Head’s Blog 13th October 2017 Friday 13th October 2017

As we look forward to a two week break following this busy half term, perhaps it is right to focus on the well-being that springs from rest. We were lucky on Monday to welcome Natasha Devon MBE and to listen to her wise and informed presentation about the three core elements that lead to well-being; Critical thinking, stress coping mechanisms and emotional  literacy. In response to this, all the staff have thought about the opportunities we already have for teaching in these three areas and as part of our well-being award we will put together a document so that parents can be clear about the contribution the school makes to the well-being agenda. As an immediate reaction, it is clear that our focus on higher-order thinking, questioning, giving choices to children and listening to their views already makes a strong start. With a wide, balanced and varied curriculum focusing on high-quality experiences and opportunities in sport, music, art and drama, we also enable stress management to take place although I feel as a school we can develop this further and we will.


Giving children as much information about the link between chemistry, brain function and emotion is high on our agenda through PSHE and assembly work. But there is inevitably a tension between providing a calm, ordered, regular routine and the events that we plan at school that become the memories of children and so we welcome feedback from children and parents on whether we’ve got that balance right.


This morning following on from Natasha’s themes I spoke to Pre-Prep about the different kinds of listening we do and how important it is, whether for pleasure, taking part in conversations, for information, instructions, or to find out how people feel. Perhaps the last thing; listening to people and encouraging them to express their feelings and refocus on experiences that make them feel joyful, is our most important task of all. I have invited children in Pre-Prep, if they would like, to send me a postcard from their holiday destinations or homes and tell me about some of the things they can hear when they listen carefully.


Certainly in Pre-Prep there has been an overdose of joyful events and exciting trips this week as each class in turn went out for a day’s adventure. I’m only sorry that the coach of a visiting sports team caused considerable stress and inconvenience for our parents accessing and leaving the site on Thursday evening.  We’ll be in touch with the school to ask them not to use a coach on their next visit to us.


Many parents and grandparents in Prep took great pleasure from the performers’ platform and breakfast on Wednesday morning, showcasing a variety of performance-ready pieces across the full range of instruments and voices. The act of listening to performance and appreciating what other people can share is a special and moving part of the life of pupils and staff at St Michael’s and it was wonderful that several of our new students shared performance with us and gave us much pleasure.


Yesterday we mailed the results of the 11+ to parents of children in Year 6. For some there is great excitement and relief whilst others may not have quite done themselves justice in this exam. We hope that we can support those families that need to appeal and that we can refocus the children for whom 11+ was a long shot and who will be best served by a non-selective environment. Our own Year 7 and 8 give unparalleled support, challenge and experiences to children who stay and my heartfelt wish is that parents will give this serious consideration amongst all of the choices that lie before them. After the half term holiday we will be exploring with Year 6 the opportunity to apply for scholarships here and to become a senior pupil at St Michael’s and we are holding a coffee morning for those interested in finding out more about Year 7 and 8 both within the community and beyond it on November 2nd. In the meantime, have a super half term holiday, do enjoy the change of pace and scene and come back safely.


Jill Aisher

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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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