Head’s Blog 9th June 2017 Friday 9th June 2017

I enjoyed three days in other schools this week, firstly in my role as governor and then representing ISI as a compliance team inspector. In both these roles I’m always learning and sharing in the best ideas grown in other settings. This week was no exception. I’m grateful for the opportunities to play a part in the process of setting high standards in other schools and enjoy the chance to “get under the skin” of a school, particularly when it turns out to be very different and rather lovely as happened this week.

Absence from one’s own school gives the team a chance to step up and run the show and I am blessed with a good team whom I thank for their extra work this week.

Time away also affords the time for reflection and I have been giving a lot of thought to the changes of the last few weeks in the landscape in which we operate.

Living and working in this part of England has changed and as a school leader, now more than ever, I have a responsibility to help our pupils, parents and staff to be certain about our own direction of travel whilst around us things get more uncertain or seem perhaps diminished by the election upheavals.

So what is the direction we take? Firstly, our focus is on excellence both inside and outside of the classroom, on every child achieving what is excellent for them, having time to reflect and to feel proud and to have the resilience to learn from mistakes. Secondly we do everything we can to strengthen our community at St Michael’s and our place within the community around us and as citizens of the world.

Politically of course, our staff room has a huge variety of views, just as our parent body does. My own sense is that the rhetoric that we have heard from some politicians over the last six weeks has not modelled sophisticated and respectful discourse. Eloquence, honesty, integrity, determination, vision: these are the qualities our pupils will need for professional success.

So to question, analyse, develop points with evidence, research, present accurate facts are all skills which we engender in our pupils and on which will continue to place strong emphasis.

Of course there has been much debate nationally this week, not only about politics and policies but about those who seek to disrupt democracy and everyday life through violence.

As a staff we have debated what the proper response should be to the increased terrorist activity in different parts of the UK. No one, not even our “new” prime minister, can guarantee that people in the UK can be totally safe. We have on our curriculum for the older students the study of how radicalisation takes place. The new reality of being a UK citizen is that there are a very small number of people who are filled with hate, which they say is justified by their religion.

The indiscriminate violence is baffling and bewildering. We recognise that for some children it causes anxiety that is real and will need support.

We teach children to respect and show kindness, to understand how persuasion works and how to keep themselves safe without eliminating all chances of risk.

We all know that terrorism is wrong, that hate eats people up, that caring and sharing is powerful and that our mission must be to keep a strong, core, moral framework at the heart of the experience of being a child.

We have a duty to keep everything as normal as possible even if there is more change and more risk to deal with and emerging from our thinking and planning and talking is a sense that alongside academic excellence, the emotional wellbeing of our whole community will become a strong strand in our development plan for next year and we will look outwards to those who have already developed this focus to train us and work with us on this.

As you head towards your weekend together can I commend to you the performances of “Guys and Dolls” being put on the 20th June

It will be absolutely amazing. Don’t miss it. Go online and get your tickets. Take your friends, take your neighbours and show them what excellent talent we nurture and showcase at St Michael’s.

And while we’re on the subject of amazing I would like to congratulate the huge number of children who have won scholarships to their senior schools or into Y7 at St. Michael’s.

I am so proud of the pupils and staff at this wonderful school.

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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