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Hidden gems – Headmaster’s Blog – Wednesday 21st September 2016

September 21, 2016
Ballard School New Milton Hidden Gems

Hidden gems

I still occasionally hear people say that Ballard School is the ‘best kept secret in Hampshire’. I know what they mean – it’s only when you venture past our signage and down the drive that you realise what an extensive site we have and a wealth of opportunity to go with it. However, I usually also greet such a remark with both a wry smile (we have done a lot to make ourselves better known over the past few years) and a sense of excitement.

At a recent Assembly I challenged the school, pupils and staff, to investigate why the metal rivets on the door into the Main House are so prominent. This may seems like an obscure question to pose but it partly disguises a hidden gem! I could have asked a similar question about the many fine fireplaces in our 1904-5 building (Great Ballard House), all of which also proudly emphasise their workmanship.

Ballard School New Milton door arts and crafts

What’s behind the door at Ballard School?

The answer, of course, is that the Main House is an ‘Arts and Crafts’ influenced building and the (at present) unknown architect was keen to allow the many craftsmen involved in its construction to show off their skill and care by giving a ‘hint’ as to how things had been made. The fine designs on the doors, windows and fireplaces all serve to draw the attention to exquisite craftsmanship even though much of the work involved is necessarily hidden.

And so it is with the Ballard School of today. We do not seek to be a boastful school (and are occasionally admonished for not ‘blowing our trumpet more’) but we do delight in the successes of our young people both in school and outside. Indeed, it’s often the involvement, challenge and participation they have in sports’ clubs, drama groups and uniformed associations outside of the school, somewhat hidden from us at times, that enables them to throw themselves fully into the life of the school and so to excel here, too. In assemblies we rejoice in the achievements of our pupils (and sometimes staff, too) in charity events, ski races, horse riding events, large scale musicals and in county and regional sports’ teams, all of which take place outside of normal school hours. We can take up some of these, of course, within curriculum time – and also stretch the day and occasionally into the weekend to facilitate this – but it’s a delight to encourage such wide interests and opportunities.

In the same way that a pearl grows in a clam, hidden and unobserved until ready to gleam, pupils at Ballard are nurtured through home, their locality and in their school environment. Hidden, possibly, but certainly gems!

Ballard School Best School New Milton Hampshire

It’s been said Ballard School is the ‘best kept secret in Hampshire’

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

We tweet from @BallardSchool

Ballard School is a non-selective, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire (on the Dorset/Hampshire border), providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here

IMAGE: By Brocken Inaglory (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Sports’ Report 16/17 #2 – Tuesday 20th September 2016

September 20, 2016
Ballard School PE GCSE pass rate

100% for GCSE PE

The PE department are celebrating a 100% A”-C pass rate for GCSE PE.

Particular focus was placed on the Theory paper that represented 40% of the total grade. Intervention Fridays were on offer by Mr Whalen that helped pupils to complete the Analysis & Improvement Task in addition to workshops. These took place during Easter when pupils studied with myself and Mr Whalen.
On the two Saturdays before the exam we broke into extended workshops and also development and preparation towards the Pre – Release scenario.
Typically practical results (60% of the total mark) are strong for Ballard pupils but the focus on theory really paid dividends.
The syllabus has changed for 2016, with 60% now being theory based over two papers, so even more understanding and preparation will be the ingredients to success.
Ballard School PE GCSE pass rate

Ballard School gained 100% GCSE pass rate

Year 3-6 Football update

This Wednesday features the new selection system for our U11s. The pupils have been training hard and selections have been made on ability rather than age. We have split into an U11 A and B which consists of players from year 4-6. Then the selection has been based on a U10 A and B with some pupils from all years. Key positions such as Goalkeepers, have been dispersed between the 4 teams. Our policy is inclusion for all players from years 4-6 with some pupils joining us from year 3. The opposition has been carefully matched to make competition for each ability band. We are still working hard on this, so we will need to see how it works out.
Ballard School Football Festival

U10 Football Festival held at Ballard School recently

The aim is to provide a enjoyable educational experience for all in an inclusive manner that allows pupils to be comfortable with others of similar ability.
I am meeting parents at 6pm on 20th Sept with Y4 parents (and part of the wider meeting with them) but if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to email me on
Adjustments will be made after fixtures this week if deemed necessary. I would encourage all boys to attend Football clubs as breakfast clubs before school (if possible) or in activities that were provided in our booklet.


For more pictures of the Football Festival  -please see Flickr .

