Crew Young…..getting to know you (again)!

Would you rather be really good looking, or super intelligent?“, “What is your ‘go to’ tea?“, and “What song always gets you on the dance floor?”. These were some of the prompt questions that Crew Young members fired at each other, in a 2 minute “blind date”, conducted in a Covid-friendly way recently. The aim was for our crew to reacquaint themselves with each other and strengthen the bonds that bind us together after such a long period of remote learning.

Reconnecting in Crew

I’ve lost count of the number of ‘Crew Finch are back!’ style blogs I’ve written, but here’s another one!  We are (finally) back together in Crew for – can you believe it – the first time in 2021!! Fingers crossed that this time, we are back for good…

What’s struck me this time round are the good vibes coming from Crew who seem genuinely happy to be back at school with their friends and are even, dare I say it, enjoying being back in ‘proper’ lessons.  Although I can’t praise the quality of our online provision and our students’ engagement during these challenging times enough, there’s nothing like the real thing!

Understandably, some of our Crew were anxious about being back in school so we spent the first couple of days together just doing what we do best: pulling together to help alleviate some of those worries, giving each other a safe space in Crew to talk about how we feel about things (with no judgement) and just generally helping each other settle back in to our new school routine.

We also reconnected with some speed dating! After not seeing each other for over 3 months, it was good to spend 1:1 time with everyone, finding out more about what makes us tick by asking deep, probing, philosophical questions 😉 such as:

  • If you had a warning label… what would it say? (most were spot on!)
  • Who is the most intelligent person you know (Kobe was outraged that nobody named him!)
  • What’s your favourite fizzy drink? (Dr Pepper caused some controversy…)
  • Would you rather be really good looking, or super intelligent? (always a tough one to answer, that one!)

I won’t be looking at some of our Crew in quite the same way after the answers they gave to some of the questions!

I enjoyed taking a step back and just watching them all interact during this speed dating activity.  It made me smile to see them laughing with – or, in some cases, at –  each other and I feel reassured that, whatever life throws at us, we always find our way back to Crew.

Today saw the day that we’ve all been looking forward to for so long – the full return to school of all our students. Like their peers, Crew Young were promptly tested and then they were able to join other E24 students in a Community Meeting and normal afternoon sessions. WELCOME BACK, YOUNGSTERS!

Crew Young – Beating Screen Fatigue!

As we reach the end of a very long and challenging term, we are increasingly seeking to beat “screen fatigue” in readiness for a full digital detox over the two week holiday. I’ve recently asked our Youngsters to share their photos as to how they spend the last 45 minutes of each day, away from the screen, being mindful of their wellbeing.

Yesterday, some students in Crew Young played extreme scrabble in pairs, against others and I’d like to appreciate Adam M and Amber from X24 for their winning partnership!

Louie decided to cook some brownies!

George took 2 hours to build a card tower FOUR STOREYS HIGH! Neat artwork too, George!

Keisha prefers to hone her sketching skills…..

……whilst Maclaren works on his common mission subject (computer coding)

Lewis continues to work on HIIT (High Impact Interval Training) on his indoors Peloton bike set-up…..

……whilst his Crew Leader (a bit of a has-bean!) trains for the next Gira Mondial. Wheelie hard to get a sponsorship deal with Heinz………..

Crew Charity Challenge

Crew Finch are embarking on an epic virtual journey to raise funds for our Crew Charity, Firefly Cancer Awareness and Support.  This physical activity will also go towards the DofE Silver Award.

We are aiming to walk, run or cycle a collective total of 500 miles over the next 3 months (1st March – 30th June.)

Firefly provide free community transport for Cancer patients in our area to and from hospital for treatment and appointments. It is a vital service for these patients.

Firefly are currently operating 10 vehicles. I have spoken to Ian (Chewie) from the charity who tells me that they will use the money raised to put towards the cost of keeping these vehicles on the road. It currently costs the charity approx £1100 a week in fuel costs alone! They will also use the money to buy essential PPE for the volunteer drivers.

All charities have been hit really hard during the pandemic as they can’t rely on their usual fundraising activities so we would really, really appreciate it if you would contribute what you can to this wonderful cause.

Every little helps and it will motivate us all to go that extra mile (or 500!)

Here’s our fundraising link (donations go direct to Firefly):

Crew Finch’s Virgin Money Giving Page

You can read more about Firefly Cancer Awareness and Support here:

Firefly Cancer Awareness and Support

Big Thanks from Crew Finch x


Crew Young’s SLCs – a window into our world

Student-led conferences require and empower students to take the lead role in communicating their learning. The practice helps to build dispositions and skills—such as adapting speech to the appropriate context and organising and presenting information—that will be vital for students in college and careers…..” (Ron Berger).

When Ron Berger captured in his definitive EL book “Leaders of their Own Learning” the essence of Student-Led Conferences, he could not possibly have foreseen the challenges of delivering these remotely during a global pandemic!

