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Taking a sounding – Headmaster’s Blog – Wednesday 7 February 2018

February 7, 2018
Taking a sounding blog Ballard

Taking a sounding

Giving opinions – on everything!

We live in a world of opinion polls and questionnaires. No sooner had I got back from Poole A&E (a finger injury from hockey, of course) than an email popped up asking me for feedback on the service received (excellent indeed). Within ten minutes of leaving the school I was inspecting last week, I received a message from the Independent Schools’ Inspectorate asking me to go to their website and compete my assessment on the inspection team and the support I’d received. It can all be rather too bewildering at times!

Ballard ISI and OFSTED image

Ballard – Excellent and Outstanding in inspections in 2017

Pupil feedback

From time to time we survey sections of the pupil body to ask them how they are doing within a particular year group. We have just done this for Year 6 and have then fed back some of the outcomes to their parents during a ‘transition meeting’. We are aware, for example, that in the maintained sector pupils make a big move from primary to secondary school after Year 6. Ballard parents who have experience of some of their children undergoing such moves in the State sector, have described the experience of their children as being like falling off a high cliff into a scary unknown!

Here at Ballard we try and make this ‘jump’ as smooth as we can by introducing some of the changes earlier but gradually. So, for example, Year 6 will have their lunch before the rest of the Upper Prep and the Seniors. They will begin some of the senior curriculum in Year 6 – and thus be accelerated a little – whilst at the same time continuing to have some lessons in their Form base and with teachers with whom they are familiar. They are included in the Upper Prep assemblies but won’t be expected to lead these as a Form whilst in Year 6. Their homework assignments are also adapted to make for a smoother and more manageable transition by emphasising core subjects initially before gradually including other subjects. ‘Softly, softly’ is the approach and we are continuing to adjust and adapt this key transition point – and hence the recent meeting with Y6 parents and the pupil questionnaire.

So, is it working?

What did the Y6 survey show?

In answer to the question,

‘What has been the best part about Y6 so far?’

we had answers like:

  • Design Technology,
  • more freedom and responsibility,
  • first to lunch,
  • role play,
  • cake sales
  • and mixed games.

‘What have you found hardest to date?’

Here the answers included

  • organisation,
  • homework,
  • making friends
  • and our break time balls are sometimes ‘taken’.

‘If you could choose one thing to change, what would it be?

  • More break time,
  • a 25 metre pool,
  • allowed on the Astro in morning break,
  • wellies!

And, finally,

‘Did you find the transition difficult – and what could be done to improve it?’

  • Help with organisation,
  • Fine – just getting to know my way around the senior block,
  • using the log book.

Giving Ballard the ‘thumbs up’

Parents also mirrored much of the above but, in the main, gave the ‘thumbs up’ to the relatively smooth transition process. Change, of course, is one of the things which we all find hard. It can be exhilarating and exciting at times but also nervy and daunting.

Surveys and the ‘pupil voice’ help but most of all we try to listen and respond with sensitivity and realism.

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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