Vinelines 6TH OCTOBER 2023

Letting Children be Children

As summer slowly gives way to autumn, I am delighted to announce the start of a definite highlight of the school year – the Vinehall Conker Season 2023!

A conker fight brings the child out in all of us and I hope that all parents will join in the spirit, ready the bootlaces and get out and about this weekend with your children in search of some winners! Fighting at school during breaktimes will be allowed for a two-week period, though needs to be kept outside please.

Rules of play

Two players, each with a conker threaded on a piece of string or a shoelace, take it in turns to hit each other's conker, until there is one conker left.

The first player holds out their conker at arm's length, hanging down, ready to be hit. The string should be wrapped around his or her hand to stop it being dropped.

They must hold the conker still as the other player hits it. If it accidentally swings, the second player can steady it before they take a strike.

The second player then wraps the string of his or her conker around their hand, draws it back and takes aim.

He or she lets go of the conker as they swing their arm in an arc and tries to hit the other person's conker.

The first player then has a go at hitting the other player's conker and they take it in turns.

NOTE: If the player deliberately moves his or her conker while waiting for it be hit, the other player is allowed another go!

There is no ‘stamping’. If a player drops the string, he/she may pick it back up.

The fight is over once one of the conkers breaks apart or falls off the string.

Joff Powis

A Golden Harp

Pre-Prep resonated to the ethereal sound of the harp on Monday morning. The children listened spellbound to Sarah DeJe, Vinehall's harp teacher, as she played an excerpt from the Nutcracker on her beautiful golden harp. Every hand shot up in the air when Sarah invited individuals to come and play a glissando scale on her gilded harp, and some lucky children, including Persie L, Albert L, Frank H and Freddie F, had a go.

I have discovered the delights of playing the harp late in life; when I was growing up I learnt a variety of recorders and dabbled with the violin before ending up as a flautist, but I think the harp is the most wonderful starter instrument for children - it is so responsive and always makes a harmonious sound!

Nicky Whittaker, Head of Pre-Prep

Nursery - Marvellous Me

This week our Little Vines children have being looking at differences and similarities, as we shared pictures of when they were babies. We learnt how to take a photograph of each other using the iPad and sent this information to the printer. We talked about how we have grown and the children responded by using rich language such as:

“ I got bigger and bigger and I am strong.”

“ I grew in mummy’s tummy and then I was born.”

What a wonderful learning opportunity to discover how marvellous each and every child is!

Sarah Wolford, Head of Nursery & Kindergarten

Reception - The Gigantic Turnip

Reception have had a fabulous week exploring 'The Gigantic Turnip'. They have retold the story and created their own versions. This has been linked to some brilliant size comparison in our maths sessions using real fruit and vegetables. The children used scales, rulers and blocks to compare the length, height and weight. It has been the perfect lead up to our harvest celebrations next week!

Louise Bennett, Deputy Head of Pre-Prep

Year 1 - Our New Forest School Area

If you went down to the woods on Thursday, you would have been sure of a big surprise: Year 1 enjoying their first Forest School session in our wonderful new dedicated area. From making conker spiders to cooking fruit on the campfire, the children loved being in nature and exploring all the activities on offer. One highlight was how the children initiated a game of shopkeepers, buying their ingredients at the shop and using them in the mud kitchen to cook up delicious recipes. The Forest School leaders commented on how wonderfully they played together and how inclusive they were of each other. Well done Year 1!

Madeleine Parsk and Jacklyn Garwood, Year 1 Teachers

Year 2 - Poetry & Violin

Year 2 have taken part in Poetry by Heart this term and impressed everyone with their confident performances. Well done to the Year 2 finalists who performed on stage in front of the whole school, showing great courage like Maisie Monkey.

Everyone is enjoying their weekly violin lessons, learning how to hold the violin, pluck the strings and use the bow. The children have also been busy looking at features of fire engines and designing their own; they can’t wait to start making them next week!

Louise Hawtin, Year 2 Teacher

Year 3 - Around the World in 80 days - would you like to do it?

Year 3 have plotted the route that Phileas Fogg took in the novel by Jules Verne. This is part of their Humanities theme, and they were super at collaborating during a variety of geographical tasks. Some said they would like to take the challenge of travelling without a plane but a few reasoned that it might be dangerous!

