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Where do you think you’re going? – Headmaster’s Blog – Friday 26th May 2017

May 26, 2017
Ballard School where do you think blog

Where do you think you’re going?

I wonder what careers’ advice you had at school? As far as I can recall (it was the 1970s), we had a lecture once a term from a visiting professional who spoke about his career path after school. I do remember doing an aptitude test at the end of Year 11 which certainly gave me some useful pointers: I wanted to be an airline pilot and then a doctor but it was evident even without an aptitude test that these professions were likely beyond my scientific and mathematical understanding!

Working hard!

I was at a boarding school and I was certainly fortunate in my Housemaster who made good use of my test to point me towards humanities. Moreover, when I said to him that I wanted to teach and that because I had only been in independent schools I felt I should go into a state school, he didn’t put me off (there were many good maintained schools then, as now) but simply posed the question:

‘Where, Reid, do you feel you would be most fulfilled and make the greatest contribution?’

(Schoolmasters always used our surnames then and peers generally used nicknames – never first names!)

The 1970s, sadly, was a decade of disruption in many state schools and fewer extra-curricular opportunities were open to teachers to enthuse about and for me, as now, the essence of education was an holistic approach – and so I headed towards the private sector. The rest, as they say, is history (and, yes, that was my subject at university)!

Why am I mentioning all this?

This past week I have met with every Y8 pupil for a 10 minute one-to-one interview. In advance each pupil had written a ‘personal statement’ setting out their achievements to date, their ambitions for the future and their more immediate goals as they enter the senior school. I really enjoy these times as we explore interests, strengths and opportunities going forward. Most of the current Y8 already have some ideas about a future career path(s) and this was a help as we talked about GCSE options, work experience and further education. Later, in Y10, they will also have the chance to do an aptitude test, attend the Spring Lecture series and have a multitude of visitors through the weekly PSHE programme. Our Head of Careers runs a programme via the Form Tutor periods and will also help with advice over work placements at the end of Y11. There are also a plethora of helpful online resources.

Lecture Series 2 with Sarah Ali Choudhury

So, the question, ‘where are you likely to head off in life?’, may not have any easier response than it did in the 1970s but at least today there is more available and informed advice than ever before – plus an understanding that unlike someone from my generation there are likely to be several career paths ahead for today’s younger generation before they retire (assuming they ever do!).

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.

The Learning Mind, the Healthy Mind and the Relaxing Mind – Wednesday 16th May 2017

May 17, 2017
ISA conference winners London West

The Learning Mind, the Healthy Mind and the Relaxing Mind

Ballard School, New Milton – Headmaster’s Blog

I have just returned from the annual Independent Schools Association (ISA) conference – held this year in York. The structure of the conference itself lent its weight to the theme

The Learning Mind, the Healthy Mind and the Relaxing Mind

and, as with many things in life, it’s important to ‘do’ and not just to ‘say’.

There was a great deal of learning, and not just from the formal sessions. As is often the case when Heads gather, we share concerns, issues and joys from our own settings and, at the same time, explore ways of improving what we are doing. I talked with several Heads who lead schools of a similar structure to ours and our discussions ranged from the ‘shape of the day’ to the length of lessons and the spread of opportunities. It was often, however, in chatting with school leaders of very different establishments – the ISA is a wonderful mix of mainstream, specialist, infant, junior and senior schools – that I seemed to gain most. There were schools experimenting with online learning in order to deliver ‘minority’ subjects at GCSE and others were spending a lot of curriculum time outdoors (the Forest Schools), even on the beach.

The learning mind

Our sessions in the ‘learning mind’ ranged from politics (the likely complexion of education after June 8th) through to the challenges facing our sector as we cope with the digital age.

The healthy mind

The ‘healthy mind’ included a hilarious session on ‘permission to be happy’ in which we were given magic wands (to wave away the ridiculous emails) and ‘stick on’ moustaches (‘take a selfie now and look at it later when you need a lift’) and were encouraged to treat every day as though it was our birthday! Talks then followed on improving outcomes for all students (the 3 As of aspiration, access and achievement – and then a fourth, attainment, thrown in for good measure), character education, brain awareness week and elite leadership.

