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

We are delighted to announce that Freddie in Year 6 is one step closer to the British Kart Championships after coming 2nd place in the final of his latest race at PFI International. The weekend long event, which took place from Friday 30th April to Sunday 2nd May, saw Freddie compete in two heats and one final race.

Commenting on his win, Freddie said: “It was a really fun weekend and I enjoyed taking part in the different races. I faced challenges including a tangle with another kart in the last lap of the final, but I was pleased that I still managed to come second.”

He added: “Although we couldn’t have an awards ceremony due to Covid, I took home a trophy which is now sat on my desk with the others.”

Supporting Freddie at the event was his family who are hugely proud of his success. Freddie’s mum said: “This is an unbelievable achievement racing against children who have years more experience than Freddie. We are really proud.”

Mr Pears, Head, echoed this praise for Freddie when he said: “A huge congratulations to Freddie for doing so well in his races at the weekend. Freddie has clearly worked very hard to get where he is and we look forward to seeing him achieve many more trophies in the future.”

And with more than eight years karting experience behind him, it is no surprise that Freddie will be competing in the British Kart Championships in two weeks time.

Freddie said: “I’m feeling nervous about the Championships, but am looking forward to it at the same time. I am really aiming for the Top 10 seed.

“My dream is to become a world champion like my brother Alex.”

Congratulations to Daniel in Year 6 who won 1st place in the Bromley Junior Parkrun on Sunday 2nd May. Competing the 2km race in just 8 minutes 28 seconds, Daniel ran incredibly well and soared past 141 other runners to gain the top title.

Commenting on his win, Daniel said: “It was a great race and I was really happy to finish first. I love competing in the parkruns and have been trying hard to win the race since they restarted after lockdown. This was my 20th parkrun so it felt really good to win.”

Daniel, whose sister Mikayla also ran in the race, added: “It was a very rewarding run and a good challenge. Our parents were there to cheer us on and as we were celebrating Lithuanian Mother’s Day on Sunday, this made it even more special.”

Since winning the run, Daniel has used his experience to inspire others to give running a go. He said: “It would be great to see more people coming to the runs and trying their best. I didn’t used to be sporty, but I now really enjoy taking part in the events.”

Mr Bridges, Director of Sport, who is a very keen runner himself, praised Daniel for his success. He said: “We are very proud of Daniel’s achievement and how well he ran on Sunday. Competing against a large group of people can be daunting, but Daniel conquered this challenge. We look forward to hearing about Daniel’s future successes.”

Accordion has been added to the list of instruments pupils can learn to play at St Michael’s. The unique instrument, which will be offered as part of the school’s lessons delivered by the peripatetic music teachers, combines the use of various musical skills and has many wonderful attributes.

Commenting on the new addition to the school’s music programme, Director of Music, Mr Baird, said: “We are excited to include the accordion as part of our instrumental offer in the music department as it can offer many benefits to young musicians in developing their musicianship, aural skills, physical coordination, and understanding of harmony and tonality. We look forward to future ensembles and concerts featuring the accordion”.

Mr Guy, one of St Michael’s peripatetic teachers who will be leading the accordion lessons, also added: “The accordion is an amazing instrument now available for lessons at St Michael’s. It’s lots of fun to play and I’m really looking forward to teaching it to everyone who is interested.”

For more information about music at St Michael’s or to view performances by some of our musicians, please visit our website.

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.