Head’s Blog 22nd September Friday 22nd September 2017

A splendid week of meetings and learning at school has left me with a warm glow. Our welcome evenings to Year 4 on Monday and Years 5 & 6 last night were characterised by a generous warmth and engagement from parents and a strong sense of how important the well-being of each child is to my colleagues.
We hope very much that you will continue to be in touch with smaller worries so that they don’t become big.
I was touched on Wednesday to receive a letter from William, one of our new boys in Year 5, who wrote to thank the staff and pupils for being so helpful towards him and making him feel settled after such a short time.  You can see his letter on my Twitter feed.
We’ve been focusing in our assemblies on understanding how our brains work as the seat of our emotions, as our brain is stimulated to release chemicals that make us feel the way we do. It is particularly useful to understand the physical aspects of feelings, because we can exercise control over our responses to situations and thus our mental state. In the week in which in Chapel we have focused on forgiveness and on peace in the world, all the strands tied together in the work we have been doing at school. Mrs Bridges’ assemblies on “brainology” have also focused on how our brains can be trained to be better and suppler through challenge and effort. The children were very excited to hear about our new homework policy which launched with the children this week and which streamlines, simplifies and updates what children are required and invited to do.  The new termly challenges which enable creativity and an individual response to a research project are now out on display in form rooms and being talked about in the playground and over lunch.
We were delighted that parents in the P&F meeting decided to give funds for a variety of school projects and we look forward to reporting back on the impact of this generosity.
At Thursday’s meeting with Year 5 and Year 6 parents, we welcomed back Emily and Oliver who began in Year 9 at Caterham this year and who talked eloquently about the excellent start Years 7 & 8 had given them at St Michael’s; we also heard from our current Year 8 girls, who said that being a small group meant there was “less drama”! And some Year 7 boys, who were very motivated by the enhancement to the academic performance which they were already sensing.
The landscape of transfer to senior school is radically altered now that common entrance is used locally in all our feeder schools to set children rather than select children. Review of the Year 7 and 8 curriculum this year will take full advantage of the opportunities to modify what we teach and how we do it for the cohorts to come.
We are beginning to think about welcoming people on Open Morning on 4th October and we look forward to the publication of our new prospectus with some excitement. If you know somebody who might enjoy the experience of St Michael’s, do you let them know that they can find out so much and meet our very impressive pupil speakers and guides as they go round this wonderful campus.
Next week we have our Harvest Festivals in Prep and Pre-Prep and as usual we are collecting dry goods for the food bank at Swanley. Please look out for what you can offer and make sure that the children bring something to give to others as we celebrate all that we have been given ourselves.
Have a great weekend. I know the sun is going to shine.
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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