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

Mr Bridges is on a mission to keep St Michael’s motivated with his latest exercise plan designed to make exercise fun.

The Director of Sport at St Michael’s, who is a very keen runner himself, has created a beginner to 5k plan for anyone wanting to keep fit this lockdown.

The six-week plan, featuring workouts, running challenges and rest days, covers a range of exercises aimed at strengthening all parts of the body.

Mr Bridges said: “I have created this training programme for the St Michael’s community to help anyone who wants to have a go at running during lockdown and safely get to 5k by the time we return to school. The plan is suitable for Prep-aged pupils, parents and staff, including absolute beginners.”

The teacher, who has 15 years’ training as a running and triathlon coach, added: “The programme is designed to build a body capable of running 5k at the end of the six weeks, and what better time to have a go than during lockdown.”

The detailed plan, organised into weeks and week days, follows a key where the letters W (walk) and R (run) appear alongside the number of minutes the activity should take place for. For example, 6 x 1:30w/2:30r represents a 1 minute 30 seconds of walking followed by 2 minutes 30 seconds of running, repeated six times.

Mr Bridges said: “The programme includes progressive long runs from week 3 onwards, the only day where the running is based on distance rather than time.

“On Mondays I will also be sharing a different workout on the St Michael’s PE YouTube channel which pupils can take part in.”

To share your experience of the programme, including photos please email tusher@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk. By sharing this information you give consent to it being shared on St Michael’s social media channels and publications.

 

On Tuesday 15th December, St Michael’s hosted a fun-filled charity day for Thames Valley Air Ambulance (TVAA).

Organised by Year 7 pupil Lucy, whose life who saved by the emergency team last Christmas, the school partook in a range of fundraising activities including a fun run, Christmas jumper day, and brain-teaser quizzes.

Lucy said: “With Mr Wiseman’s help, I planned activities to raise some much-needed money for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance and increase awareness of their work.

“A lot of people don’t realise what a great charity they are, and I hope our fundraising day has changed that.

“Not only do they save people’s lives in moments of crisis, but they provide long-term support to families who undergo medical emergencies.”

Amanda McLean, Chief Executive of Thames Valley Air Ambulance, said: “A big thank you to the staff and pupils of St Michael’s for coming up with creative ways to involve everyone in fundraising. In sharing her story, Lucy has helped us spread awareness of what Thames Valley Air Ambulance does. We can only do what we do because of the imagination and generosity of our wonderful fundraisers. We hope you had a lot of fun on your fundraising day!”

Lucy, whose story recently featured in the TVAA’s Christmas appeal, said: “Thames Valley Air Ambulance helped me at a time when my parents couldn’t. When I was seriously injured, the team stepped in and became my heroes.”

“It means so much to me that St Michael’s have come together to support this cause.”

The highly successful events saw pupils spread festive joy while raising an impressive £2556.60 for the charity which relies wholly of public donations.

Mrs Bridges, St Michael’s Acting Head, added: “Yesterday was amazing! The whole school had such a great time, and pupils were very excited to take part in a different fundraiser which meant they could enjoy the outdoors, whilst raising money for such an important charity. Everyone gave their all in the sponsored run and it was a brilliant event to watch.”

 

Mrs Wade, Head of Girls’ Games also said: “The children did remarkably well considering the conditions, and ran superbly for Lucy’s cause.”

 

 

And Lucy’s family echoed this gratitude for St Michael’s support. They said: “We wanted to say a huge thank to the St Michael’s community for supporting Lucy’s appeal for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance this Christmas. We’re so grateful to you for getting behind this amazing charity to whom we owe so much. We know from experience that your donations really do save lives. Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2021!”

For more information about the Thames Valley Air Ambulance or to donate visit: www.tvairambulance.org.uk/support-us/donate

 

 

This Tuesday 15th December, St Michael’s will host a fundraising day for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance (TVAA), organised by Year 7 pupil Lucy.

Determined to help a cause very close to her heart, Lucy has organised a series of events aimed at raising money for the charity-based emergency service.

Throughout the day pupils will be invited to participate in a range of activities including wearing a Christmas jumper, doing a sponsored run, and completing brain teaser quizzes in exchange for donations to the TVAA which relies wholly on public contributions.

Lucy said: “With Mr Wiseman’s help, I’ve planned activities to raise some much-needed money for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance and increase awareness of their work.

“A lot of people don’t realise what a great charity they are, and I hope our fundraising day will change that.

