eNews: Friday 15th January 2021

From the Head

Dear Parents,

What a fantastic first full week of the Lent Term we have had. Thank you for your words of welcome and encouragement since my arrival at St Michael’s. I am really enjoying being here and already feel very much part of the family. I am extremely grateful for the kindness and support you have given to staff who have been working hard to ensure that the standard of Remote Learning and pastoral care is excellent, and I am very proud of what has been achieved thus far. As a father of two, I am conscious of the myriad of challenges that arise as we seek to support children learning from home whilst also juggling work and other responsibilities that are ours. The partnership between home and school is always an important one and we continue to keep open channels of communication and do our best to support you and your children. Please do continue to ask if we can be of help.

Have a great weekend. Stay safe and well.

Nik Pears

 

A message from Mr Pears to pupils:

 

 

 

 

Critical Worker Children Reminder

As you may be aware, there have been numerous reports in the press over recent days about the number of critical (key) worker children accessing school at this time. The guidance on critical workers has been updated, with the addition of the words “parents and carers should keep their children at home if they can” and a strong call from government to do all we can to reduce the number of children coming in to school. Whilst we appreciate many children are missing their friends and would very much the social aspect of being in school, it is crucial that we do the right thing and only send in those children for whom there really is no alternative.

A reminder of the key points from the guidance on critical workers attending school are:

  • One parent need be a critical worker
  • Critical worker parent could be working at home
  • Parents should keep children at home if they can

Please note that if there is one parent who is not working, the child should be kept at home.

Prep School Remote Learning Update

It has been wonderful to receive so much positive feedback about our transition to MS Teams for this period of Remote Learning. It is exciting to see the hard work and planning put into action and we have been very impressed with the children’s resilience and adaptability over the first week. Alongside the great feedback, we recognise that there are a few tweaks that will further enhance the clarity of the timetable and the pupils learning experience over the course of the week and I would like to reassure you that we are making some small adjustments that we will provide full details of next week. This will help you understand the expectations of the lessons that are not taught live and how children can access tasks and activities in those lessons. Thank you for your patience whilst we work on the areas requiring further attention.

Thank you for your support in ensuring that the children take their learning and lessons seriously. Essentially they should treat the live lessons like they would approach a lesson in school. On that note, I would be very grateful if you could remind your children of the following expectations when they attend live lessons:

  • Pupils must arrive on time for the start of the lesson
  • Pupils should be dressed appropriately (no pyjamas or dressing gowns)
  • Pupils should not be eating or drinking (apart from water) during lessons
  • Pupils should have their cameras switched on unless their teacher has given them the option to turn it off
  • Please ensure that distractions (such as pets) are saved for break times

Your child’s form teacher will also be reminding them of these expectations. We appreciate your support from home so that we can get the most out of our lessons.

From the Head of Pre-Prep 

Dear Parents,

I know this isn’t the usual start to our Lent Term but I have been so pleased to hear from the Parent Reps this week that you are pleased with the way remote learning has developed. Thank you, parents, for all your efforts in assisting with home school learning. I appreciate how tricky it is to juggle family life with children, work, pets, family and friends before you throw in a pandemic and online learning. You are doing a great job!

School for Nursery and Kindergarten children has continued as usual and they have provided a sense of normality for those of us who are able to be in school. Nursey have been reading their favourite stories. The Tiger Who Came to Tea remains popular. Kindergarten have been discussing the weather this week and have made large collaborative collages of the weather which has made the inside of Kindergarten look sunnier than the view from our windows.

As you may be aware, there have been numerous reports in the press over recent days about the number of critical (key) worker children accessing school at this time. The guidance on critical workers has been updated, with the addition of the words parents and carers should keep their children at home if they can and a strong call from government to do all we can to reduce the number of children coming in to school. Whilst we appreciate many children are missing their friends and would very much the social aspect of being in school, it is crucial that we do the right thing and only send in those children for whom there really is no alternative.

A reminder of the key points from the guidance on critical workers attending school are:

  • One parent need be a critical worker
  • Critical worker parent could be working at home
  • Parents should keep children at home if they can

Please note that if there is one parent who is not working, the child should be kept at home.

 

Overheard in Pre-Prep:

Child: Does that 25 on your bracelet mean you are 25 years old?

Adult: Yes

Child: Mrs Leech is 25 too!

There’s a child who will go far.  

 

Have a quiet weekend,

Zerrin Leech

Rest In Peace Arne Brattland 

It is with sadness that I have to tell you that Arne Brattland died on the 30th December 2020. 

Arne had been known to the Pre-Prep staff and children for many years as he helped us celebrate Chinese New Year each year. He brought with him his splendid dragons and numerous drums and cymbals. Our hall was filled with sound and children parading inside the dragons. He told each generation of the Pearl of Wisdom.  

St Michael’s will miss this kind, gentle and softly spoken man and we send our condolences to his widow and family. 

Words by Zerrin Leech, Head of Pre-Prep

Staff News 

Tabitha Barratt is stepping down from her role at St Michael’s in order to have more time for her busy life as a sculptor, choral singer and musician. She will not be returning in January 2021.

Tabitha has been at St Michael’s for an incredible twenty five years and has developed the art skills of many children over that time. I am sure you will join me in wishing her well for the year ahead and beyond. Tabitha would also like to send her best wishes to everyone. She is sorry not to be able to say goodbye and feels that it has been an enormous privilege to work with everyone at St Michael’s. She enjoyed every minute of her time with the children and looks forward to hearing how they progress! We wish her every success for the future.

