Friday 17th November

Co-headteachers’ welcome

As I write this newsletter I can only reflect on how proud and humbled we were as co-headteachers when the whole school community came together for our Remembrance Service which was again a poignant experience. The whole school stood silent listening to students reading, the choir and the superb recital of the Last Post. It was a real time for reflection and to pay respect. We feel proud to organise this event which is always so moving.

What an incredible couple of weeks we have had to the new half term. The sports, music and enrichment compliments our learning in the classroom. I was suitably challenged in the primary chess club as I received multiple requests for matches from a very talented set of students, all eager to become the next Magnus Carlsen. Before my next visit I think I need to do some secret practice! We have so much to look forward to across this half term with planned enrichment opportunities a plenty. Please do keep an eye on our social media pages. 

Our all-through leadership allows us to continually stay in touch with and support our students’ development pastorally as well as academically. A highlight in the Larch this week has been Year 1 looking for clues into Beegu’s spaceship landing at Simon Balle. If you see some yellow or sparkly footprints around the site you know who they are from! At the other end of our age range there is a real buzz with our Year 11 and 13 students as they start to prepare for their mock exams. It is lovely to walk around the classrooms, from Reception to Year 13, listening to the positive learning relationships between students and teachers as they hone their knowledge and skills.  

In the last couple of weeks there have again been lots of events taking place. We were invited to hear our Year 12 present their Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). The enormous amount of work which has gone into these projects was reflected by the polished presentations. Topics were fascinating as much as they were diverse from space mining, terraforming, outsourcing to world war poetry. One parent commented ‘The projects were very interesting and varied and I’d like to thank and congratulate all the students for being so articulate, confident and engaging in their presentations. They were a real credit to the school and really conveyed the value of EPQs.  Well done to everyone! A thoroughly enjoyable experience’. It was wonderful to see so many students engaging in this enrichment opportunity which will have not only boosted their knowledge of their chosen topic, but also taught them so much about planning, research and communication skills.

Finally, we held our Larch Open Evening where we welcomed prospective reception students on Thursday 16th. This was a chance to showcase our students’ work, our strong ethos and values and the amazing learning culture that exists. It has certainly been a busy period in our school community!

Sixth form open evening

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. 

To help them prepare for their next steps, all Year 11 students will have a lesson this week focusing on the new A Level subjects (Economics, Film Studies, Media Studies, Politics, Psychology, BTEC Sport and Sociology) – providing them with information about the topics covered, assessment and future career pathways for each subject.

Some useful documents to read in advance of the open evening can be found below:

Subject guide – click here

Mini-prospectus – click here

For further information and support, we would strongly recommend looking at the Sixth Form section of our website.

Extra- curricular enrichment clubs at Simon Balle

We are proud of the high quality and varied opportunities we offer across the primary and secondary phase for students to engage in extra-curricular clubs. Recently Year 3+ took part in a student voice survey to give us their thoughts and opinions on what we offer. Below are just a handful of things they told us!

‘I think there is a lot of options for people to choose from and that is good’

‘I personally enjoy the clubs I attend as they allow me to connect with people easier whilst having fun’

‘I find the clubs that I attend very fun and active’

‘I love all the clubs I’ve been to!’

‘I really like the large range of clubs at Simon Balle’

‘I enjoy art enrichment because I get to spend time with my friends and be creative. It also helps me look forward to Wednesdays’

‘I particularly like the sports clubs because they are fun and they help me stay fit’

‘I really enjoy the clubs, there is such a wide range of them!’

Some students said they weren’t aware of the clubs on offer, so an action we will work on is promoting the clubs so both students and families are aware of what we are offering so no student misses out. There is now an updated enrichment notice board in the secondary dining room by the new drinks machines, clubs will be promoted in form times and the website will be updated regularly. 

