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Spanish Exchange Trip 2018 – Post three

May 11, 2018

Ballard School’s Spanish Exchange 2018

This year our Spanish Exchange group have traveled to the south of Spain to meet with pupils from ‘The English Centre‘, near Seville.  You can visit their Facebook page here.

Our 2018 posts can be viewed here – Post one and Post two.

School time

This morning was first spent in school with the little children.

In school with the little ones

In school with the little ones

After that our pupils got their opportunity to present in assembly their presentations they had prepared.

Presenting in assembly

Presenting in assembly

Cadiz time

The afternoon was spent on a boat trip to Cadiz where we all had a chance to explore this amazing place.

Exploring Cadiz

Exploring Cadiz

Incredible Cadiz

Incredible Cadiz

Mr M remarked – the kids are really growing in confidence…great  to see!

Sightseeing in Cadiz

Sightseeing in Cadiz

 

For more from our our Modern Foreign Languages department, please visit our MFL page on our website.

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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Spanish Exchange Trip 2018 – Post Two

May 9, 2018

Ballard School’s Spanish Exchange 2018

This year our Spanish Exchange group have traveled to the south of Spain to meet with pupils from ‘The English Centre‘, near Seville.  You can visit their Facebook page here.

Visiting Osborne Bodega

Visiting the Bodega

No tasting allowed!

It was another busy day for the Ballard amigos…they visited Osborne Bodega to learn about the 250 year old sherry business…no tasting allowed!!

Having a tour of the Bodega

Listening carefully during the tour of the Bodega

Discussing the produce

Discussing the produce of the Bodega

El Puerto

Taking in the sites

Taking in the sites, including a bull-ring!

After the Bodega they took part in a quiz around El Puerto, learning about the town and lots of new Spanish vocabulary.

In El Puerto

Walking through El Puerto

After eating lunch at school they embarked on exchange partner work, preparing a presentation to an assembly to be delivered on Wednesday.

Preparing for their presentations

Preparing for their presentations

Mr M reports that our Ballard pupils and their exchange partners are getting on really well with each other – good news all round!

For more from our our Modern Foreign Languages department, please visit our MFL page on our website.

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.

Spanish Exchange Trip 2018 – Post One

May 7, 2018

Ballard School’s Spanish Exchange 2018

This year our Spanish Exchange group have travelled to the south of Spain to meet with pupils from ‘The English Centre‘, near Seville.  You can visit their Facebook page here.

Setting off to sunny Spain

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The gang arriving at Luton airport

We had some very excited pupils set off to Spain at midday on Sunday.
With a good flight from Luton to Seville (Thanks to Mr C for the lift to the airport), it was about an hour and a half drive to El Puerto and meeting our Spanish hosts.

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Heading off on the plane

Lots of smiles and excitement.

Our first day

Ready for day one!

Good morning – Ready for day one!

This morning we are in school going to lessons and preparing presentations for the younger pupils: Topics include Ballard School, New Forest, Royal family, Sports and music. All of this is a a great learning experience with our exchange partners.

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Working together

Trying our hand at Flamenco!

Trying our hand at Flamenco

Trying our hand at Flamenco!

This afternoon team building and flamenco dancing…not as easy as it looks!

Trust building exercises

Trust building exercises!

Everyone together after day one

Everyone together after day one

For more from our our Modern Foreign Languages department, please visit our MFL page on our website.

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.

Blind data? – Headmaster’s Blog – Wednesday 2 May 2018

May 2, 2018

Blind data?

We seem to live in a data-conscious, even obsessive, world. I am amazed when watching premiership football on TV to hear the commentators tell us how many yards someone has run, the number of minutes since a team last scored a goal away from home and at a particular venue and then to give us the percentage shots on goal of each side (and then divided up between strikers). There is a whiff of superstition in some of this: just because a team has had an unbeaten run for so many games and hasn’t achieved this for, let’s say over ten years, there’s almost a sense that this can’t happen again for another ten years – at least not when playing in their away strip in the same week they also had a Cup tie to play and when they were on their third manager of the season.

Data image

Has the world gone data tracking mad?

Has data tracking gone mad?

It’s clearly providing a great number of researchers, timekeepers, mathematicians and even historians – let alone commentators, data crunchers and (possibly) mystics – in work. Don’t get me wrong: I am all for meaningful employment and some interesting statistics and comparisons…but so much of it?

Schools and data…and GDPR

Schools, of course, are also full of data. I am about to attend my seventh GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) meeting in almost as many weeks tomorrow, as we seek to meet the 26th May deadline to come into line with the requirements of the new Act.

Many of us will have been receiving communications from charities, banks and online firms of late asking us to opt in to continue to receive their emails and offers. (If you haven’t been receiving these then either you don’t have many ‘business’ contacts online or, alarmingly, the contacts you have are ignoring the impending deadline and the potential threat of crippling fines!) This is actually a heaven-sent (actually Parliamentary-sent) opportunity to let some persistent business emailers know, politely, that you don’t want their services and that you actually never asked to receive their emails in the first place.

