Head’s Blog Friday 6th January 2017

Happy New year to you all. It’s been great to see the rested and sometimes tanned faces of the children, back with energy and enthusiasm on Thursday and settled in on Friday. There’s been lots of talk about families, good times and exciting new things to play with or do amongst children and a sense among staff that whilst Christmas isn’t really time “off” that it’s a great time for reconnecting with friends and family and having a change.

Staff met on Wednesday to welcome our new colleagues, begin induction meetings and explore elements of teaching and learning and preparation for another new Inspection framework which comes into force this January.

You’ll be pleased to know that the Inspection focus is on Educational Quality alongside Compliance. Although it is still possible that we might have either Educational Quality or Compliance  separately, it is most likely that we will get a combined Inspection with one day’s notice called Educational Quality with Focussed Compliance. (EQ + FC)  We are keen to test our systems in readiness for this and we’re planning a survey of parents to help us understand where our development should focus next. More details will follow on that topic. Inspectors explore pupils’ achievements and pupils’ personal development and we look forward to sharing with them all that St Michael’s offers in both those areas.

We reviewed our medication policy last term and are in the final stages of refining it with parental input. If any parent would like to cast an eye over our new policy and let us have feedback we would be pleased to hear from you. Please contact my secretary Helen on headsec@stmichaels.kent.sch.uk

Next week I start weekly coffee meetings with parent reps. This is an opportunity for parents to chat informally and offer perspectives on the school, perhaps things that delight them, sometimes frustrations or areas to refine. Reps are invited to encourage items for exploration from the whole class they represent and minutes are produced which deal with each point raised. Just prior to meeting each year group parents, I also have lunch with form captains and vice captains and hear their views on what it’s like to be in their year.

I usually have excellent pointers for things to focus on and many developments have taken place as a direct result of feedback.

As a result of feedback about lost property and borrowing in changing rooms, we installed cameras on the doors leading out of the rooms and eliminated almost at once the borrowing of kit.

Parents suggested benches by the tennis courts and we installed them (eventually!)

Parents had concerns about the quality and amount of swimming the school offered and we set up the very successful Swim School whose staff also deliver curriculum swimming , which has been increased.

The car park was potholed  and dark and this was a topic of much feedback. It was resurfaced.

These are just a few of the examples of items brought to the top of the development list as a result of engaging with parents.

What these coffee mornings are not about is teaching and learning. Our open door policy, our leadership structure and our parent evening system are the channels for raising any issue of concern about children’s progress and I know my colleagues go out of their way to engage with parents who raise any concern.

I look forward to listening, supporting and setting new items for development with your help over this term.

You will notice, if you have been into the Prep school that we have created a new reception area in part of the lobby. This change has been planned since September but sadly our swanky bespoke furniture wasn’t ready to install over the holiday. The rationale for this is to enable staff engaging with parents and children to be seen and on hand and to create a calmer environment with less interruption for those with less outward facing roles.

I have enjoyed listening to the children’s plans for their New Year’s Resolutions and encouraged them to think about focussing on one thing to do that will be of most benefit to others in their families, their class or perhaps even in the wider world. Olivia in Pre-Prep is helping mum with her younger brother, Eva said she planned to make her bed every day, whilst up in Prep Annabel suggested trying to turn off lights to save energy and Josh said he would revise a lot so he could do really well in his CE. Other good suggestions included giving away toys to children who didn’t have any (perhaps a great one for after Christmas when the cupboard is bursting) and trying to overcome fear of the dark.

I helped the children to think about how they could help themselves to keep their resolutions and suggested that they

  • tell their friends, so friends could remind and support them
  • give themselves small targets to build into a bigger one like keeping their resolution for one week at a time and rewarding themselves if they do
  • have a sticker or tick chart to mark off successful days
  • and perhaps most importantly, to think about the odd day where they fail to keep their resolution as a setback to move past rather than time to give up altogether

I look forward to seeing some of you at the many events happening this term. If you haven’t already, please do download the calendar app to your phones so that you can keep up to date and save into your calendar what is relevant to your family. It has filters and all sorts and should change your life!

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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