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!

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!

Can the news make us happier?

Inspired by an activity run by Mrs Parker and Crew Finch last year, in Crew this week we spent some time talking about whether reading and watching the right sort of news can make us happier and trying to find examples of ‘happy news’ articles.

What characterised ‘happy news’?

  • Was it something which made you smile or laugh?
  • Was it about someone showing kindness towards others?
  • Was it about enjoying others’ successes?

It could be all of these things and more.  Here are some articles which brightened up our day; hopefully they will brighten yours too!

Trash man builds free library out of 20,000 books found in bins

Millionaire helps boy studying under a street lamp

Giant inflatable sculpture unveiled in former Leeds church

The community hub made from salvaged wood

Jonas Brothers surprise fan in hospital who missed concert for chemo treatment

Homeless man reunited with family after 24 years of separation

Smiling and ready to go! 

Our 8 mile hike on Wednesday of this week took us through a beautiful area of the East Riding of Yorkshire, where we tested our map reading skills and had the opportunity to catch up more from the summer holidays.  We stopped in the middle for a picnic lunch and were fortunate to have dry weather until the last hour of the day.  Well done Crew Ali and E25 as a whole – we all made it and kept one another going right to the end.

Thursday was a change of pace, including abseiling off an 80ft high bridge on the Monsal Trail in Derbyshire and orienteering using clues generated by the outdoor adventure team.  I’m so proud of all of our Crew members for encouraging one another through the abseil process; several of us were understandably nervous and for many this was the first time stepping over the side of something so high with only a couple of ropes to hold on to!  That’s what makes us Crew – doing it together, cheering from the bottom of the ravine, coaching from the top of the bridge and having the courage to traverse the space in between.  Many thanks to Crew Shackleton in particular for also supporting us during these activities, we aren’t just Crews, we are all members of XP East.  Mr Brown made a great video which can be viewed on Crew Shackleton’s blog here.

And it wouldn’t be XP East if the week didn’t culminate in a Presentation of Learning, to which parents and carers were invited.  We love sharing our reflections with a wider audience and the Guiding Question for the week had been ‘How Crew Are You?’  Crew Ali decided to focus their reflections on:

  • Our strengths as a Crew
  • Challenges we have faced
  • Challenges to overcome

We know we are not the ‘finished article’; in fact, every piece of beautiful work we do is created through drafting and redrafting, and we apply this principle to our own character development.  We have achieved much as a Crew, but we have so much more we can do to be the best version of ourselves.  We are going to rise to that challenge.

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life”  Muhammad Ali

The first day back has been a whirlwind, but I’m happy to say that Crew Ali have taken it in their stride and ‘hit the ground running’ as we like to say at XP East.  We began our week as we always do, with a check-in to see how everyone was feeling after the summer holiday.  It was an opportunity to share stories and experiences, but also to discuss how we had built our character and challenged ourselves during the time away from school.

We did a kit check to make sure we are ready for our hike and activity days later in the week, as Craftsmanship and Quality in preparation is really important; unfortunately not all of our Crew were fully prepared for the check, but this is definitely a learning point for next time, particularly as we begin the Duke of Edinburgh Award next year.

Today’s activities included building a VERY wobbly Tower of Power (build the tallest tower you can in 30 mins using only paper, string and sellotape!  It didn’t stay standing but our debrief really helped us unpack what went well and what we could do better next time.  Our ability to reflect is a strength of what we do at XP East and it is a skill we continually practice.  The enthusiasm from the Crew in our afternoon’s inter-Crew Minute To Win It activities really set a great tone for the week.

Check out Miss Haughey’s video here:

It’s going to be a busy week, but we are going to have a great time in Crew!

Well, what a Sports Day!  Crew Ali are delighted to share the news that our crew were the overall winners on our very first Sports Day at XP East.  It was a tough day, with inter-crew rounders and football tournaments followed by track and field events at the fantastic Doncaster Keepmoat Stadium facilities.

The weather was great, the sense of community was palpable and today just felt like…Crew!  I was particularly impressed with how all of our students across the school pulled together through the events where some individuals needed more support and encouragement.  A huge thank you to all our parents and friends for helping our students to prepare and for your involvement this year.  Our students are a credit to you all.


School starts on Tuesday 27th August where we will be embarking on a week of crew.

Throughout the week students are required to be at school at normal time (8:30am) but finish times will be slightly different depending on the schedule for the day. Students will require a pen, pencil and ruler this week and a kit list has been sent out for Wednesday and Thursday.

The week’s schedule will be as follows:

Tuesday – In school with a normal finish time of 3:15. There is no extended study in school this week.

Wednesday – Out of school on crew activities so students will need a backpack with a packed lunch, a bottle of water, hiking boots and waterproofs.  Please check the kit list 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.

Thursday – Out of school on crew activities so students will need a backpack with a packed lunch, a bottle of water, hiking boots and waterproofs. Please check the kit list for further details of the required clothing.  Please can students come to school in trainers with their walking boots in their bag. We are expected to be back at school for around 5pm. 

Friday – Students will be in school all day. Their week will be completed with a Presentation of Learning commencing at 2:15pm which parents are invited to attend and support students as they answer their Guiding Question.

Please refer to these important docs and ensure you and your child are familiar with them.

Crew Ali have spent much of their Crew time over the last couple of weeks reviewing their progress, monitoring targets and selecting pieces of work to share with their parents and carers in their Student Led Conferences (SLCs) at the end of the month.  This involves a great deal of self-reflection and an opportunity to share successes and challenges with a wider audience, as well as set themselves action plans to ensure they hit the ground running as they start Year 8.

Some students have pledged to ‘get their head down’, whilst others are celebrating smashing their Minimum Expected Grades (MEGs).  In all cases, they have to plan what they will say, produce notes or slide shows to support their delivery and ensure they can speak articulately and confidently about their learning.

As their Crew Leader, I’ll be right there with them to support and critique.  We are really fortunate at XP East that parents are so involved and supportive of our students, and I look forward to seeing our parents and having a chance to catch up face-to-face too.  Keep it up Crew Ali, one week to go until the SLCs begin!