eNews: Friday 6th September 2019

From the Head

Welcome back everyone! And an especially warm welcome to all our new pupils, their families and the new staff. I hope you had a wonderful summer and a great start to the new year.

One of the fantastic things about the holidays is that it enables me to see my own adult children who live in other countries now. With the flights that were taken by our family this summer I was impressed that my children have offset their carbon travel footprint and where feasible travelled across land by public transport rather than flying. We didn’t reach the impressive levels that Greta Thunberg did, sailing across the Atlantic to attend the climate conference, but I confess my children’s actions have encouraged me to do the same.

This summer I had the added excitement of learning that in January I will become a grandmother. As we as a family have become used to the idea that the next generation is on the way and have begun to think about the responsibility of that, it’s been lovely also to watch the preparations, the reading, the commitment and the sense of anticipation at the impending new arrival.

One of the unexpected gains of the reading material that my son and his wife are working through is the delightful news that all the pointers to good parenting outlined in the book, which is based on scientific research about childrearing, are things that largely they recognised as having been done by us to them. Hurrah, I say. Well done us.

But of course as we were reminded in our training this week, this most important job of bringing up children is something that as parents we simply do not have training for and so it is vital to share worries, challenges, theories and learning on the subject with other parents so that collectively we can learn to do exactly what is needed to bring out the very best in our children.

As the new year begins in earnest this week, the staff have enjoyed three days of training and preparation and some quality input from a range of professionals to help and guide them, as every year, in reflecting and refining what they do. We’ve covered safeguarding, working closely with parents, using TAs effectively, thinking about increasing engagement through questioning, training about IT and lifeguarding. It’s been a busy time but a stimulating one.

But for us the learning doesn’t stop when the teaching starts. In fact the opposite is true because as receptive and reflective practitioners we gather information all day long about what is needed by our pupils and you as parents can help us in that endeavour by letting us know significant things that will help us respond. Certainly teaching is shaped by the feedback we get, by the engagement we sense, by the inspiration we detect and we learn from as well as about the pupils we teach.

Just as I learnt from my adult family this summer so too we all learn from collaborating with you and with your children. Here’s to a fantastic year together !

Jill Aisher

Staff News

Patrick O’Keefe, Governor of St Michael’s

A Sevenoaks resident since the age of 10 and degree educated in construction management at the University of Manchester’s Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), Patrick has spent his entire working career at the O’Keefe Group, joining the company from university and having a leadership role for over 20 years. At the O’Keefe Group, Patrick has delivered controlled growth over this period as well as continued investment in their people and their infrastructure.

Patrick has worked with a number of Non Executive Directors as well as furthering his own development at the London Business School. He also acts as a consultant in the field of Family Business and works as a mentor for young executives working in various sectors, but within a family business unit. Patrick has worked with a variety of charitable sports clubs local in the area, working with the senior management teams

Patrick’s three children all attended St Michael’s over a 16 year period from 2002 to 2018. We are delighted he is joining the governing body.

Tatyana Syradford, Peripatetic Piano Teacher


Tatyana Stratford is a piano graduate of the St. Petersburg State Conservatoire, Russia (Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance, Chamber Ensemble, Piano Accompaniment and Teaching) with a strong background and passion for music education. Tatyana combines a rigour of Russian Piano School and a holistic, healthy appoach of teaching music through singing and movement. She is inspired by Kodaly, Dalcroze and Colourstrings pedagogical methods.

Tatyana understands that every child is unique and tries to tailor piano lessons individually to their abilities. Her aim is to foster confidence at the piano, an enjoyment of music making, a creative imagination and fundamentals such as as the development of technical proficiency, sight reading skills and to be able to play piano with artistry.


Tatyana believes that music stays with us for the rest of our lives. It develops intellectual, cognitive abilities, balances and enriches our emotional world, improves reading and discipline, and increases children’s creative capabilities. Being introduced to a good quality music education is fundamentally important for a growing child.

Tatyana’s interests apart from music are theatre, history of art, philosophy, walking and camping.



Mike Guy, Peripatetic Piano Teacher

Over the past fifteen years, Mike has been involved in a wide variety of musical
genres and performing situations, and currently maintains a busy schedule as
professional performer on accordion and piano/keyboards, as well as working
as a musical director and composer/arranger.
Originally from Melbourne, in 2004 Mike spent a few months in the Caribbean
before moving to London, where he has worked with a host of UK and
international talent including Sophie Solomon, The Puppini Sisters, Nina Ferro,
Osvaldo Chacon, Roberto Pla, Lisa Stansfield, Dame Edna Everage, Macy Gray,
the National Symphony Orchestra, Anais Mitchell, Todd Sickafoose and others.
Mike performs regularly at a host of venues throughout central London,
including the Quecumbar, the 606 Club, the Vortex, the Spice Of Life,
Pizza Express Dean Street, the Pheasantry and others.
Mike enjoys cycling, reading and cooking, and is looking forward very much to
commencing work at St Michael’s.

