From the Acting Head
What a gloriously sunny week it has been! We have all enjoyed getting back into after school activities and opening up a greater range of opportunities for the children again.
The new measures for schools have made us re-think the way that we operate many parts of the day, and one of the great discoveries has been our outdoor lunch. Enjoying the space, fresh air and beautiful views whilst we eat lunch has been a very positive outcome of the new systems. We hope that we can continue this during the warmer months. It looks like rain may be on the cards next week, so we will be testing out our alternative pick up on Monday after school. Thank you for your perseverance and patience as we continue to try new things.
At the end of last week, our Year 7 pupils enjoyed their welcome BBQ evening and, although we were unable to camp this year, there was still lots to be enjoyed. Watching the sunset from the top of the Warren was a highlight and set the tone for an exciting new era for our latest senior cohort. Here’s to them and all that lies ahead.
Now we have settled into the full flow of the term it has been interesting to see the children back in their usual routines in class. In two weeks time we will carry out the assessments that were postponed in the Trinity Term, and next week I will talk to the children about how we can best approach this time. It is important to me that the children don’t fear these moments: tests, assessments, exams. These moments are opportunities to find out more about where they are, what they can do and how we can continue working together to support their learning. As Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
Next week we will round up our series of Welcome Evenings which have been better attended than ever thanks to the ease of joining online. Thank you to the Parent Reps for gathering a brilliant range of questions, enabling us to cover topics that are important to you. I am really looking forward to working with the Reps this year to maintain positive and constructive lines of communication. We have the challenge of not being able to run social events face to face. Still, I think it’s an ideal time to create a well-structured forum through the Parent Reps, as well as thinking creatively about how we can continue to keep the St Michael’s community together.
I hope you all have a lovely, restful weekend ahead and I look forward to seeing you bright and early on Monday morning.
From the Head of Pre-Prep
It has been lovely this week to be out and about in the school grounds with warm weather. I particularly enjoyed my trip to Forest School this week with some children making forest crowns and some children measuring their height in sticks.
I enjoyed meeting all the parents who managed to join me on Zoom for coffee and questions. Parent Reps have been particularly helpful in organising questions and writing up notes, so thank you.
Our Harvest assembly this year will be on Friday 2nd October; we will probably be doing three or four separate assemblies with your children. As we have done over the last few years, we will be collecting donations for the Trussell Trust Food Bank in Swanley. Any donations are very gratefully received but the list below has been sent to us listing particular items that the Trust need to stock up on.
Coordinator at Trussell Trust Food Bank, Wendy Halford said: “We have added some extras to put a smile on their faces at such a difficult time. We are finding it is people who have never had to use a food bank before coming to us at the moment.”
Tinned Rice Pudding
Long life sponge puddings
Angel delight (or similar own brand version)
Packet crumble mix
Packet dumpling mix
Fajita Meal Kits (or similar)
Tortilla wraps (with long dates please)
Chocolate biscuits e.g. Kit Kat, Penguin, Club etc
Powdered Milk (Not UHT please we have plenty UHT at the moment)
Washing up liquid
All items need to be received in school by the end of the day on Thursday 1st October. Please could all items come in a carrier bag or box. Thank you all in anticipation of your generosity.
If your children are in Reception, Year 1 or Year 2 you should have received a letter about hearing tests. Dr Unwin comes into Pre-Prep every year to carry out initial hearing tests, so if you wish to have your child screened please let us know. Your child will not be tested unless we have received your written permission.
Overheard: “It’s so hard being a grown up.”
Have a lovely weekend,
Scenarios for Learning at Home
We are delighted to share the details of our planning for children who will need to learn from home over the coming weeks or months. We appreciate your patience in allowing us to fully consult with staff and departments across the school to be sure that our communications are a full and transparent reflection of the experience that the children will encounter in different potential scenarios. I am incredibly grateful for the huge amount of collaboration and work that has gone into shaping our response to this challenge, especially to Gordon Baird and the Remote Learning Committee who worked over the summer break to ensure our preparedness.
