eNews: Friday 29th January 2021

From the Head

Dear Parents,

I hope you and your family are safe and well.

No doubt, many of you will feel great disappointment at the recent news that we will not be returning to school directly after half-term, as hoped. Whilst the latest government announcement that we will not return before March may be frustrating, I am grateful that as a school we are equipped and ready to continue to support the children with their Remote Learning. To that end, thank you for taking the time to complete our Remote Learning survey. We had a huge response and we are grateful to you for your support and the constructive feedback given; it is all helpful as we continue to review and improve our provision in pursuit of excellence. We have taken time to digest this information and you will see in separate correspondence some changes that will be implemented as a result.

I am mindful that these are difficult days for us all and as a school we are keen to do everything possible to support our whole community. I am therefore delighted to announce that we will be welcoming Dr Aric Sigman to hold a virtual webinar for the St Michael’s community on Thursday 11th February at 8pm. The hour-long presentation and Q&A will focus on our increased screen time due to lockdown, as well as offering useful tips for finding balance in our working days.

Dr Sigman is an expert on the impact of screen time, guided by his experience as a chartered psychologist, Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, and member of the Royal Society of Medicine, among other titles. Dr Sigman holds a BA, MA and phD in Psychology, and is a regular contributor to parliamentary reports and journals on children’s mental health. Additionally, he has published four of his own books on a variety of topics and presented to organisations such as the International Congress of Child Neurology on topics including ‘Risks to children’s brain development today: screen dependency disorders’.

Several years ago I had the privilege of hearing Dr Sigman speak at an IAPS Conference and was impacted by what he had to say. Having spoken with him earlier this week, I am confident that his webinar will be reassuring and helpful to us as parents at this time, as well as equipping us with tools and strategies to help navigate life in lockdown.

Please note that whilst this is not a ‘public’ event, as such, you are welcome to invite friends whom you feel this may benefit as this is a time to help one another. More information, including joining details will be sent out in due course.

Have a great weekend.

Nik Pears

 

A message from Mr Pears to pupils:

 

From the Head of Pre-Prep 

Dear Parents,

It looks like we are aiming for March before we can see a return to school for your children. As a school we don’t get any advance information, so we only know as much as you do. We are looking forward to the time when we can reopen for all your children. After the previous lockdown, we were concerned that the children would feel worried about coming into school again. However, we learnt on day one, that this wasn’t the case and the children skipped down the bridge as usual. I am hopeful that we will experience the same in March.

I am continuing to see some great work going on at home. I realise this is a stressful time for parents as you try and fit in your work commitments around home schooling but it looks like you are all doing a great job. Please manage to take some down time each day. At school, the children have a lot of variety and are not sitting down for long periods of time so don’t expect your child to do this at home.

Thank you to those of you who completed the parent questionnaire. We were pleased that there were so many positive comments. It is clear we have improved on the remote learning from 2020. We are looking carefully at your suggestions and will try and tweak our offering where we can.

 

Overheard in Pre-Prep:

Teacher: “The number at the top of a fraction is called the numerator. The number at the bottom is…?”

Child: “The dominator”

 

Have a lovely weekend,

 

Zerrin Leech

Head’s Stars

H Forrest (Year 3) for brilliant videos and designs in the Float-a-Boat challenge

E Feachem (Year 3) for fantastic design work and creating a brilliant Insect Hotel

E Law (Year 5) for an interesting and creative English PowerPoint presentation

R Romero (Year 5) for drawing an outstanding Zentangle feather

E Green (Year 6) for doing a great source style question, in detail in History

B Cosgrove (Year 6) for a wonderful piece of History source work on the British Empire and for writing an amazing poem on Pleasant Sounds

G Owen (Year 6) for working hard to understand poetic techniques and their effect on the reader

L Lattimer (Year 6) for great effort in writing an amazing poem of the senses

R Thornhill (Year 6) for writing an amazing poem on the senses

M Amure (Year 6) for writing an effective story in free verse in English on a Rainbow’s demise

