eNews: Thursday 1st April 2021

From the Head

It is hard to believe that it is the end term, and my first here at St Michael’s! It has been a total joy to join this remarkable school and already, I feel very much at home here; thank you for your welcome.

We have had a superb finish to a difficult term, and it has been truly wonderful to hear and see the children back on site; learning, having fun together and simply enjoying one another’s company again. What is not to love about this school? St Michael’s offers a truly remarkable environment for children to grow up and the atmosphere here, really is quite special. As you will appreciate, a school is far more than bricks and mortar and whilst we enjoy a remarkable setting and superb facilities, it is the people that really matter. I have been hugely impressed by this community, by the pupils, parents and staff. I have been hugely impressed by the teaching and support staff here and am grateful to my colleagues for their commitment to each child, their hard work and the resilience they have shown over the past few months. It has been a challenging time, but one that we will emerge from stronger and more unified as a community.

We look ahead to the coming term with a renewed sense of optimism as increasingly the country ‘opens up’ once more and as a school we can begin to embark on greater opportunities for our children. We are excited about the term ahead and are planning do as much as possible in terms of the co-curricular life of school – trips, visits, sports fixtures and other fun activities for our children. However, we have come to expect the unexpected and must caveat our plans with an understanding that they are subject to change, should government guidance dictate, or risk be deemed too high. We are mindful that within our community there will be a range of experience related to Covid and we must continue to exercise caution and respect one another’s feelings in this regard.

The end of the Trinity Term at St Michael’s has traditionally been marked by a celebration of sporting endeavour at the Prep Sports Day, followed, in recent years, by a BBQ and then an evening of children and adults alike enjoying time to relax and unwind with friends. The events of the past 12 months have seen our opportunities to spend time with friends and relatives seriously curtailed, but we are planning, with the necessary guidance in place, to still run a Prep School Sports Day that will allow not only child participation across the Prep School, but also parental support and celebration. We are also planning to run the BBQ at the end of the day but have taken the difficult decision that we will not be camping this year. We are all still committed and looking forward to marking the end of this academic year, a year that has presented us all with challenges we could not have possibly envisaged twelve months ago, with the chance to chat, laugh and raise a glass within our spectacular grounds. We very much look forward to welcoming as many of you there as we can when we are permitted to do so.

 

Please do take note of diary dates, as we plan to hold our usual end of term events, including Pre-Prep Sports Day and Prize Giving, Music Concert and Art Exhibition etc. These occasions are likely to take a slightly different form to previous years and we will give more detailed information nearer the time. Your patience and understanding are appreciated as we navigate guidance and various restrictions that are likely to exist. Please rest assured that, as ever we will be creative and work hard to find solutions in order to celebrate and make meaningful the final weeks of term, particularly for those leaving the school in Years 6 and 8.

 

Finally, may I wish you all a wonderful Easter break. I hope that you are able to find time to rest, relax and perhaps even get an appointment at the hairdressers!

 

With best wishes,

 

Nik Pears

 

A message from Mr Pears:

 

 

From the Head of Pre-Prep 

Dear Parents,

At last, with sunshine and warmth I’ve have felt we are leaving our darkest days of the pandemic behind.

The Easter Bunny paid us a visit yesterday and distributed eggs for the children. Many thanks again to the P&F and Avril Gibbinson for this. The children love the Easter bunny and it is always a great photo opportunity.

Your children have been busy creating all sorts of Easter art. I never cease to be amazed at the variety of Easter baskets produced by each class.

When we return to school on Tuesday 20th April, the children will be returning in summer uniform. Please make sure everything is labelled and school shoes still fit.

We have a busy term ahead and we are trying our best to put in events that parents will be able to attend. We are mindful of still trying to keep everyone feeling comfortable and adhering to Government guidelines so our Sports Day will be separated by year groups. We are hopeful that we can go ahead with Prize Giving too!

 

Overheard in Pre-Prep: On hearing another child went into hospital.

Child: “Did he go for Plastic surgery?”

 

Have a lovely Easter holiday,

 

Zerrin Leech 

Pre-Prep Gold Star Winners

 

Leo C for persevering with his reading

Emily L for persevering until the end in our halving activity

Sebastian C for working so carefully on his Easter Card

Benji S for settling in so well at St Michael’s

Cayden R-D for writing words so well using the digraphs we have learned in phonics

Mona Swan M for continuing to make fantastic progress in swimming and never giving up

Ellie S for great work learning about speech bubbles

Bram T for a huge improvement in writing and reading

Arya G for trying hard to read with more consistent expression

Isla B for her enthusiastic approach to reading

Amelie G for a fantastic pirate story with lots of descriptive details and careful punctuation

