Friday 3rd November

Co-headteachers’ welcome

We cannot believe that November has already begun! As with every year, an adjustment is needed with the change to the clocks, lighter mornings but darker evenings, and the need for warm fires, enjoying autumn and even looking forward to winter too. We do hope that everybody within our community has had an enjoyable and restful half term break. 

At this half-way point it is a great moment to reflect on all that was achieved by our wonderful young people last half term and look forward as well to the plentitude of opportunities during autumn 2. Please do keep an eye on our social media channels for the October highlights! To begin here, we would like to reflect upon the importance of our partnership between home and school. All the way from Reception to Year 13, we know that when there is a strong engagement between parents and school staff, we jointly provide the very best possible opportunity for our young people to thrive. This is evident in how well our Reception children have settled, already demonstrating an understanding of our Simon Balle values and establishing good routines with reading daily at home, sustaining child-initiated opportunities indoors and outdoors in school, and developing independence and confidence. Some highlights of partnership events across the all-through have included: Year 11 information evening, Larch parents’ evenings with 1:1 meetings, Year 8 parents’ workshop, Year 10 parents’ evening and invitations too for meetings with a particular theme from trips to our SEND team. There is much more to follow  – we strive for 100% at each event, and ensure our materials are always tailored to be informative and helpful to all. Our aim is to communicate with parents/carers in as many ways as we can to provide support – this includes safeguarding and e-safety, and attached to this newsletter is helpful information about our young people staying safe when using X (formerly known as Twitter). We strategically plan to capture parent voice throughout the school year so that we can learn from your feedback and act upon it. Please do take the time to respond to our google forms (always designed to be quick!) – we will report back to you to celebrate strengths and highlight what is next. 

And so to Autumn 2! To give you a flavour, we are looking forward to the poignancy of Remembrance all-through ceremonies; the celebration of no less than eight concerts with musicians performing from Year 2 – Year 13; ongoing trips including GCSE drama, OCR outdoor sports, geography field work and Year 6 Macbeth performances in London; and a high profile to PSHCE and personal development, including the profile of anti-bullying week and enrichment after-school clubs continuing at a pace (

Please never forget that whilst we want to highlight here all the exciting opportunities and notable and memorable moments, the core of who we are and what we do is in each and every classroom every day. A highly positive climate for learning created, and an excellent quality of teaching and learning to inspire and engage our wonderful young people. We thank them here for making our school such a special place to be.

Primary and Sixth Form open evenings

We are pleased to invite prospective reception parents for September 2024 to visit the Larch to have a tour of our facilities, hear from some of our students and listen to speeches from our co-heads. For the Thursday 16th November open evening please arrive for 6pm; if you would prefer to come to the open morning on Wednesday 29th November, please email to book a place.

Our Sixth Form Open Evening will take place on Wednesday 22nd November from 5.30 – 7.30pm. Talks will take place in the hall at 5.45pm and 6.45pm. For further information and support please visit the Sixth Form section of our website. All of our current sixth form students are expected to attend to either act as guides for prospective students or to represent the different subject areas in classrooms. We hope to see as many of our current Y11 students there as possible to explore the different possibilities that sixth form has to offer.

Please share this information with anyone that you know that will be looking for primary or sixth form places in September 2024.

Pedagogy Portal

In this week’s portal, it’s a great opportunity to share the vehicle staff are using on our journey to reach our school improvement priority. Our aim is to achieve the highest quality of teaching and learning for all, through research-informed practice. Take a look as we begin the pathway to achieve this through the work of ‘Walkthrus’.

Internal Assessments

There have been quite a few internal assessments going on recently. For the first time our year 9 students sat their assessments in the hall to give them the experience of a real exam environment, year 12s completed in-class assessments this week and year 11 have their mock exams coming up in December. Dates for all these internal assessments (and the dates for reports and parents for each year group) can be found on the Assessment page of the website.

House competitions update

Over 60 students across the Larch centre and the secondary phase entered the Pumpkin decorating competition. There were so many spooky, creative and imaginative entries. Thank you to all of the students who entered.

The winners of the pumpkin competition are:

Larch centre:

  • 3rd – Elijah – Hedgehogs
  • 2nd – Darcey-Rose – Squirrels
  • 1st – Jacob – Owls

Secondary phase:

  • 3rd – Edie – 7N
  • 2nd – Martha – 10N
  • 1st – Vladyslava – 11L

Congratulations to our winners. They received Halloween treats and House points. All entries were awarded a House point. 

