Acting Head’s Blog 20th November 2020 Friday 20th November 2020

This week we were delighted to receive a certificate from NHS Charities Together for the £1240.87 that we raised in the Trinity Term. The idea for this fundraiser came from Matilda M in Year 5, and it really is an extraordinary sum when you consider the restrictions we were and have been under. Well done to Matilda and everyone who contributed.

The pupils are leading assemblies at the moment in Prep School, and this week, 7R shared their view on gratitude and how we can use it to help others. The sense of responsibility we feel towards each other in our wider community is greater than ever as we continue to hold tight amidst the pandemic.

Please take time to read the article in today’s newsletter about the Thames Valley Air Ambulance (TVAA) who, although not local, are important to us as they helped save one of our pupils almost a year ago on New Year’s Eve. Lucy’s story is told in their Christmas campaign and not only is her bravery inspiring, but the care and support of the TVAA meant so much to the whole family. I hope that you will join us in supporting their incredible work. You will soon receive news of a whole school event which we hope will raise money to support this fantastic charity who rely solely on public donations.

On the subject of responsibility, many of you have enquired about the new School Communities Programme that has been launched by the ZOE COVID Symptom Study Scheme. We have registered St Michael’s and would encourage you to take part to support the national scientific research into the impact of Covid-19 on children and younger people. I hope that this will bring additional reassurance that we are all making informed choices and working together to ensure the safety of our children and the community. Details of this have been shared today in a separate letter from the school office.

One of our other pupil-led assemblies this week was delivered with style, pizzaz and high entertainment factor by 6P on Thursday. It explored how we can deal with having a bad day. Charlie Mackesy wrote that “one of our greatest freedoms is how we react to things”, and Year 6 had some great ideas to help us make good choices when things aren’t going their way. The strategies shared were bought to life with video clips, a beautiful piano performance by Teresa W and a poem shared by Daniel M and Leo L. If you would like some ideas of how you can bring some joy to your weekend then you could get active, take time to talk to each other, or shake it all off with your own Friday Freestyle dance. If you are still searching for something to make you smile then my new recommendation, thanks to Annabelle S and Anya J, is to watch some quokka videos. You won’t regret it!

Whatever you choose to do this weekend, I hope you find some magical moments of happiness with your household.

Mary Bridges

6P performing their feel-good assembly

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On Wednesday, November 27 Year 5 and 6 pupils took part in a Spelling Bee hosted by Mrs Andrade and Mrs Baisch.

Challenged with spellings such as synonymous, counterfeit, and accommodation, it was an extremely close competition with many tense rounds.

Winner of the Spelling Bee, Moyo in Year 6, triumphed with her correct spelling of the word ‘conscience’.

Commenting on her success, Moyo said: “I really enjoyed taking part in the Spelling Bee and was really surprised to win.

“It was challenging as there were some words I’d never heard of, but it was fun to guess the spellings of these words and apply what I knew about other spellings to my answers.”

“It was great to take part in the competition with my friends.”

Two former St Michael’s pupils have been selected for the final phase of the England Under 16 Hockey Assessments.

Lottie Bingham and Anna Faulstich, who attended St Michael’s until July 2017, have remained great friends and play hockey together at HC Knole Park.

Lottie said “ I loved playing hockey at St Michael’s and I am delighted that Anna, my best friend , has joined me in the England training programme that I was also selected for last year. We are both very jealous that St Michael’s now have a wonderful, new astro pitch at school!“

Both girls were also members of the successful Year 6 St Michael’s who won the regional IAPS and came 5th in the National Finals .

Congratulating the girls on their achievement, Mr Thomas, who taught them 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 how they get at the trials and someday welcoming them back to play on our new pitch.”

Many congratulations to Lottie and Anna, St Michael’s wishes them the best of luck in the next phase of assessments.

A former St Michael’s student has been awarded an Honorary Sports Scholarship to support her excellence in athletics.

Harriet Medlen, who attended the school between 2011 and 2018, has received the scholarship from Sevenoaks School.

