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Identikit pupils? – 14th October 2015 – Ballard School – Headmaster’s Blog

October 14, 2015

The following is a summary of some articles which appeared in the National Press last week:

Ballard School Headmaster and pupils

Ballard School Headmaster and pupils

Mary Curnock Cook, the new head of UCAS (Universities and Colleges Application Service), says City businesses are struggling to attract the right calibre of candidates for top jobs because applicants from the best schools have such narrow backgrounds. According to Ms Cook, pupils are “sleepwalking” though the same “identikit education experience” as generations before them by studying a narrow range of subjects at university, such as medicine and law. She also suggested that “instead of worrying about social engineering, independent schools should think about encouraging their students to be independent minded.”

I certainly applaud the emphasis on encouraging the independent minded and also on pupils and their parents considering other avenues into the world of work other than that via a university degree. Most of our leavers, after their sixth form courses and possibly a ‘gap year’, do go on to university. This year we have heard of those who are now studying at the LSE, Durham, Exeter and at Oxford Universities.

It has also been good to hear of other former pupils who are undertaking apprenticeships or going on to specialist music and performing arts colleges. A few have been taken on as ‘interns’ after their sixth form studies and are learning ‘on the job’ without at this point going through higher education, although they may pursue this avenue at a later date.

In endeavouring at school to encourage independent thinking and initiative – something we explore through PSHE, study skills and by providing challenge in the regular curriculum for research and private study – we are also trying hard to ensure pupils are aware of their post-GCSE options. Our recent sixth form ‘fair’ is a good case in point: of the 22 providers present we had a range of independent and maintained schools and colleges promoting a plethora of traditional courses through to agriculture, film studies and performing arts in both a day and a boarding setting. I don’t think we have yet arrived at the perfect model but we are striving to avoid ‘identikit pupils’!

Alastair Reid (Headmaster) @BallardSchool

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