From entrance papers to GCSEs, A-Levels and beyond, exams are a fact of life for students up and down the country. But how do schools prepare young people for the trials and tribulations of testing and how important are good grades to future success? We spoke to Joff Powis, headmaster at East Sussex’s Vinehall School, to find out…

How did your most recent crop of exam age students fare?
A happy child is a child that is open to learning.  The education of our children is at the heart of everything we do at Vinehall and all of our staff work very hard to maintain high standards of teaching and learning across our broad curriculum, inside and outside of the classroom.

All children who left Vinehall in July 2017 gained places to their first choice of senior school. They achieved a total of 21 scholarships which were awarded for academic and sporting success and also recognised the children’s talents in music, drama, design and technology and art.

Our leavers always move on to an impressive range of senior schools and this year was no exception. The destination schools included Battle Abbey, Benenden, Cranbrook, Eastbourne, Eton, King’s Canterbury, Mayfield, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Worth.

Joff Powis, headmaster of Vinehall School, with his family

What do these results mean to the school and its teaching staff?
Vinehall has great academic ambitions for our children and we are always delighted to see a child reach their full potential and achieve entry to their chosen senior school. These high expectations are supported by dedicated teachers and staff who inspire the children to work with enthusiasm and enjoyment in preparation for senior school and beyond.

Beyond grades, how do you measure “success” in the classroom?
A Vinehall child is a happy, busy and confident young person who communicates effectively with others and understands the importance of teamwork in a community. At the end of their time at the school, the children are thoroughly prepared for the next stage of their lives. They are active, positive young people with a range of interests. Vines are well-educated in a broad sense. The start that they have had at Vinehall academically, in the creative arts, through sports and in terms of confidence and personal development puts them in a strong position for future success in whatever terms suit them as an individual.

How do you put students at ease during the exam season?
We always ensure that children are fully prepared for every exam they take. Revision support and advice is available in class, extra tuition lessons and supervised prep sessions. There are also many opportunities for the children to take practice papers and go through them in detail with their subject teacher. Each child is given encouraging feedback with detailed targets for improvement and plenty of praise for areas of success.

This high level of preparation helps students to feel calmer and more relaxed as the exam season approaches. We are also fully aware of how stressful exam times can be for the parents and are proud of our strong relationships and open communication that ease the worries and share the load.

Find out more about Vinehall School at

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