eNews: Friday 20th September 2019

From the Head

It is interesting to think about what the “Prep” in Prep school is all about. I think in the past I might have said it meant preparing children to get into the best senior schools, but now my answer is quite different. Of course, that is, in part, our focus and I know we do it well. This week’s parent welcome evenings have been focusing on what parents need to know and do in the specific year groups to which the children now belong, and the feedback has been most positive and complimentary. We have a fantastically well-attended Senior Schools Fair coming up on the 17th October, when I know all parents who come will be impressed and reassured by the range of schools to which we feed and with whom we have strong working relationships.

But of course, the preparation that we are involved in every day is in enabling your children to flourish and become purposeful, reflective, self-aware and engaged citizens in the world. Tomorrow’s world is not a world where facts need to be retained and churned out, but discernment and critical analysis and the ability to collaborate and to be creative are at the heart of the workforce we need to prepare. So, our vision is to enable and to encourage the skills for life not just for the school beyond.

Having said that, I have been pleased to visit a few schools in the last two weeks and would commend to you for your consideration Skinners’ School where I was most impressed with the attention of the boys at their Prize Giving, their evident camaraderie and mutual support in the applause as the prize winners walked across the stage and the respectful relationships which were clearly evident between staff and boys and boys and one another.

On Wednesday I was glad to welcome Mr Ben Charles, newly-appointed Principal of King’s Rochester. I was inspired by his focus on meeting pupils where they are and welcoming boys and girls into a small, spectacular, nurturing, Christian environment, with a rich breadth of opportunity. With four young children of his own, Ben is fully aware of what parents need in a senior school. Do drop in and meet him at the Senior Schools Fair.

I spent an enjoyable morning at Sevenoaks School on Thursday, where I was lucky enough to be at the opening of Aisher House, named after my late grandfather-in-law, who was a generous benefactor to Sevenoaks School and on the governing body. Last week we met the incoming Head of Sevenoaks School Mr Elzinga. We enjoyed good philosophical debate on the importance of the curriculum within the school and on the styles of learning that can be offered to children at Prep school aside from Common Entrance. I look forward to getting to know him better in due course.

Today I have been at Beechwood Sacred Heart in Tunbridge Wells, a co-ed, independent through school with a similarly impressive mansion at its heart and a good view too.  Since my last visit, there has been a change of Head, now Helen Rowe, and the successful refurbishment of the sports centre, as well as the creation of an outdoor classroom on stilts. The school is in good shape to welcome boys and girls who wish to transfer at 11 or 13 and the A’ level class sizes make it a very attractive option for transfer at 16 too. Beechwood offers boarding too. I commend it to you for your consideration.

Jill Aisher

News from Pre-Prep

• Wed 25th Sept individual and sibling photos in school.
• Open Class event Wed 26th Sept 3.20pm – 4pm. No activities except paid ones on this day
• Harvest Festival Friday 4th Oct. Donations of food or toiletries accepted from next week

Another week has flown by with three staff members out on Read Write Inc. training, so that their own knowledge of teaching phonics to your children will be top notch next week.

The photographers will be here on Wednesday to take individual photographs of your child. We will also be taking photographs of children with their siblings if they are a St Michael’s child. Please ensure your children are extra specially polished on the day and please send them in with their blazers.

On Wednesday I would like to invite Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 parents to come and look at your child’s classroom. This is an opportunity for your child to show you around their classroom and explain to you what they have been learning so far. Please be aware that this is not a consultation time about your child’s progress with the teacher; That will come in November or you can always make an appointment time to see a teacher should you wish to have an update. Please arrive in the playground at 3.20pm as usual. If you are unable to make this, please consider sending another family member as the children love to have an opportunity to explain what goes on in school to an adult.

We try and discourage the wearing of earrings with young children in Pre-Prep, however if your child does have pierced ears, could you please ensure that the earrings they wear to school are small gold studs only. These are less likely to be caught when children are playing.

Our Harvest Assembly will be on Friday 4th October. We shall continue to support the Trussell Trust food bank in Swanley and all your donations of food and toiletries will be very gratefully received. We are always overwhelmed by your generosity. This year our Harvest assembly will be one for all the children rather than a specific year group performing so we will not be inviting guests to join us for the assembly. A letter has been sent out to you with specific items that are essentials for the food bank.

Child 1: I used to live in China.
Child 2: No you didn’t, because if you lived in China you would speak, like, Indian or something.

Have a lovely weekend.

