Head’s Blog 17th November 2017 Friday 17th November 2017

At a senior leadership team away day last Saturday, we focused amongst other things on memories and emotions, some of which were happy and some sad.

The poet and prophet Kahlil Gibran writes in his poem “On joy and sorrow“ :

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

To read the rest of this poem please follow the link http://www.katsandogz.com/onjoy.html

At this sober time of year when we reflect on the death of so many in war, perhaps it helps us to understand more if we remember that pain and pleasure are interdependent.

We cannot understand loss fully unless presence has been enjoyed.

So we were saddened to hear of the death last week of Father Paul Cox formerly Headmaster of St. Michael’s Prep. To his wife Jenny and his daughter Tamsin we extend our deepest condolences. They remain in our prayers at home and at school. The poem resonates as I think of all that Paul and Jenny gave to St Michael’s. My sense of loss is very great and I am sure that I am not alone in this feeling, but it is good to know that this loss is measured In the myriad ways he changed and shaped and developed the school and for that we will be eternally grateful.

Paul was Headmaster here for a decade till he retired in 1990 and before that, coincidentally, was House tutor of my husband at Tonbridge School. We have been delighted to welcome Paul and Jenny to every Prize Giving for four years and only a few weeks ago they were here again for Old Michaelians’ Day.

Jenny founded the Pre-Prep with just three pupils in 1982 and during Paul’s tenure the P&F was born, under its original name “The Friends of St Michael’s.” Paul increased the numbers here, developed weekly boarding, introduced girls to the school and fulfilled a much more widely ranging role then than Heads do now, which included cleaning, hoovering, mowing the grass and organising everything that happened. So when the stable block was converted to become the Pre-Prep they were the manpower along with trusty colleagues. When Paul has visited the school with Jenny lately, they have always offered some new insight into the life they loved here. This was their home and their passion for ten happy years.

Paul spent his last day at home, gardening and finishing a project with Jenny. He became ill quite suddenly and died at home. As a community we mourn Paul’s passing and offer to Jenny and their daughter Tamsin, our deepest condolences. We will hold them in our thoughts and prayers and we will be happy to pass on any letters and cards for them and hope that just as they were upheld in their life by their faith, that at the time they must now be parted that this faith will keep them strong.

A memorial service will take place on Friday 24th November at 12.30pm at St Richards Church, Upper Station Road, Heathfield TN21 8DS and will be taken by Paul’s twin brother, Archdeacon John Cox. Parking will be limited. Donations to the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research.

 

It was good to last week to spend time at the Independent Schools Council‘s special educational needs conference, where a range of stimulating and enlightening talks and workshops filled my day. One of the striking slides in the afternoon presentation was a graph of different coloured undulating lines travelling horizontally, parallel to each other. This graph represented the ups and downs of everyday life within a group and the point was made that children need to learn that the graph of life does go up and down and that down is okay and it will become up. Understanding which activities can make you feel good is an important part of teaching children to self-regulate and look after themselves, whether that be through sport, running around, playing an instrument, creating a work of art or dancing.

I am certain of the importance of being outside in developing well-being and we are lucky that at St Michael’s we have so much space to enjoy.

Children, of course, have the power to lift one’s spirits and I am always better for spending time in classrooms, watching children, listening to them and talking with them.

I was delighted to walk two Headmasters around the site this week, firstly Craig McCarthy from Russell House down the road and secondly Martin Collier, newly appointed Headmaster at Haileybury School. Whilst, psychologically, for some families considering boarding, Haileybury may not be an obvious choice because of its distance, in reality it is only an hour away and as it is an excellent school, it is worth considering for our families at St Michael’s. Haileybury is looking for the abler child, and provides an excellent, broad and rich education. Do go and see what they have to offer.

As we head into the preparations for Advent and Christmas, for some there will be a mixture of joy and sadness.  Our human frailty and the wonderful way in which community can offer strength and support lies too at the heart of that story, to which we will turn our attention in the weeks to come.

I look forward to seeing some of you next week at the St Cecilia’s concert.

If you haven’t already, please do prioritise taking part in our well-being survey.  Your views and responses are crucial to building an effective plan for growth and improvement.

Have a great weekend.

Jill Aisher

Latest News

Mr Bridges is on a mission to keep St Michael’s motivated with his latest exercise plan designed to make exercise fun.

