eNews: Friday 24th April 2020

From the Acting Head

Welcome back for the Trinity Term. It was wonderful to see the children, and many of you, in my assembly yesterday morning and scrolling through pages of smiling faces and warm waves was a great moment. I am very excited to be ‘back’ together. Although we worked continuously through the holidays, the connection with you all was great to re-establish this week and something that I have missed. As I write, I can hear a pastoral Zoom check-in happening in another room and the chatter and fun is a welcome, familiar St Michael’s sound.

Yesterday we ventured into the launch of our new remote learning model and, as with the start of anything, we need the opportunity to find our feet and establish a rhythm. Gordon Baird will be initiating parental feedback once we have experienced a full week of school. I hope that you will all contribute when we have enough experience to make clear judgements.

Some parents have asked us why we are not delivering live lessons so I thought it would be helpful for me to explain our rationale. The reasons are far-reaching, and the bottom line is that we are confident that pre-recorded lesson content is the best, and safest, option for our pupils. Our decisions are based on thorough research and advice from professional bodies. Understandably, people will want something most similar to what we know, what we are comfortable with, as ‘normal’ a school day as possible.  However, if this situation has taught us anything it is that things cannot be the same right now. If we simply attempted to replicate what we traditionally know about an average school day then we could be setting ourselves up to fail.

Research from countries who are further into lockdown has shown that it does not work to try and replicate or attempt to produce what would usually be done in an average day in your school. An example of this would be by continuing with the timetable and having lessons taught live. Schools that have attempted this with younger children were commonly left with pupils who felt frustrated and de-motivated because it is extremely difficult to access teaching explanations and instructions via a live online session. If you were present for yesterday’s assembly, you will have seen the technical glitches and some teachers were unable to remain ‘in’ for the whole assembly due to internet failure.

In the classroom, we are used to collaboration and discussion. This is not possible in a live lesson online. In the classroom, we are used to having instructions or explanations repeated if they are not fully understood. This is not possible in a live lesson online. In the classroom, teachers read and assess understanding through body language and adapt our teaching accordingly. This is not possible in a live lesson online. Therefore, we have thought carefully about how we can accommodate all of our pupils’ needs through rigorously planned and prepared online lessons that can be accessed and repeated as much as and when possible.

By pre-recording our lessons and breaking them down into short, manageable chunks, we can ensure that the pupils absorb content and move on at a pace that is best for them. Any misconceptions or misunderstandings can be dealt with by re-watching explanations and instructions. There will be no bits missed through internet issues, juggling the family management of the household devices or re-scheduling time due to illness. The summer term curriculum has been entirely re-thought and put into this new lesson format. The children will be accessing the right content, teaching and learning for their stage and age and our feedback will guide them carefully through the term. There are a variety of tasks that children may do on paper, or online, or actively as enquiry-based learning within the home. The teaching model that we have implemented is essentially one that has breadth and variety.

Our aim, as teachers, is to be present and visible for the learning journey of our pupils. We will be engaging with them for their lessons, providing video, audio and written feedback as swiftly and responsively as possible. We will follow up issues with phone calls, video calls, chats on Seesaw or by email, whichever is the most appropriate and confidence building method for the group or individual concerned. We continue to be present in their learning and will be taking time and care to feedback fully and effectively.

As experienced professionals, we are confident that this model enables a realistic, helpful and inspiring method of learning for our pupils. We will, of course, continue to reflect on our practice and we will welcome your feedback once we have tested it out for the first two weeks. Please engage with us and allow our efforts to be effectively implemented before you draw any conclusions about it.

Thank you, once again, for your commitment and support to St Michael’s. What makes the school so special is our community and in times of challenge such as this, working together is more important than ever.  I wish you all a happy and healthy weekend.

Mary Bridges

 

From the Head of Pre-Prep

Dear Parents,

For all those of you who are getting to grips with home teaching, thank you. We know it’s not going to be easy for you and that children never perform the same way at home as they would in school. Ask any teacher with children and they will tell you that their own children are harder to teach than a whole class of children.

Please contact your child’s teacher if you are worried about your child’s learning. We are here to help and will be able to reassure you. Whenever we return to school, we will be able to quickly plug any gaps the children may have and move forward with each child.

I would also like to thank the teachers who have not really had an Easter break but have been putting in 50-60 hours a week to get everything planned and ready for this term.

I know many of you would like to hear that Sally Beesley has now had her second grandchild. Frida May was born on the 27th March. She is a cousin for 6-month-old Wilfred. Sally and Andrew are desperate for the lockdown to finish so they can dish out those cuddles! Our congratulations to them all.

Enjoy the sunshine this weekend,

Zerrin Leech

Staff News

Congratulations to Mrs Beesley, who is now grandmother to two lovely children. Frida May was born on 27th March and cousin Wilfred can’t wait to meet her!

 

 

Engagement congratulations!

Congratulations to Tom Cobb on his engagement to Caroline during the Easter break. We wish you both health and happiness in your future together.

School News

We’re delighted to announce that our Astroturf is ready for action! Hopefully it won’t be long before we can run around on it, but in the meantime, enjoy seeing the construction journey on our Astroturf Build page https://www.stmichaels.kent.sch.uk/news/astro-turf-build/

Thank you all for the wonderful photos and videos you’ve been sending us. Keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook pages for the latest news.

LAMDA at St Michael’s

We at Articul8 are incredibly proud of the consistently excellent results achieved by our students from Grade 1 to Grade 8, with the vast majority achieving Merits and Distinctions. Students can begin their journey with us at St Michael’s Prep School and continue to higher grades in their subsequent schools. Students passing grades 6, 7 & 8 in Speech & Drama are awarded UCAS points which are of tremendous benefit to anyone pursuing further study.

Lessons include work on articulation, voice projection, presentation, Improvisation, public speaking and interpretation of dramatic text.

During the lockdown we will be teaching online and in addition to our existing group drama session, we are considering offering an additional session for students who cannot usually join us. The cost for the group session is £9 a week, payable in advance for the term. We are also offering online solo and duo lessons, for new students, working with students from Year 4 onwards, at a reduced price of £10 a lesson. To secure a place for your child, or for more information, email kellywoods500@outlook.com

 

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