Zerrin Leech

Parents & Friends

Please could we remind everyone that Classlist is the main form of communication amongst parents at school including invites to birthday parties and coffee mornings. So, if you don’t want yourself (or your children!) to miss out, ask your Year Rep to send you a Classlist invite.


P&F Committee

School notices from Mr Wiseman

Foodbank Food collections

We have, for some years now, been committed to supporting two local food banks with non-perishable foods and toiletries. Research has shown that the emergency food handed out by food banks has increased, year on year, for the past 10 years. This year I would like to re-commit to our collections for the local food banks in Swanley and Sevenoaks.

As a school, we operate whole-school collections in the run up to Harvest Festival and Christmas, and for the rest of the year, we operate, in the Prep school, year group focus fortnights, to keep the food we donate ticking over.

I will be working with the School Council to raise the profile of this important aspect of our charitable work as a school and endeavour to collect the largest amount of food and toiletries we have done since we entered into this.

Thank you



Double yellow lines

Can I please ask everyone to be mindful of the double yellow lines around the school site. They have been painted at these particular points as they have been identified as ‘hot-spots’ for congestion and allowing free flow of traffic at these points will keep the cars moving around the site.

An even more important reason is safety. This week, I have been informed that parents pulling out of the gravel car park have had their vision of cars coming down from Prep obscured by cars waiting to collect from the hut, but exacerbated by cars parking on the double yellow lines opposite.

Please be mindful and park considerately.

Traffic jams on Row Dow/ Pilgrims Way

Thank you to all the parents who inform us of problems with large vehicles on Row Dow or Pilgrims Way that are affecting access to the school. It is useful for us to be aware of these issues, especially when we are waiting for children to arrive in the morning. However, please also be aware that St Michael’s staff have no authority to control/ direct traffic on either of these public highways. As a school, we instruct all of our suppliers and contractors to not arrive or deliver at the busy drop off and collections times. We, unfortunately, have no control over other road users. On the occasions when Estates, or other, staff do endeavour to aid with the movement of traffic on either of these roads, please be patient and work with them. We are all trying to do our jobs or get to our place of work as quickly as possible. Thank you.

Coats and blazers

Can I please remind parents that your child should be wearing either their school blazer or school* coat to come to and leave school every day. If your son/ daughter has been given permission to depart from school following a fixture or activity in their PE kit, this exception is allowed.

*Children in Years 3-6 should be wearing the uniform school coat from the school shop. Only children in Years 7&8 have permission to wear non-uniform school coats. The same goes for school bags. The green school rucksack is uniform for Years 3-6.

Dogs at pick up

This is primarily an issue at the Prep school, but all advice/ guidelines should be followed across the school site.

For those of you who are dog owners, we all love our dogs. However, as responsible dog owners, we must accept that not everyone will feel the same as we do about our pets. It has been commented on that pick up at the White Doors is becoming a little akin to Crufts. We are seeing an increasingly wide range of dogs in terms of sizes and shapes and whilst some don’t take up much more room than the inside of a Gucci handbag, some are rather more imposing. We have children and adults who are not comfortable around dogs and find the number of them, when emerging from the White Doors at 4pm, intimidating. We do also have children that are affected by allergies, and this can cause physical pain and upset.

We are not banning dogs from pick up, but we would ask that you only bring your dog if you need to. If you do bring your dog to collect your children, please be mindful of others moving around you and endeavour to keep the path along the terrace clear.

Dogs should be on a short lead at all times.
Any dog in school should be under the direct control of an adult. Please DO NOT give the lead to a child to hold. Dogs are animals and as such, have the capacity to be unpredictable, especially around other dogs.
Dogs are only permitted on the tarmac areas, and not on the grass areas*.
*Either side of the path along the terrace is fine, but not on the sports fields or adventure playground.
If your dog does a poo anywhere on the site, PLEASE pick it up, using a bag, and take it home with you for disposal. This is private land, with much of it being used by the children. The ‘stick-and-flick’ method of clearing is not appropriate.

Thank you.

Prep Harvest Festival

We will be celebrating the Harvest Festival in the Prep school on Thursday 3rd October. It was lovely to see, this week, Wendy Halford who was the Catering Manager at St Michael’s for many years. She is now one of the coordinators of the Trussell Trust foodbank in Swanley, which we support both through the Harvest collection and focussed year group collections throughout the year. Her visit was to present an assembly at Pre-Prep on the work of the foodbank and to let the children know what they are short of. Please have a look at the Pre-Prep section of the newsletter to see what they are most in need of.

