Head’s Blog Friday 24th February 2017

Apart from whirlwind Doris, there has been a veritable whirl of activity at St Michael’s. If you had been here on Wednesday you would have seen the wonderful collaborative workshop in which classes from Reception to Year 3, contributed Lego houses to create a whole town, whilst up in Prep we ran a huge sports tournament involving ten schools which went well and in which our girls played stylishly.

 

On Wednesday morning pupils arrived early at school to be ready for their link up to the school we have partnered with in China. There was much excitement in the room and the benefits of genuine sharing across the continents will be far reaching over the years to come I am sure. I’m delighted to have the link with YK Pao, Shanghai, a bilingual school founded in 2007 and we look forward to sharing some of the children’s work drawn from their first Skype lesson.

 

On Friday, had you been here, you would have met a veritable legion of soldiers, emperors, noble women and the odd slave as Year 4s got to grips first hand with Roman history. The parent helpers honestly looked as though they had travelled across the millennia, such was the quality of their costume creations!

 

This week I enjoyed PE and snack time down in Nursery and some great table conversations taking place between children and adults, a super science investigation lesson from a visiting teacher and my time with Pre-Prep in assembly looking at the shocking reality of segregation in America in the time of Martin Luther King.   

 

It’s been good to meet visiting parents wanting places for September or sooner and to have had the chance to get feedback from parents in Year 6 over coffee and in Year 5 at the Parents’ Evening. The Governors’ Finance committee met on Monday evening and worked hard to review all the projects being undertaken, the policies they oversee and the accounts and expenditure.  

 

You will perhaps notice on the website that we have put a new Complaints policy which we hope is clearer and more streamlined. Our consultancy policy review in September suggested that the table publishing the complaints received and actions taken, whilst transparent, might make people less inclined to raise an issue formally and we agree that it is important that parents should always be confident that we will listen and respond to matters raised. We have therefore, in reviewing this, taken the decision to make the records available only to Governors and the Inspectorate and report the number, not the nature of formal complaints received which is what we are required to do. I hope that this will increase the confidence of parents to raise issues, if they need to and of course what I really hope is that nobody actually has any!

 

We are beginning to look at the questions and answers in the trial survey and I invite further communication from anyone who feels they would like to enhance our understanding on the issues on which you were questioned.

Two questions asked produced an almost unanimous “I agree” (in that no one disagreed).

Teaching enables my child to make good progress and develop skills for the future with 95.5 % of people agreeing and 4.5 saying they didn’t know or had no view.

The school actively promotes values of democracy, respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs, with which again 95.5% of people agreed with 4.5% not knowing or having no view.

 

Any parent who would like to tour the school with me and see more of what is happening in a day is most welcome to do so. I’d really like everyone to have a sense of the work going on here.

The statement which received the highest level of disagreement was

I receive helpful information about my child’s performance and progress. The number of people who agreed was only 87% and those who disagreed stood at 10.8% with 1.8 % not knowing or having a view.

It would be extremely helpful if some or all of that 10 percent would engage with us to help us to understand the reasons for their perspective on this. My sense is that a few parents might expect daily updates which would not be possible beyond early years, whilst a few would like us to modify the timing and nature of what we do offer. Following feedback last year from parent reps, we have modified the feedback in Years 1 and 2 to mirror the quantity and timing of feedback in Reception and we hope parents in Years 1 and 2 are happy with this.

I’m sure parents will be as excited as I am that we are to launch a Parent app later this year which will give personalised access to data held in our system on your children and be able to check it, correct it if need be and keep on top of your child’s homework as well as receiving reports through it.

The trial for this will be launching soon. I hope that the increased connectivity will address the current perceived shortfall in adequate information. Please be confident that if you are one of the people who have views about what we should do I would be delighted to hear from you and meet to talk further.

 

Next week is the start of Fairtrade Fortnight so do look out in the shops this weekend for products with the badge of Fairtrade on them. Year 8 are going into their mocks next week and then will be away in Jersey to enjoy some down time before they go over their papers in the final push towards the summer exams.

 

A steady stream of excellent senior school results is coming through and I look forward in due course to sharing with you the successes of our students. Our own Scholarship offers went out today and we hope that children will be pleased to find out how they did in their applications.

 

I look forward to seeing some of you tomorrow at our Community Netball tournament. May the best team win!

 

Have a great weekend.

Jill Aisher

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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