eNews: Friday 20th March 2020

From the Acting Co-Heads

In Malcolm Gladwell’s recent book ‘Talking to Strangers’ he concludes that we, as humans, are more inclined to view situations positively than not. Of course, there will be the occasional person you know that does not fit this mould, but in general we tend to be a resilient, resourceful and positive lot. Always looking for those silver linings.

Now more than ever, as a community, we need to channel this spirit. Dealing with the unknown is tremendously difficult and unnerving for all of us. But what if we took opportunity out of the uncertainty? What if we used this time to further bond together as families and communities, to learn and teach new and different life skills to each other, to continue to help those most in need. To re-connect through disconnection.

There are sound evolutionary social reasons why we’re inclined more towards trust than suspicion. If it was suspicion that formed the basis of all interaction between strangers, we would never have learned to cooperate on such a vast and complex scale. So, although this is the start of a different journey, let’s trust that we’ll be able to guide each other through this tough time with a smile on our face, a helping hand and always keeping an eye out for those silver linings.

We have shared lots of information this week as we plan for St Michael’s to operate remotely. To check all communications and guidance please refer to our Coronavirus Updates area of the website. We look forward to seeing those of you that will be collecting from school today at 4pm on the terrace. We would also like to thank all of you for your support and engagement with the measures that we are putting into place to navigate these challenging times. By maintaining a strong sense of community, we will find our way through this and we will all emerge with new skills and the sense of achievement that we made it.

Very best wishes,

Mary Bridges and Fraser Wiseman


News from the Head of Pre-Prep

It’s difficult to know quite where to start this week. The changes for us all have been so rapid that staff have been meeting every day to try and catch up on the changing picture for education. We now have information for parents on our website (see our Coronavirus advice and information page). We have new emergency numbers, home working, remote learning platforms etc. for continuing your child’s education in a completely different way.

It has given us huge opportunity to look at introducing SeeSaw in Years 1 and 2, which Miss Salmon and I have been keen to do for a while. All children in this age group who have been in school on Thursday and Friday have had teaching on how to use this program to send photos of their work to their teacher. You can of course send this via email to the class teacher should you prefer. We have sent your children home with a learning pack which is full of age-related ideas for them to complete over the next week. We will then be sending out work via Tapestry for our Early Years children and SeeSaw for our Year 1 and 2 children. Wherever possible we will be giving you lots of practical work to do that the children may be able to do by themselves with minimal input from you. We do recognise how busy and stressful this time will be for you all, so please do not panic if you are not able to fit in the homework we are sending home. Teaching staff will be able to answer your emails (during normal working hours) so please ask them for help if you are unsure about something your child is learning.

In Pre-Prep the teachers are most concerned with children continuing to read every day so please continue with this and read lots of stories together.

Overheard: I know what hibernate means. It means they don’t wash their hands before they eat!

I wish you all the best for the coming weeks and I hope it won’t be too long before we can all return to St Michael’s.

Zerrin Leech

Staff News

A very warm welcome to Charlotte Dodson, who will be joining us as a form teacher in Year 3 and English teacher in Year 5 from next week.

Charlotte graduated from the University of Reading with a degree in Meteorology and went on to complete her PGCE at the Institute of Education in London. She worked as Head of Geography and Travel and Tourism at a large state school in Reading before moving to Kent to start a family.

Since having children her interests in teaching have moved to primary education. She has been supply teaching this year in both Pre-Prep and Prep and is thrilled to joining our teaching team for the rest of this academic year.

Charlotte’s two children are currently in Pre-Prep at St Michael’s.

On this week’s Message Board

Please log into our Parents’ Portal and click into the Message Board to see new important information as follows:

  • School Uniform Shop open online
  • Déjà vu second-hand uniform shop temporary closure

On this week’s Community Events page

Please log into our Parents’ Portal and click into the Community Events page to see important community information.

News stories

Our news stories can be found by clicking “News” and “Latest News” on our website. To see our latest articles please click here

Year 4 experienced a fantastic Roman Day this week. Click here to see our gallery of photos.

Pre-Prep Awards

Gold Stars

Stanley H for working really well during our maths activity on doubling
Oscar for excellent effort in our shape lesson
Myla for an excellent description of a setting for her mythical creature using similies and interesting adjectives
Kieran for great comprehension skills in his reading and really enjoying our class story
Charlie C for super effort with writing recently
Chloe for always being a willing helper
Zack for his enthusiastic approach to school life
Herbie F for doing a brilliant job of catching up on his story writing
Alyssa for fantastic yoga positions and concentration

House Point Cup

Leeds House with a total of 141 points
Tom K collected the Cup on behalf of Leeds House

Music Award

Music Practice Cup: Hugo M

Times Tables Certificates

Silver: Sophie F

100 House Point Certificates

Leeds: Amelia B and Sophie F

News from Prep

Headteacher’s Stars

C Sinclair For having art work displayed at school
R Stevens For having art work displayed at school
S Taylor For having art work displayed at school
N Ogle For having art work displayed at school
T Bax For an amazing Homework Challenge presentation about reduce/reuse/recycle
R Romero For learning all the times tables and division facts
A Ogle For a fabulous historical letter to Robert Peel
S Cook For a fabulous historical letter to Lord Viscount Palmerston
L Poracchia For a fabulous historical letter to Lord John Russell
T Maltarp For the most wonderful display of peer teaching! He was patient and encouraging and I would love to have him as my teacher!

Players of the Match, week commencing 16th March 2020

All matches this week and up to the end of term have now been cancelled.

Senior School Open Days, Scholarships and Events

These can now be found on our Senior School page. 

Upcoming events include Oakwood Park Grammar School, Roedean School and Skinners’ School.

