eNews: Friday 4th December 2020

From the Acting Head

We’ve ended the week with cold rain and grey skies, but it’s been a vibrant and colourful week of learning nevertheless! Christmas spirit is tangible throughout the school, and this week we lit the fire in the Prep reception which has warmed our souls and is a beautiful site alongside the magnificent Christmas tree.

 

On Tuesday, we enjoyed a wonderful Christingle service for Years 2 and 3 pupils. The pupils sang beautifully and with infectious enthusiasm, which I hope you have enjoyed through the video recordings of the events. I was dancing in my study when the Year 3s were rehearsing outside; they had so much spirit! The Christingle service focuses on bringing light and hope to those who might need it around the world. It was touching to hear the wishes that the children had written for all of you this Christmas: hope, love, peace, justice and a merry Christmas were among them. I really do hope they come true.

 

We have also enjoyed our first Nativity plays this week courtesy of Nursery. It was an absolute joy to see the children sing their Christmas songs, and I was as mesmerised as them by Mrs Stibbon’s enchanting story. Mrs Ravayeh’s music was terrific, and I was incredibly impressed by the children’s focus, engagement and actions which accompanied each song. Thank you to all of the team for creating this wonderful event for the children and such a lovely performance for us to enjoy.

 

I look forward to seeing more performances in Pre-Prep next week; I know that the children have been rehearsing incredibly hard and I am sure you will look forward to watching their performances on video in due course. In Prep School, the Music Scholars performed around the Christmas tree as part of the Crackin’ Christmas Concert. The festive music performances are always a highlight for me. I hope that you will enjoy an evening watching the videos together as a family, and that it will be memorable and unique in this new format.

 

I wish you all a fantastic weekend and I look forward to seeing the children on Monday morning for their last full week of the Michaelmas Term.

 

Mary Bridges

 

From the Head of Pre-Prep

The first Nativities performed by Nursery have been delightful and I am sure next week will be no exception. I am sorry you will not be able to come in to see them this year, but we will endeavour to film each performance and share the relevant one with you. I would like to say a huge thank you to all the Pre-Prep staff who always work so hard to bring these performances together; from organising the scripts, to sorting positions, costumes, music, singing and actions. Mrs Ravayeh needs a special mention for her hard work on the music for all five different year groups!

The Jersey Tour happens each year for the seniors at Prep school. They usually have a chance to fundraise at the Fireworks Night and the Christmas Bazaar. This year they haven’t been able to do this, so they have arranged a competition for the children: Guess How Many Sweets are in the Jar has been running this week and will continue through to next week. Children need to bring in £1 for every guess they wish to make, with the winner being the child with a guess closest to the right number of sweets. Thursday 10th December will be the last day for guesses.

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. Donations on the day will be appreciated.

 

Overheard in Pre-Prep:

“My Dad was born in Bethlehem.”

“Was your Dad Jesus?”

“Yes, then he died and came back as my Dad!”

 

Have a lovely Tier 3 weekend.

 

Zerrin Leech   

 

 

Key Dates for Pre-Prep:

 

Thursday 10th December:       

AM Christmas Parties for Nursery and Kindergarten

 

Friday 11th December:  

AM Christmas Parties for Nursery and Kindergarten

PM Christmas Parties for Reception, Year 1 and Year 2

 

Please don’t forget to bring in a plate of food for your child (labelled) which must be nut-free. This includes products such as Nutella and sesame seeds.

From the Deputy Head

 

Uniform and clothing

I have noticed that there are more and more non-uniform coats, hats and gloves coming into school now the weather is getting colder.

Can I please ask everyone to re-acquaint themselves with the uniform list on the website Uniform-List-Feb-2020.pdf (stmichaels.kent.sch.uk)

 

Only senior pupils are allowed to wear non-uniform coats and have non-uniform school bags.

 

I am also growing increasingly concerned by the apparent epidemic of foot problems that seem to be sweeping the school, especially Years 6, 7 and 8. There has been a marked increase in the number of children found to be wearing trainers (when they should have shoes on) and their response has, more often than not, been that they have sore feet, and this is the reason for their wearing of trainers. Alas, when asked, there does not appear to be any professional medical advice or note to back this up. I would ask that if your child is genuinely suffering from feet issues, please book them to see a podiatrist and inform the school of this so we are aware. If they do not have any feet issues, I expect them to be wearing school shoes to school.

