This week we were delighted to receive a certificate from NHS Charities Together for the £1240.87 that we raised in the Trinity Term. The idea for this fundraiser came from Matilda M in Year 5, and it really is an extraordinary sum when you consider the restrictions we were and have been under. Well done to Matilda and everyone who contributed.
The pupils are leading assemblies at the moment in Prep School, and this week, 7R shared their view on gratitude and how we can use it to help others. The sense of responsibility we feel towards each other in our wider community is greater than ever as we continue to hold tight amidst the pandemic.
Please take time to read the article in today’s newsletter about the Thames Valley Air Ambulance (TVAA) who, although not local, are important to us as they helped save one of our pupils almost a year ago on New Year’s Eve. Lucy’s story is told in their Christmas campaign and not only is her bravery inspiring, but the care and support of the TVAA meant so much to the whole family. I hope that you will join us in supporting their incredible work. You will soon receive news of a whole school event which we hope will raise money to support this fantastic charity who rely solely on public donations.
On the subject of responsibility, many of you have enquired about the new School Communities Programme that has been launched by the ZOE COVID Symptom Study Scheme. We have registered St Michael’s and would encourage you to take part to support the national scientific research into the impact of Covid-19 on children and younger people. I hope that this will bring additional reassurance that we are all making informed choices and working together to ensure the safety of our children and the community. Details of this have been shared today in a separate letter from the school office.
One of our other pupil-led assemblies this week was delivered with style, pizzaz and high entertainment factor by 6P on Thursday. It explored how we can deal with having a bad day. Charlie Mackesy wrote that “one of our greatest freedoms is how we react to things”, and Year 6 had some great ideas to help us make good choices when things aren’t going their way. The strategies shared were bought to life with video clips, a beautiful piano performance by Teresa W and a poem shared by Daniel M and Leo L. If you would like some ideas of how you can bring some joy to your weekend then you could get active, take time to talk to each other, or shake it all off with your own Friday Freestyle dance. If you are still searching for something to make you smile then my new recommendation, thanks to Annabelle S and Anya J, is to watch some quokka videos. You won’t regret it!
Whatever you choose to do this weekend, I hope you find some magical moments of happiness with your household.
6P performing their feel-good assembly
From the Head of Pre-Prep
Thank you for attending your Parents’ Evenings so promptly this week, I hope you found them useful. I would be interested to hear your views on Parents’ Evenings being electronic rather than in person. The Pre-Prep staff can see advantages and disadvantages of both systems.
You should soon receive an invitation to an English workshop via Zoom, followed by a maths one. These will be run by the teachers in your child’s year group, to give you an idea of what is being taught to your child. They will also answer any questions you may have about how children are taught phonics, reading and writing.
Next Friday 27th November, we will have NHS nurses in school to administer the flu nasal spray to your children. You should have all have had a letter from the NHS emailed directly to you with a link to the website in order to sign your child up. It is for all children from Reception age. The administration of this is always dealt with by the NHS and not our Pre-Prep Secretaries, TJ Smith or Jane Gray.
In response to parents’ requests for school to provide fruit snacks in Pre-Prep, we have sent out a simple questionnaire to gauge how many of you would be interested. We have extended the deadline for this until Monday to enable more of you to state your preference. Please do submit your answers by Monday.
Overheard in Pre-Prep:
“What is your favourite drink?”
“I like blackcurrant juice and red wine”
Have a lovely weekend.
St Michael’s appoints new Chair of Governors
St Michael’s is pleased to announce that its current Acting Chair of Governors, Rashid Chinchanwala, has been appointed the permanent role of Chair. A former pupil of St Michael’s between the years 1972 to 1977, Rashid has been a Governor at St. Michaels’ since 2007 and follows in the footsteps of Paula Carter, who stepped down as Chair in 2019, and Robert Turner who was interim Chair until February 2020.
Commenting on his appointment, Mr Chinchanwala said: “It’s a privilege to be accepted as Chair of Governors at St. Michael’s, a role made much easier thanks to its fantastic staff, the pupils and my fellow governors. My association with St. Michael’s stretches back almost 50 years and I’m now fortunate enough to be playing a bigger part in its ongoing success and future”.
St Michael’s raises £1240.78 for NHS
This week St Michael’s were delighted to receive a certificate from NHS Charities Together for the £1240.87 that we raised during the Trinity Term.
