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

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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