Glad to be back

I was absolutely delighted to welcome my crew back this week after a long few months of distance learning and the summer break. The change in all thirteen members of my crew that I’ve picked up on over the past week and a half has been astonishing – and I don’t just mean the fact that they’ve all shot up and I don’t recognise their broken voices!

We started back a couple of weeks ago sharing what we’d been up to during the break and making pledges about the sort of person we want to be in year 9. This is a really important year with passage and the Duke of Edinburgh award, so getting our priorities right in these first few weeks is vital. Everyone is excited about doing the outdoor element of the DofE award, as am I. We’ll be working on their first aid skills in coming Friday crew sessions.

Academic crew

We held our first academic crew of the year on Thursday this week. We fetched all workbooks from the short-lived year 8 year, and had a flick through them to discuss what we felt proud of and what elements of our work we wished to improve. There were a few comments about craftmanship and quality that we will be holding each other to account over the coming months, and a few people who noticed that they’d not put as much detail as others in certain activities, so pledged to be productive in their session time.

On the whole I was incredibly impressed with the quality of their work, and am excited to see what they’re capable of producing this year.

Notting Hill Carnival – Why’s it important we celebrate different cultures?

I’d like to appreciate Mrs Hannam for sharing the work she did on Notting Hill Carnival that should have taken place over the August bank holiday weekend. We learnt about the history of Carnival and discussed why these sorts of events and customs we celebrate that are similar. We also discussed historical issues surrounding the press and police involvement in Carnival celebrations, and how that may have influenced people’s perceptions of the celebration.

Birthday celebrations!

We ended crew this Friday with cake and co-op activities, to celebrate the many crew members birthdays that are in late August / early September. We reflected on the arrival of a new year 7 cohort and comparing it with our crew in year 7. We laughed about how sweet all the year 7 friendship-based appreciations were in the community meeting and how during the first few community meetings, I had to limit them to one appreciation each. If only they were still so keen!

It feels strange ending rounding the school year off with a google hangout before we break up for summer, but it’s been a very strange year for my crew. Having spent the last few months apart, aside from hangouts, I am really looking forward to my crew returning in September so we can properly celebrate the incredible work that they have completed in lockdown.

I know that technically we’re not tracking HOWLs this term, but if we were there would definitely be a few members of my crew that would be on track for a 4.5 for their ‘work hard’ habit. Shout out to Lewis and Reece for maintaining a work rate above 95%, and a huge congratulations to Mollie and Dylan for reaching 100% across their core subjects. I am so proud of how hard you’ve worked, and am excited to see this effort you’ve put into lockdown pay off in y11.

For this week’s crew session, I’d like to have a think about what my crew would like to achieve in Y9. I have recently been organising my google drive and came across this picture of my crew tackling their first mountain. Year nine is a monumental year, my crew will be starting their Duke of Edinburgh award, as well as selecting their option subject, and completing passage to prove their readiness for their GCSE exams. I’m going to be discussing what they might like to take for common mission, as well as asking they come up with a pledge to help them tackle the many mountains that this upcoming academic year will present.

Finally, academic crew stuff aside, I look forward to checking in on hangout this week with my crew and wishing them a lovely summer break. I hope they are able to enjoy some of the great outdoors, like we did in Wales, and reflect on how much they’ve grown as people since our first crew activity, pictured above.

I guess I’m checked out!

Over the past fortnight, I have been meeting on hangouts with my crew to discuss their academic progress, their take on what’s going on in the news, and to check in with what they’ve been up to!

Black lives matter

Last week, I spoke with Alice, Dylan and Lewis about the protests that had been taking place and their purpose. We spoke about the blackout Tuesday on social media, and whether or not posting a black square to social media was an effective way of campaigning for equality or whether there were more impactful ways of doing so. It was lovely to hear how thoughtfully they considered the issue and it was nice to gain their insights on the matter.

Working hard in lockdown

I’m immensely proud of the work record that members of my crew have maintained over these first 3 weeks back after the break. Reece, Lewis, Dylan Mollie and Abi have managed to keep their hand in rate above 90%, which is really impressive!

Another highlight worth mentioning, is the graft that Torran, Callum and Lexi have put in this week with academic crew check-ins. I’ve loved discussing electron configuration and getting my head around ions and atoms.

Green thumb

I’ve also loved seeing the work Torran has been putting into their allotment while we’ve been in lockdown, many members of my crew have been helping out in their gardens (including myself!) He’s been enjoying getting to train with his football team again, similarly Lexi was able to do a gymnastics training in an empty car park!

Last week, we also had a fun crew session where crew members had to draw a Pixar movie that we had to each guess, here’s Charlotte’s example of ‘Inside out’. Congrats to Dylan who won the game. I have wished my crew a nice long weekend (due to staff days) and told them to go and get some sun this weekend!



