Head’s Blog 18th May Friday 18th May 2018

For Zerrin and me, the last few weeks have been recruiting season. We both enjoy the chance to meet people from all sorts of different schools and to decide which staff will join us at St Michael’s. One candidate impressed us particularly this week with his creativity and humour and the preparation for his lesson which linked in with French day. It is this sort of attention to detail which makes each day at work such a pleasure for all of us.

Next week I shall be sharing with you details of those long-serving teachers who will be moving on, retiring and moving countries in some cases and after half term we will be sharing the biographies of all our new staff with you. It is always sad to see good friends and colleagues go, but one of the things about St Michael’s is that we do stay in touch and follow their careers with interest and excitement as their professional and personal dreams come true and we know that so many times people will come back and enjoy time with us again.

I’d like to thank the ball committee for the most to terrific ball last weekend. The decorations were delightful, the planting and shrubbery brought on site made a magical contribution to our arrival and the effective adornments inside the splendid marquee set the tone for a special and most enjoyable evening. I for one have so much pleasure from seeing parents and colleagues looking stunning and relaxed. Looking at the photo booth selection, I also learnt quite a lot about their inner selves! Music of a very high quality was performed, disco got everyone on the dancefloor and none of us quite lived up to the standards set by Dance Act at the beginning of the evening for entertainment. The food was delicious and the ball committee and their supporters worked hard before, during and after the ball to make the most wonderful evening for everyone. As if that wasn’t enough, an enormous sum of money was raised for West Kent Mind and I’m delighted with this outcome. I thank all of those who contributed items for the auctions, both silent and noisy and also Oliver Schneider who twisted the arms and clearly perhaps other body parts to elicit this huge amount of money for such a worthy cause.

Three cheers for the entire committee: Andrea Richmond, Claire Schneider-Price, Anna-Marie Mottram, Clare Merralls, Jill Walker, Jo Karir, Jules Walker, Lorna Sharp, Marianthe Goodwin, Melanie Winter, Oliver Schneider-Price, Ruth Batchelor, Tracey Scott, Suzanne Hirst and to Tracey Ashton, Sadie West, Charlie Parkinson and Claire Soper from the P&F who “worked” on the night. Every single one of you is to be congratulated. Magnificent congratulations to Ian and his team, who worked tirelessly and generously to put up and take down the sports hall marquee and prioritised supporting the P&F committee with endless skill and good cheer.

This week has been action-packed as usual, community choir rehearsals and successful athletics match, fabulous French Day, and all sorts of engaging lessons.

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of being at the Nursery evening to welcome parents. The whole of the current team spoke with eloquence, humour and wisdom to set out how they work to settle and engage the children; we even had a speech in verse! The parents there came away with a strong sense of the fun to be had in Nursery and how much the staff there love what they do.

It was marvellous to hear about the wedding that Reverend Diane conducted in preparation for the real celebrations on Saturday down in Kindy. We were very lucky to have some wedding clothes lent by the local Otford “Brides Dress Revisited”, one of our parents owns the shop. I understand that rings were exchanged and photos were taken. I look forward to seeing them.

We are delighted to announce the list of all those who are taking up scholarships to their senior schools and into Year 7 at St Michael’s.  We had a record year of scholarship offers, with some children turning down more than one scholarship.  We congratulate each and every child who has won an award and record and celebrate those who have chosen to accept one in this photo and on our honours boards.

Year 8
Name Surname School Award
E Holden Walthamstow Hall Academic Scholarship
Z Hudson Tonbridge School Academic Scholarship
H Martin Truro School Sports Exhibition
N Samuel Tonbridge School Drama Scholarship
L Weir Benenden School Music & Academic Scholarship
Year 6
K Davis Bromley High School Music Scholarship
G French Woldingham Sports Scholarship
C Kern Sevenoaks Academic Scholarship
B Sanderson Bethany School Academic Scholarship
E Willoughby Kent College, Pembury Sports Scholarship
T Bulley St Michaels’s Prep Drama Scholarship & Music Exhibition
K Cameron St Michael’s Prep Sports Scholarship
C Denny St Michael’s Prep Music Exhibition
J Fryer St Michael’s Prep All-Rounder Scholarship
O Goodwin St Michael’s Prep All-Rounder Scholarship
E Hudson St Michael’s Prep Sports Exhibition
E Osborne St Michael’s Prep Music Exhibition
P Parker-Swift St Michael’s Prep Sports Scholarship & Art Exhibition
S Parker-Swift St Michael’s Prep Drama Scholarship
E Powell St Michael’s Prep Sports Exhibition

