Friday 8th January

Co-headteachers’ welcome

Welcome back to Spring 2! We do hope that everybody had a restful and enjoyable half term, despite quite a lot of rain across the UK! I am reliably informed that the next time we will experience a sunset before 5pm will not be until October 27th 2024 – I am sure we are all looking forward to longer and lighter days, and the promise of all that spring will no doubt bring.

Hope is such an important value for us at Simon Balle All-through School, and yet this value can be so hard to teach with news across the world at this time difficult to read, to comprehend and certainly to explain to our young people. Yet, of course, young people bring a hopeful outlook to every new day – their smiles, their commitment, their ambition and more. ‘Creating tomorrow’s citizens today’ could never be more important and I am delighted to bring a glimmer of what is going on pastorally, right now, across our all-through school in the opening to this newsletter: 

  • On Friday last week, an insightful Talk and performance – Drug Education, Mental Health and Healthy Lifestyles – for Years 7 – 10
  • Broadening horizons  is always a focus – a wonderful Berlin history trip for A level students last week, an enriching Hertford museum trip for Year 3 linked to their Stone age learning, and, OCR sports students focussing on outdoor activities, just to provide a few examples
  • Our Duke of Edinburgh programme offers so much from volunteering and community to the independence and skills with expeditions – we currently have 136 participants, 100 bronze, 21 going from Bronze to Silver and 15 undertaking their Silver expedition
  • Our full programme of careers guidance is well and truly in swing – Royal Navy activities for Year 9 provided enjoyment and inspiration last week
  • We recognise that each students’ own pastoral journey will include times where a little more support is required, and we are here to spot that early and to intervene. We currently have over 50 students with 1:1 mentors through our MCR pathways investment, and we ensure that trusted staff across our all-through school are mental-health first-aid trained (15 at present) and with time to support with age-appropriate interventions, including drawing and talking in the Larch phase
  • We are excited to welcome the Mental Health Schools Team to our school and you will have received a separate letter outlining the support that they will be providing. 
  • We know that when our young people engage with fulfilling activities, they are, quite simply, happier. We refer regularly through our assembly programme to the 10 keys to happier living to support our young people to make positive choices here. With just a couple of examples, please see  the Larch sport round-up below, our first publication of ‘On the Balle’ on social media; and in the next week in music, we have both an all-through celebration of brass concert plus our annual Big Band Evening on Saturday – reflecting years and years of practice (individual and ensemble) to reach such musical highs!

One of the aspects of Simon Balle that we believe is so special is that we work actively to ensure that there is no tension between this in-depth pastoral support and our academic expectations – always high. A huge thank you to parents who are so busy supporting their young people with learning at home at this time: whether reading every day in Reception and above (this is non-negotiable for us) or supporting with revision timetables in Years 11 and 13 and/or attending our focussed performance clinic meetings, we thank you. We know that great things are achieved when we work in partnership between home and school. 

And, finally from me, a reminder that all of our excellence in pastoral support (not that we are ever complacent) together with the academic achievements of your wonderful young people are achieved through a skilled team of staff, who deserve excellent training and support. There are many examples of this throughout each term, but our INSET days are crucial for the whole staff team in coming together to align all that we do each and every day for teaching and learning – please read more in our pedagogy portal below.

Comic Relief 2024

On Friday, 15th March, SBAS will be joining the global movement to end child poverty by participating in Red Nose Day. Visit our Just Giving page and make a donation: Every contribution, no matter the amount, brings us one step closer to our fundraising goal. Here is a link to our page: Just Giving Simon Balle School Comic Relief.

We’re asking students in the Larch to wear something red, and the sixth form will be holding a charity football match at lunch – there will be collection buckets for any secondary students wishing to donate while they watch the match.

In addition to supporting Red Nose Day, we are partnering with the local food bank charity Jedidiah to make a positive impact on our local community. There will be foodbank collection points in the Larch and in the main school office in the secondary. Please bring non-perishable items such as tins, pasta, rice, nappies, toiletries etc. You can read more about Jedidiah and their work here:

The canteen will also be providing a special Red Nose Day menu across the all-through school (you can download this special set of recipes to make at home). We hope all students, staff and parents can get involved.

Pedagogy Portal

On Monday 26th February we welcomed staff back with some quality training that puts students at the forefront of our thinking. Click the link below to find out more.

Message from the Governing Body

The relationship between governors and school leaders and staff is a critical one in ensuring that the school is run well from an educational and financial perspective to enable the best possible outcomes for all students and families.

As in any organisation, open, honest and transparent communication will determine how well that relationship works. We have therefore built strong connections with, and trust in, each other to prevent any miscommunication which, in my experience, is the cause of many of the problems we face.