Overall, I’m delighted with the amount and quality of work completed in all subjects by Crew since the lockdown and school closure began in March. It’s been wonderful receiving emails from other teachers praising my Crew members’ work, and as their Hums teacher, seeing the fantastic work they’ve been doing in this subject too.

I know working from home can be tough without the structure of school, teachers, classmates and the resources available but I’m thrilled with how Crew have not let this phase them and are trying their best at home.

Last week really blew me away in Hums. Our current expedition ‘Wave After Wave’ focuses on Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ for the English aspect of the expedition. Students have been learning about the plot, characters and techniques Shakespeare uses in his play. One of the tasks for online learning this week was to write a descriptive piece of writing depicting Act 1 Scene 1 of The Tempest – students could decide on which format they wrote their descriptive writing in. We highlighted the need for powerful and interesting adjectives, verbs and adverbs as well as varied sentence structures and figurative language. Here’s some of Crew’s entries:











I also loved the answer Marcus wrote to the question about why Shakespeare would use a storm to open the play and what is significant about this. Here’s his response:



I think it’s clear to see that although Crew are now working at home, they are still working hard and getting smart. It’s been fantastic to see the effort that they have put into their work. I know that by taking responsibility for their own learning and always trying their best to complete the work to a high standard at home, they will definitely hit the ground running when they return to school. KEEP UP THE BRILLIANT WORK!


May the fourth be with you…

This week has been a highly eventful week for Crew Turing, starting at the end of last week with Lexi’s birthday, followed by Alice and Torran’s on Monday. Each crew member has reportedly enjoyed their lock down birthdays despite not being able to see friends, we made sure to include some fun on our crew hangout.

With Alice and Torran’s birthday coinciding with May 4th, we did a Star Wars themed quiz on Kahoot! Congratulations to Lewis for winning top prize, with Ralph and Lewis in close second.

Academic crew: getting smart in lockdown

This week I have added a further ‘drop in’ non compulsory crew slot that I invited people to join for an academic crew. I was joined by multiple members of my crew, we shared a doc that we collaborated on to support one another with their learning. This week’s focus was hums, we built background knowledge about the new expedition, ‘Wave after Wave’. It was fascinating to learn about the Early Modern Period, I’d like to appreciate Molly, Reece and Lexi for reaching out, and for how well you worked together on this. It was almost as good as being back in school!



Callum has been (& always is, let’s be honest) a star in crew this week, he’s been cracking on especially hard while in school this week, and has received an e-postcard from Mr Pearson, for the high quality spanish work he’s producing. Not only this, on Thursday afternoon I recieved a heartwarming email from Mr Burke:

‘Bless Callum Ando! what a kid he is. He’s done right well with his maths. Such a nice lad!’

I love hearing about how my crew have been getting on. Keep it up Callum!


Another student who needs a mention in this blogpost is Mollie, for her frankly astounding work for HUMs on crime and punishment in the Elizabethan times, you are clearly working extremely hard Mollie. I loved reading your notes from the work set this week, you absolute superstar!!


We ended the week with a bit of a daft crew session where we celebrated my dogs first birthday! I asked people with pups to bring them on hangout and we did a quiz on dogs.

I’d like to appreciate Coco (Ralph’s Pug, see picture below!), Rebel (Jess’ new puppy), Lewis and his pug Sid, Rufus (Dylan’s Labradoodle) & Mollie for sharing her pictures of her gorgeous Labs with me and making Iggy Pup’s quarantine birthday one to remember!

Important Updates for this week:

  • I’ll be hosting crew on Monday at 11:30AM, and Thursday at 2:00PM
  • I will also host another academic crew on Tuesday and Thursday to help my crew with any work, time tbc. This is a drop in session, they do not have to join!
  • I’d like them to complete a slide on the ‘Turing Memories’ slides I have shared for Thursday, or share pictures/email me with what they’ve been up to & I’ll add it to their slides
  • The students are on half term from Friday [2 weeks off!]


What are you looking forward to?

Our Crew check-in this week on our Google Hangout was “what are you most looking forward to when lockdown ends?” and we had some lovely answers!

  • Eating at McDonald’s came to mind for Marshall
  • I think all of us are looking forward to seeing family and friends
  • A number of the Crew are just excited at the thought of being in school (XP East is just that good!)
  • Cerys is really looking forward to ice skating – not something you can really practice from home!
  • Going to festivals – Zak has tickets to Leeds Festival in August and it is still happening as far as we’re aware…
  • What are you most looking forward to?

And what have we been getting up to, to pass the time when we’re not doing our school work?  Leoni has been doing mindfulness colouring, Zak is continuing with his basketball and Cerys with her baking – check out the cake below!

