Head’s Blog 25th May Friday 25th May 2018

It’s always sad to say goodbye to people who have been the backbone of the school and I think if you look closely at some of the staff who are retiring and moving you might see that their toes are actually fixed into the ground here!

Carol Bent

After 21 years as a member of staff at St Michael’s Carol Bent is retiring. As I hope you know, retiring from St Michael’s means coming back frequently to help us out with cover! During her time here, first as a parent and then as a member of staff, Carol has been a stalwart member of the English, drama, history, geography and French departments and behind-the-scenes has also supported music and theatre through major organisational and support roles for all productions. She has cheerfully masterminded props, costumes, ticket sales and marketing. Carol goes above and beyond for her form and even though she is now part-time, is always here on important days to support and celebrate. As a teacher she will be remembered for her firm and disciplined classrooms where expectations are high and children learn a great deal. Carol has taken on leadership roles within the staff body and frequently this involved doing the thankless tasks for which I would like now publicly to thank her.

Carol and her husband Dave will be frequent visitors, we hope, and although Carol is officially retiring from the school, we expect to see her frequently! We wish her all the best and hope that she enjoys the opportunities to see her new granddaughter and visit family.

Darryl Edwards and Seppie Chapelle

We shall be sorry to see the departure of Darryl Edwards and Seppie Chapelle, who have been associated with school for almost two decades. Darryl took over the art department and has loved developing his curriculum and showcasing the art created by the children around the school. It has been so good to see him encouraging practising artists to work with the students and a lasting legacy will be the sculptures in the school grounds and the art gallery in the main corridor. In addition to assisting with music trips, Darryl has of course enjoyed building more and more ambitious sets for plays. One of his large- scale music backdrops has found permanent residence in the music room and none of us will forget the final triumph of his set for “ Lord of the Flies “ nor his flashing sets on “Guys and Dolls” and “Joseph”. Darryl made a huge contribution to the combined creative arts tours in the last few years and his work preparing packs and lists and beautiful booklets has been a strength of the tours. He takes up a new role at Hazelgrove Prep School https://www.hazlegrove.co.uk/ and as they move to Somerset we wish them both well.

Seppie worked at the school from 1999 to 2011 and then again since 2015, formerly as Head of French and latterly as Year 3 teacher. She initially joined us as a French teacher and took over as Head of Department in 2001, ably leading the department for a decade. As a French leader, Seppie set up the scheme of work and was fully involved in the musical and theatrical life of the school. Seppie will be remembered for her kindness to her classes, very detailed preparation and creative teaching, not forgetting her love of pink and Chihuahuas.

We wish Seppie good luck with the move and lots of opportunities in her new life in Somerset.

Sue Billings

Sue has been associated with St Michael’s for almost the same amount of time and her children, now grown up and pupils of St Michael’s, brought her here in the first place and here she has stayed to enthuse and to inspire. I have enjoyed seeing Sue take on the leadership role of mentoring NQTs and liaising with training establishments to provide placements for young teachers and we thank her for this invaluable work.

Sue is extremely organised and has high expectations of her pupils, whether that be on the netball court or in the French classroom. It has been good to see her play an active role in chapel life also. Sue is looking forward to being able to follow the magnificent careers of her very successful children and we wish her well as she sets off around the world in their pursuit.

Rachel Martin

After just over five successful years at St Michael’s, in which Rachel joined the senior leadership team, challenged her colleagues to make provision for and understand better the additional needs of children and saw her own son join us and flourish, Rachel is moving nearer to home to a parallel role in Holmewood House School. In her time here we have undergone a great deal of training together and are wiser and better equipped for it. Rachel has championed the voice of those with additional needs and at her very successful AEN evenings at which children and parents have spoken with eloquence and humour about the barriers to learning that they have overcome, we have all benefited from listening and learning.

We thank Rachel for all the development she has brought about and wish her every success and a little more time at home in the mornings in her new school.

Lauren Pearce

Lauren Pearce is taking the plunge to move abroad and work at Repton, Dubai. Lauren came to us as a newly-qualified teacher four years ago and I could barely contain my wish to offer her the role within the interview itself. She has not disappointed and in a very short time became a leader and a mentor to others.

Lauren’s wisdom belies her youthful years and she combined international competitive sport with excelling in the classroom and on the sports field and we shall miss her.

The wonders of modern technology of course mean that we may be able to add her school to our international links and stay in touch. I fervently hope so. Lauren goes with all our good wishes for this next exciting phase of what is clearly already a stellar career.

Head of Learning Development

I am delighted to let you know that Ms Lucinda Cook has been appointed to the Senior Leadership Team as Head of Learning Development.

When Lucinda joined the staff, her fantastic reputation preceded her and it has been wonderful to see the impact that she and Louise Medd have had on their own class and on the small groups for whom they have run interventions.

As I worked with Lucinda closely this past year, I’ve very much enjoyed the humour and intuitive ways in which she encourages children to be resilient, self-aware and take risks in their learning.  Lucinda has a wealth of experience and training in EAL, Gifted & Talented, working with parents and holds a qualification in counselling, dyslexia and Mental Health.  It is pleasing that this in-house appointment allows extensive handover between Rachel and Lucinda.

I congratulate her on this appointment and look forward to her joining the senior team.

Latest News

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

Well done to our doubles girls, E Julio and S Savidge, who also played in last weekend’s Junior Orange Ball Tournament in Sevenoaks. They played four matches, won two, beating Sevenoaks Prep and Lady Boswell’s and lost two to the eventual finalists Amherst and Granville.

This was a great performance by the girls, particularly in the light of little experience of Orange Ball competition.

Well done!

With around 20 pairs competing, representing 9 schools, pupils S Taylor, D Booth, J Vanderlanh-McKeown and J McDonnell were proud to represent St Michael’s at the Sevenoaks Junior Orange Ball Doubles, held at the Sennock Centre in Sevenoaks on Saturday 7th March.

S Taylor and D Booth started their Orange Ball tournament well with a win against Lady Boswell’s, before losing to a very strong team from Sevenoaks Primary. They followed with a close match against Amhurst Primary which they lost 7-6 and needed two wins from their remaining games to make the final stage. They won the first quite easily against Russell House and then had a tight match against Sevenoaks Prep. It was neck and neck throughout, but they kept their cool and won 7-6.

Their tally of three wins to two losses saw our Year 4 pair through to the play-offs. They had two games against a Year 5 pair from Sevenoaks Prep and New Beacon. They lost both games narrowly, 7-6 and 7-5, finishing 6th overall, which was a good performance given they’re at the younger end of the Orange grouping and the standard of the competition was high.

J Vanderlanh-McKeown and J McDonnell both demonstrated strong teamwork, good sportsmanship and skills. They came up against some strong competition from the other schools but never gave up and kept competing to the end with some great saves, serves and volley. The boys also showed respect towards others and maintained a positive attitude at all times. Both boys really enjoyed the tournament and look forward to improving their position at the next one.
It was great to see both pairs supporting each other throughout the games! Very well done, keep up the good work!

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