Acting Head’s Blog 25th September 2020 Friday 25th September 2020

I hope you have all enjoyed this week as much as me! It was a great pleasure to wrap up the parent Welcome Evenings on Monday and I thank you for your engagement and the questions submitted which enabled us to make the content purposeful and informative. I am delighted to hand over my newsletter spot to Head of Years 5 and 6, Rosemary Baisch, this week. Her wise words at the Year 5 & 6 Welcome Evening gave us all food for thought and were too good not to share in print. I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I did:

While preparing a ‘Beginning of the Year’ talk for the Year 5 and 6 Welcome Evenings, I couldn’t help but think about our current circumstances and wanted to speak about something that would be useful as we help our children deal with the challenges of a daily changing landscape.

Lockdown was a difficult time for all of us. We were not necessarily all in the same boat, but we were all trying to weather the same storm. Lockdown took some things away but also provided some valuable insights. I learnt so much during that time. It forced me to raise my IT game and I realised that apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks! Lockdown gave us opportunities to find new ways to socialise, for the children a renewed sense of self and the gift of gratitude. For me one of the most positive aspects of lockdown was that it gave us the chance to gain perspective, to see what really matters.

One of the first things teachers do when we get back to school after the summer is ask the children about their holidays.  I thought I was going to hear lots of sad tales about cancelled plans and trips cut short and I was pleasantly surprised to say that I honestly heard none of that. The things that brought your children joy this summer were family time, connecting with extended family and simple old-fashioned childhood pleasures.  While marking pupils’ holiday news in English, I found myself commenting time and again, ‘This sounds like the perfect summer holiday,’ which is ironic when one considers that these holidays took place in the midst of a global pandemic! In the tapestry of childhood, what stands out to the children is not flashy holidays but rather the common threads that run throughout and repeat: the family dinners, nature walks, reading together at bedtime, Saturday morning pancakes.

What do our children really want and need? They want to be with us and feel safe.  I really believe that in order to reduce anxiety and give them space they need to be fully themselves, we need to keep things simple. I read an article recently which spoke about ‘The Four Pillars of Excess’ that are hurting our children. The author, Kim Payne, speaks about excess stuff, excess choice, excess information and excess speed. Our children have too much, must decide too much, cope with too much news and information coming at them and do this all too quickly.

If we can keep in the forefront of our minds what really matters, we can help pare back. Send your child to school with only the stationery they need, nothing more nothing less. Think about your child’s schedule – are all the activities and extras absolutely necessary? I believe we need to consider carefully whether the news our children hear or conversations to which they are privy are helpful or if those discussions are perhaps a little too grown up and likely to cause worry or upset. Do we find ourselves hurrying our children when it would actually be ok to go slowly?

Years ago, in a discussion with my son, he told me that Wednesdays were his favourite day of the week.  I asked why, assuming that he would say it was because he had sports fixtures after school or because school lunches were particularly good.  Daniel told me that he loved Wednesdays because on a Wednesday, his granny fetched him. Daniel said that Wednesdays made him happy because Granny was never in a hurry. This gave me pause.

When we simplify, when we focus on what really matters to us, we can set a tone in our homes that honours our family’s needs rather than the world’s demands, a tone that is aligned with our dreams rather than dictated to by the world’s fears. My hope is that as we continue to navigate this journey together, we will choose to make more out of less and have children who are happier for it.

Rosemary Baisch

‘This holiday we saw three famous things. We saw Shakespeare’s house and his statue.  We went to a river and fed the ducks. Twice.’

Latest News

Prep pupils treated classmates and music teachers to a variety of musical performances this week in their half termly concert.

Performed in three instalments within their bubbles, the musicians showcased a variety of pieces, varying in both genre and instrument.

And although parents were unable to attend the concerts due to Covid-19 restrictions, the pupils’ families received a recording of the event.

Gordon Baird, Director of Music, said “We were delighted by how these first concerts of the academic year went despite the absence of the children’s parents. It was a lovely intimate experience for the children to play or sing to their friends and we heard some confident, accomplished performances.