Our first Inter House sports competition of the year took place towards the end of October and what a great festival of sport it was. Year 7 students played touch rugby alongside the Year 8, 9, 10 and 11 Boys. The level of skill and technique was excellent with free flowing plays and students able to express themselves as well as representing their houses. The Year 8, 9, 10 and 11 Girls played Netball and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. A big well done to all students who participated so well displaying the school values throughout. The overall Year group winners were as follows;

  • Year 7 – New
  • Year 8 – Lea
  • Year 9 – Rib
  • Year 10 – Mimram & Lea
  • Year 11 – Ashbourne

You can see a full roundup and house league table here. Stay tuned for the next House competition!

Sport News

In other sports news we continue the Year 7 Boys football team beat Totteridge Academy 3-0 to progress to the next round of the National cup where they play Kingsmead School from Enfield. The Year 8 Boys football team progressed to the last 16 of the County cup beating The Grange Academy 3-2 after extra time in difficult conditions. They will now play Parmiters in the next round.  The Year 11 Boys beat Chiltern Hills Academy and progress to the next round of the National cup where they play Stoke Newington school. The Boys also play Kings Langley in the round of the Herts cup. Our Year 7 girls won their first game against Leventhorpe in the County cup and now play Knights Templar in the next round. The U14 Girls football team beat Adyfield 6-0 to progress to the next round of the County Cup too. 

In Netball news, our U16 girls play Stanborough in the County league this week and have been going strong so far in a very competitive league. 

In Golf news, on Wednesday 18th October, the Schools Scratch Championships Rose Bowl took place at Chesfield Downs Golf Club. Well done to our Year 12 representatives Alfie and Kieran who performed very well. For more information on our Sport extra-curricular activities please visit our Sports web pages on the school website –

Y9 Battlefields Trip

The second Year 9 trip to Belgium was a great success. Students gained a valuable insight into the context of the First World War by exploring key sites linked to the conflict in and around the town of Ypres, including various cemeteries, museums and former battlefields. Their impeccable conduct, engagement and enthusiasm was a credit to the school; one highlight was when Holly and Alexander laid a wreath on behalf of the Simon Balle community during the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate. Students commented that “I understand more about the scene and atmosphere the soldiers were dealing with which will expand my knowledge in lessons” and “It added perspective to the information we learnt in class”. There are still places available for next year’s trip for students currently in 8 Mimram, New and Rib.

Remembrance Service Friday 10th November

School presidents will be visiting students in their form times from Monday 6th to Thursday 9th November, taking cash donations for a Poppy. These are to be worn on Friday 10th for our Remembrance Service. Break will be slightly later for the secondary students and the service involves standing for a while, so please make sure you have had breakfast in the morning and have a coat to wear.

Y13 Geography Field Trip

The Y13 geographers have just completed the second of their two compulsory field visits. Their four days in Dorset gave them the opportunity to carry out some different fieldwork techniques and revise the coasts and rebranding content from Y12. Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door provided some physical geography awe and wonder on the first day, before heading to the Youth Hostel for dinner and the usual evening lesson. On Tuesday they set out to explore the Jurassic Coast between Lyme Regis and Swanage, looking at the different ways in which the World Heritage Site has been used to rebrand and regenerate the area. Dangerous conditions resulting from Storm Babet forced a change of plans, and after a short walk into Swanage to look at the power of the sea, the students spent much of the day working on their coursework. On the final day the students carried out a transect of Boscombe to assess the impact of regeneration on the seafront. Well done to the Y13 students for their hard work and resilience.

Learning in the Larch

During October, the children have been developing their understanding of the purpose of Black History Month and how we at Simon Balle celebrate it throughout our curriculum all year round. The Larch students have been looking at significant figures who are Black and British, researching, discussing and developing their understanding of their actions and the huge impact they have on society. We are very fortunate to have a rich and diverse curriculum for children to explore these individuals and others all year round. The children had wonderful, insightful questions and statements to share of their experiences and knowledge. It has been fantastic to see the efforts made by the children and their understanding of the diverse world we live in. 

The children in Year 2 have been learning how to use expanded noun phrases in their writing. Focusing on ‘On the way home’ by Jill Murphy, they applied this grammar into their own pages of the book, being very creative with their ideas. It was wonderful to see the beginning of their new Science unit, where the children were given different items and sorting them into groups, using the clues to work out they will be learning about materials! 

Before half term, Year 3 were lucky enough to have a play on Year 5’s Scratch games. They were asked for their feedback and what needed debugging. The atmosphere in the room was amazing! In English, they have begun to analyse different fables and what a moral is. Over the next couple of weeks, they will be writing their own fable stories.

In Maths, Year 4 have been busy learning and applying the bus stop method for division. This is a tricky method and they showed great determination with it. The excitement has started in English with them beginning their unit linked to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. These next few weeks will be filled with mystery, magic and wonder! 

In Maths, Year 5 have been working hard on long multiplication. They have shown great perseverance, especially remembering the place holder in the second row! In Science, they have enjoyed starting their new topic of ‘The Earth, Sun and Moon’. 

