Head’s Blog Friday 24th February 2017

Apart from whirlwind Doris, there has been a veritable whirl of activity at St Michael’s. If you had been here on Wednesday you would have seen the wonderful collaborative workshop in which classes from Reception to Year 3, contributed Lego houses to create a whole town, whilst up in Prep we ran a huge sports tournament involving ten schools which went well and in which our girls played stylishly.

 

On Wednesday morning pupils arrived early at school to be ready for their link up to the school we have partnered with in China. There was much excitement in the room and the benefits of genuine sharing across the continents will be far reaching over the years to come I am sure. I’m delighted to have the link with YK Pao, Shanghai, a bilingual school founded in 2007 and we look forward to sharing some of the children’s work drawn from their first Skype lesson.

 

On Friday, had you been here, you would have met a veritable legion of soldiers, emperors, noble women and the odd slave as Year 4s got to grips first hand with Roman history. The parent helpers honestly looked as though they had travelled across the millennia, such was the quality of their costume creations!

 

This week I enjoyed PE and snack time down in Nursery and some great table conversations taking place between children and adults, a super science investigation lesson from a visiting teacher and my time with Pre-Prep in assembly looking at the shocking reality of segregation in America in the time of Martin Luther King.   

 

It’s been good to meet visiting parents wanting places for September or sooner and to have had the chance to get feedback from parents in Year 6 over coffee and in Year 5 at the Parents’ Evening. The Governors’ Finance committee met on Monday evening and worked hard to review all the projects being undertaken, the policies they oversee and the accounts and expenditure.  

 

You will perhaps notice on the website that we have put a new Complaints policy which we hope is clearer and more streamlined. Our consultancy policy review in September suggested that the table publishing the complaints received and actions taken, whilst transparent, might make people less inclined to raise an issue formally and we agree that it is important that parents should always be confident that we will listen and respond to matters raised. We have therefore, in reviewing this, taken the decision to make the records available only to Governors and the Inspectorate and report the number, not the nature of formal complaints received which is what we are required to do. I hope that this will increase the confidence of parents to raise issues, if they need to and of course what I really hope is that nobody actually has any!

 

We are beginning to look at the questions and answers in the trial survey and I invite further communication from anyone who feels they would like to enhance our understanding on the issues on which you were questioned.

Two questions asked produced an almost unanimous “I agree” (in that no one disagreed).

Teaching enables my child to make good progress and develop skills for the future with 95.5 % of people agreeing and 4.5 saying they didn’t know or had no view.

The school actively promotes values of democracy, respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs, with which again 95.5% of people agreed with 4.5% not knowing or having no view.

 

Any parent who would like to tour the school with me and see more of what is happening in a day is most welcome to do so. I’d really like everyone to have a sense of the work going on here.

The statement which received the highest level of disagreement was

I receive helpful information about my child’s performance and progress. The number of people who agreed was only 87% and those who disagreed stood at 10.8% with 1.8 % not knowing or having a view.

It would be extremely helpful if some or all of that 10 percent would engage with us to help us to understand the reasons for their perspective on this. My sense is that a few parents might expect daily updates which would not be possible beyond early years, whilst a few would like us to modify the timing and nature of what we do offer. Following feedback last year from parent reps, we have modified the feedback in Years 1 and 2 to mirror the quantity and timing of feedback in Reception and we hope parents in Years 1 and 2 are happy with this.

I’m sure parents will be as excited as I am that we are to launch a Parent app later this year which will give personalised access to data held in our system on your children and be able to check it, correct it if need be and keep on top of your child’s homework as well as receiving reports through it.

The trial for this will be launching soon. I hope that the increased connectivity will address the current perceived shortfall in adequate information. Please be confident that if you are one of the people who have views about what we should do I would be delighted to hear from you and meet to talk further.

 

Next week is the start of Fairtrade Fortnight so do look out in the shops this weekend for products with the badge of Fairtrade on them. Year 8 are going into their mocks next week and then will be away in Jersey to enjoy some down time before they go over their papers in the final push towards the summer exams.

 

A steady stream of excellent senior school results is coming through and I look forward in due course to sharing with you the successes of our students. Our own Scholarship offers went out today and we hope that children will be pleased to find out how they did in their applications.

 

I look forward to seeing some of you tomorrow at our Community Netball tournament. May the best team win!

 

Have a great 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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