eNews: Friday 3rd July 2020

From the Acting Head

Welcome to the final newsletter of an incredible year in many ways.  A year of challenge, change, learning, growing, distancing and dancing (or should I say, Friday Freestyling!). 525,600 minutes. How do you measure a year? Perhaps we can all measure it individually, on what we’ve each achieved, contributed and learned.


This week we celebrated the end of an era for our Year 2 and Year 6 pupils, and I look forward to the opportunity to do the same with our oldest pupils on Monday afternoon. Different to what we have experienced before but incredibly personal, these events have been tailor-made for the children moving on. Our Year 6 event, held outside in front of the Prep School, was a moving and magical ceremony where the clouds shared their appreciation through the shedding of raindrops! I hinted that each drop was a little bit of magic falling on us all to mark the occasion. When the raindrops fell bigger and heavier during Alex’s incredible saxophone performance, it was clearly a hearty round of applause from the skies above! Congratulations to all of the pupils reaching these milestones in their school career. They should be proud of all of their achievements, and I thank them all for their contributions to St Michael’s. A highlight of Prize Giving is the legendary gap student film of the year. Miss Haynes pulled together a brilliant collection of footage from the year, and it was amazing to see the vast amount of adventures, opportunities and events that we have enjoyed despite the time spent away from school. This film will be shared with the rest of the school on Tuesday along with prizes for children in other year groups.


In the last newsletter of the Michaelmas Term, I suggested that a school term was comparable to marathon training. Now that the year is coming to an end, we are now approaching the finish line. We’ve done the hard work, the training, faced the moments of fear and battled through the days when it doesn’t go to plan. There’s been frustration, incredible challenge and moments when we’ve all had doubts about making the final mile. As a community, we’ve paced ourselves much better than I did back in February when I ran the 26.2 miles around Seville! I thank you all for the support you’ve given throughout and hope you will all share in the success we’ve achieved.


The most important thing is not that we’ve experienced the “marathon” it’s that we’ve learnt so many valuable lessons during that time that the next marathon will be easier, we’ll be more accomplished. We’ll pace it even better, and we’ll enjoy it more. If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. And from the most testing year we’ve all had in recent memory I don’t doubt we will all emerge stronger, more resilient humans with far more appreciation of what is really important to us: Family, community and our well-being. Love; that’s how we should measure the year. Now let’s use this summer to reset and recharge and start September, wherever we are, with our eyes wide open and ready for the new next. Knowing we’re better prepared than we ever thought we could be before 2020 started!


My Head’s Review will be delivered to you at the end of the summer break to enable a chance to reflect before we begin the ‘new next’ academic year. All that’s left for me to say is one final thank you to every single member of our community. From the children to the staff, the volunteers, parents, friends and family members. All of you have you played your part, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride as much as I have! I wish you all a happy and healthy summer break full of love.

Mary Bridges

From the Head of Pre-Prep

This is the last newsletter of the school year. What a strange year it has been. It looks like the government are keen to bring all the children back into schools in September in as near normal classes as we can. For St Michael’s, with class sizes of 18, we will not have a problem in welcoming all children back into their correct classes with their new teacher and teaching assistant. If year groups can be together it will enable our children to play together with their friends from the neighbouring classes which will be lovely.

This week we have celebrated the milestones of Year 6 and Year 2 as they move on to the next stage in their lives. These celebrations have been particularly poignant as we have not been able to invite parents as we would usually do. Both Prize Givings were unique and ones that we will not forget. Mrs Thornton arranged for these events to be filmed so Year 2 parents will be receiving this shortly.

There are so many people to thank at this time of year. To all of those who support the “front of house” teaching and teaching assistants, I would like to say a huge thank you as the school could not run without our amazing Estates team, Admin team, Admissions & Marketing, Finance, Catering, Cleaners, Counsellors, and the volunteers who hear our children read, raise money in P&F and run Déjà vu. Thank you all.

A reminder to you all that we finish term next Tuesday 7th at 12.00. I recognise that pick up may be tricky so please be patient with us. Those of you who have children at Prep school, please arrive at the allocated time for Prep and then make your way to Pre-Prep. For those of you with surnames A-J please arrive between 12.00 and 12.15 and for those of you with surnames K-Z please aim to arrive between 12.15 and 12.30.


Child: What have you got in your hair?

Adult: I don’t know, what have I got in my hair?

Child: You’ve got old in your hair!

If I don’t get to see you before we break up, I wish you a safe and healthy summer holiday.

Zerrin Leech

Staff News


We’re delighted to welcome Julie Webster to St Michael’s. Julie will be the new PA to the Headteacher from September.

Julie tell us that she is looking forward to joining St. Michael’s Prep School, having worked in different administrative roles across the public and private sector, including just under ten years’ experience within education, that included the role of School Secretary and Examiniations Officer, Office Manager and PA to the Headteacher.


She has two  boys, the eldest now working in London and the youngest completing a Masters’ Degree. Julie loves being outdoors, walking the love of her life, Ozzy, a Jack Russell Terrier but she also enjoys reading, crafts and travel – fortunate to have travelled to some amazing places, she is hoping to return to her favourite destination, Iceland in the near future.



We are delighted to announce that Andrew Dodd is taking on the role of IT Strategy Lead. Andrew’s first passion for teaching is in the field of science, but as a leader and manager it has always been IT.  He began leading on ICT in his first year of teaching at a three form entry junior school and quickly became involved with the county advisory service (ASK), offering “Hands on Support” to local schools and eventually becoming a primary ICT consultant working with a patch of nearly 100 schools in Kent. A move into the independent sector followed, as Head of ICT across the Schools at Somerhill, before a spell in Dubai as Leader of Learning Technologies for two newly opened schools.  After a break from leadership, he is now excited to have the opportunity to support the development and effective use of IT at St Michael’s.

