Head’s Blog 28th June 2019 Friday 28th June 2019

This week on Thursday the governors and senior leaders enjoyed a strategy workshop to set down and capture the direction of travel and vision for the next ten years at St Michael’s Prep. My colleague Jane Thornton has spent much of this term workshopping with different stakeholders what it means to be a part of St Michael’s and how we could demonstrate this more widely in the world and some fascinating ideas have come out of these workshops. Across all groups, the caring, inclusive, supportive and creative environment that is St Michael’s is a strongly understood concept. All groups, and particularly pupils, spoke of their attachment to the school.

This has manifested itself on many levels this week with Dominic Carver a former pupil helping out in Pre-Prep, himself singing most beautifully at the splendid string concert organised by Jackie Dennett, Jacob Garside and Sally Beesley. Dominic will be off to study music at university and highlighted the special bond which brings people back time and time again. Not only has he been enormously helpful to all the music rehearsals happening in Pre-Prep but it was fitting at Sally’s last concert that he should come and perform for her just as he did as a small boy.

It was fantastic to see the excitement of two of our former pupils at Kent College welcoming our language challenge team to the competition they hosted on Wednesday and, at Sutton Valence on Tuesday evening, I very much enjoyed seeing two of our pupils performing to a very high standard in their delightful and energetic production of “School of Rock” to which I was invited.

For me, as Head, I have a strong sense of connection to anybody that says they have been a pupil or member of staff here whether or not I actually worked with them because I recognise in their return to the school that they enjoyed what we enjoy today; a family friendly and innovative environment….and attachment.

Parents too show their attachment by their attendance at so many events. Whether it be the Pre-Prep string concert, the Nursery or Kindy end of term productions, the wonderfully insightful Year 3 drama workshops, where we watched the development of the children in an open class by Mr Powell or the series of intimate and moving instrumental and vocal concerts given by the pupils of our peripatetic team over these past few weeks.

Over the next nine days we will be marking the final stages of their life at St Michael’s of some children, staff and governors and for me both formal and informal parts of these days are special and fun.

Today at the staff and governors’ drinks party we said farewell to Enos Bukuku who has been a governor at the school since way before my time and we thank him for the stories of his time as a pupil just as much as guiding us with his legal advice as an adult. On 9th July, at Prize-Giving, we will mark the departure and contribution of Paula Carter, outgoing Chair of Governors, who recruited me, believed in me and who has been my mentor and support. Paula is never fazed and has been good fun as well as wise and impressively patient. And like all the governors, she is passionate about what St Michael’s is and will be.

Both Paula and our new Chair of Governors, Robert, will be presenting gifts to leavers and stayers at Prize Giving and I hope that many of you at the after party will take a moment to thank Paula for all she’s done and chat with Robert about the plans for our future.

Of course it is an immense privilege to have shared part of the journey with the children who will leave and we all delight in the progress they have made and the memories we have made together. We very much do want to keep in touch and at sports day next Friday we will be rejoicing in the company of some Old Michaelians coming to join us for the afternoon, to celebrate at the barbecue in the evening and some who will even camp out overnight.

We are expecting them to join in the fun, reconnect and update us on all that has been achieved since we last saw them. I’m excited and I’m proud.
Attachment… We all have it!

Next week we will be sending out letters to the parents of those children who will receive awards in our Prep school Prize Giving so that they can make arrangements to be there. We hope very much that parents will come, whether or not their child is a recipient because it is an occasion on which we celebrate and share and perform and respect the departure of many significant figures within the community.

We are very much looking forward to meeting Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, whose nephews are pupils here and it is traditionally a time when many former staff return to join in.

As we meet and share time together at all these events I very much hope that you will treasure the time you can be with us and be a part of this great school.

Have a lovely weekend.

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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