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All in a motto? – Headmaster’s Blog – Wednesday 17 January 2018

January 17, 2018

All in a motto?

Most major companies have mottos, key statements or ‘strap lines’ as part of marketing and these will sometimes evolve over time. Coca Cola, for example, have gone from ‘Good til the last drop’ (1908), to ‘Enjoy Life’ (1923) to ‘Coke knows no season’ (1947) and, of course, ‘It’s the Real Thing’ (1969). Coca Cola (or Coke) has had 57 different tag lines since being launched in 1886 and today uses the slogan ‘Taste the feeling’ (2016). (It’s interesting, as an aside that Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ tag line has survived virtually unscathed since 1988.)

Ballard strap lines over the years

2016.3.1 minibus

At Ballard we used to use the informative ‘strap line’ of ‘one journey from Nursery to GCSE’ and this still appears on most of our buses.

More recently we have started to use ‘bespoke education’ – an image from tailoring where we endeavour to ‘clothe’ the child appropriately depending on their needs, interests and aspirations (and within practical reason)! Throughout all of this change, however, our school motto In Novitate Sensus has remained unchanged.

Mottoes uncovered

The word ‘motto’ is derived from the Latin ‘muttum’ – or ‘mutter’ – and is a maxim or a phrase designed to summarise the general intention / motivation of an organisation, individual or family. An article in the Independent recently summarised some research into the use of mottoes in history and then in schools:

When landed families built their castles, stately homes or manors, they asked the king’s permission to take up, or retain, arms. But their serfs or yeomen could not necessarily read. What better than to devise a shield of four or five colourful symbols embellished with simple text or a strapline? Then to carry that same shield into battle? A bit like hoisting a flag or blowing a trumpet. Impress friend and enemy alike. Show off your wealth and lineage. Whole centuries later, an unassuming inner-city comprehensive discovers that the 4-by-5in breast pockets stitched onto its newly ordered maroon blazers are exactly the right size to take a shield and an end-of-year target. Very soon, after commencement of autumn term, everybody is singing from the same hymn sheet. Literally. Obviously, the governors’ mission statement of 222 very solemn words is a little difficult to print on each purple football strip. Therefore brevity has to take pride of place.

Ballard vision

We have several documents at Ballard outlining what we stand for and these include our Vision Statement, a paper on Aims and Objectives (7 of these), key values – the Ballard Bs (also 7) – and, finally, a list of expected pupil outcomes (from a pupil and also a teacher perspective) and these number 7, too. It was thus some relief when I read the article above, and to note the research into school mottoes, that our three-word motto, seems to hit the right ‘note’. Godfrey Homes, the author of the article, writes:

In rhetoric, the number “three” is of great importance. It is often said we hear nine pieces of information, pay attention to three, remember one! Also three possibilities don’t sound as narrow, as abrupt, as two.

In Novitate Sensus


So In Novitate Sensus, what does this mean in English? In long hand it is:

‘By the renewing of your mind’

(and is a quotation from Paul’s letter to the Romans in the New Testament). In shorthand we would say, ‘Renewing your mind’, and hopefully encapsulate our values of honesty, curiosity, being respectful, responsible, kind, safe and positive, by suggesting that it’s only when we allow our minds to be changed and trained that these qualities can truly take root and grow. One word only? ‘Renewing’.

What’s your 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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