eNews: Friday 26th February 2021

From the Head

Dear Parents,

I hope you had a restful half term break and managed to enjoy some time with your family.

This week, we were delighted with the news that schools will be re-opening on Monday 8th March. I am very much looking forward to having all children back in school on this date, and meeting many St Michael’s pupils and staff for the first time. More information about the return to school will be provided over the coming week, however please be reassured that we will be maintaining strict hygiene protocols to ensure the safety of pupils and staff.

Thank you to those of you who attended our parent seminar with Dr Aric Sigman last half term. We are pleased to announce another session which aims to provide you with expert knowledge and practical advice to support your children with their learning at home. This session will be led by Mr Kim Wells, Director of Learning and Teaching at Caterham School and will support and apply to all scenarios, whether the children are learning from home or in a school setting. Kim has led many staff training sessions at St Michael’s and is an expert in the field of Learning & Teaching. We hope that you will join us for this event on Zoom at 7:30pm on Tuesday 2nd March; login details have been provided via email.

As always, I am grateful for your continued support with Remote Learning and enthusiasm towards the various tasks and virtual events that we have held. I hope that next week you and your children can enjoy taking part in the range of World Book Day activities organised by Laura Andrade.

Have a great weekend.

Nik Pears

A windy message from Mr Pears to pupils:

From the Head of Pre-Prep 

Dear Parents,

I could hear the cheering around Sevenoaks as we got the green light for all children to return to school on the 8th March! The Pre-Prep staff will be trying to rearrange any live calls with your children for Friday 5th March so they can be in school that day, getting everything ready for your children to return on Monday 8th March. Your children will still have pre-recorded work set for them on the Friday.

In preparation for our return, please could you test out school shoes, PE kit and wellingtons. You may not have noticed the gradual growth in your children over the last few weeks but trying to push bigger feet into tiny wellingtons it not a job the teachers relish. Our grounds are beginning to dry out this week, but we will still need boots for a little longer.

You should have all now had a chance to chat about your child’s progress with your class teacher. This will enable us to very quickly address any concerns once the children are back in school.

Next week, I will send out a letter just reminding you of the drop off and collection times for school and outlining the steps that we are taking to keep your children and our staff as safe as possible over the coming weeks.

I hope your children all received their seeds during half term. Now the temperature is rising, let’s hope you can get out in the garden and watch them grow once the frosts have gone.

 

Overheard in Pre-Prep: 

Child to her teacher: “How old are you?”

Teacher: “21”

Child: “You look a lot taller than your age.”

 

Have a good weekend,

 

Zerrin Leech

Staff News

Congratulations to Dr Andrew Dodd

We are delighted to announce that Dr Andrew Dodd has been appointed as Director of Digital Strategy. Within this exciting new role, he will build on the significant capital investment and training in IT that has been implemented over the past year and oversee the strategic direction of the school in this area as we look to the future. Dr Dodd will also be joining the Senior Leadership Team at St Michael’s.

As Dr Dodd will be moving out of his teaching role in the science department, we are pleased to have been able to secure Mrs Jacqueline Clarke, currently Head of Science in a prep school in Bromley, to join Mrs Neylan and Mrs Rogers.

Welcome to…

Mrs Jacqueline Clarke – Part Time Science Teacher (September 2021)

Jackie is excited to be joining the Science Department at St Michael’s and is looking forward to meeting the school community. She has worked in education since returning to the UK from abroad 17 years ago, and occupied a variety of roles including Class Teacher and for the past seven years, Head of Science at Breaside Prep School.

Jackie is married with two grown up children and enjoys running and travel which, in the time before Coronavirus, she liked to combine the two! A degree in chemistry and a love of nature support her passion for teaching science and she looks forward to inspiring and challenging the next generation of scientists at St Michael’s.

