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

We are delighted to announce that former St Michael’s pupil Jess Haynes has selected to join the Loughborough Lightning Superleague Netball team.

Jess, who attended St Michael’s between 2008 and 2014 and returned as a GAP Student in 2019, made her Superleague and Sky Sports debut on Saturday 5th June against Celtic Dragons at the Copperbox Arena in London, after which she was officially announced as Loughborough Lightning squad member No. 102.

Lightning are currently in second place in the Superleague behind Team Bath and have already secured their place in the playoffs.

Jess, whose matches with Lightning will be broadcast live on the Sky Sports Netball platforms, said: “I feel so honoured and excited to be given this opportunity. It has been a bit of a whirlwind over the last couple of weeks so it was great to get on court and make my Superleague debut at the Copperbox . I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season with such an amazing squad. I always love coming back to St Michael’s to coach the current pupils, to share my love of sport and to show that dreams do come true!”

Jess joined Loughborough Lightning U21 NPL Squad from London Pulse in September 2020 when she started studying at Nottingham Trent University where she is part of their Performance Sport Programme.

And it was St Michael’s where her passion for netball began. Jess’ mum, Clare, said: “Jess’ year group team were a strong squad who enjoyed a high level of success at both local and national IAPS level. Jess played all sports during her time here where she achieved a great deal of success across the board . She left at the end of Year 8 to continue her education at Kent College Pembury with a Sports Scholarship. Her place in the Loughborough Lightning Super League is a huge opportunity for her.”

Mrs Wade, who coached Jess during her time at St Michael’s, added: “We are extremely proud of Jess and all she has achieved since leaving St Michael’s. I had the delight of watching Jess’ netball skills grow tremendously during her time with us and it is no surprise that Jess’ dedication to the sport has landed her this incredible opportunity. We look forward to hearing about her future successes and seeing her on Sky Sports!”

A swarm of bees, pride of lions and bloom of ladybirds could be seen roaming the school grounds on Friday 28th May as the Prep school celebrated Go Wild Day in aid of local charities Kent Wildlife Trust and Otford Hospices of Hope.

The action-packed charity day, organised by the School Council to raise awareness of the local causes, raised an amazing £727.04.

Mr Baird, Acting Deputy Head, said: “It was amazing to see so many staff and pupils dressing up for this brilliant fundraising event. A big thank you to the School Council and Year 8 prefects who played a key part in the success of the event, and to the pupils for putting so much effort and energy into the activities.”

Throughout the day, pupils took part in fundraising activities including an exotic bring and buy sale where pupils exchanged good quality toys and games. The afternoon events also included a face painting session for the children led by the senior Art Scholars group.

Fundraising & Communications Manager at Otford Hospices of Hope, Jessica McKechie added: “We were delighted to hear that St Michael’s Prep School chose to fundraise for Hospices of Hope with their Go Wild Day. Being supported locally is so important for our charity and we are really grateful to all the children and staff who took part. The funds raised will help us to support our patients with vital care, some of whom are children too and will love to hear about the activities the school arranged in order to help them.”

St Michael’s Go Wild Day forms part of its longterm plan to improve the wildlife around their 90-acre site as well as increasing the school community’s awareness of the importance of conserving nature.

Delighted by St Michael’s efforts, Acting Head of Education and Lifelong Learning at Kent Wildlife Trust, Lee Mason-Baldwin said: “Wow, what a brilliant effort and superb, heart-warming achievement, thank you so much! We love the gorgeous colourful activities and the fun you’ve had to help animals, plants, bugs and birds which is crucial for developing a life-long love of wildlife. Your support will help us on our quest for a wilder Kent, rich in wildlife for everyone to enjoy, forever.”

For more information about St Michael’s Prep School please visit their website: https://www.stmichaels.kent.sch.uk/


We are hugely proud to announce that past St Michael’s pupils L Bingham and A Faulstich have been selected for the England Under 16 Hockey Squad.

The Year 10 pupils, who currently attend Weald of Kent Grammar School and Tonbridge Grammar School were announced as members last week following many months of training and assessment.

Congratulating the girls on their achievement, Mrs Wade, who taught them PE during their time at St Michael’s, said: “We are extremely proud of Lottie and Anna and all they have achieved since they left St Michael’s. They were extremely hardworking in all their sports at school and it is great to hear that they have taken their hockey to such a high level. We look forward to hearing about their future success.”

A huge congratulations to both girls on this amazing achievement.

St Michael’s Prep School, Otford was delighted to welcome concert pianist Nicholas McCarthy as the special guest for its Scholars’ Day on Thursday 20th May.

Mr McCarthy, who was the first left-hand-only graduate of the Royal College of Music in its 130-year history, hosted a music masterclass with the school’s Music Scholars, before joining the wider Scholars group for an evening of food and entertainment.

Nicholas said: “It has been so wonderful to work with the pupils today. The performance standard of the Scholars is fantastic and their personalities came across in their performances. It was lovely to see.”

During his visit, the talented musician shared his story with St Michael’s including his performance with band Coldplay at the 2012 Paralympics Closing Ceremony. Nicholas also offered words of encouragement for overcoming setbacks and barriers. He said: “At my first audition I was turned away because they just didn’t believe I could play the piano with one hand. I had to dig deep and find that resilience to carry on achieving my dream. Very quickly that fire built back up and I was determined to prove them wrong.”

Commenting on the success of the event, St Michael’s Deputy Head Mary Bridges said: “We were delighted to host a special event for our current scholars, incoming scholars and our Year 8 pupils who have achieved scholarships at their senior schools. Nicholas words inspired all of us and his performance was absolutely stunning. It was a true mark of excellence.”

To view a highlights reel of the event or watch the full interview with St Michael’s Head Nik Pears and Nicholas McCarthy please visit their YouTube page.