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

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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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