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

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