‘Just one thing’ about Crew

We didn’t have the best start to Crew this week.

I received an email from Mr Pearson telling me that (with the exception of 2 students) Crew Finch hadn’t behaved very well during Friday’s DofE session.  They’d been disrespectful to him and to each other.  To top it off, other teacher had similar feedback about certain members of Crew.  As you can imagine, I was not a happy Crew Leader!

So they spent Monday’s session writing out reflections on what they’d done and how they were going to put things right with Mr Pearson, myself and with each other.

However, what struck me about their reflections is that there was no sense of accountability in any of them and that they were all blaming each other!  We had a discussion about this during Tuesday’s Crew session, and it became apparent that Crew are actually a bit fed up with one another at the moment, be it because of general conduct, missing extended study deadline, or not respecting each other during Crew time (talking over people is a major issue in my Crew!)

I thought it was worth regrouping and revisiting what Crew should be, and all it has been to us in the past.

I set up an activity where they had to tell me “just one thing” about Crew, focussing on the following areas:

  • Crew makes me feel…
  • Without Crew I would be…
  • How has Crew helped me?
  • How have I helped Crew?
  • What could be improved?
  • If I could give one piece of advice to another Crew it would be…

We used the silent conversation protocol for this – a dialogue using writing rather than speech –  meaning that we all had chance to have our ‘voices’ heard.

It was heartwarming to see that Crew is still something special: it makes us feel safe, welcome and not alone.

There were lots of examples of how Crew had helped one another (Aden broke the rules here and added 3 things rather than just the one!)

The ‘What could be improved?’ sheet gave us the chance to reflect on what is going wrong at the moment, and open up discussions on how we are going to fix these issues.

The activity really helped to clear the air and we’ve now got a plan to get back on track.  I guess like most relationships, we will have falling outs and annoy each other from time to time, but what matters is that we make the time and space to address the issues and make things right!

An appreciation goes out to Libby for making an apology to Mr Pearson on behalf of Crew Finch during our Y9 community meeting.


Our Year 9 Pledges

As we come to the end of the first term of Y9, Crew Finch took time to reflect on their progress so far and made pledges for next term.

We focussed on three specific areas:


We are tracking attendance because, as our board says, every day at school matters!  When we mapped this on the board we soon noticed that our overall attendance needs improvement: only 4 out of 12 Crew members have achieved 100% attendance this term!  It was a bit of a wake up call to realise that if you’re around the 96% attendance mark (which sounds quite high) you’ve actually missed 7 days of school per year, which equates to a whopping 35 lessons!

Accelerated reader:

All our students sit STAR Reading tests at the beginning and end of the school year to track progress in reading ability.  I’m pleased to report that the latest results shows that all Crew Finch have improved their reading levels.  We all know that reading improves comprehension and vocabulary, which in turn helps us to understand texts and write more creatively in other sessions.  Well done Crew Finch!  We still have one dedicated reading session per week, and Crew will also be helping Y7 students out by listening to them read for 15 minutes a week.

Crew HOWLs:

Crew are assessed on their Crew Habits of Work and Learning.  I have shared the data with Crew and they agreed that I have been fair.  There are a few students hitting 4.0 across the board, but I have had to take into account those students who let Crew down by consistently not completing extended study, or by not coming to school with the right equipment, or by appearing on the conduct form.  This has been reflected in scores.

Our pledges:

So – after all that discussion Crew have set themselves targets for each of these areas for the next term.  These range from “I will aim for at least 98% attendance” to “I pledge to read at least 3 books to end without skipping any pages” (!!)

This lot are so focussed so I know that they’ll smash their targets by the end of next term!


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 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!

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 Finch are back on it!


If I had to sum up Crew Finch’s first two weeks back at school in just one word it would be:




I have been absolutely blown away by each and every one of my Crew’s positivity and eagerness to begin their Y9 journey.  In just 2 weeks they have had all sorts thrown at them: Careers, GCSEs, Passage Presentation and Duke of Edinburgh, alongside the usual fieldwork, immersion activities and expert visits.

Oh, and an 8 mile hike on the Monsal Trail. 

And they haven’t batted an eyelid, even though they know that they will have to work harder than ever before to face the challenges ahead.  They know that there may be struggles ahead but while there’s Crew, they’ll get each other through (there’s a song in there somewhere!)

So, my first blog of Y9 is to give a MASSIVE appreciation to Crew Finch for being so enthusiastic and positive about the new school year and everything Y9 has in store for them.  An appreciation for getting straight back into the business of learning and – perhaps most importantly – getting straight back into the business of being Crew.

Year 9 – we’re ready for you!

E24: Visiting Sheffield Hallam University

Day 3 of E24’s first week back saw students visiting Sheffield Hallam University.  This fieldwork was designed to further develop students’ knowledge and understanding of how to get to higher education, what opportunities are available and what university life is like.

Throughout the day students discovered the different ways to get to further education, whether this is by completing A Level courses, maybe BTECs or through an apprenticeship, some of the many different types of degrees which could be studied (who knew that Surf Science was a degree?) and what else makes up life at college or university – anyone for a game of Quidditch at the Harry Potter Society?

