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.

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!

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!

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.

Nexus Dance Performance Hall Cross Upper School

The Key stage 3 Cheerleading squad will be performing their routine at the Nexus Dance show.

Rehearsals are on Friday 24th January 4.15-5.15 (times have changed for pick up) we will arrive back at school at 5.30. This is for students only.

Dance Show Wednesday 29th January 6pm-8pm. Students will leave from school at 4pm. Students will receive 2 tickets for the performance all other tickets can be bought on the door at £3.

If you require anymore information please contact Miss O’Grady

Crew Young explore rites of passage

In an attempt to explore the social, moral, spiritual and cultural reasons behind rites of passage practised by communities throughout the world, we spent Crew time this morning studying the Apache and Fulani tribes. It quickly became apparent that Crew Young were largely ignorant of the term “rites of passage” and its significance in E24 Year 9 at XP East.

We watched Dashina, of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, prepare for the trials of womanhood, by enduring four days of ancient tests of strength, endurance, and character before taking her Apache woman name of “morning star feather”. We saw two adolescent boys of the Fulani tribes of Benin, Western Africa engaged in a whipping trial to prove their strength and courage before tribal elders.

We then considered the similarities and differences between these two cultures and made a connection between these rites of passage, and “passage” that is being planned for this term.

It was the French anthropologist and folklorist Arnold van Gennep, who coined the phrase rites of passage in 1909. In 2020 at XP East our students’ preparations for a more academic “passage” are well under way.


Above all, compassion, Crew Young

It’s fair to say that this week Crew Young have needed reminding of why the XP Trust sign: “above all, compassion” greets them as they enter the school premises. We decided to re-boot our concept of Crew as a result of recent issues involving relationships within our group. Starting with a focus on our character traits – courage, integrity, craftsmanship and quality, respect and compassion – we considered where students have exhibited these in sessions and around school, and, remaining with the latter we contemplated the guiding question: “what do we want compassion to look, feel and sound like in Crew?”.

Following a silent conversation protocol, we collated our ideas:

  • using kind words and empathy
  • being sensitive towards others
  • being able to feel comfortable in Crew
  • feeling that everyone is there for each other
  • supporting others when they need it, e.g. Crew can support someone subject to reflection

This is a work in progress, and it’s likely that we’ll need to return to this character trait and develop our ideas further after the Christmas break, but at least for now we’ve started the ball rolling.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Casting our votes!

Never mind what’s been happening in Westminster, something much more crucial has been going on here as the whole school spent last week finding out more about the different parties, taking part in debates, and casting their own votes in the XP – East General Election (please do have a read of the blog post; it’s ace!)

I have to say, it was one of the best weeks we’ve ever had in Crew with lots of intelligent and well considered discussions and … erm … “lively debates” (arguments?!) about politics and democracy in our country.  We really do need to keep young people engaged in these types of conversations. Now more than ever.

A MASSIVE appreciation to Miss Haughey and her A-Level Politics students for organising and facilitating the XPE General Election.