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

 

 

On Wednesday, November 27 Year 5 and 6 pupils took part in a Spelling Bee hosted by Mrs Andrade and Mrs Baisch.

Challenged with spellings such as synonymous, counterfeit, and accommodation, it was an extremely close competition with many tense rounds.

Winner of the Spelling Bee, Moyo in Year 6, triumphed with her correct spelling of the word ‘conscience’.

Commenting on her success, Moyo said: “I really enjoyed taking part in the Spelling Bee and was really surprised to win.

“It was challenging as there were some words I’d never heard of, but it was fun to guess the spellings of these words and apply what I knew about other spellings to my answers.”

“It was great to take part in the competition with my friends.”

Two former St Michael’s pupils have been selected for the final phase of the England Under 16 Hockey Assessments.

Lottie Bingham and Anna Faulstich, who attended St Michael’s until July 2017, have remained great friends and play hockey together at HC Knole Park.

Lottie said “ I loved playing hockey at St Michael’s and I am delighted that Anna, my best friend , has joined me in the England training programme that I was also selected for last year. We are both very jealous that St Michael’s now have a wonderful, new astro pitch at school!“

Both girls were also members of the successful Year 6 St Michael’s who won the regional IAPS and came 5th in the National Finals .

Congratulating the girls on their achievement, Mr Thomas, who taught them at St Michael’s, said: “We are extremely proud of Lottie and Anna and all they have achieved since they left St Michael’s. They were extremely hardworking in all their sports at school and it is great to hear that they have taken their hockey to such a high level. We look forward to hearing how they get at the trials and someday welcoming them back to play on our new pitch.”

Many congratulations to Lottie and Anna, St Michael’s wishes them the best of luck in the next phase of assessments.

A former St Michael’s student has been awarded an Honorary Sports Scholarship to support her excellence in athletics.

Harriet Medlen, who attended the school between 2011 and 2018, has received the scholarship from Sevenoaks School.

Harriet, who is in Year 9 at Sevenoaks School, said: “My time at St Michael’s helped me to develop my love of sport especially athletics and hockey. I have very happy memories of sports days and Mrs Wade taking me to IAPs athletics competitions. I am very grateful to all the teachers at St Michael’s for their encouragement during my time there. I am proud to have achieved a sports scholarship at Sevenoaks School and I am looking forward to making the most of this opportunity.”

And commenting on Harriet’s success, St Michael’s teacher Mrs Wade said: “It is great to hear that Harriet has been awarded an Honorary Sports Scholarship from Sevenoaks School. We are extremely proud of what she has achieved since leaving St Michael’s. Harriet is an excellent games player and an outstanding athlete. She was very hardworking in her sports at St Michael’s and it is great to hear that she continues to achieve highly. Well done, Harriet!”

Don’t judge a book by its cover, it’s the first chapter that holds all the secrets!

                                                       Year 6 and Mrs Yarrow pose with some of the First Chapter Friday books.

 

“Good readers, make excellent writers.” says St Michael’s Library Assistant, Helen Yarrow, who has launched an exciting reading initiative in the Prep school this term. 

 

Mrs Yarrow, who joined the St Michael’s team in September 2020, is passionate about books and believes children should read a variety of genres and authors before they choose what’s best for them.

 

Keen to implement this strategy at St Michael’s, Mrs Yarrow has introduced First Chapter Friday, a project designed to get pupils reading a range of books, rather than the same authors, characters and storylines over again. 

 

First Chapter Friday sees pupils receive a list of 10 books, suited to the reading proficiency of their year group, each term. Every Friday, pupils read the first chapter of a new book with their form groups before deciding whether to continue reading it in their own time.

 

Mrs Yarrow said: “The aim of First Chapter Friday is to help the children find a book they really want to read. 

 

“By exposing the children to books that they wouldn’t normally pick off the bookshelf, it introduces them to a range of subjects, and inevitably fosters their love of reading.”

 

Helen added: “Some form groups choose to read the chapter independently during the sessions, some listen to their form teachers reading the chapter, and some take turns to read different paragraphs.”

 

“By inviting pupils to read sections of the chapter out loud, the form tutors are also helping to develop the pupils’ language acquisition and public speaking skills. The challenge has many benefits to it.”

 

 

Titles on this term’s First Chapter Friday lists include both fiction and non-fiction books spanning a variety of themes and genres. 

 

One popular title is  Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill, which Sean C from Year 6 describes as “extremely interesting”. He added: “I really enjoy Shackleton’s Journey because it takes you on an adventure, showing you how Shackleton’s crew survived and what they encountered along the way.

 

“My favourite part of the book is where it describes how they escaped their sinking ship.

 

“Since reading it with my form during First Chapter Friday, I’ve enjoyed coming to the library to read more of it at break and lunch times.”

 

 

And explaining the planning process behind First Chapter Friday, Mrs Yarrow said: “I create the reading lists using recommendations from websites such as Love Reading for Kids as well as my own research.

 

“I try to ensure the First Chapter Friday books are 2020 titles to keep them in tune with modern authors and contemporary ideas.”

 

“This term I’ve included a range of titles focusing on the Black Lives Matter movement and Black History, as well as those written by black authors. Such books include The Faraway Truth by Janae Marks, Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly, and The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley.”

 

She added: “First Chapter Friday encourages form groups to discuss the different topics linked to each book. It is designed to make the sessions an interactive experience which is both fun and educational for the children.” 

 

 

Other favourites from Mrs Yarrow’s reading lists include The Battle of Bubble and Squeak by Philippa Pearce, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and A Boy Called Hope by Lara Williamson. 

 

Mrs Yarrow said: “Different pupils gravitate towards different books, but there have been some very clear favourites.”

 

She continued: “I get the children to read the first chapter of the book as it’s in these pages that the author establishes the hook of their novel. 

 

“Friday Chapter Friday helps pupils recognise the importance of a first chapter and shows them various ways they can make their writing engaging.

 

“One of the main aims of the initiative is to inspire the children to write their own stories.”