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New York 2017 – Day one (part 2)

February 19, 2017
All wave!

New York Trip 2017 – Day one (part 2)

 

We have our first New York Day one blog entry here!

Mr M writes:

Fantastic journey from Ballard to Manhattan.

 

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Waiting patiently to check in to our hotel

 

NYC bathed in sunshine as we reached the hotel in Times Square.

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This is the view from our hotel!

We all patiently waited to check in as we had arrived at our hotel earlier than we expected.

Once checked in and unpacked we toured Times Square.

Dinner was at the Bubba Gump restaurant, right in the heart of Manhattan.

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Our tired group is ready for bed and getting an early night – as we have an early start tomorrow!

 

 

Off to New York 2017 – Day one 

February 18, 2017
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Ready to go, even with the early start there’s still some smiles!

Update 19.50 UK time: Arrived safely at the hotel. The journey was great with no problems. The sun is out in Manhattan!

Relaxing on the plane!

Working in extra time – Headmaster’s Blog – Wednesday 15th February 2017

February 15, 2017
exam-study-Ballard-School

Working in extra time

We are all used to the concept of sports’ fixtures, especially cup competitions, having to go into extra time to bring about a decisive result. These can be very nervous times for the players and spectators with increased pressure on officials, not least if the dreaded penalty shoot-outs are needed!

The notion of access arrangements

Many parents, however, will be less used to the concept of extra time in school exams. Very few will have experienced this aspect of school testing themselves unless they are part of our very diligent, cheerful and committed group of volunteers who assist us at Ballard in the school exam season. Over the past ten years, and especially the last five, the number of ‘exam concessions’ and ‘access arrangements’ have grown. These are designed, to return to the sporting analogy, to ‘level the playing field’ for all exam candidates. Such concessions are not easily granted – there is a stringent set of criteria which needs to be met and a great deal of observation and recording by staff in school to ensure any concession is justified. The Exam Boards then need to agree. Such ‘access arrangements’ can range from a pupil being supervised in a separate room (perhaps because of anxiety issues or other phobias), to the use of laptops or coloured paper, the facility of a reader or scribe for the exam paper and, of course, the granting of more time to complete a paper – typically 25% extra. The management of all of this is immense and can really stretch a school’s resources, rooming and staffing.

Department of Enhanced Learning at Ballard

Here at Ballard we go out of our way to ensure ‘access arrangements’ are fully justified and then properly and sensitively administered. Our Department of Enhanced Learning is at the centre of all such professional work but, as I’ve noted, we are immensely grateful to parent, staff and other helpers to ensure we can facilitate the concessions. I was thus extremely interested to note the reports in the Press this past week which highlighted the emphasis given to such ‘access arrangements’, especially in the independent sector. ‘Independent schools more likely to get extra time’ was the much trumpeted headline. Here is a summary of some of the coverage:

Media coverage of access arrangements

Analysis of last year’s GCSE and A-level entries by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme shows that independent school pupils are more likely to receive extra time to complete their exams, with one in five students at the fee-paying schools granted extra time, compared to fewer than one in eight pupils from state schools. Ofqual said the difference may arise because independent schools are more ready and able to find students entitled to more time, while HMC, a group representing independent schools, attributed it to “proper resourcing” which “can be lacking in state maintained schools.” Peter Hamilton, headteacher at the Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School, described the matter as a “good news story” as it shows improvements in identifying pupils’ special needs and delivery of a fairer exam process for them. Geoff Barton, head teacher of Bury St Edmunds’ King Edward VI School, is less welcoming, saying the data raises “some serious questions for schools.” The Joint Council for Qualifications commented that fairness is ensured “by the process being the same, irrespective of location or type of school or college.” Elsewhere, Judith Woods in the Telegraph suggests that some children in private education are sheltered by “over-generous” attempts to give them an advantage, including the provision of exam extensions.

My only additional comment would be that, in keeping with most independent schools, at Ballard we will go the ‘extra mile’ to try and meet the reasonable and legitimate needs of all of our pupils to make sure they can give of their best in exam conditions. Often those who qualify for such ‘access arrangements’ are very bright, creative and hardworking but have some ‘disability’ to overcome and it’s only just and fair to enable them to be given appropriate support. Such concessions can lessen anxiety, increase confidence and allow pupils to excel in all areas of their studies as once a need is recognised and understood, our caring and nurturing teachers can also adapt their teaching and support to ensure all the children in our school can receive and achieve their best.

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.

Saving Lives – Headmaster’s Blog – Wednesday 8th February 2017

February 8, 2017
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Saving lives

We have just hosted our third lecture in our annual Spring Term series. This was led by Konrad Grossey, a Chartered Civil Engineer, and he gave a fascinating insight into engineering by drawing on his thirty years of experience with many different projects around the world. He is currently engaged with the Qatar motorway programme which will see a two-way ten-lane road plus an additional cycle route! As a part of his talk, Mr Grossey claimed that civil engineers had saved more lives than doctors since the Nineteenth century – and this got me thinking.