The idea for this fundraiser, which saw pupils and staff dress in rainbow colours on Monday 6th July 2020, came from Matilda M in Year 5 who brought the school together to donate to this all important cause.
This is an extraordinary achievement for St Michael’s and a fantastic reflection of our community ethos. Well done to Matilda and everyone who was involved.
St Michael’s librarian launches fun reading project for pupils
Don’t judge a book by its cover, it’s the first chapter that holds all the secrets!
“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.”
Pre-Prep Gold Star Winners
Charlie C for persevering to finish his Owl & The Pussycat sequel
Scarlett M for imaginative and independent poetry writing
Tristan H for always trying hard in our French lessons and for being very confident when practising spoken French
Thomas G for carefully recording facts about endangered animals
Anna W for writing a poem based on The Owl & The Pussycat
Tara C for working really hard to create a fantastic poem based on The Owl & The Pussycat
George W for offering fantastic ideas and always participating in class discussions
Oliver A for working hard on his reading
Grace L for working hard to use her phonics
Arthur S for always making sensible choices and setting a great example to others
Abigail L for excellent participation in class discussions
Olivia S for always listening carefully and giving 100% effort in her work
Thomas A for working hard to improve his handwriting and keep his letters on the lines
Harry B for great perseverance with his writing during phonics
Elizabeth A for always doing the right thing and being a positive member of the class
Emily L for fantastic phrase writing in phonics
James H for neat word writing in phonics
Alice H.B for creating a wonderful watercolour poppy
Aiden G for working hard and listening in music
Sean C (Year 6) for doing a ‘Superb First Chapter Friday interview’
Elodie G (Year 5) for ‘Writing a fantastic Remembrance Day article’
Matilda M (Year 5) for ‘Writing a fantastic Remembrance Day article’
Joseph H (Year 7) and Holly H (Year 6) for ‘Their amazing Thank You card artwork’
Alix M.D (Year 8) for ‘Creating an amazing piece of artwork for the school Christmas card’
A message from the Sports Department
As I have had a few queries about the provision of rugby in lessons and the contact elements, I thought it might be helpful to briefly explain the thinking process behind the decisions. We are in constant contact with the majority of the Prep schools in the local area regarding fixtures and lessons and what we can and cannot provide. As a district group, the majority of the schools have moved to rugby and are following the RFU roadmap to return to full rugby. We are currently at Stage D which allows for 15 minutes of structured contact drills per session and no more. This can be 1 on 1 tackling (below waist) or 2 on 2 rucks (year group dependent). Other than that, the session must be non-contact handling drills or touch (not tag) rugby matches. It is also not compulsory to have the 15 minutes of contact in a session, that is simply the maximum allowable. All equipment has been separated out between our 3 bubbles and there will be no transmission risk between groups. Even within the bubbles, the balls will be sanitised and the bibs will be washed regularly. All clubs will be non-contact.
I hope this further information has helped alleviate any concerns that you may have had when I mentioned the word ‘contact’ in my previous communication. We are not yet back to the rugby the boys will have previously known. Thank you again for your support, time and understanding.
Ben Bridges, Director of Sports
A message from the Music Department
If you’d like your child to have instrument or singing lessons beginning in January 2021 the applications forms are now available (you do not need to re-apply if your child is currently taking instrument or singing lessons). Please note, depending on demand we may need to operate a waiting list. The application forms for music lessons can be found on the Parents’ Portal under the parents’ forms and Prep or Pre-Prep sections. If you have any questions regarding music lessons please email Tracey Scott (St Michael’s Music Administrator). Applications will close at the end of this month.
Details about the structure of the last day of term will soon be distributed to parents. Arrangements will be made to stagger Prep pick-up for the different year bubbles.
Help Thames Valley Air Ambulance save lives like Lucy’s
Thames Valley Air Ambulance (TVAA) needs your help to continue saving people like St Michael’s Lucy.
The emergency care team, who rely solely on public donations, is one of the many charities to have missed out on fundraising due to the Covid-19 pandemic and now, more than ever, needs your help.
Thames Valley Air Ambulance Critical Care Paramedic Jo Jefferies, said: “We’re here to reach patients in crisis, day and night, 365 days a year. We receive no government funding, so any support you are able to give this Christmas will be very gratefully received. Thank you so much.”
The team’s Christmas appeal, which is now live, asks the public to give any donation that they can to help TVVA continue their heroic work.
