Well, it’s fair to say that Crew Churchill have had one of our best weeks ever!

Throughout our first week back, we had to think about the guiding question:

‘How can I hit the ground running?’

After sharing our HoWL grades for Work Hard, Get Smart and Be Kind, we decided we wanted to do even better. We revised the pledges we had made following our SLCs as these are our foci as we move forward.

At the end of the week, we had a HoWLs check-in to see how we are getting on in our different classes.

Take a look:

How are Crew Turing getting smarter?

Crew Turing have focused this week on one particular HOWL- getting smart. We agreed that this was the most difficult HOWL to discuss, because some crew members saw this as a product of working hard. We thought about how we could go above and beyond as a crew to work on this, here are some of our ideas:

One focus that we’ve touched on quite a bit as a crew is how reading can positively impact our lives, making us smarter in the process. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s studies on the impact of education and reading shows that teenagers with a reading habit are more likely to get the top grades in GCSE exams. It has shown to improve vocabulary, spelling, and increase creativity in students. We spent a whole crew session recently making book recommendations, discussing our favourite books, and it was lovely to see how passionate everyone got about literature!

What really struck me was a genuine love for reading from each member of my crew. Mr Ryder covered my crew session on Tuesday during their accelerated reader session and he even felt that they were worthy of an entry on the praise form for being so engrossed in their books! While the research on reading and grades is a legitimate reason for me to promote it in crew, I’d hate to think that was the only reason we bothered reading. It does make us smart, but it is able to do so much more than that! A good book is a window into another world, it allows us to empathise and understand experiences that are beyond our own. I think the Harper Lee quote above summarises how transformational reading can be in terms of developing free thought. I can’t wait to do our next accelerated reader crew.

Another feature we’ve been looking at in crew to help us get smarter is having a bit of a handle on what’s going on in the news. This week has been monumental in our country’s history and whenever Brexit has been brought up in crew, there have been some really interesting insights on the matter. I left them with the following question, which again, Mr Ryder led on as I was out on training:

I was delighted to hear my crew had spent a whole 40 minutes deeply discussing issues such as the voting age, Brexit, what they thought about our leaders, and who deserved to have a say in such matters. Apparently there is consensus that the voting age needs lowering so that their voices can be heard. We’ll definitely be taking another look at major news stories next week and how they may affect us!

The only way is up!

What a start to 2019!

It’s been a fantastic week for Crew Shackleton. After a well-deserved break over Christmas, we’ve really come back with the determination to build on a fantastic first 2 terms.

But it started with a difficult conversion. We reviewed our HOWL grades from last term, and realised (to the shock of many, to be honest) that on average, as a crew, we were bottom of year 7 for EVERY section!

“Disappointed” and “embarrassed” were a couple of words I heard mumbled amongst drooping heads. UNTIL I pointed out that even though we were bottom, it was only just at the bottom, and all of our HOWLs were above 3.0.

“We’re working hard Crew, just not as hard as the other Crews!”

Actually, Lilly, Faith, Zach and Nikodem are all on the wall of fame for smashing their megs!

So we set about how we could build on the genuine successes of 2018, thinking about our guiding question for the week: How do I hit the ground running?

We kicked it all off with a silent discussion focussing on what ‘hitting the ground running’ sounds like, looks like, and feels like. And the response was fantastic. Our ability to pick apart how we can improve and reflect on our strengths, especially at such an early stage in their XP East academic career is fantastic.

I’m told:

“Fin’s hit the ground running because he’s constantly got his hand up to answer questions.”

“I think Woody’s hit the ground running because he’s really focusing on getting his head down and concentrating in lesson.”

“Lilly’s hit the ground running because she’s working so hard on her tennis outside of school and still is smashing her MEGs in lessons.”

“Some of us have had a tough week and still come in and get straight back to lessons, even if they don’t feel very well.”

So, will we bottom of the year 7 Crews when we next look at assessment data? Maybe, I don’t know (year 7 are pretty amazing right now). Will we be working our socks off to work harder, get smarter, and be kinder? Definitely, I have no doubt!

Great start Crew Shackleton!

Crew Ali inspired to hit the ground running

Crew Ali have really hit the ground running in the first week of 2019, with a critique of our HOWLs grades and achievement against our MEGs in November’s data drop.  We congratulated four members of our Crew in particular who had ‘smashed it’ by meeting or even exceeding their MEG in three or more subjects: well done to Charlie, Cerys, Billy and Taylor!

We considered the link between attendance, HOWLs and academic achievement – every day in school of working hard, getting smart and being kind matters.

