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

As Y5 pupil, C Hunter, explained during Monday’s assembly, Sevenoaks School has organised weekly food/supply collections for those in need during these very uncertain times.  The collections have benefited local organisations such as One Big Family: Helping the Homeless, Friends for Families, The Hygiene Bank, Sevenoaks Food Bank: Loaves & Fishes, Community Cupboard, area primary schools and others.  Miss Cat Davison, the School’s Director of Service and Social Impact, updates its online social media feeds (@sevenoaksimpact on Twitter and Instagram) with the items needed each week.  We hope that you will consider helping with this effort.  Together we can make a huge difference for those living right here in our community!
The details of the collections are provided below.  If you do wish to participate, please ensure that items are unopened and handled with washed or sanitised hands, and that social distancing is strictly adhered to on delivery.
What: Food, Supplies (check social media links for current needs)
When:   Every Tuesday, 9am – 12pm
Where: Outside Claridge House, Sevenoaks School,TN13 1HU
(Claridge House is just to the right of the main entrance of Knole Park on High Street)
On Monday our community-minded pupil also discussed a book collection which took place earlier this year for children in Ghana.  Below are photos of EduSpots centres where the books are available for local communities throughout Ghana.

We’ve been amazed by the phenomenal success of the Art Department’s recent challenge “Painting without Paint”. Set as part of our remote learning programme, children were asked to select a work of art of their choice and to recreate it at home – but without using paint!

The Art Department has been overwhelmed by submissions, which Miss Rodwell, described as “creative, humorous and inventive”. She added “Staff have been impressed by submissions that showed how carefully the children have looked at their chosen artworks in order to create such brilliant responses.”

Posts on our Twitter account have received positive responses from prestigious art galleries, such as the Tate and the National Gallery, with The Lowry in Manchester commenting “Wow, we love this!!” on T Neville’s version of L S Lowry’s “Man Lying on a Wall”. But it’s not just art galleries in the UK, who have responded to the children’s art; their work has been liked by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Dresden and the Mauritshuis in Den Haag. One Year 3 pupil, who was inspired by artist Aja Trier, even reached New York, as permission was sought to post an image of one of her paintings. She was delighted to allow us to feature her work and on seeing J Gagg’s interpretation commented “Oh my gosh that is precious! Please tell the artist I love it! I will post on my Instagram and Facebook. Thank you!” She went on to tell us “I am always so humbled when kids are inspired by my work, but this is next level!”

In order to show you all the wonderful work our pupils have done, we’ve put together an online gallery of the work. Talking about the project and the reaction, Mrs Barratt declared “This is wonderful!” and reactions from other schools included the comment “Excellent work St Michael’s Art Department this is a really fun activity”.

Mrs Bridges told us “I am absolutely delighted, and inspired, by the way that the children have responded to these challenges. Creativity is keeping us connected, not only within our own community but across the world too!”

We can’t wait to see what the department comes up with next. Miss Rodwell is keeping us in suspense “I’ve been working on a new one today …”. We’re sure that our pupils will have even more opportunity to excel!

Click here to view our online gallery of more ingenious images.

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

Well done to our doubles girls, E Julio and S Savidge, who also played in last weekend’s Junior Orange Ball Tournament in Sevenoaks. They played four matches, won two, beating Sevenoaks Prep and Lady Boswell’s and lost two to the eventual finalists Amherst and Granville.

This was a great performance by the girls, particularly in the light of little experience of Orange Ball competition.

Well done!