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.

Overheard
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.

Thanks,

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

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