Friday 13th October

Co-headteachers’ welcome

I do hope everyone has enjoyed the remnants of the summer at the weekend as we move further into the autumn term. I am sure our ‘welly walkers’ in reception will see the changing colours of autumn as they walk though our lovely school grounds. At school we have spent a lot of time walking the corridors and popping into lessons to see the learning taking place.We have witnessed high levels of engagement, discussion, challenge and collaborative group work which has been a delight to see.  It is also inspiring to see students across all phases of our school displaying and modelling the values we feel so proud of.

On a personal note it was lovely to attend the residential battlefield trip on the 5th and 6th of October. As part of the itinerary we visited Passchendaele, Langemark Cemetary, Essex Farm, Tyne Cott Cemetary, Sanctuary Wood and Flanders Field museum. Students were a real credit to our school, absorbing  information, asking lots of questions and  seeing their classroom learning translate into real life. A poignant moment was watching two of our Year 9 students laying a wreath as part of the ceremony at Menin Gate.  Although many were excited by the last visit to a chocolate shop it reiterated to me how important educational trips are and how our students are creating such wonderful memories with their year group. The second group (due back this evening) will have had a great time too!

Finally it is always a pleasure to take prospective students around the school showing off our fantastic school. This week and next we are welcoming prospective Year 7 students and parents and giving them an opportunity to visit lessons. The best way we can show off our school is by seeing our staff and students in action!

Sixth Form open evening

Our Sixth Form Open Evening will take place on Wednesday 22nd November from 5.30 – 7.30pm.

To ensure that students are given the best possible support to make appropriate option choices,  over the coming week, during form time, year 11 students will watch videos covering subjects which are not available at GCSE, but are on the Sixth Form curriculum. At the open evening you will then have the chance to further explore option choices at Key Stage 5. For further information and support, we would strongly recommend looking at the Sixth Form section of our  website.

Pedagogy Portal

In this week’s newsletter, it is important to share the reading and research that staff are using to develop their teaching to meet our improvement priorities. Whilst we look forward to sharing with you our main professional development programme, our thinking this year is how we can go from great to greater in the classroom. In the Pedagogy Portal this week, I recommend ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear. This is a comprehensive, practical guide on how to change your habits and get 1% better every day. 

Please click the link to read further:

Year 13 BBC STEM trip

Wednesday 27th September, myself, Miss Chuchla and three other year 13 geography students went on a day trip to the BBC Broadcasting House in London. Two other schools took part in London and the same activities were taking part in Cardiff, where we were a zoom call with the other students. We were based in the BBC STEM area of the building.

Firstly, we had a talk from a BBC weather presenter about her day to day working life. A typical work day lasts 12 hours (shifts) and consists of lots of things from creating graphics to putting on green screens to being on live television.

Then we had a talk from a forecaster- someone who isn’t normally on live TV but actually goes and analyses the data used to put together a forecast. We learnt about Stevenson screens that are used to collect data such as air temperature and how they interpret the data. They then spoke about how this is then transformed into what we see on TV. I found this really interesting as I have always wondered how they made them!

After lunch, we were shown the code behind the BBC weather app and discussed how a climate change element could be added. For example, adding a section on ‘the weather a year ago…’. We were also discussing climate change and the key differences we can expect.

Finally, we were asked to plan a weather forecast for the year 2100. The background graphics were made for us, showing the predicted temperatures for that time of year. We either presented for a winter’s day or a summer’s day. I was given a summer’s day. We weren’t allowed a script so it was all on the spot. We were given about 15 minutes to look over our graphics and plan out a few things we wanted to say.

Then we got to present it! As a school group, we went into a studio- there was a green screen and several cameras. We each got to present on our own and it was quite nerve racking! This experience helped me realise that I would be interested in a career in this sector. 

Francesca Year 13

Giving back

Harvest festival

On Monday 2nd October, Y1-6 walked to All Saints Church for their Harvest festival celebrations. The generosity of our Larch community meant we were able to donate 16 crates worth of food and essentials to The Hertford Pantry- thank you!

Our governors expressed their thanks to the students:

It was a service for all with so many excellent contributions – spoken, sung and visual – the students were very engaged and superbly behaved. The support from our sixth form, with gorgeous music but also practical help, really added to the event.” Anna Orpin, vice chair of the full governing body.

I echo Ann’s comments, a wonderful and touching service.” Paul Connolly, chair of the full governing body.

Christmas Gift Drive

Future Living Hertford is collecting for families in need this Christmas. Please click the image to see the flyer.

Hertford and District Foodbank

If you would like more information about the Hertford and District Foodbank, please see the flyer or contact contact Tania Noxon on or 01992410400 ext 236.


A reminder about online payments

At Simon Balle, we use an online payments portal called Parent Portal to manage all of our financial transactions with parents with the exception of secondary school dinners. The links to Parent Portal and ParentPay can be found here:


You can read more about these systems on our website.