Carina Everist, Year 3 Teacher

Year 4 – Collaborative Chess

Year 4 working together. Those that knew how to play chess were teaching the others. It was lovely listening to the children help each other to understand this challenging game and I was impressed by their knowledge.

Louise Barrett, Head of Juniors

Year 5/6 – Star Gazing

Years 5 and 6 headed off to Herstmonceux Observatory last Friday for a twilight telescope session. We were all very excited, as it was a clear evening with warm weather. However, it was so clear, with such a beautiful full moon, that there wasn't a star in sight! I shall have to remember to plan the trip around the moon next year. We did see the International Space Station fly by which was thrilling. We then headed back through the woods with our torches to the campsite. The children enjoyed sausage rolls, 'smores' and hot chocolate around the campfire. We had a mini disco with Laura Percy White's speaker and then sung songs around the campfire before heading to bed in our Tipis. It was a wonderful trip as ever, super fun and a great adventure.

Louise Barrett

Year 6 - Pop Artists

Although Pop Art was at its height in the 1960s, the key themes are still relevant today. The Year 6 pupils looked at mass production of goods and examined the graphics of food packaging through the work of Andy Warhol. His 'Campbell’s Soup Cans' were a symbol of the Western world and now the Year 6 pupils have produced their own Pop Art versions.

Tracey Konyu, Head of Art

Year 8 - House Captain Hustings

A very well done to our Year 8s who were courageous and confident in Wednesday's House Meetings. Many Year 8s put themselves forward, vying to be House Captains for Ashton, Paxton, Rushton and Saxton. The Year 8s should feel proud of themselves; it is no easy feat to give a presentation of such importance to peers.

We eagerly await the totals to be counted and the positions of responsibility to be awarded.

Ally Linney, Assistant Head (Pastoral)

Celebrating Pupil Voice: Committees

We are feeling very proud of our Year 8 Committee leads, who chaired and took minutes for our first Committee meetings of the year. They did very well facilitating introductions and reasons for joining our Committees.

At Vinehall, pupil voice is promoted through:

The Academic Committee (supported by James Thain)

The Eco Committee (supported by Ally Linney)

School Council (supported by Joff Powis and Roger Walker)

We are very pleased to share our newly-appointed Head Girl, Isobel F, and Head Boy, Ricky Wang, who will be leading the School Council this year. (Stay tuned for a feature introduction on Isobel and Ricky next week.)

The meetings this week also welcomed an open forum for ideas that will spirit action points for the academic year ahead.

Please note that a few children missed our planned photo session due to other commitments, so we will gather for photos once again next half term.

Ally Linney, Assistant Head (Pastoral)

Poetry by Heart

On Thursday 5th October (National Poetry Day), we gathered in the Chaplin Theatre to hear our finalists from Year 2 to Year 8 recite their poems in this year’s “Poetry by Heart” competition. This year, the theme was ‘refuge’. Although clearly topical, it was challenging for pupils to find relevant poems but it was fascinating hearing their choices (“Ted” was my personal favourite, all about a child and their battered old teddy bear). Our finalists presented the audience with a range of thought-provoking poems. Some were about friendship or grandparents; others reflected on how a place such as The British Museum Reading Room can provide a welcome refuge (Isobel F and Dora G). Alessandra K’s haunting choice of poem (“Red Roses” by Anne Saxton) portrayed a child without a refuge.

We were delighted that Ellie Ward, Vinehall’s new LAMDA teacher, accepted the invitation to judge the Finals, together with our Director of Drama (Mary Alderson) and our Head of Pre-Prep (Nicky Whittaker). Ellie’s fresh and perceptive feedback for our finalists (which she gave before announcing the winners) was very positive and valuable.

For Year 2, we had Shahaan, Rose and Henry reciting the heartwarming poem “Ted”, while Elfie gave a spirited performance of her poem. Tashfeen and Toto gave a sweet recital of the poem “Best Friends,” and Isabel treated us to a cheeky performance of “The Adventures of Isabel” by Ogden Nash.

