It feels strange ending rounding the school year off with a google hangout before we break up for summer, but it’s been a very strange year for my crew. Having spent the last few months apart, aside from hangouts, I am really looking forward to my crew returning in September so we can properly celebrate the incredible work that they have completed in lockdown.

I know that technically we’re not tracking HOWLs this term, but if we were there would definitely be a few members of my crew that would be on track for a 4.5 for their ‘work hard’ habit. Shout out to Lewis and Reece for maintaining a work rate above 95%, and a huge congratulations to Mollie and Dylan for reaching 100% across their core subjects. I am so proud of how hard you’ve worked, and am excited to see this effort you’ve put into lockdown pay off in y11.

For this week’s crew session, I’d like to have a think about what my crew would like to achieve in Y9. I have recently been organising my google drive and came across this picture of my crew tackling their first mountain. Year nine is a monumental year, my crew will be starting their Duke of Edinburgh award, as well as selecting their option subject, and completing passage to prove their readiness for their GCSE exams. I’m going to be discussing what they might like to take for common mission, as well as asking they come up with a pledge to help them tackle the many mountains that this upcoming academic year will present.

Finally, academic crew stuff aside, I look forward to checking in on hangout this week with my crew and wishing them a lovely summer break. I hope they are able to enjoy some of the great outdoors, like we did in Wales, and reflect on how much they’ve grown as people since our first crew activity, pictured above.

I guess I’m checked out!

Crew Young catch-up, Keisha’s butterfly!

We’ve all heard of Austin’s butterfly…..so how about Keisha’s butterfly? For our latest update from Crew Young I’ve captured comments from students describing their reactions to recent tragic events in America, and shared their current work and progress on the DofE First Aid course.

Keisha e-mailed me a piece of her beautiful art work last week, and I simply had to include it in our blog as an example of work that she’s really proud of:

Great work here Keisha – I like how you’ve blended the colours together in both the butterfly and the plant. Remember Austin’s butterfly? How he crafted and re-crafted his work acting on kind, specific and helpful peer feedback?

Dominic reminded us that he’s still training for MMA and for his DofE Award:

Well done Dominic, we already know that “you are amazing!” at times, but it’s helpful to be reminded of it now and again!

Summer wished to contribute her thoughts about the death of George Floyd in America:

“...Even things that many people grew up with, things such as comedic blackface or use of racial slurs, were only deemed acceptable due to the deeply rooted history of racism that, despite slavery being abolished, was never truly made illegal.

Therefore, I don’t believe that our generation is “overreacting” as many older generations may have the media believe.
No, we are not overreacting. We are thinking. We are watching. We are solving. We have seen what is wrong with the way things are, and we want to make sure it is never the same way again. 
All lives cannot matter until black lives matter.
Keisha agreed: “I support the Black Lives Matter movement and I think it was very upsetting and a little unsettling what the police did to George Floyd”.
Maclaren added : “I feel that George Floyd’s death has pushed an issue that was already
at the boiling point from all of the other deaths like this one“.
Louie thought: “The death of George was truly tragic, and it’s upsetting and scary that there are police officers out who took an oath to help and to protect the people in their community, but I’m against the rioting just because he was black, and that they think that the cops killed him because he was black, when the real story was the cop was just a bad officer…“.
Lewis was also less persuaded of a racial element to the incident: “It shouldn’t be all about racism and it has became that. What happened was a police officer was brutal and inhumane to a man. Just because it was a white man and a black man does not mean it is racist at all….”.
One of the things that I’ve really missed during lockdown is the opportunity afforded in Crew sessions for us to discuss and debate key worldwide events such as the Coronavirus Pandemic, or George Floyd’s death. We do this within a compassionate framework where differences of opinion and perceptions are welcomed, voiced, respected and encouraged, especially when they might link directly to our expeditions such as, in this case, “Stand up!”.

 

 

A familiar face!

I do spend time catching up with Crew at least once a week, either via hangouts or by telephone, but nothing quite beats the feeling of seeing them face-to-face!

As children of key workers, both Bryn and Aden have been accessing our in-school provision and today I got to see Aden for the first time in 15 weeks.  I think I was more excited than him, though!

