eNews: Friday 25th September 2020

From the Acting Head

I hope you have all enjoyed this week as much as me! It was a great pleasure to wrap up the parent Welcome Evenings on Monday and I thank you for your engagement and the questions submitted which enabled us to make the content purposeful and informative. I am delighted to hand over my newsletter spot to Head of Years 5 and 6, Rosemary Baisch, this week. Her wise words at the Year 5 & 6 Welcome Evening gave us all food for thought and were too good not to share in print. I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I did:

 

 

While preparing a ‘Beginning of the Year’ talk for the Year 5 and 6 Welcome Evenings, I couldn’t help but think about our current circumstances and wanted to speak about something that would be useful as we help our children deal with the challenges of a daily changing landscape.

 

Lockdown was a difficult time for all of us. We were not necessarily all in the same boat, but we were all trying to weather the same storm. Lockdown took some things away but also provided some valuable insights. I learnt so much during that time. It forced me to raise my IT game and I realised that apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks! Lockdown gave us opportunities to find new ways to socialise, for the children a renewed sense of self and the gift of gratitude. For me one of the most positive aspects of lockdown was that it gave us the chance to gain perspective, to see what really matters.

 

One of the first things teachers do when we get back to school after the summer is ask the children about their holidays.  I thought I was going to hear lots of sad tales about cancelled plans and trips cut short and I was pleasantly surprised to say that I honestly heard none of that. The things that brought your children joy this summer were family time, connecting with extended family and simple old-fashioned childhood pleasures.  While marking pupils’ holiday news in English, I found myself commenting time and again, ‘This sounds like the perfect summer holiday,’ which is ironic when one considers that these holidays took place in the midst of a global pandemic! In the tapestry of childhood, what stands out to the children is not flashy holidays but rather the common threads that run throughout and repeat: the family dinners, nature walks, reading together at bedtime, Saturday morning pancakes.

 

What do our children really want and need? They want to be with us and feel safe.  I really believe that in order to reduce anxiety and give them space they need to be fully themselves, we need to keep things simple. I read an article recently which spoke about ‘The Four Pillars of Excess’ that are hurting our children. The author, Kim Payne, speaks about excess stuff, excess choice, excess information and excess speed. Our children have too much, must decide too much, cope with too much news and information coming at them and do this all too quickly.

 

If we can keep in the forefront of our minds what really matters, we can help pare back. Send your child to school with only the stationery they need, nothing more nothing less. Think about your child’s schedule – are all the activities and extras absolutely necessary? I believe we need to consider carefully whether the news our children hear or conversations to which they are privy are helpful or if those discussions are perhaps a little too grown up and likely to cause worry or upset. Do we find ourselves hurrying our children when it would actually be ok to go slowly?

 

Years ago, in a discussion with my son, he told me that Wednesdays were his favourite day of the week.  I asked why, assuming that he would say it was because he had sports fixtures after school or because school lunches were particularly good.  Daniel told me that he loved Wednesdays because on a Wednesday, his granny fetched him. Daniel said that Wednesdays made him happy because Granny was never in a hurry. This gave me pause.

 

When we simplify, when we focus on what really matters to us, we can set a tone in our homes that honours our family’s needs rather than the world’s demands, a tone that is aligned with our dreams rather than dictated to by the world’s fears. My hope is that as we continue to navigate this journey together, we will choose to make more out of less and have children who are happier for it.

Rosemary Baisch

 

 

‘This holiday we saw three famous things. We saw Shakespeare’s house and his statue.  We went to a river and fed the ducks. Twice.’

From the Head of Pre-Prep

It is always good to see our Nursery children wave goodbye to mums and dads and start to play happily without their parents in attendance. Our Nursery children have been loving the soft play equipment in the hall with Miss Rawlinson. I know it’s hard for you as parents as you watch you child take those first steps towards being a little more independent but it’s great to know they are loving life!

Our Harvest assembly this year will be on Thursday 1st and Friday 2nd October; we will be doing three separate assemblies with your children. As we have done over the last few years, we will be collecting donations for the Trussell Trust Food Bank in Swanley. Any donations are very gratefully received. We are happy to take donations at the top of the bridge in the morning if this is easier. All items need to be received in school by the end of the day on Thursday 1st October.  Please could all items come in a carrier bag or box.  Thank you all in anticipation of your generosity.

If your children are in Reception, Year 1 or Year 2 you should have received a letter about hearing tests. Dr Unwin comes into Pre-Prep every year to carry out initial hearing tests so if you wish to have your child screened please let us know. Your child will not be tested unless we have received your written permission.

Thank you for putting your family name and child’s class in your car for pick-up. This is certainly making things easier for us. Please be mindful of families still waiting in a queue to pick up, so the quicker you can get children strapped into car seats and drive away the better.

Overheard: “We had fish and fingers for lunch.”

Have a lovely weekend,

Zerrin Leech

Pre-Prep Harvest Donations

Pre-Prep will be collecting Harvest donations from children next month. All donations, which will be given to Trussell Trust Food Bank, must be received by Thursday 1st October.

Coordinator at Trussell Trust Food Bank, Wendy Halford said: “We have added some extras to put a smile on their faces at such a difficult time. We are finding it is people who have never had to use a food bank before coming to us at the moment.”

