eNews: Friday 18th October 2019

From the Head

In a week such as this one, I am reminded daily of what a privilege it is to be leading this magnificent school. The fact is I’m surrounded by talent, both in your children and in those who teach them and work alongside them.

Whether it’s the richness of provision on offer, the trips out to interesting places, or the meetings where our main focus is on supporting the children, there is a life and a buzz and a general sense of deep respect for what each child can do and where they are on their journey. Each day in Prep this week there has been a concert for a specific age group. Sadly I have only been able to attend one of these in full, but I know that there has been enormous pleasure derived on each occasion both from the parents and supporters of children performing and from the audience as a whole at the feast of musical offerings and there’s been respect for the variety showcased and for the confidence to share something quite personal with others. Meanwhile in Pre-Prep, children have been excited to visit Godstone Farm and Knole Park and enjoyed the adventure as much as the destination.

We heard the following from the children:

“I loved the piglets because they were so small and cute!”

“I loved the tractor ride when we saw the duck pond and all the ducks”

“I loved the pigs’ butts”

“It was the best day ever!”

 

This week draws to a close with the fantastic Senior Schools Fair which, as those of you who were here will know, was a truly impressive occasion with incredible benefits to both the schools present and the parents who came. I’d like to thank Karen Voce, Jenni Lovell and Jane Thornton for meticulously masterminding the whole event, the many staff who came and helped, Ian and the Estates Team and Mark and the catering team. We had a great deal of wonderful feedback.

This week also brought news to our Year 6 pupils of their results in the 11+ exams for Kent County Council and, for some, this will have brought huge pleasure and pride and for others perhaps anxiety. I spoke to all the children this morning about being sensitive to the needs of others this week on Friday after 11+ day, which is often a tricky day for some children. My own beliefs are that it is an exam that suits fast-working bright children and that there are plenty of bright children who prefer to work quietly and slowly and it alas does not suit this particular style. So if your child has not managed to get over that hurdle, please do come and talk to us about the next steps and be as positive as you can about the future, because I can assure you there are plenty of fantastic alternatives.

I hope you all have a wonderful half-term. Don’t forget to buy your fireworks tickets for Friday 8th November; see our Message Board for details.

Jill Aisher

Staff News

We are sorry to be saying goodbye this week to Vikki Pinnock, our Teaching Assistant in both Prep and Pre-Prep, as she moves on to a role within the insurance industry which she is excited about. Vikki joined us as our front desk receptionist and quickly settled into making fabulous connections with the children and learning about all the families that make up the school.

She connected well with parents phoning and needing help with something and passed on messages reliably and efficiently in that role. It was her love of working directly with children that led her to consider the role of Teaching Assistant and she has found happiness and fulfilment in this role and we thank her for all the work she has done.

Her new role allows her to be working from home, thus enabling her to see her own children, and we wish her the very best of luck in this.

News from Pre-Prep

• Poppies for sale in school in Pre-Prep Reception for Remembrance Day Assembly on 11.11.19
• Fireworks Night Friday 8th November

Today we were a sea of red in assembly, as we wore red instead for our local Air Ambulance charity. Paul Butt had spoken to the children in Monday’s assembly about the vital work that the air ambulance does. In Pre -Prep we managed to raise the sum of £372.25, thank you all for your generosity.

This week our Reception children went to Godstone Farm and our Year 1 children went to Knole House. They all had enjoyable trips and according to their teachers behaved beautifully. They are a credit to you and to St Michael’s.

Don’t forget your tickets to Firework Night. If you are new to St Michael’s, this is an event not to be missed. It is a great family occasion on the terrace at Prep school together with hot dogs.

Overheard: Teacher: How can we show kindness?
Child: Don’t push someone down a waterfall.

Have a lovely half term and see you all back on Monday 4th November.

Zerrin Leech

Staff Contact Lists

We are pleased to let you know that our staff list, with names and email addresses, is now available within our secure Parents’ Portal. If you wish to find the email address for a member of staff, please log in to the Portal and click on “Staff List”, which can be found in the menu on the left hand side of the page.

Short-term let accommodation required

Our contractors are looking for accommodation on a short term let until Christmas. They would need minimum of two bedrooms.

If anyone can help or knows someone who can offer accommodation for this period, please contact Di Birmingham, Director of Finance and Operations on dbirmingham@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk. Thank you.

