Head’s Blog 14th June 2019 Friday 14th June 2019

From the Deputy Head (Teaching and Learning)

Last week I was delighted to attend the Education Evolution conference held at Caterham School dedicated to exploring the issue of how we equip our pupils with the skills required in a rapidly changing world. We heard from a range of outstanding speakers from both education and business backgrounds, who shared some quite mind-blowing research about the growth of technology and how this will affect the jobs of the future. I was also pleased to lead a seminar about the St Michael’s homework challenges and how they develop independence, curiosity and confidence in our pupils.

What is important for the children of today? The World Economic Forum has recently published the 10 fastest growing skills that will be required in the technology-led society that is developing around us. As educators, we need to think about the opportunities that we are providing for our pupils to develop these important qualities. Taking the place of memory-based skills are the following qualities that will be required for jobs in the next ten years:

1. Analytical thinking & innovation
2. Active learning and learning strategies
3. Creativity, originality & initiative
4. Technology design & programming
5. Critical thinking & analysis
6. Complex problem-solving
7. Leadership & social influence
8. Emotional intelligence
9. Reasoning, problem-solving & ideation
10. Systems analysis & evaluation

In my session, I explained how we are developing wider, crucial skills of independence, creativity, curiosity and confidence through our homework challenges. Reflecting on the kind of work that we have seen our pupils produce over the last 2 years was really exciting. I knew that the best people to introduce what the challenges are all about would be the pupils themselves and the video that you can now see on the website explains exactly that. (See our Homework Challenge page)

The St Michael’s pupils have undoubtedly exceeded any expectations we had about the kind of outcomes we would see from the challenges. The single biggest limit we ever place on our learning is that of our own. Our children are capable and creative and the open-ended nature of the challenges means that there are no limits on any child and what they can produce. When you reflect on the skills listed above, it confirms the importance of this kind of learning for our pupils.

The closing speaker of the day was Sir Anthony Seldon and he delivered a powerful, humorous and incredibly moving talk on the future of education in the age of Artificial Intelligence. He pondered the purpose of education and why we all do what we do, sharing his thoughts on the key features of a successful education: becoming a good human being, happiness, learning about family and deep inner growth. We thought about the different types of intelligence, and the ways in which we can develop our children: socially, personally, morally, spiritually, physically and culturally. I left feeling incredibly inspired and proud of what we have already achieved with our homework challenges and the ways that our pupils are developing in contrast to those in schools with a more traditional homework system. As teachers at St Michael’s, we look forward to the moment at the end of each term when each child gets their own chance to stand up and share what they have created or discovered and what they have learnt in the process. It really is something special and we have all learnt a great deal from and about one another.

Mary Bridges

Latest News

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

Well done to our doubles girls, E Julio and S Savidge, who also played in last weekend’s Junior Orange Ball Tournament in Sevenoaks. They played four matches, won two, beating Sevenoaks Prep and Lady Boswell’s and lost two to the eventual finalists Amherst and Granville.

This was a great performance by the girls, particularly in the light of little experience of Orange Ball competition.

Well done!

With around 20 pairs competing, representing 9 schools, pupils S Taylor, D Booth, J Vanderlanh-McKeown and J McDonnell were proud to represent St Michael’s at the Sevenoaks Junior Orange Ball Doubles, held at the Sennock Centre in Sevenoaks on Saturday 7th March.

S Taylor and D Booth started their Orange Ball tournament well with a win against Lady Boswell’s, before losing to a very strong team from Sevenoaks Primary. They followed with a close match against Amhurst Primary which they lost 7-6 and needed two wins from their remaining games to make the final stage. They won the first quite easily against Russell House and then had a tight match against Sevenoaks Prep. It was neck and neck throughout, but they kept their cool and won 7-6.

Their tally of three wins to two losses saw our Year 4 pair through to the play-offs. They had two games against a Year 5 pair from Sevenoaks Prep and New Beacon. They lost both games narrowly, 7-6 and 7-5, finishing 6th overall, which was a good performance given they’re at the younger end of the Orange grouping and the standard of the competition was high.

J Vanderlanh-McKeown and J McDonnell both demonstrated strong teamwork, good sportsmanship and skills. They came up against some strong competition from the other schools but never gave up and kept competing to the end with some great saves, serves and volley. The boys also showed respect towards others and maintained a positive attitude at all times. Both boys really enjoyed the tournament and look forward to improving their position at the next one.
It was great to see both pairs supporting each other throughout the games! Very well done, keep up the good work!

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