Preparation for a ‘good life’ starts early at Balcombe

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Spend a few minutes talking to students at Balcombe and you will notice their authentic confidence. The students know that they are valued for who they are and they actively seek opportunities to extend their skills and knowledge. While the staff at Balcombe place high value on numeracy and literacy, we need to go beyond these foundational skills to prepare our students for the exciting and enriching futures we envision for them.

We need to prepare students for a ‘good life’; a life with friends, meaningful work and diverse leisure. This requires an ability to know yourself and others. Learning to be emotionally intelligent, to be able to understand and manage the full range of emotions one experiences throughout life starts early at Balcombe. Working with families, we continue to offer opportunities that scaffold emotional intelligence. Students develop vocabulary to express how they’re feeling, while also allowing them to develop a rich understanding of others. They are intentionally placed in increasingly complex social situations to practise these skills in real situations. This insight might be gained through working collaboratively with friends, planning and running a small business or through studying abroad.

To truly live ‘your best life’, the life that fits your goals and abilities, you must also develop courage. This is more than being fearless. In fact, the absence of fear is fundamentally unintelligent. Fear can keep us safe and alert us to potential dangers; in this way, it’s a very useful emotion. But if fear stops us doing the things that matter to us, then it is unlikely we will realise our full potential.

Giving students experiences that allow them to feel nervous, to practise feeling unsure, is a shared responsibility of schools and families. This might be their first school camp or auditioning for the school production.  Every day at Balcombe, students have many opportunities to try something, big or small, that makes them nervous. When they fall, there are plenty of people to encourage them to get back up and keep going. When they succeed in uncertain situations, they feel deep joy, having achieved something difficult. In this way, students develop courage.

Confident and courageous people have the freedom to be creative; to explore novel approaches, to form elegant solutions to problems. Creativity requires a departure from the familiar. Balcombe students enjoy and utilise modern equipment and resources as tools to produce creative work. On other occasions, students’ resources and equipment is intentionally limited. Limited resources compel students to practise ingenuity and resourcefulness.

‘Enterprising’ is the word we use at Balcombe to describe the resilience, the confidence, the resourcefulness and the determination to keep learning.  Societies have a responsibility to raise children into capable, enterprising adults. We take this responsibility seriously and work hard with families to form young adults who lean confidently into their futures — graduates who have the courage to set their sights high, who are resourceful and courageous, who continue to learn and develop throughout their lives.

MATTHEW DODD — Principal