Charlie and Ruben have both shaved their heads to keep cool in the warmer weather and keep their hair under control – though we haven’t got photographs to share yet!

In recognition of his participation and commitment to Crew Hangouts every week, I also nominated Marshall for a mention on Mrs Poncia’s Associate Principal blog:

It’s also great to see several of the Crew going above and beyond in their learning, even when working remotely.  Special mentions in the last week or so go to:

  • Ruben for getting ahead on his HUMAN work and asking for even more before the new expedition started!
  • Cerys, Caiden, Leoni, Marshall and Zak for full completion of their HUMAN immersion.
  • Cerys, Charlie, Marshall, Ruben and Tom for going above and beyond in Maths on at least one occasion, in Cerys’ case, with every single task!
  • Billy, Leoni, Marshall and Ruben completing their STEAM tasks way ahead of this week’s deadline on 8th May.
  • Great completion rate across the Arts for Leoni and Cerys, again ahead of the deadline in Leoni’s case.
  • Zak, Ruby, Leoni, Lacey, Charlie and Cerys all receiving e-postcards from Mr Pearson in Spanish.

I’m really impressed that there are so many names of our Crew members mentioned by staff in a positive light in the various meetings we have each week.  Let’s make sure any deadlines we are behind on are caught up and that we keep helping one another to be successful despite the wait until you can all have a celebratory McDonald’s!

Catching up on Crew Hangouts

Each week since COVID-19 caused schools to close we’ve been having Crew over Google Hangouts. It’s been wonderful to see Crew and have a chat to them, despite not able to be all together. We’ve not yet managed a whole crew hangouts – our maximum being 10 out of 12 members getting involved at once so it’d be great if we can all reunite soon!

Our conversations have covered what we’ve each been up to since the lockdown, how we’re getting on with completing work and our highlights and lowlights of the week. It’s been lovely to hear that crew having been busy baking, going out walking, going on bike rides, watching Netflix (Tiger King generated a lot of conversation the other week!), chatting to each other on PS4 and trying not to go stir crazy!

One of my favourite sessions we’ve had was today when we shared photos of us as babies/toddlers. Thanks for sharing these Crew – what a cute bunch you were!

Can other students/staff guess which photo belongs to which Crew member? Email me your answers!

Crew member 1:

Crew member 2:

Crew member 3:


Crew member 4:

Crew member 5:


Crew Ali have been busy over the last week with various endeavours, many of them making the most of the lovely weather we have been having around keeping up with their online learning schedules.

I have seen some lovely praise for our Crew from staff who are recognising students Working Hard and Getting Smart with their learning.  Keep it up Crew Ali!  Here is a message Mr Pearson sent to Cerys for her hard work in Spanish:

And Caiden’s artwork here for his ‘Power poster’ earned him a special mention from Mrs Cross and was highlighted during a staff Expeditionary Team meeting:

Ruby hadn’t used her bike since Year 7 but is enjoying the long, if tiring bike rides with her dad and brother.  A great way to pass the time, get fit and ensure you sleep well at night too.

Tom has been exploring his local area on foot and found some new places to walk, essential for someone who loves to be outside.

Marshall’s family and neighbours go outside every day at 11am to dance on the street whilst observing social distancing rules – a great way to exercise and have fun.  They regularly update the YouTube channel – why not subscribe and join in from your street?!  Check out Marshall and his dad (dressed as The Hulk!) from 1 minute and 45 seconds in:

They also do a weekly quiz as many of you have been doing, with a modified WWE belt as a prize for the winner!

Caiden’s family are getting ready for when lockdown finishes as their garden is looking great – with a completed vegetable patch ready to feed everyone, as well as buildng a garden bar and rainbow painted seating area.  He’s looking into do the Chelsea Virtual Soccer School activities with his younger brother too.

Charlie has been making up for missing out on haircuts by shaving his head, and now informs us that he needs to put suncream all over his head when he goes out in the sun – the sunshine hasn’t been great for everyone it seems!

I have been spending time with my two daughters and husband in our garden, making dens out of all the garden furniture, blankets and pillows and helping my eldest learn to ride her bike.  She also loves the Chelsea Virtual Soccer School activities (I showed a few of the Crew a video of her balancing a football on her foot) and we can recommend the Lockdown Panto on Facebook for all ages on a rainy day!  She is starting school in September and loves to hear what my ‘school children’ in the Crew have been up to, as well as practising her writing, alphabet and numbers.  Many of our Crew have younger siblings and it’s lovely to know many of them are working on their learning together.

It is always lovely to see what Crew Ali get up to and we continue to check in every Monday and at various other points in the week 1-1 as needed.  More photos and videos to be posted soon!

How am I spending my time?

