A familiar face!

I do spend time catching up with Crew at least once a week, either via hangouts or by telephone, but nothing quite beats the feeling of seeing them face-to-face!

As children of key workers, both Bryn and Aden have been accessing our in-school provision and today I got to see Aden for the first time in 15 weeks.  I think I was more excited than him, though!

(Note: the only picture I’ve got is of Bryn is of him doing star jumps for our Crew PE Challenge, so I don’t think he’d appreciate me publishing that!)

Crew’s experience of lockdown has varied but as restrictions are eased, actually being able to see and talk to other people “in real life” outside of our households has been a major mood booster for us all.

In this week’s Crew session, I really enjoyed hearing about Crew’s visits with Grandparents, bike rides with friends, family trips out to the seaside and Brodsworth Hall, and even a shopping trip to Meadowhall to spend birthday money!  We’re all enjoying being able to do ‘normal’ things, albeit at a safe 2m distance apart!

An all of a sudden, the world is not as frightening as it was back in March.

As we make plans for the return to school, one thing I’ll remember from our time apart is that we still remained Crew.

A different type of Crew, maybe, but still Crew.

I’m absolutely positive that we’re now an even stronger one.

Stay safe – even more so now!

Mrs P x

I’ve spent most of the last 3 weeks on Google Hangouts with Y6 students who are coming to join us at the end of August.  These meetings usually happen in person at their primary school, but our transition process is yet another thing that we’ve had to take online!

I’ve met some very excited children who can’t wait to start school.  I’ve also met some very anxious children (and parents, too!)

I asked Crew if they could remember their own Y6/7 transition visits… Most could, and could even remember which member of staff visited them, which I guess shows the impact of these visits.

We had a lovely discussion about what their Y6 selves were worried about as they moved up to our school: most were worried about not knowing anyone, not making new friends and that the work would be too hard.

And these were more or less the same worries that the current Y6’s spoke to me about, 4 years on!

So, what advice would my Crew give to Y6 students today?

  • You will definitely make friends on your first day, and even if you struggle, your Crew will always look out for you.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Don’t let your worries stop you from enjoying all the experiences XP East will be offering you.
  • Everyone probably feels as nervous as you, so just keep smiling and someone will smile back! (love that one!)

Wise words from the founding year of XP East!

This Crew session gave me a good excuse to look through old photos and get a bit teary eyed at the first ones we had taken together at Malham Cove in 2017.

My, haven’t they grown? Not just in height and appearance, but also in character (especially over the last 3 months!)

I’m a little bit envious of my colleagues who are about to start their own unique journey with their new Crews… I hope their journey is as eventful, exciting and enriching as my own with Crew Finch.

In other news…

Well Done to Noah for winning the monthly Crew Quiz during Thursday’s hangout!  Well done also to Thomas H for showcasing his excellent knowledge of ‘Animal Farm’, even with the cheeky bonus point questions (one which unintentionally gave a major spoiler – sorry about that, guys!)


DofE Bronze Award Update

In April we told you about changes to our DofE delivery in this blog post.

We now know that students won’t be able to complete the Outdoor Expedition within the original timescales set.

Unfortunately, this means that our Y9 students won’t be awarded the full Bronze Award this academic year.

However, DofE still want to recognise and celebrate participants’ achievements so far – and rightly so! – and will be awarding a Certificate of Achievement to all those who complete the Volunteering, Physical and Skills sections before the end of the year (31/12/20 is the official date but we will be setting our own school deadline, which is likely to be much earlier!)

Students will receive the full Bronze Award once they have completed the Outdoor Expedition, and we already have plans in place to get this done as soon as we can!

It is important to note that students will NOT receive the full Bronze Award if they don’t have the 2020 Certificate of Achievement before the end of the year.

We really hope you continue to support and encourage your child through their DofE journey.

Here’s the WHY:

Outdoor Education is a huge part of the XPE experience; it starts with Outward Bound and carries on through fieldwork and the DofE Awards we offer from Y9.

DofE in particular helps students build key life skills – not least compassion, resilience, and teamwork – reinforcing what our CHARACTER TRAITS, HOWLS and CREW.  We want our students to be the best versions of themselves, and truly believe that DofE helps them to achieve this.