We have come a long way since March when we were faced with a quick shift to full school closure and remote learning for all. We have invested in and upgraded our IT, securing greater bandwidth at St Michael’s and purchasing laptops for staff. We are still undergoing training and refining our skills, but I am sure that this will be a continued part of our practice as educators for the future. In his new role as IT strategy lead, Andy Dodd has made a huge impact and his calm and logistical approach is ensuring that we make quick progress and can maximise the new tools available to us.
Our goal is to instil a lifelong love of learning in the children we teach, and, at St Michael’s, we take the same approach as staff. We will continue to develop our skills, reflect on our practice and try new things. We welcome feedback and strive to be reflective and solution focussed as we navigate more ‘never done before’ scenarios. Your support is crucial to that and we are grateful that you continue to work with us to ensure the best experience for the children whatever challenges we face.
This link will take you to our Remote Teaching & Learning Policy which will direct you to supplementary guidance including a useful flowchart surrounding the two main scenarios:
- Self-isolation learning
- Remote teaching and learning
From the Deputy Head
COVID testing kits
Last week we mentioned that we had a small stock of testing kits at school and asked you to get in touch if you were having problems getting a test if your child required one. We have gone through a number of these this week and with the current situation not looking as if it will be changing soon, we have made the decision to not distribute the remaining kits beyond school staff.
This might on first reading appear to be unfair to some, but after careful consideration and going through the guidance, we feel this is the best course of action to ultimately maintain the school being open in the event of key staff presenting symptoms.
To be compliant with the guidelines, we have to have certain key senior members of staff physically on-site for the school to remain open and were we to find ourselves in the situation of needing these staff to be tested quickly, we will need to have testing kits available for them to use. The alternative is we have to go into self-imposed lockdown.
Obviously, if the situation regarding the testing backlog locally improves, we will review, but for the meantime, the remaining kits will not be distributed.
Pick up at 4pm and 5pm on Monday 21st September
On Monday 21st September we will be trialling the alternative pick up plan while the weather is still fair. We will be operating this at both the 4pm (end of day time bands) and 5pm (post activity) pick up slots.
Please be aware of the following points:
- This will be the first time of doing this, so please be patient
- The time bands and pick up points remain unchanged
- There is less room than on the car park pitch. Please endeavour to collect your children and move off safely, but quickly, from the pick up area
- If you are early (before the allocated time band), please do not sit and wait at your child’s pick up area. This will cause traffic to build up and ultimately create a traffic jam
- If you are early, please go around the ‘procession’ route again until it is your time band
- Please follow any and all instructions from the Estates Team. They are there to help everyone.
- If someone other than yourself is collecting (grandparents, au pair/ nanny etc), please share this information with them, including the time bands and pick up points for your children.
We will let you know when this system will be implemented on a more regular basis as I fear the nice weather may be coming to an end soon!
Pick up at the end of the day
Can I please reiterate that we have two collection times from the Prep school; 4pm and 5pm. Parents should not be coming up to the White Doors to collect children before 5pm.
The 4pm collection is the normal, end of day routine where the children are dismissed from their last lesson and come down to be collected between 3:45pm and 4:15pm, depending on their age.
The 5pm collection is following activities, swimming lessons* and prep. The children will be brought to you at either the car park pitch or the gravel car park.
*Swimming lessons that end before 5pm – the children will go to Prep until 5pm when they will be collected with the other children coming from Prep and activities.
Parents of children in both Prep and Pre-Prep – it is vital that parents with children in both Prep and Pre-Pre collect the Pre-Prep children first. At the moment, parents collecting from Prep first are then attempting to join the Pre-Prep queue and there is no visibility to see the available spaces from the gravel car park egress, and this means the line grounds to a halt. It will mean some parents rejoining the processional queue around the roundabout, but this will ultimately keep all the traffic flowing.
Can Prep only parents please endeavour not to arrive too early for pick up.
Emergency bookings for Prep
We will be closing emergency bookings for Prep for the following week, on each previous Friday. This allows us the opportunity to have the correct catering and any potential additional staff in place in good time.
An emergency is a situation where you have exhausted all other means of getting your child(ren) collected from school, for a known, upcoming appointment; i.e. doctor appt, hospital appt, etc. As always, if you have arranged for someone other than yourself to collect your children, please let the office know with as much notice as possible.