This week in English, Year 6 have been writing their own newspaper articles based on the death of King Duncan in Macbeth. They have blown us away with their language choices and ambitious vocabulary. When we started our new Science topic of electricity this week, both classes were full of excitement when we created different types of circuits. 

Larch Maths equipment request for donations

If you have any spare measuring containers such as plastic measuring jugs or weighing scales (not electronic), we’d be grateful for any donations for us to keep in our maths cupboard for teaching measures across the Larch throughout the year. Please drop to the Larch office.

Library news

It’s been a busy half term in the library. Head over to the new Library News pages to find out more about what’s been happening and the events coming up this month such as Non-Fiction November.



Well done to the below students who passed their exams last term:

Seren Duo Acting Grade 2 – Merit, Sophie Duo Acting Grade 2 – Merit

Laurel Solo Acting Grade 4 – Distinction, Ben  Solo Acting Grade 4 – Distinction, Emma Solo Acting Grade 5 – Distinction, Robin Solo Acting Grade 4 – Distinction, Charlotte Solo Acting Grade 4 – Distinction

Oxford University Opportunities – Y12 students

Please find below a range of opportunities on offer at Oxford University for Year 12 students who are interested in applying to Oxford or Cambridge University next year:

Online recording of a recent information evening regarding Oxford University access programmes: 

The application forms for each of the programmes can be found below:

Careers and work experience

We’ve compiled a lot of links to upcoming careers events on our new Careers blog. Whilst many of these opportunities are aimed at older students, it’s never too late to start having a look at what’s out there.

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.

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!

Health, wellbeing and safeguarding

What parents need to know about…

Please click on the image below (or download the pdf) to find out What parents need to know about X (formerly Twitter).

Nut Aware School

Due to having a number of students and staff with allergies, a reminder to please not send your child in with any food that has nuts in or hidden nuts in, this includes bakewell tarts (almonds), and some cereal bars. We encourage a healthy substantial snack for breaktime such as fruit, crackers, breadsticks or a small sandwich which will give the children energy and focus until lunch (fruit is provided to reception and KS1). We thank you for your continued support.

NHS Public Health Newsletter

Please take a moment to look at the latest newsletter from the Public Health Nursing Team. This month’s letter includes lots of information about sleep and mental health, as well as useful contact details for a range of healthcare professionals and support services.

SEND Coffee Morning

This week the SEND and Attendance teams hosted a coffee morning for parents to discuss Emotionally Based School Absence (EBSA). Some useful discussions were held with the parents that came and showed the importance of home and school working together. 

Future coffee mornings are planned for both later this term and into next year. 

If you would like to speak to a member of the SEND team, and your child currently attends Simon Balle all through School, you can book a virtual appointment of up to 15 minutes with a member of the SEND team, please use the following booking link: Booking link

Attendance Reward Scheme

We would like to thank parents and carers for ensuring that their children are in school as much as possible. Our current attendance statistics are:

Whole school attendance 94.99%

Primary phase 97.88%

Secondary phase 93.87%

Our attendance sits slightly above the national average for school across the country but we are some way short of our aspirational target of 97% across the All-through. 

Students will be introduced to a new attendance reward scheme in the coming weeks with the chance to win a range of prizes. The competition will work on the basis of students earning a ‘ticket’ to go into the prize raffle for every week in school where they manage 100% attendance. The more weeks they have 100%, the more chances they have of winning a prize at the end of term. 

We are currently working with the PSA to gather a range of prizes which will appeal to our students and this will initially be run in the secondary phase. More information will follow in the next newsletter.

Giving back

Lego Donations

If there are any spare lego sets you no longer need and would be willing to donate to school please hand them in at the primary or secondary office. If there are complete sets with booklets and instructions this is great but we also welcome donations of bricks for more creative uses.

Frost Fair  

Please click here to see the PSA’s Frost Fair newsletter (this will open in a new window that will allow you to click through the pages of the letter). There’s lots of information about what to expect, and most importantly what needs doing to make it as successful as it has been in previous years.

We still need people to to volunteer to help out at the Frost Fair. 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!

With 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.

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 01992 410400 ext 236.

Raffle tickets

Tickets for the Winter Raffle are available to the all-through community.  Larch to Year 8 will receive tickets while Year 9 and above may collect from the school office.

This year, we are offering the option to pay for tickets online.  You will need to register and wait for admin approval before you complete your purchase. For more information, including prize list, visit the link above.


After numerous requests, our Festive Gin is back! Crafted by our friends at Spirit of Hertfordshire, save on postage by ordering before 30th November and select ‘local pick up’.  Orders will be available to collect at the Frost Fair on 2nd December.

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

Yours sincerely,

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