C Hunter (Year 6) for creating the longest chains of factors and multiples from a hundred square

O Gasson (Year 6) for a great performance of ‘rhythm’ and beats

O West (Year 6) for writing a brilliant recipe poem called ‘Winter Morning’

T Carman (Year 6) for great analysis of History sources on the British Empire

E Schwarm (Year 6) for great analysis of History sources on the British Empire

L Keogh (Year 7) for a beautiful response to a one point perspective drawing

G Schneider-Price (Year 7) for creating an excellent Roman Dramatic Theatre

E Collings (Year 8)  for creating fantastic packaging, company logo and video for her glass coaster

 

Remote Learning 

This week pupils have been working extremely hard in their Remote Learning lessons. Please enjoy this highlights reel of their work.

Send in your photos

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

Holocaust Memorial Day

On Thursday Mrs Shield led an assembly about Holocaust Memorial Day. This was an important opportunity for Prep pupils to remember the victims of the Holocaust.

Year 3 pupil Finlay lit a candle after the assembly in honour of those who suffered.

 

 

 

Critical Workers group

Meanwhile, in school our Critical Workers group has enjoyed a range of lessons and activities.

‘Rainbow’ by Moyo

Please enjoy this wonderful poem written and performed by Moyo in Year 6. Inspired by her English lessons on poetry of the senses, Moyo wrote this poem based on the sight sense.

 

Whole School News

Freestyle Friday!

Presenting… this week’s Freestyle Friday dance to ‘Roar’ by Katy PerryThank you to everyone who submitted their clips, we hope you enjoy watching this video.

 

Next week’s theme is: Dancing 9 to 5!

St Michael’s pupils, staff and teachers are working extremely hard at the moment and we want to applaud that by dancing! Whether you’re dressed as a firefighter, doctor, zoo keeper, or simply doing some Remote Learning, we want to see your best moves.

We will be dancing to: 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton

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

The deadline for the next Freestyle Friday video is Wednesday 3rd February at 12pm. Please film all videos in landscape and not portrait. You do not need to worry about sound in the video as all clips will be muted before being put with a backing track.

Lockdown Life Hacks

This week, Mr Pears has launched a new initiative called Lockdown Life Hacks. The weekly project, designed to get the St Michael’s community through lockdown, invites pupils, parents, staff (and pets!) to share the thing which is getting them through lockdown in a short 30 second to 1 minute video.

Whether it’s a particular hobby, daily ritual or book series which is giving you a boost, we want to hear about it. What seems second nature to you, could help give someone else a new sense of focus.

This week, Mr Bridges is sharing his Lockdown Life Hack:

To submit your Lockdown Life Hack, please email a 30 second to 1 minute video clip to tusher@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk. Videos submitted may be used on St Michael’s website and social media. Videos from pupils, parents and staff are welcome.

From the P & F

Family Yoga sessions

The P&F are delighted that one of our parents, Tess,  is offering Family Yoga sessions designed for families with children in Years 5-8. Parents of other years are also welcome to join in, however the lessons are specifically structured for over 9 years olds.

These 40 minute weekly sessions are running on Thursdays at 5pm (for this half term).

The suggested donation is £5 per household which will be donated to the P&F.  For further details, please see the post on Classlist. If you have any questions please email Tess at tess@yogatess.com

Radio Mike – starting the weekend in style!

Radio Mike is a home radio station set up by one of our Pre-Prep parents, Cath Hurst-Barron, during the first lockdown as a way of keeping children, and parents, in touch and having some fun together. The aim is to connect, laugh and enjoy some great music together. Suitable for young and old, Radio Mike plays chart toppers, pop, rock, cheesy tunes, oldies- you name it.

Radio Mike now has many listeners from across the school and the wider community. Anyone can listen anywhere; if you have loved ones faraway they can tune in and listen to the amazing tunes and also hear your child (or you if you so wish!) live on the radio! Messages, jokes and requests are all welcome. The more contributions the better. Record your child playing a piece on their violin or telling a joke or get a favourite tune played for a friend’s birthday. Perhaps your guinea pig has had piglets and the children are desperate to share the news…….you get the idea!