The relaxing mind

The ‘relaxing mind’ infused the three-day gathering (despite the pace of the programme) by enabling us to have some time to catch up with colleagues over refreshments, to attend a wonderfully uplifting evensong in York Minster, to enjoy a formal dinner in the National Railway Museum – and then another dinner, a black tie event, in the hotel on the final evening. As Twitter aficionados will no doubt have seen, I was also part of the all-conquering London West district of ISA as we lifted the ‘House points cup’ for the conference having gained over 550 points in the form of blue and gold coins for winning quizzes, garden games, a golf competition and, more seriously, time spent with the many exhibitors and sponsors.

I can’t say that I returned from the annual conference rested – there’s just too much to do, a distance to travel and the ever-present emails to keep you imbedded in your ‘day job’ – but I do hope I’ve learnt something about the necessity of balancing learning, health and relaxation in the ‘renewing of my mind’ (in novitate sensus), the school motto!

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.

Making a difference – Headmaster’s Blog – Wednesday 10th May 2017

May 10, 2017
Making a difference Ballard School

Making a difference

Ballard School annual formal dinner for senior prefects

We have just had our annual formal dinner for the Senior Prefects – attended by their Form Tutors and other senior teachers. As ever, the school caterers excelled themselves and produced a three-course meal fit for a top quality restaurant. The pupils dressed smartly and the meal is structured to give them a ‘taste’ of a formal occasion complete with a traditional grace, the Loyal Toast and speeches from the Deputy Head Boy and Girl with a reply by one of the Y11 Form Tutors.

Ballard School senior prefects dinner

Ready for their formal dinner as senior prefects 2016-17.

The speech by Mr Andy Marshall, Senior Teacher and a Y11 Form Tutor, focussed on ‘the hidden curriculum’ which is so important in a school like Ballard. In a world which is going through a population explosion and at the same time exerting pressures on young people like never before, he urged us to hold on to traditional values – the so-called ‘soft skills’ – which not only set our pupils apart from many but which are so important for the wider world.

Mr Marshall urged us all to consider how we can best make a difference in our immediate environments and from there out into the world like ripples on a lake – or, as Mother Theresa once said;

to remember that the ocean is made up of individual drops of water and thus each is invaluable and precious.

‘Soft skills’ include being able to hold a conversation with those who are older than you or whom you have just met. They embrace good manners, clear speech, looking people in the eye and giving a firm handshake. Politeness, respect and taking care over our appearance all can make a positive impact beyond our immediate circle of friends and acquaintances.

We were encouraged, too, not to be afraid of ‘trial and error’, of making a mistake, admitting a wrong doing and then moving on humbler, wiser and more determined than ever to ‘get it right’ next time. Our young people are encouraged to step out of their comfort zone in speaking before an audience (as our Deputies did so well at the dinner), in trying a new activity and in seizing a fresh opportunity. GCSE results are clearly vitally important but they are not an exclusive passport to success and worth in life.

In listening to the speeches at the dinner I was reminded of something written by an unknown monk in 1100 AD:

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realise the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realise that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.

Our dinner ended with the School toast: ‘In novitate sensus’ (the school motto – ‘by the renewing of you mind’) followed by the now familiar declaration: ‘Once a Ballardian, always a Ballardian’! Let’s now go on and make a difference in our family, our locality, our nation – and so on to the world!

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

For more information on our PSHE curriculum, do see our blog from May 2016.

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.

Parents’ homework? – Headmaster’s Blog – 3 May 2017

May 3, 2017
Parent's homework blog Ballard School

Parents’ homework?

Parent questionnaires for school inspections  -it’s homework time…

Every time inspectors send out their questionnaires to parents ahead of a school inspection, the topic which elicits the most comment is invariably homework (or what independent schools usually call ‘prep’). Parents generally fall into two ‘camps’: there’s either too much homework or not enough!