Harriet, who is in Year 9 at Sevenoaks School, said: “My time at St Michael’s helped me to develop my love of sport especially athletics and hockey. I have very happy memories of sports days and Mrs Wade taking me to IAPs athletics competitions. I am very grateful to all the teachers at St Michael’s for their encouragement during my time there. I am proud to have achieved a sports scholarship at Sevenoaks School and I am looking forward to making the most of this opportunity.”

And commenting on Harriet’s success, St Michael’s teacher Mrs Wade said: “It is great to hear that Harriet has been awarded an Honorary Sports Scholarship from Sevenoaks School. We are extremely proud of what she has achieved since leaving St Michael’s. Harriet is an excellent games player and an outstanding athlete. She was very hardworking in her sports at St Michael’s and it is great to hear that she continues to achieve highly. Well done, Harriet!”

Don’t judge a book by its cover, it’s the first chapter that holds all the secrets!

                                                       Year 6 and Mrs Yarrow pose with some of the First Chapter Friday books.

 

“Good readers, make excellent writers.” says St Michael’s Library Assistant, Helen Yarrow, who has launched an exciting reading initiative in the Prep school this term. 

 

Mrs Yarrow, who joined the St Michael’s team in September 2020, is passionate about books and believes children should read a variety of genres and authors before they choose what’s best for them.

 

Keen to implement this strategy at St Michael’s, Mrs Yarrow has introduced First Chapter Friday, a project designed to get pupils reading a range of books, rather than the same authors, characters and storylines over again. 

 

First Chapter Friday sees pupils receive a list of 10 books, suited to the reading proficiency of their year group, each term. Every Friday, pupils read the first chapter of a new book with their form groups before deciding whether to continue reading it in their own time.

 

Mrs Yarrow said: “The aim of First Chapter Friday is to help the children find a book they really want to read. 

 

“By exposing the children to books that they wouldn’t normally pick off the bookshelf, it introduces them to a range of subjects, and inevitably fosters their love of reading.”

 

Helen added: “Some form groups choose to read the chapter independently during the sessions, some listen to their form teachers reading the chapter, and some take turns to read different paragraphs.”

 

“By inviting pupils to read sections of the chapter out loud, the form tutors are also helping to develop the pupils’ language acquisition and public speaking skills. The challenge has many benefits to it.”

 

 

Titles on this term’s First Chapter Friday lists include both fiction and non-fiction books spanning a variety of themes and genres. 

 

One popular title is  Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill, which Sean C from Year 6 describes as “extremely interesting”. He added: “I really enjoy Shackleton’s Journey because it takes you on an adventure, showing you how Shackleton’s crew survived and what they encountered along the way.

 

“My favourite part of the book is where it describes how they escaped their sinking ship.

 

“Since reading it with my form during First Chapter Friday, I’ve enjoyed coming to the library to read more of it at break and lunch times.”

 

 

And explaining the planning process behind First Chapter Friday, Mrs Yarrow said: “I create the reading lists using recommendations from websites such as Love Reading for Kids as well as my own research.

 

“I try to ensure the First Chapter Friday books are 2020 titles to keep them in tune with modern authors and contemporary ideas.”

 

“This term I’ve included a range of titles focusing on the Black Lives Matter movement and Black History, as well as those written by black authors. Such books include The Faraway Truth by Janae Marks, Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly, and The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley.”

 

She added: “First Chapter Friday encourages form groups to discuss the different topics linked to each book. It is designed to make the sessions an interactive experience which is both fun and educational for the children.” 

 

 

Other favourites from Mrs Yarrow’s reading lists include The Battle of Bubble and Squeak by Philippa Pearce, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and A Boy Called Hope by Lara Williamson. 

 

Mrs Yarrow said: “Different pupils gravitate towards different books, but there have been some very clear favourites.”

 

She continued: “I get the children to read the first chapter of the book as it’s in these pages that the author establishes the hook of their novel. 

 

“Friday Chapter Friday helps pupils recognise the importance of a first chapter and shows them various ways they can make their writing engaging.

 

“One of the main aims of the initiative is to inspire the children to write their own stories.”

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