Head’s Blog 17th May Friday 17th May 2019

In a week that has been characterised by very little pupil absence from school, and a great deal of quiet time as children sit and demonstrate the written aspect of their learning, it is perhaps good at the end of it to think about how important making mistakes is when we are learning.

My assembly this morning in both parts of the school shared a new book in our library called “Your Fantastic Elastic Brain” by Jo Ann Deak and Sarah Ackerly https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fantastic-Elastic-Brain

As a beautifully illustrated, scientific explanation of the areas within the brain, their discrete functions and their connectivity, it gives all children of whatever age a really clear understanding of how complex and extraordinary our brains are and how much we can influence the brain’s functioning through our resilience to failure and through perseverance.

The analogy with an elastic band is accessible and enabled me to show an elastic band with the knowledge of a five-year-old around a small book and an elastic band with the knowledge of a 13-year-old around a much larger book, but of course in reality the elasticity is not a multiplication of cells but the strengthening of the relations between them in the neuron pathways.

We are lucky to live in an age where it is possible to photograph brains while they are working and one day (perhaps when I grow up!) I would like to learn more about this field of science as there is a direct relationship between this understanding and our ability to influence and ensure mental health.

Some of our training on autism a couple of years ago enabled us to understand completely what happens when a child has a meltdown or “amygdala hijack”. Its central location in the brain and the impact of such a meltdown prevents the functioning of most of the other parts of the rational brain and when you see how much that influences the child’s ability to control themselves and to make sense of what’s happening to them, you understand that giving children time to calm down until they’re ready to listen is the only way of dealing with anybody in this mental state.

This clearly resonated with some of the children in the assemblies and it was pleasing to see them finding it helpful.

I began the week sharing the impressive video made by Greta Thunberg, who spoke at a TED talk about her climate protest.

www.ted.com/talks/greta_thunberg_school_strike_for_climate_save_the_world_by_changing_the_rules

She revealed that she had struggled as she was diagnosed autistic herself and she experienced a very low period of depression when she was 10 and was supported through this difficult time. In what can only be described as a magnificent, extraordinary and moving, not to mention eloquent and impactful speech, Greta talks about how she struggles to understand the rest of humanity who do not see the climate emergency in black-and-white as she does with her autistic brain. What a powerful argument and how much we should be listening to this young person and indeed all of those in our care.

It was great to welcome Simon Larter-Evans, Head of St Paul’s Cathedral School for a visit on Wednesday afternoon. I’m very lucky to be a governor at his school and I enjoy the cross-fertilisation of ideas that comes from getting under the skin of another school, quite apart from the immense pleasure of access to all that glorious music. Later this term we’re taking The Twelve to a choir practice and service in the cathedral and I know it will be a memorable experience.

I look forward to seeing many of you on Sunday at the circus. If you have any complaints, you can get your own back while I’m in the stocks!

Have a great weekend.

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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