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Ask interesting questions! – Headmaster’s Blog – Wednesday 27th September 2017

September 27, 2017
Ballard Asking interesting questions!

Ask interesting questions!

One of the things I most enjoy about being a Schoolmaster is having a walk round school, interacting with staff and pupils and occasionally being asked the most extraordinary things!

Questions from the playground


By Brocken Inaglory

Take today (Tuesday), for example. I was on the main car park as usual ’first thing’ and was asked by a Lower Prep pupil (Years 3-5) as he arrived at school: ‘What causes fog?’ My brain had to whirr back to A Level Geography and I managed a few simplistic points (warm seas and cold air over land – or is it the other way round?) before suggesting the pupil speak with his Geography teacher. No sooner had I been challenged with that query then the next one came along – and this time from a teacher. When I remarked about him coming in carrying two coffee mugs, he wanted to know where all his others have gone. Apparently teachers borrow mugs from the staff rooms, don’t return them and they simply then ‘disappear’! Presumably, to continue the Geography theme, there is a whirlpool or vortex somewhere that sucks in mugs?

Questions through morning break

Ballard Break time table tennis

Break time at Ballard

My next interesting question came at morning break when I was ‘out and about’.

‘Sir, where have all the table-tennis balls gone?’

(Presumably yet another black hole somewhere!) It seems that these balls find themselves onto the canopy roofs following somewhat exaggerated shots across the tables. I wonder what I shall be asked at lunch break…

‘I think you need to be seen around school more, sir’


And so why am I sharing this with you? I suppose it’s because I was struck in particular by a conversation I had last evening with a fellow Headmaster who was visiting Ballard as part of our annual Sixth Form Exhibition. He told me that one of our former pupils who had gone to his school for Years 12 and 13, was being interviewed by him as Headmaster for a senior pupil position in school. The pupil was asked if he had any suggestions for the Head and responded, ‘I think you need to be seen around school more, sir’. That was a bold thing to say but my colleague took it on the chin and has increased his presence around school in consequence.

‘Not now, dear, can’t you see I’m busy’

It’s easy in all walks of life to be ‘too busy’ for those questions whether they be inane, serious or simply bizarre. They might come from our own children (’Not now, dear, can’t you see I’m busy’), the work colleague with a pastoral concern (‘Can you make an appointment with my secretary?’) or the neighbour who ‘yet again’ must talk to us for ‘just a few minutes’ (Oh, no, here we go once more – and I haven’t time at present). Clearly there is a balance in life and we do need personal space, quiet moments and opportunities simply to ‘stop and stare’. On the other hand, perhaps I just need to be more proactively available – and to be prepared for the unusual (‘Any ideas why there are so many acorns this year?) and the screamingly necessary: ‘My life is in a mess: please can I ask your advice?’

Alastair Reid (Headmaster and occasional ‘agony uncle’)

Photos: Fog – By Brocken Inaglory – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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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