eNews: Thursday 11th February 2021

From the Head

Dear Parents,

As we approach the half term break, I have been reflecting on the many things we have achieved as a school community so far this term.

Beginning the year in a lockdown has posed challenges for us all, but I am so proud of the resilience and adaptability St Michael’s staff, pupils and parents have shown during this time. I have been delighted by the determined attitude our teachers and families continue to give to Remote Learning, and hugely impressed by the care our staff and on-site teams have shown to our Critical Worker and Early Years children. Thank you so much for your continued support, feedback and words of encouragement as we navigate through this difficult period together. I am hopeful of a return to school on 8 March and whilst it has been good to hold assemblies and drop in on some class registrations, I cannot wait to get to meet everyone properly!

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a healthy and restful break with your families – enjoy the snow!

Nik Pears
A message from Mr Pears to pupils:

From the Head of Pre-Prep 

Dear Parents,

Half term is finally here and I am sure you are all ready for a break from online lessons and all the organisation that this must entail with your family. Enjoy the breathing space just as the teachers will do. Fingers crossed that the next half term is brighter, sunnier and full of joyous children returning to school.

For those children in school, we have spent time in the snow building snowmen and made snowballs, of course. Today we raced with pancakes in preparation for Shrove Tuesday next week. Grateful thanks to TJ Smith who made lots of thick, rubbery pancakes for the occasion!

Your children should all receive a little gift from Pre-Prep over the half term. I would like to thank Coolings Garden Centre and Thompson & Morgan seed company for part of this.

Overheard in Pre-Prep:

Breaking up for half term- “When the school is broken what do you do?”

Have a good half term,

Zerrin Leech

Staff News

Welcome to…

Mrs Claire Clarke–  Music Peri – Singing Teacher

Mrs Claire Clarke currently teaches singing in three thriving music departments, at the Rochester Grammar School, Rainham Mark Grammar School and at Kent College, Pembury. She graduated from Birmingham Conservatoire with a first class degree in Music. Singing is her first study but she also attained Grade 8 in both violin and piano.

Her passion for singing started with 10 years in a church choir leading to becoming the youngest member of the Royal Choral Society at age 16. She enjoys sharing that sentiment with her students and aims to boost their confidence and above all, make their lessons fun! She is fortunate to have a busy career in music combining peripatetic teaching with performing regularly. With over 20 years of experience as a professional singer to share and inspire her students, she mostly now sings with Cameo Opera but has also appeared as one of the 3 Sopranos and as guest soloist with Sussex Concert Orchestra.

In her spare time, Claire does Zumba to keep fit and enjoys spending time with her family, taking part in sailing and other water sports.

She is really looking forward to meeting and working with the children at St. Michael’s.

Head’s Stars

J Lascelles (Year 3) for making an amazing boat model

A Booth-Wakenell (Year 3) for creating an excellent Antartica game

M Martins (Year 3) for consistently working incredibly hard throughout remote learning and for an amazing Ode to Pizza

M Coustache (Year 3) for an incredible attitude towards Remote Learning

X Noorpuri (Year 3) for amazing effort and an Ode to a Grand Piano

S Friis (Year 3) for research on Mary Anning and creating a lovely poster about her

A O’Brien (Year 3) for her enthusiasm and beautiful illustrations of the story: ‘Jesus Heals a Paralysed Man’

F Jenkins (Year 4) for an amazing Roman Army recruitment video

J Gagg (Year 4) for fantastic contributions to Remote Learning

E Nash (Year 4) for fantastic contributions to Remote Learning

M Blincoe (Year 4) for fantastic contributions to Remote Learning

F Digweed (Year 4) for fantastic contributions to Remote Learning

G Cheetham (Year 4) for fantastic contributions to Remote Learning

D Verdemato (Year 4) for fantastic contributions to Remote Learning

M Walker (Year 4) for fantastic contributions to Remote Learning

W Noble (Year 4) for fantastic contributions to Remote Learning

S Johnson (Year 4) for fantastic contributions to Remote Learning

F Jenkins (Year 4) for an amazing roman Army recruitment video

R Romero (Year 5) for conducting a fantastic interview with Lucy from ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ about her initial meeting with Mr Tumnus in Narnia