“Not only do they save people’s lives in moments of crisis, but they provide long-term support to families who undergo medical emergencies.”

And Lucy’s charity day is driven by her own bond with the charity who saved her life following an accident last Christmas.

She said: “Thames Valley Air Ambulance helped me at a time when my parents couldn’t. When I was seriously injured, the team stepped in and became my heroes.”

Since her accident, Lucy has remained close with three of TVAA’s critical care paramedics, Jo, John and Clare.

Lucy said: “Not only did the team come and visit me in hospital during my recovery, but in February this year my family and I were invited to their base to see their helicopters and learn more about their work.

“Since then, we’ve kept in close contact with them and have been given the exciting opportunity to take part in their Christmas campaign.

“One morning, my mum received a phone call from the TVAA asking if we’d like to tell our story as part of their fundraising appeal.

“Despite the accident still being quite fresh, we were keen to get involved as it’s such an amazing charity.”

Earlier this year, Lucy and her family were invited to Oxfordshire to talk about their experience in front of the camera.

The filming day, which involved interviews with both Lucy and her parents, aimed to raise awareness of the charity’s impact.

Lucy said: “It was such a fun day and really made us feel part of the TVAA community.

“Afterwards, we were sent several cuts of the video, including a very cool animation of my story which was very realistic.

“They kept us in mind throughout the whole process and made us feel very special.”

A full breakdown of the fundraising events can be found below. For more information about the TVAA or to view Lucy’s video visit: www.tvairambulance.org.uk/appeal/.

Thames Valley Air Ambulance Fundraising Activities 

  • Christmas jumpers – In Prep and Pre-Prep, we are inviting the children and staff to sport their best Christmas jumper and make a donation for the privilege of wearing it! The 15th  is the day of the school Christmas lunches, so this would be a good time to wear them. As with the last charity collection, the donations for Christmas jumpers can be deposited in the buckets at the doors into the buildings as the children arrive in the morning.
  • Sponsored run (Prep) – we are going to be inviting the children to run in teams of (up to) 4 around the shortest XC route on the fields. They will have a set time to complete as many laps as possible in that time. The children can look to have their team sponsored per lap, or have a donation from their sponsor. Sponsorship money raised will need to be brought in the following day.
  • Brain teaser quizzes – there are two quiz sheets that can be purchased for 50p each and you can take them home and try to solve the puzzles as a family. I’m afraid the only prize on offer is the glow of self-fulfilment upon having completed them. Answers will be shared on the last day of term. As parents cannot be in the school buildings at the moment, the quiz sheets can be purchased via homework diaries (please send the 50p/ £1, depending if you want one quiz sheet or both).

 

 

A former St Michael’s pupil has been awarded an Honorary Academic Scholarship for her excellence across all subjects.

Grace Goodwin, who attended St Michael’s between 2014 and 2019, has received the honour from Sevenoaks School.

Commenting on Grace’s success, her mother Marianthe Goodwin said: “Grace joined Sevenoaks in Year 7 and has really thrived from day one.

“We all knew Grace was doing very well academically as she was awarded the Academic Prize in Year 7 and Year 8. However, just before half term we received a letter awarding Grace an Honorary Academic Scholarship, one of only four which was awarded.

“Grace was delighted and extremely surprised as she had absolutely no idea that she was going to receive it. As an Academic Scholar, Grace is invited to attend the Schickler Society with the other scholars in which they discuss lots of different world issues both current and past, such as gun control and the Cold War.”

Mrs Goodwin added: “Grace had a wonderful and very happy time at St Michael’s and the decision to leave was  a hard one, but we felt it was the right time for Grace.  At St Michael’s she enjoyed all her subjects, especially English and Science.

“She found all the teachers very encouraging and approachable, and felt the growth mindset attitude and community spirit of St Michael’s gave her the confidence to hit challenges head on and not give up.

“Mrs Bridges among others was particularly encouraging of Grace during her time at St Michael’s and offered amazing pastoral support to pupils.”

And it isn’t just Sevenoaks School that spotted Grace’s academic potential. St Michael’s teacher Mrs Baisch, who taught Grace during her time at the school, said: “Grace is an incredibly creative pupil who loves reading and writing, and produced some beautiful work. The words flew off her pen.

“Grace was also a very good speaker which was shown by her victory in the poetry live senior competition which she won with her reading of Dulce et Decorum est. For a Year 6 pupil, her performance was very impressive.

“Grace’s scholarship is of no surprise and is something she should be very proud of.”

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