Let’s get away from it all (sometimes)

So, what’s my point?

I am not so naïve as to think we shouldn’t keep some data nor use it, perhaps at national level, to plan road and hospital, school and defence requirements. It’s also quite interesting (at least some of the time) to listen to sports’ pundits tell us how many times Tiger Woods has missed the ‘cut’ in golf or how many years, months and days (even minutes) since England last won the World Cup (in anything) – sorry, in Association Football. However, I do hope that like in some diabolical blind date, we don’t get so obsessed with the next set of statistics, that we become uptight and nervous about stepping out of the door, going online to buy something and end up as quivering wrecks.

Life, it seems to me, is more than the next set of weather stats, stock market report – even inflation figures. It’s also, even in schools, more than the next set of test results, assessment figures or data-driven labels.

Weighing scales

Numbers can be fun!

Numbers can be fun, as my grandson taught me last weekend when he discovered kitchen scales and so needed to weigh jars, packets and tins (he is only 4 years, after all).

Numbers, statistics and data, however, are only so much information which can often be open to a great deal of interpretation. Let’s get out into the countryside / the world nearby and far, ignore the temperature stats or the rainfall percentages on our mobile devices and take life a little less seriously and superstitiously and look for the simple and the serene.

Alastair Reid (Headmaster) – just about to sort out some data for an exam…oh, dear!

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.

Does a picture paint a thousand words?

April 25, 2018

Does a picture paint a thousand words?

Do you often find yourself at a loss for words – or perhaps for the right word? This is certainly an issue for me at times and is no doubt age-related as well as partly because of my residual stutter from my primary years! As someone who likes words, I am occasionally annoyed by the way nouns have become verbs (e.g. ‘she won a medal in the Olympics’ has become ‘she has medalled’) but then I remind myself that English has survived as a spoken language (whilst Latin, for example, has not) because it has been flexible and adaptable over the centuries.

A threat to our language…the emoji?

thumbs-up-emojis

Emojis for all occasions and expressions

A recent edition of the Daily Telegraph has highlighted a new ‘threat’ to language in general – the emoji! Emoji is defined as a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion so as to ‘liven up your text messages with tiny smiley faces’ (from an online dictionary). The problem here, it seems, is that these images are not simply being used to enliven text but to replace it. The Daily Telegraph (18/4/18) reports:

A YouTube survey of 2,000 people aged from 16 to 65 saw 94% say they believe there has been a decline in the correct use of English. Of these, four in five said young people were the worst offenders – even though the study found that almost three quarters of adults were dependent on emoji to communicate. Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: “Emoji convey a message, but this breeds laziness. If people think, ‘All I need to do is send a picture’, this dilutes language and expression.”

Personal reflections of emoji (over)use

A picture paints a thousand words?

Emojis taking away written communications?

I have to say that I am part of a few WhatsApp groups – one is with my family, collectively and individually (for private communication over presents and surprises, for example) and the other is with my hockey club. Messages to and from the members of these groups are liberally sprinkled with emojis and, on occasion, replace words entirely such as when a hockey player celebrates a goal scored (usually a hockey stick and a smiley face of some type). It seems to me that this type of informal, social, interaction is well suited to icon-strewn messages and can certainly mean the text is indeed enlivened. After all, many of us are visual thinkers and do find that ‘a picture paints a thousand words’. I think, however, that ‘the picture’ this saying has in mind is often more detailed and complex that those displayed in simple emojis.

Limiting vocabulary or expanding expression?

My concern, and that being expressed by the Campaign for Real Education, is when these images start to replace words in more formal emails and messages. Simple icons cannot give necessary depth to feelings, ideas and concepts and can all too easily lead to a ‘dumbing down’. Most worrying, of course, is when a person’s vocabulary is limited and constrained because they have not been exposed to more complex words and expressions which helpfully stretch our minds and cause us to think deeply. I suppose the use of icons can help at a basic level to facilitate communication between different language-speakers but that’s all they should be – a facilitator towards something more challenging and satisfying. Emoji may be the fastest-growing language in the world but this should not mean it replaces what we have but that it enhances and enlivens regular communication.

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.

Trips and outings – what are they worth?

April 17, 2018

Trips and outings – what are they worth?

 

This Easter we have had a group of forty pupils and staff away on a ski trip in Europe whilst another group, this time also including parents, left for a ten-day trip to India. A few weeks ago most of Year 9 visited the battlefields of Northern Europe for a day and, in the Spring half-term break, many of our Year 11s, enjoyed a cultural visit to New York City.

 

Group photo infront of the iconic Taj Mahal

Group photo in front of the iconic Taj Mahal

Are ski trips ridiculous and showing off?

Loving the snow!

Loving the snow!

So, why am I listing all this (a mere ‘snapshot’ of visits, trips and outings our pupils enjoy annually)? It’s because I read an article in the ‘I’ newspaper by Ms Jenny Eclair decrying ski trips as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘anything more exotic’ than a trip to the local baths to learn to swim ‘is just showing off’. She continues: ‘Expensive trips involving air fares are offensive and divisive, because the fact some children can’t afford to go on a class outing is horrific’.

