Ballard pupils are brought up with a love of STEM from a very early age with a huge array of equipment and opportunities for our Early Year’s pupils to build and create. As a through-School, our pupils benefit from specialist GCSE teachers and equipment and are often mentored by older pupils.
The STEM ethos at Ballard is to share ideas and stimulate young minds, resulting in the development of an inspiring modern, problem-solving, design and make based curriculum throughout the School. Pupils re-build Stonehenge in History; explode volcanoes in Geography; create board games in Spanish; enter the Dragons’ Den in English and much, much more.
Our pupils learn how to master the challenges of teamwork, research/analysis and development of creative solutions to technological problems and learn a huge amount about themselves in the process.
The ‘Ballard Creative Techies’ STEM team are well-known nationally for achieving impressive results with their innovative projects having attained a number of regional and national awards.
The Head of Technology is also the Co-ordinator of STEM and a fellow of the Sinnott Teaching Fellowship. He was awarded the Education Business Partnership ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ in recognition of his development of STEM activities in School.
But STEM isn’t just woven into our world at Ballard – we share our passion with local schools, who join us for our annual STEM events. Past projects include: impact absorbing structures, tower design and build, designing a profitable farm, moon modules made from toothpicks and midget gems, creating an advertisement soundtrack, and making ‘sparklers’.
Young pupils love investigating, creating and building so at Ballard we feed their innate passion for STEM with plenty of opportunities and equipment to do just that.
Whether it is a giant Lego fort or using our outdoor building blocks our pupils work independently and together to build.
Ballard Nursery pupils are also very curious – planting the first seeds of scientific investigation – why, how? This has been very apparent whilst at Forest School where they love getting involved with the natural world.
They are also very at home using their computers which have extra-large buttons for small fingers.
Ballard Nursery and Kindergarten pupils have a chance to get involved with Computer Science. We have bespoke Early Years’ computers with chunky, colour-coded buttons on a large keyboard which are easy for even the smallest of fingers to use.
They love playing educational games and embrace the technology with such ease, putting some of us to shame with their ability to pick things up so quickly.
At Ballard we believe in introducing Mathematics as early as possible and we understand that the way to build our pupils’ skills at this age is to capture their imagination and let them explore and practice.
Opportunities to count and make shapes are all around us: whether it is counting wooden building bricks or parking the correct number of cars on the numbers’ mat for our garage, we make it as interesting as possible.
At Ballard we offer our Pre-Prep pupils many opportunities to explore, build, create and investigate both in the classroom, dedicated play areas, Forest School and the wider Ballard grounds.
Whether it’s building a marble run, working out the best angle to hold the pipe so the bean bag comes out, or measuring rainfall, our Pre-Prep pupils are very keen on STEM.
They also feel incredibly comfortable with computers and iPads which they use daily.
In Pre-Prep our pupils move onto iPads and more sophisticated computers; they still have the coloured buttons but the keyboards are only slightly larger than normal. Pupils can log onto the computers in the library and can spend time on educational games, they can also take iPads into the classroom for many of their lessons.
Computers add another dimension to their work and support learning in different ways. Composing their firework poetry on iPads enabled Year 1 to not only add colourful imagery but also to see which onomatopoeic words they had spelled incorrectly.
After Nursery and Kindergarten Ballard pupils feel very comfortable with Mathematics when they join Pre-Prep. We build on this and help stretch the more able, whilst supporting those who find some topics more challenging.
There are lots of exciting approaches to learning Mathematics in Pre-Prep and our pupils look forward to their lessons. Whether it is using the computers and iPads to test their skills or working with whiteboards in front of their peers, our pupils are keen and eager to get involved.
Ballard pupils are a curious bunch and we fully support the hands-on approach to learning. Whether it’s in the classroom, the Science laboratories or out and about in our expansive grounds and varied habitats, we give them every opportunity to feed their inquisitiveness. They really do start their scientific journey from an early age here at Ballard.
We love children who ask why and we enjoy seeing the delight on their faces when they work out answers for themselves. Whether it is measuring liquids, identifying trees or hunting for insects in the bluebell woods, our pupils love their Science lessons.
Lower Prep pupils at Ballard have the benefit of access not only to GCSE teachers for STEM projects but also fully equipped departments. These include a Junior ICT suite, a specialist Junior Science lab that has undergone a full refurbishment this summer and a DT lab with access to a laser cutter, 3D printers and CAD.
This access enables our children to tackle complex projects and underlines their “can do” approach. Recent projects have included animated merry-go-rounds and Knex buggies which they then raced.
Year 5 take part in a weekly apprentice challenge which involves a number of different entrepreneurial STEM projects. Lower Prep pupils can also join a number of our popular STEM-related extra-curricular activities.