Representing Year 3, Teddie gave a poised performance of “Us Two” by AA Milne, and Evie recited “At the Zoo” with great clarity. Oliver recited “The Secret Place” with mature and nuanced expression. Ben gave a lovely performance of “My Grandparents” and Albert a clear and confident performance of “My Foundation”.

In Year 5, we had Teddy, Sam and Harry performing “All day it has rained” with superb expression and teamwork; and for Year 6, Charlie C and Raphy performed “The Same Boat” with confidence and evident enjoyment.

For the Seniors, the multi-talented Isobel and Dora delivered a thoughtful and well-balanced recital of “The British Museum Reading Room” and then dropped off their beautifully handwritten poems with the judges and walked across the stage towards their cellos to provide musical entertainment for the interval, with Arlo and Ricky. This musical interlude was highly enjoyable (many thanks to Sue Glossop for helping our musicians to prepare for this performance).

Alessandra’s performance of “Red Roses”, a poem about a toddler who finds no refuge at home with his abusive mother, brought tears to the judges’ eyes. Isla’s poem “O Death, Rock Me Asleep” by Ann Boleyn was exceptionally well-considered and expressive. Isla poured her heart and soul into this. Skye’s beautiful performance of “Greenaway” highlighted her lovely reciting voice in all the right places. Finally, Tymofii and MP delighted the audience with their rendition of “Science” by Martin Dejnicki.

The judges had their work cut out to decide on winners in each category (so much so that our musicians were obliged to play their pieces twice through as deliberations continued!) Finally, they delivered their verdicts: Albert P was judged the winner of the Juniors overall, while Raphy and Charlie were exuberant to hear that they were the winners in the Middles category. Lastly, Isla scooped the Seniors prize with her poised and thoughtful performance of her poem. Ellie Ward also commended Tymofii and MP for their performance of the poem “Science” (a big hit with the audience).

The winners in each of the three categories will, in due course, receive book prizes, but all finalists received a certificate and a bookmark to congratulate them on their achievements.

Many thanks again to our judges, and many thanks to all of our English teachers – Louise Hawtin, Carina Everist, Louise Barrett and Debbie Gearey, for supporting their pupils in this competition.

Emily Platt, Head of English


With a gala at Benenden, two hockey tournaments (one at Radnor House and another at Sutton Valence), a cross country event at Somerhill and football, hockey and netball fixtures against Battle Abbey, Skipper's Hill and Marlborough House, it has been a busy week. Huge thanks must go to all the pupils and staff for their efforts.

The highlight of the week has to be Charlie C's incredible 3rd place in the Under 11 cross country event at Somerhill. Competing against 110 other runners and emulating Zola Budd, he overcame an early footwear malfunction to force his way back into contention and push the leaders all the way to the finish line. Notable other finishers were Henry C (5th - U13 race) and Beth D (11th - U11 race).

Next week promises to be as busy as ever as we host a swimming gala for the Juniors teams against St Andrew's on Tuesday and the 1st, 2nd, 3rds and 4th football sides playing the touring Aldwickbury teams on Thursday morning at 11.30am. This is in addition to the regular fixtures on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon. Please do continue to use the school sports website for all sporting information.

Matt McKinnon, Director of Sport


Exeat weekends are now optional, so this weekend, although most children had plans with family and friends, a few boarders remained at school. We had a lovely, relaxed weekend. On Saturday the weather was lovely so we had a little shopping expedition to Hastings followed by lunch at a local restaurant. The burgers and chips were delicious and then we wandered over to play mini-golf. There was a competition to see who could get the best score. If the staff won, there would be no ice creams but if the children won it would be ice creams all round. Despite the staff winning by a magnificent one point, we decided that ice creams were well-deserved and wandered along the beach eating soft serve.

On Sunday we had a lazy breakfast and then did prep and spent the afternoon outside or playing Fifa.

All in all, it was a lovely weekend.

Kath Kirkwood, Head of Boarding

Looking ahead ...

Saturday 7th October - Family Apple Day - Vinehall Autumn Fete - 12.30pm - 3.30pm. Please come along and enjoy all the fun.

A reminder...

Thursday 12th October is Grandparents' Day and Harvest Festival.

This is a wonderful annual event and will run from, 9.30am - 11.00am. Please share the invitation with Grandparents who are asked to RSVP by Monday 9th October 2023.