Head’s Blog 10th May Friday 10th May 2019

Despite huge quantities of water falling from the skies this week it’s been sunny at St Michael’s at least on the inside.

Madame Poracchia’s excellent French day on Tuesday got us off to a roaring start and there was so much enjoyment and effort in the décor and the catering arrangements as well as a huge number of people having a go at using French in all sorts of different parts of the day. C’était extra! I commend to you the video that was sent to all the staff to challenge the stereotypes that did find expression in some of the outfits that were sported on the day. France isn’t a nation of stripey-topped, beret-wearing, garlic-bedecked men with moustaches on bikes! (heureusement!)

We welcomed a goodly number of adventurous souls on Wednesday to our Open Morning who braved a Hollywood style rainstorm to come and feel the warmth of St Michael’s. I was particularly moved by the children who spoke about what it’s like to be here and as always they are the best part of the day for me.

It is always exciting to meet new children and families eager to join us too and we have much to be grateful for. The new royal baby is one we might not expect as a future pupil and it has been amusing to see reporters scrambling to ask questions around parenting and personality based on just two days in the world as a family.

I share the royal couple’s joy at this new potential bundle of promise, but I also feel that way actually most days, when I witness in classrooms, on the sports field, in concerts or on ski slopes, as shown in this morning’s assembly, any child taking a step towards realising their own potential and promise.

Educating children is a privilege that we all enjoy.

At the end of the week we welcomed the steel pan band from Parkwood Hall cooperative academy, who lifted our spirits, showing off their promise and potential, feeding our dancing souls with their joyful renditions of tunes from TV, films and shows. After the concert, big band members and music scholars elect joined the pupils for a workshop session in which they learnt to have a go. What fun to have a little taste of the Caribbean on a Friday morning.

Next week is an important one for pupils as we take stock of what they can now do independently through exams and tests. I’m a firm believer that really good teaching leads, on the whole, to children being able to do things without too much revision. Of course for some children the thought of the process brings apprehension and for some there will always be challenges that are unique in a test. Testing is one of the ways we measure success and it is equally important to be able to share, help, explain, make someone smile or feel valued as to “learn and churn” facts. So as we enter this week, we do try to keep the whole process in proportion and as low-key as possible for everybody’s sake. Parents can support by keeping to normal routines, making sure children eat well, sleep well and have time to play and rest. Keeping medical appointments to an absolute minimum next week is enormously helpful for the staff who otherwise have to arrange for separate sittings and invigilate these out of the main timetable.

We are all looking forward to the visit of Happy’s circus on Sunday the 19th. The P&F have been working so hard to make it a very special day and I’m delighted to be coming myself. There’s still a week left to buy tickets online. https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/booking/kent/st-michaels-prep-school/family-fun-day/2019-05-19/11:30

Whatever you’re doing this weekend, have a good one.

Jill Aisher

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Sunsets and sizzling sausages set the tone for the new term last Friday as Year 7 pupils celebrated the start of their senior education journey.

The annual event, traditionally held as a Camp Out, was delivered as a fun-filled barbecue night which the children enjoyed with teachers including St Michael’s Acting Head, Mrs Bridges.

Throughout the evening pupils tucked into dinner cooked by Deputy Head Mr Wiseman, and toasted marshmallows on an open fire.

And to make use of their new term energy, games and group bonding activites were carried out, followed by a walk up the school’s famous Warren where the sunset was relished in all of its glory.

Reflecting on the sucess of the event, Head of Year 7 and 8, Mrs Shield, said: “Unfortunately, we were unable to camp this year, but that did not dampen anybody’s spirits.

“One of the highlights of the evening was our twilight walk to the top of the Warren where we marvelled at the beautiful site that our school occupies.

“We viewed the bats swirling the skies in the dusk of late summer and ended the evening with a well-deserved hot chocolate – not forgetting the squirty cream and yet more marshmallows.

“Life-long friendships were made and re-established after the long summer break.”