C Wilson (Year 5) for a fantastic interview with Mr Tumnus from ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’

D Macedo (Year 6) for an original and creative realisation of the Super Mario Bros theme and sound effects using music technology

E Schwark (Year 6) for superb work in using the Beepbox online synthesiser to interpret a musical score with great accuracy

E Green (Year 6) for fantastic work using Beepbox and creating the Super Mario theme tune

L Lutzow (Year 6) for taking up, and making excellent progress on the trapeze!

T Neville (Year 7) for outstanding studio work in recording and developing his ideas for the Dr Who theme experimental music project

L Watson (Year 8) for a fantastic composition project in his Film music portfolio to portray fear

E Ward (Year 8) for incredible attention to detail in composing a cartoon soundtrack with clever use of musical clichés

 

 

Remote Learning 

St Michael’s pupils have been working hard in their Remote Learning lessons this week. They have made fantastic DT projects, practised instruments and got creative in the snow.

Send in your photos

To send us photos or videos of your child taking part in Remote Learning, please email tusher@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk along with your child’s name, year group and a short description of the photograph. All content sent to this email address may feature on St Michael’s social media and in other publications.

Critical Workers groups

Meanwhile, in school our Critical Workers groups have shared lots of special moments together including lots of playing in the snow.

 

Whole School News

Freestyle Friday!

Presenting… this week’s Freestyle Friday dance to ‘You’ve Got the Love’ by Florence + The MachineThank you to everyone who submitted their clips, we hope you enjoy watching this video.

The next theme is: We Go Together!

We will be dancing to: ‘We Go Together’ from Grease

Being with friends and family is something we are missing dearly at the time, so our next dance will celebrate the power of Freestyle Friday to bring the St Michael’s family together.

If your child would like to be involved, please send a 5-10 second video clip of your child dancing to tusher@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk to be considered for the final video. Please can we ask parents to be mindful of what their child is wearing in the video, and to ensure that their clothing and dance moves are appropriate for distribution to the school community and on St Michael’s social media channels.

The deadline for the next Freestyle Friday video is after the half term on Wednesday 24th February at 12pm. Please film all videos in landscape and not portrait. You do not need to worry about sound in the video as all clips will be muted before being put with a backing track.

Lockdown Life Hacks

This week, St Michael’s parent Sarah Johnston shares her tips for staying positive during lockdown and how tips from her childhood teachers have helped her do just that.

Year 8 pupil Daisy also gives her Lockdown Life Hack, inspired by this week’s snow fall.

To submit your Lockdown Life Hack, please email a 30 second to 1 minute video clip to tusher@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk. Videos submitted may be used on St Michael’s website and social media. Videos from pupils, parents and staff are welcome.

World Book Day

World Book Day is on Thursday 4th March this year, which falls within the current period of Remote Learning. We will nevertheless be celebrating the joy that reading brings, albeit in a different way this year.
The assembly on Monday 1st March with Mr Pears will take place as normal, but assemblies for the rest of the week will be given over to story times within bubbles (Years 3/4, Years 5/6 and Years 7/8). Every day, each bubble will have a different guest reader but it will be the instalments from the same book being read over the four days. In a break with our usual policy, children will be invited to settle down with a drink and snack to make the experience extra-special. Please be aware that these story times may last between ten and twenty minutes depending on the length of the book.
Further information about how these story time sessions will work on Teams will be shared after the half term holiday.
In Pre-Prep, the entire day will be dedicated to book-related activities, with dressing-up encouraged. More details will be communicated closer to the time.
For those who love to dress up, there will also be an opportunity to don a costume and dance with a book in a book-themed Freestyle Friday (released on Thursday 4th March to coincide with World Book Day itself). Again, there will be more information about this shared with the St Michael’s community closer to the time.
Mrs Andrade

Shoot for the Stars!