From the Sports Department
Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for bearing with us whilst we try to find solutions that work for everyone when it comes to Games/PE lessons, end of day pick up and expectations around what kit is needed and when. It is a system that we are constantly monitoring and changing as and when we see issues arise. It is far from perfect but we’re creating resilient, adaptable staff, parents and pupils if nothing else.
The first issue to tackle is the misconception around PE and Swimming lessons. With the exception of Year 3 (who have separate swimming and PE lessons) all other Prep years (4 to 8) have PE once a week. Swimming falls under the PE umbrella but we make the decision as to whether they swim or do traditional PE activities based on numerous factors (group sizes, weather, house competitions) and therefore require all pupils to have swimming kit and PE kit in at all times. We have been made aware that the timetables the pupils have been given show the lesson as “swimming” rather than “PE”, which is where a lot of confusion has stemmed from, so please accept my apologies. We are rectifying that and will be handing out a replacement timetable as soon as possible to show “PE” and not swimming (unless they are in Year 3). Swimming kit needs to be left at school all week, even if it has been used, in case the weather prevents us from being outside.
The next issue is that of Games kit. We are aware that, as much as the system of pupils going straight home after lessons in sports kit enables us to provide longer sessions an unfortunate repercussion is that items of kit are often left at home when the pupils come back in, forgetting that they need them the next day. We have reiterated to the children that we are all learning and no-one is to blame but it does make it hard to run any type of session (PE or Games) when a number of pupils don’t have the equipment they need to participate.
As a result, we have made the decision to try to make it as easy as possible for parents and pupils by moving to a system whereby all pupils in Years 3 to 8 will bring all kit in with them on a Monday and only take it home at the end of the week. In theory, this should mean all pupils have all kit at all times for all lessons. We will reduce the practical lesson time in order to allow them all time to change back in to their school uniforms at the end of the day. The only exception to this would be if a pupil has a sporting club on Monday or Tuesday, in which case they would go home in their sports kit and return it the next morning. If we asked them to change after the club we would end up having 15 to 20 minutes of actual activity time at the club. There is no perfect solution but hopefully this will alleviate some of the anxiety this is causing to pupils and parents alike and enable all pupils to participate in their lessons fully.
We will still ensure bubbles are separated at all times and make sure there are rotas in place for changing and cleaning of the changing rooms.
Years 5 to 8 will be allowed to go home at the end of the week in their sports kits and Years 3 tp 4 will be able to go home on a Thursday in their Sports kits (unless they are attending a sports club on a Friday in which case we will have a list and inform them). 3M will be asked to leave their swimming kits at school on a Thursday as well for their lesson on a Friday. All pupils will also take their school uniform home in their kit bag on the day that they wear their Sports kit home.
Your understanding and patience has been gratefully received and we’re working hard to ensure a positive experience for all in these testing times.
The PE & Games Department
What to wear to a Sports Club
Could all pupils that attend any after school sports club please wear their school games or PE kit rather than any home sports kit. Some days we will need to change pupils during the day and they will not be able to change in to non-school kit.
The PE & Games Department
Pre-Prep Gold Star Winners
Emma R, Ben C, Emma B & Evelyn T for settling into St. Michael’s so well
Edward H, Ella F, Ariana S & Adhi C for settling so well into St. Michael’s
Jasmine H, Saskia E, Isla P.A & Cayden R.D. for a confident start at St. Michael’s
Tristan H for a happy start to St. Michael’s
Isla J for settling easily into her new class and working hard all the time
Oliva K for always having a smile on her face and never forgetting her manners
Lucy T for a happy start to St. Michael’s
Isabel E & Abigail T for settling so well into St. Michael’s
Emma B for organising a hide and seek game for her friends and giving great instructions
Alice H.B. for being so positive and smiley in class
Sofia F for great concentration during our maths game and for always knowing which number to say
Adhi C for coming into school independently and with a smile
ABRSM Exam Results
Following the cancellation of the music exams timetabled for April, we were pleased to be able to run an ABRSM exam session at school on 26th August. The excellent results set out below are a testament to how successful the music lessons delivered by the peripatetic teachers via Zoom were. Well done to all the children who continued to practise their instruments over the summer holidays in order to be well prepared for these exams.