The evidence which Mr Grossey pointed to were the projects from the 1840s onwards in the UK which were geared towards improving public health: water supplies and sewerage disposal in particular. Fresh drinking water and waste disposal certainly enabled a greater emphasis on hygiene and have undoubtedly had a massive impact on enhancing life expectancy and improving the quality of our lives. Moreover, much of the talk also featured the work that engineers are doing to meet the expected 30% increase in the world population by the years 2050. Apparently 7 out of every 10 people will be living in cities by then (compared to 2 in 10 back in 1900) and this clearly requires significant infrastructure but also attempts to mitigate the effects of resource depletion such as fossil fuels and raw materials. Essential, and fascinating, eco projects are underway in many countries and here at Ballard our Eco Committee is researching what more we can do to help in our small corner of the world.

I certainly don’t want to take issue with the invaluable work which has been done globally by engineers of all types. (I have a brother-in-law who is a Civil Engineer in Australia and in Hong Kong and a father who was a mechanical engineer in his younger years. Both of them have played their part in improving the quality of life for the rest of us.) The work of the medical profession is, of course, invaluable, too, and our next lecture (on the 2nd March) will focus on opportunities within the NHS. I would like, however, to put in a word for education!

As Mr Grossey pointed out, if you want to be a civil engineer then you will almost certainly have to study Maths and Science to a high level – with Design Technology, Art, Geography and English also very important, too. Even my subject, History, got a positive mention as much of the work of engineers is involved in preserving historical buildings and sites and managing these to fit in with modern demands.

Education in its many forms, in the home and in schools (etc.), has also been a life saver. Engineers and doctors would not be where they are without it! Clearly it is an holistic approach to improving the quality of life which is paramount and I was struck by Mr Grossey’s emphasis on the importance of teamwork in his profession (involving designer, surveyor, planner, communicators and engineers of every kind). We apparently need 450,000 more engineers in the UK by 2020 and as many as two and a half million more worldwide. Education needs to continue to do all it can to promote this and also to dispel the gender inequality in this profession – but that’s another story!

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

Artistic Impression 2016/17 #5 – Tuesday 7th February 2017

February 7, 2017
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Artistic Impression #5  -Upper Prep focus

All that’s funky…

 

Some of our Year 7’s are creating Funky Fish using MDF as the base and then adding collage materials to create the eye and other decoration. Some of the pupils are using door knobs for eyes and wooden spoons for tails.

 

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Our Funky Fish get a make-over with nail details

Most are also adding nails and screws to create fins or for decorative purposes, some will paint the nails and some will thread beads onto them.  Some are using wire with beads and washers on them. The funkier the idea the better!

Year 8s go ‘Cubist’

Year 8’s are looking at Cubism, here you can see the students working on an artist research page, copying a painting by Picasso, Gris or Braque the three main Cubist artists. It’s a great way for them to learn how to use acrylic paints, learning how to colour match and blend their colours.

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Music and Cubism

Art Workshops in January

Year 8 go large

 Year 8 ‘s theme this year is Music in its broadest sense. So far they have worked on a musical still life, working from observation, learning fundamental drawing , shading and mark making skills. They have looked at the Cubists as an artist research project and are now working on a cubist collage. They are now moving onto a musical clay project.

Once again we invited artist Steve Porter to come and work with our Year 7s and 8s. Steve designed some gigantic imaginative musical instruments. He made the wire and card armature, brought these into school for our Year 8s to work from. The pupils then applied papier Mache using newspaper and tissue paper and then painted them.

Year 7s go ‘into the deeps’

Steve, knowing that our year 7 theme for the year was the Sea, in its broadest sense, he decided on a mermaid. Steve designed and created the armature out of chicken wire and a cardboard box for the rock. Once again pupils took it in turn to come and work with Steve, spending approximately 25 mins with him. They applied papier Mache to the outside using newspaper and tissue paper, using acrylic paint for the final detail.

Year 7 have worked on seascape weaving (see other Artistic Impression blogs) , observation drawings of mackerel using various mediums, experimentation with different materials to re-create the mackerel.

Year 7 are now either working on Funky fish using wood, nails, paint, washers, door knobs and anything else we can find and others will be working on a clay project.

 

For more information on our Art department please visit our Art page on our Ballard School website.

Ballard School is co-educational, independent 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 power of ‘yet’ – Headmaster’s Blog – 1 February 2017

February 1, 2017
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I was reading a fellow Headmaster’s bulletin message recently and came across this statement:

We have continued our positive mindset theme this week by looking at ‘the power of yet’. The pupils were encouraged to no longer think “I can’t do this”, but instead, to think “I can’t do this yet”. I am sure I am not alone in having faced obstacles in the past and, at the time, they seemed impossible to overcome. However, with determination, perseverance and support we slowly realise that they can eventually be achieved.

Here at Ballard we have been running a course for staff on ‘mindfulness’. Part of the emphasis is to train our minds – and thus our actions and thought processes – to ensure that we approach life positively and in a more measured and less stress-riddled way. Such techniques are not easy to adopt, especially if habits and ‘normal’ responses are ingrained. On a mundane level I have been trying to cut out sugar from my tea (‘I can’t do this – yet’ but I am reducing the granules). I have also been disciplining myself not to access emails after 9.00pm (mostly successful but not entirely so – yet). These small changes to my lifestyle are intended to improve my quality of life, my health and my rest. Let’s see!