And this year’s campaign holds a special place in St Michael’s heart.
Based of the inspiring story of how Thames Valley Air Ambulance saved St Michael’s Year 7 pupil Lucy’s life, the campaign video shows the incredibly important part the crew play, and the heroic impact they have had on our very own St Michael’s family.
News regarding a whole school Christmas fundraiser will also be announced in the following weeks.
P & F News
The Community Cupboard Christmas Appeal
As our final Christmas appeal we would like to support The Community Cupboard in its hamper appeal.
The Community Cupboard, a local registered charity, was formed in response to a local resident’s plea for help. Originally set up to cover West Kingsdown, New Ash Green, Longfield and Hartley the charity now covers a much broader area spanning from Tonbridge to Dartford, including the Sevenoaks area.
In June, the charity distributed almost 3000kg of food to those in need and, under the current difficult circumstances, those in need are ever increasing. Their ethos has always been that everyone needs a little help sometimes and they aim to ensure that the support provided allows people to retain their dignity whilst doing so.
The charity are putting together hampers of food and bringing a little Christmas cheer to those most in need.
Here are 3 ways you can help:
The P&F has set up a PayPal account where you can donate an amount of your choice. Once the appeal is closed, we will then discuss with the charity which items are most in need and we will arrange a bulk delivery to them for the hampers. Whether you give £1 or £100, all funds will be used to buy foods for those in need, with no administrative costs etc.
You can purchase items which will be collated and delivered to the charity in December. Please message us if you wish to donate in this way to coordinate drop off to me/ at school.
Suggested items include: sugar, jam, squash, jelly, rice pudding, custard, tinned meatballs, hot dogs, crisps, biscuits, long life milk, tinned vegetables, baby wipes, washing up liquid, washing powder, 2 in 1 shampoo.
Text HAMPER to 70085 to donate £3
All donations need to be made by Friday 11th December.
Christmas is a time for giving and what better way to get involved!
Thanks in advance.
Kerri & Kelly, P&F Co-Chairs
St Michael’s International Club hosts Art & Wine night for parents
Art and wine are excellent pastimes, but have you ever thought of combining the two?
St Michael’s International Club is adding the fun back into Zoom with art and wine nights aimed at keeping its members connected.
The virtual sessions see parents take part in art workshops while enjoying a glass or two of their preferred wine.
Organiser of the event and Co-Chair of the International Club, Yuliya Folland, said: “The idea for the workshops came from a friend of mine, Polina Kupriyanova, who is an artist from Penshurst. During lockdown, she successfully moved her workshops online and they were very successful.
“As Covid-19 restrictions have prevented the International Club from meeting up this year, I asked Polina whether she could help me organise similar workshops for our school community.
“The main aim of the workshops is to relax and have some fun, while giving each other some much needed company.”
The International Club have so far run two Art & Wine nights, which took place on Friday 6 November and Saturday 14 November.
The format of the workshop is an interactive online art class with demonstration and feedback provided throughout.
Commenting on the success of the workshops, Ms Folland said: “During the first workshop we painted a copy of Autumn on Siene at Argenteuil by Claude Monet, and during the second we painted an adapted painting of Peaches also by Monet.
“They were well attended with around 10 parents joining each one. Some parents enjoyed their first workshop so much that they joined again a week later. Everyone is welcome, even beginners.”
And the feedback from members has been highly positive.
One parent said: “I had such fun painting. Thank you so much for organising and please could you pass my thanks to Polina, she was so much better than my high school art teacher!”
Another added: “I loved it. My painting was not the greatest but for a first go I am pleased and happy to have something to show to the kids. The time flew past. I would happily join another at some point.”
Parents also highlighted how enjoyable and relaxing the sessions were, and how they finished the sessions with new skills.
The International Club is hoping to run more Art & Wine nights open to both members and the whole school community in the new year.
Bromley is eight times tidier thanks to three St Michael’s Samaritans doing their bit for the environment.
Olivia, Amelia and Harry Brown have kickstarted the second lockdown on a mission to give their village a much needed clean-up.
Mum, Mrs Brown, said: “We have lived in Keston for nearly 10 years and our 3 children have grown up here and love spending time exploring our beautiful woodland, whatever the season or weather.”
After noticing a rise in littering following the first lockdown, 7-year-old Amelia made posters asking people to take their rubbish home. A few months later, as the problem continued, she took matters into her own hands.
