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

 

 

 

Sunsets and sizzling sausages set the tone for the new term last Friday as Year 7 pupils celebrated the start of their senior education journey.

The annual event, traditionally held as a Camp Out, was delivered as a fun-filled barbecue night which the children enjoyed with teachers including St Michael’s Acting Head, Mrs Bridges.

Throughout the evening pupils tucked into dinner cooked by Deputy Head Mr Wiseman, and toasted marshmallows on an open fire.

And to make use of their new term energy, games and group bonding activites were carried out, followed by a walk up the school’s famous Warren where the sunset was relished in all of its glory.

Reflecting on the sucess of the event, Head of Year 7 and 8, Mrs Shield, said: “Unfortunately, we were unable to camp this year, but that did not dampen anybody’s spirits.

“One of the highlights of the evening was our twilight walk to the top of the Warren where we marvelled at the beautiful site that our school occupies.

“We viewed the bats swirling the skies in the dusk of late summer and ended the evening with a well-deserved hot chocolate – not forgetting the squirty cream and yet more marshmallows.

“Life-long friendships were made and re-established after the long summer break.”

This month St Michael’s Prep is celebrating the opening of its new Astro Turf pitch.

Completed during Summer 2020, the state-of-the-art facility will provide a huge boost to the school’s sporting facilities and allow it to offer a broader range of activities including boys hockey and football to its pupils.

Its floodlights will also enable St Michael’s to host sports matches during evenings, as well as inviting external schools and clubs to enjoy the new pitch throughout the year.

Ben Bridges, Director of Sports at St Michael’s, said: “We’re really excited to use the Astro Turf for the first time this month.

“We feel extremely lucky to be able to offer this to our pupils in both Prep and Pre-prep and are thrilled about the benefits it will bring to our sporting curriculum.

“As well as hockey, the new pitch will allow us to offer many other sports to pupils and will prevent the children from missing lessons due to inclement weather.”

Planning for the Astro Turf began in 2014 and has seen St Michael’s grounds undergo a significant transformation since construction began last summer. During this time pupils were fascinated by the diggers, dumpers and bulldozers which visited the school, while nursery and kindergarten children were treated to close-up views of the machinery.

Mr Bridges added: “Although it was a slightly delayed start due to the poor weather we faced, this feels like the perfect time to put the incredible space to good use.

“This is really going to move sport at St Michael’s to the next level, as well as providing us with opportunities to engage with the local community. We’re excited all round.”

 

The Governors of St. Michael’s Prep School take pleasure in announcing the appointment of Nik Pears as our new Head Teacher with effect from January 2021.

Nik was educated at St Dunstan’s College, London and is a graduate of Cambridge University. He is currently Head of Prep at Kent College Pembury, a post he has held since 2016. Prior to that, he was Headmaster of the Junior School at Sevenoaks Prep for 5 years. Nik is also an ISI inspector and a governor at Dulwich Prep, Cranbrook. We believe that he has the experience and qualities required to lead St Michael’s into the next chapter of its history.

Nik represented Kent U18 group at rugby and has a love of all sports. He is an accomplished musician and has performed at The O2 and Wembley Arenas. He is an Ambassador for “We See Hope”, a charity working with orphans and vulnerable young people in sub Saharan Africa. Nik devised The Social Entrepreneurs Project an initiative that challenges young people to turn £10 seed capital into £100 or more with their profits going to support the work of the charity.

We feel very fortunate to have secured Nik’s headship and welcome him and his wife Emma and two children, Jessica and Josiah into the St. Michael’s family from the start of next year. Nik has said

“I am delighted to have been appointed the next Head of St Michael’s Prep. Having lived in the area for the past twenty years, it is a school I have known and long admired for its ambitious and child-centred approach to learning. There is a very special atmosphere in the school and I am excited to become a part of the community, getting to know the children, parents and staff over the months and years ahead. St Michael’s is privileged to have an experienced and committed Senior Leadership Team and I very much look forward to working together with them as we embark on an exciting future for the school.” 

Some of our super St Michael’s Swimmers have won an array of silverware at recent events.

At the Sevenoaks Swimming Club presentation evening, I Pennington Legh was presented with the Kingsbury Cup for U10 girls; A Green was awarded the Kingsbury Cup for U10 boys; E Green received runner up plate for the best U9 boy; S. Taylor was awarded the Mike Radford Trophy for most improved U9 boy; A Ashton was presented with the U9 Individual Medley Cup and U9 trophy for most improved swimmer; B Tovey and J Taylor were both awarded plaques with their positions from the recent Sevenoaks Club Championships.

At the Black Lion Gala, Gillingham, at the start of March our swimmers again came away with medals. A Ashton won three gold, one bronze, one fourth and one sixth medal; A Green three gold and two silver medals; E Green four silver and one bronze medal; S Taylor one silver and one fourth medal and J Taylor a fourth position medal. V Medlen also came away with a medal from the gala.

Well done to all those swimmers; your hard work and dedication is certainly paying off!

Mrs Denton

Swim School Manager