 

Cyber Security 

We have been reminded this week of just how important it is for all members of our community to be alert and informed about cyber security.  With this in mind, we would like to promote again the excellent Safer Internet Day resources shared earlier this month which are still available here: https://www.stmichaels.kent.sch.uk/enews/enews-5th-february-2021/

 

Work has also begun on preparing a permanent Digital Safety section for our website which we aim to launch soon, but should you require further details regarding Online Safety advice for parents in the meantime, please email Jamie Booth directly at jbooth@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk.

Head’s Stars

F Saxby (Year 3) for a creative video about Shakelton’s expedition to the South Pole

Milly W (Year 4) for amazing extension work on a Roman mosaic in Humanities

E Julio (Year 4) for carrying out an amazing investigation into melting and freezing

M Blincoe (Year 4) for making an amazing Roman project video and Roman pots

Mila S (Year 5) for sharing an amazing project on deep sea creatures

Matilda M (Year 5) for completing a 100-day violin practice challenge

Harry B (Year 5) for a very creative insect sculpture from natural materials

Galaor N (Year 6) for outstanding achievement and progression in French

 

 

Remote Learning 

St Michael’s pupils have been working hard in their Remote Learning lessons this week. They have made kites, completed soap carvings and even created robotic hands.

 

Send in your photos

To send us photos or videos of your child taking part in Remote Learning, please email tusher@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk along with your child’s name, year group and a short description of the photograph. All content sent to this email address may feature on St Michael’s social media and in other publications.

Critical Workers groups

Meanwhile, in school our Critical Workers groups have been enjoying the Spring sunshine.

Whole School News

Freestyle Friday!

Presenting… this week’s Freestyle Friday dance to ‘We Go Together’ from Grease. Thank you to everyone who submitted their clips, we hope you enjoy watching this video.

 

Next week’s theme is: World Book Day!

Next week we will celebrate all of our favourite stories and characters in a special Freestyle Thursday to coincide with World Book Day on Thursday 4th March.

We are inviting staff and pupils to dress up as their favourite book character and dance with the book in which the character appears.

If your child would like to be involved, please send a 5-10 second video clip of your child dancing to tusher@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk to be considered for the final video. Please can we ask parents to be mindful of what their child is wearing in the video, and to ensure that their clothing and dance moves are appropriate for distribution to the school community and on St Michael’s social media channels.

The deadline for contributions is Tuesday 2nd March at 12pm. Please film all videos in landscape and not portrait. You do not need to worry about sound in the video as all clips will be muted before being put with a backing track.

Screen Time Guidance from Dr Aric Sigman

 

Just before half term, we enjoyed an informative and helpful session from Dr Aric Sigman regarding screen time and how to navigate life in lockdown.

 

He gave some useful tips and advice which have been sent to St Michael’s parents in full, however please see below some guidance you may find useful based on information from the NHS, Public Health England, The Royal College of Psychiatrists and The World Health Organisation. Please note that some of this information must be viewed in the context of a national lockdown.

 

Considering the existing empirical research and position of medical bodies and governments here and in other countries, the following guidance on recreational screen time (e.g., before and after school) are only ideals for parents. Even if they are not adhered to, it is important to establish such ideals as a reference point to work from.

 

You may feel that your children know more about technology than you do, but remember you know a lot about being a parent and this is just another opportunity to use your parenting skills.

 

Talk to your child and explain that screen time is now a medical issue and see how you can both work to achieve a healthy balance.

 

Advice for Parents

  • Establish rules/limits
  • Consider access/availability e.g. bedroom
  • Consider blue light/bright light from screens may reduce sleep
  • Background screens: passive viewing
  • Monitor child’s use
  • Parental role modelling
  • Screen-free times of day e.g. dinners
  • Parental controls on Internet access
  • Use technology together, for example by watching educational programmes together and talking about the programmes you have seen
  • Encourage your child to take breaks from the screen and have regular physical activity, preferably outdoors
  • Try to have at least an hour’s gap between the time you turn off your screens at night and the time you turn off your lights and go to sleep
  • Use an alarm clock as opposed a smartphone or tablet to wake you up in the morning.