I’ve been very pleased with and proud of Crew Young recently as they prepared and delivered their latest round of SLCs, this time to a remote audience, selecting examples of work that they were proud of, showed their mastery or indeed require improvement, all without physically having them to touch in their hands.

The depth of their reflections on their learning, the correlations that they articulated between their attendance, their HOWLs, and their Assessment Point 1 data, all self-assessed against their Minimum Expectations were thoughtful and well-considered throughout. I particularly like how Isabel invited and then acted on Eleanor’s critique to improve her first draft before then presenting this to her audience, and how both Aaron and Dominic chose to include photos of their HOWLs trackers to evidence demonstrable improvements in working hard and getting smart over time.

I would like to appreciate students and their parents for arriving promptly to these events, and especially those students who kindly agreed to having their SLCs video-recorded for critique and modelling purposes. Crew Young have consented to sharing some of their work, showcased in their SLCs, below.


E24 Community Meeting- Week 6


We are entering into the 7th week of online learning at XPE- with seemingly, no end in sight, and so our community meeting was focused around strategies to beat the screen fatigue, and a challenge to to get us all out of the house this weekend!

We started off with a brilliant check in of superhero names, based on dates of birth- some absolute, moving then onto apologies, appreciation and stands. Some fantastic work going on- as shown by the appreciation from staff and students within crew Churchill, for the work around student led crew sessions.

See all E24 apologies, appreciations and Stands made below on the Padlet

Made with Padlet

Scan this QR code or see applications here

Community meeting Photography Challenge

To encourage us as staff and students to get time away from the screen, a challenge was set for students to over the weekend take photos whilst out on walks out of the house, to be entered in the following categories, entries must be original, and be taken over the weekend whilst out of the house- see some of the entries posted on the challenge by students in E24-
Voting for category winners will take place in week 7 community meeting.

The categories…

1) Architecture

2) Near and Far

3) Nature

4) Food

5) Frozen

6) Technology


E24 Original photos, submitted by Alfie C, Chloe T, Summer, Keisha 

Crew Finch: my Valentines message to you!

Dear Crew Finch,

After almost a year of bubbles, online learning, lockdowns, tiers – and tears! – I just wanted to send you this Valentine’s Day message to tell you how much I admire you all.

I admire your resilience.

I admire your courage.

I admire your motivation.

I admire your positivity.

I admire your humour (or at least humouring me!)

I admire your hard work.

I admire your compassion.

I admire that you are still working hard to become the best versions of yourselves.

I admire you for checking in every morning in Crew.

I admire that even through the toughest of times (or should that be especially through the toughest of times?) we are, first and foremost, Crew.

So, this Valentine’s Day I want you to take some time to send some love to the most important person in your life: YOU.

Love yourself. Appreciate yourself. Do something that makes you feel good. 

(You definitely deserve chocolates and flowers, too.)

Because, as me and my mate RuPaul always like to remind you:






Every day at (online) school matters

This week has seen the start of Crew Finch’s Y10 Student-Led Conferences.  A massive well done to this week’s presenters – Ali, Noah, Mackenzie, Tom and Bryn – for the hard work and integrity evident in all their presentations, which went ahead online with only a few technical glitches!  I am one very proud Crew Leader this week (even more so than usual!)

I’m looking forward to more of the same next week.  I did email all Crew parents last week with the link to the booking form so if you haven’t already booked, please can I politely remind you to do so before next Thursday (11th Feb) – just email me if you’ve lost the link.

The first SLCs of Y10 are also the first time since the Y9 Passage Presentations that students have had chance to reflect on their academic progress and character growth, as well as presenting examples of their beautiful work. This process has been made easier by the information analysis sheets provided by Mr Allen (thank you, Sir!) They have really made our discussions and reflections much more meaningful, and have helped Crew to come up with some really pertinent pledges and targets.

(ICYMI: I spoke about how we’re using the information analysis and crew narratives to help us frame our pledges for the academic year in this post.)

There has been a new addition to our SLC agenda this time round.  Crew have been asked to reflect on their work from home experience, including their online attendance, engagement and  productivity.  This has meant that we have had some difficult conversations (with more to come during next week’s conferences) but Crew’s self-awareness and honesty around the challenges they are overcoming have been truly humbling.  Although I am a little bit heartbroken that one of my Crew thinks that the lockdown period will cause a ‘hinderance’ to his future prospects, despite his absolutely outstanding work ethic and attendance at every single session…

On the subject of attendance…

I’m disappointed to report that I’ve only had 50% attendance at Crew sessions this week.  Even more disappointing is the fact that our Crew also have the lowest attendance and engagement levels in online sessions across the whole year group.

However, I don’t want this to overshadow how immensely proud I am of those who are turning up on time to Crew and daily lessons every single day: Tom, Thomas, Ali, Noah, Dakota and Kobe deserve a special mention and we’ll have to think about how we can celebrate your lockdown learning achievements once we’re back in school 🙂

So, I’ll just let Noah have the final word with his perfect explanation of why every day at school matters: