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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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
||For an interesting holiday diary with not a day missed
Match reports and Players of the Match can also be found in the News section of SOCS. Please log in to see the nominations or click this link: http://www.stmichaelsprepsport.co.uk/News.asp?Id=982.
Players of the Match, week commencing 16th September 2019
||Given for: –
||For scoring a hat-trick in the 1st half
||For scoring 2 goals and for good passing
|For excellent outfield play
For displaying great energy and finding space
||For keeping a good shape in the game
||For passing some good balls out of defence
||B Cosgrove & O West
||For displaying good commitment
||For enthusiastic play
||For great play
||For excellent goal-keeping
|For great play
For great control in mid-field play
|For scoring 4 goals
For solid mid-field play
||W Pennington Legh
||For good positional sense and playing with his head up
|For scoring a hat-trick
For making a great save
||For making a great effort
|U13 A Hockey
||For good stick work
|U13 B Hockey
||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
||For great centre court play.
|U13 C Netball
||For super all-round play.
|For great play and skill
Voted for by the opposition
||Voted for by the opposition and for great shooting
||For great defending
||Voted for by the opposition
||For superb defending
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.