad success
    Seven of our Upper Sixth biologists joined more than 7,500 pupils who volunteered to take part in the first round of this year's Biology Olympiad, organised by the Royal Society of Biology. They achieved outstanding results, winning two gold medals (awarded only to the top 6%), three bronze medals and two highly commended.

    The competition is open to all post-16 students in the UK and is designed to challenge and stimulate the most talented young biologists in the country.

    Gold Medals
    Josh Bray (Rb)
    Ben Jones (Rb)

    Bronze Medals
    Lucy Price (EDH)
    Josh Himsworth (Ch)
    Will Bedson (Rb)

    Highly Commended
    Sasha Lo (EDH)
    Jake Elliot (Rb)

  • Treasures of the Ancient Library
    The School’s Ancient Library was founded in 1606 and contains a large and fascinating collection of rare manuscripts and other treasures. It was visited recently by Mr Tim Pye, Curator of Libraries at the National Trust and formerly of the British Library, who wished to visit “a library of national importance”.

    The School Archivist, Robin Brooke-Smith, hopes to work with him on joint projects in the future.

    This follows another recent visit by Susan Flavell and Lynn Gough, the Managers of Buildwas Abbey, which lies just south of Shrewsbury. They wished to see the School’s ‘Buildwas Manuscript’ (MS XII). It was originally kept at Buildwas Abbey from c 1150 until it was purchased by the School shortly after 1606.

    There are more than 30 surviving ‘Buildwas Books’, mainly at Trinity College, Cambridge. The Shrewsbury Buildwas Book is the only one surviving in the county, and it contains the Apocalypse and Catholic Epistles with accompanying commentary in a contemporary hand.

    Bound at the Abbey, it is possibly the oldest originally bound book in our collections.

    The book is among many others on display in the Taylor Library and can be viewed on request by contacting Mr Brooke-Smith (, or on Sundays after Chapel.

Thursday 2 February 2017

  • Delegate awards at Manchester High School MUN Conference
    Shrewsbury's team of 21 Model United Nations delegates representing Russia, Israel and Kenya had a very enjoyable and successful weekend at Manchester High School for Girls' MUN Conference, with more than half of them managing to pick up awards and commendations.

    “As always our delegates (veterans and newbies, young and old) got stuck into the thick of the debate, learned loads and had fun in the process,” said Mr Peach, Teacher in Charge of MUN. "One great achievement of the weekend was Mill Luangamornlert drafting a resolution on a futuristic crisis situation involving GM crops, then lobbying effectively for this resolution and rallying supporters to speak for it. His resolution passed with a large majority, which is never easy in this sort of forum.

    "In addition Rhys Trevor (PH UVI) chaired the Environment Committee alongside two pupils from other schools, thereby building another useful set of skills for the future."

    Each committee had 1 Outstanding Delegate, 2 Highly Commended Delegates, 4-5 Commended Delegates, and a Best Junior Delegate.

    • Max Yale (S UVI) (Russia) was the Outstanding Delegate in the Science and Technology Committee.
    • Mill Luangamornlert (SH LVI) (the Russian Ambassador) was Highly Commended in the Security Council.
    • Oliver Bureau (Ch LVI) (the Israeli Ambassador) was Highly Commended in the Human Rights Council.
    • Peter Stanley (SH UVI) (Russia) was Highly Commended in the Media Committee.
    • Nina Churchill (MSH LVI) (Israel) was Highly Commended in the Environment Committee.
    • Alec Barnes (PH UVI) (Russia) was Commended in the Environment Committee.
    • Tamara Fox (MSH LVI) (Russia) was Commended in the Human Rights Committee.
    • Henry Mayhew (Ch LVI) (Russia) was Commended in the Economic and Social Committee.
    • Nick Yale (S IV) (Kenya) was the Best Junior delegate in the Economic and Social Committee.
    • Sam Evans (R III) (Israel) was the Best Junior delegate in the Disarmament Committee.
    • Ed Plaut (S UVI) (Russia) got a Special Mention in the Human Rights Council.

