Crew Finch: my Valentines message to you!

Dear Crew Finch,

After almost a year of bubbles, online learning, lockdowns, tiers – and tears! – I just wanted to send you this Valentine’s Day message to tell you how much I admire you all.

I admire your resilience.

I admire your courage.

I admire your motivation.

I admire your positivity.

I admire your humour (or at least humouring me!)

I admire your hard work.

I admire your compassion.

I admire that you are still working hard to become the best versions of yourselves.

I admire you for checking in every morning in Crew.

I admire that even through the toughest of times (or should that be especially through the toughest of times?) we are, first and foremost, Crew.

So, this Valentine’s Day I want you to take some time to send some love to the most important person in your life: YOU.

Love yourself. Appreciate yourself. Do something that makes you feel good. 

(You definitely deserve chocolates and flowers, too.)

Because, as me and my mate RuPaul always like to remind you:






Every day at (online) school matters

This week has seen the start of Crew Finch’s Y10 Student-Led Conferences.  A massive well done to this week’s presenters – Ali, Noah, Mackenzie, Tom and Bryn – for the hard work and integrity evident in all their presentations, which went ahead online with only a few technical glitches!  I am one very proud Crew Leader this week (even more so than usual!)

I’m looking forward to more of the same next week.  I did email all Crew parents last week with the link to the booking form so if you haven’t already booked, please can I politely remind you to do so before next Thursday (11th Feb) – just email me if you’ve lost the link.

The first SLCs of Y10 are also the first time since the Y9 Passage Presentations that students have had chance to reflect on their academic progress and character growth, as well as presenting examples of their beautiful work. This process has been made easier by the information analysis sheets provided by Mr Allen (thank you, Sir!) They have really made our discussions and reflections much more meaningful, and have helped Crew to come up with some really pertinent pledges and targets.

(ICYMI: I spoke about how we’re using the information analysis and crew narratives to help us frame our pledges for the academic year in this post.)

There has been a new addition to our SLC agenda this time round.  Crew have been asked to reflect on their work from home experience, including their online attendance, engagement and  productivity.  This has meant that we have had some difficult conversations (with more to come during next week’s conferences) but Crew’s self-awareness and honesty around the challenges they are overcoming have been truly humbling.  Although I am a little bit heartbroken that one of my Crew thinks that the lockdown period will cause a ‘hinderance’ to his future prospects, despite his absolutely outstanding work ethic and attendance at every single session…

On the subject of attendance…

I’m disappointed to report that I’ve only had 50% attendance at Crew sessions this week.  Even more disappointing is the fact that our Crew also have the lowest attendance and engagement levels in online sessions across the whole year group.

However, I don’t want this to overshadow how immensely proud I am of those who are turning up on time to Crew and daily lessons every single day: Tom, Thomas, Ali, Noah, Dakota and Kobe deserve a special mention and we’ll have to think about how we can celebrate your lockdown learning achievements once we’re back in school 🙂

So, I’ll just let Noah have the final word with his perfect explanation of why every day at school matters:

SLC Sign Up Link

SLCs are nearly upon us,

Just a reminder for parents to sign up using this link to choose a 30 min time slot starting from the 1st of February.

Crew Mandela have invested lots of time this week putting together reflections and progress reports ready to be shared during the Student Led Conference! I am really looking forward to hearing students share their own work online with parents!

Hi all,

Here is a rundown of some of the beautiful artwork that has been produced by our wonderful XP and XPE students during lockdown 3.0.

As a team, we have been blown away by the effort and resilience that our pupils are showing.

I hope you enjoy having a flick through their work as much as we have.

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Crew Churchill are on it!

It’s fair to say that the start of the new term was rather different to what we were expecting!  We’re now all back to working online due to lockdown but, oh my, that hasn’t stopped Crew Churchill smashing it!

It has been great to see all crew members attending crew in the morning and we’ve had some interesting check-ins such as, following the snow last week, what would you name your snowman?  The names ‘Bill’ and ‘Bob’ were popular, as well as Clarence.  However, Aran couldn’t understand why you would want to name a snowman so hers was the ‘snowman with no name’.