Tweets of the Week

Paralympic Glory for Alumnus Mikey Jones

Our own Mikey Jones won a Paralymic gold medal in the S7 400m freestyle race in the Rio games this week. The DailyEcho ran a recent article on Mikey as well!

Ballard School Alumni Mikey Jones

Mikey Jones – our Alumnus Paralympic Athlete


Football festival

We loved seeing this tweet from Princes’ Mead Sport – this really summed up the experience of teamworking and supporting each other.


GCSE PE skills circuits

For more pictures do see Twitter – @BallardSport.

Breakfast Clubs

As well as our rugby breakfast club, we have netball – this one meets on a Thursday morning.

We tweet from @BallardSchool

Ballard School is an independent, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire, providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here




New beginnings- and old – Headmaster’s Blog – Wednesday 14th September 2016

September 14, 2016
Ballard School Headmaster Summer 2016

New beginnings – and old

It’s always clear when the new school year is on the horizon: ‘Strictly’ reappears on our TV screens, the sun shines warmly, rugby posts appear, there are empty stationery boxes in school corridors and there’s the sound of frantically scurrying teachers laden with glue sticks, exercise books and white board markers. The emails also start pouring in with enquiries about uniforms, bus times, Form groups and fees. Businesses begin bombarding us once more with messages about super ‘last minute’ resource deals, ‘final chance to sign up for courses’ and ‘are you needing a cover teacher?’ It is all too easy to get caught up in a mad rush and so it’s all the more encouraging to receive messages of thanks and appreciation.

Generally letters or emails of concern and complaint outnumber those of commendation over the typical school year. The latter, indeed, tend to come in at the end of the summer term when pupils are leaving for pastures new. It was, thus, incredibly uplifting to receive two letters on the first day back of the new school year expressing thanks. The first was written by someone whose child had been at Ballard from Pre-Prep through to Year 11. The parent had taken the trouble to write something about each year the pupil in question had spent in the school, highlighting a difficulty overcome and an unexpected success achieved. Towards the end we read the following:

There have been a huge number of successes, with so many firsts, and these would not have been possible without the whole school’s support…Today (GCSE results’ day) we pick up exam results but as you can see from my previous comments it’s been about so much more than just results on a piece of paper and that’s what we are so happy about.

The second missive was from a parent who has had other children through the school and has one more to finish. This parent reflected on older children who were not high fliers academically and who had occasionally been ‘a handful’ at school. This parent writes:

Ballard really did manage to draw out their personal strengths…without destroying their personalities. What they have taken away from Ballard is a confidence and strength of character which I doubt would have developed in the same way at one of the other schools in our area…


I know that as the year unfolds more fully there will be some complaints and concerns which come my way. It is all too easy, of course, to be burdened by these. When they do come I hope I shall remember comments such as those above and reflect that encouragement and building up others are far more enduring sentiments.

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

We tweet from @BallardSchool

Ballard School is an independent, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire, providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here


Sports’ Report 16/17 #1 – Tuesday 13th September 2016

September 13, 2016
Ballard School New Milton Hockey Alumni

Welcome back from our Director of Sport

Welcome back. I trust you had a fit and healthy summer.

We have hit the ground running with sign ups for sports’ activities. There is a wide variety and we would encourage all pupils to try and make training sessions for the teams. We recognise this is not always possible, and there is some flexibility between year groups to enable a child to fit a training session in. Also don’t forget that we provide other alternative sports other than traditional sports such as Hockey and Football.

I would also encourage that pupils look to train now for other sports later in the year. These can be done at breakfast clubs and also in the many after schools clubs that we have on offer. This includes the chance for Fitness at the Running and Conditioning clubs on offer (an excellent opportunity for Athletes to train all year around).

We have particularly targeted two club links this year. We have links to New Forest Soccer (their brochure is in reception and in the PE information area). We have on offer a breakfast club for Years 3-5 at 8.00am on a Tuesday and a Futsal opportunity on Wednesdays at 5,1 5 – 6.15 in the Sports Hall. We have Girls Football breakfast clubs and also New Forest Girls training on Friday activity time. In addition we have trials for Years 7&8 who are targeting Jersey selection on Thursdays, again with New Forest Soccer.

In addition and being led by our new female PE teachers (Miss Benson and Miss Hollioak) we are linking with Lymington Netball club on a Monday at 5:15-6:30 and also have our own Ballard training sessions and breakfast clubs and also as a Netball academy. The more we practice now, the better prepared we are for the Netball season. Of course the hope is to get as many of our girls also playing at weekend for their local Netball clubs.

