Pledge to make Doncaster free school ‘nationally significant’

Andy Sprakes at Campsmount School.
Andy Sprakes at Campsmount School.
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The headteacher of Doncaster’s first Free School has been named - and today pledged to create a school of ‘national significance’.

Andy Sprakes, currently head at Campsmount Technology College, will take charge of the town’s XP School when it opens in September as the first school of its type the borough has ever seen.

No venue for the school has yet been announced

And in his first interview on the planned school he has told of his hopes to make XP a school of ‘national and even international’ significance.

Doncaster-born Mr Sprakes, 44, said: “I have no doubt in my mind that XP will change the face of education in the UK. It’s an honour and a privilege to be the new principal.

“There will be many challenges ahead, but I’m looking forward to tackling these and making XP the most fantastic place to learn.”

Mr Sprakes added that he was sad to be leaving Campsmount, where he has been headteacher for eight years and a school he had guided through a rebuilding process after most of the original buildings were destroyed by fire in December 2009.

He said: “It’s a brilliant school,” he said. I would only leave it for an opportunity like this.

“I’ve always wanted to put my beliefs into practice and now I have the opportunity.”

He said learning at XP will based on an American model and will focus on teaching through multi-disciplinary projects.

“This isn’t about politics,” he said. “It’s about how learning is delivered and I believe XP’s way is the way to do it.”

Mr Sprakes, 44, added: “Learning needs to be personalised – you need to know your pupils as individuals which is why classes this size are ideal. The also aim to reach out beyond the school and work with experts from the community.”

The former Danum School pupil added: “I’m a Doncaster lad and I’ve worked here most of my career. I want to do something in Doncaster that will of national, and even international, importance.

As yet the new school has no site – or pupils – however, Gwyn ap Harris, XP’s founder and chairman of the governors, told The Star that the school was ‘well into’ the process of selecting a building, but for legal reasons he was unable to say anything more than that the planned site would be ‘very accessible’ to people.

The school will initially consist of two classes of 25 – pupils from all over the borough will be considered, and Mr ap Harris told the Star that he had already had more than 50 applications for the places.

XP will host an open evening for prospective parents at CAST, the new performance venue in Waterdale at 6pm on October 2. See the schools website at for further details.

The Department for Education says free schools are all-ability state-funded schools set up in response to what local people say they want and need in order to improve education for children in their community.

It claims the right school can transform a child’s life and help them achieve things they may never have imagined. Ministers believe that through the free schools programme, it is now much easier for talented and committed teachers, charities, parents and education experts to open schools to address real demand within an area.