Becoming Crew – our delegates discover Doncaster

One of the wonderful things that happens across our Trust is that we are able to welcome visitors from all over our country and the world on a regular basis.

Whether from Chile, Australia, America or the Netherlands – our visitors come here so that we can share our mutual stories and our journey.

Whether it’s Crew or expeditions, our curriculum or character traits, our staff and students play their part in every visit telling their stories and listening to others’.

This week we hosted 37 delegates from schools across Aberdeenshire in Scotland.

This was the fourth visit for schools from this area over the last two years – co-ordinated with support from the Wood Foundation and the Edge Foundation; who we work with regularly and are proud to call our partners.

Over two days the group became Crew, as they experienced Ambassador tours and visited classrooms and joined our own Crew sessions.

Divided into three new Crews the delegates, as is tradition, chose their Crew names. So we had Crew (Billy) Connolly, Crew (Annie) Lennox and Cast & Crew.

On Wednesday afternoon they planned their micro-adventure and the following day set out into Doncaster Town Centre and across Lakeside to create their chosen stories.

The A-Z of Great things about Doncaster, painted stones left around Lakeside for people to find. with a word that described what crew means to them and the story of XP work in the community; were the three themes.

Presented by every Crew individually, at the end of the day on the XPE stairs, this was the perfect ending to two days of collaboration, compassion and Crew.

We’re already looking forward to the next delegate visit!!

Better World Day

On the 6th May, primary school students from across the XP Trust took part in Better World Day. This is an event to raise awareness about the ways that we can all make our world a better place to live.

Students participated in Expeditions to learn about the importance of protecting our Earth and what they could do to help. Across the schools, beautiful artwork was created about how animals are affected by climate change, litter-picking and discussions on what we can do to keep our planet healthy. What was really powerful was that students from all of our primary schools had the fantastic opportunity to speak with EL schools in America via Zoom call, where they were able to discuss the actions they were taking to help our planet.

As part of their Expedition,our students also wrote, performed and released a song, aptly named ‘Dear World’, to inspire people to be activists, make a change and look after our world.

The song is centred around climate change, and the importance of looking after the planet, because as the song says, “there is no planet B”. Each school was given a different part of the song to write and they then came together to record the song at the in-house recording studio at XP. 

The children worked incredibly hard to make the song perfect and convey their passion for protecting our earth to the listeners, and hopefully inspire them to feel the same! Geoff Hewitt, who coordinated the creation of the song, had this to say about the work and its impact on the children.

“All the children were so engaged with the music and the lyric writing. This is true activism”. 

Small class sizes making a real difference at Green Top!

A new and innovative approach to the way year groups, also known as phases, are run is underway in the XP Trust. Where schools would normally have two teachers per year group and classes of around 30, at Green Top School this has been replaced by five teachers per phase. 

Having three teachers in a year group and classes reduced to 20 students has created a direct and bespoke approach to teaching that optimises learning. The changes can be seen to benefit students, teachers and parents alike.

Speaking to the former headteacher of Green Top and the driving force behind the change, Claira Salter, now Principal of XPD, the fundamental idea that underpins the new phase approach is that the priority of a teacher is to deliver high quality teaching to the students in front of them.

The addition of another teacher per phase allows this to happen and even improves this further by sharing the workload between five people. Because of this, staff have more time to make marking and critique personal and prompt, while targeting planning to support the specific needs of their classes.

Not only does this change benefit staff on an individual level, but the new system also encourages a more collaborative approach within phase groups, leading to new and creative ideas being contributed to enrich the pupils’ learning. 

The students are the heart and soul of the school and so when they are thriving, the whole school is too. Therefore, not only does a better resourced phase aim to benefit the staff, the main priority is to benefit the children. Having smaller class sizes means the children get the individual support they need and deserve, and that is reflected in the quality of work they produce and progress made. 

On top of academic achievements, the new system also enriches the social aspect of school life. The relationship between the student and teacher is enhanced as they have one on one time to build this connection. 

As a teacher at Green Top shared, “You get to know them inside and out”- which underlines how much smaller class sizes can benefit the bond between teacher and student.

This also further helps the academic side, for example a particular barrier in primary school is reading and the teachers themselves have said that the children now have plenty of opportunities to read with an adult they have a strong relationship with. 

Every aspect, whether it’s social or academic, comes together to create a more personal and cohesive learning environment, because of one change made to the phase. 

The students at Green Top have described the new sizes as having transformed their classes into a place where you are always with a crew while at school. This is certainly what XP is all about, always being part of a team that supports and challenges you. 

The new phase approach at Green Top seeks to ensure that staff wellbeing is positive and child relationships are strong, creating a community built on collaboration, mutual support and progress that should be celebrated and shared with the world

Comms Crew – Strategic Planning

On Tuesday 26 April the Communications Team had a day away to reflect on the great work that the Comms Crew do for our Trust and consider how we can make this work even better.

We started with a crew session where we identified what qualities we see in each other – this was a chance to show our appreciations for each other. Afterwards, we began to share and capture our stories of success and work that we are proud of and considered what we could do to improve this work further. Conversations were honest and discerning and we began to challenge ourselves to focus on key areas for improvement.   

We captured our ideas around specific areas including:

  • Sharing Our Stories
  • Products
  • Curation
  • Technology
  • Induction and recruitment of new staff to the Trust

After we captured our thinking we started to scope out a Comms Crew narrative to inform our work over the coming year to ensure impactivity.

The anchor charts are displayed below!!

Finally, we created a Comms narrative for the coming year which we will share with colleagues for critique. Here it is in draft: