Blundell’s Adventure, Leadership and Service Award (BALSA)

Pound for pound, balsa wood is often considered the strongest wood for its weight in the world. Fast growing, highly versatile and incredibly strong…you don’t have to look too hard before comparisons between this intriguing South American tree and the average Year 6 pupil here at Blundell’s Prep can be made!

The Blundell’s Adventure, Leadership and Service Award – more commonly known as BALSA – is a programme that has been developed here over the years, and is one that continues to evolve, which really challenges our older children to them learn about themselves and discover the beauty in helping others. Over the year tens of thousands of pounds have been raised for local and national charities by our pupils, hundreds of hours have been given up volunteering for local good causes and countless miles have been covered in a huge range of ways as a part of various physical challenges. Oh, and the Head Master jumped out of a plane to raise money for cats in need! But most of all, the children here have found out things about themselves that they might not usually learn in school, acquiring skills, knowledge and new-found confidence that will last them a lifetime – all of which, in turn, will surely help them to make the world a better place in the future.

This inspirational scheme for our Year 6 pupils which the younger children here look up to in awe is broken up into two parts – during the Autumn Term, a range of challenges are presented to the children in school and they are carefully guided through activities, with teachers coaching them and enabling them to really reflect upon the learning taking place. During the Spring and Summer Terms, pupils take the lead and away from school they are asked to help others, learn a new skill, show entrepreneurial spirit, challenge themselves physically, show leadership qualities – and to research a charity and support it in some way. As well as completing their very own log of all activities, with reflection on learning at the heart of everything, the scheme culminates in a wonderful presentation evening with every child being given the opportunity to talk in front of parents and guests, sharing the journey that they have been on and the huge amount that they have gained along the way.

It would be impossible to list all of the wonderful things that have been done here over the years and the powerful effect that the BALSA scheme has had upon our children, and the wider community. So why not come in and talk to our pupils about it, or chat to a former Prep pupil, to see just what impact the humble Ochroma Pyramidale tree has had on them.