(Note: the only picture I’ve got is of Bryn is of him doing star jumps for our Crew PE Challenge, so I don’t think he’d appreciate me publishing that!)

Crew’s experience of lockdown has varied but as restrictions are eased, actually being able to see and talk to other people “in real life” outside of our households has been a major mood booster for us all.

In this week’s Crew session, I really enjoyed hearing about Crew’s visits with Grandparents, bike rides with friends, family trips out to the seaside and Brodsworth Hall, and even a shopping trip to Meadowhall to spend birthday money!  We’re all enjoying being able to do ‘normal’ things, albeit at a safe 2m distance apart!

An all of a sudden, the world is not as frightening as it was back in March.

As we make plans for the return to school, one thing I’ll remember from our time apart is that we still remained Crew.

A different type of Crew, maybe, but still Crew.

I’m absolutely positive that we’re now an even stronger one.

Stay safe – even more so now!

Mrs P x

In Year 9 and beyond, and as in previous years, our E25 students will either continue to study Spanish to GCSE standard, and be entered for external examination at the end of their Year 11, or pursue a combination of supervised self-guided Spanish study and taught GCSE Citizenship, identified as “Spanish+” on their timetable. Either course will mean three hours of study per week and lead to a GCSE qualification. This follows our current curriculum model, and begins the process of personalisation of our provision for students that is then continued with choice and common mission entitlements.

We have now concluded a careful appraisal of your child’s achievements and attainment in Spanish so far, and are in a position to make a strong recommendation that they either join the GCSE Spanish group, or the Spanish+ group. You will shortly receive confirmation as to which of the two groups your child will be placed in, and Crew Leaders will be able to answer most questions that you might have.

In the event that you wish to discuss the recommendations further, or have any questions that Crew Leaders cannot answer, then please contact Mrs Sprakes in the first instance.

After a few weeks off blogging, i couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to express how proud I am of Crew Rowling for their attitude, hard work and dedication to getting stuff done!

We decided to set up a new deadlines doc for this term, one whereby the students could project manage their own workload and track their progress. And WOW. I’ve been blown away… i can’t even count how many people i’ve bragged to already, and now i’m here to brag even more! Just look at all the completed tasks on here:

I mean LOOK AT IT!

A Crew average of 98% completion rate!!!

We’re working our socks off!!

 

So I know you want to know, how do we do it?!

Every Monday i sign on to my laptop with messages, which will usually have already been replied to:

Crew are keen to use Google Chat to check when hangouts are and send regular reminders which means no one can forget:

Sometimes we struggle and we need a helping hand, we know we can ask teachers but in our crew we have our own experts:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If we can’t resolve it over a chat, we take to a hangout:

I so wish i’d have recorded this so you could hear how well Harvey explained these tasks!

If we can’t solve the problem over a chat or a hangout, we leave it to the experts:

We continue to hold each other to account (they even catch me out!):

 

 

 

 

But most importantly, we recognise how hard people are working:

So as you can see, our fantastic outcomes are as a result of Crew continuing to maintain their fantastic HOWLS throughout lockdown, sticking together, supporting each other, holding one another to account and knowing there is no ‘i’ in team. It’s no good one of us being at the top of the mountain after all!

I couldn’t be any prouder as a Crew Leader.

To me this proves, ‘if we get crew right, we get everything right’. 

It doesn’t get much better than being blessed by these smiling faces twice a week (yes, we even get 100% attendance on those!) Keep going, we’re nearly there. I’m so proud of everything you have all achieved so far.

Thank you Crew Rowling, and your parents for all their support!

Over the past fortnight, I have been meeting on hangouts with my crew to discuss their academic progress, their take on what’s going on in the news, and to check in with what they’ve been up to!

Black lives matter

Last week, I spoke with Alice, Dylan and Lewis about the protests that had been taking place and their purpose. We spoke about the blackout Tuesday on social media, and whether or not posting a black square to social media was an effective way of campaigning for equality or whether there were more impactful ways of doing so. It was lovely to hear how thoughtfully they considered the issue and it was nice to gain their insights on the matter.

