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19th October 2016

Dear parents and carers The end of this half term is now approaching; autumn is well and truly upon us as the nights close in and the clock will ‘fall’ back on Sunday 30th October. Another action-packed half term is almost complete so a time to reflect, refresh and send out a ‘mini’ newsletter. Wonderful news and affirmation of our success! We have attempted to explain to parents how ‘academic success’ is now being calculated by the Government. The new ‘league’ tables comparing schools reflects this with the main indicator being progress. This does seem fairer - you need to look at the ability of all the children who come in Year 7 and then look at what they have managed to achieve by the end of Year 11. The government is calculating this by looking at ‘traditional academic’ subjects as these are indeed a passport for success. The tables were published last week on summer 2016 results. I received a telephone call from the Local Authority to congratulate the Simon Balle community – our value added (Progress 8) was the second highest in Hertfordshire out of 75 schools! Indeed, our result of +0.63 puts us in the top 10% of all schools in England. So a huge well done to students, staff and parents! To all Y11 parents and students Please make a note of the 6th Form Open Evening which will take place on THURSDAY 17th NOVEMBER from 6pm to 7.45pm with talks at 6.30pm and 7.30pm. This is a good opportunity to find out about specific subjects, get advice and ask questions about life in the 6th form. We look forward to welcoming you all to this event. Governors My previous message asking if anyone was interested in joining our Governing Body brought forth 7 names. Currently, possible candidates are meeting governors and learning about the commitment involved. Thank you –we are very much looking forward to working with these parents as they have the appropriate skill-sets. Future parent forum focused on health/mental health For some while now I have become more aware that many of our parents are health professionals, working in a wide range of fields. As a school we are constantly working with and needing help from such people both in terms of individuals and strategy. Wellbeing and health are key drivers here at Simon Balle as part of our ethos and vision. This year we are using the ‘Healthy Schools’ Framework to enhance our practice and we are teaching ‘Health and Social Care’ to sixth form students. Therefore, we have much to learn from you. We recently held a very successful ‘careers’ forum whereby interested parents attended and through discussion and debate they contributed their ideas which are enhancing our practice. I would very much like to do something similar with health professionals. The proposed date for this forum is Monday 5th December at 7pm. If you are interested, can attend, or cannot on this occasion but would like to express an interest, please email me on

Teacher recruitment I am sure that you are very much aware of the national problems – as the media has reported this over the past few months. Last year this was a school priority. We however, did manage to recruit but, interestingly, most people who now work at Simon Balle either come here as a student, know the school, live locally or trained here. We are proud of the training we give and are now working in partnership with the Alban Federation. We currently have three staff on their initial teacher training. If you are interested in becoming a teacher or work already as a teacher in another school but are interested in joining us , please email Assistant Head Yvonne Adshead on stating your interest. Whilst starting fully staffed in September, things change quickly. From 1st January 2017 we are looking for –   

A part time teacher of Economics A part time teacher of Politics A full time/part time teacher of History (maternity cover)

All are initially for 2 terms. Please pass this information on to others. As parents please do be patient as there are not the teachers out there! We would look at qualified and unqualified in this extra-ordinary situation.

Fun Run Huge thanks again for the support with the Fun Run which has raised over £6,000 and counting! The next PSA event is on Friday 18th November - a Ladies Night. After being somewhat apprehensive, I am now a ‘convert’! This is a lovely evening; a great atmosphere and lots of fun. Come along and enjoy some short (and cheap) ‘pick-you-up’ treatments! Booking has now opened – please see the flyer at the end of this newsletter or use this link: Uniform As we now enter ‘winter’ we expect to see all students wearing jumpers and for the boys, shirts tucked in and ties. Please ensure your child has a coat and all uniform is named. Non Uniform Day Friday 21st October is a non-uniform day in aid of ‘Stand up to Cancer’ Please ensure that students bring £2.00 to take part. There will also be other events being held at break and lunchtime which are being run by our student charity ambassadors so bringing some extra money would be useful – this is a very worthwhile cause.