This year we introduced a new enrichment programme for all Year 12 students to enhance their skills set and develop a range of employability skills. Please find below some statements from current Year 12 students regarding their enrichment experiences:

Teachers of Tomorrow: Every Friday morning for enrichment I do ‘Teachers of Tomorrow’, where I have the privilege of working with both Year 11 and Year 7 students for two hours dedicated to helping out in PE lessons, this includes, getting equipment ready, leading warm ups and helping individual students who may need help. During my time, I have enjoyed it and found it useful as it has enhanced both my leadership and communication skills. Additionally, in the future, this works hand in hand with my subjects, PE A level, specifically in the sports leadership module. (Harrie).

Larch Outreach: Every Friday morning, for the first two periods of the day, I help out a year 5 class in the Larch. This involves me helping the students with their maths worksheets, conducting dictation and supporting them whilst they polish their literary pieces. I enjoy assisting in the primary school as it allows me to give back to the school community and help the younger students to improve their understanding on different topics, such as multiplication. Volunteering encourages me to develop my communication and leadership skills whilst also improving my confidence when working with other members of staff. This is important for my next steps as it provides me with a strong foundation of team working skills as well as my employability. (Sienna).

Young Enterprise: Young Enterprise is an activity where you and the people who have also taken part in it are able to create a product to sell to the general public. You also can choose whether you want to keep the profits and split them between you all or give it to charity. Over the course of it you will be able to attend conventions national and internationally if you do well and local markets and  with cash rewards at the end of it all. I have found the experience very enjoyable so far as you get to work as a team and debate on your ideas and how you want to make your product the best it can be. The whole project shall help me progress with my Business Studies as I will get to understand how a small business operates and how to manage and understand profit. (Thomas).

Music academy: This option focuses more on the performance aspect of music. Over the past few months I have been preparing many pieces of music to perform with my group at various events. I have found the music academy very useful as well as highly enjoyable. It has boosted my confidence when performing and also taught me key performance skills.I have always been very interested in music and want to pursue it as a career.  (Eva)

School Magazine: The Simon Balle magazine group is aiming to create a sixth form magazine by the end of 2023, with articles, photography and art summarising the events of this year. The magazine group is a good way to express many differing levels of creativity, whilst also allowing you to develop your writing skills. I joined the magazine group as my enrichment option, in order to allow myself to explore the aspects of journalism (a career I am interested in) and what it’s really like, as well as to give myself an outlet for creativity in between my not so creative studies. I hope that my involvement in this enrichment option will help me eliminate or choose where or what I want to do after sixth form, as well as giving me some experience in journalism if I choose to go down that route. (Rosie).

For the extra-curricular enrichment opportunities for Y1-13, please follow the link: 

If your child is interested in joining a club, please look at the wide range of options available at lunch and after school on the above link to see which adult to speak to regarding joining, or contact Mrs Boyce if you have any questions:

EPQ Evening

Last Thursday, Year 13 hosted their EPQ exhibition. The Extended Project Qualification allows each student to embark on a largely self-directed and self-motivated project. Students choose a topic, plan, research and develop their idea and decide on their finished product. 

As students carry out their project they are required to record aspects of the process and then complete a write up exploring their main findings. This year, over 20 students completed the qualification. The exhibition celebrated the effort, hard-work and in-depth research that students have carried out over the past six months or so.  

Exhibition guests commented on the amazing achievement “I just wanted to congratulate all students who were present at the EPQ showcase. They were all so passionate and had so much to say about their projects. The students certainly knew their subject very well.”

“I just wanted to drop you an email to say how fantastic the sixth form EPQ event yesterday was. The projects were very interesting and varied and I’d like to thank and congratulate all the students for being so articulate, confident and engaging in their presentations. They were a real credit to the school and really conveyed the value of EPQs.  Well done to everyone! A thoroughly enjoyable experience.”

Please see below the diverse range of project titles:

Cross country

On Friday 3rd November twenty-four children in the Larch took part in a cross country competition against many other schools in the Hertford and Ware partnership. The children were a credit to the school demonstrating many of our school values and showing excellent sportsmanship. We were delighted with the following results from the competition as well as some excellent individual performances:

Year 5/6 boys -1st 

Year 5/6 girls -1st 

Year 3/4 boys -1st 

Year 3/4 girls -2nd 

With an overall 1st place as a school. Well done to all that were involved with this event.

