Vinelines 19 January 2024

Taking time to listen

We continue to encourage the children to listen well when learning and to take the time to reflect wisely. When we are able to listen to one another, we learn from one another, creating a free flow of ideas that is so exciting.

A significant strength of our school community is that the children know they are heard and understood. They know that sharing their thoughts matters to us and can often lead to changes and improvements at school. I greatly enjoyed my meeting with the School Council this week, where I found the ideas and reflections of your articulate children enlightening and hugely valuable.

I believe the parents also feel heard and understood and I thank all those who recently completed the parental survey. Your overwhelmingly positive and constructive responses are yet again a reflection of the collaborative and supportive educational environment Vinehall is. Your feedback will enable my senior team to further evaluate our systems and provision, strengthening our development planning in areas such as parental communications, co-curricular opportunities and healthy eating.

As the children often hear me quote, listening is the hardest skill of all.

‘We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.’ Epictetus


Holiday Club

What a superb time the children had during our Christmas and New Year Holiday Club provision. We are so fortunate to have such wonderful resources and facilities here at Vinehall and during the Holiday Club we are lucky enough to have the entire school to ourselves, grounds and all!

The first week of the Holiday Club saw the children buzzing with anticipation and excitement for the upcoming festive celebrations. The week was full of crafts, glitter and the sweet smell of baking drifting through the corridors.

We started 2024 off with a bang as we welcomed the children back for the second week of our Holiday Club provision. We spent most of our time exploring the great outdoors, when the weather allowed it, building dens and climbing trees.

We mustn't forget our daily disco in the Pre-Prep hall, where the children showcased their groovy dance moves; oh what fun!

We look forward to more fun and exciting adventures during February Half Term.

Mary-Jane Meekham - Holiday Club Manager

Pre-Prep - New Routines

One of the many appeals of Vinehall is its stunning surrounding grounds and the space this affords the children. However, sometimes space can bring risk, and nothing is more important than the safety of our children. There is clearly a potential conflict of interest in the children running up the path out of Pre-Prep at the end of the day, and there being no clear stop point ahead of the car park. The solution? The introduction of a bespoke sign at the edge to the Pre-Prep car park, where the children have been instructed to place their own hand on the “stop hand” and wait for their parent to catch up!

The New Year should bring new ideas and initiatives, and so a new buddy system has been designed to enable Kindergarten to play with the rest of Pre-Prep at morning play. We have paired each child in Kindergarten with a “Year 2 Buddy.” Year 2 have been brilliant at going to find their new buddy to hold hands, and then gently leading them down to the field for morning playtime.

It has been wonderful to see the children running round and having fun together on the beautiful frosty field in the pale winter sunshine. Let’s hope that this new routine will be the beginning of some lasting friendships for Kindergarten and Year 2!

Nicky Whittaker - Head of Pre-Prep

Nursery – Winter wonders

What a wonderful week to return to Little Vines, as the winter weather led us to explore and investigate the cold and ice. In the Early Years we cover a topic called ‘Understanding the World,’ which encourages children to explore, problem-solve, observe, think, make decisions and talk about the world around them and this exposure to the winter elements certainly did all of this!

The children were fascinated to learn and understand how and why ice melts and we had to problem-solve to enable the polar bears to be released from the ice.

“We can use sticks to bang the ice.”

“ Use hammers.”

“ Rub it with our warm hands.”

These were just a few of the children’s amazing ideas to help rescue the bears!

Sarah Wolford - Head of Nursery & Kindergarten

Catering for our Nursery Children

One of the many benefits of Little Vines Nursery is our wonderful catering team who enable us to provide meals and snacks specifically tailored to our nursery children.

Our nursery children have a rolling 3-week menu which includes the following options – Mains, Veggie (meat free), Vegetables, Carbs and Desserts (which always include fruit). Mondays are always meat-free and include dishes such as Macaroni Cheese, Jacket Potatoes with Toppings and Vegetarian Chilli. Each month there is a focus on a different colour fruit and vegetable. This month we are focusing on green fruit and vegetables which are important for brain food!

