eNews: Friday 12th June 2020

From the Acting Head

One of my favourite feelings is the excitement and buzz of a St Michael’s school day.  I know that our teachers feel the same, and there is nothing we want more than a return to school for all of our pupils. Following the recent government announcement, we know that you will all be very keen for news about our plans to bring the children back to St Michael’s. Please rest assured that all staff are working towards this goal but, with the current government guidelines, this is not an easy task. Our aim is for all children to be back in school before our final day of term on the 7th July and we are now able to plan to welcome children in Years 2-5 back on the 22nd June. We will write to families with children in those year groups early next week to explain how this will work and, in the meantime it would be helpful for us to gauge your initial thoughts as to whether you will be planning to send your child into school. Please click here to complete the following survey to support us in our planning. The survey closes at 9.00pm on Tuesday 16th June.

On Tuesday, in the statement by Gavin Williamson, we found out more about the potential options for our pupils but, to say it was ambiguous could be described as an understatement. For the record, he said: ‘While we are not able to welcome all primary children back for a full month before the summer, we continue to work with the sector on the next steps where we’d like to see schools who have the capacity to bring back more children in those smaller class sizes to do so if they are able to before the summer holidays.’

Our biggest challenge with this information is enabling our Year 7 & 8 pupils to return, as the government guidelines refer to primary aged children. We are communicating with our advisory bodies and insurers daily to see what we are able to achieve for our senior pupils, and we hope to see them soon. As it currently stands, we are unable to invite Year 7 & 8 children back on site as it would be in contravention of the guidelines. We expect further guidance to be released early next week and, as soon as we are able, we will share our plans for those pupils.

An exciting aspect of emerging from this time is to learn what the positive impact on us all will be. We have been absolutely delighted with the growth and development that we have seen in our returning pupils, and it is exciting to see how much they have progressed. We are confident that, despite losing many of the co-curricular opportunities that the summer term brings, we have made superb progress through the curriculum and our children will be well placed for their next steps come September.

As a school, we are also looking ahead, thinking about the lessons that we have learnt through this process and how we can use them to make what we do even better. From the logistical elements of our new rolling pick up to the ‘flipped learning’ approach that has been extremely powerful in developing independence in our learners, we know that there are many ways to enhance further what we do. As Dr Seuss said, “sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory” and our job now is to make all these moments bring value to our future.

As we think about a brighter future and learning from our experiences, the St Michael’s ethos of encouraging our pupils to challenge the way we think about things and to not be afraid to talk about it is increasingly relevant. As a school, we aim for every member of our community to value the power of learning. Our children can, and will, make this world a better place.

Mary Bridges

 

From the Head of Pre-Prep

Pre-Prep Parent Newsletter 12th June 2020

Dear Parents,

Our bubbles are working well and the children seem to be enjoying their lunch in a box or a bag. The novelty factor certainly works. With the handover from the Government to Head Teachers to sort the return to school, I am proposing to bring the Year 2 children back from the 22nd June. This will be entirely optional as it is for the other Pre-Prep year groups. Year 2 children will be in their class bubbles with their friends and teachers and will not impact on the existing bubbles. We are so lucky to have opened Stable Court last September; it is a wonderful self-contained unit.

Our usual end of term celebrations will be hugely different this year. Miss Rawlinson is making plans for a sports day in a bubble, where each class bubble takes part in a mini sports day watched by the teacher and teaching assistant. We’ll take lots of photos! Our traditional end of year Prize Giving will probably be a bubble awards ceremony just for Year 2’s. Again, we will post photographs for you.

Could I remind you to try and stick to the drop off and collection times as we begin to get more cars back on site? Thank you again for displaying your family name in your cars at pick up.

Overheard: If I were Queen for the day, I would turn Boris into a frog!

 

Best wishes to you all,

Zerrin Leech

 

Staff News

We’re delighted to welcome Kate Perkins to St Michael’s as part-time English teacher in the Prep School from September.

 

Kate has worked in education in Kent for over 20 years in various roles including class teacher, phase leader, university lecturer, English lead and gifted and talented co-ordinator.

 

She is married with 3 children – 2 teenagers and one still in primary school and enjoys a range of outdoor activities as well as reading, theatre and travel. Although Kate enjoys life in and around Sevenoaks, her preferred environment is the coast where you will find her during most holidays.

 

Kate is very keen to meet the St Michael’s team in person and she is looking forward to inspiring the children to share her love of the English language through exciting and thought provoking lessons.

 

 

Congratulations to Kâren Stibbons, who has spent the last few years as our Nursery Manager and is now going to become our Pre-School Manager incorporating Kindergarten. She is excited to take on this new role from September and is looking forward to some new challenges.

A warm welcome to one of our new gap students, Oliver Jones, who’ll be joining us in September.

