eNews: Friday 1st May 2020

From the Acting Head

I’m still getting used to submitting the newsletter from my home and not with the busy sounds of pupils outside my office. The physical separation we are currently experiencing is new for us all, but our goals and priorities remain the same: our amazing pupils, your wonderful children. We are all working extremely hard to do our very best, and in that we are united.

In times of difficulty, one sure-fire way to help us find security and calm is through gratitude. Earlier this year, I read Christine Carter’s ‘The Sweet Spot’ with the aim of finding maximum productivity alongside energy and happiness. It can be challenging to maintain a calm, creative and positive outlook when faced with difficult and uncomfortable tasks. However, making time to reflect on the good parts of each day can have a significant impact on our mindset, mood and outlook. This week I have been especially grateful for the messages of positive feedback that have brightened my inbox.  It is lovely to experience your gratitude for the hard work and efforts of our committed teachers and support staff. I continue to be inspired by things that they are doing each day: carefully planned lessons and learning opportunities, extensive feedback promoting engagement, and positive interaction and support for colleagues, parents and pupils.  So thank you, for recognising that although things are different, they are done with experience, wisdom and a whole lot of love for our precious children.

There is no doubt that when we return to school, things cannot go back to exactly how they were before. I am excited to see what this could look like. We will have all upskilled and adapted to new ways of working and interacting with each other.  You have all been into my home and attended my assembly! I never thought I would write that sentence! Let’s continue to enjoy the best bits of this time in the knowledge that everything we do in the future will have added wisdom and experience with the potential to be even better than before.

Mary Bridges

From the Head of Pre-Prep

Dear Parents,

I have had some more positive emails this week and a good Zoom conversation with the Year 1 Reps so I can see that you are all beginning to get to grips with home learning through Tapestry and Seesaw. I know that it is a stressful time for you all, but I would like to say what a good job you are doing of listening to our video clips and following our instructions. Give yourselves a pat on the back!

Looking at some of the work the children are doing at home and some of the lovely video clips of the children really helps St Michael’s teachers. We are all missing your children. The buildings are not the same with only a handful of children in them. Thank you for your understanding if your child’s work is not marked every day as several teachers have their own children at home to teach as well as getting work organised for the next week and being on the rota to come into school to teach key workers’ children.

If you haven’t looked at St Michael’s on Twitter for a while, I urge you to look at some of the Prep school artwork that was posted this week. There are some very clever interpretations of famous paintings and they have attracted some great interest from galleries and artists. It shows just how St Michael’s is about developing the whole child and giving them an all-round education. Well done to everyone who took part.

If any of you would like to share overheard comments from your children at home, I am happy to share them in the newsletter if you wish to email them to me. They will of course be anonymous.

Let’s hope the sun shines this weekend.

Zerrin Leech

Staff News

We’re delighted to announce that Emily Balcombe has been appointed as part-time teacher in the Music Department, teaching pupils in Years 3-5.

Emily has worked as a singing teacher at St Michael’s for the last 10 years, and is absolutely delighted to now have the opportunity to work with all of the year 3-5 pupils in their class music lessons.

She grew up in a very musical family and often performed in concerts around the country with her siblings. Singing has always been a real passion of Emily’s, and she deems herself lucky to have worked with some fantastic choirs. She has also taught in theatre schools, coaching children for lots of different West End shows.

Emily lives in Tonbridge with her family, and enjoys going to the theatre, dancing, and socialising with her friends.



Fantastic Fundraising for the NHS

We’re so proud of our Year 6 pupil, L Clapham, who has raised funds for his local NHS Trust. Here’s his story:

Going bald for the NHS 

I didn’t want a haircut at home during lockdown.   However, seeing the doctors and nurses risk their lives every day tackling the coronavirus, I wanted to show them my appreciation. I know we are fortunate with our situation, but others are not so lucky.

I hoped being filmed going bald could raise a little money for the NHS. It would also be fun seeing the transformation to my head.

I have raised £622.50 for the local Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS charitable trust fund. This was much more than I thought we would get.

On the day of the haircut I was a little nervous when the shaver came out.  Friends and family had nominated my little sister to do most of the shaving. It was OK though; I still have two ears.

It’s actually great not having to brush my hair.   Stroking it feels very satisfying – I might even go bald again in the future!

L Clapham

Year 6

St Michael’s P&F

There are two important announcements from the P&F on our Message Board and Community page, including a St Michael’s radio station for the children and an incredible yoga effort to raise funds for one of the charities which would have been supported by the Summer Ball.

School News

Our Prep School Art Challenge has been a phenomenal success, with galleries and artists from  all over the world responding to your images. Read more about it in our article and see more images on our Twitter page and in our online gallery.

As you can see, the Art Department have received an overwhelming number of images from you all. Please don’t worry if you don’t see your picture in the gallery yet, it’s still a work in progress!

Latest News

We are delighted to announce that former St Michael’s pupil Jess Haynes has selected to join the Loughborough Lightning Superleague Netball team.

Jess, who attended St Michael’s between 2008 and 2014 and returned as a GAP Student in 2019, made her Superleague and Sky Sports debut on Saturday 5th June against Celtic Dragons at the Copperbox Arena in London, after which she was officially announced as Loughborough Lightning squad member No. 102.

Lightning are currently in second place in the Superleague behind Team Bath and have already secured their place in the playoffs.