Jess Haynes, Gap Student

Jess is very excited to be returning to St Michael’s as a Gap Year Student. She was a pupil here from 2008 to 2014, before winning a sports scholarship to Kent College Pembury where she completed her education. Her hobbies include many different sports and activities such as netball, photography and travel.

Jess plays netball for London Pulse U21’s and last year toured Australia with the England U17’s squad. She has also achieved her Sports Leaders Qualification where she coached younger children of all abilities. Jess is really looking forward to joining the team at St Michael’s!

News from Pre-Prep

• Monday 9th Sept Year 2 parents coffee morning 8.45am – 9.30am
• Tuesday 10th Sept Year 1 parents coffee morning 8.45am – 9.30am
• Wednesday 11th Sept Reception parents coffee morning 8.45am – 9.30am
• Monday 16th Sept Nursery Mon/Wed/Fri parents coffee morning 8.45am – 9.30am
• Tuesday 17th Sept Nursery Tues/Thurs parents coffee morning 8.45am – 9.30am
• Wednesday 18th September Kindergarten parents coffee morning 8.45 – 9.30am

Welcome to the Michaelmas term. It was so lovely to see all the smiling faces on Thursday morning despite many of you having been held up by more than one lorry!
I am so pleased that Stable Court is back in proper use after 6 years. The builders BMR, have done a brilliant job on the sympathetic refurbishment of our building and the Year 2 children are very excited to be the first children using the classrooms. I know over time there will be art work to complement the spaces. If you need to access the Year 2 classrooms at any time you will need to go via our Pre-Prep main building and sign in as at Reception as normal. You will not be able to get through the black gates into the courtyard.

I am sure you have labelled every item of clothing but if I could remind you to label book bags, snack boxes and wellies it really does help the Pre-Prep staff to return things to the right child.

I know you have all received a letter requesting that you keep your child at home if they are poorly, or if they have been sick, for a minimum period of 48 hours. Please do help us to keep our school a healthy one by respecting this, especially as we have a child with a compromised immune system.

During the next two weeks I will be holding coffee mornings for parents of each year group in the Pre-Prep dining room. You are welcome to join me from 8.45am. There will be plenty of time to ask any questions and I intend to finish the coffee mornings with a tour of Stable Court if you so wish.

Overheard: I’m grown up now!

Have a lovely weekend.

Zerrin Leech

Reminder– Late Payment Fee

As previously advised, we have introduced a late payment fee of £100 with effect from 5th September 2019, which will apply if the debt has not been paid within 21 days from the due date, (usually the first day of term).

A reminder about late payment fees is shown on our fee invoices. It is also detailed in our terms and conditions and our fee schedule, both of which are available on the school website www.stmichaels.kent.sch.uk

Di Birmingham

Director of Finance and Operations

On this week’s Message Board

Please log into our Parents’ Portal and click into the Message Board to see new important information as follows:

  • Biographies of our new members of staff
  • Young Readers Festival returns to Sevenoaks

On this week’s Community Events page

Please log into our Parents’ Portal and click into the Community Events page to see community information as follows:

  • Young Readers Festival returns to Sevenoaks

Senior School Open Days

These can now be found on our Senior School page. 

Upcoming events include Christ’s Hospital, Cobham Hall, Haileybury, Kent College Pembury, King’s Rochester, Sevenoaks School, Skinner’s School, Tonbridge Girls’ Grammar and Whitgift School.

We’re delighted to announce that our Senior Schools Fair will return to St Michael’s on Thursday 17th October 2019. Keep an eye on our Senior Schools Information page for details.

Latest News




Sunsets and sizzling sausages set the tone for the new term last Friday as Year 7 pupils celebrated the start of their senior education journey.

The annual event, traditionally held as a Camp Out, was delivered as a fun-filled barbecue night which the children enjoyed with teachers including St Michael’s Acting Head, Mrs Bridges.

Throughout the evening pupils tucked into dinner cooked by Deputy Head Mr Wiseman, and toasted marshmallows on an open fire.