The Director of Sport at St Michael’s, who is a very keen runner himself, has created a beginner to 5k plan for anyone wanting to keep fit this lockdown.

The six-week plan, featuring workouts, running challenges and rest days, covers a range of exercises aimed at strengthening all parts of the body.

Mr Bridges said: “I have created this training programme for the St Michael’s community to help anyone who wants to have a go at running during lockdown and safely get to 5k by the time we return to school. The plan is suitable for Prep-aged pupils, parents and staff, including absolute beginners.”

The teacher, who has 15 years’ training as a running and triathlon coach, added: “The programme is designed to build a body capable of running 5k at the end of the six weeks, and what better time to have a go than during lockdown.”

The detailed plan, organised into weeks and week days, follows a key where the letters W (walk) and R (run) appear alongside the number of minutes the activity should take place for. For example, 6 x 1:30w/2:30r represents a 1 minute 30 seconds of walking followed by 2 minutes 30 seconds of running, repeated six times.

Mr Bridges said: “The programme includes progressive long runs from week 3 onwards, the only day where the running is based on distance rather than time.

“On Mondays I will also be sharing a different workout on the St Michael’s PE YouTube channel which pupils can take part in.”

To share your experience of the programme, including photos please email tusher@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk. By sharing this information you give consent to it being shared on St Michael’s social media channels and publications.

 

On Tuesday 15th December, St Michael’s hosted a fun-filled charity day for Thames Valley Air Ambulance (TVAA).

Organised by Year 7 pupil Lucy, whose life who saved by the emergency team last Christmas, the school partook in a range of fundraising activities including a fun run, Christmas jumper day, and brain-teaser quizzes.

Lucy said: “With Mr Wiseman’s help, I planned activities to raise some much-needed money for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance and increase awareness of their work.

“A lot of people don’t realise what a great charity they are, and I hope our fundraising day has changed that.

“Not only do they save people’s lives in moments of crisis, but they provide long-term support to families who undergo medical emergencies.”

Amanda McLean, Chief Executive of Thames Valley Air Ambulance, said: “A big thank you to the staff and pupils of St Michael’s for coming up with creative ways to involve everyone in fundraising. In sharing her story, Lucy has helped us spread awareness of what Thames Valley Air Ambulance does. We can only do what we do because of the imagination and generosity of our wonderful fundraisers. We hope you had a lot of fun on your fundraising day!”

Lucy, whose story recently featured in the TVAA’s Christmas appeal, said: “Thames Valley Air Ambulance helped me at a time when my parents couldn’t. When I was seriously injured, the team stepped in and became my heroes.”

“It means so much to me that St Michael’s have come together to support this cause.”

The highly successful events saw pupils spread festive joy while raising an impressive £2556.60 for the charity which relies wholly of public donations.

Mrs Bridges, St Michael’s Acting Head, added: “Yesterday was amazing! The whole school had such a great time, and pupils were very excited to take part in a different fundraiser which meant they could enjoy the outdoors, whilst raising money for such an important charity. Everyone gave their all in the sponsored run and it was a brilliant event to watch.”

 

Mrs Wade, Head of Girls’ Games also said: “The children did remarkably well considering the conditions, and ran superbly for Lucy’s cause.”

 

 

And Lucy’s family echoed this gratitude for St Michael’s support. They said: “We wanted to say a huge thank to the St Michael’s community for supporting Lucy’s appeal for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance this Christmas. We’re so grateful to you for getting behind this amazing charity to whom we owe so much. We know from experience that your donations really do save lives. Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2021!”

For more information about the Thames Valley Air Ambulance or to donate visit: www.tvairambulance.org.uk/support-us/donate

 

 

This Tuesday 15th December, St Michael’s will host a fundraising day for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance (TVAA), organised by Year 7 pupil Lucy.

Determined to help a cause very close to her heart, Lucy has organised a series of events aimed at raising money for the charity-based emergency service.

Throughout the day pupils will be invited to participate in a range of activities including wearing a Christmas jumper, doing a sponsored run, and completing brain teaser quizzes in exchange for donations to the TVAA which relies wholly on public contributions.

Lucy said: “With Mr Wiseman’s help, I’ve planned activities to raise some much-needed money for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance and increase awareness of their work.

“A lot of people don’t realise what a great charity they are, and I hope our fundraising day will change that.

“Not only do they save people’s lives in moments of crisis, but they provide long-term support to families who undergo medical emergencies.”

