eNews: Friday 22nd May 2020

From the Acting Head

Half term begins today, and I know that we are all ready for a well-deserved break.  It has been the strangest half-term in my teaching career, and I am grateful to every person that has played a part in getting us through this time with smiles and support. Parents, teachers, pupils and staff have adapted, adjusted, upskilled and applied themselves like never before. I am grateful for everything you have done.

This week was another week of firsts. Our first virtual exams information evening for Year 5 parents was brilliantly attended and I wonder if the accessible format will become the new normal. We also hosted our first virtual Open Morning. These events are always a highlight in my calendar as a chance to celebrate all that is special about St Michael’s. This one was no different, and the pupil performers and speakers stole the show as they delivered their pieces with passion, eloquence and joy. I hosted my first live check-ins with Years 7 & 8, which have been introduced in response to the parental feedback and, in true growth mindset style, I will learn from my mistakes! Apologies to those pupils who received the joining information late and I promise to do better next time!

 

Today was a day of transformation for our beautiful site as the signage for the planned return to school was put in place. Parents of children in Nursery, Kindergarten, Reception, Years 1 and 6 will continue to receive updates as we work through the guidelines coming in each day to ensure that we can maximise safety for our pupils and staff.  We recognise that other year groups are keen to get back into school and we wish it were possible, but we must work with the government advice to protect us all, and the future of the school. We expect further updates from the government over half term and look forward to knowing how we can make the most of the end of the school year. This is especially important for our families with children in Years 2, 6 and 8 and we are planning some special celebrations to mark these milestones.

 

One of the things that I have found most challenging over recent weeks is communicating virtually instead of in person. I miss snatched conversations with pupils and colleagues where things get fixed in a moment because you can read each other’s body language and see the care and compassion in each other’s eyes. The same goes for my interactions with parents, and I hope that you will reach out if there is anything we can do to enable you to feel connected and valued within the community.

 

I wish you all a healthy and happy half term break and look forward to seeing you all soon to celebrate a year of challenge, growth and firsts!

 

Mary Bridges

 

From the Head of Pre-Prep

Dear Parents,

I have been busy putting plans in place for the return to school of most of your children. I am sorry that Year 2 won’t be able to join us yet but hopefully it won’t be too much longer. We are all looking forward to seeing some children back on the 1st June. St Michael’s just isn’t the same without our most precious asset!

As with all best laid plans there will be some things that need to be tweaked along the way, so please bear with us if we need to adjust things in the first few days. Please don’t worry if you are having to continue to shield your family, we are looking at how to deliver some remote learning to you.

Yesterday was my first ever virtual Open Morning for prospective parents. The staff were clearly upstaged by our incredible pupils who just about covered every aspect of the school that a parent would want to know. They were great ambassadors. It is very hard to showcase the school without having a physical tour but recent photographs of the school with lush green lawns and bright blue skies certainly help.

Parents have asked if swimming will take place when the children return. I can confirm that there will be no swimming so please don’t worry about brining swimming kits into school.

I hope you manage to enjoy your weekend and then half term!

Best wishes,

Zerrin Leech

Staff News

A warm welcome to Melanie Jacobs, who will be joining St Michael’s Pre-Prep in September as KS1 Teaching Assistant.

Melanie worked in a corporate environment for over 10 years, the last 4 as an Office Manager for a global Pharmaceutical company, she then decided it was time to pursue her dream of becoming a Primary School Teacher. In 2017 Melanie enrolled on a part-time Primary Education degree at Canterbury Christ Church University, which allowed her to work full time alongside her studies. After two successful teaching placements, she realised it was time to make the transition from working in an office to working in a school. Melanie cannot wait to start her new career at St Michael’s, where she can utilise her knowledge and provide excellent care and support to the children and staff.

Outside of working and studying, Melanie enjoys exercising, cooking and travelling to new places.

Parent Feedback and Survey Results

We would like to thank parents for engaging with us in such a constructive manner over the past few weeks, helping us to understand how we can develop our remote learning model and make it work well for both you and your children. We have continued to listen to your experiences through our conversations with the class reps across the year groups and more recently in the valuable feedback that you have provided in our online survey (results from the survey can be seen at this link).

There has been an enormous amount of work going on by teachers to ensure that learning experiences are carefully structured and tailored to meet the needs of our pupils and we are delighted to report that your responses have been overwhelmingly positive in acknowledging this. We also recognise that there are still some areas that we wish to continue to evolve and expand, and we are endeavouring to increase opportunities for peer and teacher interactions through virtual playgrounds, subject support clinics and Year 7 and Year 8 study rooms.

Once again thank you for your valuable feedback and support. We always want to hear from our St Michael’s families and continue our conversations about our remote learning model.