The show is broadcast live every Friday from 5 to 6 pm (repeated Sunday at 4 pm). All you need to listen is a computer, smart phone or tablet with internet.

Listen at: http://player.broadcastradio.com/radio-mike

Email your requests to: radiomike2020@outlook.com

Facebook: @radiomike2020

In the Community

Help Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve plan for the future with this short survey

Kent Wildlife Trust is consulting its long term plans for the future of its flagship visitor centre at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve. They want to improve the visitor experience and inspire future generations to connect with nature.

To ensure their plans consider the needs of the whole community, Kent Wildlife Trust is inviting you to complete a short survey on the matter. View the proposals and have your say using the link below. Deadline for survey completion is Sunday 7th February 2021.

Find out more: https://www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/haveyoursay

 

Follow us on social media!

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

Latest News

A Sevenoaks food bank is 318 kilos heavier following a donation from St Michael’s.

 

The school surprised charity The Community Cupboard with the generous donation on Monday, February 1 following a Christmas collection for the cause.

 

In total, £965 was raised from parent and staff donations throughout December, which St Michael’s Parents and Friends Association (P & F) used to organise a Sainsbury’s shop of food and toiletries for the charity.

 

Commenting on the school’s motivation to help the food bank, Co-Chair of St Michael’s P & F, Kelly Downey, said: “Delivering our donation to The Community Cupboard was an amazing and uplifting moment. Being able to bring the school together to contribute to a cause which plays such an important role in our community during this time was very rewarding.”

 

Greeted with three car loads of canned foods, long-life products and toiletries, Kelly also describes how delighted the charity were with the school’s generosity. She added: “The team were really blown away by our donation and thankful for the time we’d taken to raise the money and organise a delivery.

 

“It was a great feeling to be able to put an initial idea from a St Michael’s parent into action, and to see the impact we would be having on the local community.”

 

Kelly added: “We recognise that this is a very difficult time for everyone, especially those who can’t afford to put food on the table for their families. We hope that our donation can be a small step in making a difference for those people.”

 

Since the start of January alone, an additional 22 local families have registered for The Community Cupboard’s support, reflecting the increased pressures caused by the ongoing pandemic across the country. And it is only thanks to generous donations that the charity can continue to provide help to those who need it most.

 

Trustee at The Community Cupboard, David Carter said: “We would like to express our extreme gratitude to St Michael’s for their wonderful donation. We are very lucky to receive regular donations from local groups, but they are rarely to this scale.

 

“The food and toiletries kindly given to us by St Michael’s have allowed us to fully restock our shelves as well as putting plenty of stock on standby for new referrals. The size of this donation will allow us to give substantial food packages to the 22 new families who were referred to us in January. St Michael’s help is invaluable to us and will make a huge difference.”

 

Since its launch in January 2020, The Community Cupboard has continued to help families in Sevenoaks, and has extended its help to cover a 20 mile radius including Edenbridge, Westerham, Surrey, Sidcup, Rochester and Ashford, due to the pandemic.

 

The Trustee added: “We began as a small group of people determined to make a difference locally in an area where food banks were lacking. Little did we know, a global pandemic was on its way and our efforts would be needed tenfold. To say we hit the ground running would be an understatement.”

 

Run by four members and six volunteers, The Community Cupboard works tirelessly to deliver parcels to families, and in January alone distributed 3.1 tonnes of food, toiletries and essential items.

 

David said: “We began the charity on the foundation that ‘if we can help, we will’, and with the community’s help, I’m proud to say we are doing just that. We see a lot of hardship and sadness in doing what we do, but it really opens our eyes to the incredible hard work various organisations and charities do in our community. Thanks to generous groups like St Michael’s, we can confidently say ‘yes, we can help you’.”

