eNews: Friday 11th September 2020

From the Acting Head

The magic of a new school year! It has been an absolute joy to welcome the children back this week and, in our new bubbles, I had the pleasure of delivering my opening assembly three times in the Prep School! The assembly explored the advice that famous Headteachers from literature would give at the start of a new school year. The children agreed that Miss Trunchbull and The Demon Headmaster would not reflect the values of St Michael’s in their approach. However, when we looked at Albus Dumbledore we found some inspiration in his words:

“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. Your choices have the power to take you wherever you want to go, just don’t forget to take a snapshot of those moments along the way.”

My Dumbledore-inspired message was about trying new things this year. Some things are different for safety reasons, but we will embrace the change and do our best. We won’t be afraid to fail. Not only is it essential to our learning that we accept we may not succeed straight away, but through failure, we learn and grow.

My final piece of advice was that it’s important for us to celebrate the small stuff: making someone’s day by holding the door open, spreading smiles and acts of kindness and finding joy in the wonder of learning. And a Dumbledore-inspired assembly would not have been complete without some magic, so I also performed a new trick that I mastered last weekend (through trying and initially failing, of course!). One child from each bubble pulled a magic invitation from what was an empty bag and will bring two friends to join me for tea and cake in the coming weeks.

This week we held the first of our welcome evenings for Year 3 and 4 parents via Zoom. We were grateful to receive questions in advance to inform our presentations and look forward to hosting our Year 5 and 6 welcome evenings next week. Key dates for upcoming events can be found later in this newsletter.

Within this newsletter, you will find some helpful advice about the new systems in place. Please take care to digest all relevant sections, and I hope that the Covid-19 symptom action list will be a useful tool should anyone in your household experience symptoms over the coming weeks.

Have a magical weekend!

Mary Bridges

From the Head of Pre-Prep

I am at my happiest when St Michael’s is full of smiling and enthusiastic children. I have been amazed at how well your children have been coming into school. Starting school is such a big step and changes family life as your child widens their circle of friends and familiar adults; your children seem to have embraced this change seamlessly.  

The Nursery familiarisation sessions have been going well with all the children being able to play without mum or dad by their side. It has been lovely to see them exploring the Nursery garden. It was also good to eavesdrop on the Nursery staff the other morning as they swapped joyful stories of how well the Nursery children were playing. 

I am looking forward to having coffee mornings via Zoom next week for those of you who wish to join me. If you have any questions for me that you would like me to pass onto your form representative, then I can answer them during the meeting.  

At the start of term, we usually begin to prepare for an Open Class event where we can invite parents into the classroom to see what the children have been doing. As this will not be possible this year due to Covid-19, the children will be trying to put together a class video that they can share with parents.  

Each week I will also be sharing my Overheard in Pre-Prep quote which I hope brings as bigger smile to your face as it does mine. This week we heard the following from one our children:

“If I keep playing, I stop missing my mummy.”

Have a lovely weekend, 

Zerrin Leech 

 

From the Deputy Head

Talking to staff who are helping you

 

I was disappointed to hear from two of the hard working Estates team helping with the directing of traffic this week, that some parents were rude to them and on two occasions ignored their request to turn left and not right when heading to Pre-Prep. All of the staff in the car parks and pick up areas are there to get your child to you safely and as quickly as possible. Deliberately ignoring a request from a member of staff, who are there to help, is not acceptable and could potentially be dangerous. I know we all lead busy lives, but there is no room for unkind words to any of our staff. We would not expect or accept this behaviour from your children.

 

Early arrival for Pick Up

 

Can I please remind parents of the importance of sticking to your allocated time slot for both drop off and collection of children. We have found that some parents are starting to arrive earlier and earlier as they found on the previous day they were held up. Unfortunately, this early arrival is what is often causing the delay because the flow of traffic is then curtailed due to early parents waiting in the car park for their slot, then more delays occur when the parents with children waiting at the collection points can’t get there. To allow the traffic to flow more freely, please stick to the time you have been allocated.

Fraser Wiseman

 

Staff News

 

Hello

 

Tracey Scott –  Music Administrator

 

Tracey graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Geology, before pursuing a long career as a pensions partner in an actuarial consultancy.

She has undertaken a number of voluntary roles at St Michael’s, particularly in the Music Department where she has enjoyed organising trips to Young Voices at the O2 and the ABRSM exam visits.

