Top of Bench
8th December 2015

On Wednesday 25th November, four pupils from Oundle School, James Duckitt (15), Gordon Lin (15), William Parker Jennings (14) and Alice Sze (14), took part in the Regional Heat (Northants, Beds, Herts and Cambs) of the annual Royal Society of Chemistry Top of Bench competition, held at Kimbolton School.

The 10 teams competing tackled two experiments on ion analysis and an iodine clock reaction followed by a chemistry quiz.

At the end, it was announced that the Oundle team had won the competition with a score of 47 marks out of 69, performing particularly well in the ion testing section.

Chemistry teacher, Robin Hammond commented, “This is the fourth time that Oundle have won this heat since 2009. The four pupils were excellent company and were very good ambassadors for the School.”

The team will now represent the region in the National final in March and will involve over thirty regional teams.

James commented, “In the first practical, we had to carry out various ion tests on unknown substances and then use a table to work out what those substances could be from the results that we had obtained. We also had a short general knowledge quiz with questions ranging from how did Antoine Lavoisier die (ANSWER: he was guillotined during the French revolution) to questions on electrolysis.”

Robin concluded, “The team will hope to reproduce the level of performance of the previous three Oundle School teams in the competition who have managed 13th, 6th and 2nd position in the final.”


Background Information on Oundle School

Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.

The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. The School is now embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports MasterPlan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion which opened in April 2015 and new astroturfs due to be completed this year.  

There are currently 1110 pupils on roll at Oundle School, with 860 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day school for children aged 4 to 11. 

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