 

The Community Cupboard are currently taking donations of tinned and long-life food products, as well as toiletries and essential items. Monetary donations are also welcome and will be put towards bulk orders for the charity.

 

The charity is based at The Garage, Gamcock meadow, West Kingdown where a covid secure donation drop off process has been put in place.

 

For more information about The Community Cupboard, or to donate to the charity visit www.thecommunitycupboard.co.uk.

Mr Bridges is on a mission to keep St Michael’s motivated with his latest exercise plan designed to make exercise fun.

The Director of Sport at St Michael’s, who is a very keen runner himself, has created a beginner to 5k plan for anyone wanting to keep fit this lockdown.

The six-week plan, featuring workouts, running challenges and rest days, covers a range of exercises aimed at strengthening all parts of the body.

Mr Bridges said: “I have created this training programme for the St Michael’s community to help anyone who wants to have a go at running during lockdown and safely get to 5k by the time we return to school. The plan is suitable for Prep-aged pupils, parents and staff, including absolute beginners.”

The teacher, who has 15 years’ training as a running and triathlon coach, added: “The programme is designed to build a body capable of running 5k at the end of the six weeks, and what better time to have a go than during lockdown.”

The detailed plan, organised into weeks and week days, follows a key where the letters W (walk) and R (run) appear alongside the number of minutes the activity should take place for. For example, 6 x 1:30w/2:30r represents a 1 minute 30 seconds of walking followed by 2 minutes 30 seconds of running, repeated six times.

Mr Bridges said: “The programme includes progressive long runs from week 3 onwards, the only day where the running is based on distance rather than time.

“On Mondays I will also be sharing a different workout on the St Michael’s PE YouTube channel which pupils can take part in.”

To share your experience of the programme, including photos please email tusher@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk. By sharing this information you give consent to it being shared on St Michael’s social media channels and publications.

 

 

Warm, welcoming and impressive. That’s how St Michael’s new Head describes the school.

“I’ve always liked St Michael’s and have been visiting it for several years as part of sports fixtures with my previous schools”, Nik Pears said.

“Something that has always impressed me about St Michael’s is the atmosphere and people that belong to it.

“The sense of community you feel when walking through the doors of the school is extraordinary”, he added.

An avid sportsman, experienced leader, and family man, Mr Pears brings with him a wealth of ideas for St Michael’s, including his core value of equipping pupils for life.

Nik , who joined St Michael’s in January 2021, explained: “I am very keen on developing a growth mindset in my pupils. In this ever-changing world, our children need to be prepared for life outside of the classroom.

“Pupils need to be adaptable, resilient and perseverant, and learn to accept their failure and mistakes as important parts of their personal development.

“By equipping children with the right interpersonal skills during their school years, we can set them up for a future in which they may have to fight for their place in the world.”

Nik’s concept of growth mindset can also be applied to his broader vision for the school.

Coming to St Michael’s from his headship at Kent College, Pembury, Nik believes the challenges posed by Covid-19 can teach schools a lot about the importance of flexibility and community.

Mr Pears said: “These unprecedented times have been a huge learning curve for schools.

“Navigating a school through a global crisis was never going to be easy, but it has shown just how necessary it is to put pupils at the heart of every decision.

“As someone who has experienced the period as both a teacher and parent, it is very clear that we are all battling the same storm in different boats.

“It is incredible how people have found new and creative ways to deal with the circumstances. From Zoom concerts, to helping food banks, to keeping each other’s spirits high with funny videos, this period has shown us a lot about community which we will learn from and remember.”

Having belonged to multiple Prep schools himself throughout his education and as a teacher, Nik is excited to be entering this new stage in his career at St Michael’s.

Reflecting on his own school years which saw him attend schools in London, Devon and Dublin, he said: “I always enjoyed school as a child and made the most of every opportunity I was given.

“I particularly enjoyed subjects like music, drama and history and was fascinated by the things that we learnt.

