Mr Mark Woodward, current Head of Careers, writes:
Our Headmaster, Mr John Watson often mentions how visitors to Bablake remark on the purposeful and friendly atmosphere and invites new parents to discover this for themselves. Arriving at Bablake in September 1987 as a young, enthusiastic Classics teacher, I too immediately noticed something quite special 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 to study and work at. 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.
Pupils from every background and denomination are happy at Bablake, keen to learn and encouraged to advance themselves. Former pupils forever reminisce about happy times at the school. BBC News presenter, Martine Croxall, is not unusual, when on a recent return visit, she remarked on the warmth shown by the 6th Form towards younger pupils. As a teacher at the school, I have always been impressed by the warm relationship between staff, pupils (both current and former) and parents; this relationship can begin at our Pre School at 3, in our Junior School at 7, later at 11 or even joining our 6th Form at 16..
We believe our examination results are consistently among the best in the Midlands. We always occupy a very respectable position in the national tables and our pupils clearly continue as achievers beyond Bablake. Medical undergrads Anna Seeley and Jamie Stefaniak, in 2007 and 2009 respectively, both came top of their year at Cambridge, while Sophie Devall achieved the same accolade in the first year of her Geography degree at the University of Birmingham (Summer 2009). Pupils are given every opportunity to reach their potential and find the destination beyond Bablake that is right for them.
While exam results are very important, we recognise academic grades alone are not enough. Consequently, there is a rich variety of clubs and societies for pupils to develop social skills and known interests as well as discover new talents in a broad programme of extra-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 than often be a club created to satisfy this: our equestrian club and a fledgling online magazine for younger pupils are just two examples of this. Pupils also enjoy visits linked to their curriculum. At the very heart of these opportunities though is our House system where pupils are able to compete in a fantastic range of physical and cerebral challenges!
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 25 years running 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.
You can expect the very best teaching from a teaching staff with a specialist knowledge and passion for their subject. Pupils are encouraged to be independent learners and extend themselves; individually, they reach their potential and are extended and supported as appropriate. Teachers are committed to Bablake and the pupils.
Bablake is praised regularly for the care taken with all pupils in every aspect of their time at the school. The Form Tutor is a central figure in every pupil’s education and extended support from subject tutors, Year Heads, the Careers Department and, where appropriate, Learning Support is second to none.
Bablake has a special place for our pupils throughout their lives and 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.
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 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), Olivia Broadfield (singer songwriter), Cassie Leedham (graphic designer for 'Control'), Nick Skelton (international show jumper), 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 alumni who are likewise high achievers, fulfilled and happy and all accredit some of their status to their initial grounding at Bablake.
Pupils, parents and staff all work for each other. The Parents' Association offers invaluable support for Bablake and everyone has time for everyone else. Annually the pupils, staff and parents raise over £15,000 for local and national charities as well as giving their own time for fundraising and many other projects.
Bablake was voted 3rd best value independent co-educational day school in the country by The Sunday Times in 2006. In keeping with the original aims of the school, our Governors are committed to keeping the fee levels relatively low so that a Bablake education remains accessible to as many children as possible. While the fees compare favourably with other schools in the independent sector, the Governors are also as committed to investing in the school and continually updating our facilities.
And what do our pupils (current and former) and parents say about Bablake?
The following views of pupils who entered the Shells in September 2009 and comments from some of our 4th Year pupils echo those of, firstly, former school captain Pam Uppal who remarked, in her first term in 2003, on how there was so much more freedom and independence and, secondly, the thoughts of Amy Harwood who spoke about how you are treated like an adult and people respect your feelings:
Aleem- ‘You can express your feelings and thoughts… it’s like a big family.’
Robbie- ‘Lots of opportunities to do lots of activities.’
Sophie, Abigail and Lucy- ‘Great friends who support you.’
Sukhdeep- ‘Facilities are good and there are lots of them which we use.’
Isobel- ‘I love drama and Bablake has a huge theatre.’
Jasryan- ‘A great school, with great opportunities.’
Amelia- ‘I love my school, mainly because of my friends, but also because of the school itself. I think everyone should consider coming to Bablake.’
Andrew- ‘A fun and friendly place.’
Evie- ‘The teachers really care about you and they just want the best for you and your future.’
Elisse Power- ‘I have wanted to let you all know how I am getting on and to thank you for the wonderful foundations you gave me.’
Francesca Kinsella- ‘When you have left Bablake, you appreciate just how much its staff has helped you embark on the rest of your life. Such good people and such a nice environment to grow up in.’
Sarah Brown (née Thompson)- ‘My employers are all impressed with how confident I am, even when dealing with senior executives and board members. I put that totally down to Bablake.’
'We attended your recent Open Evening and were very impressed with the friendliness and confidence of your current pupils. Bablake seemed a fun place!'
‘Bablake develops the whole child- developing responsible, confident adults with a sound academic base.’
‘The confidence of pupils is due to the excellent teaching standards.’
‘Bablake is considered an extension of the home, down to the caring staff who promote this positive relationship between students and staff’
‘The friendliness of the staff creates an overall atmosphere of cooperation and encouragement.’
‘Excellent value for money- I have children at other schools so I can make a comparison.’
‘I am extremely satisfied with all aspects of the school and would not hesitate to recommend it.’
‘There is a wide variety of clubs and societies, coupled with solid teaching to provide all round education’
(Comments were gathered from research among our parents by the Schools Marketing Partnership.)
In the next upgrade of our website, we hope to add video comments from our pupils confirming why they feel Bablake is special.