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Headmaster’s blog – 1st June 2011

June 1, 2011

I attended a conference recently at which the keynote speaker spoke about happiness and well-being. He pointed out that the 2007 UNICEF report on the developed countries of the world had the UK only at 21st on a well-being survey (with the Netherlands first, followed by Sweden and then Finland).

The speaker, Professor John West-Burnham (Visiting Professor of Educational leadership at Queen’s, Belfast, and Bristol University), pointed out that one of the main factors in improving well-being, not least amongst school children, was a whole-hearted engagement in activities. At Ballard we believe in a holistic, all-round, education and so we are currently involved in a review of our extra-curricular programme.

Whilst sport, the performing arts and outward bounds (especially the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme) remain strong and well attended, many other activities are not fully supported. Part of the reason for this may be the focus on GCSEs by the time a pupil reaches Year 10 and, in some cases, because a pupil is fully involved in a club or society outside of school. I do wonder, however, if there are some young people who do not engage in many after-school activities because the alternatives such as leaving school at 4.10 pm or having a supervised prep, are too ‘easy’. 

For some families, of course, these latter options are essential (and I have no quarrel with this) but I’d like to think that for most children on at least one day a week an activity after lessons was an invaluable option. One of our School aims is this: ‘…we believe all our pupils are entitled to an education that extends beyond the purely academic. Therefore, pupils are actively encouraged to take part in a wide range of artistic, creative, cultural, musical, sporting and other extra-curricular activities’.

Prepare for more encouragement by staff in this area – and I hope parents are able to support us fully in this process!

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