XP School is a small secondary school in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England. It bases its practices on the High Tech High and Expeditionary Learning schools in the United States. XP opened in August 2014.
XP students complete cross-subject expeditions. Each year group has 50 children split into two classes, to a total of 350 students across Years 7 to 13 in September 2020. In October 2016, it also become the new home of local community radio station Sine FM.
XP School was established as a free school in 2014 by a team led by Gwyn ap Harri and Andy Sprakes. Both Gwyn and Andy worked in education previously with Gwyn being CEO of Realsmart Learning Ltd and qualified to be a Headteacher with NPQH, whereas Andy was the Headteacher of Campsmount Academy. After both visited High Tech High school in San Diego, USA they were inspired to create a similar school in Doncaster. After a subsequent visit to Expeditionary Learning's headquarters in Amherst Massachusetts, where they met Ron Berger and visited King Middle school in Portland, Maine, they decided to model the school on existing expeditionary learning practices with design principles adapted from High Tech High . In August 2014 the school opened with its first 50 students with new students being added each year.
Educating at XP
Rather than being taught separate subjects, in different classes, XP students complete term long learning expeditions, covering standard from across many subjects. Within these expeditions students create products, services or presentations that are exhibited at the end of the expedition to their parents and the audience the project relates to. Expeditions are created by teachers to address a real, authentic issue that students can relate to and invest in personally. They are packed with academic rigour, and are designed to cover many standards of the National Curriculum in depth. Expeditions are designed around real-world issues and problems and their students work to affect positive change in their communities. Students are engaged and motivated by understanding that their learning has relevance, meaning and purpose.
HOWL's and character values
As well as encouraging students to exceed in school subjects, XP pride themselves on building on other skills students need for when they finish school; Courage, Respect, Craftsmanship and Quality, Compassion and Integrity and encourage students to work hard, get smart and be kind. These are all skills XP believes are important in preparing their students for success in the future.
Below are a couple of examples of expeditions that year 7 XP students have completed. Further details of these can be seen on the school's website.
All Together Now
The first expedition completed at XP by their year 7 students involved students exploring how the Doncaster community had changed over the years and how other communities worked. Students read the novels The Giver by Lois Lowry and SeedFolks by Paul Fleischman and wrote about what they thought a successful community was. The final product for this was a book which brought together all the students' individual thoughts along with their visual representation of what makes a successful community. This book was published and sold to parents, the local community and online to the wider community.
Another one of the year 7 expeditions looked at what Chemistry had to do with cooking and covered national curriculum across Maths, Science and Design Technology. Students looked at volumes of shapes, performed various experiments and cooked a simple meal. The final products for this expedition were a hosted meal for parents and a film that looked behind the scenes in the kitchen intercut with animation explaining what is happening at the molecular level. In 2015 the year 7s created 3 posters to be exhibited in the NHS Hospital. The products of each year vary.
On the students' first day at XP they are taken to Wales to complete an Outward Bound expedition where they will get to know each other and start building on their character values. Students go to Wales for four days and take part in a number of outdoor activities aimed to provide an understanding of how challenging real world experiences connect with the growth of our character. Here they get to know their ‘crew’, who are the 12 students and their Crew Leader that will stay together for the next seven years. Outward Bound is designed to show students that they can be more than they ever imagined, and when they see this, they will never accept any less.
Many students have said they love it at XP. They partake in many projects for the school and if chosen to become an ambassador will give tours around the school to visitors and speak in front of other head-teachers. Each child is encouraged to express their personality through what they wear, thus having none school uniform, even so a dress code is in place and can be seen on the website. Every student has an XP login, this is to login to the website and all of their online learning tools, for example: Google Docs/Sheets/Slides.
Since the school established in 2014 the school was initially based at Doncaster's Keepmoat Football Stadium whilst a new purpose-built school was being built. This new school is situated adjacent to the Keepmoat sporting complex, in the heart of the emerging lakeside community, allowing the school to connect with the whole of Doncaster as a driver for aspirational change. The school was completed in October 2015 with all students starting their winter term at the new school. A second school is being added called 'XP East', the school will be adjacent to the original to provide access for both of the school's pupils.
- "XP. School Doncaster". XP. School Doncaster.
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