Mr Baird added: “For some, it was their first time playing in a concert in the Prep school and we look forward to organising many more opportunities for them to perform throughout the year.”

A montage of the three music concerts can be found on the St Michael’s YouTube page at https://youtu.be/Bj_Wx4P9heg.

Spooky spiders and plump pumpkins sparked Halloween fun at St Michael’s this week.

Supported by the school’s Parents and Friends association, pupils enjoyed two games which offered great prizes to winners.

Coordinator of the Halloween competitions and P & F committee member, Kelly Downey said: “Given the restrictions currently in place, the P&F are focusing on strengthening the school community for parents and children this year.

“The competitions are a simple way for the children to have some fun in the week before half term, while raising some funds for the P&F.”

Children in Pre-Prep were tasked with guessing the number of spooky spiders in the jar, while Prep children were asked to guess the weight of a pumpkin. Pupils made a donations to the P & F in exchange for each guess they made.

And the winners of the games, Herbie W (Pre-Prep) A Ward, M Little, L Lutzow and H Owen (Prep), were awarded Halloween hampers which will help them celebrate this year’s festival in spooktacular style.

Kelly added: “The funds raised for the P&F will go towards funding activities and facilities for the children to enrich their time at the school.”

For more information about St Michael’s P & F association visit stmichaels.kent.sch.uk/parents-friends

 

Strawberries and sunflowers were just some of the items celebrated in last week’s harvest assemblies.

 

The annual Pre-Prep event, performed as three instalments this year, saw Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 pupils sing, dance and give prayer for the harvest while learning about the festival from their music teacher, Mrs Raveyeh.

 

 

Reflecting on the success of the events, Louise Raveyeh said: “I am quite moved by the children’s enthusiastic singing in our harvest celebration.

 

“It was a wonderful opportunity for the children to realise that there is joy in giving and sharing what we have and happiness for those who gratefully receive it.

 

“Their singing and eagerness to share with others was heartwarming.”

 

 

During the assemblies pupils sung songs about harvest time, nature and the variety of fruit and vegetables grown in this country.

 

Louise said: “I wanted the children to be thankful for what they have by realising what an amazing rainbow variety of food we have, created with individual characteristics just like them.

 

“I wanted them to realise the sense of joy that there is in sharing what we have.

 

“The songs reflect our celebration of what we have and realisation of the process of planting, harvesting and sharing.”

 

 

And it wasn’t just songs that helped the children express their thanks. Helped by their generous parents, Pre-Prep donated hundreds of food items and household essentials to the Swanley branch of Trussell Trust food bank.

 

 

Head of Pre-Prep at St Michael’s, Zerrin Leech, said: “We had tables, cupboards and bags festooned with food last week as our families gave very kind donations of food and other items.

 

“A huge thank you must go to the pupils’ parents for their wonderful generosity once again this year which will be gratefully received by the Trussell Trust.

 

“Thank you also to Mrs Ravayeh for leading our three harvest assemblies. They have been lovely with lots of new songs as well as my all-time favourite, Cauliflowers Fluffy.”

 

 

 

 

Sunsets and sizzling sausages set the tone for the new term last Friday as Year 7 pupils celebrated the start of their senior education journey.

The annual event, traditionally held as a Camp Out, was delivered as a fun-filled barbecue night which the children enjoyed with teachers including St Michael’s Acting Head, Mrs Bridges.

Throughout the evening pupils tucked into dinner cooked by Deputy Head Mr Wiseman, and toasted marshmallows on an open fire.

And to make use of their new term energy, games and group bonding activites were carried out, followed by a walk up the school’s famous Warren where the sunset was relished in all of its glory.

Reflecting on the sucess of the event, Head of Year 7 and 8, Mrs Shield, said: “Unfortunately, we were unable to camp this year, but that did not dampen anybody’s spirits.

“One of the highlights of the evening was our twilight walk to the top of the Warren where we marvelled at the beautiful site that our school occupies.

“We viewed the bats swirling the skies in the dusk of late summer and ended the evening with a well-deserved hot chocolate – not forgetting the squirty cream and yet more marshmallows.

“Life-long friendships were made and re-established after the long summer break.”

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