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Making a personal statement – Headmaster’s Blog – Friday 20th May 2016

May 20, 2016
Ballard School Prefects Dinner 2016

Making a personal statement

Most of us are very used to composing a Curriculum Vitae (CV), filling in online application forms and putting together a personal profile. No doubt we have either sweated long and hard to work out what’s best to say or, perhaps, with time pressing have dashed off something which we hope hits the right note and gives the impression that we are exciting, creative and ‘with it’!

Over the past two weeks I have been privileged to do something which is one of the perks of my post: reading the application letters from prospective Y10 Senior Prefects, meeting all 38 applicants individually for an interview and also then receiving personal statements from each Y8 pupil (49 of them) and spending ten minutes discussing their move to Senior School – and beyond. This is a privilege because it gives me an insight into their achievements thus far and also their hopes for the future.

Prefects training

The Heads and Deputy Head Prefects from 2014-2015 attending a leadership day at Dean Close School

The Y10 applicants are, of course, trying to impress me somewhat as we go through the Prefect selection process (which also involves a confidential ‘vote’ by the outgoing Y11 Prefects as well as feedback from staff). Nonetheless, these young people can be very disarming. I always ask what they might find most difficult about the Prefect role (reading in assembly tops this list followed closely by managing the lunch queue) but every now and then I am taken by surprise. This year I was asked several times what I was looking for in a Prefect (hard work, service and a willingness to ’stand up and be counted’ even when the going is tough) and one applicant wanted to know whether or not we would manage the school routines effectively if we didn’t have any Prefects. (‘Not very well’, I replied.) I was also particularly struck this year by the number of Y10s who stated in their applications that they wanted to promote the School ethos. I always asked them what they thought this might be: Christian values, a sense of serving others and the ‘through school’ family were the regular responses. It’s a relief to know that that they sense all this and can articulate the ethos!

Interviews with Y8s can be even more stimulating as they are not so much trying to impress me as to share a little of their hopes and dreams. I try to steer them to thinking about what GCSEs they might take (but point out that Y9 still allows plenty of opportunity for consultation and review), how they might plan for work experience in the future and what particular opportunities await them (such as Young Enterprise, Sports Elite, the Duke of Edinburgh Award and further possibilities for leadership). We dwell for a few moments on what they have gained from being in the Prep School and how they might finish well with their residential trip (to Stratford) and, in addition to topic work, what they are planning for their English Speaking Board (ESB) assessment. The range of topics for the latter is especially varied: racism, justice for the 96, kayaking, Liverpool FC and wildlife photography were just a few mentioned.

All of us try and make a ‘personal statement’ in one way or another. I am in the honoured position of being a part of the process of formulating these on paper and then helping with interview presentations. I can report that the generation of tomorrow continue to be excited, creative and keen to make a difference in the world for the better!

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

Ed: Our slightly delayed publication of this week’s Headmaster’s Blog was to allow all the Yr8 interviews to occur this week!

Ballard School is an independent, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire, providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here.

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