Jess, whose matches with Lightning will be broadcast live on the Sky Sports Netball platforms, said: “I feel so honoured and excited to be given this opportunity. It has been a bit of a whirlwind over the last couple of weeks so it was great to get on court and make my Superleague debut at the Copperbox . I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season with such an amazing squad. I always love coming back to St Michael’s to coach the current pupils, to share my love of sport and to show that dreams do come true!”

Jess joined Loughborough Lightning U21 NPL Squad from London Pulse in September 2020 when she started studying at Nottingham Trent University where she is part of their Performance Sport Programme.

And it was St Michael’s where her passion for netball began. Jess’ mum, Clare, said: “Jess’ year group team were a strong squad who enjoyed a high level of success at both local and national IAPS level. Jess played all sports during her time here where she achieved a great deal of success across the board . She left at the end of Year 8 to continue her education at Kent College Pembury with a Sports Scholarship. Her place in the Loughborough Lightning Super League is a huge opportunity for her.”

Mrs Wade, who coached Jess during her time at St Michael’s, added: “We are extremely proud of Jess and all she has achieved since leaving St Michael’s. I had the delight of watching Jess’ netball skills grow tremendously during her time with us and it is no surprise that Jess’ dedication to the sport has landed her this incredible opportunity. We look forward to hearing about her future successes and seeing her on Sky Sports!”

A swarm of bees, pride of lions and bloom of ladybirds could be seen roaming the school grounds on Friday 28th May as the Prep school celebrated Go Wild Day in aid of local charities Kent Wildlife Trust and Otford Hospices of Hope.

The action-packed charity day, organised by the School Council to raise awareness of the local causes, raised an amazing £727.04.

Mr Baird, Acting Deputy Head, said: “It was amazing to see so many staff and pupils dressing up for this brilliant fundraising event. A big thank you to the School Council and Year 8 prefects who played a key part in the success of the event, and to the pupils for putting so much effort and energy into the activities.”

Throughout the day, pupils took part in fundraising activities including an exotic bring and buy sale where pupils exchanged good quality toys and games. The afternoon events also included a face painting session for the children led by the senior Art Scholars group.

Fundraising & Communications Manager at Otford Hospices of Hope, Jessica McKechie added: “We were delighted to hear that St Michael’s Prep School chose to fundraise for Hospices of Hope with their Go Wild Day. Being supported locally is so important for our charity and we are really grateful to all the children and staff who took part. The funds raised will help us to support our patients with vital care, some of whom are children too and will love to hear about the activities the school arranged in order to help them.”

St Michael’s Go Wild Day forms part of its longterm plan to improve the wildlife around their 90-acre site as well as increasing the school community’s awareness of the importance of conserving nature.

Delighted by St Michael’s efforts, Acting Head of Education and Lifelong Learning at Kent Wildlife Trust, Lee Mason-Baldwin said: “Wow, what a brilliant effort and superb, heart-warming achievement, thank you so much! We love the gorgeous colourful activities and the fun you’ve had to help animals, plants, bugs and birds which is crucial for developing a life-long love of wildlife. Your support will help us on our quest for a wilder Kent, rich in wildlife for everyone to enjoy, forever.”

For more information about St Michael’s Prep School please visit their website: https://www.stmichaels.kent.sch.uk/


We are hugely proud to announce that past St Michael’s pupils L Bingham and A Faulstich have been selected for the England Under 16 Hockey Squad.

The Year 10 pupils, who currently attend Weald of Kent Grammar School and Tonbridge Grammar School were announced as members last week following many months of training and assessment.

Congratulating the girls on their achievement, Mrs Wade, who taught them PE during their time at St Michael’s, said: “We are extremely proud of Lottie and Anna and all they have achieved since they left St Michael’s. They were extremely hardworking in all their sports at school and it is great to hear that they have taken their hockey to such a high level. We look forward to hearing about their future success.”

A huge congratulations to both girls on this amazing achievement.

St Michael’s Prep School, Otford was delighted to welcome concert pianist Nicholas McCarthy as the special guest for its Scholars’ Day on Thursday 20th May.

Mr McCarthy, who was the first left-hand-only graduate of the Royal College of Music in its 130-year history, hosted a music masterclass with the school’s Music Scholars, before joining the wider Scholars group for an evening of food and entertainment.

Nicholas said: “It has been so wonderful to work with the pupils today. The performance standard of the Scholars is fantastic and their personalities came across in their performances. It was lovely to see.”

During his visit, the talented musician shared his story with St Michael’s including his performance with band Coldplay at the 2012 Paralympics Closing Ceremony. Nicholas also offered words of encouragement for overcoming setbacks and barriers. He said: “At my first audition I was turned away because they just didn’t believe I could play the piano with one hand. I had to dig deep and find that resilience to carry on achieving my dream. Very quickly that fire built back up and I was determined to prove them wrong.”

Commenting on the success of the event, St Michael’s Deputy Head Mary Bridges said: “We were delighted to host a special event for our current scholars, incoming scholars and our Year 8 pupils who have achieved scholarships at their senior schools. Nicholas words inspired all of us and his performance was absolutely stunning. It was a true mark of excellence.”

To view a highlights reel of the event or watch the full interview with St Michael’s Head Nik Pears and Nicholas McCarthy please visit their YouTube page.