Vine school blossoms in 30-year history

The current Vine School staff met with the staff and former pupils of the John Wycliffe Christian School to celebrate the 30th anniversary of unity of how far they have come in education since starting out in 1988 with one class.
The Vine School celebrated its 30th anniversary with staff, former staff and pupils last month.

Most of the school’s journey in education was under its previous name: the John Wycliffe Christian School.

The school started its first Grade 1 class, then called Sub A, in 1988 at St James Church in Kenilworth.

“ It wasn’t established by St James Church, but by a group of parents that came to the church,” said Susan Keegan, the director of Vine School.

The schools has moved around a lot since first operating at the church’s children centre.

In 1991, it moved three times from the Tokai Community Church, to the vacant Bel Porto School in Claremont to finally settling down in the Old Moravian Church in Wynberg in 1992. 

The school would eventually move to their current home in Lansdowne in 2009, having evolved from a primary school to a joint primary and high school with over 200 pupils and 16 teachers.

According to Ms Keegan, the John Wycliffe Christian School faced financial constraints when it moved to their new premises, when working through their financial crises from 2009 until 2012 it was established that the school could no longer be viable to continue.

The decision was made to close the high school and adopt a Charlotte Mason curriculum, under a new name – Vine School.

What makes this technique unique is that there is no grading system compared to a standard school. 

“Children are people not products, we look at them as a whole child, we want them to grow, that is one of the reports that we use twice a year which is a growth report,” says Janice Thorne-Smith, Marketing co-ordinator at the Vine School.

Since 2012, the Vine School has grown from 64 pupils and five teachers to 192 pupils, 22 teachers and 10 supporting staff members today. 

Grade 5 teacher, Tracey Zyster, had the opportunity to teach at the John Wycliffe Christian School ,then moved over to the Vine School when they took over. 

“ The curriculum changed, for us it is stimulating, it has been the most profound change in the school, seeing the changes in the children and teachers, it was an adjustment, we had to undergo intensive training, to establish how to teach the new curriculum, it’s the ambleside American approach,” said Ms Zyster.

The school’s approach to physical education is different too.

PE teacher Allan George has the children working in a non-competitive environment where the stronger pupils help the weaker pupils with new skills.

Next year the Vine School will be adding team sports to their programme, which includes mini-cricket, mini-soccer.

The school is looking at including computer programming and typing over the next two years.