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!

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.

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!

E25 Inter-Crew competition

The weather may have scuppered our normal plans today but it didn’t dampen our spirits. We took the opportunity to run our first inter-crew competition of the year. E25 students competed fiercely in their Danish Longball contest (a mixture of cricket and dodgeball). Points were up for grabs for good sportsmanship, good individual play and, of course, for winning games. Crew Turing ultimately emerged victorious after some outstanding play by all!

Introducing XP’s Own Army Expert!

Today in HUMAN, 7Explorer were lucky enough to have a visit from a particularly special expert!  Ethan, who is one of XP’s first cohort of students to take their GCSEs, came to speak to us about applying for jobs in the army and the qualities needed to be a successful soldier.

Ethan is joining the army in March when he will start his training as a soldier in the Royal Engineers.

Ethan talked to us about what inspired him to join the army, what his roles and responsibilities will be and what his daily routine will be like.  He also explained what duties the role of being both a medic and an engineer would include.

We were fascinated to hear that he will have to share a dormitory with 11 other soldiers and get up at 5am!  We were shocked to hear that you can have one hour on your X Box each evening to help you unwind!

Ethan spoke clearly about needing qualities such as compassion, respect and craftsmanship and quality. Shawn said, ‘It’s just like crew!’

We then shared examples of our job descriptions and asked Ethan to choose a job to apply for.  Ethan said he would apply for all of them as he was impressed with persuasive devices used, such as Sam’s rhetorical questions, and the clear explanations of the character traits that are needed.

7Explorer would like to appreciate Ethan for taking his time to talk us. We have invited him back once he has started his training to let us know how he is getting on.

Good luck, Ethan!

Case Study 1: United We Stand!

Today in HUMAN, 7Explorer have been working extremely hard writing their final copy of a World War 1 job description.

Students’ task was to compose a piece of persuasive writing to encourage men to enlist in the army. They had to include a range of persuasive literary devices such as rhetorical questions, alliteration and powerful vocabulary to make their adverts appealing.

All students were focussed in sessions and were praised and appreciated for their sustained levels of concentration and productivity.

Take a look at what working hard and getting smart in 7Explorer looked like!

This week 7Pioneer have undertaken their first ever Learning Target in Hums which is ‘I can write an imaginative piece of informative, persuasive writing’

Working and learning in secondary school may feel like a big step step up from primary school for the class and although at first completing this learning target seemed like a huge mountain to climb, they all reached the top!

This piece of writing was in the form of a job advertisement and description of a role in the First World War such as the Navy, Royal Engineers or Royal Flying Corps. It was great seeing the students explain the roles and responsibilities, skills, qualities and requirements for each job.

Here they are in action – super focused and working hard to create beautiful work!

E24 Pioneer and Explorer

What a week from E24!

This video is of  Pioneer working hard, creating beautiful work and showing craftsmanship and quality.


We then did some peer critique doing the protocol ‘milling to music’. What a great way of getting students out of their seat, appreciating other students work and writing purposeful feedback.

Some great moves from Explorer! When the music stopped students went to the nearest table and peer critiqued (we did this twice). Students then actioned their feedback by improving the work from the suggestions given. In purple pen they explained this and wrote a personal target they needed to achieve in next weeks lesson. All in all an excellent week in Art for E24! Keep it up!

E24/Year 9 How to build a rollercoaster workshops

Year 9 have been lucky enough to experience another fantastic day of fieldwork, helping them build background knowledge for their STEAM expedition, ‘Slow Down’. In a few weeks time, their learning will culminate in a final product that answers the guiding question:

What does physics and maths have to with saving life?

This Thursday, the year group visited Alton Towers’ education department to learn about how they assess the safety and functionality of their roller coasters. Students were briefed on how they might want to design their own roller coasters using the principles of physics and mathematics.

They also applied their knowledge of algebraic substitution by calculating gravitational potential energy, as well as velocity at each hill of their roller coasters and centripetal acceleration. Students were then given a workbook to fill out as we travelled through the park – they were able to explain why they felt so weightless during the drop on oblivion, and were able to calculate GPE on the coasters across the theme park using the knowledge gained in the workshops. Plus, we all had a lot of fun on the rides!

We will be picking up this new physics and maths content once we get back into school this coming week and applying it across the STEAM sessions.


E24 Explorer and Pioneer

E24 started off their immersion for the expedition ‘Why do we still need Charity?’ Creating contextual studies from the artist: Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. What a great start to beautiful work! Some have been carefully using a craft knife to remove sections: creating contrast. Others have been using pen to block out areas. All students will do both pieces of work.

This is just some of the beautiful work they have produced. Keep up the hard work! Can’t wait to work on the final product with you (we are creating a product that runs alongside Hums).