XP and XP East Need You!

Dear families, friends and partners of XP

I am sure you will have seen recently on the news that schools have been asked to provide Covid 19 lateral testing, in the first instance for staff and students who are attending secondary school, to help to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

I’m sure you will appreciate this has been a huge logistic challenge and a team in school led by Kate ap Harri, Michelle Jones and Nicola Mawby has been set up attending training, setting up testing protocols, processes and procedures and in a very short space of time have started to administer weekly testing for both staff and students who attend school. The testing in school is working safely and efficiently to help to keep staff and students safe. This is a remarkable achievement and we are grateful that our staff have stepped up to this challenge with such courage and compassion.

As testing numbers increase we are now looking to build our testing team so that we have the capacity to manage this increase effectively. Therefore, we are asking for volunteers who would like to help support the testing process in school. There are a number of roles that we require including both administering, and recording testing as well as helping staff and students conduct the tests. The testing takes place, at the moment, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, Thursday at 10.30 & Friday at 12pm so if you could commit to all or some of those times we would be extremely grateful.

We have already had a number of parents contact us to offer their help and if you wish to join them in supporting the school please contact us via the email office@xpschool.org and we will get back to you with further details.

With your help we will continue to look after our school and community because we are Crew!

Thank you in anticipation.

Kate ap Harri

Testing Lead


XP16’s ‘worst’ check in! Lol

It was wonderful to chat with some of my XP16 crew on Friday morning. I really want to say thank you to those that joined as it really brightened my day and was a real pleasure to hear their voices. Obviously we needed to chat about some important matters such as UCAS applications (see my email), however we started off with a very funny check in of, ‘what was the worst Christmas present you received this year’?… I was in stitches with their answers.

WORST presents they received ranged from:


A belt…..

A raw chicken breast…..

Socks… which were thrown back at the giver!

a family board game which the person thought was going to be a pair of ugg boots!

Marmite flavoured deodorant…. love it or hate it?

I wonder if you can guess which was mine? ? ?

We moved on to more important issues such as getting UCAS applications in, the deadline of which is Wednesday 20th January. Please see my email for more detail on this.

The crew sessions is on at 10.30am every Friday, hope to see you all there.



I know what Mr ap Harri is getting next Christmas! Lol


As part of a Wise Wednesday session, Crew Rashford recently took time to research and identify with online quotations which appealed to them. The students then presented their findings to the rest of their crew mates and explained exactly why the quotes they had chosen had struck a chord with them.

A selection of these were later chosen to appear on our new Crew wall (which is currently in the design phase……watch this space………or rather, watch that  wall  !!!).

The exercise served a myriad of purposes…..

It was another valuable opportunity for students to throw the grappling hook of exploration further up the learning wall, and pull themselves up to discover new areas of research. In the case of the quote above, not only did we discuss the beautiful meaning of the quote itself, but also the remarkable life and works of Maya Angelou – someone whom the students may not have previously known about.

The exercise encouraged them to be the leaders of their own mini learning expedition.

We found that quotations are a wonderful portal to the learning cloud – to areas of thought, discussion and research – and into areas which Year 7s certainly, may not have travelled of their own volition ordinarily.

My Crew are amazing, and I am so very proud to be able to be associated with them all. We have developed bonds of trust and respect and understanding. They have also taken on the challenge of the new Covid restrictions with courage and determination and their continued resilience to succeed against something which none of us totally understand, is remarkable.

So Crew Rashford – this blog is for YOU. It’s my opportunity (and my honour) to say to everyone out there, that this far, you have all proven yourselves to be worthy of your place at XP. There’s absolutely no reason why we cant continue to grow as Crew, and as a yeargroup and then roll on into the forthcoming years with more, and more, and more momentum.

And to end, a word from our namesake …….whom I’m still waiting to e mail me back.


“…..Always train hard, work harder, never give up, never give in and believe in you….”

Marcus Rashford.


Mr K 🙂

I’ve got a massive appreciation for a really impressive first couple of weeks of remote lessons, for the most part, attendance has been excellent. I have really enjoyed checking in with them in the morning, despite people not being up to much. Every single crew member made it to almost every session this week (X meaning ‘attended online’). I’ve loved to hear stories of crew members phoning each other with reminders to get up!

Crew News:

This week, on Tranquil Tuesday, rather than doing accelerated reader, I tasked my crew members to go on BBC News, or another reputable media outlet, and find a news story that interested them. After giving them some time to read the article, I then asked them to share a jist of the article they had been reading.

