Head’s Blog 9th June 2017 Friday 9th June 2017

I enjoyed three days in other schools this week, firstly in my role as governor and then representing ISI as a compliance team inspector. In both these roles I’m always learning and sharing in the best ideas grown in other settings. This week was no exception. I’m grateful for the opportunities to play a part in the process of setting high standards in other schools and enjoy the chance to “get under the skin” of a school, particularly when it turns out to be very different and rather lovely as happened this week.

Absence from one’s own school gives the team a chance to step up and run the show and I am blessed with a good team whom I thank for their extra work this week.

Time away also affords the time for reflection and I have been giving a lot of thought to the changes of the last few weeks in the landscape in which we operate.

Living and working in this part of England has changed and as a school leader, now more than ever, I have a responsibility to help our pupils, parents and staff to be certain about our own direction of travel whilst around us things get more uncertain or seem perhaps diminished by the election upheavals.

So what is the direction we take? Firstly, our focus is on excellence both inside and outside of the classroom, on every child achieving what is excellent for them, having time to reflect and to feel proud and to have the resilience to learn from mistakes. Secondly we do everything we can to strengthen our community at St Michael’s and our place within the community around us and as citizens of the world.

Politically of course, our staff room has a huge variety of views, just as our parent body does. My own sense is that the rhetoric that we have heard from some politicians over the last six weeks has not modelled sophisticated and respectful discourse. Eloquence, honesty, integrity, determination, vision: these are the qualities our pupils will need for professional success.

So to question, analyse, develop points with evidence, research, present accurate facts are all skills which we engender in our pupils and on which will continue to place strong emphasis.

Of course there has been much debate nationally this week, not only about politics and policies but about those who seek to disrupt democracy and everyday life through violence.

As a staff we have debated what the proper response should be to the increased terrorist activity in different parts of the UK. No one, not even our “new” prime minister, can guarantee that people in the UK can be totally safe. We have on our curriculum for the older students the study of how radicalisation takes place. The new reality of being a UK citizen is that there are a very small number of people who are filled with hate, which they say is justified by their religion.

The indiscriminate violence is baffling and bewildering. We recognise that for some children it causes anxiety that is real and will need support.

We teach children to respect and show kindness, to understand how persuasion works and how to keep themselves safe without eliminating all chances of risk.

We all know that terrorism is wrong, that hate eats people up, that caring and sharing is powerful and that our mission must be to keep a strong, core, moral framework at the heart of the experience of being a child.

We have a duty to keep everything as normal as possible even if there is more change and more risk to deal with and emerging from our thinking and planning and talking is a sense that alongside academic excellence, the emotional wellbeing of our whole community will become a strong strand in our development plan for next year and we will look outwards to those who have already developed this focus to train us and work with us on this.

As you head towards your weekend together can I commend to you the performances of “Guys and Dolls” being put on the 20th June

It will be absolutely amazing. Don’t miss it. Go online and get your tickets. Take your friends, take your neighbours and show them what excellent talent we nurture and showcase at St Michael’s.

And while we’re on the subject of amazing I would like to congratulate the huge number of children who have won scholarships to their senior schools or into Y7 at St. Michael’s.

I am so proud of the pupils and staff at this wonderful school.

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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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