Tracey enjoys pilates, swimming and exercising outdoors. She especially loves cycling with her family which she discovered as another way to enjoy the wonderful countryside during lockdown.

Tracey is really excited to be working at St Michael’s to provide administrative support to the music team.

Rest In Peace Reverend Gerald Reddington

This week we received the sad news that one of our Old Michaelians, Reverend Gerald Reddington, passed away on Wednesday 17th June 2020 at the age of 85.

Reverend Reddington attended St Michael’s during the 1940s, followed by his son who attended the school during the 1960s.

Upon leaving St Michael’s, Gerald pursued a 28-year career as a stockbroker in the City, before joining the Anglican ministry where he was appointed parish priest of the Anglo-Catholic church St Barnabas Ealing in 1990 at the age of 55. There he committed himself to attracting many young families to the church community.

And although his two careers had many differences, the Reverend found innovative ways to merge his skill sets from both. Notably, he led the building of a new £1 million church hall using a grant from the Millennium Lottery Fund.

In 1958 Reverend Reddington married the actress Valerie Gaunt, best known for her appearances in the 1957 and 1958 Hammer Horror films The Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula.

The couple were members of the Anglo-Catholic Church of All Saints, Margaret Street, and their shared faith helped them to cope with the death of their nine-year-old son Adam who suffered from a congenital heart disease.

While working in the City Reverend Reddington also carried out social work at the homeless charity Centrepoint which he chaired for 11 years.

On retirement in 1999 he moved to the Isle of Wight where he and his brother Bruce share many family holidays and were once evacuated to during the Blitz. During his later years Gerald continued to preach, help out at local churches, conduct retreats to the Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield, West Yorkshire, and serve as a psychotherapist and counsellor.

The Reverend lost his wife Valerie to Parkinsons in 2016.

We send our warmest condolences to his three surviving children who, along with Reverend Reddington and his wife Valerie, will always be valued members of the St Michael’s family.

Reverend Gerald Reddington: August 8 1934- June 17 2020

Sports Update

 

How will After School Sports Clubs work?

 

Pupils will need to come to school on the day of their clubs in normal school uniform (unless they also have games on that day). We will get them changed into their games kit at break or lunch ready for the club after school. At the end of the club we will not ask them to get changed back into school uniform, so they will need to take their kit bags home with them on a club day and bring it back in the next morning. Whilst I appreciate this is not an ideal scenario, it is the best way to ensure maximum time in club as I do not believe a full school uniform will fit into their smaller school bags.

 

 

What is the difference between a PE kit and Games kit?

 

PE kit is their coloured house polo top, white shorts and white socks with indoor trainers. Games Kit for boys is either their long or short sleeved green tops, green shorts and green socks (they will either wear outdoor trainers or boots when in a games lesson). Games kit for girls is their white tops, green skort, green socks, shin pads, mouth guard and indoor trainers for use on the Astro. They will need a match top when matches start.

PE is a curriculum lesson taught before lunch, and Games is an afternoon lesson involving whichever sport they are doing that season (currently boys’ football and girls’ hockey).

Pick Up after Games

 

Thank you for bearing with us this week whilst we trial ways of getting your children to their pickup points on time with all of their equipment and kit whilst avoiding mixing with other bubbles. We are trying our very best but sometimes a little trial and error is needed with new routines.

Our current thinking is that we will minimise their time in changing rooms by removing their trainers/boots and equipment from their sports bag at the start of games lessons but not returning them at the end of games. Instead, we are asking them to take their school bags with them to the games lessons and, at the end of the lesson, put these items in to their school bags to take home and bring back the next day. This is all fine until the weather turns so please stay tuned…

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.

 

Ben Bridges, Director of Sports

What to do if your child is displaying symptoms of Covid-19

As we head into our annual cold and flu season, we understand that it is going to be difficult for parents to differentiate between the symptoms associated with Covid-19 and a cold or flu. We thought it would be helpful to share the direct link to the action list that we will follow if a pupil is displaying symptoms of Covid-19. This document is aimed at educational settings but we felt it useful for you, as parents, to understand our actions and the advice that we will give and follow.