IMPORTANT REMINDER Please remember to follow the one-way system- enter the school using the main entrance only and leave by the exit next to the swimming pool. It may take a minute longer but it is MUCH safer.

A reminder Permanent pens are not allowed in school as there is no reason for students to have them!

Larch Centre Update Firstly, I would like to say a huge thank you to you for your support of The Larch Centre. Many of you have recently supported our ‘Bags 2 School’ scheme which helped to raise £180 for the PSA. You have also donated pre-loved items for the children to enjoy as well as books and equipment. At various points in the year we all have well needed clear outs, so please consider us when you do so over the next couple of months in preparation for Christmas! We are looking for books of all kinds- fiction, nonfiction and poetry. We are developing our reading scheme and introducing books for the children to become 'free readers'. These would include chapter books as well as high quality picture books. Do you have any that you would like to see go to a new home? If so, please drop them into the Larch Centre for our youngest children to enjoy. Authors may include: Dick King Smith, Jill Murphy, Enid Blyton, Jeff Brown, Roald Dahl, Dorothy Edwards, the list goes on... Games/ toys/ puzzles and other resources would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance of your support and generosity. (Mrs Ruth Oakenfull and the Primary team)

Update on Window Walling You will no doubt have seen the vast improvement to the science/technology block. The building not only looks more attractive and suitable for 21st century learning but is also much more economic to run in terms of heating. The installers are now on the last leg of the current project and are replacing the wall at the back of the school as well as installing a covered link corridor. The project will be finished this term and during this time there has been virtually no disruption to normal school life for which we would like to thank the contractors. We will soon be submitting bids to the EFA for window walling for the 6th form/humanities block and we will keep you posted as to the outcome – fingers crossed.

‘Tales from the Wood’ – report from Head of Year 7 Graham Davies Year 7 communed with nature recently, visiting the Phasels Wood activity centre earlier this month. Students enjoyed a range of activities including abseiling, crate stacking, potholing, archery and bushcraft. We were blessed by good weather, with most activities taking place under a clear autumnal blue sky, and hot chocolate around a blazing open fire warmed us before we retired to our tents. Year 7 threw themselves into their activities, supporting each other and displaying admirable resilience. A special mention goes to Niina Palmer who excelled at crate stacking. The previous record, which had survived for 9 years, stood at 23 crates; Nina managed to stand on 27, which equated to the height of 3 instructors. This was such a feat that we almost forgave her for making us late for lunch! Congratulations to Niina for being a record-breaker and to all Year 7 students for their enthusiasm and good humour.

Alison Saunders Headteacher- Simon Balle All-through School

ParksHERTS Survey We have received the following request from Simon Barfoot, Environmental Health Promotion Officer, East Herts Council:

Help us shape the ParksHerts App · The ParksHerts Project will provide a single web based point of access for information about Hertfordshire’s parks and open spaces · The project aims to encourage residents to make more of their valuable local space and visit parks they may not have previously explored, whilst also supporting people to make outdoor exercise part of their daily lives by finding places to enjoy and share with others. · ParksHerts users will be able to filter parks by facility and type and will be encouraged to get active by using the wide range of walking, cycling, running and activity trails that exist across the county. For more info see · The team need to know what’s important to you when deciding to visit a park. So, whether you have a young family, enjoy walking, want to know about history, love a bit of nature or just want somewhere new to walk the dog, tell them! · The web application currently being developed will be compatible with all mobile devices and aims to help you find the perfect park for you. · The web application will be able to tailor searches based on who’s going and what they want to do. Once you’ve decided on a park it will tell you about the facilities and once you arrive you can track your walk, learn about your surroundings and even find out where the nearest café is!

So please, if you can spare five minutes to take the survey, click on one of the links below Bitly link:

newSBytes 19th October 2016