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Da Vinci Decathlon Comes to Ampleforth College

Ampleforth College welcomed more than 100 pupils from across the length and breadth of the UK to take part in a multi-disciplinary academic competition inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, one of the world’s greatest thinkers and polymaths.

Designed to challenge and stimulate the minds of young people, and to recognise the interconnected nature of knowledge, the Da Vinci Decathlon fosters the 21st Century skills of collaboration, creativity, problem-solving and communication. 

The Da Vinci Decathlon began in 2002 as an exciting offshoot of the very successful da Vinci Programme for gifted and talented students at Knox Grammar School in Sydney, Australia. Run in the spirit of an Olympic Decathlon, it rapidly grew in popularity in Australia, and has now turned into a global phenomenon involving over 17,000 students from Years 5 to 11 competing nationally and internationally. The first event in the UK took place in 2014, and since 2019 Ampleforth College has hosted the annual National competition in the UK.

Students from Yorkshire schools Aysgarth, Ryedale, and St Peter’s, and from Heath Mount School (Hertfordshire), Kitebrook School (Gloucestershire), Moor Park (Shropshire), St Hugh’s (Lincolnshire)and Winchester House (Northamptonshire), joined Ampleforth College students as they competed across ten disciplines. In teams of eight, pupils had to work together to solve complex challenges under time limits in: Engineering, Mathematics and Chess, Code-breaking, Art and Poetry, Science,English, Ideation, Creative Producers, Cartography, and the Legacy of Da Vinci. They were also joined by the current Director of the National da Vinci Decathlon, Sherry Bieman, who travelled all the way from Australia to help run the competition. Congratulations go to Winchester House for winning the Junior Competition (ages 11 and 13) and to St Peter’s for winning the Intermediate Competition(ages 13 –15).

Peter Roberts, Head of Ampleforth College, said: “It was uplifting to see such energy generated as the pupils were inspired and motivated by the challenges posed to them during the Decathlon. It is no surprise that the UK National Competition has grown in popularity year on year.

Winchester House and St Peter’s were deserving winners overall, but I was delighted to see Ampleforth pupils take first place in the individual Science, Art & Poetry, Legacy of Da Vinci and Cartography challenges, as well as our Junior and Intermediate teams coming second overall.”

Caroline Aldous-Ball, teacher at Ryedale School, said: “The two teams of Ryedale students thoroughly enjoyed their day at Ampleforth’s Da Vinci Decathalon. They embraced the opportunity to complete the challenges in all the different disciplines and walked away at the end of the day with a huge sense of pride and achievement. The main question on the bus journey home was ‘Can we go again next year Miss?’”

The College is looking forward to hosting an even bigger National final for a sixth time next year.

March 2024