Friday 28th June

Co-headteachers’ welcome

The second half of the summer term is always exceptionally busy, but reminds us all as staff that we do genuinely have the best jobs in the world. At this time we are privileged to see almost every aspect of education lived out in the daily lives of our wonderful all-through students. 

Whilst we have already written about public examinations, it is so important to note that students in every year group (all the way from Reception up) are showing such wisdom and responsibility with internal assessments at this time, and we are proud of each and every one of them. Whilst our approach is always age-appropriate, our message is the same to all – ‘please show us your best, and we look forward to supporting you with what is next.’ As many sets of results filter in, we look forward to celebrating these with you, both individually and as a collective community. 

We pride ourselves on our work to support with transition at Simon Balle. Sometimes this is just as important at interim points from year to year as it is for the big milestones across key stages or even schools. In all, our ‘why’ is to ensure that ‘nothing is left to chance’ and to lead with commitment in our communication across students, parents/carers, feeder schools and more. It is with great delight that we are visiting nursery settings and Year 6 in primary schools, hosting induction days (please see sixth form induction below) with Year 7 soon to follow, and spending time with so many to ensure high support and high expectations in equal measure. Much more to come in the next four weeks!

It is a great problem to have, but where do I start with celebrating how pastoral and personal development enrichment experiences are supporting students across our all-through school in this fortnight?! To provide a flavour, I am keen to share:

  • Sports. District athletics on Wednesday (secondary) and Thursday (primary) this week – just so many achievements to share, as well as being the overall district athletics champions at both Primary and Secondary levels. It is a joy to see skills, honed through careful practice; determination, built over time; and just such community spirit in support of one another.
  • Politics. If you thought the nation were gripped you should zoom in further to all that is taking place at Simon Balle. We are so proud of our sixth form politics students who are passionate and knowledgeable, as well as gaining their own experiences of all that is required to be compelling politicians, aiming to inform and persuade. Do keep an eye on our social media for more!
  • Music. At the time of writing, a phenomenal (and hot!) rock gig is underway. Thank you already for so many parent comments of support in relation to both the musicality, independence and autonomy shown in such sophisticated music making. No concert must overshadow another at this time of year, and the Year 2 strings showcase is also to be very much looked forward to: the numbers and quality are a delight! Saffron Hall – the time is nearing – please keep students committed to rehearsals- please see our website for FAQs – and we look forward to welcoming you all. You can read more about all these events in June’s Musical News post.
  • STEM. From the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham (which included innovation from deterring seagulls from our school site to designing and building a low-cost laptop using a 3D printer and a mobile phone as the CPU) to the Year 9 industrial cadets celebration at Glaxo, Ware, where innovation and teamwork were celebrated in winning both events!

And finally, what a community we are! It is a great time of year to celebrate this and we welcome you into school and to so many events from our Awards Ceremony to Sports Presentation Evening, and from our music concerts to Larch transition opportunities. Please do check dates and invites here and in email communications to all. Finally, an enormous plea to support us at A Slice of Summer. All details are below, but we literally cannot continue to offer all that we do as an outstanding academic school, with amazing and enriching experiences, without your support. We thank you in anticipation for all that you can offer, and we look forward to the fortnight ahead.

District Athletics Champions (Primary and Secondary Level!)

On Wednesday Simon Balle competed at the District Athletics Championships (secondary level) at Wodson Park. With a 70+ strong team of athletes in sweltering conditions, our secondary students were ready and prepared to perform to their best. Eight teams competed for both individual, team and overall school honours. There were many highlights, with three District records broken and 21 individual champions alongside two relay successes. Oliver B (Y9) broke the 300m record whilst qualifying for the final, running 38.4 secs, beating the previous record of 40.0secs. Oliver went on to win the final with another strong performance. In the Junior girls, Emily W (Y9) continued her athletics success, winning the Triple jump in a District record of 8.83m. Our Year 7 Boys continued their strong season winning the relay in a District record time of 53.6secs. Our athlete of the day award went to Alisha P (Y13) who won the Senior Girls 100m, Long Jump and was part of the victorious Senior Girls relay team.  As well as the above successes we had a further 15 individual winners;
  • Mason K (Y7) – Minor Boys Long Jump
  • Rex T-W (Y7) – Minor Boys Hurdles & Standing Triple Jump
  • Eve R (Y7) – Minor Girls 1500m
  • Cora N (Y8) – Junior Girls High Jump & 800m
  • Emily P (Y8) – Junior Girls Discus
  • Sylvie S (Y9) – Junior Girls 1500m
  • Lincoln A (Y9) – Junior Boys Pole Vault
  • Elizabeth K (Y11) – Inter Girls High Jump
  • Charlie R (Y11) – Inter Boys Triple Jump
  • Naomi P (Y10) – Inter Girls 300m
  • Emilia C (Y10) – Inter Girls 800m
  • Ruben B (Y12) – Senior Boys 1500m
  • Adele P (Y13) – Senior Girls Triple Jump
  • Jacob A (Y13) – Senior Boys Pole Vault
  • Barney W (Y12) – Senior Boys 800m
As a result of the above as well as many fine performances from the rest of the team, including lots of top 3 finishes as well as students competing for the first time in events, we won the following team awards;
  • Year 8/9 Overall Athletics award
  • Year 10/11 Overall Athletics award
  • Y10/11 Girls Athletics award
  • Sixth form Overall Athletics award
  • Overall District Athletics Champions
As a result of the above Simon Balle became Overall District Athletics Champions for the first time since 2019, a phenomenal achievement and many thanks to all our students who performed to a very high level displaying buckets of resilience, perseverance and grit. We now look forward to Sports Day as well the Nicky Morris & Bruce Longden competitions.
On Thursday our Larch students attended the primary District Athletics event. Not to be outdone by their older team mates, they too were crowned Overall District Athletics Champions , having come first in the following age categories:
  • Y3 first place
  • Y4 first place
  • Y5 first place
  • Y6 joint first place

