eNews: Friday 9th October 2020

From the Acting Head

 

This week we held our first Open Morning of the year via Zoom. It was a wonderful occasion where we shared pupils’ views and some superb musical performances. As expected, the pupils stole the show; their speeches and performances sparkled with confidence, care and passion for life at St Michael’s. I think my favourite Open Morning moment came from Nik in Year 2 when asked why parents should send their children to St Michael’s: without hesitation, he replied: “Why not?!”. Thank you to everyone involved in this event.

The performances and speeches from Open Morning are being shared on social media currently, and I encourage you to have a look at recent content on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram which give you an insight into what the children are doing each day. Whilst we are not able to invite you in to see school life in person, we hope that this content enables you to see what the children are experiencing at school.

My job at Open Morning was to summarise St Michael’s in under ten minutes. As you can imagine, this was a huge challenge! However, I do love a good challenge, and the children will be able to tell you that it’s good for the brain. In response to my challenge, I focused on the core reason why our teachers teach: to prepare our children for life. One of the only certainties about the future is that it will be different from what we know now. With technology growing at an incredible speed, our children need to be prepared for things that we have not yet experienced and find hard to imagine. So, how do you prepare a child for the unknown?

We prepare our children by having a significant focus on their skills as people. They learn about the importance and value of kindness, of being helpful and how to think creatively and solve problems by working collaboratively with others. The children also learn to be grateful for the incredible opportunities that they have access to each day and that embracing curiosity and wonder is exciting and will add passion and joy to the everyday. These are the skills that will help them to deal with the challenges and set back backs that they will undoubtedly face as they grow.

In a future of increased technology that will do many jobs for us, what will set the children from St Michael’s apart is their ability to communicate, to connect and to care. The world needs more people like the wonderful children that race into our buildings each day, and we are all excited to see what they will go on to achieve.

 

I know that for many of our Year 6 pupils taking the Kent 11+ test next week, anticipation may be growing in their minds. It is important for them all to remember they are and have been, working really hard and that they need to keep a balance between study and rest. The children are well prepared, can only do their best on the day itself and, unfortunately, worrying about what’s to come will not help them. I recommend some important ‘down time’ this weekend, with plenty of fresh air and racing about as well as perhaps snuggling into a cosy corner and finishing their current book.

 

Thank you for your ongoing support. I wish you a happy and restful weekend.

 

Mary Bridges

From the Head of Pre-Prep

Thank you for your patience with the emergency road works in Pilgrims Way this week. We know it is hugely frustrating and your journeys have taken far longer than usual. We realise children may be late in so please reassure your children that this is not something their teachers will worry about.

Taz Usher, Marketing Assistant, has filmed this year’s harvest assembly and put together a video of Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. She has posted this on our YouTube channel and has sent a link to parents, so please have a look at this. Thank you to Taz for masterminding this.

We have now cleared the staff parking at the lower end of the Pre-Prep car park so if you wish to use these spaces for “rolling pickup” as well as the ones we usually use by the barrier, please do so. Please do not use these spaces for just sitting and waiting in your car. We wish to keep these for a quick pick up and immediate exit from the school site.

Overheard at a rather damp Forest School: “Why don’t we call this Rainforest School?”

Have a lovely weekend,

Zerrin Leech

A message from the Admissions Team

If you currently have a child at St Michael’s and their sibling would be eligible to join in Nursery or Reception 2021 please contact the Admissions Department at jrye@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk. We have limited spaces available in these year groups and we are filling up fast.

Online Safety

 

Dear Parents,

 

With the ongoing pandemic and the potential of a second lockdown, it is essential to remind you how to keep our children safe when online. This includes using devices to access various online platforms and social media.

 

It is important that you know what devices your child has access to which connect to the Internet. The Internet is a place where your child can potentially:

  • Communicate with someone they do not know
  • Access inappropriate/harmful content

 

What can you do?

  • Do your research – read product reviews
  • Read device instructions
  • View any Apps before letting your child download them and check the settings
  • Check that the App is age-appropriate for your child
  • Set up parental controls on the device
  • Switch devices off if you’re not using them
  • Talk to your child about online safety and how they can keep themselves safe. Guidelines for this can be found on the Parents’ Portal.

There are many websites which offer parental advice, please see the list below:

 

Digital Parenting Magazine:

Here is the online link to the most recent version of the Digital Parenting Magazine: https://parentzone.org.uk/digitalparenting . If you would like a hard copy, please contact Miss Booth via email: jbooth@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk and a copy will be given to your child to bring home.

 

NOS (National Online Safety)

St Michael’s has recently become a member of the NOS (National Online Safety). This system enables us to register our parents to free online courses. The courses we have on offer are:

  • Parents Course Ages 11-14
  • Parents Course Ages 7-11
  • Parents Course Ages 4-7

If you would like to register for one of the above courses, please register via this online form: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=U5hNi2fLrk-Ut9AiLRRZYsxoazIBPR9LsGoI4IB2idFUMEs1TFZHNEpPQ1BESTVJTzUzSURLMUc5OC4u

Children’s accessibility to apps and social media platforms survey:

To help me provide the correct and relevant online safety guidance to our parent body, I would like parents to participate in this short survey so I can see what apps and social media platforms our pupils are using. The survey is non-judgemental, and you can remain anonymous if you wish. The link to the survey can be accessed via this link: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=U5hNi2fLrk-Ut9AiLRRZYsxoazIBPR9LsGoI4IB2idFUN05ERDBOV1dLWlhGVEVBU0lIWVZaSDU4WC4u

 

If you require any advice on online safety, please contact me, Miss Booth, via email on jbooth@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk

 

ParentZone Feed:

There will be a ParentZone feed via the online safety page of the school website coming soon. This will collate the key, updated information regarding online safety via the ParentZone website.