Ms Eclair is entitled to her view and she does at least finish her article with the words,

‘the most important thing that any child should learn on a school trip is not to eat your packed lunch before 11am’.

She also admits to spending her own sixth form outing to art galleries in London buying a skirt in Topshop and does concede that outings to theatres and galleries are worthwhile even if the children only really want to visit the gift shop. I do accept that some of what Ms Eclair writes is tongue in cheek (at least I hope so) but I am more concerned that she has missed the point entirely of trips away from your own locality, time and space.

Raising money to visit ‘a new world’

Kenya party 2013 low res

I accept that some parents are more able than others to pay for ‘exotic trips’ but I am not convinced that because some can’t afford these that, therefore, no-one should go on them. I suppose this means that as not everyone can afford to run their own car that we should all use public transport all the time? In my experience, many of the pupils (and their parents) going on so-called ‘exotic trips’ scrimp and save, fund raise and go without other treats in order to experience a ‘new world’, a different culture and an opportunity to expand their horizons. Our bi-annual trip to Kenya, for example, necessitates a massive amount of fundraising partly for the individual concerned (cake sales, car washes, babysitting…) and also for the less well-off community they are going out to help. The advantages here are mutually beneficial.

The importance of residential trips

Trips which are more focussed on a single experience (such as a sports’ tour or a ski trip) are also of value. Many pupils are rarely away from home overnight (except for the ‘sleepovers’ after parties) and so an opportunity for a residential trip is not to be missed. These trips allow for both an experience of community-living and common sharing whilst also encouraging independence and self-reliance away from home – and this is all without considering the benefits of the sport, the scenery, the culture and the challenge of being in another setting.

Ms Eclair appears to think that pupils today should only experience what she did in the 1970s – a visit to Fleetwood Docks (taking your own sandwiches) and the occasional Sixth Form gallery visit with time to sneak off to the shops – and whilst I accept that not all trips are of equal value I do feel that most are of inestimable worth. I, too, was at school in the 1970s and one experience that especially remains with me was a visit to the Soviet Union as part of a History A level trip. I learnt, amongst much else, the value of money (raising the cost of the trip and also then seeing the deprivation in parts of the USSR), the importance of individual freedoms and the stimulus of a foreign culture, rich in history.

So, by all means think very carefully about a trip on offer and weigh up its costs against its likely benefits. Don’t despise the opportunities beyond your own locality, by all means guard your sandwiches carefully but… why not also embrace the unknown and live a little?

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.

India Trip 2018 – Post six

April 11, 2018
Tuk Tuk ride in India

Our India tour 2018

For more from our India trip in 2018, please see blog one, blog two , blog three. blog four and blog five.

Day 9 – Ballard India tour

The luxury of a lie in and a late breakfast was well received and a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday to you ” greeted the arrival of one of our group on the occasion of her birthday.

Packing up, ready to travel

The group enjoyed a relaxing morning around the the pool at the Jagat Palace putting off the inevitable packing up to begin our long journey home. However, in typical tour style, the journey still held much excitement with a visit to Ajmer for lunch where, thanks to thoughtful planning by JD and Vikram, a gorgeous birthday cake was waiting for the birthday girl.

Happy birthday in India

A lovely birthday cake for the birthday girl

After lunch, packed suppers, Indian style, were distributed before we made our way to the local railway station. As the coach is forbidden from getting too close to the station the party mounted motorized three wheeled Tuk Tuks for a “Whacky Races” style trip along crowded roads. This was great fun!

Tuk Tuk ride in India

Described as ‘Whacky Races’ – our Tuk Tuk ride in India

An Indian Railway station

The railway station was an interesting experience with its business as a wide variety of people, from all walks of life, waited to board the train to Delhi. We were travelling first class so we had numbered seats in air conditioned coaches but many of our fellow travellers were crammed in to their coaches with little room and their windows were replaced by metal bars for their safety. That said, our first class tickets cost less than ten pounds each, including three full meals and copious cups of tea for those who wanted them. The journey lasted seven hours and afforded some fascinating views from mountain top shrines to small villages across this section of rural India. The coaches were full of families and this colourful sight was coupled with excited conversations about what lay ahead for the travellers once we reached Delhi. We were served with snacks and drinks throughout the journey and Josh described his Kachori as resembling a Cornish pasty!

Indian reflections

The long journey gave members of the group time to reflect upon all they had seen and experienced throughout the past nine days; the sights, customs, traditions, history, smells and tastes of India!

The country has a unique way of awakening the senses and leaving you wanting to see more. Our experiences have all been put into context by our superb guide, Vikram. The insights are those of an intelligent man who is knowledgeable and proud of his country, what a fine ambassador! He has never left India but perhaps we will be welcoming him to Ballard one day…

Bye for now – DD and JD

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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