Head’s Blog 28th June 2019 Friday 28th June 2019

This week on Thursday the governors and senior leaders enjoyed a strategy workshop to set down and capture the direction of travel and vision for the next ten years at St Michael’s Prep. My colleague Jane Thornton has spent much of this term workshopping with different stakeholders what it means to be a part of St Michael’s and how we could demonstrate this more widely in the world and some fascinating ideas have come out of these workshops. Across all groups, the caring, inclusive, supportive and creative environment that is St Michael’s is a strongly understood concept. All groups, and particularly pupils, spoke of their attachment to the school.

This has manifested itself on many levels this week with Dominic Carver a former pupil helping out in Pre-Prep, himself singing most beautifully at the splendid string concert organised by Jackie Dennett, Jacob Garside and Sally Beesley. Dominic will be off to study music at university and highlighted the special bond which brings people back time and time again. Not only has he been enormously helpful to all the music rehearsals happening in Pre-Prep but it was fitting at Sally’s last concert that he should come and perform for her just as he did as a small boy.

It was fantastic to see the excitement of two of our former pupils at Kent College welcoming our language challenge team to the competition they hosted on Wednesday and, at Sutton Valence on Tuesday evening, I very much enjoyed seeing two of our pupils performing to a very high standard in their delightful and energetic production of “School of Rock” to which I was invited.

For me, as Head, I have a strong sense of connection to anybody that says they have been a pupil or member of staff here whether or not I actually worked with them because I recognise in their return to the school that they enjoyed what we enjoy today; a family friendly and innovative environment….and attachment.

Parents too show their attachment by their attendance at so many events. Whether it be the Pre-Prep string concert, the Nursery or Kindy end of term productions, the wonderfully insightful Year 3 drama workshops, where we watched the development of the children in an open class by Mr Powell or the series of intimate and moving instrumental and vocal concerts given by the pupils of our peripatetic team over these past few weeks.

Over the next nine days we will be marking the final stages of their life at St Michael’s of some children, staff and governors and for me both formal and informal parts of these days are special and fun.

Today at the staff and governors’ drinks party we said farewell to Enos Bukuku who has been a governor at the school since way before my time and we thank him for the stories of his time as a pupil just as much as guiding us with his legal advice as an adult. On 9th July, at Prize-Giving, we will mark the departure and contribution of Paula Carter, outgoing Chair of Governors, who recruited me, believed in me and who has been my mentor and support. Paula is never fazed and has been good fun as well as wise and impressively patient. And like all the governors, she is passionate about what St Michael’s is and will be.

Both Paula and our new Chair of Governors, Robert, will be presenting gifts to leavers and stayers at Prize Giving and I hope that many of you at the after party will take a moment to thank Paula for all she’s done and chat with Robert about the plans for our future.

Of course it is an immense privilege to have shared part of the journey with the children who will leave and we all delight in the progress they have made and the memories we have made together. We very much do want to keep in touch and at sports day next Friday we will be rejoicing in the company of some Old Michaelians coming to join us for the afternoon, to celebrate at the barbecue in the evening and some who will even camp out overnight.

We are expecting them to join in the fun, reconnect and update us on all that has been achieved since we last saw them. I’m excited and I’m proud.
Attachment… We all have it!

Next week we will be sending out letters to the parents of those children who will receive awards in our Prep school Prize Giving so that they can make arrangements to be there. We hope very much that parents will come, whether or not their child is a recipient because it is an occasion on which we celebrate and share and perform and respect the departure of many significant figures within the community.

We are very much looking forward to meeting Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, whose nephews are pupils here and it is traditionally a time when many former staff return to join in.

As we meet and share time together at all these events I very much hope that you will treasure the time you can be with us and be a part of this great school.

Have a lovely 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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