Last night we were blessed with a very large number of parents and some very talented children as we celebrated with our scholars’ dinner. The scholars programme began four years ago and each year it develops into something bigger and better. Now those who stay on into Years 7 and 8 with a scholarship can be assured of joining a very special group of people and the performances from some of them last night were, frankly, astonishing. Lucy played Chopin on the piano with different time signatures in each hand in a beautifully accomplished performance. Nick gave us one of his scholarship drama monologues, cleverly chosen to show a teacher and pupil relationship both performed by Nick. Our newest drama scholars couldn’t resist giggling at some of the naughty words! Elizabeth talked about her journey to securing an academic scholarship and displayed a great deal of self-awareness, humility, determination, and resilience. Zach, who recently won a top academic scholarship to Tonbridge School, fielded questions from parents, staff and pupils about his experience of preparing for scholarship and it was lovely to hear his confidence and pride and to recognise that he was comfortable sharing the lows as well as the highs.

We were delighted to welcome Kim Wells, Director of Learning and Teaching at Caterham School. He gave a very entertaining talk about turning failure into success and inspired everyone present by his wisdom and excellent delivery. Add to this delicious food, beautiful flowers, thanks to my secretary, Helen, a proud group of parents and some wonderful staff and you have the recipe for a perfect evening. Thank you to Mark, Lisa and Michelle for the wonderful dinner and to our own exceptional deputy, Mary Bridges, who masterminded the whole evening and made it such a success.

The theme of courage, perseverance, willingness to fail resurfaced again in this morning’s assembly at Prep as 3P presented their TV-inspired Xplorers.

Next week I shall be away on inspection from late Tuesday afternoon until Friday morning and whilst I am completely confident that my colleagues and pupils will get on working hard for the week, I know that my absence means that my diary is under pressure and I am happy to book meetings during the last three days of the half term holiday if this helps parents to catch up with me.

Whether or not you’re a fan of the royal family, I know many families will be enjoying the chance to watch the royal wedding on Saturday. On behalf of the children, staff and community at St Michael’s I would like to wish Prince Harry and Meghan every happiness in their married lives. I shall look forward particularly to watching the church service as my own two sons were choristers at St George’s Chapel and occasions such as these were highpoints for me as a parent. I know all the choristers and their parents will be so excited about this weekend and that the music planned will be special.

Whatever you’re doing this weekend I hope you have time to relax and enjoy your family.

Jill Aisher

Latest News

A Sevenoaks food bank is 318 kilos heavier following a donation from St Michael’s.

 

The school surprised charity The Community Cupboard with the generous donation on Monday, February 1 following a Christmas collection for the cause.

 

In total, £965 was raised from parent and staff donations throughout December, which St Michael’s Parents and Friends Association (P & F) used to organise a Sainsbury’s shop of food and toiletries for the charity.

 

Commenting on the school’s motivation to help the food bank, Co-Chair of St Michael’s P & F, Kelly Downey, said: “Delivering our donation to The Community Cupboard was an amazing and uplifting moment. Being able to bring the school together to contribute to a cause which plays such an important role in our community during this time was very rewarding.”

 

Greeted with three car loads of canned foods, long-life products and toiletries, Kelly also describes how delighted the charity were with the school’s generosity. She added: “The team were really blown away by our donation and thankful for the time we’d taken to raise the money and organise a delivery.

 

“It was a great feeling to be able to put an initial idea from a St Michael’s parent into action, and to see the impact we would be having on the local community.”

 

Kelly added: “We recognise that this is a very difficult time for everyone, especially those who can’t afford to put food on the table for their families. We hope that our donation can be a small step in making a difference for those people.”

 

Since the start of January alone, an additional 22 local families have registered for The Community Cupboard’s support, reflecting the increased pressures caused by the ongoing pandemic across the country. And it is only thanks to generous donations that the charity can continue to provide help to those who need it most.

 

Trustee at The Community Cupboard, David Carter said: “We would like to express our extreme gratitude to St Michael’s for their wonderful donation. We are very lucky to receive regular donations from local groups, but they are rarely to this scale.

 

“The food and toiletries kindly given to us by St Michael’s have allowed us to fully restock our shelves as well as putting plenty of stock on standby for new referrals. The size of this donation will allow us to give substantial food packages to the 22 new families who were referred to us in January. St Michael’s help is invaluable to us and will make a huge difference.”

 

Since its launch in January 2020, The Community Cupboard has continued to help families in Sevenoaks, and has extended its help to cover a 20 mile radius including Edenbridge, Westerham, Surrey, Sidcup, Rochester and Ashford, due to the pandemic.

 

The Trustee added: “We began as a small group of people determined to make a difference locally in an area where food banks were lacking. Little did we know, a global pandemic was on its way and our efforts would be needed tenfold. To say we hit the ground running would be an understatement.”

