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 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.

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.

Crew Ali SLC Preparation: Peer critique

Crew Ali are halfway through their SLCs now; congratulations to Cerys, Charlie, Tom, Leoni and Marshall for completing theirs to such a high standard.  I feel privileged to be included in this process and have been really impressed at the attention to detail our students have put into preparing for what is a challenging, nerve-wracking but also empowering process.  Feedback from parents has been positive and the critique the students are giving one another in Crew and outside of sessions is absolutely crucial in improving their delivery.  Charlie said the ‘fishbowl’ activity he had done with Leoni and Kristian (Crew Parkinson) in Extended Study had provided him with “great feedback” to help him prepare for his SLC at the end of last week.


Crew Shackleton ready to go with SLCs!

So Crew Shackleton are raring to go with their SLCs. We’ve done plenty of paired work, independent work, work with C24, work as a class…and generally just HARD work.


Here’s what they had to say on the matter:

Zach H: “I feel ecstatic and am looking forward to my SLC!”

Jacob: “I’m looking forward to my SLC because I have put a lot of hard work into it and I would like to see them to see what I have been up to in my academic studies AND HOWLs.”

Finley: “I feel excited because I haven’t done an SLC before and I’m excited to show my parents my work.”

Nikodem: “I am really looking forward to my SLC because I can’t wait to share my progress in learning.”

Lilly: “I am really excited and well prepared for my SLC. I can’t wait to share all my work. However, I am still a bit nervous.”

Zach M: “I am really ready because I feel that I’m really prepared and I’m really focussed on the work that I’m doing.”

Woody: “I feel good about it because I’m ready for anything.”

Thea: “I feel good about my SLC and I am excited to show my parents my work.”

Lucy-Mae: “I’m feeling organised but excited to share what I have done here to my mum.”

Denim: “I’m feeling organised and read to do my SLC. I’m excited to talk in front of my parents and share my work with them and share who I am as a learner.”

James: “I feel confident towards my SLC because I have prepared so much and worked really hard on it.”

Faith: “I am really well prepared and excited for my SLC. I can’t wait to present my beautiful work to my parents.”



A rather chocolatey update from Crew Turing

This week I’ve met with almost every member of Crew Turing to discuss the progress they’ve made on the SLC script. We’ve spent 20 minutes doing a read through and making little tweaks, focusing on the craftsmanship and quality of their scripts.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed catching up with my crew and taking 20-30 minutes out of our days to review and reflect on their work. I am so proud of their portfolios and the graft they are putting into the re-drafting process – their hard work is really paying off. Also, drinking 10 hot chocolates in the space of 5 days has got to be a highlight of my week, it must be said!

The thought of having to stand up in front of my Mum, Grandma and form teacher at just 11/12 years old to present my work in a conference that I was running seems impossibly daunting. Looking back through my old workbooks, I feel no attachment to any of the pieces I completed, it was just another task to be finished and handed in.

Knowing my crew, getting a preview of their beautiful work, and seeing the new-found confidence that 10 weeks here at XP East has given them, I anticipate this SLC period is going to be one of celebration and pride.

Parents & guardians, you’re in for a treat!