Tom Lewis – XP East School Visit
I think geographically Doncaster is the furthest North I have ever been on the globe, let alone the UK. I think it pips Liverpool by a couple of miles.
I really appreciated the opportunity to go and see something that in my experience felt very different and very new. My thoughts, feelings and ideas about the school will change over time as I reflect and converse and apply my new learnings, but overall, it felt like a breath of fresh air, almost looking into the future, and seeing what schools need to look like in 5 to 10 years time, perhaps.
I feel like it’s also worth mentioning, that the way I received the information throughout the day changed. At some points I felt like I needed to critique, others I thought I should apply it directly to our Headlands community and then I settled for just listening and absorbing and thinking about it all a little later on.
Everybody in the XP East community were ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’. The ethos, culture, language, and way of being had clearly been embedded on inception and sustained throughout the journey. Tweaked at times, but the approach is clearly managed, maintained and encouraged.
One of my big takeaways is the learners speaking openly and freely about their journey through XP East and their understanding of the Habits of Work and Learning and Character Traits and their understanding of how these will apply to school life, community life and later life as well.
The Crew allows learners to feel apart of something tight, connected, where all are appreciated. With numbers less than a starting rugby team, that cohesion is exceptional. The rigidity of the weekly programme probably allows for greater flexibility. This sounds contradictory, but I’m pretty sure I know what I mean.
Community Meetings allow for all members of the community to share their appreciations, apologies and stands and it sounds like they can do this because the culture is apparent from the first minute of their XP journey, diving literally into the deep end and canoeing with their crew in North Wales. If expressing yourself freely and vulnerability being accepted by your peers and staff is the cultural norm, then it creates a safe environment to do so. It sounds like when things don’t go so well, clear boundaries, expectations and consequences are supported with an important relationship, time for reflection and important conversations, something that is important for our learners here at Headlands School.
I would like to know more about their Alumni, and I think over time this will develop and increase and it’ll be great to see how leavers of XP enter the big wide world, whether this is further education, training, or employment. I wonder about this because the way in which the learners work through learning expeditions will allow them to develop such great skills of communication and compromise and being challenged and their final products are finalised to such a high standard, will XP leavers then only strive to complete their best work, all of the time.
I will read more, reflect more and probably keep a keen eye on the development of XP as they seem to be on to a bit of winner.
I stand for continuing to improve the lives and life chances of my learners at Headlands School.
A tired Tom.