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.
From the Head of Pre-Prep
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.
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!
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.
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!
As Y5 pupil, C Hunter, explained during Monday’s assembly, Sevenoaks School has organised weekly food/supply collections for those in need during these very uncertain times. The collections have benefited local organisations such as One Big Family: Helping the Homeless, Friends for Families, The Hygiene Bank, Sevenoaks Food Bank: Loaves & Fishes, Community Cupboard, area primary schools and others. Miss Cat Davison, the School’s Director of Service and Social Impact, updates its online social media feeds (@sevenoaksimpact on Twitter and Instagram) with the items needed each week. We hope that you will consider helping with this effort. Together we can make a huge difference for those living right here in our community!
The details of the collections are provided below. If you do wish to participate, please ensure that items are unopened and handled with washed or sanitised hands, and that social distancing is strictly adhered to on delivery.
What: Food, Supplies (check social media links for current needs)
When: Every Tuesday, 9am – 12pm
Where: Outside Claridge House, Sevenoaks School,TN13 1HU
(Claridge House is just to the right of the main entrance of Knole Park on High Street)
On Monday our community-minded pupil also discussed a book collection which took place earlier this year for children in Ghana. Below are photos of EduSpots centres where the books are available for local communities throughout Ghana.
We’ve been amazed by the phenomenal success of the Art Department’s recent challenge “Painting without Paint”. Set as part of our remote learning programme, children were asked to select a work of art of their choice and to recreate it at home – but without using paint!
The Art Department has been overwhelmed by submissions, which Miss Rodwell, described as “creative, humorous and inventive”. She added “Staff have been impressed by submissions that showed how carefully the children have looked at their chosen artworks in order to create such brilliant responses.”
Posts on our Twitter account have received positive responses from prestigious art galleries, such as the Tate and the National Gallery, with The Lowry in Manchester commenting “Wow, we love this!!” on T Neville’s version of L S Lowry’s “Man Lying on a Wall”. But it’s not just art galleries in the UK, who have responded to the children’s art; their work has been liked by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Dresden and the Mauritshuis in Den Haag. One Year 3 pupil, who was inspired by artist Aja Trier, even reached New York, as permission was sought to post an image of one of her paintings. She was delighted to allow us to feature her work and on seeing J Gagg’s interpretation commented “Oh my gosh that is precious! Please tell the artist I love it! I will post on my Instagram and Facebook. Thank you!” She went on to tell us “I am always so humbled when kids are inspired by my work, but this is next level!”
In order to show you all the wonderful work our pupils have done, we’ve put together an online gallery of the work. Talking about the project and the reaction, Mrs Barratt declared “This is wonderful!” and reactions from other schools included the comment “Excellent work St Michael’s Art Department this is a really fun activity”.
Mrs Bridges told us “I am absolutely delighted, and inspired, by the way that the children have responded to these challenges. Creativity is keeping us connected, not only within our own community but across the world too!”
We can’t wait to see what the department comes up with next. Miss Rodwell is keeping us in suspense “I’ve been working on a new one today …”. We’re sure that our pupils will have even more opportunity to excel!
Click here to view our online gallery of more ingenious images.
Some of our super St Michael’s Swimmers have won an array of silverware at recent events.
At the Sevenoaks Swimming Club presentation evening, I Pennington Legh was presented with the Kingsbury Cup for U10 girls; A Green was awarded the Kingsbury Cup for U10 boys; E Green received runner up plate for the best U9 boy; S. Taylor was awarded the Mike Radford Trophy for most improved U9 boy; A Ashton was presented with the U9 Individual Medley Cup and U9 trophy for most improved swimmer; B Tovey and J Taylor were both awarded plaques with their positions from the recent Sevenoaks Club Championships.
At the Black Lion Gala, Gillingham, at the start of March our swimmers again came away with medals. A Ashton won three gold, one bronze, one fourth and one sixth medal; A Green three gold and two silver medals; E Green four silver and one bronze medal; S Taylor one silver and one fourth medal and J Taylor a fourth position medal. V Medlen also came away with a medal from the gala.
Well done to all those swimmers; your hard work and dedication is certainly paying off!
Well done to our doubles girls, E Julio and S Savidge, who also played in last weekend’s Junior Orange Ball Tournament in Sevenoaks. They played four matches, won two, beating Sevenoaks Prep and Lady Boswell’s and lost two to the eventual finalists Amherst and Granville.
This was a great performance by the girls, particularly in the light of little experience of Orange Ball competition.
My son began his journey at St Michael's last Friday in the Nursery class and, one week on, I have to write to say how impressed I am and how thrilled we are with our decision to send him to such an amazing school.
The approach to settling them in has been perfect!
St Michael’s is a wonderful school. Fantastic teachers, a nurturing environment. It has suited our three children who are all very different in their academic and pastoral needs. Thank you.
Year 6 Parent
St Michael's is a place where I can let my imagination run wild.
Year 6 pupil
We were struck by the warmth and kindness of everyone we met; pupils as well as staff. We believe in giving our son the right start and instilling in him the joy of learning and satisfaction from achievement. We can see this happening at St Michael’s
My daughter has had such a wonderful school life at St.Michael’s. We really couldn’t have asked for a better school for her in terms of academic life, extra-curricular activities and friendship groups. We still can’t believe how quickly the time has flown by and that she will soon be leaving!