The XP Climate Conference was a huge success last night, welcoming huge crowds of parents and students to listen and learn about the importance of sustainable energy in the effort to stop climate change. 

The event included talks from students about the impact of climate change on the world, as well as drawing attention to the threat that climate change posed in Doncaster and surrounding areas. It was eye-opening to discover the consequences that climate change could have a bit closer to home, and the passion the students spoke with definitely inspired the audience to take more action.

There was also a performance of ”Dear World”, the song written and performed by the children of the XP Trust, about how we need to protect our world because “there is no Planet B”. The CD of the song is now available to buy from our Trust Primary Schools

There was also a fascinating Q+A section of the conference, led by year 10 student Mollie Butler, speaking to local businesses Equans and Vossloh on what action they were taking as large scale companies to combat climate change. Both businesses had already begun to make beneficial changes such as installing more energy efficient LED lights in their factories and investing in electric company cars – and this is only the beginning! There is a long way to go yet, but both companies are confident that their efforts will reduce carbon emissions each year, and contribute to a safer, greener world. 

The climate conference was a student-arranged event, on the back of their most recent Expedition, ‘Power to the People’, focusing on the key question “why do we need a sustainable energy plan for the Planet?” They learnt about energy and how it is used to create electricity, as well as fossil fuels and organic chemistry. They then took this information to put together the conference, aiming for impact and to connect with the people of Doncaster. 

Three of the students involved, Beth Sprakes, Kiera Leaver and Mollie Butler, spoke to me about their contribution to the conference, for example writing and critiquing their own speeches and questions heard in the conference. It’s clear that these students feel strongly about climate change, explaining how they’ve always been aware of climate change, and how they make their own efforts to be more environmentally friendly, such as being vegetarian and changing the lights in their rooms to more energy efficient ones!

Carcroft Local Heroes

An important part of our students’ work and ethos across the Trust is activism. 

In short, the way we work with our community to support, engage, contribute and make a difference.

This can be anything from a Crew litter picking once a week to collecting food for the food bank.

At Carcroft School they’ve taken this to heart with some beautiful work in the community, catching up with local heroes and making a difference themselves.

Superheroes live amongst us in the real world – nurses, doctors, firefighters, paramedics, supermarket staff –  everyone who helped keep us going before, during and after the pandemic. 

The children at Carcroft researched the work and contribution of so many ordinary, extraordinary people in their community – and were inspired too by a visit from South Yorkshire Fire Service.

They decided, this time motivated by a national hero, Captain Tom, to do a sponsored walk – 100 laps each – around their playground. They did this in style, raising money to have a defibrillator installed in school. 

Local Doncaster Councillors were so impressed with the pupils’ efforts that they decided to support the new defibrillator purchase. 

So, Carcroft’s community has a new and vital resource, thanks to an expedition that has made us all think about the superheroes who live amongst us.

Why we need to share stories…

From the earliest times, even before verbal language was written down, stories have been part of who we are – part of our humanity. It’s the most important way we share and understand our common, human experience. 

The invention of the Printing Press in the 15th century made books a little more accessible – but they were still a rare thing.

Through the centuries that followed song, story, recitals and then the mass production of books made the sharing of news, stories and history a part of everyday life – for those who could read, or those who couldn’t. 

Famous authors in the 19th century and beyond, would tour the country and read out their work to packed audiences of workers from mills and other factories. 

Today we have so many ways of connecting people with our stories, our activism – what we want to share.

The immediacy of this can be very powerful – it can move us and others, make a difference, change the world. 

Across our Trust we blog, create exhibitions, celebrate our beautiful work and invite our community and partners to join us in our schools, across Doncaster, our country and around the world.

Someone once said that ‘We read to know we are not alone’ – and that’s just part of the power of every word, picture and piece of beautiful work we send out into the world. 

So – last but not least – if you ever think ‘This would make a great story’ or ‘I would love more people to know about this’ then please make it happen. Spread the joy and energy!

After all, we are our stories … 

Our beautiful books are flying off the shelves!

Ever since the XP story began, with our first school based in the Keepmoat stadium, our books have been part of the way we share our stories with our community – and all around the world. 

It began with XP’s ‘What Makes a Successful Community’ and Green Top’s ‘How Do You Think We Will Evolve?” more than seven years ago.

The amazing thing is that these first books are still selling through our XP Trust shop online and at events in school and around the country.

… and they’re not alone!

They’ve been joined over the years by twelve more – including two local history best sellers, which were sold in – and in the case of ‘Society, Steam and Speed’ – also launched in Waterstones.

From the Ground Up’ the second bestseller has become part of the story of our city and mining community. 

Our books are never out of print and cover topics as diverse as the Vikings to local heroes, newly created poetry to how our students studied through a pandemic.

How We XP’ has become required reading for the delegates we welcome from all over the world – and has already been revised and reprinted. 

Our books are part of our activism, our creativity, our community and one of the most powerful ways we share our stories.

You can find all of our books in the XP Trust shop here!

What can I do to be a Superhero in my Community?

The students at Green Top displayed their passion and enthusiasm for making the world a better place with their recent expedition. 

Focusing on the question ‘What will I do to be a superhero in my community?’, the children channelled their inner activists to look at what others had done to bring positive change to the world, and also what they could do themselves. 

KS1 at their Film Premiere

After learning about notable superheroes from history, such as Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks and Emmeline Pankhurst, and the impact that they had on bringing change in terms of racial and gender equality, the children wrote their own speeches on how they could bring positive changes to their school and local community. 

They then presented their speeches to their peers, explaining why they should be class mayor and what action they would take to make the school and community a better place to live. 

They didn’t stop there, however. 

The children then took their activism out into the local community, by litter-picking in Thorne and speaking to members of the public about the importance of putting their litter in the bin and keeping the community clean! They made an impact by inspiring those around them to think about their environment and how they want to maintain it. 

“Year 1 and 2 children championing such inspirational figures in history as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, as well as the evergreen inspiration of David Attenborough — just wonderful, and in fact quite emotional.”

Alan Green – Green Top Governor

All of the children’s hard work and effort was then put into a film, to commemorate the amazing action taken towards preserving their community. The filming took place over the term and captured all of the children’s activism in its many forms – from their hook week protest to the poetry jam at the end of the term. The film then premiered at XP East and was well received and celebrated by both parents and students. 

The children are so enthusiastic in their mission to protect our planet and it is truly wonderful to see!

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: