New XP school for Doncaster, and bosses are excited for its future

Bosses of a new XP school to be built in Doncaster this year are excited about the future of their brand of education in the borough.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 2nd May 2017, 10:31 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 7:20 pm
An artist's impression of the new XP school at Doncaster
An artist's impression of the new XP school at Doncaster

The new 450-place secondary school will be built at Lakeside after the plan was approved by the council's planning committee.

Education and accommodation for up to 250 11-16 year-olds and up to 200 16-19 year-old students will be provided by the Middle Bank site.

Principal Andy Sprakes and XP trust chief executive Gwyn ap Harri can't wait for the new school to be built at Doncaster

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A sports hall, conferencing facility, public arts space and gallery are also part of the plan for the XP East secondary school, to sit on a four-acre brownfield site.

The facility, to be built next to the existing XP School, will open later this year.

Open, flexible learning spaces will be a feature of the new school, much like the existing site next door.

Work is due to get under way in the next month.

Principal Andy Sprakes and XP trust chief executive Gwyn ap Harri can't wait for the new school to be built at Doncaster

The XP School Trust chief executive, Gwyn ap Harri, said it was 'nice and simple'.

"It's breeze blocks and white paint," he said.

Principal Andy Sprakes said the design principle of both schools is about connection.

He was excited about a community art space in the new building.

He envisaged it to be open after school, on weekends and holidays for public use.

"It's part of who we are and what we feel the area needs, to connect with the outside world and bring the world to us," he said.

Demand for a place at the school is high, with seven applications for each spot.

Gwyn ap Harri, the chief executive of the XP School's trust, said the new facility would ease that pressure.

"It will be great to open up a school right next to it to help fill that parental demand," he said.

Principal Andy Sprakes said the XP model that the school operates - using a series of meaningful expeditions involving a range of partners to help the kids learn - was tried and tested in the United States.

The model has been used in the US for 20 years, he said.

"The model that we've taken on at XP has been tried and tested, really, in the US," he said.

Their results hold up really strongly, so there is something in this."

"There's real proof that it does work."

Mr ap Harri said the school offered another option for parents.

"We're just making the educational landscape a bit richer," he said.

The school looks for community connectivity with the expeditions.

The pupils at XP aren't up to GSCE exam level yet, but Mr Sprakes said the school still tracked their results.

"Our students are making really accelerated progress," he said.

"We've had our work cross-moderated by other schools, and our kids are making outstanding progress.

"That's something we're really proud of."

The school teaches the kids the same curriculum.

"It's just the way we teach it, and the way the kids learn it, is different," Mr ap Harri said.

Lessons are taught in a 'cross-subject' approach. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are in one course, and arts and humanities make up the other.

Mr Sprakes said the curriculum was 'academically rigorous'.

"It's a really challenging curriculum," he said.

Pupils don't do all their learning via the expeditions.

There are some subjects taught 'discreetly', like maths, Spanish and physical education.

"We also understand that, sometimes, you just need to teach stuff, and it needs to be done discreetly," Mr Sprakes said.

The XP west school opened in 2014.

Year seven had two classes of 25 students. The school intends to reach its full capacity by 2020.

The site is used for match-day parking at the nearby Keepmoat Stadium.

The land has plenty of history in Doncaster.

It was once Doncaster Airport, and opened in 1934.

Mr Sprakes, 48, and Mr ap Harri 45, are excited to take charge of that form of education in Doncaster.

Both are Doncaster residents.

Mr ap Harri lives at Field Side Road in Thorne, while Mr Spraker resides at Crossways in Wheatley Hills.

They have plenty of experience in the field.

"Andy is the longest-serving head teacher in Doncaster by a way," Mr ap Harri said.

He's been a head teacher for more than 10 years, and had been teaching for 15 more before that..

Mr ap Harri came to teaching at the age of 28, and is still going 17 years later.