eNews: Friday 16th October 2020

From the Acting Head

Every Friday I give thanks for another week of school completed with your children, and now we’ve made it to the end of a busy half term!

I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your patience and support with regard to the Covid-19 restrictions we have put in place for the whole school community. We know all too keenly how other areas of the country are being affected at the moment and the longer we can keep our St Michael’s bubble safe, the greater benefit this will bring to our young people.

This week I have enjoyed seeing and finding out about some superb learning in the Prep School. I got to listen to some very creative but extremely revolting recipes shared beautifully by Year 3. I was honoured to judge some fabulous models inspired by learning about Hindu Gods in Year 5, and was wowed by the beautiful glasswork created by our Year 8 artists. Learning at St Michael’s is thriving! The most enjoyable part for me is witnessing the children’s excitement when they talk about what they have discovered or created, and I hope that you have been experiencing that after pick-up too.

Some of our Year 6 children faced the Kent Test yesterday, and they demonstrated a healthy mixture of calmness and excitement to put their hard work and preparation to play. The whole school showed support for those children as they trod quietly around the school so as not to disrupt the Year 6s in their focus and flow. I hope that those that went through the assessment enjoyed a well-deserved evening of relaxation after it was completed!

As we look ahead to the next half term and beyond, the most challenging thing is possibly not knowing when the end of the Covid-19 restrictions will be. In life, there’s a lot to be said for pacing yourself, knowing how long you need to sustain your energy and efforts to reach a goal or the light at the end of the tunnel. There is no question that the restrictions in place are hard for everyone and the most straightforward school routines are no longer habitual and require extra effort, attention and usually many more steps! To sustain ourselves to get to the finish line, wherever that may be, we must take extra care to look after ourselves and each other. I am truly grateful to all of the staff, in every quarter, for continually going the extra mile to make each day seem familiar and joyful for the children.

Here’s to the opportunity we now have to switch off and reset ready for another action-packed half term. Will it be easy? Nope. Will it be worth it? Absolutely!

Mary Bridges

From the Head of Pre-Prep

This half term has flown by! I know things haven’t been quite as we would like at the moment, but your children have kept the staff sane! Young children cut through the depressing news and the red tape regulations and remind us of the love and joy we get from laughing together.

Thank you to Kelli and Kerri from the P&F for organising the spiders in the jar Halloween competition. The children have loved this. Every child who entered the competition thought they were going to win, so you may have to deal with some disappointment this evening!

For the time being we are going to continue the rolling drop off and pick up. Can I urge you to not arrive on site too early? In the morning please do not come on to the school site before 8.15am unless you have Prep school children. The front row spaces in the car park are now for immediate dropping or picking up so please use the middle spaces for parking if you need to be on site for a longer time.

I would like to express my thanks to you all for your forbearance as you have endured traffic delays with a run of accidents, incidents, extreme rain and large lorries over the last few weeks. We recognise that the roads leading to St Michael’s are narrow and therefore require considerable patience on your part. I would also like to thank our Estates Team who deal daily with the traffic challenges.

I hope you have a lovely half term and I look forward to seeing you all again on Monday 2nd November.

 

Overheard in Pre-Prep:

Teacher: How many spiders do you think are in the jar?

Child: Twenny-ate

Teacher: Twenty Eight

Child: No, Twenny-ate!

 

Zerrin Leech   

Staff News

Pastures new for Miss Cook

We congratulate Lucinda Cook, our Head of Learning Development and Designated Safeguarding Lead, on securing a wonderful new role at Ardingly College. Lucinda will be moving to Ardingly in January to take up a whole school position as Assistant Director of Learning Support. This will enable her to impact the educational journey for children with learning differences from Pre-Prep right through to the senior school. Lucinda will be moving with her two boys, Teddy and Henry, and they all hope to maintain the fantastic friendships that they have built at St Michael’s.

Lucinda joined us in 2015 as a part time teacher in Year 4 working alongside Karen Boreham and, later, Louise Medd. Lucinda’s passion for supporting all children academically, socially and emotionally shines through in all that she does and it was a natural progression for her to take on the leadership of the AEN department in 2018 at which time she also joined the Senior Leadership Team. Lucinda has transformed the intervention programme at St Michael’s by enabling children to access a superb range of helpful interventions in order to support their learning. She also took on the Lead Safeguarding role in May this year and her commitment to the leadership and management of the school, always working with the needs of the children first, has been huge.

We wish Lucinda great happiness and success in her new role at Ardingly and look forward to continued work with her for the St Michael’s children that progress there.

 

Welcome to…

Dr Julie Speers – Head of Learning Development 

With over 30 years’ teaching experience, Julie has taught in comprehensive, grammar and independent prep schools in Kent. She is currently Head of Design Technology and SENCO at Marlborough House School in Hawkhurst.

As well as enthusing others to learn, Julie has completed a Masters in the Leadership of Teaching and recently gained a Doctorate in Education. The focus of this was understanding the life-stories of people with dyslexia and how it impacts their childhood experiences as well as their adult life.

Julie is an outdoor enthusiast and enjoys wild camping, overnight stays in remote bothies and gentle kayaking. These activities are all encouraged and accompanied by her son and husband, as Julie freely admits map reading skills are not a strength of hers.

Julie is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, an award gained for her work developing project-based learning in comprehensive schools. She is a trustee of the charity Human Scale Education which advocates the importance of developing relationships in schools.

Julie is looking forward to working with the children, parents and staff at St Michael’s, and being part of the warm atmosphere that immediately made her feel at home during her first visit. We look forward to welcoming her at the start of the Lent Term in January.

