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Headmaster’s Blog 23 January 2012

January 23, 2012

On report

Over the past two weeks we have had four parents’ evenings. As always these are opportunities to let parents know how their children are doing academically and to deal with queries and concerns. In many instances the children accompany their parents (especially in the more senior years) so that they, too, can hear what the teacher has to say and they can then respond appropriately.

A significant and unusual difference this term is that many parents have approached me not simply to discuss their child’s performance but also to comment on the School’s progress – the recently received ISI inspection report. It is many years since I sat in on such a meeting as a parent ready to hear about my own child and so it was novel to be in that position again – but this time my ‘child’ is Ballard School! Fortunately our report has been so positive and encouraging that I have been able to bask in a wave of congratulation (not all deserved by me I should stress) as parents referred to the accolades, praise and rich commendations heaped on the School by the inspectors. Ballard School highly praised by inspectors’ was the banner headline in the local newspaper and this article brought out the strength of our learning ethos, our warm and friendly environment, the plethora of curricular and extra-curricular opportunities and the positive impact of our pastoral care.

As with any end-of-term school report and parents’ meeting, there is always the question – ‘what can I do better?’ Our ISI report made only three, relatively minor, recommendations. In each area we were already hard at work – and had raised them ourselves with the inspectors – and thus the recommendations were more of a spur to continue in the manner with which we had started. For example, in Early Years (where every single judgement by the inspectors bore the commendation ‘outstanding’) we have been encouraged to improve still further the resources for the Nursery. Over the last holidays, even before the report appeared, we replaced the outdoor play surface and we have identified further resources to enhance heuristic (‘trial and error’) play. A second recommendation concerned undertaking a review of homework and, in particular, the ways in which we can more fully communicate our expectations to both pupils and parents. This, too, is well underway with time given over to the matter in our staff meetings and a reassessment undertaken of our policies. Part of the response in this area links in with the third recommendation – to accelerate the implementation of a VLE (virtual learning environment). Our IT staff have been hard at work on the latter point for a while. We already have something called ‘SharePoint’ by which staff can share resources and information easily over the school intranet. Before long this will be trialled with some parents and pupils, too.

So, whilst we may be basking a little in the glow of the recent ISI report we are not standing still! There is always much to be done to make Ballard ‘better and better’!

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