Library news

Book fair in the Larch

The Travelling Books book fair will be returning to the Larch library between Monday 4th December and Thursday 7th December.

During the fair, the books will be available in the Larch library for students to browse. Here is a wish list document that students may bring into school and use during the school day if they wish to write down the books they would like to buy. Parents/carers can then view students’ book choices when they take their wish lists back home with them. Alternatively, you can browse the books online.

The book fair will be open to parents from 3:15-3:45 pm each day from Monday 4th December to Thursday 7th December. The book fair will be cash free.

If you would like to purchase any of the books you can either 1) pay for the books using a bank card and this QR code in the Larch library during the fair or 2) pay for the books online at home and then collect them from the Larch library during the fair.

To make payments please use the following link: Then in the ‘Find your school’ search box, please type in the following number: 16903841. Please bring evidence of the book order and payment.

 (You will not be able to purchase books until Monday 4th December.)

Poetry Competition

Well done to everyone who entered the Poetry Competition.The poems entered were really inspiring! It made it very difficult to judge them. All poems were judged anonymously by the author Alice Hemming. 

Congratulations to the winners:

Harrison (Year 6)

Robin (year 10)

Bors (year 10)

Willow (year 11)

Head on over to the Library News blog to read the winning entries and see a full list of the runners-up.


GCSE Drama

Y10 and 11 GCSE Drama students visited the local theatre on wednesday to see “The Laramie Project”. The Laramie Project is a thought-provoking piece of theatre. It is a true story about a young man called Matthew Shephard who was brutally murdered in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. In the aftermath of this awful crime Moises Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theatre project went to Laramie and conducted more than 200 interviews with its citizens. From the transcripts, the playwrights constructed a chronicle of the life in the town after the event. This will form part of their written exam ‘Live Theatre evaluation’ work, as well as being another fantastic theatre experience.

Health, wellbeing and safeguarding

What parents need to know about…

Please click on the links to find out what parents need to know about smart TVs and what parents need to know about Tik Tok and what parents need to know about microtransactions

SEND team at Simon Balle All-through School 

As an all-through school, our support for students with SEND is provided through a team approach. We work closely together, to ensure a consistency of support for children and their families. We support one another, so that we can all develop an understanding of the wide range of needs, and the presentation of these from Reception to Year 13. 

As you will know, Mrs Raven (SENDCo) begins her maternity leave later this month. We wish Mrs Raven all the very best, and we look forward to welcoming her back as SENDCo in due course. 

During this period, Miss Wood will be our all-through SENDCo. To support Miss Wood, we are pleased to share with you the SEND team: 

  • Mrs Kirk – headteacher – leading the team 
  • Miss Craik – all-through SEND manager 
  • Mr Robins – HOY12 and leading support for students with SEND in the sixth form 

We are delighted to welcome two new permanent members of the team:

  • Ms Howard – Family lead for inclusive education and wellbeing (Mon – Wed)
  • Mr Brown (E.) – Student lead for inclusive education and wellbeing (Wed – Fri)

Miss Wood, Ms Howard, Mr Brown and Mrs Kirk will all be proactively working in the Larch and the secondary phase of the school throughout the week. 

A reminder for all that the first point of contact (both for learning and pastoral wellbeing) should be your child’s class teacher/form tutor. Beyond this, please reach out to the heads of year and/or primary phase leaders. If your query is specifically in relation to SEND, please book a Calendly meeting in the first instance using this Booking link.

We look forward to welcoming our new team members and keeping all parents abreast of support within the SEND team across the all-through.

In related news, the Ofsted report from the SEND Inspection in Hertfordshire has recently been published. A link to this can be found here:

Frost Fair Reminder

Just a reminder that the Frost fair is fast approaching. There are lots of ways you can get involved – see the dedicated Frost Fair newsletter for more details.