School News

Pupils give wonderful performances in music concerts

This week Prep pupils performed in three music concerts to their fellow classmates and some of their music teachers. Unfortunately, because of the ongoing restrictions, parents were unable to attend these concerts but have been sent links to the full filmed footage so they don’t miss out.

A montage of the three music concerts can be found on our YouTube page: https://youtu.be/Bj_Wx4P9heg

Gordon Baird, Director of Music, said “We were delighted by how these first concerts of the academic year went despite the absence of the children’s parents. It was a lovely intimate experience for the children to play or sing to their friends and we heard some confident, accomplished performances. For some, it was their first time playing in a concert in the Prep school and we look forward to organising many more opportunities for them to perform throughout the year.”

 

 

P & F Halloween competitions

This week pupils took part in two exciting Halloween competitions hosted by the P & F.

Tasked with guessing the number of spooky spiders in the jar (Pre-Prep) or guessing the weight of the pumpkin (Prep), the children rose to the challenge and gave some very good answers.

The winners of the competitions were as follows:

Pre-Prep: Herbie W

 

Prep: A Ward, M Little, L Lutzow and H Owen

 

Well done to everyone involved!

 

Headteacher’s Stars

O Gasson (Year 6) for brilliantly presented science work explaining the classification of some garden plants

The following pupils have received Headteacher’s Stars for outstanding glass making in Art:

 

F Arduino

K Fryer

H Owen

A Mourgue D’Algue

C Prongue

G Schneider-Price

N Staples

L Shi

J Taylor

L Watson

 

 

 

The following pupils have received Headteacher’s Stars for outstanding final pieces in Ink Skull Design:

 

X Prongue

H Owen

Pre-Prep Gold Star Winners

 

Ben C for enthusiasm during music and knowing all the Harvest songs

Evelyn T for good letter formation during phonics

Daniel B for consistent effort in writing letters and numbers

Jasmine H for being a happy and diligent member of the class

Sebastian C for amazing work in our phonics lessons

Millie I-W for trying so hard in everything she does

Emily P for lovely ideas for harvest celebrations

Sam S for consistently working hard and trying his best in every lesson

Abigail L for an excellent Andy Warhol inspired Pop Art portrait

Arthur S for a kind and helpful attitude

Marianne B for good effort with improving her writing

Monty A for trying really hard in English

Lawson B for always trying his best and taking pride in his work

Niamh G for working carefully with coins to show given amounts

Rayaan G for being a wonderful partner and team player; he always encourages others to do their best

Jessica H for showing great focus and determination in Literacy

Sophie N for always being a kind friend to others

Sebastian G for working hard in all subjects and always trying his best

 

 

 

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music

Silas C – Grade 3 Piano passed with merit

A message from the Music Department

 

Applications for instrumental and singing lessons are currently closed but will open again in late November for lessons to begin in January.  When applications reopen we will add the forms back to the Parent Portal and provide links to them in the newsletter. If you have any queries in the meantime please email us.

Key Dates

Break up for October Half Term: Friday 16th October

Return to school: Monday 2nd November

 

Prep

ISEB pre-test dates for the Michaelmas Term:

Friday 6th November
Friday 27th November

School Shop Half Term Opening Hours

 

 

The school shop will be open on the second Friday during the half term, Friday 30th October from 11am-1pm.

Shoot for the stars!

A huge well done to Sophia J in Year 4 who achieved a great result in a sailing competition which she participated in with her Dad last weekend.

The open, adult competition took place at Papercourt Sailing Club near Guildford and the pair competed in a boat called a Firefly.

They narrowly beat a former national champion in the last race to win overall.

Congratulations Sophia!

 

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.

Could you support the programme for our school play?

Rehearsals are well underway for this year’s school play The Elephant Man and we can’t wait to show you the final product in March.

As ever, we love creating a programme for pupils and parents to keep as a souvenir after the production and we’d love to do the same this year.

In order to make this happen, we’re asking our St Michael’s families whether they are part of, or know, a business that would be keen to advertise in the programme.

If this is you, please contact tusher@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk for more information.

Adverts start from £25 for a quarter page.

Half Term Photos

We’d love to see what our pupils get up to this half term so if you have any exciting photos please send them to our Marketing Team at tusher@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk.

We hope you have a fun and relaxing break.

In the Community

 

Mr Lopez’s October Half Term Football Camp

Mr Lopez will be holding his Football Camp from Tuesday 27th October to Friday 30th October. Click here for full details and a booking form. Book early as places are limited!

 

Mrs Grayland’s October Half Term Netball Camp

 

 

Mrs Grayland will be running a netball camp at half term which will be offered to St Michaels girl’s before being offered out to other schools.  Book early to avoid disappointment.

Click here for a booking form. 

 

Mr Thomas’ October Half Term Hockey Camp

Mr Thomas will be holding his October Half Term Hockey Camp at Hollybush Hockey Pitch on Thursday 29th- Friday 30th October from 10am-3pm.

Please email Mr Thomas on jnthomas88@outlook.com to reserve your space.

We will be following all England Hockey guidelines and may have to limit the numbers to less than previous camps. Please sign up early to avoid any disappointment.

Click here for a booking form.

Follow us on social media!

Love seeing your children’s smiley faces on our social media pages?

Make sure you’re following all four of our channels to ensure you don’t miss any precious photos and videos. This also includes our new YouTube page featuring videos about St Michael’s and speeches from the pupils.

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