    Next month Shrewsbury will be hosting the inaugural Shrewsbury School MUN Conference, which Ed Plaut and a team of other seasoned MUN-ers are busy organising at the moment.

Wednesday 1 February 2017

  • 'Baptism of Fire' - Shrewsbury School commemorates Wilfred Owen
    An article by Sam Bayliss (Rt LVI), submitted for publication in the Shropshire Star, describing a joint Shrewsbury School and Friends of St Chad's commemoration of Wilfred Owen, which took place last weekend.

    The life and work of Wilfred Owen, Shropshire’s most famous poet, was celebrated with a day of activities on Saturday 28th January, one hundred years after his arrival on the Western Front in January 1917. Sam Bayliss writes.

    The day, organised by James Fraser-Andrews of Shrewsbury School’s English Faculty to raise funds for St Chad’s Church, remembered the household name who not only pioneered war poetry as we know it today, but changed people’s views of war.

    Helen McPhail, former chairman of the Wilfred Owen Association, led a tour that followed in Owen’s footsteps, as they were guided around the town. The church then played host to world authorities on the writer with three lectures in St Chad’s Church in the afternoon.

    Speakers included Dr Guy Cuthbertson, Owen’s most recent biographer, Dr Martin Deahl, ex-army consultant psychiatrist and Iraq veteran, and Dr Adrian Barlow, formerly of University of Cambridge. Insights into Owen’s life, explorations of ‘shell-shock’, and Owen’s cultural impact on later writers proved fascinating subjects to the 200-strong audience.

    The day concluded with an evening recital of words and music, devised by James Fraser-Andrews. Led by Director of Music John Moore and Head of Woodwind Maria McKenzie, musicians from Shrewsbury School performed music from the period and beyond – including a world-premiere of a new setting of Owen’s poem ‘The Letter’ by student Dan Powell (Ch UVI). Readings included Owen’s best-loved poems, letters home, and brand-new writing from the School’s Creative Writing Society.

    The day was a fitting tribute to the poet who revolutionised war poetry after his first experiences of the Western Front in 1917, and who would tragically lose his life only seven days before the signing of the Armistice, on 4th November 1918.

    “The pupils performed with great sensitivity for the kinds of art - by Owen and others - that civilises, dignifies or, at the very least, lays bare the contortions of the soul in times of such terrible violence,” said Mr Fraser-Andrews.

    The Friends of St Chad’s were pleased to raise £1700 throughout the day, which will help maintain the unique church in Owen’s home town.   The event was a precursor to the major centenary commemorations of Owen’s death that are due to take place next year.

    Editor's note: As Sam Bayliss was himself part of the group of Shrewsbury School pupils who took part in the concert, he is perhaps a little reticent in stating just how warmly received their contributions were. The Headmaster received the following email after the concert from parents who were part of the audience. It was entitled 'Shrewsbury School at its best':

    "The evening recital of poems and music at St Chad’s last Saturday evening to mark the 100th anniversary of Wilfred Owen’s move to the Western Front was quite brilliant; magnificent musicianship and singing accompanying readings that inspired and moved in equal measure. Owen’s baton moves on to a new and worthy generation.

    Congratulations to every last participant and to Mr Fraser-Andrews, Mr Moore and Mrs McKenzie for helping to make it all happen."

Friday 27 January 2017

  • Shrewsbury Success in RSC Chemistry Schools' Quiz
    The Shrewsbury team of two Fourth and two Fifth Form pupils hosted a team from Thomas Telford School in the 1st Round of the Royal Society of Chemistry Midlands Chemistry Quiz Competition. With a score-line of 66-45, Shrewsbury advance to the next stage of the competition.

    Our team consisted of James Martin (O), Edward Evans (PH), Abi Watkinson (EDH) and Adam Pattenden (S) (pictured above in action). Questions were put either to individuals or to whole teams, and topics jumped from famous chemists to ionic formulae, from dot and cross diagrams to facts about water and from mole calculations to spelling!