Lower Prep pupils are taught DT by specialist teachers and have the opportunity to use all the GCSE equipment in our DT lab including the CAD suite, laser cutter and 3D printers.
Work is project-based and often cross-curricular. For example, a trip to Paultons Park to look at the physics and structure of funfair rides links to the creation of a working model carousel.
We make sure that during their time in Lower Prep, pupils experience a wide range of different techniques, whilst keeping the finished product relevant. Year 5 make key rings, photo frames and clocks.
ICT is taught by specialist teachers. In Years 3 to 5, the use of computers is fully integrated into the curriculum. Pupils have access to devices in the classroom as well as access to the IT Suite in the main school. Other subject teachers bring pupils into the IT suites to add another layer of learning to their lessons. Year 3 often work as a group in their French lessons before splitting into pairs to practise what they have learnt with the aid of a fun computer program.
Pupils are encouraged to be creative and take advantage of the myriad of applications available to develop their IT skills as well as enhance their learning. Typing challenges encourage them to improve their keyboard skills.
Regular work on internet safety develops their awareness of how to use the internet responsibly. Creating animations for History, designing posters for English or working with DT to research, design, create and display a project as part of a mini Dragons’ Den, all provide inspiration, fun and learning opportunities.
Ballard views the Mathematics syllabus in terms of a helical model. Topics are introduced at a simple level and are revisited at intervals, always building on and extending previous knowledge.
We use a variety of techniques to repeat and refresh our pupils’ skills so that they feel challenged but happy. We integrate IT into our lessons with popular learning software, which pupils can use at home to extend their learning.
Year-by-year our pupils’ grasp of the subject is both reinforced and enlarged. Whilst the more able pupils are constantly stimulated by more challenging examples, others benefit from regular reinforcement and therefore develop confidence through success. We also use Mathematics in other key subject areas.
Science is taught with a strong emphasis on investigative work and scientific enquiry providing the pupils with solid foundations for the Science they will develop further up the School.
Our Junior Science Lab has undergone a full refurbishment ready for the start of Autumn term 2019.
We strongly believe in a hands-on approach to Science at this age, enabling the children to experience awe and wonder in the subject and to capture their natural curiosity about the world as they experience it.
Our team of teachers, chosen for their passion for Science, present the subject in a stimulating and lively way with each class having access to a specialist Science laboratory as well as a considerable wealth of resources, specialist equipment and apparatus.
Whether it’s becoming part of a food chain or working out which solids melt, our pupils’ imaginations are constantly engaged and their enquiring minds filled with skills, which will prepare them for the future.
Ballard is also lucky to have such extensive grounds, including meadows, woodlands and a beautiful water garden, which are frequently used for studying the local ecology. This has inspired a group of Lower Prep pupils to not only investigate the outside world but also to try and protect it through the formation of an extra-curricular ‘Eco-Committee’.
They have been successful at implementing change across the School on a wide variety of topics and, having won the Silver Eco Award this year, are currently working towards the prestigious Green Flag Award.
Again, Upper Prep pupils at Ballard have fantastic STEM opportunities and facilities available to them because of their access to our specialist teachers and equipment.
Pupils in Upper Prep also have some amazing opportunities to tackle STEM projects both in and out of School. Our Year 6 pupils take part in the CREST discovery programme – investigating the science of cycling and external events have included UK Big Bang in Birmingham and the Solent Teen Tech.
They also have a number of extra-curricular STEM clubs from which to choose.
DT in Upper Prep is all about increasing the complexity of the projects and introducing new techniques.
Pupils went to Beaulieu Motor Museum to see the rocket car before creating their own mini versions. They also had the opportunity to design and print their own T-shirts.
Computer Science in Years 6 to 8 at Ballard School lays the foundations for the pupils to use IT independently, as well as developing the problem-solving and thinking skills necessary as they progress through their education and on to work.
All the key aspects such as word-processing, spreadsheets and databases are covered, as well as internet safety. In addition, coding sessions enable a different skill set to be developed, including Computational Thinking and problem-solving. Many pupils take advantage of after-school clubs to stretch their learning and take their interests further.
Our teachers use schemes of work designed by the world-renowned Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching.
These resources have been developed with the primary aim of raising the standards of Mathematics teaching and learning in the UK and have many strengths, including fantastic worksheet, text book and interactive web-based resources.
Pupils are also encouraged to take part in the prestigious UK Maths Challenge provided by the United Kingdom Mathematics Trust (UKMT).
In Year 6 pupils remain in Forms and study the ‘Science Bug’ scheme of work. This is designed to spark the imagination and curiosity of pupils by providing them with fun, interactive and educational programmes that instil a clear understanding of what science is and how it affects their world.
They also take part in the national ‘CREST Discovery Awards’, where pupils collaborate on a STEM project in self-managed groups, record and reflect on their work before presenting their findings.
