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.