Lena’s terrific trapeze tricks 

Congratulations to Lena in Year 6 who gave a fantastic performance on her trapeze bar last week. Please enjoy this short video.

 

Genevieve comes first at Chichester Festival

A huge congratulations to Genevieve in Year 4 who achieved first place in her music category at this year’s virtual Chichester Festival. The judges described Genevieve’s guitar performance as outstanding.

 

Send us your stories!

Has your child won an award, passed an extra-curricular exam or accomplished something exciting recently?

We love celebrating our pupils’ amazing achievements and want to showcase them in our weekly newsletter. Email tusher@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk to submit your child’s achievement.

Senior Schools Information

Eastbourne College

Join Eastbourne College for their Virtual Open Morning on Saturday 27th February, from 9am – 11am. 

University of York study

The Department of Psychology at the University of York is currently running a fully-online research study aimed at better understanding and raising awareness of the cognitive impact of the postpartum period on new parents.

They are looking for parents with a youngest child under the age of 6 to take part.

Follow us on social media!

It’s important that we stay connected as a community during this time, so make sure you are following St Michael’s social media channels for important updates and content throughout the Lent Term.

Latest News

A Sevenoaks food bank is 318 kilos heavier following a donation from St Michael’s.

 

The school surprised charity The Community Cupboard with the generous donation on Monday, February 1 following a Christmas collection for the cause.

 

In total, £965 was raised from parent and staff donations throughout December, which St Michael’s Parents and Friends Association (P & F) used to organise a Sainsbury’s shop of food and toiletries for the charity.

 

Commenting on the school’s motivation to help the food bank, Co-Chair of St Michael’s P & F, Kelly Downey, said: “Delivering our donation to The Community Cupboard was an amazing and uplifting moment. Being able to bring the school together to contribute to a cause which plays such an important role in our community during this time was very rewarding.”

 

Greeted with three car loads of canned foods, long-life products and toiletries, Kelly also describes how delighted the charity were with the school’s generosity. She added: “The team were really blown away by our donation and thankful for the time we’d taken to raise the money and organise a delivery.

 

“It was a great feeling to be able to put an initial idea from a St Michael’s parent into action, and to see the impact we would be having on the local community.”

 

Kelly added: “We recognise that this is a very difficult time for everyone, especially those who can’t afford to put food on the table for their families. We hope that our donation can be a small step in making a difference for those people.”

 

Since the start of January alone, an additional 22 local families have registered for The Community Cupboard’s support, reflecting the increased pressures caused by the ongoing pandemic across the country. And it is only thanks to generous donations that the charity can continue to provide help to those who need it most.

 

Trustee at The Community Cupboard, David Carter said: “We would like to express our extreme gratitude to St Michael’s for their wonderful donation. We are very lucky to receive regular donations from local groups, but they are rarely to this scale.

 

“The food and toiletries kindly given to us by St Michael’s have allowed us to fully restock our shelves as well as putting plenty of stock on standby for new referrals. The size of this donation will allow us to give substantial food packages to the 22 new families who were referred to us in January. St Michael’s help is invaluable to us and will make a huge difference.”

 

Since its launch in January 2020, The Community Cupboard has continued to help families in Sevenoaks, and has extended its help to cover a 20 mile radius including Edenbridge, Westerham, Surrey, Sidcup, Rochester and Ashford, due to the pandemic.

 

The Trustee added: “We began as a small group of people determined to make a difference locally in an area where food banks were lacking. Little did we know, a global pandemic was on its way and our efforts would be needed tenfold. To say we hit the ground running would be an understatement.”

 

Run by four members and six volunteers, The Community Cupboard works tirelessly to deliver parcels to families, and in January alone distributed 3.1 tonnes of food, toiletries and essential items.

 

David said: “We began the charity on the foundation that ‘if we can help, we will’, and with the community’s help, I’m proud to say we are doing just that. We see a lot of hardship and sadness in doing what we do, but it really opens our eyes to the incredible hard work various organisations and charities do in our community. Thanks to generous groups like St Michael’s, we can confidently say ‘yes, we can help you’.”

