eNews: Friday 12th March 2021

From the Head

Dear Parents,

What a fantastic week we have enjoyed together at St Michael’s. It was such a joy to welcome everyone back on Monday morning and to see the smiles on children’s faces as they saw their friends and teachers once again. It has been a truly special week with many highlights.

Not only did we celebrate the return to school on Monday, but we also celebrated International Women’s Day, which we commemorated in our assemblies in the Prep school. I encourage you to watch the International Women’s Day video featuring St Michael’s staff and pupils which the Marketing Team has put together below.

The buzz and atmosphere around the school has echoed how grateful our pupils are to be back in school, and it has been a delight to hear music filling the corridors and the sound of children laughing and playing together again. Likewise, I have enjoyed walking past lessons and seeing how well the children have settled back into life in the classroom. The engagement between teachers and pupils as they learn and discover new things together again has been incredible to see.

Outside of the classroom, we have enjoyed all weathers, from bright sunshine to hail stones, and it’s been great to see pupils back on our astro turf pitch, as well our youngest pupils dressed head to toe in wet weather gear and wellies, ready to enjoy our woodlands. I also had the delight of waving to the Pre-Prep children who have passed my window on their way to swimming.

This week, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Year 6 pupils as part of our Year 7 and 8 scholarship applications this week. At St Michael’s, we offer six types of scholarship to pupils entering Year 7; Academic, All-rounder, Art, Drama, Music and Sport, and I have thoroughly enjoyed talking to so many bright, capable and interesting young people as part of this process. Our pupils really are a credit to the school.

I would also like to take this opportunity to express a huge thanks to all the teaching and support staff at St Michael’s for their incredible efforts in making the return to school a safe and enjoyable experience for us all.

Quote of the week: “I saw the balloons, I saw Mr Pears welcoming us all, I saw the smiles on the children’s faces and my eyes began to leak!”– St Michael’s parent

Have a great weekend,

Nik Pears

 

A message from Mr Pears:

 

From the Head of Pre-Prep 

Dear Parents,

Despite this week’s cold, wet and windy March weather, we have had sunshine all the way with the happy smiling faces of staff and children. The Year 2 children summed up their feelings on Monday morning with “We just want to play together in the garden again.”

Our plan is to keep everything at school as “normal” as possible over the next three weeks before Easter, to enable children to have a calm, reassuring experience settling back into St Michael’s. We recognise there will be a level of anxiety as young children leave the safety of Mum and Dad at home. Please let your child’s class teacher know if there are any anxieties expressed at home that we can help with in school.

Thank you for heeding the guidelines for drop off and pick up. I hesitate to put this in writing but, we have been pleased with how smoothly the traffic has flowed! If you haven’t yet put your family name in your car window, please do so as it is extremely hard to identify parent drivers through tinted windscreens.

There are so many people to thank for the smooth transition from home learning to school. The teachers, teaching assistants, cleaners, caterers, admin staff and estates team. I would like to thank them for the additional time they have put into coordinating the return to school.

Overheard in Pre-Prep:

Teacher using the hot glue gun

Child:  “Did you burn yourself again?”

Teacher:  “Yes.”

Child:  “I think you need more training.  Maybe you should stick to a Pritt Stick until you’ve had more practise!”

Have a good Mother’s Day,

Zerrin Leech

Head’s Stars

S Taylor (Year 5) for creating an amazing description of his favourite Christmas present AND for outstanding commitment to the St Michael’s community and raising funds for the P&F

L Winter (Year 5) for outstanding commitment to the St Michael’s community and raising funds for the P&F

D Booth (Year 5) for outstanding commitment to the St Michael’s community and raising funds for the P&F

Justin West Jnr (Year 5) for outstanding commitment to the St Michael’s community and raising funds for the P&F

A Ravalli (Year 6) for producing an amazing ‘Stop Child Labour’ poster

M Batchelor (Year 7) for working incredibly hard on creating an App using Code.org – App lab

L Summers (Year 8) for working extremely hard in French during Remote Learning

 

Whole School News

International Women’s Day

On Monday 8th March, we celebrated International Women’s Day as a school community. As well as holding assemblies about the event in the Prep school, female members of staff and pupils contributed to a fantastic video highlighting all the amazing talents and achievements of girls and women within the St Michael’s family.

We hope you enjoy watching the following video:

Shoot for the Stars!

Superstars in the making!

A huge congratulations to our Year 6 CREST SuperStars who have received their certificates and badges from the British Science Association this week. They completed a weekly STEM challenge throughout the Michaelmas Term – highlights included finding the best recipe for fake snow, making sherbet and, of course, using the Bunsen burners!

Yoga for a great cause!

A huge congratulations to Year 5 for taking part in some brilliant virtual Family Yoga sessions during the first half of the Lent Term. The uplifting sessions, held via Zoom, were a fantastic opportunity for members of the St Michael’s community to come together and raise funds for the P&F.
One of the Year 5 Parent Reps who organised the sessions, Mrs West, said: “I was so impressed with the children, and the way they committed to the classes. Their behaviour was exemplary, and they were a pleasure to teach.”

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.

In the Community

 

Mr Lopez’s Easter Football Camp

Mr Lopez will be holding his Easter Camp from Tuesday 13th – Friday 16th April 10am – 3pm.  Click here for full details and a booking form. Book early as places are limited!

 

Mrs Grayland’s Easter Netball Camp

Mrs Grayland will be running another one of her fun netball camps this Easter.  Please see the below flyers for more information and sign up via this booking form. The Year 5 to Year 8 camp is already fully booked, but don’t worry- she has added an extra day for those year groups!  Please see the below flyer for more information and sign up for the extra Year 5 to 8 session on Friday 16th April 10.30am-3pm via this booking form.  Please book early to avoid disappointment.

Mr Thomas’ Easter Hockey Camp

Mr Thomas’ Easter Hockey Camp at Hollybush Hockey Pitch is now full. Thank you to those that have signed up.

Senior Schools Information

Sevenoaks School

Join Sevenoaks School for their Virtual Open Day on Saturday 13th March at 12pm. 

To book your place click here.

 

Tonbridge School

Join Tonbridge School for their Virtual Open Morning on Saturday 13th March.

 

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