And Goodbye

Jess Haynes

As we reach the end of the academic year it is time to say goodbye to our gap student, Jess Haynes. Jess first left us in 2014 as a St Michael’s pupil moving on to Kent College with a sports scholarship. We were delighted to welcome her back to be our gap student for 2019-20 and now she leaves us again to start her degree in Sports Science & Coaching at Nottingham Trent University. Jess has made an outstanding contribution to the school this year and her infectious energy, enthusiasm and commitment has benefited both pupils and staff. She has been a huge support to both Prep and Pre-Prep and we will all miss her hugely. We wish Jess every success in her next chapter and thank her for the joy and fun she has bought to us all this year. 


Karen Voce

Karen Voce will be retiring from her role as Marketing Assistant on 31st August to spend more time with her family and travel the world. Karen has worked tirelessly for St Michael’s, her dedication and loyalty to the School, its families, pupils and staff has been truly inspiring. She is a true professional, a Michaelian through and through, and is always willing to offer advice and guidance to all of us. I know that everyone will miss her, her wisdom and wicked sense of humour and we all hope she will still come back and see us.  Karen has many landmarks in her career at St Michael’s but I would like to thank her personally for her continual support, the yearly magazine, her management of Twitter, the organisation of two highly successful Senior School Fairs, the management of the website and, of course, the weekly newsletter. 

 Enjoy the travelling and think of your friends back at St Michael’s!

School News

On Monday, we would like the children to wear rainbow colours (either as individuals or as a coordinated bubble!) as a final fundraiser for the year. This will be in support of the NHS and children can bring a donation for this with them on the day.

Zerrin Leech and Fraser Wiseman

School Shop Summer Opening

The school shop will be open throughout the Summer for all your back to school needs but visits to the shop will be by appointment only as will our click and collect service.


For the latest information please visit   www.sturdyclothing.co.uk/st-michaels and click on the opening times and info button.


We encourage current parents to take advantage of the click and collect service unless you have a large number of items to buy.  With this in mind, we have created a sizing guide which can be found under the uniform downloads section which we hope you find useful.


For larger purchases, if you wish to book an appointment, please visit our website and click on the link found via the opening times and info button.


Should you need any further help, please do not hesitate to e-mail us at stmichaels@sturdyclothing.co.uk or call 07713 632284 with any queries or concerns you may have and we will do our best to help.


Déjà Vu Summer Opening

Déjà Vu will be open to receive donations of old uniform at the following times over the summer holidays:


10th July, 10-12


17th July, 9.30-11.30


24th July, 2-4


31st July, 9.30-11.30


14th August, 12-2


2nd September, 2-4


4th September, 9.30-11.30


Please could you bring donations and leave them on the table outside the second hand shop.


We do not sell anything with the old logo on, white shirts/blouses, grey shorts and trousers (other than the Pre-Prep cord shorts), or any shoes or sports equipment so please could you take these items directly to the charity bin in the Nursery car park or to your local charity shop.


Headteacher’s Stars

S Doyle For fantastic resilience with poetry and for producing some lovely writing
E Hudson For demonstrating excellent commitment in order to complete Cogmed
I Sharma For demonstrating excellent commitment in order to complete Cogmed
A Digweed For demonstrating excellent commitment in order to complete Cogmed
J Bomphrey For demonstrating excellent commitment in order to complete Cogmed
J Cosgrove For demonstrating excellent commitment in order to complete Cogmed
E Newton For demonstrating excellent commitment in order to complete Cogmed
W Deacon For demonstrating excellent commitment in order to complete Cogmed
E Newton For demonstrating excellent commitment in order to complete Nessy
L Shi For demonstrating excellent commitment in order to complete Nessy
E Soper For demonstrating excellent commitment in order to complete Nessy
A Saini For incredible effort, engagement and enthusiasm throughout remote learning

Touch, Type, Read and Spell Summer Holiday Courses

Please click here for information about summer courses offered by Tunbridge Wells TTRS Centre.

Sports News

Our wonderful swimmers have been at it again breaking numerous school records this year. We held off announcing due to the current situation, in the hope we might have been back in the pool, but certificates were awarded last week. Huge congratulations to A Ashton and S Taylor in Year 4, E Green and I Pennington Legh in Year 5, A Green in Year 6, A Mourgue D’Algue and O Bowen in Year 7 and P Parker Swift in Year 8 who all broke school records this year in the pool.

Mrs Denton

Mr Thomas’ Summer Hockey Camp

Mr Thomas will be holding his Summer Hockey Camp at Hollybush Hockey Pitch from Monday 17th – Thursday 20th August, 10am – 3pm

Please email Mr Thomas on jnthomas88@outlook.com to reserve your space.

Please note the following from the organisers: We are hoping that all government restrictions will be lifted by then. We will be following all England Hockey guidelines and may have to limit the numbers to much less that we normally would. Please sign up early to avoid any disappointment.

Senior School Virtual Tours and Open Days

Many Senior Schools are offering virtual tours and Open Days at the moment. We’ll be updating our Senior Schools Information page as we hear about them. Most of the schools are offering traditional Open Days from September and booking forms for both traditional and virtual open events are available on their websites. Links to the schools are available on our Senior Schools Information page.

The following schools are currently offering virtual Open Days or Tours:


Bethany School

Brighton College

Caterham School

Christ’s Hospital

Cobham Hall

Dover College

Eastbourne College


King’s Canterbury

King’s Rochester

Lingfield College

Radnor House

St Catherine’s School, Bramley

Sevenoaks School

Tonbridge School

Wellington College

Whitgift School – click here for your Virtual Open Event Invitation



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