And to make use of their new term energy, games and group bonding activites were carried out, followed by a walk up the school’s famous Warren where the sunset was relished in all of its glory.

Reflecting on the sucess of the event, Head of Year 7 and 8, Mrs Shield, said: “Unfortunately, we were unable to camp this year, but that did not dampen anybody’s spirits.

“One of the highlights of the evening was our twilight walk to the top of the Warren where we marvelled at the beautiful site that our school occupies.

“We viewed the bats swirling the skies in the dusk of late summer and ended the evening with a well-deserved hot chocolate – not forgetting the squirty cream and yet more marshmallows.

“Life-long friendships were made and re-established after the long summer break.”

This month St Michael’s Prep is celebrating the opening of its new Astro Turf pitch.

Completed during Summer 2020, the state-of-the-art facility will provide a huge boost to the school’s sporting facilities and allow it to offer a broader range of activities including boys hockey and football to its pupils.

Its floodlights will also enable St Michael’s to host sports matches during evenings, as well as inviting external schools and clubs to enjoy the new pitch throughout the year.

Ben Bridges, Director of Sports at St Michael’s, said: “We’re really excited to use the Astro Turf for the first time this month.

“We feel extremely lucky to be able to offer this to our pupils in both Prep and Pre-prep and are thrilled about the benefits it will bring to our sporting curriculum.

“As well as hockey, the new pitch will allow us to offer many other sports to pupils and will prevent the children from missing lessons due to inclement weather.”

Planning for the Astro Turf began in 2014 and has seen St Michael’s grounds undergo a significant transformation since construction began last summer. During this time pupils were fascinated by the diggers, dumpers and bulldozers which visited the school, while nursery and kindergarten children were treated to close-up views of the machinery.

Mr Bridges added: “Although it was a slightly delayed start due to the poor weather we faced, this feels like the perfect time to put the incredible space to good use.

“This is really going to move sport at St Michael’s to the next level, as well as providing us with opportunities to engage with the local community. We’re excited all round.”


The Governors of St. Michael’s Prep School take pleasure in announcing the appointment of Nik Pears as our new Head Teacher with effect from January 2021.

Nik was educated at St Dunstan’s College, London and is a graduate of Cambridge University. He is currently Head of Prep at Kent College Pembury, a post he has held since 2016. Prior to that, he was Headmaster of the Junior School at Sevenoaks Prep for 5 years. Nik is also an ISI inspector and a governor at Dulwich Prep, Cranbrook. We believe that he has the experience and qualities required to lead St Michael’s into the next chapter of its history.

Nik represented Kent U18 group at rugby and has a love of all sports. He is an accomplished musician and has performed at The O2 and Wembley Arenas. He is an Ambassador for “We See Hope”, a charity working with orphans and vulnerable young people in sub Saharan Africa. Nik devised The Social Entrepreneurs Project an initiative that challenges young people to turn £10 seed capital into £100 or more with their profits going to support the work of the charity.

We feel very fortunate to have secured Nik’s headship and welcome him and his wife Emma and two children, Jessica and Josiah into the St. Michael’s family from the start of next year. Nik has said

“I am delighted to have been appointed the next Head of St Michael’s Prep. Having lived in the area for the past twenty years, it is a school I have known and long admired for its ambitious and child-centred approach to learning. There is a very special atmosphere in the school and I am excited to become a part of the community, getting to know the children, parents and staff over the months and years ahead. St Michael’s is privileged to have an experienced and committed Senior Leadership Team and I very much look forward to working together with them as we embark on an exciting future for the school.” 

Some of our super St Michael’s Swimmers have won an array of silverware at recent events.

At the Sevenoaks Swimming Club presentation evening, I Pennington Legh was presented with the Kingsbury Cup for U10 girls; A Green was awarded the Kingsbury Cup for U10 boys; E Green received runner up plate for the best U9 boy; S. Taylor was awarded the Mike Radford Trophy for most improved U9 boy; A Ashton was presented with the U9 Individual Medley Cup and U9 trophy for most improved swimmer; B Tovey and J Taylor were both awarded plaques with their positions from the recent Sevenoaks Club Championships.

At the Black Lion Gala, Gillingham, at the start of March our swimmers again came away with medals. A Ashton won three gold, one bronze, one fourth and one sixth medal; A Green three gold and two silver medals; E Green four silver and one bronze medal; S Taylor one silver and one fourth medal and J Taylor a fourth position medal. V Medlen also came away with a medal from the gala.

Well done to all those swimmers; your hard work and dedication is certainly paying off!

Mrs Denton

Swim School Manager