Oliver is an ex-pupil of St Michael’s and spent over 9 years at the school. He enjoyed sport, especially football, and made countless happy memories at the school.

He loves a variety of outdoor activities. Travelling is also a large part of his life as he has been lucky enough to see so much of the world and all its different cultures. IT is another hobby of Oliver’s as he is very interested in the future of technology and how important it is. He cannot wait to meet the staff at St Michael’s, hoping also to inspire the children and help each of them find something they truly enjoy.

Our second gap student is Zoe Trinder.

Zoe is from Sydney in Australia, has three siblings and is 20 years old. She loves playing sports, with football being her favourite, having played for both school and club over the past 14 years. Zoe has recently finished working as an Au Pair in London and is looking forward to being able to explore Europe as soon as possible. She has spent lockdown practising her new hobbies – skateboarding and table tennis. Zoe’s cousins went to St Michael’s and she is looking forward to experiencing an English school.

 

School News

School Fees 2020-2021

We are pleased to let you know that there will be no increase in fees for St Michael’s Prep School for the next academic year.

 

Full details, including the discount for paying one year’s fees in advance plus the deadline for applying to do so, are available on our Fees Page 

Headteacher’s Stars

N Staples For working with commitment and sharing your skills in the Art Scholars’ “Teach the Teach” sessions on zoom
A Ashton For building an amazing Bug Hotel
J Fryer For an excellent music performance in our online assembly
F Merralls For a confident presentation about your entry to the Junior Bake Off in our online assembly
G Wall For a confident presentation about your entry to the Junior Bake Off in our online assembly
R Thornhill For a superb poem about Break Time
E Schwark For a beautifully written free verse poem
D Macedo For an excellent poem, using a variety of techniques, to describe your dog, Prince
C Buff For an amazing marble run
L Winter For excellent effort and perseverance during online learning

Year 5 Poetry

This term Year 5 pupils have been learning about and experimenting with writing all kinds of poetry inspired by Malorie Blackman’s Cloud Busting. Children wrote haikus, kennings and limericks this week.
D Macedo’s kenning about Lockdown was too good not to share. It encapsulates all the complicated feelings many of us have had about the last two and a half months – emotional ups and downs, so many pros and cons but his final line – virus-breaker – reminds us why we are doing this.
Thanks to all the Year 5s for their beautiful poems, which their English teachers have loved reading this week and thank you to D Macedo for this important reminder.
Year 5 English team

 

A civilisation-locker

A family-warmer

A house-policy

A human-trapper

A homework-breaker

An independence-grower

A massive-barrier

A world-shield

A time-out

An exercise-shrinker

A movement-blocker

A tech-introducer

A frustration-bringer

An online-launcher

A home-worker

A virus-stopper

D Macedo

Art and DT Galleries 

We have some new galleries on our website. Pupils across the Prep School have taken up the DT challenge of making Bug Hotels and they’ve exceeded expectations. From simple B&Bs to 5-star hotels with suites, click here to take a look at their creations!

Year 4 have been responding to an art project to recreate a head in the style of Arcimboldo. Carrot, anyone? Click here to see their colourful creations.

 

Follow our day to day news on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Sports News

Results from Wall Ball matches

Year 3 & 4 Girls
St Michael’s 45 E Mackay
Sutton Valence 41
St Lawrence 30
Year 3 & 4 Boys
Sutton Valence 45
St Michael’s 38 J West and D Booth
St Lawrence 35
Year 5 & 6 Girls
Sutton Valence 48
Dulwich Prep 41
St Michael’s 40 A Stevens
Year 5 & 6 Boys
Dulwich Prep 42
St Michael’s 39 S Bendle and N Brown
Sutton Valence 31
Year 7 & 8 Girls
St Michael’s 30 D Stephens
Year 7 & 8 Boys
St Michael’s 44 H Soper

Senior School Virtual Tours and Open Days

Many Senior Schools are offering virtual tours and Open Days at the moment. We’ll be updating our Senior Schools Information page as we hear about them. Most of the schools are offering traditional Open Days from September and booking forms for both traditional and virtual open events are available on their websites. Links to the schools are available on our Senior Schools Information page.

The following schools are currently offering virtual Open Days or Tours:

Ardingly

Bethany School

Brighton College

Caterham School

Christ’s Hospital

Cobham Hall

Dover College

Eastbourne College

Haileybury

King’s Canterbury

King’s Rochester

Lingfield College

Radnor House

Sevenoaks School

Tonbridge School

Wellington College

Whitgift School – click here for your Virtual Open Event Invitation

In addition, a new school has been added to our page:

St Catherine’s School, Bramley is a GSA Day and Boarding School near Guildford. They will be holding Open Mornings throughout the autumn.

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