 

Run by four members and six volunteers, The Community Cupboard works tirelessly to deliver parcels to families, and in January alone distributed 3.1 tonnes of food, toiletries and essential items.

 

David said: “We began the charity on the foundation that ‘if we can help, we will’, and with the community’s help, I’m proud to say we are doing just that. We see a lot of hardship and sadness in doing what we do, but it really opens our eyes to the incredible hard work various organisations and charities do in our community. Thanks to generous groups like St Michael’s, we can confidently say ‘yes, we can help you’.”

 

The Community Cupboard are currently taking donations of tinned and long-life food products, as well as toiletries and essential items. Monetary donations are also welcome and will be put towards bulk orders for the charity.

 

The charity is based at The Garage, Gamcock meadow, West Kingdown where a covid secure donation drop off process has been put in place.

 

For more information about The Community Cupboard, or to donate to the charity visit www.thecommunitycupboard.co.uk.

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.

 

 

Warm, welcoming and impressive. That’s how St Michael’s new Head describes the school.

“I’ve always liked St Michael’s and have been visiting it for several years as part of sports fixtures with my previous schools”, Nik Pears said.

“Something that has always impressed me about St Michael’s is the atmosphere and people that belong to it.

“The sense of community you feel when walking through the doors of the school is extraordinary”, he added.

An avid sportsman, experienced leader, and family man, Mr Pears brings with him a wealth of ideas for St Michael’s, including his core value of equipping pupils for life.

Nik , who joined St Michael’s in January 2021, explained: “I am very keen on developing a growth mindset in my pupils. In this ever-changing world, our children need to be prepared for life outside of the classroom.

“Pupils need to be adaptable, resilient and perseverant, and learn to accept their failure and mistakes as important parts of their personal development.

“By equipping children with the right interpersonal skills during their school years, we can set them up for a future in which they may have to fight for their place in the world.”

Nik’s concept of growth mindset can also be applied to his broader vision for the school.

Coming to St Michael’s from his headship at Kent College, Pembury, Nik believes the challenges posed by Covid-19 can teach schools a lot about the importance of flexibility and community.

Mr Pears said: “These unprecedented times have been a huge learning curve for schools.

“Navigating a school through a global crisis was never going to be easy, but it has shown just how necessary it is to put pupils at the heart of every decision.

“As someone who has experienced the period as both a teacher and parent, it is very clear that we are all battling the same storm in different boats.

“It is incredible how people have found new and creative ways to deal with the circumstances. From Zoom concerts, to helping food banks, to keeping each other’s spirits high with funny videos, this period has shown us a lot about community which we will learn from and remember.”

Having belonged to multiple Prep schools himself throughout his education and as a teacher, Nik is excited to be entering this new stage in his career at St Michael’s.

Reflecting on his own school years which saw him attend schools in London, Devon and Dublin, he said: “I always enjoyed school as a child and made the most of every opportunity I was given.

“I particularly enjoyed subjects like music, drama and history and was fascinated by the things that we learnt.

“I was also heavily involved in sports and belonged to the Kent U18 rugby group. Even now you’ll find me in a pair of wellies at the side of the pitch cheering on my pupils and own children.”

Nik added: “I was one of those children who wanted to get stuck into everything, even the things that I found difficult.

“As well as my sports clubs, I belonged to multiple choirs, as well as orchestras where I played the drums, trumpet, piano and guitar.”

Mr Pears also spoke about the impact his own teachers had on his time at school and the person that he is today.

He said: “I had some amazing teachers which taught me a lot of things about life and leadership.

“Sir Anthony Seldon, one of my history teachers, was particularly inspiring and sparked my passion for the subject.

“The Head of my Prep school in Dublin also gave her pupils a lot of time. She was a hero.”

And Nik’s teachers aren’t his only role models in life.

He said: “A man called Phil Wall is also a huge inspiration of mine. Phil is the founder of the charity We See Hope which works with orphans and vulnerable young people in sub Saharan Africa.

“Phil’s selflessness and passion for the cause inspired me to become an ambassador for the charity.

“His exceptional leadership, authenticity and integrity is just inspiring.”

Mr Pears also explained how his love of people has guided him to the many leadership roles he has held.

Nik said: “I very much enjoy being with people and having a good laugh. I’m very lucky to have such an amazing family including my wife, Emma and our two children, Jessica and Josiah. Our pet hamster Charlie is also a valued member of the family who kept us well entertained during the first lockdown.”

He added: “Being a leader brings so many opportunities to show warmth, empathy and understanding to others, and I can’t wait to become a member of the St Michael’s community.

“When pupils leave St Michael’s to pursue their senior education, I hope they remember me as someone who was kind, knew them well and valued their opinion.”

 

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

 

 

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