We only have these headlines at the moment (the news was breaking as we were going to press), so we’ll have a full report for you in next week’s Sports News

Sixth Form Induction Day – A Glimpse into the Future

On Monday, 24th June, our school welcomed soon-to-be sixth formers for an engaging and insightful Induction Day. This event provided students with a valuable opportunity to experience subject lessons, participate in team-building activities, and immerse themselves in the vibrant life of a sixth former.

The day began with students attending a series of subject lessons, designed to give them a taste of the diverse and challenging curriculum that awaits them in September. From the complexities of further mathematics to the creative freedom of art and design, the sessions were tailored to ignite curiosity and enthusiasm. Students appreciated the chance to meet their future teachers, ask questions, and get a feel for the academic expectations of sixth form.

In addition to the subject lessons, the induction day featured a variety of team-building activities. These exercises were not only fun and engaging but also essential in helping students build strong relationships with their peers. By working together to solve problems and complete tasks, students developed trust and camaraderie, laying the foundation for a supportive and cohesive sixth form community.

The sense of community is a cornerstone of our sixth form. Throughout the day, the importance of fostering a supportive and inclusive environment was emphasised. Whether through academic collaboration, social events, or peer mentoring, students were encouraged to contribute positively to the sixth form community. The induction day highlighted how a strong community can enhance the overall educational experience, providing a network of support and encouragement.

As students look forward to starting sixth form in September, the induction day serves as another crucial source of support. The experience equips them with the knowledge and confidence to make informed decisions about their subject choices and future pathways.

Slice of Summer and Art exhibition

Don’t forget that the Art Exhibition and the PSA’s Slice of Summer event are both taking place on Saturday 13th July. We hope to see as many of you there as possible.  Please also see the PSA section at the end of this week’s newsletter.

Youth Sports Trust – Gold!

We are delighted to share that we have again achieved the Gold award in the School Games Mark. This is a significant accomplishment and a testament to the hard work and dedication of our students, staff, and the entire school community.

Our commitment to promoting a healthy and active lifestyle among our students is at the heart of what we do, and this recognition highlights the importance of our efforts. 

We look forward to continuing to build on this success in the future as we head towards earning the Platinum award.

Assessment in the Larch

Following the completion of Year 6’s SATs in early May, there have been a number of other exciting opportunities where students across the Larch have been able to showcase their academic progress and attainment. 

In EYFS, the team has worked alongside students to complete the EYFS Profile which has now been successfully submitted and will be shared with parents in their child’s end of year reports. Headlines for the cohort’s data include 82% of students meeting the Literacy early learning goal, 89% meeting in Communication and Language, 90% meeting in Personal, Social and Emotional Development and 95% in Physical Development.

We’re delighted to share that 95.2% of our Year 1 students have passed their Year 1 Phonics Screener. This is significantly above last year’s national average of 81% and gives our students the best possible grounding as they develop as life-long readers.

This week in Year 2, in readiness for their transition to Year 3, students have completed the optional SATs. Every student has risen to the challenge of their assessments and there is much to celebrate! We look forward to sharing each individual’s outcomes with their parents in due course.

Year 4 have worked incredibly hard across the year to master their times table facts and across two weeks in June have completed their Multiplication Tables Check. The average score for our Year 4 cohort is an impressive 23.1 out of 25 with 59% of students securing 25 out of 25. These figures are both above last year’s national averages of 20.1 out of 25 and 31%.