We are delighted that Anneka Begbey is able to temporarily take on the teaching role in the Art Department and we wish her well in this new capacity. Anneka is very much looking forward to working with the children in Year 3 to 5 and has made a great start to the remote teaching already this term. The children know Anneka well as she has held the role of Art Technician and previously as the School Librarian. She is a qualified teacher and is looking forward to putting her superb IT skills, passion for art and commitment to supporting the progress of children, together over the coming weeks.

Head’s Stars

R Sokratous (Year 3) for making a fabulous jungle scene using lots of different items in her house.

M Skrypnik (Year 5) for a fantastic drawing of a zentangle peacock feather.

E Schwark (Year 6) awarded in Geography for designing an eco-resort and creating eco-friendly and sustainable processes at the resort.

S Connolly (Year 6) for improvement in French and achieving 100% in his reading test.

T Bax (Year 6) awarded in Geography for a fantastic presentation on her family’s business of an eco-experience people can enjoy on her grandparents’ farm.

L Lutzow (Year 6) awarded in English for writing a fantastic poem about a typical day using her senses.

K Fryer (Year 7) for going above and beyond in her French lesson and baking a Galette des Rois.

S Ward (Year 7) for going and above and beyond in his French lesson by creating an original Croque Monsieur recipe.

.

Whole School News

Freestyle Friday!

This term St Michael’s will be running a Freestyle Friday challenge.

The dance challenge, featuring St Michael’s pupils and staff, will combine fun dance videos into a montage with music.

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 first Freestyle Friday video is Wednesday 20th January 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.

Next week’s theme is: Confidence

We will be dancing to: ‘This is Me’ from The Greatest Showman

Here is an example of our staff Freestyle Friday from the Trinity Term if you would like some inspiration: https://youtu.be/4p5FBQfW2IU

 

 

Run 5k with Mr Bridges

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 keen 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 (Years 3 to 8), 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.

Parent Wellbeing

This week St Michael’s parents have been emailed a video and PowerPoint on the topic of parent wellbeing. Created by one of St Michael’s school counsellors Elizabeth Baughan, these files provide optional support to parents including coping strategies for stress and anxiety. Please enjoy these resources at your own leisure.

St Michael’s secures a spot in the Sevenoaks Chronicle

Did you spot us in the Sevenoaks Chronicle last week?
A huge well done to everyone that got involved and contributed to our brilliant fundraising day in aid of the Thames Valley Air Ambulance last term. We raised a fantastic £2556.60 for the cause.

Virtual Tour of St Michael’s

We are delighted to present our updated virtual tour of St Michael’s. This brilliant video, created by RD Digital, now combines not only our stunning aerial tour of the school, but also brand new interior footage of our buildings.

 

Remote Learning 

From Float-a-Boat experiments, to exciting maths lessons, we’ve loved receiving your Remote Learning photos this week.

St Michael’s pupils getting stuck into Remote Learning this week. 

Some fantastic perspective drawings completed by Year 8 during their remote art lesson with Miss Rodwell. 

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 group

Our Critical Workers group have also been working hard and keeping positive in school this week. They’ve taken part in a range of activities and lessons, as well as enjoying lots of outdoors time.

Shoot for the stars!

Robert achieves yellow belt in Kung Fu

A huge congratulations to Robert M in Year 2 who has achieved his full yellow belt in Kung Fu. Having trained virtually since March, Robert has persevered and continued to improve his focus and skills during the sessions.

Despite the difficulties caused by virtual training, Robert partook in a two week grading programme which involved demonstrating his fitness as well as a variety of skills including kicks, punches, defences and weapons drills. Well done, Robert, this is very well deserved.

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.

In the Community

Community Food Collection

Sevenoaks School is welcoming donations of food, electronic devices and educational resources to help those who need it most.

The weekly collection, which takes place at Claridge House (TN13 1HU), is organised by Sevenoaks School pupils and benefits local primary schools, food banks and homeless shelters where the donations are delivered.

The community initiative ran last year and has recently commenced to support vulnerable groups through this uncertain time. St Michael’s Year 6 pupil Christopher has already paid a visit to the centre to offer his help.

Christopher’s mum said: “During the Lent Term last year, Christopher held an assembly to talk about his contributions to the food collection and how other St Michael’s pupils can help. We hope that more families will be inspired to do their bit this time round.

“It’s easy to help and can teach our children a lot about community service and giving back.”

Alongside the food collections, electronic devices, sports items, and books/educational resources will be collected in January, February and March, respectively.  Details of items needed can be found on Sevenoaks School’s social media feeds (@sevenoaksimpact on Twitter and Instagram). Logistical details are provided below.  When dropping off items please ensure all Covid-19 measures are followed.

What is needed? Food, Supplies (please check social media links for current needs)
When do I drop off? Every Tuesday, 11am – 12pm
Where do I take the items? Claridge House (outside), Sevenoaks School TN13 1HU
(Claridge House is just to the right of the main entrance to Knole Park on High Street)

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

Accordion has been added to the list of instruments pupils can learn to play at St Michael’s. The unique instrument, which will be offered as part of the school’s lessons delivered by the peripatetic music teachers, combines the use of various musical skills and has many wonderful attributes.

Commenting on the new addition to the school’s music programme, Director of Music, Mr Baird, said: “We are excited to include the accordion as part of our instrumental offer in the music department as it can offer many benefits to young musicians in developing their musicianship, aural skills, physical coordination, and understanding of harmony and tonality. We look forward to future ensembles and concerts featuring the accordion”.

Mr Guy, one of St Michael’s peripatetic teachers who will be leading the accordion lessons, also added: “The accordion is an amazing instrument now available for lessons at St Michael’s. It’s lots of fun to play and I’m really looking forward to teaching it to everyone who is interested.”

For more information about music at St Michael’s or to view performances by some of our musicians, please visit our website.

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.”