In Years 7 and 8 the pupils follow the ‘Activate’ scheme of work and they have access to online materials and textbooks on the ‘Kerboodle’ website. Pupils have three lessons a week which have an emphasis on practical work.
Whether it is exploring different types of energy using wind-up toys and a pendulum or making their own sparklers, our pupils love participating and gaining confidence alongside learning.
The integrated Science course lays important foundations for study at GCSE level and develops key skills; during Year 8, they take their CREST Bronze Award, which provides a real-life experience of ‘being a specialist’. This award allows pupils to experience the project process, improving their enquiry, problem-solving and communication skills, which are important tools for all aspects of life, not just Science.
Pupils will plan, prepare and cook activities, which cover aspects such as safety, hygiene and working procedures in the classroom. Practical lessons cover the making of bread, fruit salad, cookies, muffins and pizza and high-fibre dishes.
In Year 8, pupils have an introduction to the four different methods of cake-making. They use research from various sources to help in the selection of ingredients. They use sensory evaluation and gain an understanding of social, moral, ethical and sustainable issues. Practical lessons include the making of fairy cakes, rock buns, swiss roll, gingerbread, decorations and marbelling techniques.
Ballard’s Senior STEM pupils are industrious and their projects varied. They help in the lighting and sound box for our productions as well as building some of the sets. Previously they created a flying carpet (moving platform) for our production of Aladdin.
Senior pupils helped develop the Ballard Sailtrainer – an innovative concept which simulates dinghy sailing on dry land. They also retained the New Milton Pedal Car Junior Championship and finished 14th overall out of 39 against the adult teams.
Pupils in Year 9 also take part in the CREST Bronze Award which has previously looked at life in space.
Design & Technology is a popular GCSE choice at Ballard with a large participation including many of the girls.
Pupils link their designs to realistic outcomes such as undertaking independent research visits, customer analysis, market research, 3D modelling of ideas and testing.
Recent results are testament to the thorough teaching and learning at Ballard and Moderators regularly commend us on this.
Year 9 Computing at Ballard School is a foundation year for GCSE, providing preparation not only for Computing GCSE but also ensuring that the pupils are able to make full use of IT in all their subject areas.
In Years 10 and 11, pupils may opt for a full GCSE in Computer Science or alternatively may choose an IT skills course, which allows them to keep their skills up-to-date and gain a certificate at the end.
Senior pupils at Ballard are given the opportunity to follow GCSE Statistics (from Year 9) as well as the IGCSE Mathematics (Edexcel), which the pupils sit in the January of Year 11.
Our more able pupils are encouraged to diversify and add to their armoury of statistical skills for use in other subject areas such as Business, IT and the Sciences (as well as gaining an extra GCSE qualification), whilst other pupils are given more time to focus on their core Maths skills.
Our Senior pupils are also able to take part in the UKMT Maths Challenge and exceptional pupils are invited to study Additional Mathematics GCSE (OCR) which leads into Maths and Further Maths A Level.
Ballard pupils start their Science GCSE in Year 9 following the AQA combined Trilogy course. At the end of Year 9, pupils have the opportunity to choose whether they wish to study for the separate Sciences and get three GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics or remain with combined Science, where they will achieve two GCSEs.
At GCSE, the pupils will have three separate specialist teachers for each of the three disciplines. Both routes have no controlled assessment or practical, but the pupils will have to undertake a number of required practicals and they are assessed at the end of the course by terminal exams.
Pupils have access to online materials and a digital textbook on the ‘Kerboodle’ website but, again, we also like to engage their minds in creative ways. One class recently recreated electric circuits in their revision class using red liquorice shoelaces, icing and biscuits.
In 2018, the department had the best GCSE results ever. 100% of pupils studying Biology, Chemistry and Physics achieved the gold standard of a grade 9-4 and 90% of pupils studying Combined Science achieved this compared to the National average of 54.8%.
We have had many stories of Alumni who have carried on their studies in Science to further education and beyond. Recently we learnt of one who is currently in her second year studying medicine at Cardiff University. Another alumnus is studying radiography at Portsmouth University and he recently came in to School to talk to Year 9 in their PSHE lesson about his studies and a career in radiography.
At Ballard, the senior course ensures that pupils learn the planning, preparation and practical skills required for GCSE.
Other areas include:
Years 10 and 11 pupils will study the AQA GCSE in Food Preparation and Nutrition. They will be expected to plan, prepare and make a range of high-quality products. This will take the form of a report, together with practical work with food, leading to a final food exam making three dishes (35%). They will be expected to write a report on the functional, physical and chemical characteristics of a food (15%). They will also sit a written exam worth 50% of the total marks.
As part of our continued focus on STEM subjects, we took a group of...