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

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