Ballard community sessions still run on a Tuesday at 5-6pm for Basketball (see below) and also Volleyball on Wednesday’s at 7-8pm. We also have Junior Volleyball development for any age on a Thursday at 5-6pm.

It’s a busy term with fixtures so I encourage you to look at the Ballard Sport Portal to see when fixtures are scheduled and selections. We do work on a Sport for All policy and inclusion is very important. All pupils in Year 3-6 will be always involved and we create as many opportunities for all of our pupils. We have end of term Inter House Competitions for Football (for Boys) and Hockey (for Girls) in the last week. These are great fun and a chance for all to experience a match.

Welcome to new parents. We met a lot at the weekend for the Fun morning. It was great to see parents and pupils get involved.

Please do contact me if you have any concerns and I hope you and your child enjoy Ballard Sport.


Justin Whitbread

Director of Sport

Ballard Summer Camps – a sporting festival

Ballard School Summer Camps

A huge ‘Thank you’ to all those who led the Ballard School Summer Camps courses

Over the 5 weeks of Ballard Summer Camps  our programme was packed with a whole host of courses – crafts, new skills, arts and sports. We blogged weekly and you can find them here:

Pre-Season at its best

Ballard School New Milton Hockey Alumni

Ballard School’s Pre-season hockey – with Alumni who came back for matches on day three.

In our INSET week, before term officially began, we had three days of pre-season girls’ hockey, culminating in matches v Alumni teams. It was super to see so many!

Do see our Twitter feed @BallardSport for all the latest tweets.

Community sport

Family Fun Day

 Parent Sport

Our Parents’ Hockey has been running all throughout the summer, with a small band of players meeting every Saturday 09.30am – 11am on our Astro turf. Parents’ Netball resumes this week – 10.00am on the Netball courts. All welcome to join in whatever your current standard. This is a great way to meet other parents and have some fun (and fitness!).


Our Community Basketball was featured in Sports’ Report #11 and has continued to attract more pupils; from those at Ballard and surrounding schools. They meet every Tuesday night 5.00pm-6.00pm in our Sports’ Hall.

Ballard School New Milton Hampshire Community Basketball

Community Basketball – just one of the many sports on offer as part of our Community programme at Ballard School

PE this term

Our PE programme is mapped to balance the choice and range of sports on offer throughout the school calendar – here are some of the highlights for the different areas of our school for the beginning half of the Autumn term.

Lower Prep

Year 3 / 4s – Handball, Football, Dance, Netball, Hockey

Year 5 – Swimming, Football, Volleyball, Hockey

Upper Prep

Year 6 – Football, Swimming, Volleyball, Hockey

Years 7 / 8 – Swimming, Rugby, Hockey, Volleyball, Dance


Year 9  – Swimming, Basketball, Volleyball, Hockey, Netball, Dance

Years 10 / 11 – Football, Netball, Hockey, Volleyball, Fitness, Swimming

Alumni in the News

There has been much talk in the media and on social media about the Rio Olympics  and now the Paralympics. We have one Alumnus, Mikey Jones, who is competing in Rio for #TeamGB in the Paralympics swimming S7 class. Mikey has been kind enough to send us some updates, which we have been passing onto the students in assemblies. Do see Mikey’s bio on the British Swimming website and the link from the Rio Games website for his races.

Ballard School Alumni Mikey Jones

Mikey Jones – our Alumnus Paralympic Athlete

We have also had word of some more Alumni who have been making the papers with their sporting achievements. If you know of someone from Ballard School (and its constituent schools) who has an achievement they would like to share – please do contact

Megan Gurton – Mounted Games world U17 Champion – link from our Ballard School Facebook Page

Also Hannah Snellgrove – Sailing

We tweet from @BallardSchool

Ballard School is an independent, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire, providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here



There’s no place like home! – Heritage Open Day reflection from our Headmaster – September 2016

September 12, 2016
Ballard School Great Ballard House 1904 New Milton

There’s no place like home!

We recently opened up the Main House (originally called Great Ballard House when it was constructed around 1904) to members of the public who signed up for a guided tour as part of the National Heritage Open Days. This was the first time we have done anything like this and so it required a lot of preparation and, especially, some historical and architectural research.



We were privileged to have a lot of research undertaken by Hon. Associate Professor Anne Anderson FSA, Exeter University and V&A who has a special interest in the ‘Arts and Crafts’ movement, of which Ballard is an example. Additionally, Mr Ian Broadway, a former Edinburgh House pupil and our archivist, looked into the Ubsdell family (part British and part American) who commissioned the House in the early 1900s. One of our Marketing team, Mrs Alix Stockwell, then brought everything together for the Open Day and trained up four staff members as guides. It was a fascinating insight into the building we inhabit for much of the week!



