Friday 19th January

Co-headteachers’ welcome

Welcome back! We hope everyone has had a fantastic break. We now look forward to longer days and exciting events ahead in the spring term.

As Years 11 and 13 are finishing topic content, honing skills through practice questions and diagnostic feedback, Year 6 are preparing for SATs. It was lovely to see so many people at the information evening where, along with practical information and advice, students found out about exciting opportunities available to them as they continue their all-through journey. This stage of the journey to their public exams can be full of ups and downs. It is important to use these experiences to move forward, to take advice and continue to take small steps towards achieving a goal. A positive mindset goes a long way and helps to develop the valuable resilience skills needed in many areas of life.

As I look at the calendar for this term, I am struck by the number of educational and enrichment activities scheduled. The GCSE Art students are off to the Tate Modern, Year 4 will be taking part in a Gaudi workshop, the Business department are visiting Disneyland Paris, Year 6 will enjoy a visit from ‘Wonderstruck’ for a science masterclass and the ski trip to Austria takes place at half term. When students leave Simon Balle, they often talk about the trips and activities which captivated and inspired them so we cannot underestimate their value and importance. I’m sure we can all recollect a trip we went on during our school days and perhaps even have a tale to tell!

Finally, I want to let you know how proud I was watching the Year 7 and 8 teams playing rugby at Haileybury last month. Their teamwork, communication and sportsmanship were exemplary and a credit to our school values. The Year 7 team remains unbeaten and I know they are excited for the next  challenge.  Year 4 are looking forward to the indoor athletics competition at Wodson park which I know is a highly enjoyable event where the students enjoy cheering each other on as much as taking part. An exciting term ahead…

Transition from Year 6 – 7 at Simon Balle All-through School

As an all-through school, we are unique in the benefits we can offer our students as they remain at one school and yet make an important transition from our primary to secondary phase. There is so much that remains consistent for students – many staff with whom they have excellent relationships; familiarity with so much of the all-through site from music to sporting facilities, secondary library, and a range of classrooms; friendships so importantly formed; and a broad, ambitious and bespoke curriculum which has been planned in a progressive and sequential manner all the way from Reception – Year 13 in all subjects. 

We are delighted that 99% of our first two Larch cohorts stayed with us, and we are even more delighted that now they are in Years 7 and 8 we are innovatively reworking some of our approaches to teaching and learning and pathways in Year 9 and beyond, to ensure that academic challenges are rigorous and highly engaging for such outstanding KS2 results. Indeed, we believe this curriculum offer is innovative and one that sets us apart.

In both cohorts so far, student and parental feedback is highly positive in relation to the transition that children made – no time is lost as they settle quickly – socially, emotionally and academically. That said, we are never complacent: transition work has already begun for the third cohort through, this is a personalised process, and summer school is a huge success for all students. 

And so, we work on emphasising all that is consistent for students as they move from Years 6 – 7. This is very important. But at this point in the year, we want to ensure that they understand too what will be new and exciting! After all, belonging to the secondary phase brings many new opportunities and lots of change. 

Parents for the current Year 6 provided great feedback last Wednesday following their workshop which covered not just SATs, but an insight into the activities for this half term designed to provide students with just a flavour of what is to come in Year 7 and beyond. From science to MFL, from music to sport, from food tech to business, we will be sharing these exciting opportunities on social media and in newsletters so that not just Year 6, but all year groups below this in the Larch can also see all that belonging to an all-through school can offer.

Pedagogy Portal

Educational author Judy Durrant stated that:

In any profession, it is an important responsibility to keep up to date with the latest ideas and information. Teachers have particular challenges in this respect: not only are there continuing changes in the nature of what is taught, but research and development inform pedagogy – how the teaching of this subject matter could be approached. Furthermore, new understandings continually arise from research into learning, leadership and school improvement, all of which influence what goes on in classrooms. A learning disposition is therefore crucial for teachers in order to take account of this changing knowledge and understanding, and develop new skills which may enhance practice. 

At SBAS, we are excited to share that we have created our first ever staff Teaching & Learning research group. Click on the link to find out more.