A recent article in the Times newspaper had a comment on homework:

A parenting expert has warned that parents micromanaging homework can hurt children’s prospects, as they grow up less resilient and do not learn from their mistakes. Speaking yesterday at the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, Noushin Rahman-Blake, who runs parenting classes at schools, said: “Homework comes up all the time on our courses. Parents don’t always realise that how you learn is through making mistakes. As a parent you should allow children to have a go.” In the Times, Jenni Russell comments that while she sympathises with this view, the reality is that only the wealthy and well-connected can be relaxed about their children’s education, as “only they have the social, intellectual and financial resources to cushion their children if this laidback approach doesn’t work out.”

What is clear from this comment, and my earlier observation about inspection questionnaires, is that homework can raise strong emotions amongst parents and pupils – as well as teachers. I suppose that we all feel we have an opinion because we all went to school and will have some memories about our own homework days. As a boarder myself, I can remember long evenings in the House being supervised by Prefects and, occasionally, House Tutors. Prefects varied in their approach to discipline but were generally too busy with their own A-level work to have time to answer queries or to help younger pupils. Teachers were generally much more approachable!

Ballard’s response to homework

Here at Ballard we provide a staff supervised homework time after school during the daily activities’ slot (in addition to ‘clinics’ for GCSE pupils). Teachers will certainly give advice and help where they can but they will also challenge the pupils to try and work things out for themselves rather than ‘spoon-feed’ them the ‘answers’. As noted in the Times above, it’s a really dilemma for parents. How much help should they give? I spoke with a parent of a Y4 boy just yesterday and she explained how frustrating she had found it trying to help her son with Maths where the techniques and approaches, even the vocabulary, were so different from when she was at school. She then went on to say how helpful she had found the session for parents of Y3-5 children held earlier this week in which these new styles were explained. This has now helped her assist her son by asking him the right questions and directing him to think for himself.

And so I suppose my advice for parents is to show a keen interest in their child’s homework and to learn the vocabulary and styles of learning being used today (perhaps by attending a session in school). This will enable them to ask the right questions – or at least to be able to give some direction to their child. Ideally it should, however, be the pupil’s work and where a significant amount of help has had to be given this can then be noted by the parent for the teacher to be aware. This way the teacher can gauge what more needs explaining and even whether or not it might be helpful for the parent to have a ‘help sheet’ for use at home. Most of all this also helps to foster the all-important home / school partnership where, within reason, each complements the other.

Happy homeworking!

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.

Tiny acts of kindness – and not so random – Headmaster’s Blog – Wednesday 26th April 2017

April 26, 2017
Blog post thank you headmaster

Tiny acts of kindness – and not so random

I have been studying the printed calendar for our new term and this week we have called the week ‘Random Acts of Kindness week’. As part of this I have been discussing with the Head of PSHE and the Coordinator for the Houses, how best we might introduce the week in assembly.

On the very day I was considering this, a colleague (unconnected with my discussions) passed me a link to an article in the Times Educational Supplement which is worth quoting at some length. It is a former Head’s reminiscence:

He is a kid who I’ve barely noticed before.

I’ve been teaching the class for just a few weeks and, as is always the case, certain heads are starting to raise themselves above the parapet: the defaulters, the jokers, the forgetful and the attention-seeking.

But this lad has been quietly going about his own business. He always gets the work done; he rarely forgets to bring equipment in. He does enough to get by; he never quite impresses. 

A quiet revelation

On this particularly Monday morning, my glass is decidedly half-empty: I’ve failed to clear the previous evening’s marking, I’ve forgotten I’d run out of milk the day before and it’s been pissing it down for three days continuously. For a reason I can’t be bothered to fathom, this lad has turned up ahead of the others.

Impatiently, I usher him in out of the rain and, without speaking, he shuffles through the door. I curse him for dumping his dripping bag onto his desk, and he wipes the surface water with his coat sleeve, creating a small but significant waterfall over the sides.

What follows might be unremarkable, but it stays with me: I am getting the chairs down from the desks when, still silent, he starts to help. I watch him for a moment before continuing. When we’ve finished, I return to my desk and sort through random worksheets.  He speaks: 

“Sir: can I give anything out for you?”

I look at him. He’s one of the quiet yet soulful types: big, warm, brown eyes, eager to please. My surprise is an embarrassment of blurts: I thank him as I hand over the sheets; I thank him again as he carefully place each sheet on each desk; finally, I thank him for the umpteenth time as he and his comrades leave the room on the next bell. 