 

Fraser Wiseman

Pre-Prep Gold Star Winners

Arya G for lovely ideas about how to rescue Old Bear

Siena L for trying to read with more expression

Henry G for saying his words brilliantly during rehearsal

Noah L for great participation in all of our activities

Matthew D for fantastic and enthusiastic participation in every activity

Ian V for wonderful singing and dancing in our rehearsal

Louis N for trying so hard with his reading

Millie I.W for becoming so much more independent in class

Winston G for fantastic doubling work in maths

Theia H for having the voice of an angel and singing her solo piece beautifully

Ellie S for a great improvement in her handwriting

Elodie B for super effort and singing during our rehearsals

Oliver A for saying his lines so clearly

Peter S for always being polite and offering to help

Olivia K for working exceptionally hard in areas of the curriculum

Adam O for confidently working on problems involving 2D and 3D shapes

Abigail T for knowing her Nativity lines and cues really well

Lucy T for showing a good understanding of punctuation

Luke S for working hard in all subjects and making great contributions to whole class discussions

Charlie M for fantastic maths work on 2D shapes and remembering their properties

Headteacher’s Stars

C Dulski for showing wonderful kindness to classmates

G Wilson for a fantastic guitar performance in class

A O’Brien for writing her own book at home

I Giannakis for writing her own book at home

E Fitta for writing her own book at home

T Bax for exceptional effort and engagement in French studies

M Amure for winning the Year 5 & 6 Spelling Bee

J Mayhew for winning the Year 3 & 4 Spelling Bee

 

The following Art Scholars have also been awarded Headteacher’s Stars for creating fantastic lino prints:

G Schneider-Price

K Fryer

C Prongue

H Owen

L Watson

L Shi

N Staples

J Taylor

A Morgue D’Algue

F Alduino

 

School News

Years 2 and 3 Christingle services

This week Years 2 and 3 took part in Christingle services held in the Prep school chapel. Featuring poems, performances and outdoor singing from the pupils, the services were a beautiful celebration of Christmas and a very positive start to December. Although parents were not able to attend the services this year, a film of the event has been sent to Years 2 and 3 families, which we hope will create a special viewing experience at home.

All materials for the pupils’ Christingles were kindly donated to St Michael’s by The Children’s Society. The charity said: “Outstanding from Years 2 and 3! Christingle is all about shining hope and light in the darkest moments, thank you all for helping us spread joy and for your support.”

Highlights of the event can be viewed on the St Michael’s YouTube page:

Christmas at St Michael’s!

This week saw the start of St Michael’s festive celebrations, beginning with the Nursery Nativities and Prep music concert performances.

On Thursday and Friday, the Nursery groups took part in musical re-tellings of the Nativity story featuring 13 different Christmas songs and a range of musical instruments. The children sung beautifully and had a lot of fun performing their well-rehearsed songs and actions with their teachers.

St Michael’s Head of Pre-School, Mrs Stibbons said: “We have certainly had lots of fun in our rehearsals and experiencing the wonder of Christmas through the eyes of the children is a huge highlight for the teachers.”

Meanwhile, Prep pupils have also been spreading Christmas joy with spectacular performances of We Wish You a Merry Christmas, While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night and Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree by the Junior String group, Chamber Music group and Music Scholars group. We look forward to sharing the final concert with parents via film, later this term.

 

Spelling Bee success for Josie!

 

On Friday 4th December, Years 3 and 4 pupils took part in a Spelling Bee hosted by Mrs Andrade.

Challenged with spellings such as phenomenon, privilege, sincerely and secretary, it was a tricky competition

Winner of the Spelling Bee, Josie in Year 4, triumphed with her correct spelling of the word ‘bargain’.

Well done, Josie!

 

Jersey Tour sweet fundraiser

The Year 8 Jersey Tour is always an important event of the calendar which the pupils fundraise for at Fireworks Night and the Christmas Bazaar. Sadly, St Michael’s Prep in Jersey have had to cancel the tour this year due to the Covid-19 epidemic. We are still hopeful of being able to provide some kind of replacement trips and visits package for our Year 8s (dependent on restrictions) and have therefore looked at different ways of fund-raising to help this happen.

Over the next week, Pre-Prep and Prep pupils will be invited to Guess How Many Sweets are in the Jar in exchange for a £1 donation.

We hope that this fun competition will help to spread some Christmas joy among the children, meanwhile raising money for this very important end-of-year activity.

Déjà Vu uniform shop

Déjà Vu is open again at the usual times of 8.15-9.15am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with one customer allowed in the shop at a time. Masks must be worn when in the shop.

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

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