Our Headmaster, Mr John Watson, often mentions how visitors to Bablake remark on the purposeful and friendly atmosphere and invites prospective parents to discover this for themselves. Mr Mark Woodward, Head of Careers, shares his own thoughts:
Arriving at Bablake in September 1987 as a young, enthusiastic Classics teacher, I too immediately noticed something quite distinctive about Bablake. Pupils, parents and staff enjoy a special relationship which does not finish when a pupil moves onto university or into employment.
The words of the late Sir Bobby Robson relate as well to Bablake as to his original context when he said: ‘What is a club anyway? It's the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city.’ The same is true at Bablake; it is a dynamic school in which to study and work. From visiting the school, talking to pupils, parents and staff and reading about the achievements in our publications, you will, no doubt, find many reasons for Bablake being the right learning environment for your child.
A warm, secure, trusting environment from 3 to 18 years
Pupils from every background and denomination are welcomed to Bablake. They are keen to learn and encouraged to have the highest expectations. Former pupils forever reminisce about happy times at the school. BBC News presenter, Martine Croxall, is not unusual in this respect: on a recent return visit, she remarked on the warmth shown by the Sixth Form towards younger pupils. As a teacher at the school, I have always been impressed by the strong and trusting relationship between staff, pupils (both current and former) and parents; this relationship can begin at our Pre-prep School at 3, in our Junior School at 7, in the Senior School at 11 or even for new entrants to our Sixth Form.
Our examination results are consistently amongst the best in the Midlands. We always occupy a very respectable position in the national league tables and our pupils clearly continue as achievers beyond Bablake. Former pupils have recently been placed top in their year group at Cambridge and other Russell Group universities. Our young people are given every opportunity to reach their potential and find the destination beyond Bablake that is right for them.
Co-curricular activities and opportunities
While exam results are very important, we recognise that academic grades alone are not enough for success and fulfilment in life. There is a rich variety of clubs and societies for pupils to develop social skills and known interests as well as to discover new talents in a broad programme of co-curricular activity. There are leadership opportunities and team responsibilities. There is an activity for everyone and if one does not exist to suit a pupil’s craving, there will more often than not be a club created to satisfy this: our equestrian club and a flight simulator club are just two examples of this. Pupils also enjoy visits linked to their curriculum. At the very heart of these opportunities is our House system where all pupils are able to participate in a fantastic array of physical and cerebral challenges!
Individuals making a very happy team
Pupils are able to develop individual skills and talents which make them vital members of a happy, fulfilled team. Drama is one of the best 'team games' available anywhere; at Bablake, we have taken a play to the Edinburgh Fringe for almost 30 consecutive years but the success of this venture and others like it is founded upon everyone helping each other. To put on a successful play, you need wonderful actors allied with support from directors, backstage, front of house and the audience. Bablake is a school where this teamwork is apparent in every success.
Teachers and teaching
You can expect the very best teaching from a highly qualified teaching staff with a specialist knowledge and passion for their subject. Pupils are encouraged to be independent learners and to have the highest expectations of what they can achieve; individually, they reach their potential and are extended and supported according to their need and abilities. Teachers display great commitment to Bablake and its pupils, and are frequently prepared to 'go the extra mile'.
Pastoral care and values
Bablake is praised regularly for the care taken with all pupils in every aspect of their time at the school; our aim is to work with parents and to know and support our pupils as unique individuals. The Form Tutor is a central figure in every pupil’s education and additional support is given by subject tutors, Year Heads, school nurses, the school counsellor, the Chaplain, prefects and peer supporters. Through our tutoring, assemblies and Life Choices programme, we hope that our pupils leave us with a set of values which enables them to make the right choices in life.
'You can check out but you can never leave!' (Lyrics from 'Hotel California' - The Eagles)
Bablake has a special place for our pupils throughout their lives and the connection with the school does not end as new challenges at university or work begin. Pupils make friends for life with their peers and their teachers. Evidence of the affection for Bablake is seen in the willingness of former pupils to offer individual advice by email or in person and support events like our U6th Mock Interview Morning and Careers Convention.
Careers guidance and destinations
Our Careers Department ensures that pupils receive appropriate guidance over options at school and choices beyond Bablake. Recently, our U6th Mock Interview pupils were prompted by their interviewers to remember how special and talented they were! There is an endearing humility and modesty to our pupils but they also know how to sell themselves to universities and employers - Bablake pupils succeed in all walks of life. Gary Hoffman (former Northern Rock CEO), Shane Geraghty (England rugby international), Melissa Walton (ex Hollyoaks), Martine Croxall (BBC News presenter), Alex T Smith (illustrator and author), Ben Duffy (sports photographer), Courtenay Griffiths (eminent QC), Robert Clift (England hockey Gold medallist), Nick Skelton (England show jumping Gold medallist), Brian Matthews (Radio 2), Donald Trelford (former editor of the Observer), Emma Walden (London Tonight) and Sir John Egan (former CBI President and BAA Chief Executive) are a selection of alumni who are household names. However, Bablake is proud of the high percentage of its alumni who are likewise high achievers, fulfilled and happy; all accredit some of their success to their initial grounding at Bablake.
Pupils, parents and staff all work for each other. The Parents' Association offers invaluable support to Bablake and we all aim to have time for others. Annually the pupils, staff and parents raise over £20,000 for local, national and international charities as well as giving generously of their own time for fundraising and community projects.
I am extremely satisfied with all aspects of the school and would not hesitate to recommend it.