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Values for life? – Headmaster’s Blog

May 16, 2014

I am currently attending the annual Heads’ conference of the Independent Schools’ Association (ISA) and we seem to have made the newspaper DSCF4928lowresheadlines already! Our conference theme is that of ‘values for life’ and our current chairman, Richard Walden, is quoted in today’s Press as saying, ‘State schools are creating an amoral generation’. The thrust of his keynote speech today was that our children need a rounded education which also provides a ‘moral compass for life’. With a Government elected on the back of a ‘Big Society’ debate, recent Prime Ministerial pronouncements of living in a Christian society, and with another of our speakers, the Right Reverend Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, claiming ‘ we need a the language of character and virtue in our public discourse’, there has been much stimulating discussion at large!
I am not intending at this juncture to delve too deeply into the minefield of the ‘Big Society’ or even that of the ‘Christian country’ dialogues, but I do feel encouraged by the re-emphasis of the importance of values. Our Student Council attended ‘We Day’ in London last term. This was proclaiming the importance of ‘we’ over ‘me’ and the prevalence of so much of a focus on ‘self’ in our society. The antidote to much of this is to look at public service in our communities, schools and nation. Having just read many Year 10 letters applying for Senior Prefect positions it has been heartening to note the reference to ‘giving back’ and to helping others in our own school family. Moreover, many of the personal statements of our Year 8s (ahead of their interviews with me as they move from the Prep to the Senior School) have also reflected on charitable works, listening to others and helping to overcome difficulty through constructive involvement in school and family life.
I was especially heartened last week, as was much of Ballard, by the good-natured and thoughtful values evident in the way our Year 11s celebrated their final day of formal schooling. Not only did they decorate the school tastefully – and even filled the senior staff room with over 4,000 balloons – but they wrote individually to every pupil in Years 9 and 10 and personalised their greetings and encouragements. These values of self-worth and a desire to build others up are evidence of integrity and basic good nature which need proclaiming at every opportunity so that we avoid the worst excesses of an amoral and individualistic, altruistic, society.

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

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