Head’s Blog 9th February 2018 Friday 9th February 2018

This short holiday is a great time to pause, reflect, and rest after a busy half term. I hope you have a good rest and some fun with your children. I was delighted last Friday to be at the Year 2 bench ball tournament, which was very well-organised and very well-supported by parents. It was lovely to see the teamwork and a clear understanding of how to win and play well, even if the teamwork consisted of passing from boy to boy or a girl to girl! I was impressed by their throwing and catching skills and by the extent to which they looked for a place to play.

Friday evening’s drama duologue competition was another moment of great pleasure at St Michael’s, as parents gathered to watch and frankly marvel at the achievements of the pairs competing for the winners’ crystal trophy. Again, since last year, the children’s understanding has moved on about polish and preparation. It works well for the juniors to be present at the senior competition and understand how they might still further refine what they do. Judging and deciding the winners was an unenviable task and I would like to congratulate every single pair that participated.  Hats off too, to the pupils who still attended, even though their own partner was unwell and they could not compete. You can read more in Mr Powell’s article later in this newsletter.

Enjoying performance seems to be the theme of the week and we have had many enthusiastic and delighted emails from parents who attended the Year 3&4 O2 trip on Monday night. Mr Wiseman did a good job tweeting photos and film as the day went along and it was interesting to learn from the Czerkawska family that film footage from Monday night, shared on Facebook, even made the TV news in South Africa because one of the songs was about rain in Africa which is currently very much needed

https://m.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/watch-heartrending-moment-thousands-of-uk-kids-sing-for-rain-in-cape-town-20180207

On Wednesday evening, The Ten, our a cappella choir, enjoyed a trip to Cadogan Hall with more than generous staff to pupil ratios, to a concert performed by The Sixteen and Harry Christophers; a veritable baroque feast, which included Vivaldi’s Gloria,  which later on this year we shall be singing in our final end of year concert. Our pupils were the only children at the concert and drew comment from surrounding concertgoers because of their focus and clear enjoyment as well as exemplary behaviour. It was delightful that the conductor came out to meet our party briefly after the concert. You can see photos on my Twitter feed.

This weekend Year 6 will be receiving offers of places from many different schools and parents are free to call me on Monday or Tuesday when I shall be at work and available to talk things through. Our own scholarship results were mailed to families yesterday too and we look forward very much to a vibrant and successful Year 7 and 8 with, we hope,  many of those currently in Year 6 staying on.

It was fun to have lunch with Year 5 on Tuesday and meet parent reps the following morning for coffee. I’m always pleased to talk about life in the school and get feedback from those living it. There is a great deal of positivity amongst them about their experience here and they are challenged to find something that they think should be better. Their candour, however, can help us to tweak small things here and there and clarify expectations when these are not being met, so it’s a vital part of a reflective process of self-evaluation.

Sometimes, when I meet parents, I am told things that are being discussed in the car park that are so far removed from the reality of school that it’s very difficult to understand how these rumours started. If you do hear anything that makes you worried or anxious about St Michael’s, please do come and check out with me whether what you’ve heard is true. Real partnership with parents lies at the heart of everything we do with your children and we listen and we change if people have good ideas that will make the school better.

This week’s fable was that if you want to go to Sevenoaks you have to leave St Michael’s. It is an extraordinary thought that this is a real concern for parents. It is not true. Over the last few years approximately one third of our cohort has left St Michael’s for Sevenoaks over two entry points and we have a very strong links with the school, whose own staff often place their children here. We have a governor from Sevenoaks School at all times on governing body and Sevenoaks School recommends St Michael’s to parents looking for places at schools, which will prepare them well for entry.

Today the school is unusually quiet as you all begin your half term and I and my colleagues set out to visit other schools to exchange ideas and develop our provision. I hope that you have a wonderful break and look forward to seeing you fresh-faced and raring to go on Monday 19th.

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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