Head’s Blog Friday 6th January 2017

Happy New year to you all. It’s been great to see the rested and sometimes tanned faces of the children, back with energy and enthusiasm on Thursday and settled in on Friday. There’s been lots of talk about families, good times and exciting new things to play with or do amongst children and a sense among staff that whilst Christmas isn’t really time “off” that it’s a great time for reconnecting with friends and family and having a change.

Staff met on Wednesday to welcome our new colleagues, begin induction meetings and explore elements of teaching and learning and preparation for another new Inspection framework which comes into force this January.

You’ll be pleased to know that the Inspection focus is on Educational Quality alongside Compliance. Although it is still possible that we might have either Educational Quality or Compliance  separately, it is most likely that we will get a combined Inspection with one day’s notice called Educational Quality with Focussed Compliance. (EQ + FC)  We are keen to test our systems in readiness for this and we’re planning a survey of parents to help us understand where our development should focus next. More details will follow on that topic. Inspectors explore pupils’ achievements and pupils’ personal development and we look forward to sharing with them all that St Michael’s offers in both those areas.

We reviewed our medication policy last term and are in the final stages of refining it with parental input. If any parent would like to cast an eye over our new policy and let us have feedback we would be pleased to hear from you. Please contact my secretary Helen on headsec@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk

Next week I start weekly coffee meetings with parent reps. This is an opportunity for parents to chat informally and offer perspectives on the school, perhaps things that delight them, sometimes frustrations or areas to refine. Reps are invited to encourage items for exploration from the whole class they represent and minutes are produced which deal with each point raised. Just prior to meeting each year group parents, I also have lunch with form captains and vice captains and hear their views on what it’s like to be in their year.

I usually have excellent pointers for things to focus on and many developments have taken place as a direct result of feedback.

As a result of feedback about lost property and borrowing in changing rooms, we installed cameras on the doors leading out of the rooms and eliminated almost at once the borrowing of kit.

Parents suggested benches by the tennis courts and we installed them (eventually!)

Parents had concerns about the quality and amount of swimming the school offered and we set up the very successful Swim School whose staff also deliver curriculum swimming , which has been increased.

The car park was potholed  and dark and this was a topic of much feedback. It was resurfaced.

These are just a few of the examples of items brought to the top of the development list as a result of engaging with parents.

What these coffee mornings are not about is teaching and learning. Our open door policy, our leadership structure and our parent evening system are the channels for raising any issue of concern about children’s progress and I know my colleagues go out of their way to engage with parents who raise any concern.

I look forward to listening, supporting and setting new items for development with your help over this term.

You will notice, if you have been into the Prep school that we have created a new reception area in part of the lobby. This change has been planned since September but sadly our swanky bespoke furniture wasn’t ready to install over the holiday. The rationale for this is to enable staff engaging with parents and children to be seen and on hand and to create a calmer environment with less interruption for those with less outward facing roles.

I have enjoyed listening to the children’s plans for their New Year’s Resolutions and encouraged them to think about focussing on one thing to do that will be of most benefit to others in their families, their class or perhaps even in the wider world. Olivia in Pre-Prep is helping mum with her younger brother, Eva said she planned to make her bed every day, whilst up in Prep Annabel suggested trying to turn off lights to save energy and Josh said he would revise a lot so he could do really well in his CE. Other good suggestions included giving away toys to children who didn’t have any (perhaps a great one for after Christmas when the cupboard is bursting) and trying to overcome fear of the dark.

I helped the children to think about how they could help themselves to keep their resolutions and suggested that they

  • tell their friends, so friends could remind and support them
  • give themselves small targets to build into a bigger one like keeping their resolution for one week at a time and rewarding themselves if they do
  • have a sticker or tick chart to mark off successful days
  • and perhaps most importantly, to think about the odd day where they fail to keep their resolution as a setback to move past rather than time to give up altogether

I look forward to seeing some of you at the many events happening this term. If you haven’t already, please do download the calendar app to your phones so that you can keep up to date and save into your calendar what is relevant to your family. It has filters and all sorts and should change your life!

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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