Triple Gold in Biology Olympiad
18th February 2016

Nineteen Oundle pupils received medals and highly commended certificates in the recent Royal Society of Biology Olympiad with Emilia Broadbent (17), Laura Woodrow (18) and Isaac Uwins (17) receiving Gold medals, placing them in the top 6.6% of pupils entering the competition.

Open to Sixth formers around the world, the Olympiad consists of two 50 question papers.

Emila commented, “What feature is possessed by angiospermophytes but not by coniferophytes? This was one of the many formidable questions we faced in the Biology Olympiad. The questions are not the type that spring to mind when one thinks ‘Biology exam’. Instead of being asked to label a plant cell, we were challenged with questions that contained words we had never even heard of, on topics we had never studied; ones that require a holistic understanding of Biology.

Unlike so many exams of today, rote learning of the syllabus was not required; in fact, the Olympiad is not even confined to a syllabus. We were challenged and stimulated by questions from every corner of Biology, and that is what makes it such a rewarding experience.

Many thanks must go to our teachers for enabling us to take part and giving us the broad knowledge of Biology that allowed us to succeed and to secure invitations to the awards ceremony at the Royal Institution this summer.”

Biology teacher, Sudip Burman-Roy commented, “The British Biology Olympiad challenges and stimulates pupils with an interest in Biology to expand and extend their talents. In offering a wider syllabus than A-level, it allows them to demonstrate their knowledge and to be suitably rewarded and publicly recognised by the award of medals, certificates and other prizes. It is hoped that competing in the Olympiad will encourage pupils at Oundle already interested in this valuable, wide-ranging and rewarding subject to continue their study beyond A-level.

I was very pleased to have our highest ever number of Gold awards but even more so was the fact that so many Lower Sixth Form pupils were willing to participate and tackle such the challenging papers. This experience will hold them in good stead for the intermediate Olympiad which targets Lower Sixth Form pupils and will be inaugurated in June.


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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