The Nursery team sit with the children in the dining hall and make sure they get a protein, carb and vegetable on their plate at every meal.

In addition to the lunchtime meal our nursery children have morning and afternoon snacks which include options such as crudites, fruit, sugar snap peas and tortilla chips.

Our catering team are always available to discuss any specific dietary requirements. They currently provide specific menus for children who require dairy-free, gluten-free, no chicken, no beef, religious diets, vegan and vegetarian. If you would like to discuss any specific dietary needs with Chef Gemma, simply contact your child’s teacher and they will be happy to arrange this.

Kindergarten - ‘ We are Super’

It has been wonderful to welcome the Kindergarten children back for the Lent Term. Our topic for this term is, ‘We are Super’ and the children have fully immersed themselves in so many wonderful superhero activities. The firm favourites of the week have been ‘working’ in our superheroes’ headquarters and making superhero phones. These activities have given the children opportunities to role-play and to explore numbers and letters in a fun and engaging way.

Catherine Garlick - Kindergarten Teacher


Reception have had a fabulous return to school. The children have set up a superhero headquarters in the classroom to explore our topic ‘We are Super’. They have really enjoyed looking at teeth this week and thinking about the job of a Dentist. It is always important that the children take ownership and pride in their classroom, so they have been deciding some of the new areas in the classroom and sorting out resources. We finished the week with some fantastic silly sentence writing!

Louisa Bennett - Deputy Head of Pre-Prep

Year 1

Year 1 received a package from a fossil hunter in the post and discovered that it was a tooth from a real megalodon! The children had many questions about what they hoped to learn as we began our topic of dinosaur discovery!

We sorted dinosaurs by the diet they ate and formed different types of dinosaur teeth from modelling clay. The children are very excited to begin their dinosaur research next week! Well done year one for being curious like Cassie cat this week!

Jacklyn Garwood - Year 1 Teacher

Year 2

This week Year 2 have been looking at online safety in our computing lessons. The children worked together like Billy Bee to find out information about Penelope, based on clues she had left online. They realised that when we go online we leave a digital footprint and others can use it to learn things about us.

They also had a wonderful morning in the Prep School on Thursday. As well as a tour of the Prep School and playtime with the older children, they had a great lesson in carpentry. Everyone made dice, sawing the wood then using sandpaper to make it smooth before drawing the numbers on. The sawing was hard work but they all persevered, just like Terry Tortoise and were all thrilled with their final product.

Louise Hawtin - Year 2 Teacher

Year 3 - Feast like an Egyptian in Ancient Times!

Year 3 were excited to experience an Egyptian banquet in their first Humanities lesson of the term. They have begun to explore life in Egypt thousands of years ago. They all tasted flatbreads with honey, figs, dates, grapes, olives and lentils. Reactions were mixed! It was lovely to have a visit from Ms Linney while we were feasting; the children were keen to tell her what they had learnt so far. Thanks once more must go to Chef Gemma and her team, and Mrs Walker for sourcing the goodies.

Carina Everist - Year 3 Teacher

Year 3 - A New Year's surprise for our Year 3 parents!

3E were excited to visit the Front Office last week, having written thank you letters to their parents. They addressed their envelopes and Mrs Peters kindly showed them how to stick the school's stamp on in the correct place. We hope our parents were happy to receive these in the post this week!

Carina Everist - Year 3 Teacher

Year 4 – Science

We started this terms term off with a visit from Mr Phil McCavity. He told us a lot about our teeth and said if we didn't clean them properly he would use his rather large pliers to pull them out! The children ate apples to help them think about which teeth they were using and they modelled their teeth using clay.

Louise Barrett - Head of Juniors

Year 6 – Science: Testing thermal insulators

Year 6 have investigated the effectiveness of different materials as thermal insulators. The children have been practising the skill of reading a thermometer scale accurately. We are also exploring how to plan a fair test in experiments by identifying control variables.

Becky Prior - Head of Science

Art - Vinehall Artists Visit the Turner Prize

A small group of our artists visited the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne to see the work of the four finalists for the Turner Prize. The finalists were Ghislaine Leung, Rory Pilgrim, Barbara Walker and Jess Darling. The winner was announced, before Christmas, as Jess Darling.