It is important that you contact the school as well as arranging a test if your child displays any of the symptoms as follows:
• A new, continuous cough
• A high temperature
• A loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell

If you have problems arranging a test please contact the school office. We fully expect that we will have a large number of children over the coming days and weeks who will fall into the above category of symptoms. It is important that parents follow the advice regarding self-isolation as a family until you have the results of the test. It would not be appropriate for us to email the wider community every time a child is being tested as this is often just a precautionary measure. If we have any confirmed cases of Covid-19 at St Michael’s, it is our duty to inform Public Health England and to follow their advice at that point.

We are grateful for your support and we will continue to keep you updated regarding procedures as necessary.

Birthday Cake Announcement

We would like pupils to celebrate their birthdays at school, but understand that parents may be hesitant for their children to eat food brought in from another home. If you would rather your child not have birthday cake brought in by another child, please can you email the school office on office@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk to confirm this.

Please also remember that we are a nut-free school.

Welcome from the Parents and Friends Association…

On behalf of St Michael’s Parents and Friends Association (P&F) we would like to offer a very warm welcome to the new joiners to the School.

The P&F are a group of volunteer parents committed to supporting the school and its children through fundraising and community building activities. We arrange a range of social activities including the Christmas Bazaar, the Charity Ball (next one to be held in May 2021), Circus, quiz nights and movie nights. Such events are a great opportunity to meet other parents, carers and staff and have some fun.  We raise funds for additional resources and equipment to enrich the children’s experiences at the School and also raise funds for external charities.

We also coordinate with the volunteer parent representatives (the Reps) to keep you informed of school activities and specific class/year communications. The P&F and the Reps use Classlist (an external app) as an efficient way to connect with you and keep you updated on upcoming events in a GDPR compliant way.  We have over 98% of our families on Classlist.  We’d therefore very much like you to join us on Classlist by clicking this link.

For more information, to find out how to get involved in the P&F or if you have any queries re our use of Classlist please contact stmichaelspreppf@gmail.com. Our next meeting is scheduled for Thursday 1st October and further details will be posted on Classlist nearer the time.

Key Dates

 

Pre-Prep

Monday 14th September: 10am Coffee morning via Zoom (Year 2 parents)
Tuesday 15th September: 10am Coffee morning via Zoom (Year 1 parents)
Wednesday 16th September: 10am Coffee morning via Zoom (Reception parents)
Thursday 17th September: 10am Coffee morning via Zoom (Kindergarten parents)

 

Prep

Prep School Welcome Evenings

Thursday 17th September: Year 5 & 6 parents
Monday 21st September: Year 7 & 8 parents

 

ISEB pre-test dates for the Michaelmas Term

Friday 9th October
Friday 6th November
Friday 27th November

 

Pupils enjoy new Astro Turf pitch for the first time!

This week our children had the joy of using our new Astro Turf pitch for the first time.

 

 

 

 

Completed over the Summer, this new space will provide hundreds of opportunities for new sports, tournaments and community events.

 

 

 

 

Mr Bridges, Director of Sports, 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.

 

 

 

 

“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.”

Shoot for the Stars!

 

Isabelle. D (Year 2) receives green Blue Peter Badge

A huge well done to Isabelle.D in Year 2 who received her green Blue Peter Badge on Thursday. She built a bug house during lockdown and encouraged her family to use glass milk bottles instead of plastic. We’re very proud of Isabelle’s eco-friendly initiative!

 

 

 

A. Scott (Year 7) wins Young Singer of the Year competition

Many congratulations to A.Scott, Year 7 music scholar, who has had a very successful summer. He won the final of the Bromley Youth Music Trust (BYMT) Young Singer of the Year competition singing “The Lord Bless You And Keep You” by John Rutter. The performance videos for the final were selected from over 200 entries and were live streamed on YouTube.

He has also won a place to study music on Saturdays at the Junior Conservatoire of Trinity Laban School of Music and Dance In Greenwich. He will be kept busy with a full day of choral and chamber music ensembles, as well as sax, clarinet and musicianship lessons.

Gordon Baird, Director of Music, said “We are thrilled for A. Scott and look forward to seeing the musical opportunities that studying at Trinity will bring. I’d like to thank our brilliant team of peripatetic teachers and in particular Emily Balcombe, Jack Bennett and Jo Fooks who have taught and encouraged him since he started individual lessons back in Pre-Prep.”

 

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.

Please email tusher@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk with your child’s name, a summary of their achievement and a relevant photo. Please also give consent for the use of their name and photo on our website and social media.

 

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