 

Jamie Booth

Staff News

 

Welcome to:

 

Holly Gough- Nursery Assistant 

Holly has just completed a degree in Primary Education and is particularly passionate about children’s literature and promoting a love of reading.

She is a self-confessed country bumpkin and enjoys long walks in the woods with her partner before curling up on the sofa with their cat, a good book and something hot to drink. She is even hoping to complete the Three Peaks Challenge next year.

Holly is very much looking forward to being part of the St Michael’s team and sharing her love of learning with the children.

Headteacher’s Stars

 

The following pupils have been awarded Headteacher’s Stars for their brilliant contributions to this week’s Open Morning:

 

C Handel (Year 3)

O Nathan (Year 4)

M Amure (Year 6)

H Soper (Year 8)

A Moore (Year 8)

A Scott (Year 7)

E Ward (Year 8)

R Landgrebe (Year 8)

Pre-Prep Gold Star Winners

 

Henry G for giving the other children clear instructions of what to do when our morning routine changed.

Herbert W for good work during our number of the week lesson.

William T for wonderful letter writing.

Emily L for always trying hard to write words.

Thomas S for excellent effort in our phonics lessons.

Leo C for a fantastic hand-washing poster.

Emily P for lovely ideas for harvest celebrations.

Sam S for consistently working hard and trying his best in every lesson.

Henry W for brilliant participation and knowledge in Science.

Ellie S for amazing participation in all subjects.

Peter S for a lovely description of harvest.

Edward Z for an interesting explanation about Moon Cakes.

Mona Swan M for brave swimming.

Henry M for being such a polite, kind and hardworking member of the class and approaching everything he does with a smile.

Amelie G for consistently working hard and giving her very best to each lesson and activity.

Adam O for always trying his very best during swimming lessons.

Silas C for writing a very descriptive postcard.

Anna W for always being polite and a good friend to others.

Cleo B for always being up for a challenge in maths.

Viggo W for working hard in literacy and being proud of his work.

Chloe S for superstar maths work all week.

Olanna E for being polite and friendly and always having kind words for other children.

Key Dates

Break up for October Half Term: Friday 16th October

Return to school: Monday 2nd November

 

Prep

ISEB pre-test dates for the Michaelmas Term:

Friday 6th November
Friday 27th November

School News

Pupils give to a great cause

 

We have been amazed by the generosity of St Michael’s families over the last two weeks.

Donating to the Swanley branch of the Trussell Trust food bank, we have filled several tables with plentiful amounts of food, toiletries and other household essentials which will go to those who need it most at this time.

We would like to express a huge thanks to parents who helped us give to this fantastic cause.

 

Harvest Festival Video

 

 

Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 pupils performed three beautiful harvest festival assemblies to their teachers last week with the help of Mrs Ravayeh.

Please visit our YouTube channel to view a video montage of the event.

School Shop Half Term Opening Hours

 

 

The school shop will be open on the second Friday during the half term, Friday 30th October from 11am-1pm.

 

From the P & F Association

Halloween Competitions

It’s been some time since we’ve been able to run an event so we thought a little fun before the half term holidays would be a good idea.

We’re delighted to announce that next week children in Prep will have the chance to ‘Guess the weight of the pumpkin’ and Pre-Prep children will ‘Guess the number of spooky spiders in the jar’.

We are requesting a donation of £1 for each guess. Proceeds to the P&F which funds various initiatives across the school which will benefit  the children. Guesses can be made throughout the week with the winners being announced on Friday. The winner of each competition will take home a pumpkin carving kit and a host of Halloween goodies.

Many thanks to Britt Stephens who came up with the idea and has pulled everything together to make this lots of fun for the children! And apologies in advance to whoever wins the plastic spiders and gets to find them around their house over the next year or so!

We hope that you can support this event.

Happy guessing!

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.

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.

In the Community

 

Mr Lopez’s October Half Term Football Camp

Mr Lopez will be holding his Football Camp from Tuesday 27th October to Friday 30th October. Click here for full details and a booking form. Book early as places are limited!

 

Mrs Grayland’s October Half Term Netball Camp

 

 

Mrs Grayland will be running a netball camp at half term which will be offered to St Michaels girl’s before being offered out to other schools.  Book early to avoid disappointment.

Click here for a booking form. 

 

Mr Thomas’ October Half Term Hockey Camp

Mr Thomas will be holding his October Half Term Hockey Camp at Hollybush Hockey Pitch on Thursday 29th- Friday 30th October from 10am-3pm.

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 a booking form.

Senior School Open Mornings

 

Claremont Senior School

Claremont Senior School will be hosting a live Virtual Senior School Open Morning webinar on 16th October from 9-10am. This webinar is designed to give you a ‘virtual’ flavour of senior school life at Claremont, and to inspire you to find out more about the school. Whilst government guidelines allow, Claremont Senior School is delighted to also be able to offer private tours of our site on Saturday 17th October and throughout the working week for those who would prefer to see the school while in session.

For more information and to register directly please follow the below link.

https://www.claremontschool.co.uk/virtual-open-morning-senior-lp/

The Judd School

Virtual tours of The Judd School can now be viewed here.

 

 

Tonbridge School

Tonbridge School will be hosting a virtual open day on Saturday 21st November. To sign up visit: https://www.tonbridge-school.co.uk/admissions/contact-us

Tonbridge Virtual Open Morning with link

 

 

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