This month St Michael’s Prep is celebrating the opening of its new Astro Turf pitch.

Completed during Summer 2020, the state-of-the-art facility will provide a huge boost to the school’s sporting facilities and allow it to offer a broader range of activities including boys hockey and football to its pupils.

Its floodlights will also enable St Michael’s to host sports matches during evenings, as well as inviting external schools and clubs to enjoy the new pitch throughout the year.

Ben Bridges, Director of Sports at St Michael’s, said: “We’re really excited to use the Astro Turf for the first time this month.

“We feel extremely lucky to be able to offer this to our pupils in both Prep and Pre-prep and are thrilled about the benefits it will bring to our sporting curriculum.

“As well as hockey, the new pitch will allow us to offer many other sports to pupils and will prevent the children from missing lessons due to inclement weather.”

Planning for the Astro Turf began in 2014 and has seen St Michael’s grounds undergo a significant transformation since construction began last summer. During this time pupils were fascinated by the diggers, dumpers and bulldozers which visited the school, while nursery and kindergarten children were treated to close-up views of the machinery.

Mr Bridges added: “Although it was a slightly delayed start due to the poor weather we faced, this feels like the perfect time to put the incredible space to good use.

“This is really going to move sport at St Michael’s to the next level, as well as providing us with opportunities to engage with the local community. We’re excited all round.”

 

The Governors of St. Michael’s Prep School take pleasure in announcing the appointment of Nik Pears as our new Head Teacher with effect from January 2021.

Nik was educated at St Dunstan’s College, London and is a graduate of Cambridge University. He is currently Head of Prep at Kent College Pembury, a post he has held since 2016. Prior to that, he was Headmaster of the Junior School at Sevenoaks Prep for 5 years. Nik is also an ISI inspector and a governor at Dulwich Prep, Cranbrook. We believe that he has the experience and qualities required to lead St Michael’s into the next chapter of its history.

Nik represented Kent U18 group at rugby and has a love of all sports. He is an accomplished musician and has performed at The O2 and Wembley Arenas. He is an Ambassador for “We See Hope”, a charity working with orphans and vulnerable young people in sub Saharan Africa. Nik devised The Social Entrepreneurs Project an initiative that challenges young people to turn £10 seed capital into £100 or more with their profits going to support the work of the charity.

We feel very fortunate to have secured Nik’s headship and welcome him and his wife Emma and two children, Jessica and Josiah into the St. Michael’s family from the start of next year. Nik has said

“I am delighted to have been appointed the next Head of St Michael’s Prep. Having lived in the area for the past twenty years, it is a school I have known and long admired for its ambitious and child-centred approach to learning. There is a very special atmosphere in the school and I am excited to become a part of the community, getting to know the children, parents and staff over the months and years ahead. St Michael’s is privileged to have an experienced and committed Senior Leadership Team and I very much look forward to working together with them as we embark on an exciting future for the school.” 

Some of our super St Michael’s Swimmers have won an array of silverware at recent events.

At the Sevenoaks Swimming Club presentation evening, I Pennington Legh was presented with the Kingsbury Cup for U10 girls; A Green was awarded the Kingsbury Cup for U10 boys; E Green received runner up plate for the best U9 boy; S. Taylor was awarded the Mike Radford Trophy for most improved U9 boy; A Ashton was presented with the U9 Individual Medley Cup and U9 trophy for most improved swimmer; B Tovey and J Taylor were both awarded plaques with their positions from the recent Sevenoaks Club Championships.

At the Black Lion Gala, Gillingham, at the start of March our swimmers again came away with medals. A Ashton won three gold, one bronze, one fourth and one sixth medal; A Green three gold and two silver medals; E Green four silver and one bronze medal; S Taylor one silver and one fourth medal and J Taylor a fourth position medal. V Medlen also came away with a medal from the gala.

Well done to all those swimmers; your hard work and dedication is certainly paying off!

Mrs Denton

Swim School Manager

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