Recent Reports


2012   Paper 1

The Townsend-Warner
Preparatory Schools History Prize

Paper 1 

Nearly seventy schools contributed just under 800 scripts for this year’s Paper One, in the Townsend-Warner History Prize.   Candidates may have found the Paper a little harder than last year’s, but there were some very strong school entries even so.   Especially worthy of mention were those from Shrewsbury House, King’s College School, Cambridge, The Hall, St Paul’s Preparatory and King’s College Junior School, Wimbledon, but it was also pleasing to see schools, with small numbers competing, still manage to get at least one representative through to Paper Two.   Particularly impressive this year in the top dozen scripts were the three entries each from King’s Junior School, Wimbledon and St Paul’s Preparatory and the latter school managed six candidates in the top twenty.   Also featuring prominently in this group were The Hall, Brighton College Preparatory, Thomas’s, Battersea and Lyndhurst House. 

At the individual level, pride of place must go to William Monaghan from King’s College Junior School, Wimbledon.   Third in Paper One last year, he achieved an outstanding score of 87 this time round, to leave him clear of the rest of the field.   There were also excellent scripts from Felix Craig-McFeely and Joe McGuire, both from St Paul’s Preparatory and they too were well ahead of the chasing pack.   Well done also to Dominic Brind (Westminster Under), Ben Hales (Brighton College Junior), Andrew Farry (Thomas’s, Battersea), Marcus Walford (King’s College Junior School) and Leo Warburton (St Paul’s Preparatory).

This year, the questions which were generally best answered were: 1 (rulers), 4 (prime ministers), 6 (artists) and 13 (links between individuals).   Less well known were some of the individuals named in questions 9 and 10.   Among understandable confusions, Danelaw (5c) was muddled with Danegeld and William Wilberforce was often given as the answer to 14d, instead of Abraham Lincoln.   In 10g, Joseph Paxton was sometimes muddled with William Caxton and even, on occasions, with Jeremy Paxman!  1789 (8d) was thought by many to be associated with American independence, rather than with the start of the French Revolution.   7c asked for the name of a battle (Towton), but many wrote the Wars of the Roses.  Inevitably, not all answers to 9b knew that Jethro Tull was an eighteenth century agriculturist, linked with the invention of the seed drill.   One candidate informed me that he was ‘a prog. rock musician, who wrote ‘Thick as a Brick’.’   Although this music is definitely ‘not my period’, I was impressed to find such detailed knowledge of this 1960s band.

Finally, I offer my heartfelt thanks to all involved in the teaching of history to youngsters.  It seems to be becoming fashionable again to emphasise the broad sweep of narrative history, but time constraints and other pressures inevitably mean that there must be limits to what can be done.  Even so, it is often impressive to see a candidate’s knowledge stretch across many centuries and I warmly commend all involved.   Finally, I wish the best of luck to those 200 who now go on to tackle the rather different challenges posed in Paper Two.

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