Callum shared an article that sparked his interest after checking he was allowed to read about football, the West Ham loss last week. He explained that to crew that this meant that they’d be playing Doncaster, and while he wasn’t so hopeful about celebrating a win, he was still excited to see the two teams play. Jess shared a really excellent article in relation to the Capitol riots this week, which highlighted the work of a Police Officer that had been trying to keep protestors out of the US Congress building. We had some other lovely stories, ranging from a Star Wars spin off from Lewis, to a heartwarming story from Alice about a group who had been helping locate missing dogs.

Thoughtful Thursday – an eye for an eye?

On Thoughtful Thursday, we looked into a story that had dominated the news this week, the story of Lisa Montgomery – the only female inmate on federal death row in the US who was executed on the 13th.

I asked my crew after we read the article together, whether they felt that Lisa deserved to be executed. Having looked into her background together, it was a difficult decision to make, and most felt that the case was far too complicated. There was a general consensus that she definitely deserved a life sentence, but that the death penalty was cruel considering her upbringing.













On a lighter note, we finalised the information on our Crew Narrative this week, which consolidates our crew’s data for the term. Each crew member has a pledge for their HoWLs, and their academic progress for the next term. It was really positive on the whole, we even came joint first in terms of our ‘Be Kind’ HoWL with Crew Ali. We’re definitely working on pushing more of our data in to the great/awesome categories though.

I felt that because of the fantastic work done in the first two weeks, as well as a really positive data sheet, we ended the final crew session of the week on a game of Among Us. It was lovely to hear everyone having a laugh to end the week on a high note, before a appreciation-filled community meeting.


Two weeks into Term 3 – and Lockdown 3 – already!

And it’s been a very busy 2 weeks of  getting settled into our new online learning schedule, engaging in new expedition immersion activities (which have been brilliant!) and Crew, of course, which has been very much ‘business as usual’ from 8.30am every morning.

Although, as the quote above says, I feel we need to come back better than business as usual this term.  It takes an extra boost of motivation, determination and integrity to show up online to Crew and daily lessons (especially on snow days!) and, even though we’ve had some very tired Crew members who’ve needed a virtual prod to get them fired-up on a morning, I’m really happy with the attendance and engagement from Crew across all lessons.

Crew Narrative Update

So, as we strive to be better than business as usual, we have spent quite a bit of time in Crew revisiting and refining our Crew Narratives, which now include students’ first Academic Progress grades of the school year.  You can read more about the work we’ve been doing around Crew Narratives in this previous blog post: A HOWL-ing end to the year

Crew are looking forward to discussing their Crew Narratives, academic progress and pledges in more detail with parents at the upcoming Student-Led Conferences.  More details and booking slots will be available soon.

Habits of Work and Learning

The latest HOWLs League Table has been released:

Coming second in all categories is certainly something to be celebrated but, as we pledge to be better than business as usual, we know we can all push ourselves to work harder, get smarter and be even more kind than we already are to maybe get us back to the top of the leader board.  Our work and reflections in our Crew Narrative will help us to achieve this goal.

Happiness check-ins

It hasn’t been all work and no play for Crew: I have introduced them to the delights of Blankety Blank (how could they not know what that was?!) and had a daily happiness check-in using our very own Happiness Calendar.

I am a big fan of Action for Happiness’ Monthly Action Calendars and have used them in Crew before but this month we decided to create our own.  Crew have come up with some absolutely smashing ideas, and we invite you all to use our calendar and commit to a daily happiness task yourselves:

And finally:

Happy New Year to you all 🙂

Stay Safe.

E25 and E24 School Vaccinations

The Vaccination and Immunisation Team will be attending East School on


for all those students who have consented to have the adolescent vaccinations.

Year 9  East School students   12:30 – 14:00 pm

Year 10 East School students   14:00 – 15:30 pm

If you have not received a Vaccination email then please contact Mrs Mawby nmawby@xpschool.org or your child’s crew leader.

Further information on the vaccination Leaver Booster and Men-ACWY can be found on NHS Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber.


Many Thanks

XP East

Crew Young – top the HOWLs leader board again!

This is the fourth occasion when I can proudly report that Crew Young top the E24 / Year 10 leader board following our Term 2 snapshot review of their Habits of Work and Learning! I was first able to recognise this achievement two years ago, when I noticed: “HOWLs about that? Crew Young hit the ground running” in January 2019.