We make sure this relationship is maintained and built upon through the following process:

  • The Chair and Vice Chair meet every two weeks with the Co-Heads to discuss a wide range of topics and any issues
  • The Co-Heads and two staff members are an integral part of every Full Governing Body meeting
  • At least one of the co-heads attends every committee meeting i.e. Achievement and Standards (A&S), Finance/Assets/Resources (FAR), Personnel, Student/ Community/ Partnerships (SP&C), and Health/ Safety/ Environment/ Sustainability (HSE&S). 
  • These committees are where much of the work of the Governing Body is done and where a wide range of leaders and staff present and contribute in order to ensure the Governing Body has a good overview of the rigour and breadth of education at the school
  • All suggestions for improvement in the way we work, or complaints, are dealt with in an efficient and effective way, regardless of how they are received e.g. email, post, verbally
  • Governors further support school leaders and staff through meetings, school site visits and attending events

This process means that any issues raised by students, teachers, parents or members of the community are fully understood and then handled with care, respect, transparency and a sincere commitment to find solutions, whilst ensuring we adhere to our own policies and Government guidance.

From Mr P. Connolly

Learning in the Larch- Phase 2

What a successful few weeks it has been in Phase 2. Year 2 have been busily preparing for their trip to Windsor Castle, an experience that will really extend their learning in history. In English, they have been reading a book called ‘Cinderboy’, a modern day version of Cinderella involving a football stadium and a television. I look forward to seeing their own versions very soon! 

Year 3 finished their ‘Volcanoes, Earthquakes and Mountains’ unit with a bang, erupting some of the children’s volcano models with baking soda and vinegar. It was a pleasure to witness the excitement and engagement. They also visited Hertford Museum to deepen their understanding of the Stone Age and to kick off their learning about the Bronze and Iron Ages. Fun was had by all, handling lots of artefacts and asking some fantastic questions! When asking the children their favourite part, the majority said handling the baby woolly mammoth’s tooth! 

Year 4 have started the term with ‘Journey to Jo’burg’ as their focus in English which is a fantastic text where children begin to understand about apartheid in South Africa. Already this week, we have seen some beautifully written diary entries and descriptions inspired by the text. They have also been focusing on branching databases in Science, learning how to classify a variety of animals.

Sports Roundup

In addition to this month’s new publication On the Balle, we’ve got a mini roundup of all the recent sporting fixtures from the across the Larch and Secondary. Head over the sports news feed to read more.

Outdoor Learning

We are excited to announce we are developing our Reception outdoor area! 

Our mission is to have an outstanding outdoor space that promotes curious, independent and resilient learners while continuing to support all seven areas of learning. We want to ensure the space allows the children to freely explore and experience the natural environment which is essential for their wellbeing. 

In order to be sustainable, we would like to repurpose/recycle as much as possible. Please take a look at this document (EYFS Outdoor Area), and if you are able to support us to source materials, or provide expertise and skills, we would be very grateful. Please contact Miss Ponder – if you have any questions or can support this project in any way.

Canteen News

Hopefully you spotted the special Red Nose day recipe cards above. There are also a set of recipes celebrating British Pie Week – there are quite a lot to choose from so you’re bound to find something that you like the look of.


Ski Trip

At half term Simon Balle returned to the slopes for our first Ski Trip in over 10 years. Despite a long journey the students were fantastic and once settled in their rooms, they were fitted with their Ski equipment and given time to explore the hotel. The students started their Ski lessons on Sunday with 3 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon, this continued for the following 5 days. 

Throughout the week it was amazing to see the students make significant progress, whether they were a beginner learning to snow plough turn and then parallel ski, or an advanced skier developing and refining the skill of carving on different red, black slopes and world cup slopes. 

Following the Skiing, students engaged in apres ski activities of bowling, a pizza night, swimming and use of the hotel facilities that included a sports hall, trampoline park, theatre room and a games room. 

Please look out for information about next year’s trip in the coming weeks as well as more posts on social media about about this year’s trip.


If you would like to speak to a member of the SEND team, you can book a virtual appointment of up to 15 minutes with a member of the SEND team using the following booking link: Booking link

Coffee morning invites have been sent (meetings to be held at the Larch Centre –  26th March 9.30am led by ADD-vance). Further information can be found on the link

Drama lighting

Thanks to fundraising by the PSA we have had the drama studio lighting re-fitted. 

This week the students have been experimenting with different lighting states and exploring the impact of colour on mood and atmosphere.  The new lighting system will enable students across the year groups to work with different lighting techniques in their drama lessons.

Sixth Form News

This February we held our first ‘Apprenticeship Information Evening’ for students and parents/ carers in years 11-13. The information covered topics such as:

  • The types of apprenticeship available
  • Myths about apprenticeships
  • Applying for apprenticeships and the application process
  • The selection process
  • Developing the skills required for apprenticeships

We were also fortunate enough to have a speaker from GSK who discussed the apprenticeship opportunities available at the company. We hope that all the students and parents/ carers who attended found it useful and informative.

On Tuesday 27th February, Year 12 and Year 13 students attended a presentation from the University of Hertfordshire on Student Finance in the Main Hall. This discussed repayments of student loans as well as the different bursary and scholarship opportunities available to students. For Year 13 students who have not applied to university we arranged for the Director of Fore Street Recruitment to talk to them with a focus on making competitive job applications, employment contracts and tips on what to look out for when accepting jobs.