Tracey Scott, Music Administrator
|E. Vitorino Hiietamm
Year 7 celebrate start of term with BBQ
The Year 7 barbecue is our traditional way of welcoming new pupils to St Michael’s as well as introducing all Year 7s to the senior part of the school. Unfortunately, we were unable to camp this year, but that did not dampen anybody’s spirits. We relished a well-cooked barbecue, thanks to our chef, Mr Wiseman, and then proceeded to cook marshmallows on an open fire. After some games and group-bonding, we enjoyed a twilight walk to the top of the warren and marvelled at the beautiful site that out school occupies. We viewed the bats swirling the skies in the dusk of late summer and ended the evening with a well-deserved hot chocolate – not forgetting the squirty cream and yet more marshmallows! Life-long friendships were made and re-established after the long summer break.
Laura Shield, Head of Year 7 & 8
Cast of The Elephant Man is announced!
The Drama Department is delighted to announce the cast of this year’s school play, The Elephant Man. Congratulations to all of the children chosen.
Ross-Merrick’s Boss: L. Blincoe
The Boy: Ross’s sidekick: L. Keogh
John Merrick-The Elephant Man: S. Ward
The Policeman: R. Saini
At the Hospital:
Lady Gomm- Administrator of The London Hospital: E. Ward
Dr Treves- Eminent Physician at The London: R. Landgrebe
Will Porter-Hospital Orderly: L. Clapham
Snork-Hospital Orderly: E. Collings
Nurse Sandwich: E. Jones
Nurse Fletcher: K. Fryer
Belgium-At The Funfair:
PinHead Boss: E. Collings
Pin Head 1: E. Jones
Pin Head 2: M. Melpigano
Pin Head 3: G. Cawley
Train Conductor: L. Clapham
Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra: G. Cawley
Lord John: A. Scott
The Countess: E. Jones
The Duchess: M. Melpigano
Bishop How: H. Soper
Cardinal Delaney: H. Owen
The Artistic World:
Mrs Kendall-An Actress: A. Moore
Grace-Dresser to Mrs Kendall: K. Fryer
Friday 2nd October: Harvest Festival (All food donations to be received by Thursday 1st October)
Wednesday 7th October: Hearing Tests for Reception, Year 1 and 2 pupils
Monday 21st September: Year 7 & 8 Welcome Evening
ISEB pre-test dates for the Michaelmas Term:
Friday 9th October
Friday 6th November
Friday 27th November
International Club Virtual Welcome Coffee Morning (Friday 25th September).
Senior School Open Mornings
Virtual Open Morning: Saturday 19 September from 9.30am. Details, including registration for this event, can be found here: https://www.caterhamschool.co.uk/admissions/open-days-and-visits/
Caterham School’s Headmaster Ceri Jones will also be hosting a Q & A session with parents on Thursday 1st October at 12pm . To sign up for the session contact Mrs Alison Jones, at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your child’s name, date of birth, year group and year of entry (eg Year 9 2021). Alison will confirm your request and send you a link to join the Zoom meeting the day before the event.
Virtual Open Morning: Saturday 26 September at 11am for entry to Years 7, 9 and 12.
Join Walthamstow Hall for a live Q & A session with a panel of Senior Staff including Headmistress, Miss Stephanie Ferro, Head of Key Stage 3, Karen Hofmann, and Heads of Year 7 and Sixth Form. Pre-recorded film footage will also be shown during the event.
The team will discuss their new Deferred Entry process which will begin from this September, for 2021. Girls will undergo the entry process in Year 6 and a deferred entry place for Year 9 will be offered at that stage. Pupils wishing to apply for academic, music, drama and art scholarships will be invited back in Year 8 to take part in the scholarship process.
An invitation from Miss Ferro and further information, including how to book, can be found on their website.
In the Community
Sevenoaks Hockey Club are excited to be back up and running for the new season. They welcome children of all abilities from Year 1 upwards.