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

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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