eNews: Friday 27th November 2020

From the Acting Head

Whilst the government have mapped out their plan for the coming weeks and the new tier system, perhaps causing a little confusion, it led me to reflect on the situation and the positives that we can take from it; the silver linings.

 

Firstly, our ability to be flexible, adaptable and roll with the punches, has been strengthened once again this week. In our staff training on Tuesday, we virtually welcomed Kim Wells, Deputy Head at Caterham, who asked us to grade our abilities with technology before and after lockdown out of 10. Regardless of the starting point, everyone had improved; and that’s us, as adults! The pupils have shown an incredible willingness to engage in new initiatives, ways of learning and communicating. I’d be astonished if this generation isn’t a special one when they eventually hit the workforce, with their ability to think differently, to approach scenarios in a new way, and to adapt to ever-shifting situations.

 

We also learnt to be thankful for what we do have now, rather than wanting what we don’t have. Lockdown has taught the majority of us to be more grateful and fortunate that we still have access to education. Perhaps we’ve all realised that schools serve more of a purpose than we’d ever given credit. It’s a community, a sense of belonging, a centre point to our lives and ground zero for learning all of those critical life skills.

 

One thing that stuck with me from our workshop with Kim Wells is that the research reassures us not to worry unduly and I thought it would be an interesting thing to share with you. It was proven that, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2011 and the Christchurch Earthquake in 2016, there was no significant detrimental impact to the educational progress of the children who missed out on weeks and months of schooling subsequent to the disasters.

 

Perhaps the mere fact is that enforced time away from school made everyone truly appreciate what a school can do, and the engagement, enjoyment and learning accelerated once everyone was allowed to return. This is what we are seeing now; happy children excited to get into school each day (especially Wednesday’s for the buzzing team of Year 4s that I queued up for lunch with this week!). For the rest of this term, school has to remain the focus for us all, but let’s also look at it as a huge highlight and embrace the joy it brings. I am looking forward to our Christmas events starting next week and hope you enjoy the festive cheer at home too.

 

Wishing you a happy and healthy weekend.

 

Mary Bridges

From the Head of Pre-Prep

Thank you all for your continued vigilance around only sending your children into school if they are fit and well. We do appreciate the fewer coughs and colds that have been spread over these last few weeks.

Next week, we will be in full Christmas mode, starting with our Year 2 children making Christingles and taking part in a short service in the Prep Chapel. We are hoping to film this and send you a link.

Nursery will be having their Nativities on Thursday and Friday mornings, depending on which days of the week the children attend. I am sure your children are beginning to sing their Christmas songs at home. It is always lovely to hear the children singing during the day as they walk along the corridors. I had a sneaky listen to Kindergarten this week as they all stood on the stage and sung about camels and stars. Every single child was joining in; it’s just what the adults need to hear at the moment!

The Nativities for Kindergarten, Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 will all take place w/c 7th December. I am sorry you will not be able to come in to see them this year, but we will endeavour to film each event and share the relevant recording with you.

Christmas parties for each year group will be held on Thursday 10th and Friday 11th December. We will be in touch with you to explain the party food plate that you will need to provide for your child’s party. Please remember that we are a nut free school.

On Tuesday 15th December we will all be wearing Christmas jumpers instead of school jumpers or cardigans. This year, we will be supporting the Thames Valley Air Ambulance charity who came to the aid of one of our own St Michael’s pupils last Christmas.

Overheard: “Lemonade gives me rectangle sprinkles!”

Have a lovely weekend,

Zerrin Leech  

 

From the Deputy Head

Please could your children bring a jumper or cardigan to school. As we need to circulate air around the classrooms, windows are open and therefore pupils require an extra layer to stay warm. Pupils are also welcome to wear a vest under their school shirt.

Fraser Wiseman

Pre-Prep Gold Star Winners

Mona Swan M for making brilliant progress in swimming

Sofia F for being so organised and helpful in the classroom

Arlo S for good participation during whole class teaching

Isa P.A for fantastic neat letter writing

Cayden R.D for fabulous subtraction with Numicon

Adhi C for working hard in all our lessons

Ella F for excellent effort with her reading

Bram T for such enthusiasm and effort to improve his writing

Miranda H for consistently working hard and listening attentively

Walter M & Rui T for working very hard to learn their lines for the play

Isla J for showing a mature attitude towards her work

Thomas D for beautiful illustrations for his own version of a poem

Misha B for writing some fantastic descriptive sentences

Amelia-Rose B for remembering to use lots of adjectives in her work to keep it interesting

Benji S for enthusiasm towards learning and a smiley face

Hugo M for thinking carefully about his dragon design

Headteacher’s Stars

 

B. Cosgrove (Year 6) for writing an excellent piece on the abolition of slavery in History

L. Lutzow (Year 6) for editing and writing for a family newspaper

A. Lutzow (Year 4) for brilliant contributions to a family newspaper

Online Safety this Christmas

 

Dear Parents/ Carers,

 

Online safety is an important part of keeping children safe at St Michael’s Prep School.

 

All of our pupils are taught how to stay safe and behave appropriately online, but this approach is only successful if we work together and reinforce safe behaviour at home too.

 

As Christmas draws near, many children may be looking forward to receiving new electronic devices or game/s, so we feel that this is an appropriate time to highlight some simple online safety tips to help parents/carers make safer choices and support their children online.

 

Make informed choices:

 

In order to protect children online, it is vital that we make informed decisions about new games, apps and devices, before providing them to children.

 

  • Do your research before purchasing a new device or game for your child; find out what other parents think, search for parental advice online and ask the shop about pre-installed apps or tools.

