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The not so ‘soft skills’ – Headmaster’s Blog – Monday 4th September 2017

September 4, 2017
Ballard 16 year old testimony

The not so ‘soft skills’

GCSE results’ week

This past week has been rightly taken up with analysing the latest GCSE results – and commending pupils and staff on their fine achievements:

· A five year high with 89% of our pupils achieving five or more A* to C grades (including English and Maths)

· 97% gaining maths and 94% gaining English (44% gained A or A* in English)

· 100% success in seven departments (two others only having one pupil under a C)

It is obvious that a huge amount of time and effort has gone into these superb results at Ballard- I include parents in this commendation, too – and so it’s only natural to spend time focusing on them.

Feedback from delighted Ballard parents

We have recently received a number of letters and emails from parents of Year 11 leavers thanking us for what we have done in partnership with them over the years. Amongst much else I was struck by the following comment:

‘As I mentioned in my email to (the Headmaster) at the end of term it is the soft skills Ballard teaches their pupils which makes it stand out from the other local schools. These skills might not always be appreciated by the teenager but will be by the time they are an adult!’

Promoting soft skills

Just yesterday there was a radio news feature on the Prince’s Trust in which these soft skills were being promoted. The feature mentioned how vital it was for the future success of young people and include communication skills (handshakes, eye contact, ‘hellos’), teamwork and confidence. The programmer quoted some statistics: 91% of teachers feel school should do more to promote ‘soft skills’ and 50% of young people feel unprepared for society because they lack them.

Ballard Alumni on soft skills

There is never a place for complacency and we shall continue to promote these ‘old-fashioned’ disciplines and virtues at Ballard, but it was also heartening to receive the following email comment from someone who left Ballard four years ago:

‘I am now in my second year of a four year course of study at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff and regularly see the impact that my time at Ballard has had. I have been commended on ‘soft skills’ such as a firm handshake and knocking properly on an interview door, which I recall have their roots in a rigorous session with Mr. Marshall in PSHE in the dance studio where we learnt the value of doing those very things! The presentation skills, learnt via a combination of Mrs. Blake’s English lessons and speaking in assembly, have proved to be so useful at a conservatoire, being on stage. And even just taking pride in your personal appearance for work, a value instilled at Ballard, has been invaluable. They do seem like the simplest of skills, the small ones learnt peripherally to academic lessons, but I now realise that they are the most important of all, and I don’t feel I would have learnt that at just any other school.’

Skills such as these won’t appear in any ‘league table’, of course, and cannot be measured – but they are timeless and clearly so important. I will leave off with a comment from one of this year’s Y11 leavers to show that ‘soft skills’ have indeed been noted by this 16 year old at least:

‘Ballard has given me everything I need so that I can go forward and achieve anything I want in the future.’

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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