Head’s Blog 20th September 2019 Friday 20th September 2019

It is interesting to think about what the “Prep” in Prep school is all about. I think in the past I might have said it meant preparing children to get into the best senior schools, but now my answer is quite different. Of course, that is, in part, our focus and I know we do it well. This week’s parent welcome evenings have been focusing on what parents need to know and do in the specific year groups to which the children now belong, and the feedback has been most positive and complimentary. We have a fantastically well-attended Senior Schools Fair coming up on the 17th October, when I know all parents who come will be impressed and reassured by the range of schools to which we feed and with whom we have strong working relationships.

But of course, the preparation that we are involved in every day is in enabling your children to flourish and become purposeful, reflective, self-aware and engaged citizens in the world. Tomorrow’s world is not a world where facts need to be retained and churned out, but discernment and critical analysis and the ability to collaborate and to be creative are at the heart of the workforce we need to prepare. So, our vision is to enable and to encourage the skills for life not just for the school beyond.

Having said that, I have been pleased to visit a few schools in the last two weeks and would commend to you for your consideration Skinners’ School where I was most impressed with the attention of the boys at their Prize Giving, their evident camaraderie and mutual support in the applause as the prize winners walked across the stage and the respectful relationships which were clearly evident between staff and boys and boys and one another.

On Wednesday I was glad to welcome Mr Ben Charles, newly-appointed Principal of King’s Rochester. I was inspired by his focus on meeting pupils where they are and welcoming boys and girls into a small, spectacular, nurturing, Christian environment, with a rich breadth of opportunity. With four young children of his own, Ben is fully aware of what parents need in a senior school. Do drop in and meet him at the Senior Schools Fair.

I spent an enjoyable morning at Sevenoaks School on Thursday, where I was lucky enough to be at the opening of Aisher House, named after my late grandfather-in-law, who was a generous benefactor to Sevenoaks School and on the governing body. Last week we met the incoming Head of Sevenoaks School Mr Elzinga. We enjoyed good philosophical debate on the importance of the curriculum within the school and on the styles of learning that can be offered to children at Prep school aside from Common Entrance. I look forward to getting to know him better in due course.

Today I have been at Beechwood Sacred Heart in Tunbridge Wells, a co-ed, independent through school with a similarly impressive mansion at its heart and a good view too.  Since my last visit, there has been a change of Head, now Helen Rowe, and the successful refurbishment of the sports centre, as well as the creation of an outdoor classroom on stilts. The school is in good shape to welcome boys and girls who wish to transfer at 11 or 13 and the A’ level class sizes make it a very attractive option for transfer at 16 too. Beechwood offers boarding too. I commend it to you for your consideration.

Jill Aisher

Latest News

A visit to Stratford upon Avon by our Head of Drama, Mr Powell, has had an unexpected consequence.

While visiting Shakespeare’s birthplace, he came across a beautiful sculpture by Adam Barrett, The Greenwood Tree (https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/support-us/campaigns/greenwood-tree/), which stands in the Great Garden at Shakespeare’s New Place. It brings to life the Forest of Arden in “As You Like It” and people can help the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust by dedicating a leaf.

Bringing to mind a wonderful quote about education from Shakespeare, he suggested that St Michael’s make a donation and dedicate one of the leaves.

The school has already paid for the leaf, but the Drama Scholars will be holding fundraising events through the year to raise the sum paid – look out for some theatrical treats!

Plans in the pipeline include an annual visit to Stratford upon Avon for Year 8, so that they can see the leaf in situ.

Take a look at our fantastic foliage in the picture below …

Congratulations to Year 5 pupil, L Selvey-Clinton, who was selected to represent Kent at cricket in the U11 side, a day before his 10th birthday!

He got a quick fire 15 and 1 wicket for 9 runs. He also played district cricket this weekend and broke a record, scoring 112 runs not out (he was retired at 26 and came back when other players were out).

Mrs Selvey-Clinton told us “We are super proud of him and the support the school is providing. He has always had a passion for sport, particularly cricket, so the fantastic facilities at St Michael’s were a real plus when choosing the school.”

He also plays for Bromley Cricket Club where, as part of the U11 team, they have won the league and are in the semi-finals of the cup.

Well done! We look forward to following your progress!

Well done to M, J and S Murray, who have raised money for the Marine Conservation Society by baking and selling cakes in their local village hall. They advertised their event in the village newsletter and put posters up at bus stops, the local pub, the school and the church; Mrs Murray also advertised it on social media.

She told us “The children are very aware of the problem that has been created by the overuse of plastic. Mrs Aisher talks about it at school, they see it in the media and we talk about it at home. They are saddened by the impact it has had on wildlife.”

The children raised an amazing £360.00.

We think it was a fantastic effort for a very well-deserving cause and those cakes look delicious! We’re very proud of you!

Our Old Michaelians arrived to the sound of cheering and tannoy announcements this year! Sports Day was in full flow and they took a moment to sit on the terrace and enjoy the view of St Michael’s competitiveness, friendship and support.

A lovely lunch, tour of the school, afternoon tea in the gazebo on the sports field and drinks with the staff were accompanied by spellbinding stories and laughter as we heard about their time at St Michael’s and beyond.

Current staff and parents took the opportunity to be regaled, while our OMs loved to hear about life at St Michael’s now. Our Estates Team were particularly delighted to be able to learn about the buildings and grounds in past years and to give our guests an insight into their work and the wildlife they come across every day!

Our more recent “graduates” joined us later for the evening barbecue and games.

It’s always a pleasure to welcome back our OMs and we very much look forward to seeing everyone again next year.