All the while, alongside the usual end of year assessments happening in each year group in addition to those mentioned here, we have completed a cross-school writing moderation process with Millmead Primary School to standardise our judgements from EYFS to Year 6 in writing. 

We look forward to sharing your child’s end of year data with you all before the end of the academic year and celebrating their impressive progress since September!

Please click here for our latest careers blog, including information about a fantastic virtual event opportunity with Lloyds Banking Group for Y10 – 12 students

Industrial Cadets Bronze Award

A group of Year 9 students attended the Industrial Cadets Bronze Award Celebration event at Glaxo, Ware. For the last 12 weeks students have been working on engineering projects, investing 20 hours of study. 

At the event, students presented their projects to a panel of industry professionals, competing against other local schools.There were two awards at stake: the Innovation Award and the Teamwork Award. We are pleased to announce that our students managed to win both awards, which are already on show in the trophy cabinet!

The Big Bang Fair

Following the success of the Year 9 Industrial Cadets, three students represented our school as finalists at the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham last week.

Sam and Daniel (Year 12) experimented methods of deterring seagulls from the school site, modifying a drone by attaching a model falcon to it. Bors (Year 10) designed and built a low-cost laptop using a 3D printer and a mobile phone as the CPU.

All three students did an amazing job in qualifying as finalists, competing against other students nationally. Bors finished runner-up in his category, which is a fantastic achievement.

UK Maths Trust Junior Maths Challenge invitation-only follow on round

Congratulations to Year 8 students Oliver H and Eva W for being invited to take part in the UK Maths Trust Junior Kangaroo competition. This invite-only event is open to those that have achieved highly in the Junior Maths Challenge. Just been invited puts these students into the top 0.25% in the country. Both did extremely well, narrowly missing out on merit status by a few marks.  Congratulations both.

Open events 2024

We are looking forward to holding our annual open day on Saturday 21st September. We expect all secondary students to attend school on the morning to act as guides or helpers in departments. We also invite all Year 5 (current Y4) students to be on site. Students will either be conducting parent tours in the Larch, or helping in Larch classrooms. Some children will additionally be involved in music or sport – we will write to you separately if this is the case. We will send a Google Form in September to confirm if your child is available to support.

Full details will be sent out early in September.

Our full calendar of open events in the autumn term is as follows:

  • Saturday 21st September 0830-1230: All-through Open Morning
  • Wednesday 2nd October 1730-1930 – Sixth Form Open Evening
  • Wednesday 27th November 0900-1015- Primary Open Morning

Transition – Year 6 into Year 7

We are really looking forward to welcoming our new cohort of Year 7s that will start with us in September. The transition process is well under way and new Head of Year 7 Mr Gordon, along with other staff, have conducted primary visits to our feeder schools to meet with every new student. This process was also completed in the Larch too with our Year 6 classes as we look to get to know the students even better. There is a real sense of excitement about moving on to the next step in the educational journey, as well as a few nerves! Mr Gordon is now working on the form lists for next year and there are some key dates coming up:

  • Wednesday 3rd July – Parents Transition Evening – Secondary Hall – 5.50 arrival for a 6pm start (this is a parents-only event)
  • Thursday 11th July – Transition Day – All Year 6’s to arrive in school at 8.20am
  • Wednesday 28th-Friday 30th August – Summer School 

Summer School Sign Up Link

Food hygiene rating

Congratulations to our catering team for achieving the highest possible rating of 5/5 during the recent inspection by East Herts District Council. This is a fantastic achievement and testament to their hard work and dedication.

Student Presidents

We are thrilled to announce the appointment of six exceptional Year 12 students as our new Student Presidents. This year, the selection process was more competitive than ever, reflecting the outstanding calibre of our student body.

The journey to becoming a Student President was rigorous. Candidates underwent a comprehensive application process that included written submissions, interviews, and delivered a talk on the importance of student leadership. They all demonstrated a profound commitment to our school community and commitment to the role.

Meet Our New Student Presidents:

  • Grace Swaffield
  • Isabel Pullara
  • Jesse Davies
  • India O’Sullivan
  • Taylor Arm
  • Zoe Gollop

These students have shown that they possess the qualities necessary to lead our school with integrity, creativity, and passion. They are not only exemplary students but also role models who embody the values we strive to instil in all our students.

As they step into their new roles, we are confident that Grace, Zoe, India, Isabel, Taylor and Jesse will continue to inspire their peers and contribute significantly to the school’s growth and success. We look forward to seeing the positive impact they will undoubtedly make in the coming year.

Please join us in congratulating our new Student Presidents and supporting them as they embark on this exciting journey!

A reminder that your child can sign up for the summer reading challenge either online or in person at your local library. The challenge runs from July 6th in England, welcoming children aged 4-11. Participants can read any books they like (really – anything!)  and earn rewards for their efforts. This year’s theme, “Marvellous Makers,” celebrates creativity in various forms, from dance and drawing to music and junk modelling.