Working hard in lockdown

I’m immensely proud of the work record that members of my crew have maintained over these first 3 weeks back after the break. Reece, Lewis, Dylan Mollie and Abi have managed to keep their hand in rate above 90%, which is really impressive!

Another highlight worth mentioning, is the graft that Torran, Callum and Lexi have put in this week with academic crew check-ins. I’ve loved discussing electron configuration and getting my head around ions and atoms.

Green thumb

I’ve also loved seeing the work Torran has been putting into their allotment while we’ve been in lockdown, many members of my crew have been helping out in their gardens (including myself!) He’s been enjoying getting to train with his football team again, similarly Lexi was able to do a gymnastics training in an empty car park!

Last week, we also had a fun crew session where crew members had to draw a Pixar movie that we had to each guess, here’s Charlotte’s example of ‘Inside out’. Congrats to Dylan who won the game. I have wished my crew a nice long weekend (due to staff days) and told them to go and get some sun this weekend!

 

 

It’s great to have regular contact with Crew Young and hear how they’re doing during lockdown. Recently I asked them to share advice for new staff and students, with the benefit of their (nearly) three years of experience at the school, about “what makes us XP?”:

For teachers to join next year i would say take each day as it is and try and relate with students more then ever before if you actually want to know them as many fail to do so in many scenarios in the education system“.

For new teachers I would give the advice of not being afraid to teach differently to others because if you teach differently it could help the student retain information easier. For new students, I would possibly say it’s okay if you’re shy but if you know the answer to something, maybe try putting yourself out there and put your hand up“.

My advice would be to just follow what the current teachers are doing right now with feedback on work and fieldwork building onto expeditions“.

The advice I would give to any new student at XP/XP East is that they shouldn’t worry about making friends and should just be themselves. This is because, as a recent new student, I was very nervous that people wouldn’t like me or wouldn’t want to be my friend because of the way I act. However, XP East was extremely welcoming and everybody accepts who you are without hesitation. Therefore, any new student shouldn’t make the same mistake I did by doubting themselves and should instead put themselves out there, because there will always be someone willing to talk to you or be your friend”

In our next Crew blog we’ll report back on which distance learning measures Crew Young feel have been the most effective as they head towards the demands of GCSE study in Y10…..

 

 

Overall, I’m delighted with the amount and quality of work completed in all subjects by Crew since the lockdown and school closure began in March. It’s been wonderful receiving emails from other teachers praising my Crew members’ work, and as their Hums teacher, seeing the fantastic work they’ve been doing in this subject too.

I know working from home can be tough without the structure of school, teachers, classmates and the resources available but I’m thrilled with how Crew have not let this phase them and are trying their best at home.

Last week really blew me away in Hums. Our current expedition ‘Wave After Wave’ focuses on Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ for the English aspect of the expedition. Students have been learning about the plot, characters and techniques Shakespeare uses in his play. One of the tasks for online learning this week was to write a descriptive piece of writing depicting Act 1 Scene 1 of The Tempest – students could decide on which format they wrote their descriptive writing in. We highlighted the need for powerful and interesting adjectives, verbs and adverbs as well as varied sentence structures and figurative language. Here’s some of Crew’s entries:

Ava:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aaron:

Marcus:

I also loved the answer Marcus wrote to the question about why Shakespeare would use a storm to open the play and what is significant about this. Here’s his response:

Florence:

Lacey:

I think it’s clear to see that although Crew are now working at home, they are still working hard and getting smart. It’s been fantastic to see the effort that they have put into their work. I know that by taking responsibility for their own learning and always trying their best to complete the work to a high standard at home, they will definitely hit the ground running when they return to school. KEEP UP THE BRILLIANT WORK!

 

I’ve spent most of the last 3 weeks on Google Hangouts with Y6 students who are coming to join us at the end of August.  These meetings usually happen in person at their primary school, but our transition process is yet another thing that we’ve had to take online!

I’ve met some very excited children who can’t wait to start school.  I’ve also met some very anxious children (and parents, too!)

I asked Crew if they could remember their own Y6/7 transition visits… Most could, and could even remember which member of staff visited them, which I guess shows the impact of these visits.