We had our second Google Hangout this Monday and I’m glad to say we had almost a full-house!  It was lovely to hear from you all; it’s really important we have that contact each week to make sure everything is going ok.  We had two students missing, so I have been in touch with them and next week we will be aiming for all 13 online together.

The Crew Challenge this week was for each member of the Crew to come up with an idea of something they wanted to do or work on during the time spent away from the classroom, particularly for some of our students who live further from the school site, who are gaining in some cases almost 2 hours a day in saved travel time!  Here are some of the ideas they have had so far:

Caiden – he and his dad have built a vegetable patch and he even took his device out into the garden to show us.  We’re looking forward to seeing how it goes, with potatoes and carrots being just some of the vegetables they plan to grow.

Charlie – keeping fit, as Charlie is a keen footballer and obviously can’t play with his team at the moment!

Ruby and Leoni – Ruby and Leoni have been tidying their rooms, getting it all in order and Ruby really wants to have a solid plan in place for next week’s Crew session.  There’s a lot to be said for setting aside time to organise the space you spend so much time in.

Tom – learning to solve a rubix cube.  We have requested a video of him doing it once he has mastered the skill!

Marshall – alongside putting a focus on his schoolwork, Marshall has dedicated time to playing family games with his parents and younger siblings

Zak – developing his basketball skills is on Zak’s to-do-list, including perfecting his slam dunks.  We’re waiting for some photos of his makeshift basketball net!

Mrs Townson – alongside keeping my two small daughters busy, I have been reading, playing board games with my husband and taking time each day to develop my meditation skills – some of the Crew enjoy it when we take a few minutes to quietly refocus in Crew – some of them feel a bit silly sitting still with their eyes closed, but they humour me and do it anyway!

A few of you mentioned getting a bit bored once your schoolwork is out of the way each day, so remember the resources on our Crew Google Classroom to inspire you, including the Duke of Edinburgh resources to develop your Physical fitness, your Skills and also ideas to allow you to do Volunteering, even whilst in lockdown.  We won’t start D of E until Year 9, but the ideas apply to people of all ages.

Looking forward to our next Crew Hangout next week!

Mrs Townson

Crew Ali checking-in from home

The school highlight of my week has definitely been our Crew Google Hangout on Monday morning; whenever we have had time away (even just for the weekend!) I always find seeing our Crew members in our morning sessions sets me up for the day and reminds me of why I work at XP.  The last few weeks of the ‘new normal’ have been anything but normal I think, but Crew Ali is doing well and I’m so proud to be their Crew Leader!

In our Google Hangout this week we just did a simple check-in to see how everyone was getting on with workload and the new ‘timetable’, as well as find out what they had been doing to fight the boredom that some of them were feeling, particularly with not being able to visit friends or family or leave the house for days out, etc.

I think it’s fair to say that most of us (me included) have found being away from the rhythm of daily Crew and carving out a routine at home a challenge.  Many of us have more distractions at home and the lack of structure can be stressful for some; conversely, for others, in the first week that school was closed, the high expectations and volume of structured work on the timetable were overwhelming!  We appreciate the work Mr Portman and the leadership team have put into taking student and parent concerns on board and creating a flexible but really clear and manageable overview to support students in engaging in their learning from home. I particularly love the scheduling of Common Mission time to enrich our students’ learning opportunities and give breadth to our existing offering.  Remember that across the XP Trust we take a 3-dimensional approach to learning, which incorporates Academic Success, Beautiful Work, and Character Growth.

This week, in response to our check-ins, I challenged Crew Ali to think about their personal as well as academic development, by reflecting on the question: What will you do with the time you have available in lockdown?  We had some ideas in the Crew session and they are spending this week planning goals for themselves and coming up with more ideas to make the most of their spare time around their academic studies.  Here are some of the things our Crew members have been getting up to so far – why not try a few out yourself?

  • Watching a new series on Netflix with other family members – Ruby recommends ‘Locke and Key’
  • Learning a new instrument – Lacey’s family brought their piano down from the loft and they have been learning to play it
  • Lots of us have been keeping in touch with friends on Facetime or Houseparty
  • Exercise – several of the Crew have been doing the Joe Wicks workout each morning; Caiden has been cycling; Leoni has been playing football in the garden; Ruben has been walking his new puppy!
  • Cooking – Caiden has been making bread and homemade lemonade
  • Crafting – Marshall has been making salt dough handprints, then baking them ready to paint; he has also been drawing and playing console games with his dad
  • Mrs Townson has been writing a list of goals I want to achieve before my new baby arrives in June – then putting a plan in place to action them!  One of these is to make time for myself each day – it can be difficult to do when you’re in a house with other people all the time, but is really important for your wellbeing.
  • Check out the resources on the XP Trust EMBRACE website to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing.  Encourage More, Be Resilient And Consider Everyone

Keep safe and stay home everyone!