Amongst all this (and preparing for exams) the students have found time to hold a Valentine’s Bake Off competition. There were some fantastic entries – click on the pictures for a closer look!


Please click here for our latest careers opportunity blog. This edition includes

  • Virtual University fairs
  • Apprenticeship opportunities 
  • London Career Festival

Royal Navy Teamwork and Leadership Activities

On 29th of February our Year 9 had some great activity and enjoyable sessions from the Royal Navy. Each form had two hours, half in what the Navy calls Upper Deck Sports and the second a STEM building activity. In the sports the students had plenty of exercise playing two team games, the first a cross between cricket and dodgeball and the second a variation on netball where students with buckets replaced the hoops. The building activity had small groups using a kit to build a communications tower which had to meet three criteria. 1.It must be freestanding 2.It had to be over 6 feet high and 3.The wheels had to be mounted at the top. Once the tower was built it had to withstand a shake test from the RN team. All the activities were designed to improve life skills, the foremost being teamwork, leadership and communication and our students showed these in abundance.

Help needed!

On the 22nd – 26th April 2024 our Year 12 students will be taking part in Work Experience placements. Unfortunately, some students do find it very difficult to find placements that are linked to areas they are interested in pursuing in the future and this is where we hope that you can help. We still have a number of students who are still looking for a placement. If you are able to offer a placement during this week please contact us at  and let us know the area of business/industry that you work in and we will be in touch as soon as we can. We would be very grateful for any support!

Parent Staff Association

Vice Treasurer Opportunity

Simon Balle Parent Staff Association is seeking a dedicated individual to fill the role of Vice Treasurer. You’ll help tol support our Treasurer and work with the school, ensuring the financial health and success of our association. This is a great opportunity to make a meaningful impact and contribute to the success of our school community. To find out more, please come along to our next meeting on 26th March at 7pm (Secondary Library) or email us by March 31st

Volunteers needed for the Wind and Brass evening

Can you help out on the bar during the Music Department’s Wind and Brass evening on April 27th? If so, please sign up via this link. Your commitment is greatly appreciated, and we look forward to creating memorable experiences together!

Secondary pre-loved uniform plea

The secondary pre-loved offering has been highly successful. We are running low on secondary items and so welcome your uniform donations, in clean condition with no stains or holes.  Please drop off to secondary reception.

Slice of Summer, 13th July – Sponsor search

Is your business in the position to sponsor our summer fair? Match Funding is an easy way to boost fundraising efforts – Does your company support this initiative?

Can you donate a star prize to the Summer Raffle? From Spa days to holiday home stays, vouchers to experiences –  all donations will be well received!

Please email

Interested in taking a pitch at the summer fair? Join our Stallholder Database to express your interest.


On Friday 1st March all students in Year 7-10 were fortunate enough to have a performance and talk from up and coming singer Grace George.

Grace talked about her own experiences coming across substances, why she chose to say no, and how she has seen other people affected negatively by these substances and making bad decisions. She discussed how living a healthy lifestyle is beneficial at all stages of life and impacts all areas of life. She talked through how these situations arose, her reaction, what she did, along with the risks and consequences of the situations. She also discussed the best ways to tackle peer pressure at school. The main message of the presentation was “to make the right decisions in life”, and “to live a healthy lifestyle.” On top of this, she discussed mental health, the causes of mental health problems (stress at school, relationships etc), her own mental health issues and who to turn to for help as well as the importance of speaking up. Alongside this she also performed some well known songs and her own tracks which the students thoroughly enjoyed!


Please find the time to watch these important videos about railway safety – over 20 million students, parents and teachers from across the UK have already watched these videos which has led to a significant decrease in the number of fatalities and injuries in their area through watching the safety videos.. There are different versions aimed at different age groups please choose the one most appropriate for your children.

Dates for your diary

A full calendar of events can be viewed on the school website.

  • Saturday 9th March: Big Band Evening
  • w/c 11th March: Y8 & Y10 Spain trip
  • Friday 15th March: Model United Nations
  • w/c 18th March: Reception parent evenings 
  • Monday 18th March: Y2 Windsor Castle trip
  • Tuesday 19th March: Y12 UCAS trip
  • Wednesday 20th to Friday 22nd March: Y10 Geography day trips
  • Thursday 21st March: Year 5&6 District Netball at Wodson Park
  • Friday 22nd March: Year 5&6 District Football at Wodson Park
  • Monday 25th March:  Simon Balle’s Got Talent (more details to follow
  • Monday 25th March: Years 3,4,5 and 6 Cross Country at Hertford Rugby Club


  • Forgotten Items – If your child has left something at home and they need to have it in school, please bring the item in a bag with their name on it, to the school office from where the student can collect it.  Unfortunately, we are unable to take items directly to students.
  • Dogs –  We kindly remind everyone that dogs are not permitted on the school grounds. This is in place to ensure the well-being and safety of all individuals within our school community.

Wishing everyone in our community a positive and fulfilling fortnight ahead.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs Rachel Kirk and Mr Michael Moss (Co-headteachers)