So, here’s a quick summary of where we’re at at XPE:






Students have completed the Volunteering section.  This was done in school with Y9 students becoming Volunteer Reading Mentors for Y7.


We have asked all Y9 students to complete the St John Ambulance First Aid Course. Details have been uploaded onto the DofE Google Classroom.

I’d like to give a massive appreciation to the the following students who have been working through the weekly First Aid tasks that are being set for them:

Thomas H, Ben, Aran K, Rhys, Summer, Maclaren, Kaiden, Keisha, Theone, Eleanore and Chloe

Thank you all so much – I’m really impressed with what you’ve all done so far and would definitely feel safe being out on expedition with you guys!   

There are still quite a few of students who need to join the classroom, or who have joined but have yet to start – it is really important that they make a start as soon as possible and get these tasks done!

Many students were using out of school activities as evidence for this section.  However, once we went into lockdown, these activities were stopped and some students haven’t been able to collect enough evidence to complete this section.

However, students still need to continue with evidencing some form of physical activity and we have made some suggestions of what they could easily be getting on with: walking, running, gardening, Joe Wicks’ daily PE lesson on YouTube to name a few.

These sessions can be added to any which were previously recoded before lockdown (so you don’t have to start the 12 hours again!) but you MUST agree this with your Crew Leader. New evidence sheets are on the DofE Classroom.  

Submitting Evidence

All evidence will be submitted via the eDofE mobile app.  It’s really easy to use and I’ll be in touch with each Crew to talk them through the process.

Thank you. 

YEAR 9: New birdwatching world record*

We have a new record in Year 9 for the most birds spotted in a single session.

Kyle in X24 spotted an incredible 60 birds from 14 different species, including a sparrow hawk and two herons.

Whilst we have not set any work for students in Year 9 to complete over the two week break we would love it if they continued with their birdwatching, bug hotels and bird boxes. Please remind them to send us lots of photos. We are in competition with XP for the most birds spotted. This means we need to up our game, as E24 are currently behind X24 in the leaderboard.

*not verified by Norris McWhirter

Highlights and lowlights

I received this card in a parcel this week (another wool delivery to feed my out-of-control crochet habit – don’t tell Mr Parker!) and when I first read it I thought “Yeah, right! No such thing as a happy day at the moment!”  popped it on the table and forgot about it.

And then, Crew happened.

Today we checked-out for half-term with our Lockdown Highlights and Lowlights.

The lowlights were the same for most of us: not being able to see friends/family and a flurry of uneventful lockdown birthdays.  Other lowlights included eating too much cake (never a lowlight, in my eyes!), annoying siblings and, that good old lockdown classic, ending up with a wonky home haircut.

The highlights made us appreciate that, despite the lowlights, we’ve actually had lots of Happy Days during lockdown, too:

  • We’re spending more time with immediate family
  • We’re spending more time outside
  • We’ve switched off gaming consoles and gone out on family walks
  • We’ve had more time to do new things, like gardening and baking
  • Some of us have taken up running
  • We’ve found that we’re eating together as a family more

It’s fair to say that half term hasn’t been met with the usual enthusiasm.  Crew haven’t been buzzing with the thought of having two weeks off: no meeting up with friends in the park or in town, the novelty of having late nights and lazy lie-ins has worn off and we have no holidays or day trips with family to look forward to!  In fact, some of them have admitted that they’re going to miss having school work set because – let’s face it – there’s nothing else to do!*

However, having heard how Crew are enjoying the extra time with family, spending time doing things they wouldn’t normally do, I think there will be more ‘oh, happy day’ moments to look forward to.

So, before we check out for a well deserved break, I just want to say this:

Crew – it’s been a tough 8 weeks, getting used to our new normal.

You’ve all dealt with it in your own way. And that’s OK.  There is no right or wrong way to deal with this situation.

Some of you have adapted really well and have embraced the challenges of home learning.

Some of you have struggled with the changes and have had to withdraw from us for a while.  And that’s OK. Crew have been right here waiting for you. It was lovely to welcome you back today.