Amongst other things there will be an opportunity to get your hands on a pre-loved Christmas Jumper – just the thing to help you get involved in supporting Christmas Jumper day on Thursday 7th December (more details to follow).

Lost property (primary and secondary)

We are finding an increase in unnamed lost property in corridors and classrooms. Please ensure your child’s clothing is named (either full name, or first name and class). 

We highly encourage the children to be showing the value of responsibility in keeping their belongings on their peg or in their locker, and we are thankful for your continued support at home in helping build this responsibility with us.


Please click here to view a range of different career opportunities including – Solicitor, Finance and Trading Apprenticeships. As well as opportunities for students interested in Engineering and Art.

Please remember to look at opportunities from our last blog post as many of these will have closing dates later in the year.

Learning in the Larch

The children in Reception are delighted to have finished learning their Level 2 sounds in Phonics and are rightly very proud of themselves! We are now working on reviewing the sounds learnt, and practising our segmenting and blending skills to read words accurately. The children have also begun rehearsals for their Christmas Nativity show and we are really impressed with their enthusiasm for all the songs they are learning.

Year 1 have continued their incredible learning of the character Beegu, and this week have been using their story maps to write their own story about Beegu’s adventures. They are taking great care to use time connectives and to use their cursive handwriting. 

It has been wonderful to see lots of the Year 2s so proud of their determination and resilience when learning the ‘rebalancing’ method when adding the numbers 9 or 11. 

Children in Year 3 have been very enthusiastic about their new History unit; The Stone Age. They listened to information about Skara Brae and found it fascinating how artefacts have been kept in such good condition. 

Year 4’s new Science unit is all linked to electricity and they have been looking at how to make a complete circuit. In D&T, to link to this, they have begun to design ‘light up’ Christmas cards where they will apply their electricity knowledge to the making of these! 

Year 5 have been hard at work writing autobiographies in English this week. They have also been learning how to turn remainders into decimals and fractions when completing short division problems. 

Year 6 have been developing their confidence applying a wide range of punctuation, including colons and semi-colons, to their newspaper articles in English. In Science, they have been enjoying learning the scientific symbols for components of a circuit.

Future Living

Future Living Hertford is collecting gifts for families in need this Christmas. They need new gifts for children of all ages. They are also looking for donations of new lego sets to support Lego Therapy. Please click the image to see the flyer for more information.

Pedagogy Portal

In today’s T&L blog, we look at a continued priority for us around how we develop oracy in the classroom. Mrs Boyce and Miss Chuchla have been instrumental in working alongside the Voice21 programme. We aim to embed oracy to improve educational outcomes as well as supporting wellbeing, confidence and mental health. The link below will highlight an aspect of the work with Voice21 about how watching videos of classrooms, can enable staff to professionally develop in this area.

Spring Bulb Planting Project

Myself and Mr Tweed have organised a planting programme to encourage wildlife and increase colour around the school. It aims to target specific areas within the school and make them look a little less neglected and more colourful, als to represent the schools aims of  becoming more eco friendly. 

It also provided an excellent  opportunity to involve the larch eco group, with secondary school students in a project that positively benefits the environment and wildlife,

As a team we prepared the soil area ready for the bulbs. The larch students then took the lead on digging the holes and planting the bulbs. It was all done with excitement and considering the rainy conditions we were working in – it didn’t dampen the smiles. The bulbs have been planted at the front of the school for everybody to see on their way in each day, there were also various other locations around the secondary school site that have had a splash of colour added come spring time.

This project is the beginning of a planting programme that we hope to grow over the next few years. It will hopefully become a yearly part of the beginning of the school year and more. 

Elizabeth (Y11)

Colourful ceramic tiles (broken or whole) leftover tile adhesive needed!

Art and Design are planning an exciting project and will be needing a lot of tiles. If anyone has any spare coloured tiles/knows anyone who works in the tile industry that may be able to help please can you contact

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

Yours sincerely,

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