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

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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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