We also enjoyed the HUMAN fieldwork to the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool; one of my ‘notices’ of the day was that our Crew namesake, Muhammad Ali, was celebrated on the Black Achievers Wall in the Legacy section of the museum; this exhibit identified people who had ‘overcome difficulties to achieve great things’.


In Crew Ali and at XP East we really want to live by this, and we have worked together to overcome our fair share of difficulties as a Crew, whether that be carrying one another’s bags up a mountain, putting tents up in the dark, developing better working relationships with one another or sharing the load when there are issues we were coping with on our own.

It also happens that it would have been Muhammad Ali’s 77th birthday tomorrow, so we might just have a bit of a party for him later this week!

Crew Young are deservedly proud of their first place position on the HOWLs leaderboard, and following our first “data drop” of Year 8 it is clear that we continue to work hard, get smart and be kind. This week in Crew we are considering the merits of framing a weekly, year-based, or termly guiding question to focus our minds on our Habits of Work and Learning.

Crew Young have made a tremendous start to term three in 2019 and we’re delighted that we are well-represented on the weekly positive conduct log. Evidently, we have yet to break our academic resolutions of 2019…..


Beautiful Work of Crew Mandela

The first week of E24 new expedition in STEAM highlighted the beautiful work of crew Mandela. Outstanding work came from Raven posing as his tables manikin to identify the location and name of the major bones in the body. Beth has consistently worked hard all week, with all teachers agreeing her conduct is above a 4.0! Well done Beth! Frida has also displayed fantastic presentation and improvement to work towards her MEG in her STEAM book! Keep it up Frida! In addition to these names, all students in crew Mandela were on the praise conduct form at least once last week. What a week crew Mandela, this week we go again.




Crew Parkinson Hit the Ground Running!

Crew Parkinson have certainly hit the ground running this term! They came back focussed, enthusiastic and ready for anything. The guiding question for the last week was ‘how can I hit the ground running during the first week back?’

We discussed this in Crew, thinking of examples, which revolved around our HOWLs of how we can hit the ground running. Students also nominated a person in Crew who they thought had hit the ground running – I’d like to give a special mention to Marcus who I personally thought had hit the ground running due to his conduct on the fieldwork to Liverpool.

As part of this discussion, we also looked at our Crew league table for the HOWLs. This is created from each student’s HOWLs grade which have been used to create the Crew average. Crew Parkinson are doing fantastically well in regards to working hard, getting smart and being kind. We identified some of the behaviours that Crew does which mean that we have high averages for the HOWLs, but also ways in which we could improve.

We are currently in second place so a massive well done Crew!

Crew Finch: Back with a Bang!

What an amazing first week back for Crew Finch, perfectly summed up in this photo… but more about this later!

I for one was happy to return to school after the Christmas break, ready to get back into a routine and eager to start our new expeditions.  There were a few tired faces in the circle during Monday morning’s check-in, which prompted a conversation about night-time routines and getting quality sleep.

Our students are used to hearing the staff telling them that we don’t wind down during the last week of term; we wind up! Equally, we are all expected to come back to school after every break fully prepared to start learning, from the very first session on the very first day.

This message was reinforced during the first community meeting of the term, where Mr Portman introduced the Guiding Question for Crew:

How can I hit the ground running during the first week back?

This GQ coincided with the release of the Habits of Work and Learning Crew league tables. Unfortunately, we were shocked (and a little bit embarrassed) to see that Crew Finch were at the bottom in every category!  On the flip side, we were very proud to see some of our Crew recognised for achieving or smashing their MEGs, so well done to Nicole, Tom, Thomas, Dakota, Noah, Alanis and Megan.

This got us thinking: if over half of our Crew achieved or surpassed their MEGs – which surely shows that they are working hard and getting smart – then why are we not performing as well as we should be in our HOWLs as a whole Crew?

We spent the rest of the week really focussing on the HOWLs and discussing not only how we can hit the ground running, but also what we need to do as a Crew to make sure that we are all working hard, getting smart and being kind. We have already made academic and HOWLs pledges after our latest SLCs so it was a good time to revisit and check-in with those, too.

We looked at the relationship between getting high grades on our HOWLs and achieving or smashing our subject specific MEGs.  We also broke down what the HOWLs actually mean and who in Crew were letting us down by not always being as focussed on these as they should be.  I think Dakota hit the nail on the head when she said:

We’re not just responsible for our own learning. We’re responsible for each other’s, too.