Mrs Brown added: “At the end of October, following a run with her dad, Amelia decided she would get rid of the litter herself.
“One Amazon delivery later, we’d got hold of some litter pickers and spent a very wet Saturday collecting as much rubbish as we could.”
And to top off their kindness, the Browns set a charitable goal for the litter pick to coincide with Children In Need.
Mrs Brown said: “Thanks to the generosity of family and friends, the sponsored litter pick has so far raised more than £400 for charity.”
She added: “We’re very proud of our little gang. Who says children can’t change the world!?!”
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.
In the Community
Mr Thomas’ Christmas Hockey Camp
Mr Thomas will be holding his Christmas Hockey Camp at Hollybush Hockey Pitch on Thursday 17th December, Friday 18th December, Monday 21st December and Tuesday 22nd December
Love seeing your children’s smiley faces on our social media pages?
Make sure you’re following all four of our channels to ensure you don’t miss any precious photos and videos. This also includes our new YouTube page featuring videos about St Michael’s and speeches from the pupils.
We are delighted to announce that Freddie in Year 6 is one step closer to the British Kart Championships after coming 2nd place in the final of his latest race at PFI International. The weekend long event, which took place from Friday 30th April to Sunday 2nd May, saw Freddie compete in two heats and one final race.
Commenting on his win, Freddie said: “It was a really fun weekend and I enjoyed taking part in the different races. I faced challenges including a tangle with another kart in the last lap of the final, but I was pleased that I still managed to come second.”
He added: “Although we couldn’t have an awards ceremony due to Covid, I took home a trophy which is now sat on my desk with the others.”
Supporting Freddie at the event was his family who are hugely proud of his success. Freddie’s mum said: “This is an unbelievable achievement racing against children who have years more experience than Freddie. We are really proud.”
Mr Pears, Head, echoed this praise for Freddie when he said: “A huge congratulations to Freddie for doing so well in his races at the weekend. Freddie has clearly worked very hard to get where he is and we look forward to seeing him achieve many more trophies in the future.”
And with more than eight years karting experience behind him, it is no surprise that Freddie will be competing in the British Kart Championships in two weeks time.
Freddie said: “I’m feeling nervous about the Championships, but am looking forward to it at the same time. I am really aiming for the Top 10 seed.
“My dream is to become a world champion like my brother Alex.”
Congratulations to Daniel in Year 6 who won 1st place in the Bromley Junior Parkrun on Sunday 2nd May. Competing the 2km race in just 8 minutes 28 seconds, Daniel ran incredibly well and soared past 141 other runners to gain the top title.
Commenting on his win, Daniel said: “It was a great race and I was really happy to finish first. I love competing in the parkruns and have been trying hard to win the race since they restarted after lockdown. This was my 20th parkrun so it felt really good to win.”
Daniel, whose sister Mikayla also ran in the race, added: “It was a very rewarding run and a good challenge. Our parents were there to cheer us on and as we were celebrating Lithuanian Mother’s Day on Sunday, this made it even more special.”
Since winning the run, Daniel has used his experience to inspire others to give running a go. He said: “It would be great to see more people coming to the runs and trying their best. I didn’t used to be sporty, but I now really enjoy taking part in the events.”
Mr Bridges, Director of Sport, who is a very keen runner himself, praised Daniel for his success. He said: “We are very proud of Daniel’s achievement and how well he ran on Sunday. Competing against a large group of people can be daunting, but Daniel conquered this challenge. We look forward to hearing about Daniel’s future successes.”
Accordion has been added to the list of instruments pupils can learn to play at St Michael’s. The unique instrument, which will be offered as part of the school’s lessons delivered by the peripatetic music teachers, combines the use of various musical skills and has many wonderful attributes.
Commenting on the new addition to the school’s music programme, Director of Music, Mr Baird, said: “We are excited to include the accordion as part of our instrumental offer in the music department as it can offer many benefits to young musicians in developing their musicianship, aural skills, physical coordination, and understanding of harmony and tonality. We look forward to future ensembles and concerts featuring the accordion”.
Mr Guy, one of St Michael’s peripatetic teachers who will be leading the accordion lessons, also added: “The accordion is an amazing instrument now available for lessons at St Michael’s. It’s lots of fun to play and I’m really looking forward to teaching it to everyone who is interested.”
For more information about music at St Michael’s or to view performances by some of our musicians, please visit our website.
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.