Head’s Blog 13th October 2017 Friday 13th October 2017

As we look forward to a two week break following this busy half term, perhaps it is right to focus on the well-being that springs from rest. We were lucky on Monday to welcome Natasha Devon MBE and to listen to her wise and informed presentation about the three core elements that lead to well-being; Critical thinking, stress coping mechanisms and emotional  literacy. In response to this, all the staff have thought about the opportunities we already have for teaching in these three areas and as part of our well-being award we will put together a document so that parents can be clear about the contribution the school makes to the well-being agenda. As an immediate reaction, it is clear that our focus on higher-order thinking, questioning, giving choices to children and listening to their views already makes a strong start. With a wide, balanced and varied curriculum focusing on high-quality experiences and opportunities in sport, music, art and drama, we also enable stress management to take place although I feel as a school we can develop this further and we will.

 

Giving children as much information about the link between chemistry, brain function and emotion is high on our agenda through PSHE and assembly work. But there is inevitably a tension between providing a calm, ordered, regular routine and the events that we plan at school that become the memories of children and so we welcome feedback from children and parents on whether we’ve got that balance right.

 

This morning following on from Natasha’s themes I spoke to Pre-Prep about the different kinds of listening we do and how important it is, whether for pleasure, taking part in conversations, for information, instructions, or to find out how people feel. Perhaps the last thing; listening to people and encouraging them to express their feelings and refocus on experiences that make them feel joyful, is our most important task of all. I have invited children in Pre-Prep, if they would like, to send me a postcard from their holiday destinations or homes and tell me about some of the things they can hear when they listen carefully.

 

Certainly in Pre-Prep there has been an overdose of joyful events and exciting trips this week as each class in turn went out for a day’s adventure. I’m only sorry that the coach of a visiting sports team caused considerable stress and inconvenience for our parents accessing and leaving the site on Thursday evening.  We’ll be in touch with the school to ask them not to use a coach on their next visit to us.

 

Many parents and grandparents in Prep took great pleasure from the performers’ platform and breakfast on Wednesday morning, showcasing a variety of performance-ready pieces across the full range of instruments and voices. The act of listening to performance and appreciating what other people can share is a special and moving part of the life of pupils and staff at St Michael’s and it was wonderful that several of our new students shared performance with us and gave us much pleasure.

 

Yesterday we mailed the results of the 11+ to parents of children in Year 6. For some there is great excitement and relief whilst others may not have quite done themselves justice in this exam. We hope that we can support those families that need to appeal and that we can refocus the children for whom 11+ was a long shot and who will be best served by a non-selective environment. Our own Year 7 and 8 give unparalleled support, challenge and experiences to children who stay and my heartfelt wish is that parents will give this serious consideration amongst all of the choices that lie before them. After the half term holiday we will be exploring with Year 6 the opportunity to apply for scholarships here and to become a senior pupil at St Michael’s and we are holding a coffee morning for those interested in finding out more about Year 7 and 8 both within the community and beyond it on November 2nd. In the meantime, have a super half term holiday, do enjoy the change of pace and scene and come back safely.

 

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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