Over the summer, a group of seven Lower Sixth formers from Oundle School travelled to Dublin for the International Society of Animal Genetics (ISAG) conference which was held in the University College of Dublin.
Since a significant topic in the A Level Biology course in the Upper Sixth involves genetics, the conference provided an invaluable opportunity for pupils to get a feel of how molecular biology can be applied in the ‘real’ world in various practical areas such as agriculture and medicine.
Nick Wong (18) commented, “We were delighted to be joined by two pupils from The Peterborough School with whom we have attended a successful molecular biology course, a collaborative sixth form project between Oundle School and The Peterborough School.”
Over the course of the four-day trip, the pupil delegates had the chance to attend a variety of lectures ranging from the application of molecular biology in equine parentage testing to various reports on microbiomes. Talks and workshops on different topics happened simultaneously and there was therefore an element of choice which varied from bovine genetics to learning about the genomics of aquaculture species.
Nick added, “The lectures were given by researchers currently working in the field from various species consortiums around the globe. Although challenging, this prompted us to conduct our own private research on specific areas of molecular biology in order to understand the complex terminology used by the lecturers.”
After two days of lectures, the group took a break from the university and visited the Kilmainham Goal, in which not only did they have the opportunity to learn about the Irish War of Independence, but also see with their own eyes the quarters in which various political figures were held. There were organised trips to the Library at Trinity College, Dublin, where visitors can gain a rich understanding of the history behind the making of the Book of Kells, which is on permanent display at the library.
Nick concluded, “Before heading towards the airport on the last day, we were extremely lucky to have a bespoke tour around Weatherby’s Irish Equine Centre (IEC). As a fully equipped laboratory aiming to protect the wellbeing of Ireland’s horse population, the IEC houses a lot of technical and complex equipment used in genetics research that we had previously only heard about in the many lectures. The visit provided us with the chance to see the wide range of analytical equipment involved in molecular biology and insight into how this is used in a real setting.
The trip was a huge success, and apart from firmly rooting our interest in genetics it also allowed us to get a taste of the world of genetics research.”
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 2016, the School completed its ambitious SciTec project, uniting 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. The development includes the ground-breaking Patrick Engineering Centre, a new Mathematics department and an extension to its sixteen state-of-the-art Science laboratories. Oundle has now embarked on a detailed Sports MasterPlan which will significantly upgrade sporting facilities across the School by 2020, incorporating the building of a new Sports Centre housing a fifty metre swimming pool and an eight court sports hall.
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.