A Snowman Named Just Bob: Moulton, Mark Kimball, Good, Karen Hillard: 9780824917074: Books

Crew Churchill are now in the process of preparing for their Student Led Conferences (SLCs) which will be slightly different this time as they will be held online.  Crew are working hard to plan their presentations, during which they must talk about their recent expedition, HoWLs grades and academic grades.  They must also make pledges which will help them on their path to becoming the best versions of themselves.

Theone impressed everyone on Monday when she shared her presentation which she had completed at home.  It’s absolutely wonderful!

Here are a couple of slides from Theone’s presentation.  See what you think…

Pretty good, eh?

Crew, Mr. Allen and I can’t wait to meet with your parents and listen to your presentations.  We know you’ll smash it!

SLC’s are Moving Online!

SLC Preparation:

The last two weeks in crew Mandela have been focused on moving the SLC process online. All crew members have been making the most of the home learning by going through the past 3 weeks online learning to find the very best pieces of work to include into their student led conference.

We have had some fantastic examples in crew Mandela, as shown by the example of the work below. Chloe T has gone above and beyond with her SLC presentation, not just in the preparation phase, but in the overall process of extremely impressive HOWL’s

Check out the quality of the online work collected into Chloe’s presentation



Student Led Online Crew

Massive appreciation to Raven O and Corey A for planning some fantastic online fun games for crew- examples of these are below, and it just goes to show that we don’t need to be in the building together to have fun as a crew.


The best activity was the game Scribble (online version of Pictionary) that really highlighted some highly creative ways of drawing some really difficult concepts!.

Two weeks into Term 3 – and Lockdown 3 – already!

And it’s been a very busy 2 weeks of  getting settled into our new online learning schedule, engaging in new expedition immersion activities (which have been brilliant!) and Crew, of course, which has been very much ‘business as usual’ from 8.30am every morning.

Although, as the quote above says, I feel we need to come back better than business as usual this term.  It takes an extra boost of motivation, determination and integrity to show up online to Crew and daily lessons (especially on snow days!) and, even though we’ve had some very tired Crew members who’ve needed a virtual prod to get them fired-up on a morning, I’m really happy with the attendance and engagement from Crew across all lessons.

Crew Narrative Update

So, as we strive to be better than business as usual, we have spent quite a bit of time in Crew revisiting and refining our Crew Narratives, which now include students’ first Academic Progress grades of the school year.  You can read more about the work we’ve been doing around Crew Narratives in this previous blog post: A HOWL-ing end to the year

Crew are looking forward to discussing their Crew Narratives, academic progress and pledges in more detail with parents at the upcoming Student-Led Conferences.  More details and booking slots will be available soon.

Habits of Work and Learning

The latest HOWLs League Table has been released:

Coming second in all categories is certainly something to be celebrated but, as we pledge to be better than business as usual, we know we can all push ourselves to work harder, get smarter and be even more kind than we already are to maybe get us back to the top of the leader board.  Our work and reflections in our Crew Narrative will help us to achieve this goal.

Happiness check-ins

It hasn’t been all work and no play for Crew: I have introduced them to the delights of Blankety Blank (how could they not know what that was?!) and had a daily happiness check-in using our very own Happiness Calendar.

I am a big fan of Action for Happiness’ Monthly Action Calendars and have used them in Crew before but this month we decided to create our own.  Crew have come up with some absolutely smashing ideas, and we invite you all to use our calendar and commit to a daily happiness task yourselves:

And finally:

Happy New Year to you all 🙂

Stay Safe.

Crew Young – top the HOWLs leader board again!

This is the fourth occasion when I can proudly report that Crew Young top the E24 / Year 10 leader board following our Term 2 snapshot review of their Habits of Work and Learning! I was first able to recognise this achievement two years ago, when I noticed: “HOWLs about that? Crew Young hit the ground running” in January 2019.

Four months later I reflected on Crew Young’s HOWLs success in coming first place on the E24 and E25 leader board in May 2019, and then reiterated my pride in Crew Young at the end of that year.

Last term, in all three categories, they demonstrated the strength of their work hard, get smart and be kind HOWLs, and they will no doubt wish to reference this in their next Student-Led Conference, and improve further on their current ratings.

Great work from the Youngsters”!!!

Crew Young – charity donation

Today we received the certificate of appreciation, below, in respect of Crew Young’s recent donation to Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity – our chosen Crew charitable cause – in lieu of Secret Santa this year. Thanks, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.