8 Pioneer have been busy working incredibly hard over the last couple of weeks towards their English Learning Target:

I can evaluate texts critically explaining and analysing how they use language and structure to achieve effects and influence the reader.  

We have been understanding how Lennie is presented by acting out extracts from Of Mice and Men, undertaking quotation explosions, zooming in on the meanings of words, making inferences and understanding how Steinbeck’s language choices affect the reader. This has been a step up from last year and at times has been a struggle for some in Pioneer – but they persevered and I’m so proud of the work they produced and their attitude towards their learning.

Mrs Poncia gave us a visit during our lesson and she was so pleased with what she saw she wrote this on the praise sheet:

“Superb focus in HUMAN when completing their first assessed piece of writing. Well done, Everyone!”

We’re moving onto our History learning target now looking at the question:

“The most significant cause of The Great Depression was the Dust Bowl.

How far do you agree with this statement?”

We began to identify and explain the numerous causes which lead up to the Great Depression, such as the First World War, overproduction of goods and the unequal distribution of wealth. We’ll continue analysing these causes to come to a conclusion about whether the Dust Bowl was the most significant cause of the Great Depression.

Keep up the hard work 8Pioneer!

It’s good to talk (to yourself!)

On Thursday Crew Finch shared a lovely breakfast together whilst using the time to talk about being kinder.  But this session wasn’t about being kinder to others; it was about being kinder to ourselves.

A recent State of the Nation report explored the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people, and indicated that 1 in 5 young people aged between 10-24 years are not happy.

Of course, there are lots of contributing factors towards this, but I thought it would be good to sit with Crew and talk more about what it means to be kind to ourselves, and make them realise that the voice inside our head – i.e. our own self perception – often tells us lies.

I asked Crew to consider this: is it OK to talk to other people the way we often talk to ourselves?

They answered with a unanimous ‘No.’

We ended the session by writing down 3 things we loved about ourselves.  We’re going to have these on display for a few days and I’ve asked Crew to add more good things as and when they want to (either more about themselves or about others.)

I also asked Crew to write down a burden – one thing that is making them feel unhappy about themselves at the moment – and these have been passed to me rather than shared, unless they were happy to do so.  I’ve pledged to spend a some time with each member of Crew individually over the next week, just to have a quick discussion about their burden. Hopefully it will lighten the load for them and make them understand that it is indeed good to talk: to ourselves and to others!

We are actively looking for a:

  • Learning Coach (Teaching Assistant)

We will consider ANY LEVEL of experience as there are a number of vacancies available. Any experience of the following would be advantageous for some of the vacancies:

  • To promote inclusion and acceptance of all learners in the classroom.
  • To work as part of a Learning Expedition team in supporting and including students with learning difficulties/disabilities, such as autism, in mainstream classes.
  • To help with planning, delivering and implementation of work programmes to individuals, groups and classes of learners under the direction and supervision of Expedition staff.
  • To take into account a students’ special needs and ensure their access to a lesson and its content through appropriate clarification, explanations, equipment and materials.

Deadline for applications of all posts are 12 noon, Monday 21st October.

Interviews will take place on Tuesday 5th November.

The start date is negotiable.

To access the application form and to find out more about our recruitment process click here.

How does your garden grow?

Crew Young are learning gardening skills as their first activity going towards their Bronze DofE award, by getting down and dirty planting new crops for a delicious salad. The crew split in half to make a new addition to the XP East garden. One group was busy working on a flower bed, the other groups onions, cress plants, parsley and basil. At this time of year these miniature plants are quite easy to grow because they are resilient to the wintry breeze.

E26 producing beautiful work in Music!

E26 have produced some beautiful work as part of their X-Block sessions in Music. As we come towards the end of our first case study on George Formby there have been some fantastic fact sheets produced. Poppy Cliff even made a life-size card replica of a ukulele and wrote interesting facts on the inside and back!