 

The Community Cupboard are currently taking donations of tinned and long-life food products, as well as toiletries and essential items. Monetary donations are also welcome and will be put towards bulk orders for the charity.

 

The charity is based at The Garage, Gamcock meadow, West Kingdown where a covid secure donation drop off process has been put in place.

 

For more information about The Community Cupboard, or to donate to the charity visit www.thecommunitycupboard.co.uk.

Mr Bridges is on a mission to keep St Michael’s motivated with his latest exercise plan designed to make exercise fun.

The Director of Sport at St Michael’s, who is a very keen runner himself, has created a beginner to 5k plan for anyone wanting to keep fit this lockdown.

The six-week plan, featuring workouts, running challenges and rest days, covers a range of exercises aimed at strengthening all parts of the body.

Mr Bridges said: “I have created this training programme for the St Michael’s community to help anyone who wants to have a go at running during lockdown and safely get to 5k by the time we return to school. The plan is suitable for Prep-aged pupils, parents and staff, including absolute beginners.”

The teacher, who has 15 years’ training as a running and triathlon coach, added: “The programme is designed to build a body capable of running 5k at the end of the six weeks, and what better time to have a go than during lockdown.”

The detailed plan, organised into weeks and week days, follows a key where the letters W (walk) and R (run) appear alongside the number of minutes the activity should take place for. For example, 6 x 1:30w/2:30r represents a 1 minute 30 seconds of walking followed by 2 minutes 30 seconds of running, repeated six times.

Mr Bridges said: “The programme includes progressive long runs from week 3 onwards, the only day where the running is based on distance rather than time.

“On Mondays I will also be sharing a different workout on the St Michael’s PE YouTube channel which pupils can take part in.”

To share your experience of the programme, including photos please email tusher@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk. By sharing this information you give consent to it being shared on St Michael’s social media channels and publications.

 

 

Warm, welcoming and impressive. That’s how St Michael’s new Head describes the school.

“I’ve always liked St Michael’s and have been visiting it for several years as part of sports fixtures with my previous schools”, Nik Pears said.

“Something that has always impressed me about St Michael’s is the atmosphere and people that belong to it.

“The sense of community you feel when walking through the doors of the school is extraordinary”, he added.

An avid sportsman, experienced leader, and family man, Mr Pears brings with him a wealth of ideas for St Michael’s, including his core value of equipping pupils for life.

Nik , who joined St Michael’s in January 2021, explained: “I am very keen on developing a growth mindset in my pupils. In this ever-changing world, our children need to be prepared for life outside of the classroom.

“Pupils need to be adaptable, resilient and perseverant, and learn to accept their failure and mistakes as important parts of their personal development.

“By equipping children with the right interpersonal skills during their school years, we can set them up for a future in which they may have to fight for their place in the world.”

Nik’s concept of growth mindset can also be applied to his broader vision for the school.

Coming to St Michael’s from his headship at Kent College, Pembury, Nik believes the challenges posed by Covid-19 can teach schools a lot about the importance of flexibility and community.

Mr Pears said: “These unprecedented times have been a huge learning curve for schools.

“Navigating a school through a global crisis was never going to be easy, but it has shown just how necessary it is to put pupils at the heart of every decision.

“As someone who has experienced the period as both a teacher and parent, it is very clear that we are all battling the same storm in different boats.

“It is incredible how people have found new and creative ways to deal with the circumstances. From Zoom concerts, to helping food banks, to keeping each other’s spirits high with funny videos, this period has shown us a lot about community which we will learn from and remember.”

Having belonged to multiple Prep schools himself throughout his education and as a teacher, Nik is excited to be entering this new stage in his career at St Michael’s.

Reflecting on his own school years which saw him attend schools in London, Devon and Dublin, he said: “I always enjoyed school as a child and made the most of every opportunity I was given.

“I particularly enjoyed subjects like music, drama and history and was fascinated by the things that we learnt.