“I was also heavily involved in sports and belonged to the Kent U18 rugby group. Even now you’ll find me in a pair of wellies at the side of the pitch cheering on my pupils and own children.”

Nik added: “I was one of those children who wanted to get stuck into everything, even the things that I found difficult.

“As well as my sports clubs, I belonged to multiple choirs, as well as orchestras where I played the drums, trumpet, piano and guitar.”

Mr Pears also spoke about the impact his own teachers had on his time at school and the person that he is today.

He said: “I had some amazing teachers which taught me a lot of things about life and leadership.

“Sir Anthony Seldon, one of my history teachers, was particularly inspiring and sparked my passion for the subject.

“The Head of my Prep school in Dublin also gave her pupils a lot of time. She was a hero.”

And Nik’s teachers aren’t his only role models in life.

He said: “A man called Phil Wall is also a huge inspiration of mine. Phil is the founder of the charity We See Hope which works with orphans and vulnerable young people in sub Saharan Africa.

“Phil’s selflessness and passion for the cause inspired me to become an ambassador for the charity.

“His exceptional leadership, authenticity and integrity is just inspiring.”

Mr Pears also explained how his love of people has guided him to the many leadership roles he has held.

Nik said: “I very much enjoy being with people and having a good laugh. I’m very lucky to have such an amazing family including my wife, Emma and our two children, Jessica and Josiah. Our pet hamster Charlie is also a valued member of the family who kept us well entertained during the first lockdown.”

He added: “Being a leader brings so many opportunities to show warmth, empathy and understanding to others, and I can’t wait to become a member of the St Michael’s community.

“When pupils leave St Michael’s to pursue their senior education, I hope they remember me as someone who was kind, knew them well and valued their opinion.”

 

On Tuesday 15th December, St Michael’s hosted a fun-filled charity day for Thames Valley Air Ambulance (TVAA).

Organised by Year 7 pupil Lucy, whose life who saved by the emergency team last Christmas, the school partook in a range of fundraising activities including a fun run, Christmas jumper day, and brain-teaser quizzes.

Lucy said: “With Mr Wiseman’s help, I planned activities to raise some much-needed money for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance and increase awareness of their work.

“A lot of people don’t realise what a great charity they are, and I hope our fundraising day has changed that.

“Not only do they save people’s lives in moments of crisis, but they provide long-term support to families who undergo medical emergencies.”

Amanda McLean, Chief Executive of Thames Valley Air Ambulance, said: “A big thank you to the staff and pupils of St Michael’s for coming up with creative ways to involve everyone in fundraising. In sharing her story, Lucy has helped us spread awareness of what Thames Valley Air Ambulance does. We can only do what we do because of the imagination and generosity of our wonderful fundraisers. We hope you had a lot of fun on your fundraising day!”

Lucy, whose story recently featured in the TVAA’s Christmas appeal, said: “Thames Valley Air Ambulance helped me at a time when my parents couldn’t. When I was seriously injured, the team stepped in and became my heroes.”

“It means so much to me that St Michael’s have come together to support this cause.”

The highly successful events saw pupils spread festive joy while raising an impressive £2556.60 for the charity which relies wholly of public donations.

Mrs Bridges, St Michael’s Acting Head, added: “Yesterday was amazing! The whole school had such a great time, and pupils were very excited to take part in a different fundraiser which meant they could enjoy the outdoors, whilst raising money for such an important charity. Everyone gave their all in the sponsored run and it was a brilliant event to watch.”

 

Mrs Wade, Head of Girls’ Games also said: “The children did remarkably well considering the conditions, and ran superbly for Lucy’s cause.”

 

 

And Lucy’s family echoed this gratitude for St Michael’s support. They said: “We wanted to say a huge thank to the St Michael’s community for supporting Lucy’s appeal for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance this Christmas. We’re so grateful to you for getting behind this amazing charity to whom we owe so much. We know from experience that your donations really do save lives. Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2021!”

For more information about the Thames Valley Air Ambulance or to donate visit: www.tvairambulance.org.uk/support-us/donate