What is it about World Book Day that makes everyone’s imaginations go wild?! We certainly had some fun marking this event on the 3rd March this year.

We kicked off the celebrations with a “Drop Everything and Read” session in Assembly (which had been widely promoted around the school by fantastic posters by Year 6).

Pupils were wearing an eclectic range of costumes for the occasion and then had a go at the “Guess the Reader” quiz in the Library which proved very popular. A big thank you to all the members of staff who posed in costumes to be the mystery readers. Even Asher (Hannah Dwyer’s dog) took part!

This term is always a busy one for the English department with Year 6 and 7 having mid-year assessments in February and Year 8 having mock exams just after half term to prepare for the Common Entrance examinations in June.

I am always delighted when pupils come to claim their Reading Star badge (for this, they have to read eight books for a bronze star, 16 for silver and 24 books for a gold star). This is not just about reading stamina but about encouraging children to pursue reading for pleasure.


Year 3 aim for the stars
Mrs Everist reports from Year 3 that “All pupils have become better able to focus for longer during our quiet independent reading times and some have even earned their first ‘Reading Star’ badge from Mrs Platt. They have continued to battle with the challenges of spelling while regular ‘finger gym’ exercises have helped their fine motor skills and handwriting improve.

Before half-term, having read a story by Michael Foreman, they composed their own, using a similar structure. The power of ‘3’ (Perhaps, Maybe, What if?) came into play as their imaginations ran riot!

Now they are planning how to present their own explanation text as a poster, which will answer the question, ‘Was Tutankhamun killed?’ which links to our Humanities topic on Ancient Egypt.

Year 3 have also been learning lines and attending rehearsals, in preparation for the Year 3 & 4 play, ‘Hoodwinked’!

Year 4 learn more and more
Louise Barrett reports that Year 4 particularly enjoyed the visit from author, Sophy Henn, on Monday 7th March. Sophie led a workshop in the Theatre for Year 3 and 4 pupils. She was engaging and the children loved learning to draw her characters.  She read to them, showed them her books and talked about how she developed her characters.

Year 4 have also been learning about the Rainforest through the stories of the Great Kapok Tree and “The Shamen’s Apprentice” written by Lynne Cherry.  They have learnt a lot about how the rainforest has changed and where things began to go wrong a long time ago, but how we are now realising we need to turn it back to how it once was.  Year 4 have focused on the perfect form, paragraphs and possessive apostrophes, with lots of discussion along the way.  They have completed this unit by writing their own stories based on “The Shaman’s Apprentice”.

Fives explore a fantastic tale about frogs
The Year 5s have enjoyed the fictional fantasy tale ‘Tuesday’ by David Wiesner, in their new unit, Reports and Journalism. They loved ‘hot-seating’ and acting as different characters while solving the mystery of the lily pads. The Year 5s have learned about direct speech, reported speech, and scripted speech and used their role-play to write a script between the investigating detective and a key witness, ‘the man-eating the sandwich’. They then applied their skills to write up a police incident report. The Year 5s have demonstrated enthusiasm and creativity while exploring the events of this humorous story.

The Power of Reading appeals to Year 6
Not only does reading allow the children to discover new worlds, new ways and new ideas, it can also serve as a way to understand and appreciate some difficult areas of life.

The wonderful story ‘Boy Overboard’ (written by Morris Gleitzman) has proved a timely choice of class reader this term, given that it deals with a family forced to flee their home and go in search of a new life in a different country. Told through the eyes of a ten-year-old, Year 6 has been able to empathise with the plight of young refugee children whose lives are suddenly uprooted against their will.

Seniors get stuck into their studies
In Year 7, pupils have completed their study of the World War 2-based novel, “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas,” which delves into a difficult topic through the eyes of a young, innocent boy whose parents deem it necessary to protect him from an awful truth – with devastating consequences.

Matilda S and Elizabeth H designed and crafted the stunning story-box models pictured here in their very personal responses to the story. Elsie B also created a fantastic collage of images based on the book

As the exam season creeps ever closer, it is very important that a sense of balance is maintained in Year 8, so that the pupils continue building a love of reading and writing alongside developing their critical and analytical skills.

This term, our Year 8 pupils have looked at a wide variety of poems and prose extracts from a range of genres, all linked by the theme of conflict.

We are proud to offer so many extra-curricular opportunities at Vinehall, including clubs such as Book Club and Debating Club which enable our pupils to become articulate and engaging speakers. We are delighted to report that Vinehall was judged to be the winners of their first debating competition this season and look forward to many more (see link for the full story here).

A huge thank you to all of our dedicated English teachers who are tireless in their quest for materials and topics to inspire our pupils.

Emily Platt
Head of English