    With a good knowledge of buckminsterfullerene, anhydrous copper(II) sulfate and iron, our team now needs to brush up on phenolphthalein and carbon before the next round!


  • 'Floreat' Awards
    This term has seen a new award at Shrewsbury School: Floreat.  Shrewsbury is full of success stories and headline-grabbing highlights, but there are also many examples of Salopians quietly doing extraordinary things.  Floreat seeks to shine the spotlight for a brief moment on those whose efforts might otherwise go unnoticed. 

    Based on the principle that a word of encouragement can have a significant impact on an individual, the intention is to celebrate and commend both curricular and co-curricular success stories in order that pupils may be encouraged on their Salopian journey and further flourish.  The intention is to promote an ‘I Can’ approach amongst Salopians, to applaud effort rather than just attainment, and to encourage pupils to be confident in their abilities and ambitions. 

    Floreat is hosted by the Headmaster and members of the Senior Academic Staff every Friday following nominations from the Common Room and the pupil body. Those nominated this term include bee-keepers, Classicists, charity fundraisers, hockey goal-keepers, drummers, poets and Arabists.  All have impressed and inspired with their qualities of determination, resilience, fortitude and, in many cases, the courage to step out of their comfort zone.




Thursday 26 January 2017

  • Warwick University Ancient Festival for Schools 2017
    This week Mr Fitzgerald and Mr Percival took 17 pupils studying Classical Greek or Classical Civilisation from the Lower and Upper Sixth to Warwick University for a day of lectures on Greek Theatre, culminating in a performance of Sophocles' masterpiece ‘Antigone’.

    The play is a set text this year for both subjects; a prize winner at the City Dionysia Festival of 441BC in Athens, it confronts the ancient, yet timeless and current, issues of gender, political tyranny, and obedience to the state and her laws, as well as asking questions about religion and man’s freewill to do what he thinks is right. Love, hate, death and self-sacrifice - think of it as a Christmas Day episode of ‘Eastenders’, on steroids. A rib-tickler it ain’t - powerful and provocative it is; almost 2,500 years old, yet it delivers.

    The day was divided into four sections: an introductory talk by Dr Michael Scott, Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient History, on the play’s plot and message; a lecture from a ‘local’ - a PhD. student from Athens - on masculinity and the male characters in Antigone; after lunch on campus, the students were challenged to think about ideas on space and the female in Greek theatre, and to finish the day, we were treated to a truly memorable performance of the play by Warwick students.

    The day was useful not only in terms of ‘A’ level study, but also because it gave our boys and girls a taste of what to expect a formal lecture to be like in Higher Education.

    Thanks to Mr Fitzgerald and Mr Percival for organising.

Wednesday 25 January 2017

  • Shrewsbury School SparkPoint - 'The Year of the Rooster'
    This week's special festive edition celebrates Chinese New Year and features the music of Tan Dun, the writings of Lao She and the dance choreography of Jin Xing.

    Please click on the image below to open 'Shrewsbury School SparkPoint - The Year of the Rooster' as a pdf file:

Friday 20 January 2017

  • Richard Hillary Essay Medal
    The Richard Hillary Essay Medal was inaugurated in 2013, and the fifth annual competition took place last Friday evening.  The competition provides an opportunity for Sixth Formers to spend two hours pitting their wits against a one-word unseen essay title. The event is modelled on the historic competition undertaken to select Fellows of All Souls College, Oxford.

    This year 48 students volunteered to take part, and each competitor opened an envelope on their exam desk to reveal this year’s one-word title:

    And so 'Voice' joins the select group of words set as essay titles, alongside 'Luck', 'Time', ' Power' and 'Memory'. 

    The essays will be judged by Dr Niall Livingstone, Senior Lecturer in Classics at the University of Birmingham, and the winner will be presented with the Richard Hillary Medal at Prizegiving next term.