What you’re doing – right here, right now – is good enough.

Enjoy the break and stay safe,
Mrs Parker x

*I have suggested to those who are behind on work to use these 2 weeks to catch-up and I’ll be available to help!  I’ll be sending emails out to those this applies to.

A bit of birding!

It was great to see most of Crew at the Y9 STEAM hangout on Tuesday where Mr Smith and Mr Said set them off with the immersion task, which was to go outdoors, do a bit of bird watching and take pictures of nature.

I’m lucky to live in quite a rural spot and do spend a lot of time outdoors either walking the dogs, running, or just pottering around my back garden.  But, as much as I enjoy being outside, I can’t say that I ever really stop, look or listen to my surroundings; I kinda take it all for granted.  So the immersion task to record how many birds we see has really made me take notice and appreciate what’s in my own back yard.  I’ve spotted sparrows, robins, blue tits, pigeons and goldfinches.  And those birds in the picture above flying over the fields behind my house aren’t actually called “them flipping noisy screechy things” like I thought, they’re actually black headed gulls!

But what I like the most about this immersion activity is that it’s something you can all together at home whilst out on your daily walks or just from your kitchen window (I never knew there were so many different birds visiting my garden!) Crew have access to the birding sheet via the STEAM google classroom, or contact me and I’ll send you one.  I’d love to see pictures of what you find on your walks or of the birds you’re spotting, so please share!

Note of caution: although this sounds like a lovely family bonding session I feel like I should give you a bit of a warning: Mr P and I have daily arguments over what some of the birds we spot are; we can’t agree if we’ve got thrushes or blackbirds nesting in our roof!!

There are also a couple of optional challenges you could all work on together: build a bird house or build a bug box.  Send in pictures if you make anything!

You can find out more about the STEAM expedition – including what the guiding question is – on the ‘Here Comes the Sun’ expedition website.


I couldn’t keep up with the amount of praise postcards that have been sent out to Crew this week!  Super proud of those who are continuing to work hard and produce high quality work, but special mentions go to Thomas, Tom, Aden, Ali and Noah.

I’ll share some of their beautiful work in a future blog post, but for now I’ll share what could quite possibly be my favourite praise card ever sent (from Miss Wilmot to Ali)

A huge well done to Thomas from me, too for sending in these pictures of him practicing his DofE first aid skills on his brother.  Great work, Thomas (and Lewis!)

Have a lovely weekend, all.  Stay safe.

Mrs Parker


E24 – Closing circle hangout meeting

This afternoon at 3.00pm we will be hosting a hangout for all of Year 9 across both schools to find out how they have been getting on with their STEAM immersion challenges.

Students can join the meeting by logging into their school account and going to:


Attendance for the launch hangout was fantastic. Thanks to all of our families for your continuing support.


The one with the guest blogger

As we come to the end of Week 6, I asked Crew to draw the 3 things that’ve made lockdown a little but more bearable for them.  Here’s a snippet of some of the …erm… better drawings we had:

Some form of technology featured on most of the pictures (there were some very strange looking phones drawn!) Technology is certainly making the lockdown restrictions more bearable and it’s great that we can use it to “see” friends, family and Crew on a regular basis.

Technology also connects us to the world beyond our own little circle and, earlier in the week, our very own Noah was invited by our friends at EL Education to choreograph and perform a dance. They had spotted his talent when he featured in this previous blog post.

Noah’s dance will be featured as part of a wider celebration from EL Education for their #BetterWorldDay – this year’s focus is on expressing gratitude for those working on the frontline during the Covid-19 crisis and I think Noah’s performance is a perfect and emotional tribute.

You can watch Noah’s full performance here in our weekly ‘This Week in the Trust’ update, along with catching up on all the other wonderful things happening across the trust:

Another highlight of the week was seeing members of Crew receiving praise from Miss Haughey and Mrs Sprakes for their efforts: Bryn, Kobe, Dakota and Aden have all be recognised for working hard in Maths and Spanish.

My appreciation cards went to Thomas and Tom for their consistent hard work across all subjects, and to Ali for always stepping up to Crew challenges, be it contributing to blog posts (see below) or leading Crew check-ins (she makes a cracking Deputy Crew Leader!)

