Firstly, I would like to thank the whole of the English department, who have been working tirelessly this term to ensure that our pupils are engaged, reading and writing during Remote Learning.

(To read the written work or for further detail, please click on the bold links or the images.)

Year 3

Year 3 have really enjoyed reading The Hodgeheg, by Dick King-Smith. This is a story about a hedgehog called Max who sets off on a quest to find out how to cross the road safely. He bumps his head and all his words become muddled! The children chose their own animal to write an adventure story, with muddled speech after an accident! We had stories about butterflies, rattle snakes, guinea pigs and so many more. Below is a story about a glow worm by Harvey P and one about a clownfish by Amelia A.

3E are in the process of creating paragraphs of information for an explanation text poster. This links with our Ancient Egypt topic in Learning Journey this term. The theme is ‘Was Tutankhamen killed?’ As part of this the children composed a letter in role as one of the possible suspects who may have wanted to get rid of the boy king. Having composed their letter in their planner they were thrilled to use a black pen to write on ‘ancient looking paper’ (thanks to Mrs Lomas and Miss E for staining the paper with coffee!)

3E have also been reading Beaver Towers, by Nigel Hinton, and continued with phonics, cursive handwriting practice and Bug Club reading and comprehension questions.

Year 4

The Year 4s have been enthralled with their English learning as our Fantasy unit How to Train your Dragon kept us eager for story time each day. This exciting tale had the whole class chuckling and getting creative as we wrote predictions, revised using speech marks for dialogue and thought about the adventures of Hiccup and Toothless. To culminate the unit, the pupils wrote beautifully produced book reviews.

Louis L (4L) also wrote a mini-chapter on what could have happened next to the main character, Hiccup. Louis wrote his prediction with attention, powerful vocabulary and great care.

Year 5

Last half term, the Year 5 pupils explored changing technology throughout the non-fiction unit “Instructions and Explanations”. The pupils explored wacky inventions and futuristic modes of transportation. Ollie A and Felicity M (5P)  and Alex D and Ethan E (5F) gave captivating and enticing advertisements for ‘The Doggie Umbrella’. Will you get one for your furry friend?





Year 6

This term Year 6 finished reading Mary Norton’s The Borrowers, and produced some fantastic stories and poems on the theme of fears. I was particularly impressed with this short story by Christopher N.  (Please open the link to read the story.)

Christopher N_Borrowers

This beautiful poem in the voice of Arrietty by Rosie D (6P) echoes the feelings of many of our pupils during lockdown 3.0:

I want to run about and play

Enjoy this nice sunny day.

Finally, when I get out,

I will skip about and shout!

All those gates that keep me away

Away from the fun each day.

I long to have fun outside

“I want to be free!” I cry

But my parents they just shout

“You’re too small to run about”.

So here I am, behind the grating.

Here I am, still waiting.

Waiting for that time of fun

When I can run about, in the sun.

Pod always gets to go borrowing …

In here, it’s just so boring!

Here I am, patiently waiting,

Looking out through the grating.

Looking out to the place where I can be free

Where I can run between the trees.

Where I can do all those things in my dreams.

Finally, this excellent piece of creative writing by Clemence W (6P), with its cliffhanger ending, perfectly captures the sophisticated and nuanced tone of Mary Norton’s fiction:

Clemence W_Borrowers

As part of our cross-curricular approach to English, we also encouraged the pupils to be creative and produce alternative book covers and posters for The Borrowers. This one, drawn by Poppy C (6M) is rather striking (and reminds us that the author (Mary Norton) wrote the book because she was extremely short-sighted and was always scrutinising things in close-up just to be able to see them):

This book cover was ingeniously created by Isabel G (6P), reflecting Mary Norton’s love of nature.

Year 6 are currently studying Fairy Tales and have already produced some fabulous story boards on Little Red Riding Hood (see the storyboard below, showing the wolf looking very docile, tucked up in bed wearing a pink lacy bonnet by Lucy P (6M)):

Storyboards by Isabel G and Elsie B (6P) are also shown below:

The children were gripped to hear me recount Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, a dark tale based loosely on the Bluebeard fairy tale and have been enjoying exploring the genre and building their knowledge and understanding of the features of fairy tales. We will be working towards writing our own masterpieces by the end of term.

Lucy P (6P) wrote this fairy tale containing stock magical ingredients – starvation, sorcery and sneakiness.

Year 7 & 8

Vinehall senior pupils continue to impress this term, not least with their discursive writing (preparing articles for the prestigious Mind’s Eye Prep magazine competition, published by The King’s School, Canterbury).

Pupils in Year 7 and 8 have worked incredibly hard on their articles, demonstrating that they can be reflective, perceptive and persuasive. Pupils were able to select their own topic and decided whether they wanted to write persuasively or informatively.

I particularly enjoyed Francesca F’s (8PB) article: Fashion shouldn’t cost the earth and Camilla B’s (7A) article: Why did people buy so many pets in the first lockdown

Year 7 have been vigorously debating the virtues of artificial intelligence as part of our exploration of science fiction this term. Having read Asimov’s short story The Fun They Had, the class divided into two halves and prepared their arguments in separate break-out rooms. They appointed spokespeople to argue for the proposition ‘Robots are the best teachers’ or the opposition ‘Humans are the best teachers’ (which seemed painfully topical at a time when teachers are more than ever dependent on machines to deliver their lessons).

They spent time anticipating and preparing counter-arguments to their key points. Pupils from Mr Powis’s class (Daisy D, Henry P and Matilda R) delivered their verdict (as guest judges) at the end of the session.

Year 7 then wrote speeches arguing either for or against robots – “Robots – friend or foe?”

Hugo E’s speech was particularly persuasive: Robots Friend or Foe

Mr Powis’s Year 7 class have been studying poetry and working on imagery and the use of poetic techniques. His pupils collaboratively composed this very seasonal poem: The Snowdrop poem by 7.2

Book reviews from pupils in Years 6-8 have been rolling in over the last few weeks in response to the assignment set over the holidays and here are a few more to inspire and impress.

This story by Monty G (7S) on The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (with an illustration by Ottoline G (8DB)) demonstrates his deep enjoyment of last term’s Year 7 class reader:

And finally, these contrasting reviews of Northern Lights by Philip Pullman show how a book can be read in different ways by different people.

Hugo E (7S) takes a scholarly approach in this analysis of the novel, exploring its rich symbolism and imagery:

Book review of The Northern Lights by Philip Pullman by Hugo E

Kitty R-R (8DB) reviewed the same book with great enthusiasm:

Book Review of Northern Lights by Philip Pullman by Kitty RR

This selection of work by our pupils is just a tiny taste of the delights produced by our pupils this term. We are enormously proud of them all and can’t wait to welcome them all back to school in a couple of weeks!

Emily Platt – Head of English