On this week’s Message Board

Please log into our Parents’ Portal and click into the Message Board to see new important information as follows:

  • Notes to St Michael’s families from senior schools
  • Lost property in Prep
  • Catering changes at St Michael’s
  • Poppies now available at the reception desks in both Prep and Pre-Prep to support the Royal British Legion charity
  • Mr Thomas’ half-term hockey camp – spaces still available. Booking form on Message Board

On this week’s Community Events page

Please log into our Parents’ Portal and click into the Community Events page to see important community information as follows:

  • Sevenoaks Pumpkin Hunt in Aid of Demelza Hospice
  • Family Fun Run in Aid of Demelza Hospice
  • Mr Thomas’ half-term hockey camp – booking form now available

Pre-Prep Awards

Gold Stars

All of RJ – well done for listening carefully and being brilliant on our first school trip
All of RM – well done for being amazing on our first school trip to Godstone Farm
All of RRS for making our trip to Godstone Farm thoroughly enjoyable
All of 1FG, 1P & 1W for fantastic behaviour on our trip to Knole House
Max H for working hard in maths
Jessica H for working hard in writing, using good imagination
Lottie E for working hard in maths and good explanations
Sophie N for her enthusiastic approach to school work
Tom K for working exceptionally hard on multiplication problems
Eva V for taking great care when recording facts for her lapbook
Alice O for creating a fantastic interesting information book
James L for showing excellent maths skills while working on multiplication and division

Iris L for trying really hard with her spelling in her writing
Taran M for careful work in mathematics, thinking about how to solve calculations

Music Awards

Music Practice Cup: Grace P
Music Practice Award: Adam J
Star Violinist Cup: Sophie F

House Point Cup

Rochester House with a total of 170 points
Elisa F collected the Cup on behalf of Rochester House

Times Tables Certificates

Bronze: Elisa F / Finley S / Clara H / Florence B / Eva V

News from Prep

Headteacher’s Stars

J McDonnell For learning all times tables and division facts so early in Year 4
C Sinclair For a fantastic fish fact poster
T Bax For a fabulous poem about school, which won a ‘Highly Commended’ award for National Poetry Day
J Collings For giving a speech at Open Morning
P Mahil For giving a speech at Open Morning
A Sharp For giving a speech at Open Morning
E Gage For giving a speech at Open Morning
L Bowen For giving a speech at Open Morning
I Pennington Legh For giving a speech at Open Morning
L Poracchia For giving a speech at Open Morning
A Ogle For giving a speech at Open Morning
N Staples For giving a speech at Open Morning
E Collings For giving a speech at Open Morning
E Wilcock For excellent results in your summer maths work
O Scott For excellent results in your summer maths work

Players of the Match, week commencing 14th October 2019

Team Name Given for: –
1st Football H Soper For running himself into the ground, always with a smile on his face
2nd F Smith For good passing and scoring a hat-trick
3rd W Sherry For making some great saves in goal
Colts A M McLaughlin & T Smith For great passing and showing responsibility
Colts B B Cosgrove For being a solid defensive player
Colts C A Green

J Pathiwill

For scoring 4 goals

For great mid field play

Colts D R Brown & E Green For all-round good play
Colts E I Premachandran For an all-round good performance
Colts F No Match
U9 A J West For scoring a hat-trick
U9 B J McDonnell & H Brown For great dribbling and scoring goals
U8 A T Staples For scoring a hat-trick
U8 B C Thornhill For great defending and awareness
U8 C E Wilcox For giving 100% effort in the rain
U13 A Hockey P Parker-Swift

E Powell

For excellent tackling

For great defending

U13 B Hockey E Jones Voted for by the opposition
U11 A Hockey A Ogle Voted for by the opposition for great play
U11 B K Fryer For scoring 4 goals!
U11 C E Brewer

S Andrade

For very solid defending

For driving forward from a mid-field position

U10 A G Owen For demonstrating good, hard passing
U10 B A Ulens For making some great saves in goal
U10 C D Patel For having great energy and attacking play
U9 A Netball No Match
U9 B No Match
U9 C No Match
U8 Green Netball No Match
U8 Black No Match
U8 Blue No Match

Senior School Open Days

These can now be found on our Senior School page. 

Upcoming events include Bromley High School Christ’s Hospital, Haileybury, Kent College Pembury, Oakwood Park Grammar School, Radnor House, Sevenoaks School, Skinners’ School, Tonbridge Girls’ Grammar, TWGGS, Whitgift School and Wilmington Grammar School for Boys.

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