And Lucy’s charity day is driven by her own bond with the charity who saved her life following an accident last Christmas.

She said: “Thames Valley Air Ambulance helped me at a time when my parents couldn’t. When I was seriously injured, the team stepped in and became my heroes.”

Since her accident, Lucy has remained close with three of TVAA’s critical care paramedics, Jo, John and Clare.

Lucy said: “Not only did the team come and visit me in hospital during my recovery, but in February this year my family and I were invited to their base to see their helicopters and learn more about their work.

“Since then, we’ve kept in close contact with them and have been given the exciting opportunity to take part in their Christmas campaign.

“One morning, my mum received a phone call from the TVAA asking if we’d like to tell our story as part of their fundraising appeal.

“Despite the accident still being quite fresh, we were keen to get involved as it’s such an amazing charity.”

Earlier this year, Lucy and her family were invited to Oxfordshire to talk about their experience in front of the camera.

The filming day, which involved interviews with both Lucy and her parents, aimed to raise awareness of the charity’s impact.

Lucy said: “It was such a fun day and really made us feel part of the TVAA community.

“Afterwards, we were sent several cuts of the video, including a very cool animation of my story which was very realistic.

“They kept us in mind throughout the whole process and made us feel very special.”

A full breakdown of the fundraising events can be found below. For more information about the TVAA or to view Lucy’s video visit: www.tvairambulance.org.uk/appeal/.

Thames Valley Air Ambulance Fundraising Activities 

  • Christmas jumpers – In Prep and Pre-Prep, we are inviting the children and staff to sport their best Christmas jumper and make a donation for the privilege of wearing it! The 15th  is the day of the school Christmas lunches, so this would be a good time to wear them. As with the last charity collection, the donations for Christmas jumpers can be deposited in the buckets at the doors into the buildings as the children arrive in the morning.
  • Sponsored run (Prep) – we are going to be inviting the children to run in teams of (up to) 4 around the shortest XC route on the fields. They will have a set time to complete as many laps as possible in that time. The children can look to have their team sponsored per lap, or have a donation from their sponsor. Sponsorship money raised will need to be brought in the following day.
  • Brain teaser quizzes – there are two quiz sheets that can be purchased for 50p each and you can take them home and try to solve the puzzles as a family. I’m afraid the only prize on offer is the glow of self-fulfilment upon having completed them. Answers will be shared on the last day of term. As parents cannot be in the school buildings at the moment, the quiz sheets can be purchased via homework diaries (please send the 50p/ £1, depending if you want one quiz sheet or both).

 

 

A former St Michael’s pupil has been awarded an Honorary Academic Scholarship for her excellence across all subjects.

Grace Goodwin, who attended St Michael’s between 2014 and 2019, has received the honour from Sevenoaks School.

Commenting on Grace’s success, her mother Marianthe Goodwin said: “Grace joined Sevenoaks in Year 7 and has really thrived from day one.

“We all knew Grace was doing very well academically as she was awarded the Academic Prize in Year 7 and Year 8. However, just before half term we received a letter awarding Grace an Honorary Academic Scholarship, one of only four which was awarded.

“Grace was delighted and extremely surprised as she had absolutely no idea that she was going to receive it. As an Academic Scholar, Grace is invited to attend the Schickler Society with the other scholars in which they discuss lots of different world issues both current and past, such as gun control and the Cold War.”

Mrs Goodwin added: “Grace had a wonderful and very happy time at St Michael’s and the decision to leave was  a hard one, but we felt it was the right time for Grace.  At St Michael’s she enjoyed all her subjects, especially English and Science.

“She found all the teachers very encouraging and approachable, and felt the growth mindset attitude and community spirit of St Michael’s gave her the confidence to hit challenges head on and not give up.

“Mrs Bridges among others was particularly encouraging of Grace during her time at St Michael’s and offered amazing pastoral support to pupils.”

And it isn’t just Sevenoaks School that spotted Grace’s academic potential. St Michael’s teacher Mrs Baisch, who taught Grace during her time at the school, said: “Grace is an incredibly creative pupil who loves reading and writing, and produced some beautiful work. The words flew off her pen.

“Grace was also a very good speaker which was shown by her victory in the poetry live senior competition which she won with her reading of Dulce et Decorum est. For a Year 6 pupil, her performance was very impressive.

“Grace’s scholarship is of no surprise and is something she should be very proud of.”

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