You can read more about the summer reading challenge on their dedicated website.

Summer reading letter to parents and carers: Summer Reading Challenge 2024

Nominate your school to win £1,000 for the library

This summer, our big schools prize is back to give five schools the chance to win £1,000 in National Book Tokens and a year’s free membership to the School Library Association; PLUS one overall winner will receive £500 to help them create a fun and welcoming library space for all.

Nominate a school and if yours is one of the five winning entries, you’ll also receive a £100 National Book Tokens gift card to spend in your favourite bookshop.

Click here to nominate a school
This competition will close after 31/07/2024.

Drama Club Performance

Students from years 7-10, who have been attending our weekly drama club, presented their first play to years 3 and 4 on Thursday 20th June. 

Jamie in the Land of Dinnersphere is an educational play promoting the importance of healthy eating. Jamie travels to the land of Dinnersphere on a mission to defeat the evil dinner witches who have taken control over school dinners…for the worse! With the help of the audience, Jamie and his new friends ensure that children in  British schools eat well so they live healthy, happy lives.

The performers have shown outstanding commitment getting the piece ready and consistently demonstrated our values of community, courage and aspiration. They also had a great time

A special thank you to Martha Hursey in year 10 for her prop making skills – robot dude and a giant key brought the story to life for both cast and audience.

Parent Staff Association

Slice of Summer final countdown!

Final plea for volunteers. Can you spare just an hour on 13th July, and support your year group at this year’s Slice of Summer? Student signups will be entered into a draw to win a £20 Amazon voucher. Sign up now!

5th JulyLarch Character Spoon Competition. Win a voucher from The Entertainer.

W/C 8th JulyYear 7 and 8 Hampers. Prize for the forms with the best hamper.

Wednesday 10th July Larch Summer Accessory Day (donate a bottle)

Friday 12th JulyAll-through Summer Bake Off. Drop names entries to the staff room.  £20 Amazon voucher goes to the winning bake.

Summer Raffle reminder – please return your purchased or unwanted tickets promptly. Don’t miss out on your chance to win a two night stay for up to 6 people in a beautiful Whitstable holiday home!

By 10th July – If you are able to donate any soft toys that are in good, clean condition, these will support the Year 2 Teddy Tombola area at the Slice of Summer. Please drop donations to the office by 10th July.

Bar and Refreshment support needed

The PSA are happy to be supporting the Year 8 Celebration Evening on 9th July and the Sports Presentation Evening on 10th July.

Are you able to lend a hand with these events? Help is needed with serving refreshments.  You will not be alone but we do need more offers of help.

Please see the sign up sheet for information on timings and to sign up.  Thank you in advance.

Sports Hall construction begins on Monday 15th July

We are excited to announce that work will be starting on the Sports Hall before the end of term. The contractors will be arriving on site on Monday 15th July and will begin erecting the compound that will enclose the works.

As previously communicated, the building works will cause considerable disruption to the front of the school, particularly the car park. We will send more detailed plans in the next two weeks, but students who travel by car should make alternative arrangements for dropping off and collection: the London Road car park is an 11 minute walk, has ample space and is far easier to enter and exit than the school site.

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

  • Wed 3rd July: Year 2 Deer Class Development Day and Y6 into Y7 transition evening (parents-only)
  • Sat 6th July: Saffron Sounds
  • Mon 8th July: Year 2 Rapid Fire Cricket and Awards evening 6-7pm (Invitations to follow)
  • w/c 8th July: Year 7 and 8 Hamper competition
  • Weds 10th July: Sports Presentation Evening (Invitations to follow)
  • Weds 10th July: Larch Summer Accessory Day
  • Weds 10th July: Phase 3 Open Afternoon 3.15pm – 4.15pm
  • Thursday 11th July: New Reception Parents Morning
  • Thursday 11th July: Larch Transition Day
  • Fri 12th July: Larch Sports Day (more details to follow in due course)
  • Fri 12th July: Year 3 and Year 4 Dress Rehearsal
  • Fri 12th July: All-through Summer Bake Off
  • Sat 13th July: Slice of Summer and Art and Design All-through Exhibition 12-4pm
  • Monday 15th July: Year 3 and 4 School Production 5.30pm – 7pm
  • Monday 15th – Wednesday 17th: Year 6 School Journey to Sherringham
  • Wednesday 17th: Phase 1 and 2 Open Afternoon 3.15pm – 4.15pm
  • Wednesday 17th: Year 2 Celebration Event (parents invited)
  • Friday 19th: Year 6 Leavers Assembly 8.50am (parents invited). Will be held in the secondary hall.

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

Yours sincerely,

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