When we ask children the age-old question, ‘what did you do at school today?’, few of us would expect a child to say, ‘I helped to research, design, illustrate and write a book today.’ But at XP School in Doncaster students don’t just get a mark out of ten in their text books for their work; they create things which function outside of the classroom walls.
At XP, the focus is on character growth and creating beautiful work that has a place in the real world. Amongst the publications available to buy on the XP website is the book, Doncaster: what does our community owe the miners?, A children’s field guide to Potteric Carr Nature Reserve and books about the history of rail in the area and the Vikings.
Students learn via a series of cross curricular expeditions which can might include activities such as an outward bound trip, interviewing older local people for a history project or working with a local charity. Not only does this make learning more engaging for youngsters, it puts lessons in the context of the real world and helps them develop the skills they’ll need in the workplace and beyond.
XP believe that by ‘working hard, getting smart and being kind’ students can achieve academically. So it seems to be true. This year, in their first set of GCSE results since its foundation, XP students scored half a grade higher than the national average in the subjects taught via expeditions. They have been judged by Ofsted as ‘outstanding’ in every category.
However, while the ethos at XP is for students to have the confidence and resilience to be ambitious, high exam grades are seen as a consequence of making beautiful work, not a goal in itself. XP have partnered with the local NHS, Age UK, environmental groups and experts and professionals regularly visit the school.
Community is at the heart of the school and it’s a safe and supportive environment; students are impressively articulate, self-confident and empathetic. But don’t believe me. Watch our film about how XP design and implement an expedition and hear from the teachers and the students themselves. Then you’ll be dying to know more about it, so buy the book, How We XP.