Winning at Life – and Taboo!

I absolutely love this picture which was taken the morning after the night before of Crew Finch’s last Passage Presentation.  Phew!

It was nice to finally be able to put the last portfolio back on the shelf and have a bit of fun regrouping as a Crew with a competitive friendly game of Taboo!

It’s been an intense few weeks of final preparations and practicing in Crew, with feedback from those who had presented prompting last minute tweaks, changes and minor panics from those who had yet to deliver theirs!

I didn’t manage to take any photos during the presentations because I was too engrossed listening to what these incredible kids had to say.  All 12 presentations have been very different and I have been left gobsmacked after each and every one.

I don’t know what impressed me the most: the honesty and integrity shown as they discussed their academic and character growth; the ambition and determination shown when they spoke about their future selves; the awe-inspiring confidence as they spoke not just to me, but to a whole panel of adults; or, they way they weren’t phased at all by any of the panelists’ questions at the end (and we asked some tough questions!)

GCSE choices have been made and Crew are now more than ready to tackle the next stage of their learning journey.  They have all acknowledged that the GCSE years are going to hard, with some needing to up their game a little to make sure they get the grades they need.  We talk a lot about climbing a metaphorical mountain in Crew.  They have achieved so much already and I’ve no doubt at all they they will all get to where they want to be.  However, if any of them stumble along the way, they know that they’ve got the whole Crew behind them ready to give them a supportive shove up to the top of their mountain.

A massive appreciation, as ever, to all the families who have supported their children through this milestone.  It’s been an honour to share the experience with you.

DofE Update: getting ready for the outdoors!

We’re getting to the exciting part of our Bronze DofE – the outdoor expedition!  A few of the DofE team attended a 2-day Outdoor First Aid course at Peat Rigg, tackling different emergency scenarios right in the middle of Storm Ciara (we’re hoping for better weather conditions on our actual hikes!)  You’ll be pleased to know that we all passed.

So far Crew Finch have completed their skills section and are well on the way to completing their volunteering section (reading with Y7 students.)

Crew have already chosen their hiking groups – they’ll be walking in two groups of six rather than all together – and the nice part of this for me was hearing them say that they wanted to be in groups with those members of Crew who they wouldn’t usually spend time with so that they could have the chance to bond with them a little bit.

We want to make sure that students are fully prepared for the qualifying expedition element, so our Friday afternoon sessions are now fully dedicated to preparing for the outdoor expedition and will cover such things as:

  • Basic first aid (including CPR)
  • Menu planning
  • Stove safety/cooking
  • Packing rucksacks
  • Route planning
  • Codes of conduct

Key dates:

  • 14th Feb – Medical consent forms to be returned to me please!
  • 3rd April – Kit check (we’ll send a list home with students)
  • 23rd April – Practice hike (day only)
  • 9th-10th July – Qualifying expedition (overnight)

I’ll be handing over the DofE blogging to Crew so that they can keep you updated on their planning and progress.

Crew Turing lead the way

I’d like to say a huge thank you for all parents and family members who attended my crew’s SLC over the past 2 weeks. The stakes rose this year as I introduced the pass/fail element. Thankfully and as expected, all my crew have passed! To prepare for their SLC, I gave them a quiz on what they thought they’d got in the most recent data drop, hoping that they would remember their most recent grades and HOWLs scores that I’d shared in crew. When they self-marked the following day, each crew member wasn’t far off their actual scores.

Hot chocolates were well deserved since my crew were highest in all 3 HOWL categories for the year group. We noticed that we were also 2nd from top for ‘be kind’ in the entire school, and that in the year 8 group, we were considerably ahead of other crews for get smart and work hard.

We also held our second student led crew this past week, Mollie and Torran prepared a football drill session. I told them I needed it to be well planned and structured so that everyone had a role and there was a clear goal for the session. They prepared 4 drills, including a warm up, passing drill, piggy in the middle activity that helped people develop their tackling skills and we finished on a short game. Roll on this coming sports day – my goal for crew is to try not to come last again!

I have asked a couple more students to prepare a session in the coming weeks, Sami has already pitched an idea to me that sounds really exciting. Finally, we doubled up with crew Parkinson on Friday to look at an important topic: sleep hygiene. We read this article and jotted down any surprising facts about sleep and the effects a lack of it had on our health.

Students were shocked about the links good sleep had with weight and appetite, dementia, cancers and performance during sports and everyday activities. We also watched a snippet of a National Geographic  documentaryon how sleep can improve retention if we get a good 9hrs after a revision session. I’m challenging my crew to aim for 8-9hrs every day this week!

E26 are creating beautiful work in their art sessions

E26 pupils have been using watercolour paints to create beautiful sunsets and silhouettes inspired by African landscapes.

I am extremely impressed with E26 and their enthusiasm to create their artwork. We have some very talented young people at XP East! Well done!

Community Service – with great gusto!

This week was Crew Young’s turn to perform routine community service around the school site sporting colourful day-glow tabards and gloves, wielding litter pickers and plastic sacks. Needless to say with the strength of the wind this proved a very challenging task in itself, for no sooner having deposited a stray piece of litter in the plastic sack was it turned inside out or blown open and the contents left to blow away in the wind. Who would have thought that litter picking could be so much fun?

