eNews: Friday 15th May 2020

From the Acting Head

The unknown has always been a source of apprehension and anxiety to the majority of us and, although we are often told to embrace it and step outside our comfort zone it can be easier said than done. It’s doubtful that there has ever been a greater unknown in our lifetimes than the situation we currently find ourselves in. And now we begin preparations for some to return to school while some will remain at home.

Perhaps it is the perceived magnitude of it. I was once told that if we were to imagine the lifetime of Earth as the time on a 24-hour clock then the entire existence of man would be relegated to 1 second within 24 hours. And even within our own, hopefully long and enjoyable lives, this immediate situation will be measured in months rather than years. Life may not be the same after we emerge but humans are the most adaptable species ever to have existed. We will grow from this.

I have enjoyed seeing growth in our pupils and the community this week. Growth in the development of their independent work, mindsets, confidence and engagement with online learning. We have also seen growth in our offer following the valuable feedback we have received from staff and parents. Extra live clinics, study rooms for Years 7&8, a virtual concert and our first ever whole school silent disco! The number of interactions between staff and pupils on Seesaw and Tapestry is growing daily and, on my latest check, there were 6,703 comments added to Seesaw in the last 7 days!

I have been pleased to be in touch with parents this week, hearing your views and finding out how things are going at home. There will be an additional short survey coming this afternoon with the learning plans for next week, I ask that you all follow the link and take part. This situation requires all of the skills and knowledge we collectively have as a community to negotiate our way through. Fortunately, we are all working towards the same goal. At the root of this all is a strong, adaptive, malleable, insightful group of people co-operating together for the ultimate benefit of the pupils of St Michael’s. It’s not easy. But with open minds, dialogues and hearts we will continue to grow and emerge from that ‘comfort zone chrysalis’ as something new, bolder and hopefully better. But most importantly together.

I look forward to being ‘together’ with many of you at the P&F quiz night next Wednesday and thank the committee for creating this opportunity for us to have some fun.

Please look out for school communications early next week which will outline how we will implement the government advice and guidance for those children who are able to return to school in the first phase after half term.

I wish you all an enjoyable weekend

Mary Bridges

 

 

From the Head of Pre-Prep

Dear Parents,

Well, we have got some news about children returning to school. Nursery, Kindergarten, Reception and Year 1 (and Year 6) should be returning on Monday June 1st. This is dependent on the R rate being below 1 and the level of Covid 19 cases continuing to reduce. There is a thought that confirmation of the return to school is unlikely to be made until Friday 28th May.

If you have completed the questionnaire about returning to school, thank you. This has helped us to have an indication of how many of you intend to send your children back to school. I know several of you are awaiting more information before making a decision and I hope to have this out to you shortly.

Maintaining stringent hygiene rules and reducing contact of each class with another is going to be key for Pre-Prep where the children are less likely to understand or adhere to any social distancing measures. Playtimes and lunchtimes will be with friends from their own class. We will not be able to distance these children from their friends within the same class. We will be bringing in additional cleaning of classrooms and cloakrooms through the day.

Once again, this week I have seen a huge amount of incredible work that has been going on with home learning. The teachers would like to thank you for all the time and effort you are putting in following our plans and set work.

Overheard: “I want to be a bird so I can eat worms.”

Enjoy your weekend,

Zerrin Leech

Headteacher’s Stars

F Lindsay For an excellent music composition which was beautifully performed
A Saini For great effort and perseverance during online learning
G Gagg For great effort and perseverance during online learning
E Soper For great effort and perseverance during online learning
J McDonnell For great effort and perseverance during online learning
E Gage For a persuasive letter written in Latin! Excellent effort – going above and beyond the task set
T Carman For producing beautifully presented and superbly detailed work throughout the Life Cycles unit of work
S Andrade For a confident and engaging presentation about your caterpillars as part of our whole school Zoom assembly
W Sherry For contributing to a whole school online assembly by sharing some local happy news
E Shaw For a fantastic live presentation in our whole school Zoom assembly, sharing the happy news of your new cousins
L Clapham For a superb presentation in a whole school Zoom assembly, sharing your fantastic fundraising efforts for the NHS
E Ward For a beautiful piano performance, streamed live to the whole school in a Zoom assembly
R Landgrebe For an incredibly moving live performance in a whole school Zoom assembly
E Julio For confidently sharing the happy news of your chickens in our online assembly
F Rutherford For confidently sharing the happy news of your ducklings in our online assembly
AL El-Alami For a beautiful live piano performance in our online Zoom assembly
A Scott For a fantastic performance of your Grade 5 saxophone piece in our online assembly
A Stevens For producing “Green Garden”, a fantastic wildlife documentary as part of your Science remote learning
A Ogle For displaying an excellent growth mindset to remote learning, with superb extension work in Science
L Clapham For an excellent monologue, capturing the personality of the Hare and demonstrating good use of instructions and directions
A Ashton For superb hard work and creativity in music, taking ideas and developing them beyond what has been asked of her
S Taylor For an excellent watercolour sketch and a main canvas based on a Nigel Sharman painting

School News

The 2020 Charles Causley Young Person’s Poetry Competition

This competition is open to all children and young people aged 5-18. For full details please see our Message Board.

Sports News

Clap Catch Fixtures Results

Boys Years 3&4
1st Sutton Valence and St Michael’s S Taylor 13
3rd Hilden Oaks 12
Boys Years 5&6
1st St Michael’s G Kelly 15
2nd Sutton Valence and Radnor House 13
Boys Years 7&8
1st St Ronan’s and St Michael’s W Deacon & J Fryer 13
Girls Years 3&4
1st Sutton Valence 15
2nd St Ronan’s 12
3rd St Lawrence and St Michael’s S Savidge 10
Girls Years 5&6
1st St Michael’s E Harrison 16
2nd St Ronan’s and Radnor House 12
Girls Years 7&8
1st St Ronan’s 13
2nd St Michael’s O Crane 10

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

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