Head’s Blog 8th February 2019 Friday 8th February 2019

Happy Year of the Pig to all.  It’s been wonderful to share the celebrations and join the party! I’m proud of the rich international dimension that our parents bring.

In another life I once interviewed a lady who had been out of work for a very long time. On asking the question “What is your proudest professional moment?” there was a sharp intake of breath and the lady replied in the most disapproving tone “pride is a sin”.

I recognise that there are generations of people who were taught that but I would not agree that it is appropriate to teach it now. Pride at accomplishment is a great contributor to self-esteem and this week there have been some fantastic opportunities for children to feel proud. For the first two days of the week many children took music exams which they have been preparing for some time. I hope that they and you are proud of these milestones.

On Wednesday evening at the Interhouse Drama Duologue competition, we were given an astonishing array of sophisticated and emotionally mature performances from the Year 3 “Romeo and Juliet” balcony scene to the winning senior entry’s extract from “Blood Brothers”.

Frankly it was an unbelievable privilege to be in the room and the young people who got up and performed demonstrated phenomenal commitment, talent and understanding of what was required that can only be born of inspirational teaching. The winning junior entry, a powerful and word perfect performance of Prospero and Caliban’s exchange at the start of “The Tempest” delivered with thunderous confidence by Year 4’s A McRae and I Sharma was simply jaw-dropping.

So yes I feel pride and I want to tell everybody I meet how proud I was of every single child in that competition. Congratulations to all involved and to Alan Powell for creating the context in which this is “normal”. Our grateful thanks to Kate Weston for coming to judge this exceptional evening’s competition.

Throughout the week pupils have been thinking about the issue of having permission in the context of online and internet safety. The current culture of sharing is one in which modified images are the norm and may create a false sense of what is real and true and where some more unguarded moments may one day come back to haunt people if the sharing is too personal.

Pupils in Pre-Prep and in Prep have been thinking about whether they have permission to share images and information about their friends and in Prep we have watched some videos where children discuss what it feels like to have images of them shared online without their permission.

As parents in this digital age, if we are on social media, we of course have shared images of our children, probably because we are proud of them but sometimes to share their calamities and this week I have learnt a new word which I am happy to appropriate into my repertoire; “Sharenting”.

As is indicated by this word, sharenting involves parenting in a digital manner and sharing images of children regularly. Perhaps we should pause for thought about how we have sought permission to share. Did we ask our children? Do they even know? If they don’t, is this right?

The following video links might help you explore these ideas further and the third link is the one I showed to Prep school, where children are talking about how, on occasions their friends or their parents have embarrassed them with the images they have posted online and the comments these have generated.

https://www.bbc.com/ownit/its-personal/max-and-harvey-social-media-rules

https://www.bbc.com/ownit/its-personal/oti-mabuse-the-trouble-with-sharing

https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/38841469

Of course with so many families spread across the globe the internet and photo sharing is a wonderful thing but perhaps we do need to come back to the fundamental principle that the person in the photo does have rights over how it is used and we as parents ought to start asking permission before we post.

Whatever you’re doing this weekend enjoy every minute and perhaps consider do I really need to share?

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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