eNews: Friday 2nd October 2020

From the Acting Head

It’s been another vibrant week at St Michael’s, packed full of wonderful lessons and activities!

My assemblies this term focus on inspiring women from black history and so far, the stories of Wilma Rudolph and Mary Seacole have been shared.  Both women faced many challenges, but showed impressive determination and resilience to pursue and fulfil their life goals. Bravery has been a key theme in these assemblies as both Wilma and Mary stood up for themselves and others, challenging those who limited opportunity and equality. Whilst our pupils were shocked at the injustice in these stories, they could articulate why learning about them is so important. True empathy and understanding of how “we can make things better in the future” was expressed superbly by the children.

 

Many pupils at St Michael’s have been taking assessments this week. This can be a nerve-wracking time, but we focus on the importance of understanding what we can and can’t do so that we know how to take the next steps with confidence and clarity. The testing environment at St Michael’s is supportive because our pupils know that progress looks different for everyone. By developing a growth mindset, we foster intrinsic motivation and openness to embrace challenges, learning from our mistakes as we grow. I would highly recommend Carol Dweck, Matthew Syed, Barry Hymer and Angela Duckworth as writers who give great insight into how the language we use can shape the mindset of the children, enabling them to understand that applying effort, embracing challenge and learning from mistakes will have a powerful impact on their success at school and beyond.

 

I’m sure, like me, you have had your ear on the national news this week and are aware that the Covid-19 situation is at the forefront of many people’s minds. We are, as you know, working very hard to continue to minimise the risk of the virus coming into the school community so that we can remain open to all pupils. Thank you for your patience with the ongoing adjustments to drop off and collection of the children; we appreciate your continued efforts in supporting the new systems in place. Our next development will be increased shelter for the pick up areas which will be welcomed on rainy days over the coming months. Thank you to the P & F for supporting us with this investment.

 

I wish you all a happy, healthy and restful weekend.

 

Mary Bridges

 

From the Head of Pre-Prep

Our Harvest assemblies have been lovely this year with lots of new songs as well as my all-time favourite “Cauliflowers Fluffy”. Although we only had one table laden with food in the hall, as Miss Rawlinson needs room to carry out her PE lessons, there was a second table and cupboard festooned with food, not to mention all the bags we left full to help with the ease of collection. A huge thank you for all your wonderful generosity again this year which will be gratefully received by the Trussell Trust. Thank you also to Mrs Ravayeh for leading our three Harvest assemblies.

By now Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 parents may find you have a short video clip of your child explaining things about their new classroom. Your child has made this video as you cannot come in for Open Class event that we would normally do at this time of year. Please look at the clip and get your child to explain to you all the wonderful things about their new classroom.

Thank you for putting your family name and child’s class in your car for pick-up. This certainly makes things easier for us. Please be mindful of families still waiting in a queue to pick up so the quicker you can get children strapped into car seats and drive away the better.

Overheard by a parent: “There’s only one thing wrong with St Michael’s, the day just isn’t long enough.”

We are very tempted to use this overheard for all our marketing!

Have a lovely weekend,

Zerrin Leech

From the Deputy Head

 

Prep Harvest Festival collection

Apologies for the delay in getting this message to you.

Our intention has always been to have a Harvest collection for the Prep school, but we were mindful that many of our larger spaces that we might use for a Harvest Assembly are being used as exam venues at the moment.

To this end, we would be delighted to accept donations for the Swanley branch of Trussell Trust on Friday 9th October. We are only accepting donations on one day as we do not have the capacity to store these items for a prolonged period. They will spend the weekend in ‘quarantine’ before making their way to the Trussell Trust on the Monday. I’m afraid that we won’t be able to accept donations either before or after this date.

Many thanks in advance.

 

Morning Drop Off

Thank you to all the parents that have emailed me both with suggestions for improving the drop off and messages of support for the ongoing efforts to make this as pain-free as we can. I can assure you that we are always looking at ways we can improve this and reviewing our procedures is an important part of our Covid-19 plan.

Some suggestions we are able to look at objectively, but some aspects of this are out of our control as a school. However, there is one aspect that we have raised before that I need to raise again.