SEND information

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

This week the SEND team hosted a coffee morning alongside SPACE for parents of our all-through school. They explained the support that they can provide to families including lending equipment, offering advice and courses for parents (much of which is free to access). For further information look at their website 

Potential Kids is an award winning charity based in Welwyn/Hatfield which provides learning, social and sports opportunities to Neurodivergent children / young people. You can view their list of activities here:January 2024 Activities

Finally, please take a look at the DSPL3 Parents January Newsletter. It contains SEND information, training available and key websites and contacts for SEND support.

Year 1 Parents and Carers Book Look and Phonics Information Session

We would like to invite parents and carers of Year 1 students to a Phonics Information Session with an opportunity to view your children’s learning books. Taking place in the Larch Hall, you will be able to view books from 2.20pm and the session will start promptly at 2.35pm. We encourage everyone to attend wherever possible as this is an opportunity to hear directly from the class teachers about how the teaching of Phonics is supporting your child, how you can help at home, and information about the statutory Phonics Screening Check that takes place later this year. Please note this is a date change that was originally advertised as the 27th February.

Wednesday 28th February 2.20-3.05pm Larch Hall
Book Look: 2.20pm
Information session: 2.35-3.05pm

Spotlight on Phase 2

Over the last couple of weeks, Year 2 have started looking at Castles in their History lessons. The children are excited and engaged with learning the parts of a castle and their purpose. Year 3 have started 2024 with poetry! As part of their English and home learning, they have focused on Kit Wright’s ‘The Magic Box’, analysing the language and poetic devices to be able to write their own versions. It was lovely to see the Year 4 children trying to spot the common exception words which needed editing during their spelling lessons. Once they had spotted each word, they had to correct them and then use it accurately within a sentence.

Y6 Wonderstruck Day


Last Tuesday, (the 15th of January 2024) Year Six students had the pleasure of the Wonderstruck company coming in to do a science workshop with them. We had many activities to enjoy; the workshop lasted all day.

Firstly, we watched a science show in the hall. This included many demonstrations such as: being shown the science of combustion and how it worked. We were taught how cotton melts -but does not burn- and how nylon burns and does not melt. This was demonstrated by Peter (the person giving the workshop) picking up cotton on fire. Then, we were taught about how smoke can be even more fatal than fire; if you inhaled even just two lungfuls of toxic smoke, you could be seriously or fatally injured. After that, we were shown some examples of different chemical reactions and what the outcome of them were.             

Here is a table of the results of the fan-powered car workshop.

Teams Time (seconds) Position
Red rocket  4.53 3rd
The awesome foursome mobile  6.53  6th
The pink party  4.34 2nd
The penguin mobile  3.91 1st 
Murphy rules 5.25 5th
Hot wheels  4.94 4th 

In the fan-powered car workshop, we were shown how to construct the cars and then we were allowed to go and make them. Then, after we had constructed the cars we were allowed to change the wheels, propellers and amount of wheels to make the best possible design. Finally, we raced them all. We learnt that if we used the 4 pack of batteries it would weigh the car down but give it more power. If we used big wheels as well as the batteries, it would be too heavy and therefore make it go slower.

Here are the results of our paper rocket launch experiment.

Students  Distance (metres) Position
Rosey and Zoë 110  1st
Kira, Cara and Jennie 106 2nd
Archie, Henry and Xander  103 3rd

Firstly, Peter showed us how to make the rockets, then we made them. After that, we launched them and saw whose rocket travelled the farthest.

Y8 Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Day

Just before the end of last term Y8 had a great visit from the RAF Museum, they provided 2 activities with help of funding from the RAF. One was to plan out and plot a route for a helicopter to aid in a disaster situation followed by the chance to fly a drone. The other had the students using a tablet to program a rolling drone (Sphero) to follow a set route on a plan on the floor. All of year 8 enjoyed taking part in one of the activities that will encourage our budding scientist of the future and hopefully everyone gained a small insight in ways that the STEM subjects can be used.

Y11 Art, Photography and Textiles trip to Tate Modern 17.01.24

To coincide with the launch of the exam unit, the Art department visited the ‘Capturing the moment’ exhibition at Tate Modern. This display of art and photography work contained a wealth of inspiration for our students as they begin their creative journeys into the exam theme of their choice.

Our students were thrilled to see works by artists that they are familiar with, for example Pablo Picasso’s ‘The Weeping Woman’ as well as being introduced to pieces by contemporary artists they had yet to discover. With time to explore the rest of the Tate’s permanent collections, the students have come away with a range of artists to include in their individual exam projects which they will use as starting points as they develop their own ideas.