But it has lifted my whole week like nothing else might have done. And to this moment, I can’t work out why such a tiny gesture moves me as much as it does.

Perhaps he has caught me at a low ebb; perhaps it is the fact that such acts of kindness seem few and far between if you’re not looking for them; perhaps it is simply the quiet courage of this boy’s approach. 

And so I see this individual, and those like him, in a strange new light.  

Having just read this, I went away from my desk for a while only to return later and to find a post-it note stuck where I couldn’t miss it on my ‘phone. It has been written by a younger pupil (the writing is a giveaway) who could have had no idea how busy and stressful a day I had had to that point. The note read:

Headmaster.

This is just a note to say thank you for all that you do.

We don’t see that you work when we are not in school.

Thank you.

Suddenly my day became so much brighter!

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.

Idleness can be good for you! -Headmaster’s Blog – Wednesday 12th April 2017

April 12, 2017
flying-aeroplane

Idleness can be good for you!

Each week I include a quotation at the top of our bulletin to parents and repeat this on my Monday briefing notes for staff. I pick up the quotations in various ways. Sometimes it is something I have seen on a classroom wall, read in a newspaper or simply researched using a theme that seems appropriate for the time of the year.

Just this week I had a staff member come to see me and she was brandishing a copy of the quotation I had used at the end of the term. When someone approached me in this fashion (as reported in another blog) I get momentarily rather nervous: is this for good or for ill? In this case it was the former. She wanted to say how encouraged she had been by the quotation and had, now that the holidays were underway, taken the advice literally by sitting on a bench under a tree and lying back observing the sky. This was the quotation:

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time

(John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury 1834-1913, English naturalist)

We will all find our leisure and our rest in different ways and that in itself is good. The important thing is that we do rest, recuperate and refresh. I think it was John and Charles Wesley’s mother, Susanna, who had 19 children and the only way she could find a time to rest (and to pray) was to sit in her kitchen with a towel over her head! When she did this for a few minutes each day her children (and husband, Samuel) knew they should give her space.

It is important, in my view, that couples give each other ‘space’ to be themselves. This may be to allow each other to pursue a hobby or meet with a friend, to go for a walk alone or even to indulge in an extreme sport. I mention the latter only in so far as I was privileged to receive a birthday present of a flight in a 4-seater aircraft this week. My wife was offered a seat, too, but felt it best that I experience this ‘lifetime wish’ on my own – or at least with an experienced pilot! It was indeed exhilarating and, for me, an unusual and unexpected treat.

flying-aeroplane

Taking the opportunity to do an extreme sport or something which’d been on your wish list – part of relaxing when on holiday.

Our children will observe how we take our rest and refreshment and this will give them an example and a lead for their own lives, of course. Let’s not scorn the moments to ‘stop and stare’ (perhaps with mobile technology turned off), to rest a while and to ‘listen to the murmur of the water’.

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.

Spanish Exchange Trip 2017 – Post Five

April 11, 2017

Spanish Exchange Trip 2017 – Post Five

For our other posts from the 2017 Spanish Exchange Trip with El Centro Ingles, see Post Four,  Post Three, Post Two and Post One.

A fantastic end to our Spanish Exchange for 2017. 

We spent time in school participating in a Spanish conversation lesson, then took part in the school’s annual giant salt picture, creating the Ballard School shield!

salt-picture-Ballard School-sheild-Spain

The Ballard School shield – created out of salt!

salt-picture-spain

More of the salt pictures created in the school’s annual salt picture making day.

The Ballard students were a credit to their families and their school, embracing every new experience with enthusiasm and mixing so well with the Spanish students. We’re already looking forward to their return visit at the end of June 2017.

wp-1491905795098.

Mrs B receiving a shield to thank her for her work with the Spanish Exchange.

Mrs B was very touched to be presented in assembly with an engraved school shield by the Spanish school, thanking her for her contribution to the exchange.

We tweet from @BallardSchool. For more from our Modern Foreign Languages department, please visit their webpage.

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.

 

 

 

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