My View, Liam Scully - Top stadium school’s kick-off

Liam Scully, Picture: Andrew Roe
Liam Scully, Picture: Andrew Roe

Only a few weeks ago we welcomed an intake of new students to the Keepmoat Stadium as a revolutionary school kicked off in Doncaster.

The XP School, the town’s first ‘free school’, which allows pupils and teachers to break away from conventional teaching methods, began teaching its first 50 pupils in September in classrooms in the stadium’s East Stand.

Opening the school at the stadium was a result of a fantastic and unprecedented collaboration between the EFA, Club Doncaster Foundation, Doncaster Rovers, local businesses and the school.

Thanks to the work of Create Ltd, Anthony Snowden Architect, Fowler Electrical and Hanicks, the school opened its doors to five brand new classrooms at the start of the academic year.

Club Doncaster Foundation has worked closely with the school to ensure that the new facilities meet their needs but will also benefit the community when the school eventually moves to bigger premises.

We have a superb facility in the Keepmoat Stadium, left, and, while it is home to Doncaster Rovers, Doncaster Dons and the athletics club, it is important to remember the role the venue plays in the community.

Thousands of people attend courses, training sessions and events at the stadium every year. The foundation, which is a registered charity, works with young people and adults across Doncaster on a number of levels in order to improve their lives and the local community. Key focuses for the foundation are post-16 education, citizenship, raising aspiration levels in schools, increasing sports participation, anti-social behaviour reduction and substance misuse recovery.

We are particularly proud of achieving this charity build in conjunction with partners to enable the school to be based at the stadium for their first year and this puts us in a great position to expand our further education offer from the next academic year.

It is great to see the children coming to their new school in a morning and hear about the work they are doing.

The school, which is Government funded like the town’s other secondary schools, is open to 11 to 19-year-olds, with a new crop of youngsters coming in each September.

There are six teachers and three learning coordinators, under the leadership of former Campsmount head Andy Sprakes. Students learn conventional subjects like science, English and mathematics but there is a less structured curriculum with innovative teaching methods which means the XP School is far removed from the average secondary school.

Two hundred parents have already attended an open evening and there is a waiting list at the school which is due to open in a new permanent building in Lakeside next year. Work on the project is expected to start soon. It just goes to show what can be achieved when groups share a great vision.

* Liam Scully, Club Doncaster Foundation chief executive