Meet Nik Pears, the new Headteacher at St Michael's Prep in Otford, starting Jan 2021. What are the 5 key features he's looking to build on?
St Michael’s Prep, Otford, are delighted to be welcoming their new headteacher, Nik Pears, (previously Head of Prep at Kent College Pembury) this January 2021.
Educated at St Dunstan’s College and Cambridge University, Mr Pears brings with him a wealth of leadership experience – having held his position as Head of Prep at Kent College Pembury since 2016 and prior to that, he was Headmaster of the Junior School at Sevenoaks Prep for five years.
So what are the 5 key features he’s looking to build on at St Michael’s Prep School?
1. Child-led learning
St Michael’s Prep School is a non-selective, co-educational school for children aged 2 to 13 years. Nik comments: ‘The school recognises that every child is an individual and as such encourages them to learn in this way.’
Here they embrace innovative learning techniques, such as the termly Challenges, where it is entirely up to each pupil to choose what to study as homework (outside of core subjects such as English and Maths). This ensures children are really engaged and teaches critical life skills. Nik says: ‘This kind of creative scheme is typical of St Michael’s approach to education and something I hope to build on.’
2. Technology to enhance togetherness
Pupils, parents and teachers across the country all learnt a lot in a short space of time during lockdown. Nik says: ‘Moving onto virtual learning platforms was a big learning curve for us all and in uncertain times we want to make sure we can keep adapting quickly.’
During the summer, St Michael’s made further investments in IT and continues to develop the approach to learn in new ways. The school has ensured preparedness for potential remote learning scenarios through further staff and pupil training in Microsoft 365 and MS Teams. However, for now they are fully embracing the joy of school life on site, learning together in the beautiful grounds.
3. Building on the brilliant Music and Arts
Previously a Director of Music, Nik is an accomplished musician and has performed at The O2 and Wembley Arenas. ‘St Michael’s is a school that blends the enjoyment of popular music with education of the classics really well,’ says Nik. ‘At St Michael’s, music is a subject which recognises the traditional elements while being very progressive and that’s exciting to me. For example, the Music Department has a suite of Apple Macs which all year groups in prep use.’
St Michael’s currently has 16 peripatetic music specialists offering one-to-one lessons for around 230 pupils across a wide range of instruments and musical styles in both Prep and Pre-Prep. Nik says: ‘I’d like to see Performing Arts further invested in with future projects – so watch this space.’
4. Embracing the Sports & Outdoors
Nik represented Kent U18 group at rugby and has a love of all sports. ‘I’m passionate about sports, and rugby in particular,’ says Nick. ‘At St Michael’s sports is strong across the whole school for both boys and girls, which is brilliant.’
The school has just celebrated the opening of its smart, new Astro Turf pitch. Nik says: ‘It’s very unusual to get such an incredible sporting facility at a prep school and it will take sports, in particular hockey which is enjoyed by both boys and girls, to a new level.’
5. That special sense of belonging
‘What has impressed me most about this school is the incredible warmth and sense of community you feel at St Michael’s,’ says Nik. ‘There’s a real sense of belonging, from the staff, pupils and parents. The atmosphere at the school is special and the affection everyone feels is in the bones of the school itself.’
He continues: ‘Here children are free to be children for as long as they can be, which is particularly true if they are staying all the way up to Year 8.’
And the main goal? ‘What I want is for children to run into the school in the morning and not want to go home at the end of the day,’ Nik summarises. ‘Then I’ll know we’re a happy and successful school.’
Nik Pears will be joining St Michael’s Prep School, Otford, in January 2021.