Latest News



On Wednesday, November 27 Year 5 and 6 pupils took part in a Spelling Bee hosted by Mrs Andrade and Mrs Baisch.

Challenged with spellings such as synonymous, counterfeit, and accommodation, it was an extremely close competition with many tense rounds.

Winner of the Spelling Bee, Moyo in Year 6, triumphed with her correct spelling of the word ‘conscience’.

Commenting on her success, Moyo said: “I really enjoyed taking part in the Spelling Bee and was really surprised to win.

“It was challenging as there were some words I’d never heard of, but it was fun to guess the spellings of these words and apply what I knew about other spellings to my answers.”

“It was great to take part in the competition with my friends.”

Two former St Michael’s pupils have been selected for the final phase of the England Under 16 Hockey Assessments.

Lottie Bingham and Anna Faulstich, who attended St Michael’s until July 2017, have remained great friends and play hockey together at HC Knole Park.

Lottie said “ I loved playing hockey at St Michael’s and I am delighted that Anna, my best friend , has joined me in the England training programme that I was also selected for last year. We are both very jealous that St Michael’s now have a wonderful, new astro pitch at school!“

Both girls were also members of the successful Year 6 St Michael’s who won the regional IAPS and came 5th in the National Finals .

Congratulating the girls on their achievement, Mr Thomas, who taught them 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 how they get at the trials and someday welcoming them back to play on our new pitch.”

Many congratulations to Lottie and Anna, St Michael’s wishes them the best of luck in the next phase of assessments.

A former St Michael’s student has been awarded an Honorary Sports Scholarship to support her excellence in athletics.

Harriet Medlen, who attended the school between 2011 and 2018, has received the scholarship from Sevenoaks School.

Harriet, who is in Year 9 at Sevenoaks School, said: “My time at St Michael’s helped me to develop my love of sport especially athletics and hockey. I have very happy memories of sports days and Mrs Wade taking me to IAPs athletics competitions. I am very grateful to all the teachers at St Michael’s for their encouragement during my time there. I am proud to have achieved a sports scholarship at Sevenoaks School and I am looking forward to making the most of this opportunity.”

And commenting on Harriet’s success, St Michael’s teacher Mrs Wade said: “It is great to hear that Harriet has been awarded an Honorary Sports Scholarship from Sevenoaks School. We are extremely proud of what she has achieved since leaving St Michael’s. Harriet is an excellent games player and an outstanding athlete. She was very hardworking in her sports at St Michael’s and it is great to hear that she continues to achieve highly. Well done, Harriet!”

Don’t judge a book by its cover, it’s the first chapter that holds all the secrets!

                                                       Year 6 and Mrs Yarrow pose with some of the First Chapter Friday books.


“Good readers, make excellent writers.” says St Michael’s Library Assistant, Helen Yarrow, who has launched an exciting reading initiative in the Prep school this term. 


Mrs Yarrow, who joined the St Michael’s team in September 2020, is passionate about books and believes children should read a variety of genres and authors before they choose what’s best for them.


Keen to implement this strategy at St Michael’s, Mrs Yarrow has introduced First Chapter Friday, a project designed to get pupils reading a range of books, rather than the same authors, characters and storylines over again. 


First Chapter Friday sees pupils receive a list of 10 books, suited to the reading proficiency of their year group, each term. Every Friday, pupils read the first chapter of a new book with their form groups before deciding whether to continue reading it in their own time.


Mrs Yarrow said: “The aim of First Chapter Friday is to help the children find a book they really want to read. 


“By exposing the children to books that they wouldn’t normally pick off the bookshelf, it introduces them to a range of subjects, and inevitably fosters their love of reading.”


Helen added: “Some form groups choose to read the chapter independently during the sessions, some listen to their form teachers reading the chapter, and some take turns to read different paragraphs.”


“By inviting pupils to read sections of the chapter out loud, the form tutors are also helping to develop the pupils’ language acquisition and public speaking skills. The challenge has many benefits to it.”



Titles on this term’s First Chapter Friday lists include both fiction and non-fiction books spanning a variety of themes and genres. 


One popular title is  Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill, which Sean C from Year 6 describes as “extremely interesting”. He added: “I really enjoy Shackleton’s Journey because it takes you on an adventure, showing you how Shackleton’s crew survived and what they encountered along the way.


“My favourite part of the book is where it describes how they escaped their sinking ship.


“Since reading it with my form during First Chapter Friday, I’ve enjoyed coming to the library to read more of it at break and lunch times.”



And explaining the planning process behind First Chapter Friday, Mrs Yarrow said: “I create the reading lists using recommendations from websites such as Love Reading for Kids as well as my own research.


“I try to ensure the First Chapter Friday books are 2020 titles to keep them in tune with modern authors and contemporary ideas.”


“This term I’ve included a range of titles focusing on the Black Lives Matter movement and Black History, as well as those written by black authors. Such books include The Faraway Truth by Janae Marks, Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly, and The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley.”


She added: “First Chapter Friday encourages form groups to discuss the different topics linked to each book. It is designed to make the sessions an interactive experience which is both fun and educational for the children.” 



Other favourites from Mrs Yarrow’s reading lists include The Battle of Bubble and Squeak by Philippa Pearce, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and A Boy Called Hope by Lara Williamson. 


Mrs Yarrow said: “Different pupils gravitate towards different books, but there have been some very clear favourites.”


She continued: “I get the children to read the first chapter of the book as it’s in these pages that the author establishes the hook of their novel. 


“Friday Chapter Friday helps pupils recognise the importance of a first chapter and shows them various ways they can make their writing engaging.


“One of the main aims of the initiative is to inspire the children to write their own stories.”