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!

What a superb student-led Crew session!

This morning Ella kindly led a Crew session by sharing her experiences, skills and knowledge about being a St. John’s Ambulance Cadet. Although she might have received some sideways looks as she arrived in her official full green overalls, the quality of reflection, delivery of her presentation, and the way that she checked Crew Young’s understanding of her voluntary work with this organisation were all exemplary.

In great appreciation to Ella for volunteering to deliver her session, and to Crew Young for being a quality audience, showing respect, and for their intelligent and thoughtful questions about Ella’s work afterwards.

What a lass!

What a lad!

Let me introduce Aden.

Not only is he part of my Crew, I’m also lucky enough to work with him across all his lessons and have done so since Y7.

When Aden first started, it’s fair to say that he was a very different boy to the one he is today.  He won’t mind me telling you that he struggled to manage his frustrations and found it difficult to focus in class.  But Crew supported him (even when he didn’t want us to!)

He often found himself getting into trouble and was sometimes removed from his peers to spend time in reflection.  But we always welcomed him back into Crew.

During Y8, Aden’s little ‘blips’ became fewer and far between, and by the end of the year, he had improved both his academic grades and his HOWL grades.  And Crew celebrated him!

There were a couple of moments today which have made me reflect on Aden’s progress from Y7 to Y9.  Simple things which show how far he’s come and how much he’s grown to love learning.  For instance, he was so absorbed in reading and making notes on Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ he didn’t even notice me taking his picture.  Later on in History, he received a spontaneous round of applause and an entry onto our praise form for the quality of his response when asked to analyse the message behind a source we’re studying.  Moments like this got me thinking about his journey from Y7 to where he is today in Y9, about to embark upon his GSCE studies… and it took my breath away!

Last week, I asked Crew how they felt about Y9 so far.  Aden said that it was more challenging than Y8, but that he would “knuckle down and try my hardest.”

And he absolutely is!

Crew Young begin their DofE gardening skills

Last Friday Crew Young started their bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award skill section with a spot of gardening – or rather seed propagation. The sowing of seeds and harvesting of crops is rather limited by the time of year, although we still aim to grow cress, parsley, basil and oregano. One of these plants, we learned, has strong medicinal uses in some parts of the world….and was even used as a cure for snake bites!

Riding the Y9 rollercoaster!

Here’s quick check-in to review what’s been happening with Crew Finch!

Well, at the moment it’s all about preparing for Passage Presentation, where students have to present their reflections on their XPE experience so far, how they’re developed as a learner, and why they think they are ready to embark on their GCSE studies.  This is such a pivotal moment in their school life, and we’ve been having some really interesting conversations and reflections based on not only where they want to go, but also on how far they’ve come since Year 7.  A letter invitation will be being sent out to parents/carers/community members soon.  Having sat in a few last year, I would recommend bringing tissues!

However, there have been opportunities to break off from our intense Passage presentation with a bit of a ‘friendly’ basketball competition with Crew Mandela. I’m pleased to say that we held on to our title as Basketball champs 🙂

The highlight of the year so far for me though has been our fieldwork to Alton Towers, where students got to consolidate their learning on forces and speed,  as well as having a go at designing their own rollercoaster… We also spent time as a Crew going on some of the rides: Smiler, Nemesis, Gravity and Oblivion to name a few!  I was happy to take on the role of Chief Bag and Coat Holder so didn’t get to go on any of the rides (nothing to do with me being scared stiff, honest!) but I absolutely loved seeing the pure joy (and terror!) on the faces of my Crew before and after each ride.

As I said in my last blog post, students are working so hard at the moment across Crew and all their lessons, and we’re enjoying riding the rollercoaster of Y9 (and Passage!) together.  Some of the twists and turns are scarier than others, but we’ll always get off with a big smile on our faces.  Scream if you want to go faster 🙂

Crew Mandela Passage Presentation

Crew Mandela are continuing their journey towards starting GCSE choice. All students have begun their reflections from year 7 to year 8. It is hard to believe how much some of our crew has changed in such a short space of time, as shown in the video below!


The purpose of the passage presentation is to reflect on ‘what makes me ready to start GCSE’ We did this by following the below three case studies.

Case Study 1 : ‘Where I can be?’

Case Study 2: ‘How to get there ’

Case Study 3: ‘What makes me ready?’

Crew Young’s fieldwork visit to Alton Towers

Crew Young recently joined the other E24/Y9 Crews on a fieldwork visit to Alton Towers, where they learned how forces and energy transfers apply on all of the iconic theme park rides. Following expert tuition in the physics of movement and motion taught in the on-site classroom, they then put the theory into practice on rides such as Oblivion and Smiler.

At XP East we continue to celebrate our students’ individual successes and achievements, and encourage the positive contributions that they routinely make to the wider community. In doing so, they demonstrate compassion, integrity, respect, courage and craftsmanship and quality often beyond their years.

I am delighted to hear that Ella has recently passed all of her assessments and is now a fully-fledged St John’s Ambulance Cadet.

Expedition ‘Slow Down’ Immersion E24/Y9

Last week E24 started their first STEAM expedition in year 9. We visited the advanced manufacturing research centre in Sheffield where we were able to get a first hand look at the types of careers, technology and equipment being used in engineering today.

The students also recapped concepts of forces by building self propelled lego cars and measuring the speed distance and time.

Watch this video for more information of what year 9 got up to!