Head’s Blog 20th September 2019 Friday 20th September 2019

It is interesting to think about what the “Prep” in Prep school is all about. I think in the past I might have said it meant preparing children to get into the best senior schools, but now my answer is quite different. Of course, that is, in part, our focus and I know we do it well. This week’s parent welcome evenings have been focusing on what parents need to know and do in the specific year groups to which the children now belong, and the feedback has been most positive and complimentary. We have a fantastically well-attended Senior Schools Fair coming up on the 17th October, when I know all parents who come will be impressed and reassured by the range of schools to which we feed and with whom we have strong working relationships.

But of course, the preparation that we are involved in every day is in enabling your children to flourish and become purposeful, reflective, self-aware and engaged citizens in the world. Tomorrow’s world is not a world where facts need to be retained and churned out, but discernment and critical analysis and the ability to collaborate and to be creative are at the heart of the workforce we need to prepare. So, our vision is to enable and to encourage the skills for life not just for the school beyond.

Having said that, I have been pleased to visit a few schools in the last two weeks and would commend to you for your consideration Skinners’ School where I was most impressed with the attention of the boys at their Prize Giving, their evident camaraderie and mutual support in the applause as the prize winners walked across the stage and the respectful relationships which were clearly evident between staff and boys and boys and one another.

On Wednesday I was glad to welcome Mr Ben Charles, newly-appointed Principal of King’s Rochester. I was inspired by his focus on meeting pupils where they are and welcoming boys and girls into a small, spectacular, nurturing, Christian environment, with a rich breadth of opportunity. With four young children of his own, Ben is fully aware of what parents need in a senior school. Do drop in and meet him at the Senior Schools Fair.

I spent an enjoyable morning at Sevenoaks School on Thursday, where I was lucky enough to be at the opening of Aisher House, named after my late grandfather-in-law, who was a generous benefactor to Sevenoaks School and on the governing body. Last week we met the incoming Head of Sevenoaks School Mr Elzinga. We enjoyed good philosophical debate on the importance of the curriculum within the school and on the styles of learning that can be offered to children at Prep school aside from Common Entrance. I look forward to getting to know him better in due course.

Today I have been at Beechwood Sacred Heart in Tunbridge Wells, a co-ed, independent through school with a similarly impressive mansion at its heart and a good view too.  Since my last visit, there has been a change of Head, now Helen Rowe, and the successful refurbishment of the sports centre, as well as the creation of an outdoor classroom on stilts. The school is in good shape to welcome boys and girls who wish to transfer at 11 or 13 and the A’ level class sizes make it a very attractive option for transfer at 16 too. Beechwood offers boarding too. I commend it to you for your consideration.

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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