Four months later I reflected on Crew Young’s HOWLs success in coming first place on the E24 and E25 leader board in May 2019, and then reiterated my pride in Crew Young at the end of that year.

Last term, in all three categories, they demonstrated the strength of their work hard, get smart and be kind HOWLs, and they will no doubt wish to reference this in their next Student-Led Conference, and improve further on their current ratings.

Great work from the Youngsters”!!!

In order to keep everyone informed, a member of staff has tested positive for Covid19 in our in-school provision at XP East.

Public Health England have advised me that no further action is required because the member of staff first developed symptoms yesterday (Sunday 10th January) and was last in school on Thursday 7th November.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us should you have any concerns.

‘How We XP… during Lockdown’ (Crew)

Sharing our stories as we go is an important part of what we do at XP as having a wider audience helps us to be accountable to our students, parents, community and to each other. It’s also one of a number of different reasons that help to explain why we have Presentations of Learning, Student Led Conferences, ‘Passage’ in Y9 and so on. Therefore, the story of Crew during Lockdown has to be told.

As parents will be aware, Crew acts as the cornerstone of our work at XP. Each student belongs to a Crew of no more than 12 or 13 students, and an adult acts as their Crew Leader. Unlike other schools, every school day begins with a 45 minute Crew session. Within our online provision preparations for Lockdown 3, the first point was ‘whatever happens, Crew continues…’ and yesterday during my walk around the in-school provision highlighted just how special Crew is.

As I stood in the middle of the Y7 and Y8 double classroom I saw about 20 students, all with their earphones in, sat with their iPads or devices – all engaged in their Crew session (remotely via Google Hangout). I saw students laughing, Crew Leaders laughing, students checking in on their reflections from the previous day’s work, and students sharing their own stories on what they were finding difficult during the first week of Lockdown. Unbelievably, I was literally in the middle of 20 crew sessions and it was amazing!

When I explain the concept of Crew to other teachers, it’s clear that they don’t quite get it, and that’s understandable because you have to see it, hear it and feel it. I’ve experienced Crew sessions where a student’s apology to their Crew for their poor behaviour as been so sincere that it left some students and Crew Leader in tears. I’ve seen other Crew sessions where students have articulated the daily challenges that they face as a result of being autistic, struggling with dyslexia or the difficulties associated with a family bereavement. Yes, Crew is a place to reflect on academic performance and learn about connecting with the world via our Crew curriculum, but more importantly Crew is a place where we reflect on who we are, who we want to be and where we want to go.

Yesterday, I overheard one lad talking about his Mum. He explained that she was working in Doncaster Royal Infirmary hospital, and how he was a bit worried about her. The student went on to talk about how proud he was of her work, about the hours she puts in, and how she was going to get the vaccine. I saw another Crew giving a student a round of applause because his HOWLs had recently improved in nearly every category as seen within the recent performance snapshot.

Sharing students’ own stories as they go might seem insignificant to some… but having a safe and personal space to talk about their situations, achievements, worries, challenges, successes, ambitions and goals means that all of our students have that reassurance that Crew is always there for them – even during Lockdowns, and even during pandemics.

Free School Meals Update

For the 6 week lockdown period XP will be providing all FSM families with ASDA vouchers to the value of £90 (£15 per week).

Vouchers can be printed, or shown on a device and can be used either online, or in store. Vouchers can be used unlimited times until the balance is £0.

The vouchers will be sent to you by email, hopefully before the end of this week.

From Monday 11th January 2021, there will be no catering provision on site.

Any students attending the in-school provision will need to bring their own packed lunch (using the vouchers in the case of FSM students).

Thank you.

January / February Lockdown update

Good evening,

following on from the PM’s announcement concerning the nationwide lockdown period, I can confirm that our original plans for the online provision and the in-school provision remain.

As per this update, you can find the timetables and other details for each year group at both XP and XP East.

As mentioned previously, we will provide an in school provision for children of key workers, Looked After children and students with Special Educational Needs (as per the previous March lockdown period) beginning tomorrow on Tuesday 5th January.

The provision will be based at XP East and will begin at 8:30am / close at 3:15pm. They will need to bring headphones, their devices, and a packed lunch (attending students who qualify for free school meals will have a sandwich lunch provided for them). Please complete this brief survey if your child qualifies for a place and you would like them to attend.

We’re really looking forward to seeing and catching up with all of our students online, beginning with Crew at 8:30am!

Best wishes,

Jamie Portman