Head’s Blog 15th December 2017 Friday 15th December 2017

I have to confess that I’ve shed a few tears this week. The nice sort. The sort you cry when you have an overwhelming sense of the beauty of something, of the privilege of a moment, of the talent exuding from the people before you. The sort you cry when your faith is strengthened, you are brought closer to colleagues and children, and when you feel proud.

The richness of the carol service will be one of my highlights of 2017. As a service it was meticulously planned to take us through the background and full meaning of some very well-known carols. The children who spoke did so by heart and from the heart and it was no coincidence that the whole service ended with a song called the “Heart of Christmas” which sums up what we are called to do at all times but especially at Christmas.

“Will you find a way on this holiday to share with someone, a child with no home, a person alone, a family hungry for love?”

My own heart was moved by the eloquence of the children leading prayers, by their thinking and writing captured and shared, and by the polished and eager performances from choirs, ensembles and staff. Our pleasure came from theirs as well as the quality of what we heard.

Through poetry, prayer and music sung in four languages we were reminded of the need for a spiritual compass in our broken world, of the many nations, in which people worship and we experienced the powerful ways that music and worship bring people together.

We remembered that Jesus was in fact a kind of refugee and that he was displaced, born outside marriage and had the humblest of settings to start his life.

Perhaps the most important gift we can give this Christmas could be to someone like him, poor and far from home who needs our help.

It was an extraordinary service and words truly do not do justice to how special it was. Nonetheless it’s thank you to all who created it and made it perfect; to Rev Di, Laura Shield, Jack Bennett, Rob Maslin and Emily Balcombe, to the Estates Team who ferried equipment and instruments and cleared it all up, to Danny who played the organ and Liz and Ann who opened the church and welcomed us and of course a magnificent chorus of thanks from on high for Gordon Baird who year on year lifts this celebration to a new level.

On Monday our snow procedures were tested and worked. Congratulations to the Estates Team, who worked tirelessly to salt and grit and clear the snow.

Tuesday’s play in the snow day saw a lot of wet, happy and tired children going home at the end of it.

Our Christmas lunch on Wednesday was fabulous, festive and fun.  In our final assembly we thanked all of our Admin, Catering and Estates staff with a gift from us all.

Then as we draw to the end of a busy term, we say goodbye and thank you to the fabulous Anna Collier who has been an exceptional maternity cover teacher in Kindergarten, to Sarah Stokes and Sophie as they move to Copenhagen and Jill Coulstock as she moves house and begins a new life by the sea.

In the New Year we will celebrate the extraordinary explosion of creative talents of the pupils in Years 3 to 6 as some of the best of the first homework challenge presentations are shared with the school in my assemblies.

I’m delighted and almost overwhelmed by the energy, variety and creativity of our first homework challenge and I know for certain that this new element of our homework policy is a life changer.

Today as a foretaste, I watched Georgie explain, present and perform her homework challenge, “Malala rap” delivered with style and by heart. Georgie’s rap took her small audience through Malala’s life story, through the politics and the brutality of the Taliban and the bravery and hope of someone who fought for what she believed and nearly lost her life so doing. Tomorrow we will watch another challenge in our final assembly as Sophie expresses her conflicting emotions on leaving the school through a devised dance piece that she’s been working on and will perform. I can honestly say that something extraordinary happens at St Michael’s every day and this makes me and everyone here so proud and happy.

To all the children and parents I extend my very best wishes for a peaceful and happy Christmas with lots of music and time together. To my colleagues I extend my very deep gratitude for their excellent and unstinting work. They all deserve a complete rest.

Happy Christmas, everyone and a very happy New Year.

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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