 

  • Always check the PEGI age rating and descriptors on games before buying them for your child and carefully consider whether the content is appropriate for them.

 

  • Take time to find out whether the device or game has an online component or allows your child to access to the internet, which allows them to connect with others online.

 

  • Familiarise yourself with the privacy, safety and security tools on new devices; ensure you are in a position to teach your child how to make their accounts private and how to block and report other people online.

 

Use the parent guides and shopper’s checklists from UK Safer Internet Centre and Internet Matters websites to help you ask the right questions and make informed choices when buying new technology this Christmas:

www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-centre/parents-and-carers/parents-guide-technology

https://www.internetmatters.org/resources/tech-guide/

 

Setting boundaries:

 

Much like the ‘real world’, parents need to set boundaries for children online; this provides them with a clear understanding of the limits, expectations and consequences of their behaviour.

 

  • Discuss and agree as a family, how the internet and technology will be used in your home; consider nominating ‘tech-free’ areas or times, such as your child’s bedroom or dinner time.

 

  • Discuss online boundaries: let children use the lessons they learn in school to tell you what they think is/isn’t acceptable for them to do online and adapt these messages into your own family rules.

 

Take a look at the conversation starter ideas and family agreement template available from Childnet International: www.childnet.com/parents-and-carers/have-a-conversation

 

Filters and Parental Controls:

 

Children can accidently or deliberately be exposed to illegal, unwanted or unpleasant content online, but there are some simple steps you can take at home to help minimise this risk.

 

  • Make sure you install anti-virus software, filters and parental controls on your child’s device before giving it to them.

 

  • Ensure that you are role-modelling good behaviour by using strong passwords yourself; make them difficult to guess and don’t share them with your children.

 

  • Remember that blocks and filters are not 100% effective and you can’t rely on them alone to protect your children, so remind them to tell you if they see something upsetting online.

 

Take a look at the interactive guide to parental controls available from Internet Matters: www.internetmatters.org/parental-controls/interactive-guide/

 

Talk to your children:

 

Take an active interest in your child’s online life and engage in the digital world with them.

 

  • Let your children teach you about their online world and how they use technology; playing new games and exploring websites together can often open opportunities to discuss safe behaviour online.

 

  • Make sure your children know that you are safe and approachable; remind them that they can tell you if something happens online that makes them feel scared, worried or uncomfortable, without being told off or punished.

 

You can find more advice about talking to you child about online safety from CEOP:

www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/articles/having-a-conversation-with-your-child/

 

Other useful websites/Apps for parents/carers:

 

 

The NOS (National Online Safety) App:

This is a new free App designed to provide parents with the most recent/up to date information on Online-Safety and advice on how to keep their children safe.

 

You can find out more information about it via this link:  https://nationalonlinesafety.com/guides/our-new-app

 

NOS (National Online Safety)

As some of you are aware, St Michael’s have recently become members of the NOS (National Online Safety). This system enables us to register our parents to free online courses. The courses we have on offer are:

  • Parents Course Ages 11-14
  • Parents Course Ages 7-11
  • Parents Course Ages 4-7

If you would like to register for one of the above courses, please register via this online form: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=U5hNi2fLrk-Ut9AiLRRZYsxoazIBPR9LsGoI4IB2idFUMEs1TFZHNEpPQ1BESTVJTzUzSURLMUc5OC4u .

 

I will forward you a link to the free online course, once assigned.

 

Digital Parenting Magazine:

I have ordered hard copies of the latest edition of the Digital Parenting Magazine. Once I have received these, all students from Year 3 – 8 will be given a copy to take home. However, here is a link to an the electronic version if you would like a peek prior to receiving your hard copy:  vodafone_digital_parenting.pdf

 

ParentZone Feed now available:

You’ll be glad to know that the ParentZone feed is now available on the school website via the Parents’ Portal:  https://www.stmichaels.kent.sch.uk/internet-safety-2/

It provides parents with all the latest up to date info associated with Online-Safety.  It runs in collaboration with CEOP (Child Exploitation Online Protection) and hosts articles and parent guides on everything caused or amplified by the Internet.

 

Video Conferencing Software / Safe Remote Learning:

During the Covid-19 period, many children (of all ages) used/accessed a form of video conferencing software to either speak to family members, friends or even their teachers for remote learning.  Albeit fun, engaging and new, there are some dangers parents, students and teachers need to be aware of as strangers could infiltrate your call, make you feel uncomfortable, collect personal data/information about you etc. Below are some useful links on how you can protect yourself and family members whilst using video conferencing software:

 

 

If you would like further support or advice regarding Online Safety, please contact Miss Booth (St Michael’s designated Online-Safety Lead) via email on:  jbooth@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk or the school’s office number: 01959 522137

 

Kind regards,

 

Miss Booth

 

School News

Year 5 and 6 Spelling Bee

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.”

 

Year 2 meet children’s author Andy Shepherd

This week Year 2 met children’s author Andy Shepherd to talk about her popular book, The Boy Who Grew Dragons. 

They virtual session gave pupils the opportunity to ask her questions about her book, and found out what inspired her to become an author.

Shoot for the Stars!

Past pupils on track for England Under 16 hockey team

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.

Past pupil receives Honorary Sports Scholarship 

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!”

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.

In the Community

Mr Thomas’ Christmas Hockey Camp

Mr Thomas will be holding his Christmas Hockey Camp at Hollybush Hockey Pitch on Thursday 17th December, Friday 18th December, Monday 21st December and Tuesday 22nd December

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 here for the application form. 

Follow us on social media!

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

Make sure you’re following all four of our channels to ensure you don’t miss any precious photos and videos. This also includes our new YouTube page featuring videos about St Michael’s and speeches from the pupils.

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