Head’s Blog 17th May Friday 17th May 2019

In a week that has been characterised by very little pupil absence from school, and a great deal of quiet time as children sit and demonstrate the written aspect of their learning, it is perhaps good at the end of it to think about how important making mistakes is when we are learning.

My assembly this morning in both parts of the school shared a new book in our library called “Your Fantastic Elastic Brain” by Jo Ann Deak and Sarah Ackerly https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fantastic-Elastic-Brain

As a beautifully illustrated, scientific explanation of the areas within the brain, their discrete functions and their connectivity, it gives all children of whatever age a really clear understanding of how complex and extraordinary our brains are and how much we can influence the brain’s functioning through our resilience to failure and through perseverance.

The analogy with an elastic band is accessible and enabled me to show an elastic band with the knowledge of a five-year-old around a small book and an elastic band with the knowledge of a 13-year-old around a much larger book, but of course in reality the elasticity is not a multiplication of cells but the strengthening of the relations between them in the neuron pathways.

We are lucky to live in an age where it is possible to photograph brains while they are working and one day (perhaps when I grow up!) I would like to learn more about this field of science as there is a direct relationship between this understanding and our ability to influence and ensure mental health.

Some of our training on autism a couple of years ago enabled us to understand completely what happens when a child has a meltdown or “amygdala hijack”. Its central location in the brain and the impact of such a meltdown prevents the functioning of most of the other parts of the rational brain and when you see how much that influences the child’s ability to control themselves and to make sense of what’s happening to them, you understand that giving children time to calm down until they’re ready to listen is the only way of dealing with anybody in this mental state.

This clearly resonated with some of the children in the assemblies and it was pleasing to see them finding it helpful.

I began the week sharing the impressive video made by Greta Thunberg, who spoke at a TED talk about her climate protest.


She revealed that she had struggled as she was diagnosed autistic herself and she experienced a very low period of depression when she was 10 and was supported through this difficult time. In what can only be described as a magnificent, extraordinary and moving, not to mention eloquent and impactful speech, Greta talks about how she struggles to understand the rest of humanity who do not see the climate emergency in black-and-white as she does with her autistic brain. What a powerful argument and how much we should be listening to this young person and indeed all of those in our care.

It was great to welcome Simon Larter-Evans, Head of St Paul’s Cathedral School for a visit on Wednesday afternoon. I’m very lucky to be a governor at his school and I enjoy the cross-fertilisation of ideas that comes from getting under the skin of another school, quite apart from the immense pleasure of access to all that glorious music. Later this term we’re taking The Twelve to a choir practice and service in the cathedral and I know it will be a memorable experience.

I look forward to seeing many of you on Sunday at the circus. If you have any complaints, you can get your own back while I’m in the stocks!

Have a great weekend.

Jill Aisher

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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