Many of us know the experience of visiting local attractions close to where we love only when visitors or out of area family members come to us for a holiday. All of a sudden we realise that the place of historical interest or of outstanding natural beauty is really rather remarkable and we can’t understand why we’ve never investigated before. And so it was with the investigation into Great Ballard House (and not to be confused with the school in West Sussex which used to be located here in the inter-war years and then took the name with it when forced out by the military).

Ballard School Great Ballard House 1904 New Milton

1904 – construction of ‘Great Ballard House’ with thanks to Hampshire Records Office

Ballard was built as a home, albeit a rather elaborate Edwardian country house. We learnt about the eight principal bedrooms with dressing rooms (on the first floor), the five secondary bedrooms for guest and five more for servants (on the top floor) and the morning room (our reception office), billiard room (the chapel), drawing room (the Heritage Room) and dining room (the junior library).

Ballard School GCSE results Hampshire

The rivets on the front door (newly restored) point to the ‘honesty’ of the ‘Arts and Craft’ movement as the makers sought to display and celebrate the workings of the craftsmen. Our fantastic fireplaces are not only works of beauty, each one unique, but were also made to a revolutionary new design to encourage a better flow of air. The sloping, green baize, drawers in the mock-Tudor wall cabinet in the junior library have proved themselves to be cutlery drawers whilst the veranda on the first floor above the reception office loggia is in fact a ‘sleeping balcony’ which pre-dates the discovery of a TB vaccination in 1921.



I could mention many more fascinating features (and do look out for a future tour), but what struck me most was that our school is in fact a home. This adds resonance to our talk of ‘the Ballard Family’ and helps in some way to explain what visitors often remark on when they look round: the pleasing, friendly, atmosphere. Long may we value this ethos and respect the property which helps us connect socially, spiritually and practically!

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

We tweet from @BallardSchool

Ballard School is an non-selective, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire, providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here


For more on our #TBT (ThrowBack Thursday) blog – see this one which includes pictures of some of our original features.

Link to Hampshire Record Office

Depressing news – Headmaster’s Blog -Wednesday 31st August 2016

August 31, 2016
Ballard School Blog Depressing news PSHE

Depressing News

Department for Education (DfE) research into 30,000 teenagers has discovered that a third of middle-class teenage girls now suffer ‘psychological distress’ – namely anxiety or depression. This is a 10% increase since the survey was last conducted in 2005. It seems, too, that girls were twice as likely to report such symptoms compared to teenage boys whose levels of depression had fallen in the last ten years (or perhaps they are indeed less likely to speak up than girls).
The causes of this increase in stress for teenagers are less easy to identify although the researchers felt that economic concerns (perhaps as communicated by adults to young people) would be one factor although the greatest source of aggravation was put down to social media. In the past young people could escape some of the pressures of school, for example, when they went home in the evening or at weekends. This is no longer so easy to do with online bullying and ‘simple’ relentless digital communication hard to avoid.

At Ballard we are certainly doing more then ever to provide the means for pastoral support and this coming year will look more closely at a greater level of peer counselling. There is obviously some truth in the assertion that the better we are at identifying and addressing depression, the more there may appear to be of it (in the same way that as levels of reported crime improves so it appears that there is more crime). Having said this, however, I am sure that levels of anxiety are indeed rising and that as we approach the GCSE results this week they may well ‘spike’ for some! (Ed: blog written before results day)

There is an argument that we should not ‘pander’ to those who express anxiety and do more to encourage them to get on with things. This seems to have been the approach of Northern Ireland’s police chief, George Hamilton, who Tweeted recently that officers should ‘dry their eyes’ or ‘move on’! An anonymous Twitter user, apparently a police officer who says he lives with depression, responded that the police were expected to be social workers, paramedics and child minders as well as law enforcers. I think I can hear where the latter is coming from and whilst Mr Hamilton does have a point as ever in life there is a balance to be achieved. At Ballard we shall continue to be alert, understanding and as helpful as we can be to enable young people to be resilient and more able to cope with life’s pressures.

