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 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 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.

Crew Parkinson’s Christmas

I hope everyone in Crew Parkinson had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to the year ahead.

We had a fabulous last week at school. Secret Santa was a wonderful Crew session – it was great hearing all the laughter and seeing everyone with massive smiles on their faces. Thank you Crew Parkinson for spreading Christmas cheer.


We also had a great time at Flip Out. This was our reward for brilliant conduct in PE and everyone remembering to bring their kit each week. Keep this up! We had some great laughs during our time there. Needless to say the Crew were definitely better than I was – Aaron and Kristian were particular superstars at it!


I’d like to thank Crew for a wonderful start to the academic year, I’m sure next year will be even better.

Happy New Year Crew!

It’s not all fun and games!

On Friday, Crew Parkinson and Crew Turing competed against each other in a game involving drainpipes!

The aim was to roll the tennis ball along the drainpipes from one side of the sports hall to the other and back again in the fastest time. It’s harder than it looks!

At first our technique was lacking but the Crew soon realised the best way to manoeuvre the ball – make sure the drainpipes are connected underneath each other, don’t have the slope too steep, everyone stand on the same side so we don’t bump into each other to name a few.

It was a team effort with values of respect and compassion being shown, for example not getting annoyed if someone dropped the ball and letting each other have a turn to speak when discussing tactics.

It was great fun and really helped teamwork in the Crew – we also learnt that we’re quite competitive!


Crew Parkinson’s SLCs and Academic Pledges

Crew Parkinson have completed their first SLC at XP East. I would like to appreciate them for all their hard work, effort and dedication they have put into preparing for them. They have worked as a Crew to support each other by offering critique, advice and their time to practice with each other.

I am so proud of how much they have grown both academically and socially since their time at XP East. Their confidence, maturity, knowledge, understanding and friendship has developed since meeting each other for the first time on Outward Bound in Wales. All this has happened in 3 months – just think where we’ll be in 5 years time!

Here’s a throwback to our first few days together in Wales, it’s immensely rewarding the journey we have been on together and I am thrilled to know that this will continue. 

Part of the SLC process is making an academic pledge in order for the students to develop further and continue improving. This is what we discussed today, it was great to hear how students have identified the areas they need to work on in regards to subjects and the HOWLs and what they need to do to achieve this pledge. It will be interesting when we review the pledges next year to see what progress we have made towards meeting them.

Well Done Crew Parkinson – you should all be proud of what you have achieved!

Teamwork is dream work

After an intense couple of weeks working on our Student Led Conferences, Crew Turing had a couple of morning sessions that helped remind us what Crew is all about! We had a slightly disastrous crew session at the end of last term – we couldn’t get the induction hobs to work to cook our pancakes, despite managing to finish the batter as a crew in just 10 minutes.

As promised, as soon as the SLC period was over, we sat down and had 2nd breakfast together. This marked a celebration of how wonderful all of the SLCs have been. I was immensely proud of my crew’s craftsmanship and quality in their speeches. We discussed the importance of spending quality time together and celebrating each other’s successes. We are really lucky to have the 45 minutes each day to enjoy the company of Crew!

I was delighted to see our de-gunge skills are improving too! Each crew member pitched in with the tidying, washing up and clearing down. Whilst sat in the cooking room, I was reminded of one of the first meals we shared on Outward Bound. We’d just encountered our first mountain, and had diverted our walk to accomodate for struggling Crew members. Despite this small set back there was no bitterness, everyone was still in good spirits, cracking jokes and being compassionate to one another. I think we grew quite a bit as a crew over those pitta breads and nutella sachets.

Spending the terms back in school, I’ve seen the notion of ‘crew’ develop deeper roots. Jess and Abi kindly supported Alice this week with her SLC speech, leaving her lovely post-its in her folder to cheer her up. I see crew members help each other in extended study, and I’ve received a crew presentation from Sami that showcases our highlights. All I can say is that we make a great team!

Crew Shackleton Getting Smart

After a fantastic couple of weeks of SLCs, we decided that yes, we’re smart, but it would be even better if we were even SMARTER!

So we decided to do a silent discussion around what ‘Get Smart’ looks like, feels like, and sounds like.

Fin seemed to enjoy it.