eNews: Friday 26th June 2020

From the Acting Head

Improvise, adapt, overcome. I often hear Mr Orpin use this army phrase to instil a sense of positivity amongst the children or staff when we are faced with a challenge or in search of a solution. Adaptation has been a key theme this week for all staff and pupils, whether they have been working from home or in school.

 

It was a joy to see many of our pupils back in school on Monday, and life felt a little more like it should. Pupils, teachers, friends and colleagues sharing in learning, adventure and fun. We did face the issue of a power cut which lasted for a few hours, but we adapted by getting back to basics and shared longer discussions, planning on paper and learning outside.

 

For our new in-school learning model, the St Michael’s day is very different for children in Prep School. Rather than moving around the building and learning from subject specialists, our children are enjoying the company of one classroom teacher. On Wednesday some of our maths teaching team delivered an exciting History day, planned by Mrs Baisch. Doing something differently doesn’t mean it has less value. It was wonderful for me to hear the children talking about Mary I and Mary Queen of Scots over lunch! Their interest and excitement were palpable, and they had some great ideas about how we can learn from the past.  Mr Powell has moved to an outside classroom underneath the shade of the trees on the Field of Hope. It is a beautiful setting and utilising new and different parts of the school grounds has been a very positive experience for us all.

 

Our Pre-Prep children adapted to a new style sports day which they enjoyed today in the glorious sunshine. Congratulations to all of the children who relished their turn and time on the track, cheered on brilliantly by their classmates and teachers. The Prep children also enjoyed showing their support during their break times.  A huge thank you goes to Miss Rawlinson for organising this special occasion.

The children at home have adapted to a different way of working, and I was pleased to receive questions about how they can maximise their learning. It is important to us all that the community bond remains strong and St Michael’s will be standing strong with open arms for a socially distanced air hug whenever our pupils at home are able and ready to return.

 

Adaptation is about evolution, and we are keenly looking ahead to the new academic year. The P & F are in the process of recruiting class reps for next year, and I look forward to meeting the new team in September. I would also like to take this opportunity to warmly thank our current class reps for the extra mile they have gone in this challenging year. They have provided a strong and supportive link between school and home, and we highly value their input. If you are interested in getting involved next year, please check Classlist for information.

 

Adapting to change can be tough, but our children, staff and parents have responded with impressive resilience and grit. For me, seeing the children arriving with big smiles and steely determination each morning at drop off and in my assembly for those at home, has been brilliant, and inspiring. This morning I asked all of the children to give me one word to describe their week back at school and the responses were fantastic, capturing this new, different school experience. The children expressed their week as: different, joyful, good, happy, amazing, exquisite, hot, sociable, confusing, fabulous, sporty, peaceful, unusual, brilliant, interesting, entertaining and perfect! I think we’ve all done well!

 

Enjoy a wonderful weekend.

Mary Bridges

From the Head of Pre-Prep

It is so good to have almost everybody back! I have enjoyed being with a Year 2 class this week. Its such fun to be with the children and to see the joy and wonder through their eyes again.

We’ve had quite a seaside theme around the school this week. Everything from discovering what flotsam is, to making pretend ice creams and singing “Oh I do like to be beside the seaside” and so much more.

Thank you for sending your children in with sun hats and all-day protection sun cream. Thank you also for your drop off and pick up understanding. We feel the system is beginning to work well. Having your family name in the car is really helping us to be able to communicate along the length of the pickup area. Please do try and come as far down the line of metal barriers as you can so that parents picking up from Prep can get in and out of their area more easily.

As we move towards the end of term, I would like to thank the P&F for all their hard work this year. All those of you who have been class reps have done a great job in an exceptionally difficult time. I know many of you have had to pass on communications and advice between parents and staff that you didn’t always agree with yourselves. I am personally very grateful to you all for the tremendous support you have demonstrated for the good of all the children at St Michael’s. Although I would like to keep all the current reps, I recognise you all need a break and that lots of other parents will be eager and willing to take the role on next year. If you would like to be a parent rep for your child’s year group in September, please get in touch with one of your current representatives.

Overheard: Sometimes when I look up at the sun I get bless yous.

Have a lovely weekend,

Zerrin Leech

 

Staff News

We’re sorry to be saying goodbye to Helen Grogan at the end of this month. Helen joined us as the Head’s PA in early 2017 with a wealth of experience.  She’s a highly organised and efficient person and has created many excellent systems, streamlining lots of admin and processes to support the Head and the Senior Leadership Team. Helen’s brilliant sense of humour will be missed by her colleagues with whom she has formed strong bonds and lasting friendships.

We are delighted that she has secured an exciting new role as PA to the Chief Nurse in the NHS Trust at Maidstone. This will enable her to work close to home and her family and we wish her every success and happiness.

 

 

School News

Would you like to say thank you to your teachers? Radio Mike will be doing a special show on Friday 3rd July – see our Message Board for full details of how to get involved.

Archway Summer Football Camp

Mr Lopez will be holding his Football Camp from Tuesday 25th August to Friday 28th August. Click here for full details and a booking form. Book early as places are limited!

Headteacher’s Stars

D Singh For excellent response and engagement with science remote learning activities
C Hunter For excellent response and engagement with science remote learning activities
L Lutzow For excellent response and engagement with science remote learning activities
D Macedo For excellent response and engagement with science remote learning activities
E Newton For excellent response and engagement with science remote learning activities
R Thornhill For excellent response and engagement with science remote learning activities
I Pennington Legh For excellent effort and perseverance with reading during remote learning
E Gage For a brilliantly written letter in English, full of exciting vocabulary and superbly structured
T Carman For a superb piece of writing about returning to school following lockdown

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

Christ’s Hospital

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

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