The SEND team has weekly virtual appointments that can be booked online via the website or by following this Booking link. Appointments for after half term are available for up to fifteen minutes. It has been a good way to catch up with parents in our school community and offer advice or share what is in place at school.

Learning in the Larch

The children in reception have thoroughly enjoyed their recent additions to the classroom. They have been patiently watching and waiting as eggs hatch and chicks are born. They are learning how to care for them and have loved having other year groups visit them to witness too. Phonics is now in full swing and the children are learning sounds, identifying them at the beginning of words and writing them using cursive handwriting. 

Beebots have joined PE lessons in Year 1! The children have created obstacle courses for beebots and worked really hard to program them to move through safely. The children have been using appropriate language for directions and loved seeing if their algorithms work.

Year 2 have been focusing on one of their literary canon texts ‘On the Way Home’ by Jill Murphy. They have looked at how the main character changes her story about her ‘bad knee’ on each page! The children have had a go at writing their own page, coming up with all sorts of peculiar ways the character hurt themself! Also, they have been looking at inference skills in Reading, exploring how ‘Iggy Inference’ can help them to find clues in the text to be able to find out what is happening.

In Year 3, they have been studying Amelia Earhart and writing their own stories based on her life. They have been able to recall significant events and explain why she is such an important and inspirational figure! During Geography lessons, Year 3 have been looking at the different climates around the world and studying each one in more detail. It has been wonderful to see their home learning based on this too. 

During English lesson, Year 4 have been looking at a poem called ‘The Highwayman’. It is a very tricky poem with lots of difficult language which the children have loved unpicking. They have been busy turning this poem into a narrative using their fantastic writing skills and writing letters in the voice of The Highwayman himself! In Maths, the next layer of times table learning has begun with them working with multiples and learning keywords such as factors and product. 

This week, Year 5 have enjoyed writing newspaper articles based on the book ‘Tuesday’. They have worked on embedding relative clauses into their writing to add extra information and used punctuation to correctly mark this. Year 5’s  science knowledge has continued to go from strength to strength and they have been able to apply their knowledge of air resistance to make predictions about how water resistance would impact different objects falling through water.

Year 6 have been enjoying their rehearsals for Macbeth, they were lucky enough to take part in a Shakespeare Schools Festival workshop where they could work with a professional director and develop scenes in their plays. In English they have been immersed in our lessons where we have been writing a letter as Macbeth to his wife. They have been including ambitious vocabulary and a range of punctuation to really add to the meaning of their writing.

Sports News

It’s been a busy month for the SBAS sports teams. You can read about their performances in the new Sports News blog, along with information about next week’s Inter House Sports fixtures.

Sixth Form Enrichment – More than just great A Levels

We have over 250 students in our Sixth Form, who study a range of A level and vocational subjects. We are proud of the young adults that promote our values and are role models for the rest of the school. Sixth Form students are fully integrated into the life of the all-through school.

However, as well as their academic studies, year 12 students have the opportunity to participate in their chosen enrichment activity each week. This could include working in a classroom with primary or secondary phase students. This term over 30 Sixth Form students have chosen to sign up to the Larch Outreach programme and spend two hours each Friday morning supporting reception to year 6 classes. Lila, currently working with year 4 said “I honestly look forward to enrichment each week. Everyone is really enthusiastic and it’s such a positive experience. So far I have been working with a small group of students helping them with their 3 and 5 times tables.”

As part of the Music Academy, Mr Taylor offers guidance each week and support for those students wishing to progress on a musical pathway. The students are currently working towards delivering a number of performances in the local community and project managing the music for the upcoming Frost Fair.

Working with Mr Ford, a team of creatives including; writers, budding-journalists and designers are looking to establish a new Sixth Form magazine that will be published termly. Our recently appointed Editor-in-Chief, Caitlin is keen to hear of any local news stories or events the team could attend and review. We hope to share our publication with staff, students and parents plus enter national competitions for art, design and literature. 

For the first time, Simon Balle All-through School is participating in the Young Enterprise scheme where students are provided with the opportunity to set up their own business. Young Enterprise is designed to give young people an insight into how a successful business operates. So far students have selected Otto as their Managing Director and are enjoying the development phase.

We understand the pressures and stresses of being an A level student. To support fitness and health our enrichment offers students the opportunity to get active during the week. Working in partnership with Hartham Leisure Centre, Sixth Form students have continued to access the brand new multi-gym. They are currently preparing to attend their first spin-class. Good luck! For those students looking for quieter, more reflective physical activity, the Sixth Form offers yoga sessions delivered by fabulous local charity The Secret Space.

Our enrichment offer also supports students with their preparation for next steps and personal development. Already this term we have welcomed Talent Manager, Lauren Christie from Sky Studios, Hertfordshire Constabulary and the OLLIE foundation.  

This has been a truly exciting start to the academic year for our students.