    The prize is named in honour of Richard Hillary (Old Salopian) and was launched in association with the Salopian Club.   Hillary was born in 1919 and joined Churchill’s Hall in 1931 and he went on from Shrewsbury to study at Trinity College, Oxford.  He was called up to the Royal Air Force in October 1939 to train as a Spitfire fighter pilot.  He joined 603 Squadron and moved with them from Scotland to join the Battle of Britain on 27th August 1940.  Within a week Hillary had shot down five German fighters, but he himself was shot down on 3rd September 1940 and was very badly burned while escaping from his aircraft.

    Hillary was badly disfigured and never regained full use of his hands.  He wrote the story of his experiences, “The Last Enemy”, which is widely regarded as one of the best books to have emerged from World War Two.   He convinced the RAF that he was fit enough to return to flying in November 1942, even though the damage to his hands remained severe.  On 8th January 1943 his Bristol Blenheim crashed in Scottish woodland during a night training exercise, and he died aged 23.

    He is remembered today at Trinity College, Oxford by an annual literature prize, a portrait outside the college library, and an annual lecture in his honour.   At Shrewsbury, his name appears on the War Memorial and his name is also on the Battle of Britain memorial in Chapel.


  • A busy week in the Biology Department!
    The first full week of the Lent Term saw three landmark events for the residents of the Darwin Building.

    Within the Department we only half-jokingly called it ‘Biology Week’! On Tuesday 10th January, our 45 Lower Sixth Formers, accompanied by Mr Besterman, Mr Exham, Mr Simper, Mr Stanhope and Dr Morgan, travelled to Liverpool University’s Institute of Integrative Biology where we were kindly hosted by Professor Alan McCarthy, Head of Admissions for the School of Life Sciences (and Shrewsbury School Governor).

    After a few introductory lectures by university staff on some of Liverpool’s key research themes (all of direct relevance to our Pre-U Biology curriculum) we enjoyed a busy afternoon of guided tours.

    The research facilities at Liverpool are, without exception, world class. We saw their next generation DNA sequencers, capable of reading an entire genome in just a few days; their ‘GeneMill’ for making synthetic DNA; and a ‘laser capture microscope’ that can cut out a single cell from a thin section and capture it for genetic analysis.

    We visited a humming lab filled with mass spectrometers able to detect in real time the chemical fingerprints that differentiate healthy from diseased tissues. We saw the x-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging suites that are the workhorses in the ongoing effort to model the actual 3D structures of proteins, and in one case we were shown a novel drug being tested against an intricate virtual model of a mutant enzyme.

    Timed to coincide with the Upper Sixth topic on the nervous system, on Thursday 12th January we invited Dr Guy Sutton (Director of Medical Biology Interactive, and Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham Medical School) to give us a whole afternoon’s seminar on The Brain.

    The 4½-hour programme flew by. Dr Sutton was a master of his subject and an enthralling, passionate communicator. His clear explanations of complex ideas and vivid, personal anecdotes from his work in hospitals and the court room (where brain damage is increasingly used in the case for the defence), coupled with interactive elements, and culminating in a sheep brain dissection, kept us riveted.

    Finally on Friday we welcomed Ron Pickering for a Darwin Society lecture entitled ‘Ecology in the Galapagos Islands’. This was of obvious interest to all but especially to those destined to join Dr Case in this summer’s Biology Expedition to the Galapagos. Mr Pickering’s images were striking and a reminder of the fragility and beauty of this pre-eminent site of scientific significance.

    He raised some fascinating points about the varying ecology of the different islands and raised some interesting questions such as why the Galapagos Hawk engages in polyandry (usually only found where resources are scarce). He also covered some fascinating elements of human history on the Galapagos as well as bringing together the work of Darwin and Wallace in describing natural selection.

    With so much going on, our recently relaunched Twitter feed has seen unprecedented activity. As well as the usual retweets of the latest news and developments in biological research, we have increasingly been tweeting from lessons to document the range of approaches we take in our teaching and in the hope of communicating some of the buzz around the Department.