All-through extra-curricular clubs

Our all-through school is dedicated to providing a comprehensive enrichment offer that goes beyond traditional academic pursuits. Our students have the opportunity to explore a diverse range of extracurricular activities, fostering personal growth and a well-rounded education. From sports and arts to STEM programs and music, our enrichment initiatives aim to nurture students’ interests, talents, and character. We believe in cultivating a holistic learning experience that extends beyond the classroom, preparing our students for success in both academic and real-world challenges. Through our enriching programs, we aim to inspire a love for learning, instill a sense of curiosity, and develop skills that extend far beyond the academic curriculum.

We are proud that every day, Monday to Wednesday we offer a wide range of clubs and opportunities for students across our all-through school, thanks to the contribution of teachers and support staff across the school. 

For our full extra-curricular offer, please refer here to the ‘what’s on’ section of our school website. This will also provide you with the contact details for various members of staff to speak to you if you have any questions about a specific club or how to sign up.


It is going to be a busy term for careers events. We have presentations from Computacenter (Y8, Y11 and 12), Ernst Young (Y12)  and the British Army (Y12) which provides the largest apprenticeship offering in the UK. The employers will talk about opportunities for apprenticeships and employment in their job sectors. Y8 will start a form by form programme of visits to McMullens for a tour and a Kitchen demonstration. Y10 will be “Getting Work Ready” with a whole day of activities from employers organised by ELSA Next Generation and Y9 will have leadership and team building activities sessions from the Royal Navy.

Please click here for our latest careers opportunities blog. 

This includes:

  • Current degree apprenticeship application links for: Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology , Government Economic Service and Schroders investment management apprenticeships.  
  • Real Estate opportunities for Y12 students. 
  • Virtual Medicine and Dentistry Opportunities – Y10 – 12

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!

National Apprenticeship Week 2024 is taking place from 5th to 11th February 2024. 

  • For more information and resources to help students and parents understand more about apprenticeships, please see the ‘Apprenticeship’ tab on the careers section of the website: 
  • We are hosting an ‘Apprenticeship Information Evening’ on Thursday 8th February in the school hall at 6.00pm. This event is open to all parents and students in Y11-13 and will cover a range of topics related to apprenticeships including: the different types of apprenticeships, searching for apprenticeships, support available, expectations and benefits of apprenticeships and the recruitment process. If you are interested in attending please complete this link: click here

Online safety – Smartphone Safety Tips for Young People

According to Ofcom, 69% of under-18s use a smartphone as their main method of going online. Additionally, 49% of children use them for online gaming – putting smartphones only behind consoles (59%) as the device of choice for playing games on. Most people won’t require such statistical evidence, however, to acknowledge the huge importance of phones to young people. From passcodes to parental controls, and from screen time to scams, the most recent #WakeUpWednesday guide has the essential advice: smartphone-safety-tips


Sponsorship – can your business help?

As we embark on planning our upcoming events, we are reaching out to our school community for support. If any of our families have business connections or know of local businesses interested in sponsoring these significant events, we would love to hear from you. Securing sponsorship not only adds to the success of our events and fairs but also strengthens our bonds within the local community. Your involvement is a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the school’s spirit and provide much-needed fundraising support for the Simon Balle Parent Staff Association. With your support, we can make our events and fairs unforgettable and continue to build a stronger school community.

Bar Support

We are seeking your support for upcoming events in the spring term. We’re in need of bar support for the Music Department’s Big Band evening on March 9th and the Wind and Brass evening on April 27th. Your involvement will add a wonderful touch to these musical nights and contribute to the success of our school community events. If you’re available and willing to lend a hand, please sign up via this link. Your commitment is greatly appreciated, and we look forward to creating memorable experiences together!

Slice of Summer – Saturday 13th July. Save the date!

Contact us about any of these events by emailing

Uniform at Simon Balle All-through School

We are writing just to let parents/carers know that we are working to review our uniform providers for uniform in the secondary phase at present. This review includes all aspects of daily uniform and PE kit. Our principles have not changed as we know the huge benefits that school uniform brings in relation to an important sense of belonging to our community: uniform shows this both when in school, and when representing the school including within sporting events. Our new approach to rewards and clarity of behavioural expectations have seen an excellent increase in all aspects of our uniform being worn well and our high expectations adhered to. That said, we know that there are a number of important factors to consider for parents/carers too in relation to value for money, quality of garments, ease of purchasing (and returning), availability of stock and sizing. We are working hard to ensure the very best process and outcomes and will communicate back with you all in due course.

