Head’s Blog 22nd June Friday 22nd June 2018

It is our custom at our weekly staff briefing in Prep to start the meeting by sharing something good that happened in the week before and this week we spent half the meeting sharing joyful stories about trips, opportunities for pupils who learnt and grew through doing something different, excellent feedback from others about our pupils, national standard achievements and much more besides. It’s a great start to the day. In the news section of this letter you will find more details of all of these extraordinary things that were packed into last week, some so close to the end of it that I was unable to write about them in time for last Friday. Increasingly we share our stories in a variety of ways and I do commend to you both my Twitter feed and the school’s Twitter feed because some of our stories only appear there. Click here for the link to St Michael’s Twitter.

On Friday last week H Medlen and B O’Keefe both did extremely well at the IAPS regional athletics and were placed first (14.86 secs in U12 100m) and second (14.20 secs in U12 100m) in their races and went through to the National Finals in the first week of July in Birmingham.

Ishwar, Year 3, came back from Canada where he competed with children from 21 countries in yoga and came away with two gold medals. This weekend he was busy in the poetry recital competition in Sevenoaks where he also won two silver medals. He’s been featured on ITV News, the BBC regional news and there are various TV stations lined up to meet him in the coming weeks. We are very proud of him and the way in which he skips back into school and gets stuck into his work and his friendships with great energy. Today after the school photo he’s off to the Indian High Commission to perform there on International Yoga day.

I very much enjoyed the Kindy and Nursery performances this week.  Accomplished, confident and high quality music making, with real enjoyment by all and for all.  Congratulations to all involved.

There has been a certain amount of additional energy in the school this week as in Prep we receive the latest in the Challenge projects. Apart from the animation of the children when they attend the sessions, the variety of products created continues to astonish us all and we feel as though we have unleashed a huge swell of creativity that will continue to develop and refine itself and be expressed in the most joyful manner. This week I played languages top trumps, looked at a model of the first camera complete with negative image, a life-size model of a gramophone with recorded presentation inside activated on the phone, a model of a Victorian costume Museum, and some huge scale visually impressive presentations on architects, inventions and the history of sweets.

For all that I have seen and had time to admire I know that there are literally dozens more all over the school, that I haven’t yet seen.

One inventive literacy activity taking place in the library to coincide with the World Cup is a story being written by author Tom Palmer, with one chapter being written each day which is influenced by pupil feedback online on the theme of football. One of the children spoke to Mrs Davies, our Librarian, saying “I like this story because it is tense and all the scores from the World Cup affect how the story will end.”

Some of my lunchtime conversations with younger children have been around  what they will do in the “Battle of the Books” where two authors are pitted against one another and children have to write to justify which they believe to be the better writer. Their suggestions and analyses are already beginning to show on the Battle of the Books board and they make interesting reading.

Today we reviewed our whole year with the governors, who attended for a day of training and sharing with staff. I will be paying tribute to all the staff who are moving at Speech Day and two of our governors step down after today’s meeting. But I would like to mention both Roger Overend and Alex Smith here and thank them both for their work for St Michael’s Prep. Roger is retiring from his Headship at King’s Rochester Prep and his position on our Staffing & Remuneration Committee and Governing Body.  He has been a wise and supportive member of our Governing Body and committed many hours to attending in his role.

Alex has been our Safeguarding Governor and has enjoyed scrutinising and supporting the work of Gordon as DSL and Zerrin in Pre-Prep. We thank them most sincerely.


Nicola Holland






We sadly say goodbye this week to Nicola Holland, HR Advisor.  Nicola took on this newly-created role and made it her own.  She has been a positive, cheerful, calm colleague, trustworthy and discreet.  We shall be sorry to see her go. Nicola is moving to a promotion in HR at an insurance company.

Dr James Tuck






Dr Tuck has spent his first year as a teacher refining his craft under the experienced watch of Mrs Sue Billings.  Dr Tuck has fascinated his students with his knowledge of history and secured fine results at CE. We wish him well at Rose Hill.

Mrs Abi Petzsch






After one year at St Michael’s Abi is being whisked off to Chicago where her husband is relocating.  In her short time with us, we have enjoyed her calm companionship, her enthusiasm for leading children towards success and her teamwork.

We wish the Petzsch family all the best.

Messrs Brightman and Brightman

Apart from the obvious truth that these are indeed two bright men, we are sorry to be losing both simultaneously.  Steve, who’s been a games coach since Mr Marsden left, is going to train as a teacher and Luke, who’s been a fantastic gapper, is taking up an apprenticeship at a local garage, Oldbury Motors, where he will train as a mechanic. We’ll miss them both tremendously and thank them for all they’ve done.

And Hellos

Kim d’Albertanson – HR Officer






Kim joins the staff as HR Officer in July 2018.
She previously spent 9 years working for KCC – School Information Management System (SIMS) Support Team as a SIMS Consultant. Her responsibilities included:- Personnel, Staff Performance, DFE Statutory Returns, Financial Management System, Dinner Money and Reporting as well as being a qualified IT trainer, providing Consultancies and SIMS Training to schools.

Prior to this, Kim was a Bursar for 13 years at Thurnham Infant School in Maidstone. Her responsibilities included HR, safeguarding, health & safety, school office administration, as well as setting and monitoring the school’s budget.

Kim is married and has one 27 year old daughter, who is a Project Manager for an IT Company in London, and also an aspiring actress, presently being mentored by Amanda Redman MBE.

Before children, Kim was an Operations Manager for HSBC with responsibility for West Kent branches HR, compliance and audit.

Kim loves to travel, swim and is a keen skier, she is very excited to be joining the staff at St Michael’s Prep in July.

Kirsty Mitchell – Reception Teacher










Kirsty has worked with children for many years be it through volunteering at summer children’s camps, participating in holiday clubs or work experience at primary school during her secondary school education. She always knew she was going to be a teacher and this happened three years ago.

She took a degree in Education Studies at Canterbury Christ Church University and then followed with a PGCE in Primary Education (3-7years). She has experience in Reception and Year 2 and for her three years as a teacher, she has focused on Reception and loved every minute of it.

At her previous school she has run netball club for KS2 and art club for Reception. In her spare time she enjoys arts and crafts, yoga, dance and singing.

Kirsty is really excited to be joining St Michael’s in September and can’t wait to meet her new class.

Claire Briggs – Year 2 Teacher (Maternity Cover)






From a very young age Claire knew that her dream profession was to be a teacher. She has been teaching for over 12 years in the UK. Claire has experience in Years 1-6 however the majority of her experience lies within KS1. Whilst teaching in an inner London school, Claire was Head of KS1, Literacy, RWI, Art and Science. For 6 years she was the Assistant Head of a 2 form entry Primary School in London. She completed her teaching degree in South Africa and then converted this to QTS. Whilst at university Claire majored in Art and RE. She loves watching children’s imaginations come alive through their own art. Claire is married and has two children. She enjoys arts and crafts, running, aerobics and gardening. She is extremely excited to be joining St Michael’s in September.

On Monday we welcome our new staff and pupils for Move Up Day and look forward to seeing you at the evening meetings for Pre-Prep and Year 3.

I hope in the meantime you have some fun outside this weekend.

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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