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

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.

 

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

 

 

This Tuesday 15th December, St Michael’s will host a fundraising day for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance (TVAA), organised by Year 7 pupil Lucy.

Determined to help a cause very close to her heart, Lucy has organised a series of events aimed at raising money for the charity-based emergency service.

Throughout the day pupils will be invited to participate in a range of activities including wearing a Christmas jumper, doing a sponsored run, and completing brain teaser quizzes in exchange for donations to the TVAA which relies wholly on public contributions.

Lucy said: “With Mr Wiseman’s help, I’ve 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 will change 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.”

And Lucy’s charity day is driven by her own bond with the charity who saved her life following an accident last Christmas.

She 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.”

Since her accident, Lucy has remained close with three of TVAA’s critical care paramedics, Jo, John and Clare.

Lucy said: “Not only did the team come and visit me in hospital during my recovery, but in February this year my family and I were invited to their base to see their helicopters and learn more about their work.

“Since then, we’ve kept in close contact with them and have been given the exciting opportunity to take part in their Christmas campaign.

“One morning, my mum received a phone call from the TVAA asking if we’d like to tell our story as part of their fundraising appeal.

“Despite the accident still being quite fresh, we were keen to get involved as it’s such an amazing charity.”

Earlier this year, Lucy and her family were invited to Oxfordshire to talk about their experience in front of the camera.

The filming day, which involved interviews with both Lucy and her parents, aimed to raise awareness of the charity’s impact.

Lucy said: “It was such a fun day and really made us feel part of the TVAA community.

“Afterwards, we were sent several cuts of the video, including a very cool animation of my story which was very realistic.

“They kept us in mind throughout the whole process and made us feel very special.”

A full breakdown of the fundraising events can be found below. For more information about the TVAA or to view Lucy’s video visit: www.tvairambulance.org.uk/appeal/.

Thames Valley Air Ambulance Fundraising Activities 

  • Christmas jumpers – In Prep and Pre-Prep, we are inviting the children and staff to sport their best Christmas jumper and make a donation for the privilege of wearing it! The 15th  is the day of the school Christmas lunches, so this would be a good time to wear them. As with the last charity collection, the donations for Christmas jumpers can be deposited in the buckets at the doors into the buildings as the children arrive in the morning.
  • Sponsored run (Prep) – we are going to be inviting the children to run in teams of (up to) 4 around the shortest XC route on the fields. They will have a set time to complete as many laps as possible in that time. The children can look to have their team sponsored per lap, or have a donation from their sponsor. Sponsorship money raised will need to be brought in the following day.
  • Brain teaser quizzes – there are two quiz sheets that can be purchased for 50p each and you can take them home and try to solve the puzzles as a family. I’m afraid the only prize on offer is the glow of self-fulfilment upon having completed them. Answers will be shared on the last day of term. As parents cannot be in the school buildings at the moment, the quiz sheets can be purchased via homework diaries (please send the 50p/ £1, depending if you want one quiz sheet or both).

 

 

A former St Michael’s pupil has been awarded an Honorary Academic Scholarship for her excellence across all subjects.

Grace Goodwin, who attended St Michael’s between 2014 and 2019, has received the honour from Sevenoaks School.

Commenting on Grace’s success, her mother Marianthe Goodwin said: “Grace joined Sevenoaks in Year 7 and has really thrived from day one.

“We all knew Grace was doing very well academically as she was awarded the Academic Prize in Year 7 and Year 8. However, just before half term we received a letter awarding Grace an Honorary Academic Scholarship, one of only four which was awarded.

“Grace was delighted and extremely surprised as she had absolutely no idea that she was going to receive it. As an Academic Scholar, Grace is invited to attend the Schickler Society with the other scholars in which they discuss lots of different world issues both current and past, such as gun control and the Cold War.”

Mrs Goodwin added: “Grace had a wonderful and very happy time at St Michael’s and the decision to leave was  a hard one, but we felt it was the right time for Grace.  At St Michael’s she enjoyed all her subjects, especially English and Science.

“She found all the teachers very encouraging and approachable, and felt the growth mindset attitude and community spirit of St Michael’s gave her the confidence to hit challenges head on and not give up.

“Mrs Bridges among others was particularly encouraging of Grace during her time at St Michael’s and offered amazing pastoral support to pupils.”

And it isn’t just Sevenoaks School that spotted Grace’s academic potential. St Michael’s teacher Mrs Baisch, who taught Grace during her time at the school, said: “Grace is an incredibly creative pupil who loves reading and writing, and produced some beautiful work. The words flew off her pen.

“Grace was also a very good speaker which was shown by her victory in the poetry live senior competition which she won with her reading of Dulce et Decorum est. For a Year 6 pupil, her performance was very impressive.

“Grace’s scholarship is of no surprise and is something she should be very proud of.”