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!

Showcasing talent in Crew Ali

This week we were fortunate to see some of the artwork Junia has been doing at home, as drawing is a passion of hers.  She uses a range of styles and particularly enjoys drawing and painting her favourite anime characters.  We discussed the craftsmanship and quality in her work and invited her to to lead a Crew session on drawing skills with Lacey, who is also a keen artist.  It also takes courage to share your work with others; well done Junia!

Yoga-T to try it!

What a fantastic joint crew session this morning with Crew Shackleton and Crew Ali, trying out a bit of yoga in the morning to flex and focus the mind and the body.

A huge thanks to both crews for keeping an open mind and giving it their all, especially those who stepped outside of their comfort zone and set themselves a new challenge.

“Change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Roy T. Bennett

We believe at XP East that it’s important to keep setting ourselves new goals and new challenges, however big or small it might seem.

For many students today, this was a new experience; for some, an opportunity to practise what they already do. And it’s fair to say each student will take something different from the experience.

But the world is full of many experiences, and if we’re up for it, we can make any one of them a new challenge and part of building the best version of ourselves we can.

And of course a big thank you to Mrs Townson for leading the session.

Well done all!


Crew Ali have had a busy couple of weeks, trying to get lots done around our days off for Easter.  We have checked in as a Crew this week by sharing what we have been up to over the holiday.

The data drop results have of course been at the forefront of our minds, as we analysed our HOWLs grades first of all and this is discussed in a previous blog post.  This week and last we have been focussing on individual subject grades, taking into account progress against MEGs in English, History, Geography, Science, Maths and Spanish.  Each Crew member has completed their own data record which we can use as a supporting document in our Student Led Conferences in June. We have used colour coding to help us see what progress we are making against MEGs.

It is really important to mention that we look at progress very much on an individual basis; two Crew members may have the same grade, but it is their Minimum Expected Grade which we measure against, rather than one another.  We’re very open about grades and it’s important we can celebrate and further challenge those that have met or even exceeded their MEGs and support those who are working towards theirs.  A student’s MEG will rarely change, but the content will become increasingly more difficult as they go through school, so even if you meet your MEG now, be prepared to keep working even harder to maintain that grade!

Each Crew member is also working on an individual pledge which they will focus on in the next three weeks leading up to our May holiday.

Zak: I pledge to achieve my MEG in at least one more subject.

Billy: I will maintain my Work Hard grades and increase some of them to at least a 4.0 by arriving on time and participating fully and mindfully in class.

Charlie: I pledge to keep trying my hardest in maths and stay focused on what is going on in the lesson. I will try to get more work done and do it to the best of my ability at all times.

We also saw a new side to one another when we did a ‘show and tell’ activity on Tuesday morning, including visits from Ruby’s budgie, Blue, and Caiden’s stick insect, Woody; a taster of one of Zak’s favourite albums by Billie Eilish; a photo of Charlie’s top of the league football team; Lacey’s new business venture making hair bands; Cerys’ family holiday album from a visit to Rome, as well as many more.

HOW are Crew Ali doing in their HOWLs?

At XP East, not only are students given grades by their teachers which indicate how they are progressing relative to their Minimum Expected Grade (MEG), they are also graded on their Habits of Work and Learning (HOWLs).  Mr Portman has shared the league tables with us this week and students spent time in Community Meeting dissecting the data, drawing conclusions as to how much and why each Crew may have improved in their average HOWLs.

I’m proud to say Crew Ali are doing exceptionally well and are consistently high in the league tables, just as earlier in the year.  Since the last data drop we have made improvements overall and part of this is due to an increased awareness and working knowledge of how we can develop these Habits in and out of school.

This week Crew Ali have been digging into the data to consider how our HOWLs might have had an impact on our grades.  The table below gives you a flavour of where we are as a Crew.  Each column represents Work Hard, Get Smart or Be Kind in each of HUMAN (WHH, GSH, BKH), Maths (WHM, GSM, BKM) and Science (WHS, GSS, BKS):

The Crew data above has been sorted according to the total HOWLs average for each student, with our lowest average of 3.0 still within the ‘secure’ range expected of all students – well done Crew Ali!  We noticed that although we have some HOWLs which are below expectations, in the orange range, these are only slightly below and those students are determined to pull them up as we go forward, identifying what they need to do to improve.  Another Crew member compared this with the huge number of green or ‘excellent’ HOWL grades which have contributed to those students meeting or even significantly exceeding their MEGs.  Those who are struggling with their Work Hard, Get Smart of Be Kind HOWLs grades are being supported and we really do encourage dialogue between all members of the Crew as to how we can improve, regardless of where we are in our HOWLs learning journey.

Well done Crew Ali – I’m looking forward to more discussion and analysis in next week’s Academic Crew session!