This week students took a test to check their reading ages. We saw that some of our crew’s reading ages had increased since September but some reading ages have decreased.

We had an honest chat about why this might be. Some students admitted they don’t read at all apart from at school, and others said that they do read but not often because they don’t enjoy it. I think this is such a shame because there are so many benefits to reading: reducing stress, building knowledge and vocabulary, improving concentration and of course just for fun. The National Literacy Trust found that children who enjoy reading are three times more likely to have good mental wellbeing than children who don’t enjoy it.1

Everyone made a reading pledge. See below – the pledges are in green and book recommendations in pink.

We will need support from families to be able to stick to these pledges. I have a few ideas for how we can encourage reading.

  • Having books available in the home is a huge factor. Of children who report having fewer than 10 books in their homes, 42% say they do not like reading and only 32% say they are ‘very confident’ readers. For children who report having over 200 books at home, only 12% say they do not like reading and 73% consider themselves ‘very confident’ readers.2 Check out the links below for where to get more books for free or very low cost.
  • Talk about reading – check in regularly with your child about what book they are reading and how it makes them feel to read. Noticing that reading makes you feel calm and happy will hopefully encourage them to continue a reading habit.
  • Setting aside specific time every day for reading. Personally I like to read just before bed as part of my routine. If this is a regular and specific time every day this will become a habit.
  • We will be starting a crew book club soon. I would really appreciate if anyone could send me recommendations for books we can read as a crew. I will compile a list for us to vote on next week.

Where to get books…

  • Students have access to an online library eReader
  • If your child prefers physical books, take a look at this website which has a list of places you can buy books cheaply without having to buy through Amazon
  • Doncaster Libraries are currently offering a click and collect service

Reading is so important and I hope that by working together we can support our crew to develop a lifelong love of reading.


1. National Literacy Trust Report: Mental Wellbeing, Reading, and Writing
2. Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS): National Report for England

A Great Attitude

Welcome back crew!

The last two weeks have been a challenge for us all adjusting to a new way of learning. I’m so glad we are still able to get together as a crew every morning virtually and it’s been so important to support each other through new challenges and share our successes. On Friday, our crew check-in was ‘What are you proud of from the last two weeks?’. I want to share a few highlights:

  • Alysia was proud of herself for getting all her work done on time and not leaving her homework too late.
  • Nadia was proud to achieve 100% in a Hegarty task for maths – woohoo that’s amazing!
  • George was proud that he is improving in maths. I’ve noticed he has worked so hard in his lessons and has asked some brilliant questions that show how deeply he’s thinking about the work.

I shared this quote with crew on Friday:

A positive attitude is important now more than ever. Personally, I really believe in the power of our thoughts. There’s so much in life we can’t control and this last year has brought that home. But a change in your mindset can transform what feels like scary change into an opportunity for growth. In crew we develop a positive attitude by celebrating what we are proud of and expressing gratitude for one another. These twelve young people have brought to crew so much kindness, resilience and lots of laughs. I hope you can recognise how brave and brilliant you all are – you continue to inspire me every day.

Reviewing Our HoWLs

Students received their first HoWLs grades recently. HoWLs are our Habits of Work and Learning: Work Hard, Get Smart, Be Kind. It’s been a great chance to celebrate students and overall everyone found something to be proud about when they saw their grades. However, it doesn’t stop there…

Firstly, we analysed these grades to find patterns in the data.

We reflected on what each student could do to improve and everyone made pledges so these improvements could be put into action. We will be checking in on those pledges regularly to ensure students don’t forget.

X27 students have had to self-isolate and have been able to continue their education online through Google Classroom and Google Meet hangouts. In our hangouts, crew continued our HoWLs analysis from the comfort of their own homes!