Rui T for great enthusiasm and effort when learning to talk like a pirate

Jessica H for effort and progress in French

Abigail T for working so hard in maths using fractions to solve problems

Viggo W for a fantastic charcoal portrait of Florence Nightingale

Luke S for working had in all subjects and producing some great work about Florence Nightingale

Adam O for his perseverance when finding a third of a given number

Isla J for always being very sensible and trying exceptionally hard with everything she does

Sebastian G for fantastic knowledge and understanding of fractions

Henry G for good participation and behaviour in the classroom

Beatrice B for always being so enthusiastic during our music lessons

 

100 House Point Certificates

Awarded to:

Dover: Aadhya S / Nik B

Leeds: Amelia Rose B

 

Times Tables Certficates

Awarded to:

Bronze: George W

Whole School News

 

Lent Term Highlights

As we come to the end of another fantastic term at St Michael’s, we reflect on all the amazing things we have enjoyed and achieved together as a community in this highlights video featuring videos of our pupils and music sung by them.

 

 

The Elephant Man– tickets on sale now!

We are very excited to announce that tickets are now on sale for our Year 7 and 8 production of “The Elephant Man” by Bernard Pomerance. The shows are at 7pm on Wednesday 23rd, Thursday 24th and Friday 25th June in the Drama Room.  Tickets are priced £10-£15 (plus a booking fee) with a few limited premium seats available at £20 (which includes a drink at the bar). Tickets can be purchased via TicketSource.

The Elephant Man is based on the life of John Merrick, who lived in London during the latter part of the nineteenth century. A horribly deformed young man, who had been a freak attraction in travelling side shows, is found abandoned and helpless and is admitted for observation to a prestigious London hospital in Whitechapel. Under the care of a famous young doctor, who educates him and introduces him to London society, Merrick changes from a sensational object of pity to the urbane and witty favourite of the aristocracy and literati. But, can his belief that he can become a man like any other become a dream realised?

 

We look forward to seeing lots of you at one of the first opportunities to see some live theatre in a very long time. The Year 7 and 8 pupils who are involved in this production are particularly looking forward to seeing their classmates, families and teachers in the audience as well as the wider school community. For those of you considering bringing younger children to watch, we suggest that this production is recommended for children in Year 6 and above.

Year 2 Benchball Tournament

On Friday 26th March, Year 2 took part in the annual benchball tournament based in the Prep sports hall.

The tournament saw pupils compete in several tough rounds, displaying some fantastic ball skills and teamwork along the way.

Congratulations to joint winners, the blue and green teams.

Pre-Prep enjoy a visit from the Easter Bunny

On Wednesday 31st March, Pre-Prep received a very special visit from the Easter Bunny.

Bearing baskets of chocolate eggs for the children, the Easter Bunny enjoyed greeting pupils and seeing their very smiley faces.

 

Easter Competition Winners!

Congratulations to the winners of the P & F’s Eggcellent Easter Competition. The below pupils gave the closest guesses to the number of eggs in the jar. In total, the competition raised £202.40 for the Year 7 & 8 ‘Film Day’.

Pre-Prep winner: A Wood (Year 2)

Prep winner: A Scott (Year 7)

Shoot for the Stars!

Erica and Anna’s bake sale is a sailing success!

Congratulations to Erica and Anna who ran a charity bake sale for Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) on Saturday 27th March.

Their successful stall, which attracted many generous walkers and neighbours, featured four delicious treats including vanilla cupcakes, lemon drizzle flapjacks, chocolate brownies and white chocolate cookies which were homemade by the girls.

In total, Erica and Anna raised £60 for the Eastbourne RNLI, the branch of the charity which the girls have a connection with.

Erica and Anna’s mum, Sarah, said: “A few years back, we bought a sailing boat down at Eastbourne. Since then, the girls have become very interested in the great work that the RNLI do. They check the latest reports on every visit to the marina and watch ‘Saving Lives at Sea’ all the time.

“We are very proud of the initiative they both showed to raise money for such a worthy cause.”

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. Email tusher@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk to submit your child’s achievement.

School Shop Opening Hours

The uniform shop will  be open on Monday 19th April between 2pm and 4pm for click and collect only.
Please can you order any items required online at sturdyclothing.co.uk/st-michaels.  When your order is received you will be sent a link to book a collection slot from the shop.
If you need any help with your order please email stmichaels@sturdyclothing.co.uk or call Lou on 07713 632284

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 June.

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. 300 programmes will be distributed to guests across the 3 performances.

In the Community

Senior Schools Information

Tonbridge School

Follow us on social media!

It’s important that we stay connected as a community during this time, so make sure you are following St Michael’s social media channels for important updates and content throughout the Lent Term.

Latest News

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