In our support of the Foodbank for this Harvest Festival, can I please ask that all donations are brought in on the morning of Thursday 3rd October. We do not have the space to safely and securely store a large amount of food. Wendy and her husband will collect the donations that day.

After this has been collected, we then move to the focussed collections. This is a more modest collection that allows a year group, over a fortnight, to bring in a smaller amount of food/ toiletries, that keeps the foodbanks stores ‘ticking over’. The drive for this will be coming from the School Council.

Thank you.

Astro Turf Build

We have a new page on our website, where you can follow the progress of our Astro Turf construction. We’ll be updating it each week with photos to show how the land is being transformed.  Find the page under “News” or by clicking here.

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:

  • Reminder – Late Payment Fees apply from 26th September
  • European Day of Languages, Friday 27th September
  • Booking open for St Michael’s families for October’s Senior Schools Fair
  • October Half-Term Sports Camps – Hockey and Football

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 as follows:

  • October Half-Term Sports Camps

Pre-Prep Awards

Gold Stars

Thomas D for asking interesting questions in lessons
Anna W for good sequencing skills in our R.E. lesson about Creation
Beatrix T for settling into St. Michael’s so well
Stanley H for persevering when learning to write new letters
Amelie G for listening attentively and always knowing what to do
Siena L for writing a beautiful ‘s’ in phonics
Isaac O for being able to take on responsibilities in the class with ease
Oscar H for fantastic writing of the letter ‘s’
Louisa S for an amazing self portrait
Viggo W for working with enthusiasm on his Maths and Art activities
Scarlett M for a kind and positive attitude at all times
Tara C for lovely adjectives to describe the Tiger
Luke S for working hard to read with more expression
Reuben P for trying his hardest and persevering when tasks are challenging
Clara H for creating a very detailed story road showing the events from Meerkat Mail
Aylssa K for excellent oral story telling using her story road
Sophie T for working extremely hard in Maths
Lawson B for brilliant listening and fantastic balancing in gymnastics

Music Awards

Music Practice Cup: Kayla K
Music Practice Award: Raven S

House Point Cup

Rochester House with a total of 176 points
Lev collected the Cup on behalf of Rochester House

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music

Grade 1 – Violin – Distinction – Sophie F

News from Prep

Headteacher’s Stars

O Scott For an interesting holiday diary with not a day missed

Players of the Match, week commencing 16th September 2019

Team Name Given for: –
1st Football J Maloney For scoring a hat-trick in the 1st half
2nd C Mottram For scoring 2 goals and for good passing
3rd T Porter

H Owen

For excellent outfield play

For displaying great energy and finding space

Colts A T Smith For keeping a good shape in the game
Colts B T Anglin For passing some good balls out of defence
Colts C B Cosgrove & O West For displaying good commitment
Colts D O Gasson For enthusiastic play
Colts E N Dandeniya For great play
Colts F L Clapham For excellent goal-keeping
U9 A J West

C Wilson

For great play

For great control in mid-field play

U9 B J McDonnell

K Loukam

For scoring 4 goals

For solid mid-field play

U8 A W Pennington Legh For good positional sense and playing with his head up
U8 B I Vanghese

J Gagg

For scoring a hat-trick

For making a great save

U8 C J Osborne For making a great effort
U13 A Hockey P Parker-Swift For good stick work
U13 B Hockey C Sturges For scoring 2 goals
U13 A Netball A Mourgue D’Algue For great play in the shooting circle and in the centre court.
U13 B Netball F Griffin For great centre court play.
U13 C Netball L Griffiths For super all-round play.
U11 A No Match
U11 B No Match
U11 C No Match
U10 A E Bingham

N Stinson

For great play and skill

Voted for by the opposition

U10 B A Stevens Voted for by the opposition and for great shooting
U10 C No Match
U9 A A Brown For great defending
U9 B E Wood Voted for by the opposition
U9 C K Rutherford For superb defending
U8 A No Match
U8 B No Match

Senior School Open Days

These can now be found on our Senior School page. 

Upcoming events include Bennett Memorial Diocesan School, Bishop Challoner School, Bromley High School Christ’s Hospital, Cobham Hall, Haileybury, Kent College Pembury, King’s Canterbury, King’s Rochester, St Edmund’s School, Sevenoaks School, Skinners’ School, Tonbridge Girls’ Grammar, TWGGS, Walthamstow Hall and Whitgift School.

We’re delighted to announce that our Senior Schools Fair will return to St Michael’s on Thursday 17th October 2019. Keep an eye on our Senior Schools Information page for details.

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.”