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

We are delighted to announce that former St Michael’s pupil Jess Haynes has selected to join the Loughborough Lightning Superleague Netball team.

Jess, who attended St Michael’s between 2008 and 2014 and returned as a GAP Student in 2019, made her Superleague and Sky Sports debut on Saturday 5th June against Celtic Dragons at the Copperbox Arena in London, after which she was officially announced as Loughborough Lightning squad member No. 102.

Lightning are currently in second place in the Superleague behind Team Bath and have already secured their place in the playoffs.

Jess, whose matches with Lightning will be broadcast live on the Sky Sports Netball platforms, said: “I feel so honoured and excited to be given this opportunity. It has been a bit of a whirlwind over the last couple of weeks so it was great to get on court and make my Superleague debut at the Copperbox . I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season with such an amazing squad. I always love coming back to St Michael’s to coach the current pupils, to share my love of sport and to show that dreams do come true!”

Jess joined Loughborough Lightning U21 NPL Squad from London Pulse in September 2020 when she started studying at Nottingham Trent University where she is part of their Performance Sport Programme.

And it was St Michael’s where her passion for netball began. Jess’ mum, Clare, said: “Jess’ year group team were a strong squad who enjoyed a high level of success at both local and national IAPS level. Jess played all sports during her time here where she achieved a great deal of success across the board . She left at the end of Year 8 to continue her education at Kent College Pembury with a Sports Scholarship. Her place in the Loughborough Lightning Super League is a huge opportunity for her.”

Mrs Wade, who coached Jess during her time at St Michael’s, added: “We are extremely proud of Jess and all she has achieved since leaving St Michael’s. I had the delight of watching Jess’ netball skills grow tremendously during her time with us and it is no surprise that Jess’ dedication to the sport has landed her this incredible opportunity. We look forward to hearing about her future successes and seeing her on Sky Sports!”

A swarm of bees, pride of lions and bloom of ladybirds could be seen roaming the school grounds on Friday 28th May as the Prep school celebrated Go Wild Day in aid of local charities Kent Wildlife Trust and Otford Hospices of Hope.

The action-packed charity day, organised by the School Council to raise awareness of the local causes, raised an amazing £727.04.

Mr Baird, Acting Deputy Head, said: “It was amazing to see so many staff and pupils dressing up for this brilliant fundraising event. A big thank you to the School Council and Year 8 prefects who played a key part in the success of the event, and to the pupils for putting so much effort and energy into the activities.”

Throughout the day, pupils took part in fundraising activities including an exotic bring and buy sale where pupils exchanged good quality toys and games. The afternoon events also included a face painting session for the children led by the senior Art Scholars group.

Fundraising & Communications Manager at Otford Hospices of Hope, Jessica McKechie added: “We were delighted to hear that St Michael’s Prep School chose to fundraise for Hospices of Hope with their Go Wild Day. Being supported locally is so important for our charity and we are really grateful to all the children and staff who took part. The funds raised will help us to support our patients with vital care, some of whom are children too and will love to hear about the activities the school arranged in order to help them.”

St Michael’s Go Wild Day forms part of its longterm plan to improve the wildlife around their 90-acre site as well as increasing the school community’s awareness of the importance of conserving nature.

Delighted by St Michael’s efforts, Acting Head of Education and Lifelong Learning at Kent Wildlife Trust, Lee Mason-Baldwin said: “Wow, what a brilliant effort and superb, heart-warming achievement, thank you so much! We love the gorgeous colourful activities and the fun you’ve had to help animals, plants, bugs and birds which is crucial for developing a life-long love of wildlife. Your support will help us on our quest for a wilder Kent, rich in wildlife for everyone to enjoy, forever.”

For more information about St Michael’s Prep School please visit their website: https://www.stmichaels.kent.sch.uk/

 

We are hugely proud to announce that past St Michael’s pupils L Bingham and A Faulstich have been selected for the England Under 16 Hockey Squad.


The Year 10 pupils, who currently attend Weald of Kent Grammar School and Tonbridge Grammar School were announced as members last week following many months of training and assessment.


Congratulating the girls on their achievement, Mrs Wade, who taught them PE during their time 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 about their future success.”


A huge congratulations to both girls on this amazing achievement.

St Michael’s Prep School, Otford was delighted to welcome concert pianist Nicholas McCarthy as the special guest for its Scholars’ Day on Thursday 20th May.

Mr McCarthy, who was the first left-hand-only graduate of the Royal College of Music in its 130-year history, hosted a music masterclass with the school’s Music Scholars, before joining the wider Scholars group for an evening of food and entertainment.

Nicholas said: “It has been so wonderful to work with the pupils today. The performance standard of the Scholars is fantastic and their personalities came across in their performances. It was lovely to see.”

During his visit, the talented musician shared his story with St Michael’s including his performance with band Coldplay at the 2012 Paralympics Closing Ceremony. Nicholas also offered words of encouragement for overcoming setbacks and barriers. He said: “At my first audition I was turned away because they just didn’t believe I could play the piano with one hand. I had to dig deep and find that resilience to carry on achieving my dream. Very quickly that fire built back up and I was determined to prove them wrong.”

Commenting on the success of the event, St Michael’s Deputy Head Mary Bridges said: “We were delighted to host a special event for our current scholars, incoming scholars and our Year 8 pupils who have achieved scholarships at their senior schools. Nicholas words inspired all of us and his performance was absolutely stunning. It was a true mark of excellence.”

To view a highlights reel of the event or watch the full interview with St Michael’s Head Nik Pears and Nicholas McCarthy please visit their YouTube page.