New ‘free school’ build given the green light

Gwyn Ap Harri, founder of the XP School. Picture: Andrew Roe
Gwyn Ap Harri, founder of the XP School. Picture: Andrew Roe

Plans to build Doncaster’s very first free school have been given the go-ahead by the town’s planning committee.

The XP School, which allows pupils and teachers to break away from conventional teaching methods, is currently operating from classrooms based in Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium.

But plans to move to a permanent base in Lakeside are now set to become a reality after permission for the new build was unanimously granted yesterday by Doncaster Council’s Planning Committee.

The school opened its doors to two classes of 25 Year 7 pupils in August – but the number is expected to rise to 350 students and 39 members of staff by 2021.

The new two-storey building will be at the junction of Stadium Way and Middle Bank and share recreation and sport facilities with the Keepmoat Stadium via a dual user agreement.

The building is expected to open in September.

Speaking at the meeting planning consultant Alistair Flatman said: “This is an exciting innovative school and its relationship with the Keepmoat is key to the delivery and success of the school.”

The report presented at the meeting said: “It is considered that the new school will provide a new and innovative environment for learning opportunities within and outside the classroom.

“Key to this vision is the proposed location of the school which provides access to a wealth of facilities and business links.”

The school is open to 11- to 19-year-olds and is the brainchild of founder Gwyn Ap Harri.

He said: “The feedback we have had so far has been very positive.

“These are early days but we have big plans for the years to come.”

The plans for the new build were approved subject to a number of conditions, including that the development must begin within the next three years.

There are 174 free schools in England with another 120 approved to open this year.