“I was also heavily involved in sports and belonged to the Kent U18 rugby group. Even now you’ll find me in a pair of wellies at the side of the pitch cheering on my pupils and own children.”

Nik added: “I was one of those children who wanted to get stuck into everything, even the things that I found difficult.

“As well as my sports clubs, I belonged to multiple choirs, as well as orchestras where I played the drums, trumpet, piano and guitar.”

Mr Pears also spoke about the impact his own teachers had on his time at school and the person that he is today.

He said: “I had some amazing teachers which taught me a lot of things about life and leadership.

“Sir Anthony Seldon, one of my history teachers, was particularly inspiring and sparked my passion for the subject.

“The Head of my Prep school in Dublin also gave her pupils a lot of time. She was a hero.”

And Nik’s teachers aren’t his only role models in life.

He said: “A man called Phil Wall is also a huge inspiration of mine. Phil is the founder of the charity We See Hope which works with orphans and vulnerable young people in sub Saharan Africa.

“Phil’s selflessness and passion for the cause inspired me to become an ambassador for the charity.

“His exceptional leadership, authenticity and integrity is just inspiring.”

Mr Pears also explained how his love of people has guided him to the many leadership roles he has held.

Nik said: “I very much enjoy being with people and having a good laugh. I’m very lucky to have such an amazing family including my wife, Emma and our two children, Jessica and Josiah. Our pet hamster Charlie is also a valued member of the family who kept us well entertained during the first lockdown.”

He added: “Being a leader brings so many opportunities to show warmth, empathy and understanding to others, and I can’t wait to become a member of the St Michael’s community.

“When pupils leave St Michael’s to pursue their senior education, I hope they remember me as someone who was kind, knew them well and valued their opinion.”

 

On Tuesday 15th December, St Michael’s hosted a fun-filled charity day for Thames Valley Air Ambulance (TVAA).

Organised by Year 7 pupil Lucy, whose life who saved by the emergency team last Christmas, the school partook in a range of fundraising activities including a fun run, Christmas jumper day, and brain-teaser quizzes.

Lucy said: “With Mr Wiseman’s help, I planned activities to raise some much-needed money for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance and increase awareness of their work.

“A lot of people don’t realise what a great charity they are, and I hope our fundraising day has changed that.

“Not only do they save people’s lives in moments of crisis, but they provide long-term support to families who undergo medical emergencies.”

Amanda McLean, Chief Executive of Thames Valley Air Ambulance, said: “A big thank you to the staff and pupils of St Michael’s for coming up with creative ways to involve everyone in fundraising. In sharing her story, Lucy has helped us spread awareness of what Thames Valley Air Ambulance does. We can only do what we do because of the imagination and generosity of our wonderful fundraisers. We hope you had a lot of fun on your fundraising day!”

Lucy, whose story recently featured in the TVAA’s Christmas appeal, said: “Thames Valley Air Ambulance helped me at a time when my parents couldn’t. When I was seriously injured, the team stepped in and became my heroes.”

“It means so much to me that St Michael’s have come together to support this cause.”

The highly successful events saw pupils spread festive joy while raising an impressive £2556.60 for the charity which relies wholly of public donations.

Mrs Bridges, St Michael’s Acting Head, added: “Yesterday was amazing! The whole school had such a great time, and pupils were very excited to take part in a different fundraiser which meant they could enjoy the outdoors, whilst raising money for such an important charity. Everyone gave their all in the sponsored run and it was a brilliant event to watch.”

 

Mrs Wade, Head of Girls’ Games also said: “The children did remarkably well considering the conditions, and ran superbly for Lucy’s cause.”

 

 

And Lucy’s family echoed this gratitude for St Michael’s support. They said: “We wanted to say a huge thank to the St Michael’s community for supporting Lucy’s appeal for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance this Christmas. We’re so grateful to you for getting behind this amazing charity to whom we owe so much. We know from experience that your donations really do save lives. Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2021!”

For more information about the Thames Valley Air Ambulance or to donate visit: www.tvairambulance.org.uk/support-us/donate