 

Alternatives to screen time (especially outdoors)

  • Physical activity
  • Social activity
  • Hobbies

 

Guidance on recreational screen time (per day)

3–7 years: 0.5–1 h

7–12 years: 1 h

12–15 years: 1.5 h

15 -18 years: 2 h

 

World Book Day in Prep School

World Book Day is this coming Thursday (4th March) and we will be running special story times next week to celebrate the joy of reading.
The assembly on Monday 1st March with Mr Pears will take place as normal, but assemblies for the rest of the week will be given over to story times within bubbles (Years 3/4, Years 5/6 and Years 7/8). Every day, each bubble will have a different guest reader but it will be instalments from the same book being read over the four days. In a break with our usual policy, children will be invited to settle down with a drink and snack to make the experience extra-special. Please be aware that these story times may last between ten and twenty minutes depending on the length of the book.
The children have been sent Teams invitations to these story times. They should accept the invitation and make sure they join this event at 10.20am on Tuesday to Friday.
There will also be a special World Book Day themed Freestyle Friday next week. Please see details in the above Freestyle Friday announcement if your child would like to get involved.
Happy reading!
Mrs Andrade

World Book Day Tokens

In celebration of World Book Day, please find digital book tokens from National Book Tokens and Sevenoaks Book Shop below:

 

Shoot for the Stars!

100 days of violin practice!

Congratulations to Matilda in Year 5 who successfully completed a 100 day practice challenge on Friday 12th February. This is an amazing show of dedication to your violin practice.

 

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. Email tusher@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk to submit your child’s achievement.

In the Community

CleanUp Sevenoaks

An initiative which aims to keep Sevenoaks tidy is searching for volunteers to help them do their work.

‘CleanUp Sevenoaks’ is challenging locals to do their bit for the environment on 27th and 28th March.

In collaboration with the district and town councils, CleanUp Sevenoaks are working with the schools across the district, the Scouts, local businesses and some inspiring sponsors to pick up as much litter as possible over the last weekend of the Spring term. The group is producing promotional materials, litter picking kits, COVID compliant Health and Safety advice and have wonderful prizes for individuals and schools to win.

CleanUp Sevenoaks said: “As an independent group of volunteers, we aim to keep our beautiful district as clean and tidy as possible by raising awareness, educating future generations and organising events to clean up our environment. Due to social distancing rules, we cannot gather in groups so this will be a family or ‘bubble’ activity!”

All participants will be entered into a prize draw and there is also a prize for the school with the highest number of litter pickers. More information regarding resources and how to get involved will be provided nearer the time.

Mr Thomas’ Easter Hockey Camp

Mr Thomas will be holding his Easter Hockey Camp at Hollybush Hockey Pitch on Thursday 8th, Friday 9th, Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th April.

The consent form can be found here: Easter 2021 Hockey Camp. Please email Mr Thomas on jnthomas88@outlook.com to reserve your space.

Please note the following from the organisers: We are hoping that all government restrictions will be lifted by then. We will be following all England Hockey guidelines and may have to limit the numbers to much less that we normally would. Please sign up early to avoid any disappointment.

Senior Schools Information

Eastbourne College

Join Eastbourne College for their Virtual Open Morning on Saturday 27th February, from 9am – 11am. 

 

Sevenoaks School

Join Sevenoaks School for their Virtual Open Day on Saturday 13th March at 12pm. 

To book your place click here.

Kent College, Pembury

Virtual Open Mornings – Tuesday 2nd March and Saturday 6th March at 9.30am.


These live events on Zoom have proven popular with families and are an opportunity to meet 
Julie Lodrick, Headmistress, and James Mossman and Gaelle Sullivan, Deputy Heads to learn more about life at Kent College. Booking can be made via Kent College’s website.

 

Follow us on social media!

It’s important that we stay connected as a community during this time, so make sure you are following St Michael’s social media channels for important updates and content throughout the Lent Term.

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