This week I was also learning alongside other Headmasters from our local maintained secondary schools. We meet termly for a non-agenda lunch meeting away from lists, emails, formal meetings and ‘phone calls. Our conversation ranged from catchment areas and grammar schools to school structures, facilities and events and finished on retirement (not yet!) and holidays. I was challenged by one of these Heads, the longest serving amongst our number, who said that in 37 years of teaching he reckoned he had only had ten days when he really didn’t enjoy his work. I had to admit that I had many more days in my professional career when I found things tough, dispiriting and not enjoyable but the challenge from this wise ‘old’ Head was that it has got a great deal to do with our attitude and approach from the moment we start each day. As those who know me will be aware, I do have a faith perspective which helps to infuse and, I trust, drive my life but I shall re-double my efforts to adopt an even more positive approach and whilst it may be I won’t manage this every day, I will take with me the exhortation: ‘I can’t do this – yet’ and so continue to persevere in being positive! It was Rudyard Kipling who wrote: ‘If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it…’  (written in 1895).

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

Taking a risk overseas – Headmaster’s Blog – 24 January 2017

January 24, 2017
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I read this week in the Press with some alarm (but not without understanding) that, owing to the increased risk of terrorist attacks on mainland Europe, there had been a significant decline in foreign exchange trips. The ‘I’ newspaper reported: What was once a rite of passage for teenagers studying languages is increasingly being abandoned by headteachers due to the rise of terrorism in countries like France and Germany. In fact, as the ‘paper went on to explain, since the 1990s the school foreign exchange trip has gone into significant decline and after a 2014 YouGov survey for the British Council it was discovered that just 30% of state schools offer the trips although 77% of independent schools still provide exchanges. Three years on and the impression is of further slippage.

There are, of course, other factors at work here: rising costs as the pound takes a hammering, the concern over visa fees and entry controls once Brexit finally happens and increased paperwork, not least regarding safeguarding. I do ‘get’ this and appreciate that many factors need to be weighed up carefully. As someone who has taken trips out of the UK to the then USSR, the Netherlands, South Africa and Canada I appreciate the work involved and the care needed in the execution of trips. I also understand the concern over terrorism and crime and we should, of course, always consider Foreign Office advice. For example, going to South Africa with a girls’ hockey team definitely required special preparation in the face of reports about armed robberies and unrest but we assessed the risk, took advice, consulted widely and then proceeded with caution but also with confidence – and this trust was rewarded many times over. Two trips to the Soviet Union with sixth formers at a time when such trips were considered highly unusual – and as a serving CCF army officer – posed different obstacles but these were overcome to the great benefit of all of us on the trip (and, I trust, to our hosts, too).

It is, of course, a sad truism that terrorism can strike anywhere – as can the unforeseen accident or misfortune. At Ballard we still believe in the importance of calculated risk. At one level we let children climb trees (and, occasionally, fall out of them). We have foreign exchange trips to France, Germany and Spain – as well as a Year 6 residential trip to Normandy each year. Moreover, we have recently achieved the British Council’s accolade of ‘International Schools’ Award’ (not bad for a relatively small school in leafy Hampshire) and were privileged to be part of the Comenius Project for three years which took us into several European countries and enabled return visits here. Annually we welcome visitors from Japan and currently have a one-week visit of several Chinese pupils in Years 8 and 9. The English Department has been cultivating our link with Hebron School in India (pen pals). Just today one of our Year 11 girls was busy selling her home-baked cakes as part of the fundraising for our bi-annual expedition to Kenya. In 2015 this very trip was threatened by fears of growing unrest in northern Kenya. Rather than cancel it we decided to take advice and to re-schedule to go to Tanzania – although in the event Kenya was in fact safe to visit. It won’t be long, too, before senior pupils head off to New York – a trip that’s continuing despite a change in the Oval Office!

Just yesterday, in the first of our prestigious annual lecture series, we listened enthralled to ‘a globetrotting doctor’ whose brother had been at our school when it was Edinburgh House. Dr Iain Nicholson trained at Guy’s Hospital in London but, following an exciting time in Tanzania as part of his clinical studies (where he was left in charge of a men’s ward despite being ‘only’ a medical student and then went on to deliver three babies in short order – in another hospital, I might add!) he decided that service overseas was for him. This took him variously to Australia, Honk Kong and, for many years, to Saudi Arabia. He gave very good reasons for ‘opening our horizons’ and laid down a challenge that there was so much more to travel than just sitting on a beach and sipping cocktails!

I fear that if we listen too much to the naysayers and doom mongers and jump every time sometimes nasty happens beyond our shores, we shall retreat behind our coastline to defend ‘Little England’ and fail to benefit from not only the experience of mixing with people of other cultures and creeds but we will also rob them of meeting us and being able to impart something of our understanding and ideas! Now there’s a thought…

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

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