The Great European Bake Off

As reported briefly last time, we celebrated European Day of Languages at SBAS. All students attended an assembly on the essential values that language learning can instil in us all, such as resilience, respect, tolerance and wisdom. To continue the celebrations, we also hosted ‘The Great European Bake Off’. The students were asked to design and bake cakes related to the theme of ‘Europe’. We were completely blown away by the entries from students spanning all year groups in the secondary phase, with creations ranging from croissants to Eiffel tower cakes! In the library we showcased all of the designs and we had over 206 votes cast for the winners! Thank you to all those who took part. Please also take a look below at some of the creations! Here are the final results:

The winners for the three categories are:

  • Josh (Year 7) – Cake best linked to the European Theme
  • Charlie, Lily and Willow (Year 9) – Tastiest looking cake
  • Summer (Year 8) – Best decorated cake


Issues relating to ‘no-caller ID’

There appears to be an issue for some mobile phone users when receiving telephone calls from the school. Instead of displaying our phone number it appears as ‘no caller ID’. Unfortunately this is to do with the mobile network and is not something that we can change.

Young Herts talent

It has been a wonderful start to the new school year for the YHT programme with 32 young people over years 7 & 8 taking part in group work and 35 young people in  years 9-13 meeting with their mentors on a weekly basis. This number is set to rise to 50 over the coming weeks. We look forward to these relationships growing from strength to strength and it is great to hear how the mentors are supporting our young people with career guidance, general support and encouragement.   

Young Herts Talent is a mentoring programme from MCR Pathways designed to help young people unlock their potential.

By providing weekly group work sessions for selected students in Year 7 and Year 8 and taking the time to carefully match students in Years 9-13 with their very own mentor based on interests and career aspirations, we help young people to realise their skills and progress onto a positive destination after leaving school.

Mentors visit students in school once a week and commit to at least one full academic year of mentoring.  As long as both the student and the mentor are happy to do so, the mentoring relationship is able to continue until the student leaves school in Year 11, or Year 13 if staying on in the Sixth Form.  This ensures that students receive encouragement and support to succeed for the entirety of their Simon Balle journey.


What parents and carers need to know about Whatsapp and supporting children with upsetting content (click images to open the attachments).


Picking up and dropping off

For the safety of all pedestrians using the pavements around the site, please can we once again remind parents not to drop students off outside the school gates. The road is not wide enough to safely turn around, and the extra traffic generated is causing problems for local residents and people needing to access our site. The London Road car park is a much safer place to drop and pick up students: there is plenty of space to park and there is a safe walking route between there and the school site.

Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

Please have a look at this important Schools Stay Safe Newsletter from the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service. Click on the image to open the attached document.


Please take a look at some of these exciting careers opportunities coming up over the next few months:

  • IBM Early Careers Webinar – 17th Oct 6:30pm to 7:15pm – click here
  • Parent and Carers Virtual Open Evening for Creative Careers (18th October) – click here
  • Tomorrow’s Engineers Week 6th to 10 November – webinar – click here
  • Meet Dentons: Life as a Solicitor Apprentice at the World’s Largest Law Firm – 21st Nov 6:30pm to 7:15pm – click here
  • Careers in Business – Virtual Expo, 6th Dec 8:30am to 5:30pm – click here
  • PWC Work Experience 2024 (Year 12) – click here
  • Virtual work experience opportunities – click here
  • Year 12 Sutton Trust applications are now open – click here

PSA Events

7th November – PSA AGM and Meeting

Join us in the Secondary Library for a cheese and wine reception from 6.30pm, ahead of our AGM. You’ll learn about some of the upcoming events, meet the team and will have the opportunity to share your fundraising ideas. We urge as many supporters to attend as possible.  You will not be committing to anything, but good attendance will allow us to elect a larger number of committee members. If you are unable to attend but are interested in supporting us or sharing ideas, please take a moment to register your interest here.

10th November – Manic Ceramics Festive Paint

We would love to be able to offer a Manic Ceramics festive paint session after school on Friday 10th November.  Before we can open bookings, a good number of volunteers is needed to help oversee this event.  This event is for all Larch children, as well as students in Year 7 and Year 8 who can work independently.. Can you help? Sign up here!

2nd December – Frost Fair, Volunteer and Sponsor Search

Will your business be our next sponsor? Our popular all-through Frost Fair is less than two months away and we are searching for sponsors for this year’s event.  With a bar, raffle, inflatables and games, we hope to be able to gain your support with one of these areas. Please email if your company may be able to support us.

Calling all volunteers!  Students, staff and adults alike, can you spare just an hour of your time on Saturday 2nd December to help make this year’s fair a success? Sign up here! There’s a craft market, games, entertainment, craft activities, a super sized inflatable snow dome, mulled wine and giant pigs-in-blankets with all the trimmings – we know you’ll find something that you’ll love.

All student sign ups that complete their volunteer slots will be awarded a House Point and will also be entered into a draw to win a £20 Amazon voucher.

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

Yours sincerely,

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