Head’s Blog 14th June 2019 Friday 14th June 2019

From the Deputy Head (Teaching and Learning)

Last week I was delighted to attend the Education Evolution conference held at Caterham School dedicated to exploring the issue of how we equip our pupils with the skills required in a rapidly changing world. We heard from a range of outstanding speakers from both education and business backgrounds, who shared some quite mind-blowing research about the growth of technology and how this will affect the jobs of the future. I was also pleased to lead a seminar about the St Michael’s homework challenges and how they develop independence, curiosity and confidence in our pupils.

What is important for the children of today? The World Economic Forum has recently published the 10 fastest growing skills that will be required in the technology-led society that is developing around us. As educators, we need to think about the opportunities that we are providing for our pupils to develop these important qualities. Taking the place of memory-based skills are the following qualities that will be required for jobs in the next ten years:

1. Analytical thinking & innovation
2. Active learning and learning strategies
3. Creativity, originality & initiative
4. Technology design & programming
5. Critical thinking & analysis
6. Complex problem-solving
7. Leadership & social influence
8. Emotional intelligence
9. Reasoning, problem-solving & ideation
10. Systems analysis & evaluation

In my session, I explained how we are developing wider, crucial skills of independence, creativity, curiosity and confidence through our homework challenges. Reflecting on the kind of work that we have seen our pupils produce over the last 2 years was really exciting. I knew that the best people to introduce what the challenges are all about would be the pupils themselves and the video that you can now see on the website explains exactly that. (See our Homework Challenge page)

The St Michael’s pupils have undoubtedly exceeded any expectations we had about the kind of outcomes we would see from the challenges. The single biggest limit we ever place on our learning is that of our own. Our children are capable and creative and the open-ended nature of the challenges means that there are no limits on any child and what they can produce. When you reflect on the skills listed above, it confirms the importance of this kind of learning for our pupils.

The closing speaker of the day was Sir Anthony Seldon and he delivered a powerful, humorous and incredibly moving talk on the future of education in the age of Artificial Intelligence. He pondered the purpose of education and why we all do what we do, sharing his thoughts on the key features of a successful education: becoming a good human being, happiness, learning about family and deep inner growth. We thought about the different types of intelligence, and the ways in which we can develop our children: socially, personally, morally, spiritually, physically and culturally. I left feeling incredibly inspired and proud of what we have already achieved with our homework challenges and the ways that our pupils are developing in contrast to those in schools with a more traditional homework system. As teachers at St Michael’s, we look forward to the moment at the end of each term when each child gets their own chance to stand up and share what they have created or discovered and what they have learnt in the process. It really is something special and we have all learnt a great deal from and about one another.

Mary Bridges

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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