    Follow us @ShrewsburyBiol

    Dr Torin Morgan, Head of Biology

Tuesday 17 January 2017

  • Shrewsbury School SparkPoint - The Making of Modernism
    This week's issue of the micro-magazine written by Deputy Head (Academic) Maurice Walters introduces some of the artists, writers and musicians who have shaped and explored the concept of Modernism.

    Please click on the image below to open 'Shrewsbury School SparkPoint - The Making of Modernism' as a pdf file:

  • ‘The Secret of Influence and Persuasion’ - lecture by Joseph Marks
    “On Thursday 12th January I had the pleasure of attending what I would describe as one of the most captivating and enlightening lectures I have ever heard.” Nifemi Runsewe (MSH LVI) reports on the latest in the series of Academic Extension lectures given at the School on the theme of 'Persuasion'.

    Mr Marks began his lecture, which was entitled ‘The Secret of Influence and Persuasion’, by stating his belief that the power of social influence is frequently under-estimated and that small changes in context result in a big difference in influence. This led to the main body of his lecture: the six principles of social influence.

    The first principle was reciprocity, which highlighted the idea that as human beings we give back what is given to us first. The second principle he presented was scarcity, which explains the ideology that as human beings we place extra value on products that are rare or high in demand. The third principle was authority. This shows how as human beings we look to experts or people of higher authority to guide us in our decision-making.

    The fourth principle (and probably my favourite) was consistency. Mr Marks stated that humans are persuaded by consistency, and therefore they are socially influenced by compatibility and uniformity. The fifth principle and the most relatable was liking; this is the idea that we are more influenced by people we like and by people who like us, especially when there is a niche commonality between two or more people.

    The last principle was social proof, which can be seen in the day-to-day interaction of human beings. Social proof suggests that as humans we follow the crowd In order to determine what to do.

    In my opinion, what made the lecture ten times more captivating were the case studies Mr Marks used to support each principle. An example of one of the many case studies used during the lecture was ‘the waiter and the mints’. This case study illustrated the first principle, reciprocity. It focused on how everyday waiters are tipped in everyday restaurants and compared the psychological behaviour of a customer with the number of mints they were given by their waiter. This case study showed that the more the mints given to a customer at the end of the meal, the higher the tip he or she gave the waiter. Results also showed that tips increased even further when waiters complimented their customers as well as increasing the number of mints given to the table. The simplicity of this case study exemplifies Mr Marks’ opening statement: “Small changes in context will result in a big difference in influence.”

    As a business student and a prospective entrepreneur, this lecture helped me understand the true importance of good marketing.

Monday 9 January 2017

  • Shrewsbury School SparkPoint - The Fire of Rebellion
    "From literature through to art and music, there is no more potent inspiration for remarkable creativity than the notion of rebellion".  The latest issue of the weekly micro-magazine written by Deputy Head (Academic) Maurice Walters explores the beginning of the Ming Dynasty, the writings of Margaret Atwood and the work of American conceptual artist Adrian Piper, and introduces a new event entitled 'Little Bohemia' that will take place in school next week.

    Please click on the image below to open 'Shrewsbury School SparkPoint - The Fire of Rebellion' as a pdf file:

Friday 6 January 2017

  • British Physics Olympiad medals
    Congratulations to Lower Sixth Former Isaac Dai (S), who has won a gold medal in the British Physics Olympiad, and to Upper Sixth Formers Andrew Lee (O), Mathew Hedges (Rb) and Alfredo Stock (I) who have been awarded silver medals.

    Isaac’s achievement is particularly impressive, as he did well enough to finish in the top 50 out of 1,680 candidates nationwide.

    This qualifies him for the second round of the competition and takes him a step closer to gaining selection for the UK team in this year's International Physics Olympiad.

    Salopians have reached this level before – the last time four years ago – but as far as the collective memory of the Physics Faculty can recall, Isaac is the first Lower Sixth Former to achieve this.

Sunday 1 January 2017

  • News will be published here shortly for 2017
    In the meantime, please follow the link (above right) to our 2016 news.