We worked on our crew narrative, identifying the key areas we need to improve on as a crew and focussed on the students who might need a bit of extra support to raise their grades. We decided that as a crew we should all focus on improving ‘Get Smart’ grades. ‘Get Smart’ is all about taking responsibility for your learning by asking questions, seeking help and improving your work. In our hangout this morning we discussed ideas for what they could do to ‘Get Smart’ in all the different subjects when they are at home…

  • Spanish: George told us all about Duolingo which is an app to help you learn languages and Oscar told us he has been using Linguascope which is a similar idea.
  • Maths: Students can go on Hegarty Maths and watch videos and take quizzes on any topic that they need extra help with. Oscar showed us how he using the ‘Memri’ quiz which quizzes you on questions that you have already done before to help you remember old topics.
  • Hums: We spoke about how you could read around the topics to find out more – could be articles from newspapers or books that are relevant. Another idea was talking to our family and friends about what you are learning to find out their ideas and experiences, particularly as students are currently learning about Doncaster’s history and the history of the mining and the miners’ strikes. Ruby told us that her grandad was a miner so he would be a fantastic person to ask!
  • Science: Someone suggested searching the internet to learn more about topics in science. Youtube and Clickview videos would also be a good resource for this.
  • Art: Practicing at home! Alysia spoke about how some people say they ‘can’t do art’ but all they would need to do is practice and try out the different techniques they learned at school. I really agree with this and I believe that every student has the ability to create beautiful art.


I am challenging crew this week to try out one of these ideas for ‘Get Smart’ and they will feedback next week on ‘Thoughtful Thursday’ to discuss what they tried out and how it helped them. I’m looking forward to seeing them all in person again tomorrow!

Crew PBO make a pledge

We’ve been busy as ever this week in crew. Harry has been joining us on Google Hangouts from home for crew sessions in the morning!

As we come to the end of their first ever term at XP, I thought it would be good to reflect on their progress. We spoke about our HoWLs (Habits of Work and Learning) which are Work hard, Get smart and Be kind. It’s important for the students to reflect on these themselves so they can celebrate their successes as well as think about what they can do to improve. The students rated their HoWLs and we discussed our strengths and areas for improvement. Then they all wrote a pledge and we stuck them up on the wall. Being visible will help them stay accountable to their pledges and we can check their progress. Here they are on our crew wall:

As crew, we support each other because we can always go further together than alone. We spoke about what we can do to help each other with our pledges and HoWLs.

I think one of the most important things they can do to help each other is to be a good role model for others. We all have different strengths and this is great because it means they can all inspire each other in different ways!

Beautiful Work

This week I’d like to share some of the brilliant and beautiful work my crew has been doing in their lessons.

In HUMs they’ve been writing an essay about what makes a successful community. They picked out which values they thought were the most important; Oscar suggested equality and kindness and Owen suggested respect and determination.

Here’s a beautifully presented BBK created by Alysia all about the values needed in a community.

In maths they’ve been learning about place value and large numbers, visualising how large a billion really is and starting to think about wealth inequality. In science they’ve been learning about lab safety and experiments. In music they’ve been practicing singing the song ‘Times Like These’.

In art they’ve been creating positivity posters to decorate their classrooms. Some students have been learning how to use digital art apps on their devices while some used more traditional materials like pencils and pens. I love how colourful they all are with some great quotes and important values.

In Thursday’s community meeting we discussed what themes have been linking all our lessons and guessed how they might connect. The expedition guiding question was finally revealed…

‘How do we build a community?’

I can’t wait to see what they come up with. I know it’ll be fantastic. My crew are so kind and supportive to one another and they consistently work really hard.

Crew PBO make a fantastic start

I am so incredibly proud of my new crew who have thrown themselves straight into life at XP. It’s strange to think most of us have only known each other for two weeks and we are already so close. They’ve settled in and bonded beautifully in crew and in lessons they’ve been working hard.
Check out this fab photo…
Our crew sessions this week have been about identity and diversity. We spoke about all the ways that people are diverse and they came up with loads of great ideas:
In our Friday afternoon crew session we watched some short videos on the theme of diversity and disabilities which sparked a sharing circle about our own stories. I was in awe of the courage shown by my crew when sharing things that were very personal. It was a real testament to the power of crew that we felt so safe and respected to be vulnerable. As a crew we are quite different in our personalities, looks, abilities/disabilities and it was lovely to celebrate these differences together.
Morgan said that crew feels like a family – I love that! We are building a real strong foundation to be able to rely on each other as we move on to new challenges.