Head’s Blog 25th May Friday 25th May 2018

It’s always sad to say goodbye to people who have been the backbone of the school and I think if you look closely at some of the staff who are retiring and moving you might see that their toes are actually fixed into the ground here!

Carol Bent

After 21 years as a member of staff at St Michael’s Carol Bent is retiring. As I hope you know, retiring from St Michael’s means coming back frequently to help us out with cover! During her time here, first as a parent and then as a member of staff, Carol has been a stalwart member of the English, drama, history, geography and French departments and behind-the-scenes has also supported music and theatre through major organisational and support roles for all productions. She has cheerfully masterminded props, costumes, ticket sales and marketing. Carol goes above and beyond for her form and even though she is now part-time, is always here on important days to support and celebrate. As a teacher she will be remembered for her firm and disciplined classrooms where expectations are high and children learn a great deal. Carol has taken on leadership roles within the staff body and frequently this involved doing the thankless tasks for which I would like now publicly to thank her.

Carol and her husband Dave will be frequent visitors, we hope, and although Carol is officially retiring from the school, we expect to see her frequently! We wish her all the best and hope that she enjoys the opportunities to see her new granddaughter and visit family.

Darryl Edwards and Seppie Chapelle

We shall be sorry to see the departure of Darryl Edwards and Seppie Chapelle, who have been associated with school for almost two decades. Darryl took over the art department and has loved developing his curriculum and showcasing the art created by the children around the school. It has been so good to see him encouraging practising artists to work with the students and a lasting legacy will be the sculptures in the school grounds and the art gallery in the main corridor. In addition to assisting with music trips, Darryl has of course enjoyed building more and more ambitious sets for plays. One of his large- scale music backdrops has found permanent residence in the music room and none of us will forget the final triumph of his set for “ Lord of the Flies “ nor his flashing sets on “Guys and Dolls” and “Joseph”. Darryl made a huge contribution to the combined creative arts tours in the last few years and his work preparing packs and lists and beautiful booklets has been a strength of the tours. He takes up a new role at Hazelgrove Prep School https://www.hazlegrove.co.uk/ and as they move to Somerset we wish them both well.

Seppie worked at the school from 1999 to 2011 and then again since 2015, formerly as Head of French and latterly as Year 3 teacher. She initially joined us as a French teacher and took over as Head of Department in 2001, ably leading the department for a decade. As a French leader, Seppie set up the scheme of work and was fully involved in the musical and theatrical life of the school. Seppie will be remembered for her kindness to her classes, very detailed preparation and creative teaching, not forgetting her love of pink and Chihuahuas.

We wish Seppie good luck with the move and lots of opportunities in her new life in Somerset.

Sue Billings

Sue has been associated with St Michael’s for almost the same amount of time and her children, now grown up and pupils of St Michael’s, brought her here in the first place and here she has stayed to enthuse and to inspire. I have enjoyed seeing Sue take on the leadership role of mentoring NQTs and liaising with training establishments to provide placements for young teachers and we thank her for this invaluable work.

Sue is extremely organised and has high expectations of her pupils, whether that be on the netball court or in the French classroom. It has been good to see her play an active role in chapel life also. Sue is looking forward to being able to follow the magnificent careers of her very successful children and we wish her well as she sets off around the world in their pursuit.

Rachel Martin

After just over five successful years at St Michael’s, in which Rachel joined the senior leadership team, challenged her colleagues to make provision for and understand better the additional needs of children and saw her own son join us and flourish, Rachel is moving nearer to home to a parallel role in Holmewood House School. In her time here we have undergone a great deal of training together and are wiser and better equipped for it. Rachel has championed the voice of those with additional needs and at her very successful AEN evenings at which children and parents have spoken with eloquence and humour about the barriers to learning that they have overcome, we have all benefited from listening and learning.

We thank Rachel for all the development she has brought about and wish her every success and a little more time at home in the mornings in her new school.

Lauren Pearce

Lauren Pearce is taking the plunge to move abroad and work at Repton, Dubai. Lauren came to us as a newly-qualified teacher four years ago and I could barely contain my wish to offer her the role within the interview itself. She has not disappointed and in a very short time became a leader and a mentor to others.

Lauren’s wisdom belies her youthful years and she combined international competitive sport with excelling in the classroom and on the sports field and we shall miss her.

The wonders of modern technology of course mean that we may be able to add her school to our international links and stay in touch. I fervently hope so. Lauren goes with all our good wishes for this next exciting phase of what is clearly already a stellar career.

Head of Learning Development

I am delighted to let you know that Ms Lucinda Cook has been appointed to the Senior Leadership Team as Head of Learning Development.

When Lucinda joined the staff, her fantastic reputation preceded her and it has been wonderful to see the impact that she and Louise Medd have had on their own class and on the small groups for whom they have run interventions.

As I worked with Lucinda closely this past year, I’ve very much enjoyed the humour and intuitive ways in which she encourages children to be resilient, self-aware and take risks in their learning.  Lucinda has a wealth of experience and training in EAL, Gifted & Talented, working with parents and holds a qualification in counselling, dyslexia and Mental Health.  It is pleasing that this in-house appointment allows extensive handover between Rachel and Lucinda.

I congratulate her on this appointment and look forward to her joining the senior team.

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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