Coming back stronger and wiser

Crew have been well and truly on it this week, no more so than on what we now call Wise Wednesday, where we’ve started to look at revision techniques to help prepare for GCSEs (it’s never too early!)

This week, we looked at memory recall – in particular, cognitive load theory and the forgetting curve (thanks to a master class from Mr Portman!) which illustrated why it’s so important to keep on going over new information until it is stored in our long term memory.

So, Crew have started to create flash cards to help them remember key points from their GCSE text ‘A Christmas Carol’ which they can keep on revisiting over then next 18 months or so, and I’ll be encouraging them to do the same for other subjects, too.  Hopefully this will make the last few weeks before exams a little bit less stressful as they will have had a head start on retaining key information.

It’s really great to see how Crew are becoming leaders of their own learning since returning to school and already planning how they can do their absolute best in their exams.

We’ve had lots of discussions around our HOWLs and getting back on it over the last couple of weeks, and I’d like to give a special mention to Thomas H who has been working exceptionally hard and contributing in all lessons.  He is setting a fine example to the rest of Crew.

Back where we belong!

My newsfeed has been overrun with ‘back to school’ photos this week – so here’s ours!

After almost 6 months apart, it’s fantastic to be back in Crew together – albeit socially distanced from me, as per our bubble safety measures!

I can’t praise my Crew enough for how they’ve handled the return to school.  They all sauntered back into school like they’d never been away, keen to get right back into lessons.  It’s been an absolute joy to see them back where they belong, sat at their desks with their classmates, enjoying the challenges of this week’s immersion activities.

I always notice the physical changes after the Summer holidays, but the changes have been on another level this year.  Yes, they’ve all come back taller, but I’m even more astounded by the changes in their attitude and outlook.  All of a sudden, my Crew are very grown up!

As we look ahead to what we want to achieve in Y10,  we’ve spent some time revisiting the pledges we made at the start of Y9.  This time last year we were thinking about Passage Presentations and beginning our GCSE journey.  Many of the pledges focussed on improving HOWLs grades in certain subjects by the end of the school year… but the rest is history and we never got to see what those grades would’ve been!

However, I reckon Crew have achieved so much on a personal level during lockdown, above and beyond what we could teach them in school (and no, I’m not talking about Mackenzie’s new found block paving skills!)

So, as most of them wanted to end last year with improved grades, I’m giving them all a 4.5 for their courage, resilience and determination not to let the missed time at school hold them back from wanting to succeed.

Year 10 – we’re ready for you 🙂

Dear Crew

Dear Crew

I’ve just read the blog I posted this time last year, on the last day of Y8.  Look how happy we were!

I remember our last Y8 Crew Session well, not just because we had cake, but because even though you were were all excited for the holidays, you were also looking forward to starting your Y9 journey.

  • You knew it would be an important year.
  • You were nervous about having to do your Passage presentations.
  • You were looking forward to starting your GSCE Choice studies.
  • You were excited about achieving your DofE Bronze Award.

And then this happened:

School Closure Update

Overnight, we had to adjust to a new socially-distanced, locked-down, scary world… We took lessons and Crew online and we had to get used to our new normal:

This change, on top of being told that we couldn’t see family and friends, hasn’t been the easiest thing to cope with and I absolutely get why some of you have struggled with our Strange New World.

I want to thank those of you who have turned up for every Crew hangout, for keeping up with your work and for helping me feel that things were (kind of) normal at least once a week!

If you haven’t shown up for Crew – don’t worry; we understand.  We’re right here waiting for you and your place in our Crew circle is safe.

If you’re behind on your work, be prepared for some hard work catching up, but remember that our whole Crew will be supporting you. As ever, we’ve got your back.

A massive appreciation to those of you who have had the courage to reach out and say that you’ve been struggling to cope.  You are all braver than you think.


Our end of year photo looks a little bit different this year, doesn’t it?

I visited some of you yesterday and I can’t tell you how happy I was to see you!  I didn’t realise how much I’d missed you until I saw your smiling faces.

An extra special thanks from me to you – Thomas, Noah, Tom and Ali – for “just” getting on with it (that’s harder than you think during these times!); for your continued hard work; for your kindness; for your humour (even when you didn’t realise you were being funny!) and, above all – for the compassion you’ve unknowingly shown over the past 4 months just by rocking up and being there with me every Thursday at 2pm…  You really are Crew Superstars.



Y9 wasn’t what we expected it to be but we’ve managed to get up to the top of our Y9 mountain.  The journey was a a bit slower and sometimes lonelier than our Y7 and Y8 journeys, but we made it all the same!  The Y10 mountain will be the biggest and hardest one to climb yet but #wearecrew and I’m ready to race you to the top 😉

Now – go off and enjoy the Summer break.  I’ll see you all back in Crew at the end of August, back in school, getting used to another new normal.

And now I’m checked out.

Stay Safe,
Mrs Parker xx

Dear Crew Parents

Dear Crew Parents


We have a saying in school that “if we get Crew right, we get everything right” and my Crew would be far from ‘right’ if it didn’t include you.

I can’t thank you enough for the support you’ve given me over the last 17 weeks.  I’ve spent a lot of time working from home and some of you will know how lonely that can be.  However, I’ve always felt like I’ve had you lot right behind me (especially when chasing up missing work those first few weeks!)


Thank you for responding to my emails and calls.

Thank you for letting me know when I’ve needed to to more.

Thank you for letting me know when I’ve needed to ‘back off.’

Thank you for the messages and kind words you’ve sent to me (there have been a few tears shed after reading them on a Friday night!)

Thank you for supporting your children, the school and me.

Just ‘Thank you’ for everything you do.

You’re all simply amazing and I feel so privileged to get to work with you and your children.

It’s hard to think back to everything Crew achieved before lockdown, but can I just say again how incredibly proud I was of them all during their Passage presentations – certainly the highlight of the year for me and I’m guessing most of you, too!

If you get the chance, please have a watch of our short film All About Crew just to reinforce why Crew is so important to me, featuring our very own Ali from 8 minutes onwards.

Stay Safe,
Angella xx

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