Ballarfd School Headmaster Stairs Alastair Reid

Headmaster of Ballard School; Alastair Reid

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

We tweet from @BallardSchool

Ballard School is an independent, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire, providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here

GCSEs – Summer 2016 – Ballard School

August 30, 2016
Ballard School GCSE results Hampshire

GCSEs – Summer 2016

Another super year with Ballard remaining at the forefront of non-selective schools locally

There has been much Press comment, as ever, about the GCSE results and the ‘league tables’. This year, 2016, the talk has been about the overall fall in A* to C grades and a drop in ‘passes’ (C grade and above) in Maths and English – partly occasioned, it seems, by 17 year olds undertaking re-sits. It is true to say, however, that there has been a toughening up in the marking of GCSEs and as they have been reformed there has been less course work – and thus subjects become increasingly assessed terminally (i.e. after two years, in Year11). I am delighted to say that Ballard has ‘bucked the trend’ and has seen a steady improvement in our results.

Ballard School GCSEs Hampshire 2016

Another fantastic year, another fantastic set of GCSE results!

Ballard School is a relatively small school with around 60-65 pupils in our leaving class of Y11 each year (and there were 61 pupils in the 2016 cohort).  This means that it takes only a very few pupils not to achieve the ‘gold standard’ of 5 A* to C grades and the overall percentage falls.  Larger schools, such as the maintained ones, will have several hundred in their exam years and so even with quite a few pupils falling short the percentage overall may still hold up well.  This is one of the reasons I dislike league tables!  Another is that, sad to say, it is notoriously difficult to trust tables published by the Press in August each year.  They depend on schools honestly telling them their results (it’s only in about January that the final and official tables are published), they take no account of re-marks and appeals (in 2015 we submitted 75 EARs – enquiries about results – with 6% resulting in grade changes) and they may also not reflect the actual type of GCSE offered by the school.  In recent years some schools have been ‘experimenting’ with IGCSEs (which suffer from less government interference but can be harder) and some of these exams do not appear in official tables. (We do IGCSE English and IGCSE Business Studies.) Most of all I don’t like the tables because they cannot show how well individuals have done.  Many of our success stories lie not with those who have excelled in terms of As and A* grades (and many have) but with those who when they arrived here may have had a learning difficulty (or an emotional one) and have overcome the odds to secure several ‘passes’ and some close to a ‘pass’ (reckoned as a C grade) – all above the odds. They also don’t show that this year nine of our departments have 100% pass rates and five had only one pupil with a single grade below a ‘C’.

And so what about this year’s results for Ballard?

It’s been rather like the Team GB success at the Rio Olympics! We have done better than some predicted and whilst there were the inevitable disappointments there were also stunning and delightfully unexpected triumphs! We have improved our percentages year on year where any 5 ‘passes’ (A*-C grades) are concerned (84% of pupils in 2013 and 89% this year) and where the ‘gold standard’ (inc. English and Maths are concerned) from 69% in 2013 to 85% in 2016. In the main we prefer to use a 4 year average for GCSE results as this takes a better account of the relative strengths of year groups which, as I have said, with a relatively small roll such as ours can vary considerably year on year. This will be published as soon as our results are all confirmed.

Our ‘gold standard’ pass rate of 85% puts us at the forefront of non-selective schools locally with most schools in our part of Hampshire / Dorset showing 62% to 75%. A summary of other statistics:

  • ‘gold standard’ of at least 5 passes at A*-C grades 85% (with a cohort of 61 pupils)
  • At least 5 passes of any subject at A*-C grades 89%
  • A*/A grades achieved                                                 26% overall with 37% (girls)
  • Pupils achieving A*-C in Maths (Year 11) 87%
  • Pupils achieving A*-C in English                                 95%
  • Pupils achieving A*-C in Maths & English 87%
  • Pupils achieving A*-C in MFL 95%
  • Subjects gaining 100% A*-B Art, Computing, Dance, Food Tech, Music, EA
  • Additional subjects achieving 100% A*-C Sports Studies, French, German
  • Subjects with only 1 pupil below C grade Biology, Chemistry, Physics, RS, Stats, Spanish

Prep Schools and league tables

There are no league tables for any Prep School.  Some independent schools will use SATs (we don’t and they are on the way out in many schools) but we have changed our internal assessments from CATs (cognitive ability tests) to Midyis which is run by Durham University for schools.  This, we believe, will give a much better individualised system of tests for pupils leading to GCSE predictors and evidence of ‘value added’.  We have a ‘traffic light system’ whereby we can flag up pupils doing well and on or above performance (green) through some concern (amber) and great concern (red).

Ballard, as a family-friendly holistic school, continues to do exceptionally well by its pupils. We are committed to academic rigour, wide opportunities and good manners. This ‘roundedness’, we believe, stands the test of time and creates fine citizens for the future.

Ballard School Headmaster Summer 2016

Alastair Reid (Headmaster, Ballard School)  August 2016

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