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The Learning Mind, the Healthy Mind and the Relaxing Mind – Wednesday 16th May 2017

May 17, 2017
ISA conference winners London West

The Learning Mind, the Healthy Mind and the Relaxing Mind

Ballard School, New Milton – Headmaster’s Blog

I have just returned from the annual Independent Schools Association (ISA) conference – held this year in York. The structure of the conference itself lent its weight to the theme

The Learning Mind, the Healthy Mind and the Relaxing Mind

and, as with many things in life, it’s important to ‘do’ and not just to ‘say’.

There was a great deal of learning, and not just from the formal sessions. As is often the case when Heads gather, we share concerns, issues and joys from our own settings and, at the same time, explore ways of improving what we are doing. I talked with several Heads who lead schools of a similar structure to ours and our discussions ranged from the ‘shape of the day’ to the length of lessons and the spread of opportunities. It was often, however, in chatting with school leaders of very different establishments – the ISA is a wonderful mix of mainstream, specialist, infant, junior and senior schools – that I seemed to gain most. There were schools experimenting with online learning in order to deliver ‘minority’ subjects at GCSE and others were spending a lot of curriculum time outdoors (the Forest Schools), even on the beach.

The learning mind

Our sessions in the ‘learning mind’ ranged from politics (the likely complexion of education after June 8th) through to the challenges facing our sector as we cope with the digital age.

The healthy mind

The ‘healthy mind’ included a hilarious session on ‘permission to be happy’ in which we were given magic wands (to wave away the ridiculous emails) and ‘stick on’ moustaches (‘take a selfie now and look at it later when you need a lift’) and were encouraged to treat every day as though it was our birthday! Talks then followed on improving outcomes for all students (the 3 As of aspiration, access and achievement – and then a fourth, attainment, thrown in for good measure), character education, brain awareness week and elite leadership.

The relaxing mind

The ‘relaxing mind’ infused the three-day gathering (despite the pace of the programme) by enabling us to have some time to catch up with colleagues over refreshments, to attend a wonderfully uplifting evensong in York Minster, to enjoy a formal dinner in the National Railway Museum – and then another dinner, a black tie event, in the hotel on the final evening. As Twitter aficionados will no doubt have seen, I was also part of the all-conquering London West district of ISA as we lifted the ‘House points cup’ for the conference having gained over 550 points in the form of blue and gold coins for winning quizzes, garden games, a golf competition and, more seriously, time spent with the many exhibitors and sponsors.

I can’t say that I returned from the annual conference rested – there’s just too much to do, a distance to travel and the ever-present emails to keep you imbedded in your ‘day job’ – but I do hope I’ve learnt something about the necessity of balancing learning, health and relaxation in the ‘renewing of my mind’ (in novitate sensus), the school motto!

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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