On Wednesday, Crew shared how they had hit the ground running so far.  For example, Tom told us how he was making an effort to get smarter by taking notes in Humanities, and Noah shared that he had been on the Get Smart board twice already for his focus, and that he’s making a concerted effort to manage his distractions in class.

I’m really pleased with how my Crew have reacted to the league tables and turned a negative into a positive challenge.  They have really pulled together this week to reflect on their performance, and I honestly believe we will see a vast improvement in their individual and combined HOWL scores at the next data drop. We’ll continue to check-in on performance and progress 🙂

So, back to the picture at the start of this post (and well done if you’ve got this far!)

On Thursday, we took part in the Inter Crew Basketball Competition, where we won all three of our games to be crowned champions – that’s another one for the trophy cabinet, after winning the Badminton competition last year! Just look at the skills and sportsmanship on display here:

A big appreciation to Mr Portman for recognising our Crew’s achievements on the praise form.  I’ll end this post with his lovely words which provide the perfect summary of our first week back:

Great to see Crew Finch win the basketball tournament as I know that they have taken their HOWLs league table performance very seriously.  However, I’ve been more impressed with their mature discussions about hitting the ground running this week, as apart from a few blips I’m delighted with their determination to put things right. What. A. Crew.

Crew Young’s Academic Resolutions


Crew Young got off to a blistering start to 2019, by tracing the origins of New Year’s Resolutions. We discovered this widely-held tradition dates back to Babylonian and Roman times, and has been linked to the reimbursement of monies owed to others and to promises made to Janus, the Roman God. On the left is an example of an early twentieth century New Year’s resolution postcard.


We have scrutinised Crew attendance data, and HOWLs grades to identify who gets smart, works hard and is kind to others. Whilst Crew Young were justly proud of their first place position in the Crew HOWLs comparison table, Lewis warned against the dangers of complacency, and pointed out that we could score even more highly.

This lead to a discussion about how we might answer our guiding question: “how can I hit the ground running in the first week back?”, and to the creation of a personal academic resolution that will be reviewed – and if necessary refined – and that we will need to consider when we appraise our performance in our next Student-Led Conference. Here are a selection of academic resolutions:

Crew Turing were uncharacteristically quiet when we circled up for Crew upon returning to school after two whole weeks off school. I was delighted to share news of our impressive HOWLs and grade averages for the last term and that five members of my crew have been flagged up for smashing their MEGs. 

New years are exciting, they give us a refreshing outlook on our goals and achievements this past year. C25 ended 2018 year on a high with that incredible celebration of learning, and they have a lot to be grateful for – a new school, new friends, a crew, success in their work and learning. We had a fantastic final week before Christmas, where we appreciated one another and threw a little Crew-smas party to commemorate the successes of our first 4 months here.

My crew worked their socks off last term and it paid off! However, that’s not to say we can’t spend a little time and energy into bettering ourselves, picking up new skills or achieving more.

We started off our discussions in crew on Monday by doing a whip-around, where crew shared resolutions that they were thinking of making for this year. Lewis is hoping to achieve his black belt, Dylan would like to complete his grade 3 in drums, Jess is working with a new horse at her stables, Callum hopes to finally beat Torran’s team in their league, Charlotte is working on her organisation. As a crew, we acknowledged that our PE kit checklist could improve considerably! The guiding question for this week in crew is ‘How can I hit the ground running this term?’

We spoke about how we cannot afford to be complacent at this point in the year despite being the top scoring crew in all three HOWLs on average. There’s reasons why we believe we’ve managed to achieve this. There is definitely a correlation between being the top of the attendance leaderboard for most the term, and scoring the highest HOWLs on average for the year group. But also, a lot of time, effort and reflection has gone into those grades too.

So we kicked off crew today asking what does ‘hitting the ground running’ actually mean?

We used a Carousel Brainstorm protocol in groups of 4 to decode what “hitting the ground running” looks like, feels like, and sounds like. I liked how my crew were responding to each others comments – someone wrote that it would ‘sound like’ silence, which we then concluded as a crew might not be the case, as long as discussion was on topic and at an appropriate time. My favourite of the bunch was the contribution that hitting the ground running makes you “feels like a champion”. We finished crew by rating our first couple of days back out of 4.5. There were no 4.5s just yet, but we’ve still got 2 days before we answer the guiding question and I have high hopes for an improvement, from what I heard this morning.

Callum perfectly summed up our discussions about returning to school, as he often does, with the ever so slightly clichéd but also magnificently optimistic “2019 is going to be our year”, I look forward to what 2019 has in store for us.