Still, it gave us the opportunity to laugh at ourselves, let off a little steam, and blow away a few metaphorical cobwebs of our own during a really challenging week of Passage Presentations. So far I have been hugely impressed with how our Crew have risen to the challenge, the sense of purpose with which they have approached this crucial entry into the next phase of their education. I am proud of each and every one of them. Well done, Youngsters!

SLC Success!

Crew NJO completed their first Student Led Conferences this week, sharing both their academic and personal progress with their families.

I was incredibly proud to see how much all of the Crew had grown in confidence and was blown away by their ability to articulate what they have learnt, what they have struggled with, where they need support and finally how their data looks after our second data drop.

It was incredible for me to see Cerrina explain HOWLs and MEGs to her mum and sister, making pledges to improve even further by creating an action plan. Data isn’t the be all and end all it is important to say, but it was moving for me to see students engaging with it in a positive way, highlighting their own strengths and weaknesses by making links to their experience in school.

Students in Crew Rowling worked tirelessly to ensure they were ready for the event, writing their own scripts, practicing to each other, providing kind, specific and helpful feedback in order to help everyone achieve.

Special mention to Summer, a Y9 student who stepped in to help a very nervous Layton at the last minute! Embracing the aspect of Crew, Summer gave up her Crew, Break and Lunch time to support Layton, not only allowing him to practice but also writing difficult words down phonetically to support his reading. She also helped him to further understand his data and praised his efforts so far!

Under all of the strain and pressure that already existed, some of the Crew were even faced with a camera too! Filming for the Edge Foundation has followed the students progress from Wales… it will be good to see how far we really have come!

I am in awe of the bravery and confidence of all of the Crew this past couple of weeks, they have worked tirelessly so ensure that they understood their role in an SLC and get everything prepped and ready. I am looking forward to seeing what you achieve in the next data drop!

Well done all! Keep up the hard work!

Crew Young reaching out to Crew Rowling

This has been a short, but extremely positive week for Crew Young. Following my pride in no fewer than four successful Passage Presentations so far – from Summer, George, Adam and Maclaren – Crew Young returned to their DofE Volunteering role this morning, as they listened to members of Crew Rowling reading aloud, or practising their SLC presentations.

Crew Young were reminded to give their younger reading buddies some non-verbal feedback and encouragement, mindful of exhibiting positive body language such as maintaining eye contact, nodding and smiles, as well as checking for comprehension of the reading material. Awareness of body language and its effect on the audience is one of the four core aspects against which Passage standards are assessed.

Crew Rowling read with confidence and fluency and some seized the opportunity to practise their Student-Led Conference preparation with their more senior counterparts.

Well done everybody!

A week of highlights for Crew Turing

This week was kicked off with the most moving presentation of learning that I’ve experienced so far at XP East, with the preview of the ‘Should I stay or should I go’ documentary at Cast theatre. I remember a few weeks ago having a conversation with crew about whether the UK should welcome refugees and asylum seekers. There was a real mixed bag of responses.

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Crew Finch Check In!

We’ve been a bit quiet on the blog post front, but it certainly hasn’t been quiet in Crew!

Since coming back after the Christmas break (Happy New Year, by the way!) we’ve been super busy making sure we’re ready for our Passage Presentations, which start next week.  If you haven’t booked your slot yet, please do so here – I can’t stress enough the importance of attending this presentation.  You’ll get to hear your child reflecting on their progress so far, and where they want to go in the future (pro tip: bring tissues!)

We’ve also had our eye on the latest data drop.  The results are in and, I have to say, last term looks like it was another cracking term for Crew Finch!  But more on that next week…

It also looks like we’re having an excellent start to this term too. Just 3 weeks into the term and we already have several reasons to be proud! We’re top of this term’s attendance league (currently third overall) and we have the lowest number of entries on the conduct form.

I’m also seeing some fantastic entries on the praise form for my Crew from other staff.  I’m especially proud of Bryn, who has received praise from Miss Haughey for his amazing effort and time spent completing his maths homework.  A massive well done to Mackenzie, too (pictured above) not only for making me the perfect brew during our recent Crew breakfast, but for also getting himself on the praise form 10 times already this term!  Your hard work and contributions in class are not going unnoticed, Kenzie.

Two brilliant examples of students working hard and getting smart, and I just know that there are more great things to come for Crew Finch.

Crew Young and Crew Mercury work together.

During crew this morning Crew Young and Crew Mercury came together for student led conference prep (SLC). Students from Year 9 modelled what an SLC looks and sounds like. It was fantastic to see how our Year 9 responded to the challenge, finding out only 5 minutes before our Year 7s arrived.


In the closing circle students spoke about their experience, discussing the quality of questions asked and the respect shown by Year 7 during the presentations. Crew Mercury gave great critique to Crew Young about the quality of the presentations and thanked them for helping out. We are CREW ! A massive well done to all involved this morning.