Vinelines 1st December 2023

Resilience of Mind - The Power to Overcome

Resilience in the face of scholarship exams and senior school interviews, resilience to overcome seasonal sickness bugs, resilience in the face of shorter days and colder weather, resilience in the face of Christmas lights in November!

November can be long and tough, but our community is showing huge spirit as we now take a deep breath in the ramp up towards the end of term. A celebrated Vinehall learning habit and a vital personal quality for life, the ability to show resilience is being modelled by our staff and moulded in your children.

I recently unearthed the mission statement for the school from the 1950s to discover how true we have remained to the original purpose, aims and values of Vinehall. I am extremely pleased to conclude that the emphasis on life skills and resilience of mind remains; and I leave you with a couple of charming excerpts:

‘One aim of the school, constantly borne in mind, is to produce a manly and self-reliant outlook, with interests and hobbies to occupy leisure time’.

‘Outdoor jobs, including minor building and creative work about the grounds, are fitted in from time to time. Boys are encouraged to cultivate gardens if they wish.’

Happy Advent, and may your children have the power to overcome any temptation of eating the chocolate calendars ahead of time.

Joff Powis

Rudyard Kipling's 'Just So Stories'

Years 5 and 6 were simply wonderful this week as they performed their versions of some of Kipling’s famous tales, first to the school, staff and visitors from Salehurst Primary on Monday morning and then to their very appreciative parents on Tuesday evening.

The three classes rehearsed separately in their weekly drama lessons, before joining it all together under the premise of Elsie Kipling mourning the death of her sister, Josephine, using her group of imaginary friends to act out her beloved father’s stores. Elsie was played by Margot C with great skill and charm. 6G introduced the concept and then told the story of ‘How the Camel got his Hump’. Rosie A was a gloriously energetic Djinn, chasing the hapless camel (Charlie F) around the stage at great speed to a miserable chorus of ‘harumphing’. Raphy G was an authoritative Horse; Seren K a lively Dog; and Lily F a suitably morose Ox. Lucy B, Yuzu M, Julie Y, Charlie C and Charlie EH supplied a wealth of characters, storytellers and enthusiastic participants to make this a very enjoyable story.

Next up were 6T with ‘How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin’. Elliott C, Ronan Z and Jimena CDLC were very expressive storytellers, with Harvey P a brilliant Parsee and Amelia A a hugely entertaining Rhino, who got his come-uppance for stealing the Parsee’s cake and was itchy and baggy-skinned ever after.

5P took over the reins for ‘How the Kangaroo Got His Hop’. Marvellous hopping from Betsy S, as the boastful dancing creature; a suitably intimidating presence from Alexandra C, as the Yellow Dog Dingo; and three amusing gods in Lucas M, Arthur P and Sam L. Ivy G and Rosa A provided the exciting commentary, and the rest of the class provided the action.

5P’s second story was ‘How the Leopard Got His Spots’. The Leopard was an agile Teddy H and the Hunter a fearsome Guillaume BL, both on the prowl for game in the Giraffe (Alice C), Zebra (Indira H), Eland (Harry D) and Wildebeest (Rex L). Barnaby OG was the wise old Baboon and their peers were the forest and the High Veldt.

The final story of a fabulous night was 6T’s ‘How the Armadillo Came to Be’. Rhiain E and Masa M played the Hedgehog and Tortoise respectively, both transforming into Armadillos to escape the clutches of the inept Painted Jaguar, PJ, played to much audience amusement by Harry M as he repeatedly ran to his long-suffering ‘Mumsie’ played superbly by Beth D. Their classmates provided all the necessary scenery and commentary.

The play was set in Elsie’s Aunt’s Georgian Sitting Room, created so effectively by the amazing Kate Hunt and her brilliant (if rather small) team of parent helpers, transforming the Chaplin Theatre almost overnight after pinching a great deal of furniture from the Front Hall and parents’ homes. Kate was a dab-hand at staple-gunning the exotic wallpaper and also made most of the beautiful animal masks – her creativity is astounding.