We had a lovely discussion about what their Y6 selves were worried about as they moved up to our school: most were worried about not knowing anyone, not making new friends and that the work would be too hard.

And these were more or less the same worries that the current Y6’s spoke to me about, 4 years on!

So, what advice would my Crew give to Y6 students today?

  • You will definitely make friends on your first day, and even if you struggle, your Crew will always look out for you.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Don’t let your worries stop you from enjoying all the experiences XP East will be offering you.
  • Everyone probably feels as nervous as you, so just keep smiling and someone will smile back! (love that one!)

Wise words from the founding year of XP East!

This Crew session gave me a good excuse to look through old photos and get a bit teary eyed at the first ones we had taken together at Malham Cove in 2017.

My, haven’t they grown? Not just in height and appearance, but also in character (especially over the last 3 months!)

I’m a little bit envious of my colleagues who are about to start their own unique journey with their new Crews… I hope their journey is as eventful, exciting and enriching as my own with Crew Finch.

In other news…

Well Done to Noah for winning the monthly Crew Quiz during Thursday’s hangout!  Well done also to Thomas H for showcasing his excellent knowledge of ‘Animal Farm’, even with the cheeky bonus point questions (one which unintentionally gave a major spoiler – sorry about that, guys!)

 

DofE Bronze Award Update

In April we told you about changes to our DofE delivery in this blog post.

We now know that students won’t be able to complete the Outdoor Expedition within the original timescales set.

Unfortunately, this means that our Y9 students won’t be awarded the full Bronze Award this academic year.

However, DofE still want to recognise and celebrate participants’ achievements so far – and rightly so! – and will be awarding a Certificate of Achievement to all those who complete the Volunteering, Physical and Skills sections before the end of the year (31/12/20 is the official date but we will be setting our own school deadline, which is likely to be much earlier!)

Students will receive the full Bronze Award once they have completed the Outdoor Expedition, and we already have plans in place to get this done as soon as we can!

It is important to note that students will NOT receive the full Bronze Award if they don’t have the 2020 Certificate of Achievement before the end of the year.

We really hope you continue to support and encourage your child through their DofE journey.

Here’s the WHY:

Outdoor Education is a huge part of the XPE experience; it starts with Outward Bound and carries on through fieldwork and the DofE Awards we offer from Y9.

DofE in particular helps students build key life skills – not least compassion, resilience, and teamwork – reinforcing what our CHARACTER TRAITS, HOWLS and CREW.  We want our students to be the best versions of themselves, and truly believe that DofE helps them to achieve this.

So, here’s a quick summary of where we’re at at XPE:

 

 

 

 

 

Students have completed the Volunteering section.  This was done in school with Y9 students becoming Volunteer Reading Mentors for Y7.

 

We have asked all Y9 students to complete the St John Ambulance First Aid Course. Details have been uploaded onto the DofE Google Classroom.

I’d like to give a massive appreciation to the the following students who have been working through the weekly First Aid tasks that are being set for them:

Thomas H, Ben, Aran K, Rhys, Summer, Maclaren, Kaiden, Keisha, Theone, Eleanore and Chloe

Thank you all so much – I’m really impressed with what you’ve all done so far and would definitely feel safe being out on expedition with you guys!   

There are still quite a few of students who need to join the classroom, or who have joined but have yet to start – it is really important that they make a start as soon as possible and get these tasks done!


Many students were using out of school activities as evidence for this section.  However, once we went into lockdown, these activities were stopped and some students haven’t been able to collect enough evidence to complete this section.

However, students still need to continue with evidencing some form of physical activity and we have made some suggestions of what they could easily be getting on with: walking, running, gardening, Joe Wicks’ daily PE lesson on YouTube to name a few.

These sessions can be added to any which were previously recoded before lockdown (so you don’t have to start the 12 hours again!) but you MUST agree this with your Crew Leader. New evidence sheets are on the DofE Classroom.  

Submitting Evidence

All evidence will be submitted via the eDofE mobile app.  It’s really easy to use and I’ll be in touch with each Crew to talk them through the process.

Thank you.