 

 

Items required:

 

Tinned Rice Pudding

Tinned Custard

Long life sponge puddings

Angel delight (or similar own brand version)

Jelly

Tinned fruit

Packet crumble mix

Packet dumpling mix

Fajita Meal Kits (or similar)

Tortilla wraps (with long dates please)

Chocolate biscuits e.g. Kit Kat, Penguin, Club etc

Powdered Milk (Not UHT please we have plenty UHT at the moment)

Jam

Squash

Washing up liquid

Shower gel

Shampoo

Conditioner

Ladies’ deodorant

 

Pre-Prep Gold Star Winners

 

 

Gabrielle O & Zach R.B. for a great start at St. Michael’s

Matthew D for trying hard in everything we have done this week

Conrad B for trying really hard with all of his work

Stanley H for being super helpful in class and showing great commitment to his work

Harry B for great number sequencing during our maths activities

Arlo S for working hard and concentrating well during our phonics activities

James H for amazing focus when ordering number monsters to 20

Felix B for working quickly and carefully in all of our learning activities

Aiden G for trying so hard with his work this week

Olivia D for working really hard all week

Oscar H for working hard in writing

Mona-Swan M for reading with beautiful expression

Sophia E & Dylan H for working exceptionally hard and producing beautiful work

Isla B for always trying to do her best

Isaac O for working hard in all areas of the curriculum

Taran M for going over and above in all he does

Grace P for trying really hard in maths

Nik B for taking pride in all his work

Elizabeth S for always staying on task

Leo H.B for fantastic speedy maths work

Ava M for always doing the right think at the right time

Kim V for fantastic confident swimming

General Reminders

Please can we ask parents to let us know if their child won’t be attending an activity or prep after school. This will save a lot of time for admin staff when making phone calls to find out where children are.

 

Please also remember that the deadline for booking into prep for any day next week closes tonight at 9pm. Beyond this, no further bookings for next week will be taken.

 

Updates from the Music Department

 

ABRSM online Grade 5 theory results

 

ABRSM ran their first ever online Grade 5 theory exam on 26th August and despite some widespread technical difficulties on the day, we are pleased to report the following results:

 

  1. R. Landgrebe      Pass
  2. A. Scott                 Distinction

 

No peripatetic music lessons next week in the Prep School

 

This is a reminder that because of the PTE, PTM and CATS tests being held throughout next week, none of the peripatetic music team will be teaching in the Prep School next week (w/c Monday 28th September).  There will also be no instrumental music activities and no Year 4 theory club next week.  The various choral activities will continue to run where possible.

 

Key Dates

 

Pre-Prep

 

Friday 2nd October: Harvest Festival (All food donations to be received by Thursday 1st October)

Wednesday 7th October: Hearing Tests for Reception, Year 1 and 2 pupils

 

Prep

ISEB pre-test dates for the Michaelmas Term:

Friday 9th October
Friday 6th November
Friday 27th November

 

 

New School Shop Opening Times

The school shop is now open as usual with slightly adjusted opening times as follows:
8:00am – 9:15am: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday
3:00pm – 4:30pm: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday
We still encourage you to use the click and collect service where possible.

First few weeks of school

You can now view photos of your children during their first few weeks of the Michaelmas Term on our Facebook page under Photos.

Please enjoy these photos, but be mindful that they must not be shared beyond the St Michael’s community.

Send us your stories!

Has your child won an award, passed an extra-curricular exam or accomplished something exciting recently?

We love celebrating our pupils’ amazing achievements and want to showcase them in our weekly newsletter.

Follow us on social media!

Love seeing your children’s smiley faces on our social media pages?

Make sure you’re following all three of our channels to ensure you don’t miss any precious photos and videos.

 

Senior School Open Mornings

 

Eastbourne College

Eastbourne College will be hosting their virtual open morning on Saturday 3 October from 9.00am – 10.00am, to book your place please visit:

https://www.eastbourne-college.co.uk/contact/book-a-visit/

 

 

Walthamstow Hall

Virtual Open Morning: Saturday 26 September at 11am for entry to Years 7, 9 and 12. 

Join Walthamstow Hall for a live Q & A session with a panel of Senior Staff including Headmistress, Miss Stephanie Ferro, Head of Key Stage 3, Karen Hofmann, and Heads of Year 7 and Sixth Form. Pre-recorded film footage will also be shown during the event.

The team will discuss their new Deferred Entry process which will begin from this September, for 2021. Girls will undergo the entry process in Year 6 and a deferred entry place for Year 9 will be offered at that stage. Pupils wishing to apply for academic, music, drama and art scholarships will be invited back in Year 8 to take part in the scholarship process.

An invitation from Miss Ferro and further information, including how to book, can be found on their website.

 

In the Community

Mrs Grayland’s October Half Term Netball Camp

 

 

Mrs Grayland will be running a netball camp at half term which will be offered to St Michaels girl’s before being offered out to other schools.  Book early to avoid disappointment.

Click here for a booking form. 

 

Mr Thomas’ October Half Term Hockey Camp

Mr Thomas will be holding his October Half Term Hockey Camp at Hollybush Hockey Pitch on Thursday 29th- Friday 30th October from 10am-3pm.

Please email Mr Thomas on jnthomas88@outlook.com to reserve your space.

We will be following all England Hockey guidelines and may have to limit the numbers to less than previous camps. Please sign up early to avoid any disappointment.

Click for for a booking form.

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