Head’s Blog 22nd September Friday 22nd September 2017

A splendid week of meetings and learning at school has left me with a warm glow. Our welcome evenings to Year 4 on Monday and Years 5 & 6 last night were characterised by a generous warmth and engagement from parents and a strong sense of how important the well-being of each child is to my colleagues.
We hope very much that you will continue to be in touch with smaller worries so that they don’t become big.
I was touched on Wednesday to receive a letter from William, one of our new boys in Year 5, who wrote to thank the staff and pupils for being so helpful towards him and making him feel settled after such a short time.  You can see his letter on my Twitter feed.
We’ve been focusing in our assemblies on understanding how our brains work as the seat of our emotions, as our brain is stimulated to release chemicals that make us feel the way we do. It is particularly useful to understand the physical aspects of feelings, because we can exercise control over our responses to situations and thus our mental state. In the week in which in Chapel we have focused on forgiveness and on peace in the world, all the strands tied together in the work we have been doing at school. Mrs Bridges’ assemblies on “brainology” have also focused on how our brains can be trained to be better and suppler through challenge and effort. The children were very excited to hear about our new homework policy which launched with the children this week and which streamlines, simplifies and updates what children are required and invited to do.  The new termly challenges which enable creativity and an individual response to a research project are now out on display in form rooms and being talked about in the playground and over lunch.
We were delighted that parents in the P&F meeting decided to give funds for a variety of school projects and we look forward to reporting back on the impact of this generosity.
At Thursday’s meeting with Year 5 and Year 6 parents, we welcomed back Emily and Oliver who began in Year 9 at Caterham this year and who talked eloquently about the excellent start Years 7 & 8 had given them at St Michael’s; we also heard from our current Year 8 girls, who said that being a small group meant there was “less drama”! And some Year 7 boys, who were very motivated by the enhancement to the academic performance which they were already sensing.
The landscape of transfer to senior school is radically altered now that common entrance is used locally in all our feeder schools to set children rather than select children. Review of the Year 7 and 8 curriculum this year will take full advantage of the opportunities to modify what we teach and how we do it for the cohorts to come.
We are beginning to think about welcoming people on Open Morning on 4th October and we look forward to the publication of our new prospectus with some excitement. If you know somebody who might enjoy the experience of St Michael’s, do you let them know that they can find out so much and meet our very impressive pupil speakers and guides as they go round this wonderful campus.
Next week we have our Harvest Festivals in Prep and Pre-Prep and as usual we are collecting dry goods for the food bank at Swanley. Please look out for what you can offer and make sure that the children bring something to give to others as we celebrate all that we have been given ourselves.
Have a great weekend. I know the sun is going to shine.
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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