This project was an effective way to ensure that all the Year 5 and 6 children had a busy and enjoyable term rehearsing and experimenting with the challenges of mask work and portraying the animal kingdom effectively; I was hugely proud of them all.

Mary Alderson - Head's PA and Director of Drama

Pre-Prep: Visit to Battle Christmas Tree Festival

On Monday afternoon Pre-Prep set off to visit the Christmas Tree Festival at St Mary's Church in Battle. The church was adorned with beautiful trees and the children quickly fell silent as Vicky Cook explained the history of the building.

The children were particularly fascinated with the Tower and spotted the tiny peep hole in the ceiling far above, which Vicky explained was to enable the bell ringers to look down and know when the bride had arrived so they could stop ringing!

We divided the children into smaller groups and each child decided which tree they wanted to vote for, one from the adult category and one from the child category. We found our own entry, which the children loved, and there were quite a few votes cast in this direction!

Our annual trip to the Christmas Tree Festival heralds the start of the Christmas season for Pre-Prep, and where better to set the scene for the awe and wonder of the upcoming festivities.

Nicky Whittaker - Head of Pre-Prep

Nursery: Our Family Tree

This term the Nursery children have explored the topic 'Marvellous Me.' To continue and support their Learning Journey, we read the story of 'Stick Man'. This magical story encourages children to think about their resilience, as well as the importance of being part of a loving family. We explored how we can use sticks in a variety of ways, from mark-making and writing in different media to creating an afternoon snack from a French ‘stick’. The children also used their creative minds to retell their own stories about Stick Man, who went on some amazing adventures; please do pop into the Nursery to read them.

Sarah Wolford - Head of Nursery & Kindergarten


Our book of the week has been ‘Winter Sleep’ and it has introduced the children to the topic of hibernation. They have thoroughly enjoyed listening to the story and looking carefully at the beautiful illustrations.

They then used the non-fiction section of the book to find out how particular animals hibernate and we used this knowledge to make ‘hibernation homes’ for a variety of animals. All the children have shown great curiosity, just like Cassie Cat.

Catherine Garlick - Kindergarten Teacher


Reception have had a wonderful week exploring the woodland around the school. We started by learning about hibernation and created dens for a range of animals. We went for a walk through the woodland to find animal footprints, and the children saw deer and rabbit prints.

Inside the classroom, the children then painted animal footprints and made their own across the floor. We finished the week by creating our own secret forest map and deciding what we would pack if people hibernated.

Louisa Bennett - Deputy Head of Pre-Prep

Year 1

Seeing as the experiments at the science museum were so exciting for the children, we decided to conduct some Year 1 experiments in science this week.

The children worked scientifically observing, predicting, performing simple tests and recording their data.

We investigated craters and learned how they were made and dropped marbles from different heights to discover what happened to the ‘moon’s surface.’

Lots of laughter filled the halls as the children exerted their power to see how high they could launch their rocket into the air. Well done Year 1 scientists!

Jacklyn Garwood - Year 1 Teacher

Junior Baking

The Juniors baked Hedgehog bread rolls for their parents who visited us on Friday morning to look at all the amazing work they have completed this term.

Louise Barrett - Head of Juniors

Junior Book Look

We had a huge turn out of parents at the Big Book Look and it was wonderful to see the De Beer so busy. The children thoroughly enjoyed showing off their work to their parents. It was a lovely morning, thank you for coming.

Louise Barrett - Head of Juniors

Year 3: What is a shadow?

Year 3 played a great guessing game in Science this week as they explored what makes a shadow. Thanks to Miss E for her iPhone torch!

Carina Everist - Year 3 Teacher

Year 5 - Science: Making Foil Boats

Year 5 have been investigating the force of upthrust and successfully completed the challenge of making a boat out of tin foil, testing it to see how many weights it could hold.

Becky Prior - Head of Science

Year 5 - Art: Patterns and Pareidolia

In Art, Year 5 pupils tried to make sense of the way they view the world. We instinctively want to see order and we therefore notice patterns in everyday life.

The pupils were asked to record as many patterns as possible in the classroom and to label their observations.