We have found that those that are arriving early to ‘beat the traffic’ are actually increasing overall numbers on-site as these cars are adding to the total number attempting to drop off before their expected time. If you are dropping off  at Pre-Prep and are not expected to be dropping off until after 8:20am, please do not come onto the site before this. Our chances of clearing all of the Prep parents by 8:20am (the Prep registration is at 8:20am) is greatly increased if it just them on-site at this time.

In addition, please do not ‘eject’ your Prep children from the car before 7:58am (allowing them 2 mins to walk the 50m to the Chapel Door), as the Chapel door will not be opened before this time.

I have been asked by parents to open the school earlier to solve the drop off problem. The answer to why this will not be done is two-fold;  the drop off has for many years been 8am. Moving the opening time earlier would only move the congestion earlier as the issue is, as pointed out above, early arrivers. If you require your child(ren) to be looked after before 8am, we have The Breakfast Club that operates from the Pre-Prep building and is open to all children, for a small charge. Additionally, opening the school earlier would mean staff would have to be allocated to supervise three bubbles of children until 8am and the staff are already working longer hours under the new guidelines. This time up to 8am is vital planning and preparation time for the staff.

Parents’ Evenings

Next half term we look forward to meeting with you to discuss your child(ren)’s progress. I am sure that it will come of no surprise that we are unable to host these events in person on site. The virtual meetings will be organised through our Parents’ Evening System and you will receive details of how to log in and arrange your appointments in the next few weeks. Dates for all of our Parents Evenings’ can be found in the school calendar so please do save the date and we look forward to seeing you all at the relevant event for your child(ren).

Pre-Prep Gold Star Winners

 

Ella F for always being a kind friend to everyone

Louis N for working hard on his letter formation

Amy H for trying so hard to always do the right thing

Olivia B for being a super kind friend

Noah L for participating well during our maths lessons and showing good number skills

Elizabeth A for wonderful neat letter formation

Beatrix T for good work with doubling numbers

Theia H for a good try with decoding using her phonic skills

Isabelle P for lovely table manners

Jonas S for always being polite and offering to help

Elodie B for great effort with improving her writing

Daniel W for a super effort and lovely manners

Myla B for using fantastic vocabulary to describe Sunny’s new adventure

Nathan H for working exceptionally hard in all areas of the curriculum

Isabel E for working exceptionally hard in all subjects and producing great work in every lesson

Ruaridh O.D for fantastic contributions to whole class discussions and being very knowledgeable about animals

Lana C.O for exceptional number work

Robert M for using fantastic descriptive language in our English lesson

Key Dates

Monday 5th October: Virtual Open Morning (9.30am – 10.30am)

 

Pre-Prep

 

Wednesday 7th October: Hearing Tests for Reception, Year 1 and 2 pupils

 

Prep

ISEB pre-test dates for the Michaelmas Term:

Friday 9th October
Friday 6th November
Friday 27th November

 

 

School News

Pre-Prep Harvest Assemblies

This week our Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 pupils have taken part in Harvest assemblies. They sung songs, learnt about the festival and recited a prayer.

The Marketing Department are working on a video montage of the three assemblies which they will share with parents in due course.

 

Parents & Friends Association

Last night P&F has their first Zoom meeting of the term. The main committee, featured in the below photo, would like to welcome all parents to come to the meetings (that are publicised on Classlist) and get involved. If anyone has any questions please contact the committee: stmichaelspreppf@gmail.com.

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In the Community

 

 

Mr Lopez’s October Half Term Football Camp

Mr Lopez will be holding his Football Camp from Tuesday 27th October to Friday 30th October. Click here for full details and a booking form. Book early as places are limited!

 

Mrs Grayland’s October Half Term Netball Camp

 

 

Mrs Grayland will be running a netball camp at half term which will be offered to St Michaels girl’s before being offered out to other schools.  Book early to avoid disappointment.

Click here for a booking form. 

 

Mr Thomas’ October Half Term Hockey Camp

Mr Thomas will be holding his October Half Term Hockey Camp at Hollybush Hockey Pitch on Thursday 29th- Friday 30th October from 10am-3pm.

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 a booking form.

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