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Where do you think you’re going? – Headmaster’s Blog – Friday 26th May 2017

May 26, 2017
Ballard School where do you think blog

Where do you think you’re going?

I wonder what careers’ advice you had at school? As far as I can recall (it was the 1970s), we had a lecture once a term from a visiting professional who spoke about his career path after school. I do remember doing an aptitude test at the end of Year 11 which certainly gave me some useful pointers: I wanted to be an airline pilot and then a doctor but it was evident even without an aptitude test that these professions were likely beyond my scientific and mathematical understanding!

Working hard!

I was at a boarding school and I was certainly fortunate in my Housemaster who made good use of my test to point me towards humanities. Moreover, when I said to him that I wanted to teach and that because I had only been in independent schools I felt I should go into a state school, he didn’t put me off (there were many good maintained schools then, as now) but simply posed the question:

‘Where, Reid, do you feel you would be most fulfilled and make the greatest contribution?’

(Schoolmasters always used our surnames then and peers generally used nicknames – never first names!)

The 1970s, sadly, was a decade of disruption in many state schools and fewer extra-curricular opportunities were open to teachers to enthuse about and for me, as now, the essence of education was an holistic approach – and so I headed towards the private sector. The rest, as they say, is history (and, yes, that was my subject at university)!

Why am I mentioning all this?

This past week I have met with every Y8 pupil for a 10 minute one-to-one interview. In advance each pupil had written a ‘personal statement’ setting out their achievements to date, their ambitions for the future and their more immediate goals as they enter the senior school. I really enjoy these times as we explore interests, strengths and opportunities going forward. Most of the current Y8 already have some ideas about a future career path(s) and this was a help as we talked about GCSE options, work experience and further education. Later, in Y10, they will also have the chance to do an aptitude test, attend the Spring Lecture series and have a multitude of visitors through the weekly PSHE programme. Our Head of Careers runs a programme via the Form Tutor periods and will also help with advice over work placements at the end of Y11. There are also a plethora of helpful online resources.

Lecture Series 2 with Sarah Ali Choudhury

So, the question, ‘where are you likely to head off in life?’, may not have any easier response than it did in the 1970s but at least today there is more available and informed advice than ever before – plus an understanding that unlike someone from my generation there are likely to be several career paths ahead for today’s younger generation before they retire (assuming they ever do!).

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

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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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