A tour of the university allowed students to see the different facilities that are available.  The size of the lecture theatre made students gasp and the flight simulator, used by students studying aeronautical engineering, had them asking insightful questions.

At the end of our visit, feedback strongly showed that the majority of students would like to go to university and now feel more confident knowing how they can access this amazing opportunity.

Well done, E24!  Now, don’t forget your hiking boots tomorrow!

E24: Smashing it!

Following on from a great first day back, E24 (Year 9) have had another excellent day!

It has been wonderful today to see such high levels of engagement, focus, co-operation and graft!

The day started with a crew session where crews were given four different challenges to solve.  These included: Radioactive Isotope, The Floor is Lava!, Precious Trophy and Scientific Breakthrough.

Here we are working as crew!

The next part of our day saw us building on our careers sessions from yesterday by finding out what potential employment opportunities might be suited to us.  Using a programme called ‘Start’, we discovered which careers matched our qualities, skills and interests.  We also researched what salaries different jobs would pay and the availability of specific jobs throughout the country.

Ali discovered that being an author could earn her anything from £9,800 a year to over £2million a year!  She’s already started writing her bestseller!

Rhys is interested in becoming a paramedic.  He researched the qualifications he needs to achieve this and found out that there are over 2,000 job opportunities in this field across Yorkshire.  We’d all be in safe hands with Rhys!

Throughout this session, learning and conduct behaviours from ALL students were exemplary!

The final session of today saw students introduced to ‘Passage Presentation’ which is an important piece of work students complete during Year 9 to demonstrate that they are GCSE ready.  More information to follow about this…

So, tomorrow, we are heading to Sheffield Hallam University.  We can’t wait!

And now we’re checked out!

What a way to end our Y8 journey: cakes, memories and a good old sing song!

Here’s our Soundtrack to Year 8, along with our proudest moments of Y8. We hope you enjoy… Thank you to Ali for introducing me to Twenty One Pilots, but the tune of this soundtrack is definitely ‘Eye of the Tiger’ picked by Mackenzie!

Perfect – Ed Sheeran
I feel like I have had the perfect year compared to Y7! I work hard in class, I haven’t been getting into trouble, and I am managing my anger.

Jumpsuit – Twenty Øne Piløts 
I’m most proud of my last SLC.  I have grown in confidence and I’m getting great grades!

I’ll be there – Jess Glyn
I chose this song because Crew is always there for me. This year I’m proud of  overcoming my challenges, like my dyslexia.

When I See You Again – Charlie Puth 
I’m proud of Sports Day because we had a genuine feeling of Crew. I’m looking forward to seeing you all next year!

Centuries – Fall Out Boy
I’m proud because I have been able to cope with situations better than I did in Y7.

Try Everything – Shakira 
I didn’t believe in myself at the beginning of the year.  I made a pledge to “bring my enthusiasm to school every day” which I have done and I now try my hardest in all lessons.  Thank you to Mr Ryder for encouraging me. 

Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
I chose his song because it reminds me of Sports Day – it was playing as I ran the last 100m of the 1200m. I’m proud because I won!

Thursday – Jess Glynne
My proudest moment was Outward Bound, climbing up the mountain.  In the song it says “Who I am is enough” which reminds me that Crew are accepting of eachother despite our differences. 

Shotgun – George Ezra
My proudest moment was my last SLC.  I got great feedback and am proud of my progress.

3 nights – Dominic Fike 
I chose this song because we spent 3 nights in Wales! This was my proudest moment because we all came together as a Crew.  We had never been through a scenario like that and it tested our ability to get on together in tough times!

Mrs Parker:
You’ve Got a Friend in Me – Randy Newman
I chose this song because it captures what Crew is! My proudest moment was seeing how Crew pulled together after the DD1 results, and how they supported one another to improve their overall HOWLs grades for DD2.

It is such a privilege to share every school day with this lot and I can’t wait to see what Y9 brings for us all.  Crew isn’t just for the 12 young people who sit with me in our circle every morning; it’s for me, too.  I learn so much from them every day (including some new dance moves!) They inspire me to work harder and be kinder every day and, because of Crew, I am a better person.

And now I’m checked out.

As this academic year ends, we’re already looking forward to our first week back!

School starts again on Tuesday 27th August, 8.30am.  Students will require a PE kit for Tuesday and Wednesday, along with their usual stationery (pen, pencil and ruler) A kit list has been provided for Friday’s activity.

**There is no extended study during the first week back**

Tuesday: In school with a normal finish time of 3:15.

Wednesday: In school with a normal finish time of 3:15. 

Thursday: Students are out of school today, within normal school hours.  They should wear their usual everyday clothes and bring their bags and stationery. They will also need a packed lunch and a bottle of water (provided for students on FSM).

Friday: Students need to be at school for 7.45am.  We will be out of school all day so students will need a backpack with a packed lunch, a bottle of water, hiking boots and waterproofs. Students on FSM will be provided with a pack lunch.

Please check the kit list below for further details of the required clothing.  Please can students come to school in trainers, not their walking boots.  We are expected to be back at school for around 5pm (to be confirmed during our first week back.)

Please refer to these important docs and ensure you and your child are familiar with them.  A medical form will be sent home on Tuesday 27th; please return this to us on Wednesday 28th.

Have a wonderful summer break!