We are once again delighted with our excellent A level results with most students meeting their 1st choice university offers. For the third year running over a third of our A2 grades were either A* or A with 15 students gaining at least 3 A grades.
Our Head Girl Sarah Benham (3 A* and 1 A grade) and Head Boy Ben Gould ( 3 A grades) have secured places at Cambridge (natural Sciences) and Sheffield (Medicine). Twin Sam Gould will study Mathematics at Cambridge after he attained 3 A* and 1 A grade.
Tim Habashi and Chris Tycer also gained 3 A* grades. There are many other individual success stories and we are proud of the hard work put in by students and staff to achieve these results.
This year’s trip was, again, fantastic and huge credit goes to the 85 pupils and 11 staff I had the privilege of taking. This year’s theme was Sporting Legends and our equipment was arm bands and rubber rings. Everyone embraced this, including the PGL staff, and much fun was had throughout the week; meal times were certainly entertaining……have you ever tried eating breakfast in a rubber ring and arm bands??
The first half of the trip took place in the Med’ where pupils took part in Sailing, Kayaking, Archery, Windsurfing and the ever so popular Banana Boat. Half a day was then spent at a water park before moving on to the mighty, mighty, Ardeche where we all undertook a 3 day descent of the Ardeche river in canoes.
Simon Balle has a huge reputation on this trip and this years’ pupils and staff did not let me down! It was heart warming to hear from the PGL staff that many had been given our school as a reward for their hard work throughout the season because being given Simon Balle School is seen as a privilege. I have since had communication from staff in the Med which confirms this:
‘We all had an incredible few days with the legends of Simon Balle and no other group can quite meet your reputation!’
‘I hope you’ve had time to recover from an action-packed trip! Looking forward to next year already! Without a doubt, you have been the most fun and entertaining group I’ve been lucky enough to work with in 4 seasons with PGL, so huuuge thanks to you, the kids and all your colleagues.‘
Many many thanks, again, to all the pupils and staff for making this trip another success; next year sees the end of my Ardeche adventures as I am hanging up my watershoes after 16 years of running the trip………………….. watch out Year 10, it’s going to be emotional!
Every teacher at Simon Balle has been involved in a teaching and learning trio this year. Each trio meets several times across the year during their directed time to explore a particular aspect of pedagogy. In July each year we have traditionally run a marketplace-style staff meeting where all members of staff who have been involved in evidence-based research showcase their work but for the first time this year all staff were involved. The trios covered a wide range of ideas but some of the highlights included looking at:-
How can we build on student’s capabilities and prior knowledge to plan lessons that stretch and challenge all students?
How can we set homework that consolidates and extends the knowledge and understanding students have acquired in lessons or help them to prepare for future learning?
An investigation into the factors that inhibit KS3 students’ ability to learn. What strategies can be employed to overcome the identified factors?
How can we give students regular feedback, both orally and through accurate marking and encourage students to respond?
In Science Y9 had been learning about cells and the parts that make them in detail. They made 3D model cells, including all parts to GCSE level, with some stunning results. Y7 have looked at the causes and effects of acid rain, growing cress in ‘rain’ and ‘acid rain conditions’.
Here are some of their cells and Laura and Chloe with their acid rain experiments.
The Y12 Sociology students have completed an extended learning project this half term which covers a key part of the A2 specification on crime statistics. There is a considerable amount of research that suggests that projects of this nature are successful in developing the critical skills that students need and a depth of understanding that other, more traditional, teaching techniques do not always achieve.
Ron Berger in his book “An Ethic of Excellence” discusses the impact of project based learning and the idea of making work public. He says that if work is made public “There is a reason to do the work well”. Student feedback suggests that the students agree with much of what Berger says and I certainly would agree based on the visual displays they produced and the excellent verbal presentations.
Have a look at the work they produced and decide for yourself!
Oliver, our Library Correspondent reports: During last week the Library held an extra Speaker’s Corner on Thursday. Jack in Y13, the head of the group, talked about what the Warhammer Club was and how far it had come since its launch in 2009. Jack, who will be leaving the school, announced that Sam in Y8 would continue running the club next year. At the end of the talk the audience voted for the best model displayed (a hard choice, considering the quality of them).
On Friday Samuel from Y10 presented on The Steam Era, a fascinating insight into various steam engines he admires. An interesting discussion followed as members of the audience asked him many questions and found out various features of the trains.
Samuel’s passion for his hobby came through clearly, as did the Warhammer Club’s enthusiasm.
There has been good news for a couple of our a alumni recently.
George Ezra, who left Simon Balle in 2009, has had chart success with his album ‘Wanted on Voyage’, reaching no 3 in the charts. We wish George continued success in his chosen career and will watch his increasing stardom with interest.
Chris Holdys, who joined us for his 6th Form studies, has been awarded a scholarship from the Savoy Educational Trust. Chris says: “The Edge Hotel School degree is the perfect mix of hands-on, practical learning and theory and I’m excited to kick-start my career in such a professional environment.”
It is great to hear success stories of those who spent time at Simon Balle – I’m sure there will be lots more in the future!
Y7 Food Technology students worked hard earlier this week to prepare a feast of savoury and sweet buffet foods for their picnic. They were keen to present and serve their food to the highest standard and addressed portion control and larger scale catering as part of their task on ‘Cooking and Sharing’.
They were able to enjoy their culinary creations in the shade of the outdoor classroom. The students were, as always,so enthusiastic and passionate in the preparation and preparation of a range of different foods.
The 6th Annual Foreign Language Festival took place on Thursday 17th July and proved, once again, to be a highly motivational event focused on the creative use of Foreign Languages – mostly familiar and some less so.
This year’s theme was “Food for Thought” – MFL activities on and about matters culinary. We were pleased to welcome again Y4 and 5 pupils from Bengeo and Mill Mead primary schools who took part in Danish, Italian, Spanish and Japanese workshops – which involved role plays, games, songs and much more.
Y10 students spent the first half of the day rehearsing groups of Y7 SBS students to present a showcase of French song, poetry and sketches at the end of the day for the visiting Key Stage 2 pupils. Those visitors then voted for their favourite act, concluding the event with great enthusiasm!