The pupils who are either working towards a scholarship, have attended Saturday art sessions and have made exceptional progress, were asked to the gallery to review the work. There were a few different opinions but the most popular was the work of Barbara Walker, whose work focused on the Windrush scandal. Although the work of Jess Darling challenged the notion of what exactly is Art?

The exhibition runs until 14th April 2024.

Tracey Konyu – Head of Art

Forest School

Our Forest School has been very busy over the past two weeks.

One of the highlights of the INSET days at the start of term was the opportunity for all the staff to experience the magic of our Forest School for themselves.

So far this term Kindergarten, Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 have all enjoyed several hours immersing themselves into whittling sticks, finding fairies, playing shop, making mud cakes, swinging in the hammock, arts and crafts and enjoying hot chocolate around the fire. It may have been cold outside but they have loved it!


It was lovely to welcome the children back from the Christmas holidays and they have settled well.

Last weekend we had a lazy Saturday with the usual activities in the morning and then a choice in the afternoon. Most opted to watch 'Mamma Mia 2', although the boys were not thrilled with the choice and decided they would brace the cold and head to the Astro for some football. Saturday evening was all about settling in, topped off with hot chocolate, marshmallows and squirty cream.

On Sunday morning we went to chapel, did music practice and completed any outstanding prep. After an early lunch we went to Urban Jump. The children had a lovely afternoon on the trampolines and spent the entire hour playing dodge ball and bouncing from one trampoline to the next. It was thirsty work, and they were all exhausted by the end; it was very quiet in the minibuses on the way back to school. Once we returned the children found their second wind and, despite the cold, decided to go outside. It was nearly dark when they came in for dinner. The good news is that it was past 5.00pm - longer, better, warmer days are coming.

Katherine Kirkwood – Head of Boarding

Pupil Voice: Year 8s Lead House and Committee Meetings

Many thanks to our Year 8 leaders who kicked off the Lent Term with House meetings and Committee meetings.

We are looking forward to the charity events coming our way in addition to seeing what the Student Council, the Academic Committee and the Eco Committee will action this term.

Ally Linney - Assistant Head (Pastoral)

Scholarship Success!

Many congratulations to Skye R on gaining an Arts Scholarship to Claremont and to Alex D for his Academic and Sports Scholarship and to Joshua S for his All Rounder Scholarship – both to Battle Abbey.

Rugby Success!

Albert P, an avid rugby player and fan, recently had the opportunity to play rugby for his local rugby team (Cranbrook U9s) in front of a sell-out crowd at Twickenham during the Harlequins' big game. We are pleased to report that he and his team were on the winning side!

Coming up ...

FOV - Burns Night Ceilidh - Saturday 27th January - 7.00pm - 11.00pm

There is still time to buy tickets for the Ceilidh on the 27th January.

Please do join us for Live Music and Scottish Dancing, Banquet Dinner and a Welcome Drink along with Whisky Tasting and a Pay Bar

Dresscode: Highland Dress

Tickets are £20 and can be bought via

Maths – NSPCC Number Day

As part of our commitment to making maths exciting and high profile at Vinehall, Prep School are taking part in a friendly competition involving schools in the United Kingdom for NSPCC Number Day. The competition runs from 07:30 to 19:30 GMT on Friday 2nd February. It's all done online via

Children can play in any game mode with every correct answer to a multiplication or division question, earning themselves, their class and the school a point towards the competition.

In the spirit of the competition, please don't play on their behalf but by all means, encourage and support them to the extent that it doesn't cause high stress levels or impact on family plans.

In addition, we are encouraging all children (including Pre-Prep) to come into school on Friday 2nd February wearing an item of clothing with a number on it and to make a donation to the NSPCC and the school’s selected charities. This can be a favourite sports top or cap, or even a onesie. Or why not get more creative and design a unique t-shirt, hat or even become a human-sized calculator or dice!

Kevin Higginson - Head of Mathematics & Head of Assessment and Learning