I can’t wait for the presentations / performances to their classes.

E24 Explorer working hard in Art

We are working on the guiding question ‘Why do we still need charity?’ Today we looked at the artist Kathe Kollwitz and had to put together a jigsaw in pairs. We then used the protocol ‘silent conversation’ to analyse visual material and answer questions relating to the art work we are interpreting.

Afterwards we all presented our analysis to the class. Students wowed me with how sensitive they were with the art work they were discussing. Corey commented on his image that: “It looks as if the hands are dragging him away from life to death”.

Analysing artwork is a difficult skill to master but Explorer really unpicked what they were looking at and most importantly in a sensitive way. Well done!

WW2 Genius in Crew NJO!

Yesterday Crew NJO had their first ever Student Led Crew Session hosted by Harvey. As we are all aware, Harvey has lots of knowledge around WW2 and more specifically the planes and tanks which were used and in Crew NJO we wanted a master class!

Harvey was able to talk us through the different types of tanks and planes by showing us photos of his diorama he has created in his own time at home which includes model soldiers, tanks, planes, houses and buildings along with grass and stones to really bring it to life!

We learnt that it takes a very long time to build and paint the models and you also have to use special glue in order to be able to paint on them once they are built. Harvey has tried to ensure that the colours he uses are as close to the real thing as possible but he did explain that you can make them any colour you like if you wished! Crew were also really interested to find out the different names of all of the tanks and reasons why they were called these names, which Harvey was able to explain at great depth.

Crew NJO would like to publicly appreciate Harvey for the effort he put into this session, taking photos, planning activities and even creating a video which you can see here:


In upcoming crew sessions other students have volunteered to deliver information about their interests and hobbies. We think this is a brilliant way to help to get to know each other more!


We are recruiting!

We are actively looking for:

    • English Lead
    • English Teacher

Due to the short deadline we can accept applications without a visit.

Deadline for applications of all posts are 12 noon, Wednesday 16th October.

Interviews will take place on Friday 18th October.

The start date will be Monday 6th January 2020.

To access the application form and to find out more about our recruitment process click here.

Blind Drawing – Communication is Key!

We had an excellent Crew session this morning – fun with a purpose. We used a Blind Drawing protocol using images linked to their current HUMS expedition to highlight some of the recent challenges we face in Crew regarding talking over each other.

Woody made an excellent point as we debriefed:

“The first time we did it everyone was talking over each other to get our point across. But the second time we took it in turns and it was a lot easier to describe how to draw the image.”

There was excellent teamwork, and a definite improvement in the way they planned to attack the challenge the second time, and a marked improvement in how they communicated with each other. Well done, Crew Shackleton.


The Protocol

One student is the drawer. The rest of the group have to come and look at an image, in turn, for 30 seconds and memorise as much of it as they can. They then have to go back to the drawer and use their communication to describe the image they saw in a way that enables them to draw an accurate representation of it. Each group member does this in turn and then we all take a look at the final drawings and compare them to the original.


Dear Parents

After the October holiday we are going to split Spanish in Y9 into two groups. One group will continue to work towards their GCSE Spanish whilst the other group will take a course in ‘Global Citizenship’ that will involve the study of Entry Level Spanish, which will be certified by the school, alongside a Citizenship GCSE.

Spanish is part of our core curriculum and it is imperative that all students study a language at Key Stage 4. We feel this change will better suit the needs of students and will ensure that those who don’t continue with Spanish GCSE still have an experience of language study whilst having the opportunity to attempt another GCSE.

You will receive a letter indicating the allocated group for your son/daughter by the end of the week. If you want to discuss the groupings further, don’t hesitate to contact me or Mrs Sprakes/Mr Pearson at school.

I will also be holding an informal briefing on Thursday 17 October at XP School starting at 5.30pm and ending at 6.15pm to answer any questions you might have about the changes. 

Best wishes and thank you for your continuing support.

Andy Sprakes