VIDEO: Work starts on revolutionary Doncaster school

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Work to create Doncaster’s very first free school has got under way with an official ground breaking ceremony.

Pupils and staff gathered at the site of the new building in Lakeside for a turf-cutting ceremony, attended by Ron Berger, the boss of EL Schools, a US-based educational organisation.

Building work on the new Doncaster XP school is due to start soon, pictured are pupils with from left  EL Schools designer Anna Switzer, Doncaster XP School principal Andy Sprakes, chief academic officer for EL Schools Ron Berger and Gwyn Ap Harri

Building work on the new Doncaster XP school is due to start soon, pictured are pupils with from left EL Schools designer Anna Switzer, Doncaster XP School principal Andy Sprakes, chief academic officer for EL Schools Ron Berger and Gwyn Ap Harri

The revolutionary new XP school is already in operation with pupils using Doncaster Rovers’ Keepmoat Stadium as a temporary base while the new school is built nearby.

The school is the town’s first ‘free school’ and allows pupils and teachers to break away from conventional teaching methods.

It has already enrolled its first 50 youngsters who are currently based in classrooms in the ground’s East Stand.

The school opened its doors to two classes of 25 year seven pupils in September – with hundreds more set to sign up over the coming years until the roster reaches 350.

The project is the brainchild of founder Gwyn Ap Harri.

He said: “This is a very important milestone for us.

“Ron has come over from the USA to support us. He is in charge of 165 expeditionary learning schools and we appreciate his expertise.”

The school, which is Government-funded like the town’s other secondary schools, is open to 11 to 19-year-olds.

It has six teachers and three learning co-ordinators, and it is under the leadership of former Campsmount head Andy Sprakes.

While students still learn conventional subjects like science, English and mathematics, free schools use a much looser, less structured curriculum with innovative teaching methods.

Mr Ap Harri added: “We want to focus on and develop our pupils.

“Rather than separate subjects, we have ‘expeditions’ lasting up to 16 weeks which cover the same topics in different ways.”

Pupils do not wear traditional uniforms – choosing instead to wear branded school clothing if they want.

Two hundred parents have already attended an open evening and there is a waiting list for places.

The school is due to open its new permanent building in Lakeside next year.

Work on the project is expected to start soon with the school being created on wasteland behind the car park at the Keepmoat.