Once their eyes were ‘re-tuned’ to seeing patterns, the children were asked to spot faces in inanimate objects, such as plug sockets and clocks. This is called ‘pareidolia’. Once they saw one face, they couldn’t stop seeing faces.

Can you see the faces in their observations?

Tracey Konyu - Head of Art

Year 8 - Science

Year 8 are working scientifically in the laboratory to investigate heating and cooling in Chemistry.

Becky Prior - Head of Science


Vinehall School Totally Rock In National Times Tables Competition

The Maths Department were absolutely delighted when the results came in for the annual England Rocks, a times tables competition run by Times Tables Rock Stars. England Rocks required children to correctly answer as many multiplication and division questions as possible, to give their class and school the best chance of winning.

The competition was fierce, with 187,080,339 questions answered collectively by 377,977 pupils from more than 4,408 schools and 70,774 classes around the country!

Our top class answered 890 questions correctly per pupil, with the best performing pupil answering an amazing 10,689 questions correctly – placing Vinehall in the top 8% of the 4408 schools which entered!

Kevin Higginson - Head of Mathematics


The netball season got off to a great start, with all the girls from Years 5 to 8 taking on St Andrew's at home and away. The matches were all very even affairs, with the coaches very pleased with the attitude, teamwork and all-round play from the girls.

The Year 3 & 4 girls endured a bitterly cold Thursday afternoon on the astro, taking on Battle Abbey in two 5-a-side games of hockey. The group have worked hard on their basic skills over the last week and it was pleasing to see them put those skills into action.

The boys continued their rugby season with a block fixture against Claremont. At the request of the opposition, all the games were played following the U9 rules of play, meaning no rucking or mauling, just tackling allowed. The teams adapted brilliantly, moving the ball around and scoring a number of very good team tries. The Year 3 & 4 boys travelled to Claremont for a triangular with The Mead. A small group enjoyed their first contact matches for the school with the rest playing touch. It was pleasing to see their confidence grow throughout the afternoon with some wonderful tackles.

Matt McKinnon - Director of Sport

Forest School

This week Year 6 had loads of fun in Forest School being creative and building dens

MAKE a NOISE about Bullying!

Another successful year promoting Anti-Bullying Week at Vinehall as we are feeling particularly proud of our shared effort in the Prep School. The display outside the Life Skills room is looking as loud as ever with our important messages against bullying.

Thank you, pupils, for your colourful and thoughtful messages.

Ally Linney – Assistant Head (Pastoral)

Celebrating Difference - An update from Life Skills

Across the school, pupils are learning the topic Celebrating Difference in Life Skills.

5P have been thinking about the importance of being an anti-racist. They are aware of what the term 'racism' means and they have been thinking about their own attitude and behaviour toward those who come from a different race, ethnicity or culture than their own.

Their powerful messages teach us the importance of speaking out against racism.

Ally Linney – Assistant Head (Pastoral)

House News - Saxton!

Saxton, led by Henry C and Arlo K, welcomed a new team member this week. Mary Alderson has joined Carina Everist and Kevin Higginson. She arrived robed in yellow splendour, as one might have expected!

Carina Everist - Year 3 Teacher


Although most boarders opted to go home for the optional exeat weekend, five stayed in school and were joined by some flexi-boarders on Friday night.

We had a lovely, lazy Friday evening and on Saturday morning the Years 5 and 6s went off to the play rehearsals; the remaining three boarders played PlayStation and relaxed in the Common Room.

On Saturday afternoon the boys joined Joff Powis and made a bonfire, before visiting Battle for the Christmas lights. Finally, the much-anticipated treat, when we went to McDonald's for dinner.

On Sunday morning we were up early and on the train to Tunbridge Wells. It was a chilly start, so our first stop was café Nero for hot chocolate. The girls went pottery painting, and the boys went shopping, after which we headed to Wagamama's for lunch and caught the train back to school. We had a cosy afternoon watching a film before the others arrived back and we got ready for the week ahead.

It was a lovely quiet weekend, before a very busy few weeks.

Katherine Kirkwood – Head of Boarding