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Tiny acts of kindness – and not so random – Headmaster’s Blog – Wednesday 26th April 2017

April 26, 2017
Blog post thank you headmaster

Tiny acts of kindness – and not so random

I have been studying the printed calendar for our new term and this week we have called the week ‘Random Acts of Kindness week’. As part of this I have been discussing with the Head of PSHE and the Coordinator for the Houses, how best we might introduce the week in assembly.

On the very day I was considering this, a colleague (unconnected with my discussions) passed me a link to an article in the Times Educational Supplement which is worth quoting at some length. It is a former Head’s reminiscence:

He is a kid who I’ve barely noticed before.

I’ve been teaching the class for just a few weeks and, as is always the case, certain heads are starting to raise themselves above the parapet: the defaulters, the jokers, the forgetful and the attention-seeking.

But this lad has been quietly going about his own business. He always gets the work done; he rarely forgets to bring equipment in. He does enough to get by; he never quite impresses. 

A quiet revelation

On this particularly Monday morning, my glass is decidedly half-empty: I’ve failed to clear the previous evening’s marking, I’ve forgotten I’d run out of milk the day before and it’s been pissing it down for three days continuously. For a reason I can’t be bothered to fathom, this lad has turned up ahead of the others.

Impatiently, I usher him in out of the rain and, without speaking, he shuffles through the door. I curse him for dumping his dripping bag onto his desk, and he wipes the surface water with his coat sleeve, creating a small but significant waterfall over the sides.

What follows might be unremarkable, but it stays with me: I am getting the chairs down from the desks when, still silent, he starts to help. I watch him for a moment before continuing. When we’ve finished, I return to my desk and sort through random worksheets.  He speaks: 

“Sir: can I give anything out for you?”

I look at him. He’s one of the quiet yet soulful types: big, warm, brown eyes, eager to please. My surprise is an embarrassment of blurts: I thank him as I hand over the sheets; I thank him again as he carefully place each sheet on each desk; finally, I thank him for the umpteenth time as he and his comrades leave the room on the next bell. 

But it has lifted my whole week like nothing else might have done. And to this moment, I can’t work out why such a tiny gesture moves me as much as it does.

Perhaps he has caught me at a low ebb; perhaps it is the fact that such acts of kindness seem few and far between if you’re not looking for them; perhaps it is simply the quiet courage of this boy’s approach. 

And so I see this individual, and those like him, in a strange new light.  

Having just read this, I went away from my desk for a while only to return later and to find a post-it note stuck where I couldn’t miss it on my ‘phone. It has been written by a younger pupil (the writing is a giveaway) who could have had no idea how busy and stressful a day I had had to that point. The note read:


This is just a note to say thank you for all that you do.

We don’t see that you work when we are not in school.

Thank you.

Suddenly my day became so much brighter!

Ballarfd School Headmaster Stairs Alastair Reid

Headmaster of Ballard School; Alastair Reid

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

We tweet from @BallardSchool 

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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