A reminder also to please ensure your child doesn’t come to school wearing any jewellery (including hoop earrings for health and safety reasons), except for one small set of stud earrings and a watch.

Reusable drinks bottles

Last week, our secondary students received an assembly all about plastic pollution and what we can do, as a school and tomorrow’s citizens, to reduce our impact on the environment. Each year, Simon Balle has historically used a staggering 200,000 single use plastic bottles. This equates to 5 tons of plastic waste and, stacked end to end, would be as tall as four Mt Everests!

At Simon Balle we are committed to reducing our environmental impact and a vital part of creating tomorrow’s citizens is teaching them how to live more sustainable lives and this is best done leading by example. To this end, in November, we removed plastic bottles as well as cans and cartons from sale in our secondary canteen and are encouraging students to bring their own reusable bottles and to fill them from water fountains or the new Generation Juice vending machines. This is an important first step in our campaign to make our catering operation as close to zero waste as possible and reducing our carbon footprint.

One of the statistics we learnt during the assemblies is that 92% of our secondary students have a reusable water bottle that they can bring to school but only 60% actually bring it to school. From the 29th January, to encourage our students to remember and use their reusable bottles, we will be launching a house league table with fortnightly rewards for the houses that save the most single use plastic bottles by filling their reusable bottles at either the water fountains or Generation Juice vending machines.

To help us help our environment, please remind your children to bring their bottles to school. If your child does not have a reusable bottle, or their bottle is lost or broken, they are able to purchase a 500ml stainless steel bottle with two free drinks tokens from the canteen for just £3.50.

Cold weather

Please ensure that your child comes to school in a suitably warm coat, and that all items are clearly labeled so they can be reunited with their owners if discarded at some point. We have made some adjustments at break and lunch time to provide students with an extra inside space that they can use. If there is a need to close the school due to bad weather we will endeavour to inform you by 7am at the latest. This decision is never taken lightly, and will always be made with full regard for the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff. Online learning will be provided for the students, although there will be a sufficiently long deadline on this to ensure that everyone has time to get out and enjoy the snow…

Attendance – Fixed Penalty Notices for Holidays

We were delighted to see a great increase in attendance during the Autumn term compared to that of 2022. In the Primary Phase figures rose from 92.56% (2022) to 96.93% (2023) whilst in the Secondary there was a 0.4% increase going from 93.56% (2022) to 93.96% (2023). We know the benefits of great attendance for our students both in the impact that high attendance can have on academic results but also the improvement in young people’s mental health and wellbeing. We are determined to see these figures continue to rise as the academic year progresses. 

With this in mind, we are seeing a vast number of term time holidays being taken which is negatively affecting student attendance. As of Monday 26th February any unauthorised absence for term time holidays will invoke a Fixed Penalty Notice (FNB). These fines will be administered by the local authority (LA) and the school will follow LA guidance in respect of issuing fines. The amount payable is £60 (per parent) if paid within 21 days or £120 (per parent) if paid after 21 days but within 28 days of receipt of the notice. If a student is going to miss school for an unauthorised holiday then the school will send a warning letter to advise that a FPN will be served unless the action is not carried out. 

We really value our parents’ continued support in avoiding the booking of term time holidays. Indeed there are 190 days in a school year, leaving 175 days to book holidays out of school time.

High Attendance. Excellent Achievement. Positive Wellbeing

Puzzle of the week

SInce the start of this term, year 7 and 8 students have been taking part in the weekly ‘Puzzle of the Week’ competition.  It is an opportunity for students to win house points and prizes, as well as engage in fun, problem-solving questions which test both their mathematical and logical thinking. Below are the first three puzzles that have been attempted so far – click on the images and see if you can solve them!

Dates for your diary

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

  • Tuesday 23rd January: Y11 parents evening (face to face)
  • Wednesday 24th January: Ski trip information evening
  • Friday 26th January: PSA UV Party after school
  • Wednesday 31st January: Y9 Preferences evening
  • Thursday 15th February: Y4 Roman Britain Workshop
  • Advance notice: Reception parent evenings w/c 18th March

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

Yours sincerely,

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