Gordon Baird

 

 

 

 

 

 

Headteacher’s Stars

O Nathan For an excellent speech in our virtual Open Morning
S Andrade For an excellent speech in our virtual Open Morning
T Neville For an excellent speech in our virtual Open Morning
T Vafai For an excellent speech in our virtual Open Morning
E Ward For a beautiful performance in our virtual Open Morning
S Bendle For a superb performance in our virtual Open Morning
B West For a great presentation in our virtual assembly
J West For a great presentation in our virtual assembly
C Handel For a superb piano performance in our virtual assembly
P Palmer For a great presentation in our virtual assembly
H Palmer For a great presentation in our virtual assembly
E Brewer For a great presentation in our virtual assembly with your beautiful lambs
T Bax For an excellent presentation about your bee keeping in our virtual assembly
E Bax For an excellent presentation about your bee keeping in our virtual assembly
B Bax For an excellent presentation about your bee keeping in our virtual assembly
E Porter For a lovely presentation about your human rights research and the ‘Share a Smile’ song in our virtual assembly
E Collings For going above and beyond in your Science remote learning
W Deacon For going above and beyond in your Science remote learning
L Griffiths For going above and beyond in your Science remote learning
T Petersen For going above and beyond in your Science remote learning
R Landgrebe For going above and beyond in your Science remote learning
H Owen For going above and beyond in your Science remote learning
T Porter For going above and beyond in your Science remote learning
X Prongué For going above and beyond in your Science remote learning
L Shi For going above and beyond in your Science remote learning
E Ward For going above and beyond in your Science remote learning
J Sales For a superb response to a Science challenge during remote learning
A Edwards-Matthews For hard work and excellent effort in French during remote learning
J Fryer For hard work and effort in French to develop speaking skills

School News

Virtual Concerts

The music team have been busy working behind the scenes with all of their pupils and many have been making fantastic progress over recent weeks. Whilst we have missed hosting our usual breakfast concerts and soirées at school, we have nevertheless ventured fearlessly into the virtual realm to continue providing children with opportunities to showcase their hard work and musicianship.

Last Friday we hosted our very first Zoom concert for Year 6 and enjoyed a delightful programme of pieces and we will host a further three next term as part of a Friday lunchtime series.

In addition, we are delighted to release two virtual concert videos containing a wonderful array of recorded performances from pupils, and these are available to download and share with your families on our Message Board. [Click here for the Message Board]

I would like to congratulate all of the performers and their amazing teachers for their continued dedication and commitment to their instrumental studies throughout this period. We hope you enjoy the concerts and wish you all a lovely half-term!

Mr Baird

French Day 2020

We’ve had so many wonderful pictures of our pupils celebrating French Day, that we’ve made a gallery for you to see them all. Click here to see the gallery.

You can also find some of the fantastic videos we’ve received on our Facebook page.

Sports News

Congratulations  to S Taylor in Year 4, who was awarded player of the season in his age group (U9) at Sevenoaks Rugby Club. He is a brilliant and selfless player who thoroughly deserves this accolade. Well done!

Speed Bounce Challenge

Here are the results from last week’s Speed Bounce Challenge (20 seconds, bounce any ball as many times as you can to knee height)

Boys Years 3&4
1st St Michael’s C Wilson 71
2nd Sutton Valence 63
3rd Ashford 62
Boys Years 5&6
1st Ashford, Radnor House and Sutton Valence 70
6th St Michael’s L Clapham 52
Boys Years 7&8
1st St Michael’s K Cameron 65
2nd St Ronan’s 62
3rd Radnor House 46
NB H Soper also scored a creditable 66 but some bounces were not correct height
Girls Years 3&4
1st St Michael’s E O’Dwyer & E Julio 67
2nd Hilden Oaks 65
3rd Radnor House
NB E O’Dwyer scored 70 in another attempt and F Jenkins scored a huge 74 after the deadline!
Girls Years 5&6
1st Ashford 68
2nd Sutton Valence 66
3rd St Michael’s V Medlen 64
Girls Years 7&8
No score recorded from St Michael’s

 

Senior School Virtual Tours and Open Days

Many Senior Schools are offering virtual tours and Open Days at the moment. We’ll be updating our Senior Schools Information page as we hear about them. Most of the schools are offering traditional Open Days from September and booking forms for both traditional and virtual open events are available on their websites. Links to the schools are available on our Senior Schools Information page.

The following schools are currently offering virtual Open Days or Tours:

Ardingly

Bethany School

Brighton College

Caterham School

Cobham Hall

Dover College

Eastbourne College

Haileybury

King’s Canterbury

King’s Rochester

Lingfield College

Radnor House

Sevenoaks School

Tonbridge School

Wellington College

Whitgift School – click here for your Virtual Open Event Invitation

In addition, a new school has been added to our page:

St Catherine’s School, Bramley is a GSA Day and Boarding School near Guildford. They will be holding Open Mornings throughout the autumn.

 

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