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The Truth about British Teenagers – Headmaster’s Blog

February 27, 2014


A headline in the ‘i’ Newspaper this week caught my eye: ‘the truth about British teenagers: they are hard-working and caring’. I heartily agree!

In a recent survey of British teenagers (quoted in the ‘i’) some 81% of teenagers said that they felt unfairly represented in the media and 85% said that negative media stereotypes are affecting their chances of getting a job. I’m not sure that media stereotyping has changed that much over the years. In my teenage years we were often described as long-haired and hippies – only partly true in my case! (The long-haired part in case you were wondering.) We were certainly motivated by social and political issues – I remember being part of a ‘Free the Siberian 7’ march in London – but what has changed today is the way that social media can be harnessed positively to promote a message. In the same survey, some 38% of teenagers have signed an online petition and 87% expressed the opinion that social media is an effective way to gain momentum behind social issues. This is clearly another area of negative reporting (the dangers of social media) which does not fully ring true.

Recently we had two days of ‘reflective spaces’ in school.  Amongst much else, these ‘spaces’ gave our young people the opportunity to express concern for the wider world as well as our local community. We were impressed and moved by concerns expressed (via post-it notes on a world map) for education in the developing world and also for issues surrounding hunger, housing and child slavery. The ‘space’ on justice (‘Stop the Traffik’ and homelessness) inspired the pupils to produce their own petition and a poster.

The truth, therefore, about pupils at Ballard (both teenagers and the younger children) is that they are concerned for suffering in the world and also for issues of right and wrong. They really do care and are anxious to do what they can to ensure the world they are growing to inhabit and control is a better place than the one they were born into.


Alastair Reid


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