Looking ahead to Week 7, we’re  kicking off a new STEAM expedition.  Kobe has already tried (and failed) to guess what it’s going to be about. Here’s a teaser for you – any ideas?

That’s all from me – I’m handing over to Ali!

Mrs Parker

And now please welcome our Guest Blogger, the fabulous Ali, giving her account of her experience of living in lockdown:

Hello! This is Ali, updating you all during this quarantine period. 

Honestly during this time I have been working hard and breaking this up by doing fun activities such as SFX makeup, that my crew saw during a check-in because I didn’t notice that it was earlier than usual. 

I have been keeping in contact with my close friends everyday and having frequent exercise (while of course staying a safe distance from people, which I would do anyway). 

Of course at these very unusual and difficult times it’s impossible to stay positive all the time so to increase these times I have been doing activities I enjoy such as: baking, writing, reading and watching great movies (mainly Marvel and Jurassic Park). During this time I somehow managed to make a cake that was supposed to take 15 minutes to bake and took 50 minutes to bake. Clearly I’m a magician. I also managed to fill an entire piece of paper with badly drawn fish, I’m running out of ideas for things to keep me occupied.

On the 4th of May- all year E24 and X24 at XP Trust will be starting their new expedition for STEAM. This will be starting with a week of immersion, adapted for the current lockdown home learning. Including experts, fieldwork and whole school Google Hangout quiz challenge!

All students in year 9 in both schools will receive a Google Hangout invitation hosted by Mr Smith and Mr Said and learning coaches. This will have key information and challenges for the week to come. 

The Hangout will be 1pm Tuesday 5th of May. 

Below is a Teaser Trailer to the new expedition- Here Comes the Sun!


An appreciation, an apology and a stand

Friday is usually Community Meeting day – the time of the week when we are invited to make appreciations, apologies and stands.  So, here are mine:

An Appreciation

We spend a lot of time appreciating one another at XP East – and rightly so!  I’m missing our Friday community meetings where we’d get to share our appreciations for a student or member of staff with the rest of the school; those stand-out moments of the week that really made a difference and realising that, quite often, the smallest of actions can have the biggest impact.

A staff appreciation board has been set-up online for us to pass on our thanks to colleagues who are helping us through this strange time, for whatever reason.  I’ve really enjoyed reading the little notes that have been left for people and it once again proves how important it is to have the right crew around us during this strange time.

So, as I was adding my own appreciation for a couple of colleagues this morning I did begin to think about everyone else who deserves a massive appreciation.

And that’s you lot. My Crew Finch Parents who have sort of become accidental members of staff!  I really do mean it when I say that I couldn’t do my job without your full support. You’re ace, you are.

An Apology

Today I sent out a copy of the work tracker to parents and students.  This outlines all the work that has handed in (or not!) over the last 5 weeks.  My apology is that I didn’t get this information out to you sooner, as there is quite a lot of information on that spreadsheet to go through.  I’ll update on a weekly basis and I pledge to send it out every Friday, meaning that we can pick up on any issues sooner.  Just let me know if you want to arrange a google hangout with me to discuss progress.

A Stand 

At our last academic check-in I had several Crew members tell me that the reason they hadn’t completed their HUMS work was because they didn’t understand it.  I was more than happy to help them with this and set up a HUMS Support Hangout where we could go through the tasks together.  Despite accepting the invitation and assuring me that they would have a go at the three tasks I’d set beforehand, nobody turned up for the session.  So my stand is, if you say you want help and I offer that support to you, please have the courtesy to show up for the session.  More support sessions will be on offer and if you are invited, it’s because we’ve identified that you need some help to complete the work.  You’re not on holiday, remember 🙂

I’d like to appreciate those of you who are working hard to completing the work that’s been set.

An announcement (in case you missed it!)

We have made some changes to how we’re delivering DofE.  These are highlighted in this blog post and I’ll go through it with Crew during Tuesday’s hangout.

That’s all from me!

Have a lovely weekend, stay safe, and I’ll see you next week!

Mrs Parker.