What are XP Gateshead’s values?

At XP we have a relentless focus on three things:

  • Character growth
  • Beautiful work
  • Academic success


We believe that through a relentless focus on the development of character, students will learn to produce beautiful work of a quality beyond which they ever dreamed possible. As a consequence of this, they go on to achieve academically.

We have a shared language around development of character, and have five traits that we reflect upon constantly:

  • Courage
  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Craftsmanship and quality
  • Above all… Compassion

We keep our expectations of each other simple. We ask for students and staff to:

  • Work Hard
  • Get Smart
  • Be Kind

These are our habits of work and learning.

Do students study the same National Curriculum subjects and GCSEs as other schools?

Yes! Each expedition is mapped to National Curriculum at Key Stage 3 in Years 7-9 and GCSE standards in Years 10 and 11

Students at XP Schools study these standards through cross-curricular learning expeditions that typically last around 12 weeks. We appoint teachers that can teach across more than discipline to enable this. Expeditions can combine all subjects together, or sometimes there might be a HUMAN and a STEAM expedition happening at the same time. At GCSE there can be expeditions for a single GCSE subject.

Expeditions are centred around a guiding question which provokes thought about a range of disciplines. Each expedition starts with an immersion which builds background knowledge. There are then a number of case studies that look at different people, places, periods or concepts. Students work with their teachers and in addition alongside experts in the community to carry out purposeful fieldwork. Expeditions then culminate with students producing purposeful products that have an audience beyond the classroom and impact upon their community.

For example year 7 students studied an expedition called From the Ground Up with the guiding question “What do the communities of North East England owe to the miners?” creating a local history book which is now on sale at Seven Stories.

Our core offer at GCSE is:

  • Maths
  • Statistics
  • English Language
  • English Literature
  • Dual award Science
  • History
  • Art and design (with a choice of pathways)
  • A Communication strand – Spanish, Creative Media or additional support for English and Maths

Students can study and be taught additional GCSEs or Level 2 qualifications (for example Geography, Health & Social Care, RE, Sports) where they have the motivation, capability and capacity as part of our ‘Leading Our Own Learning’ curriculum.

Will XP Gateshead be suitable for all students? How do mixed ability classrooms work?

XP Gateshead is a mainstream school. We are not a private school, special school, outdoor education or alternative curriculum school.

We are not set up to cater to any one particular type of student or students from a specific background – we are a comprehensive school.

Students are taught in mixed-ability classes of 25 students. This class size is higher than the average of 22.3 per class in UK secondary schools. This may seem counter intuituve but larger secondary schools typically have ability setting with much smaller class size for students with low prior attainment.

Our admissions policy has been designed to ensure that we have a comprehensive intake of students that is representative of Gateshead as a whole.

We are often asked about our approach to working with students with SEND. Our first strategy for students with SEND is quality-first teaching in the classroom from excellent teachers accompanied by a skilled learning coach. Additional scaffolding and differentiated materials are also provided to students as is appropriate to help ensure that they make progress.

Our scale means that we do not have the capacity for nurture groups or taking students out of classes frequently.

Unusually for secondary schools we do have a second adult, a learning coach, in most classrooms. This is to help ensure the progress of all students in our mixed ability classes.

The role of the learning coach is to support the teacher in making sure that all students in the mixed ability classroom are making progress, this includes SEND students, as well as students with lower and higher prior attainment. Our learning coaches do not work individually with specific students for a whole lesson.

Children with medical needs, for example allergies or asthma, are given an individual health plan as is appropriate. We are a no nut school.

If your child has and Education, Health and Care Plan and you are considering XP Gateshead for your child then you should talk to the local authority about this as part of the annual EHCP review. This takes place between May (when your child is in year 5) and October (when your child is in Year 6).

There are many misconceptions about what we are as a school. This video which was put together for our Year 6 Open Evening is helpful in dispelling some of these myths.

What kit do students need for day-to-day learning?

Our dress-code addresses items of clothing but additional essential kit that students will need day-to-day are:

  • A school bag that can hold the following:
    • A water bottle
    • A device appropriate for school work – such as the iPads through the school scheme
      • IMPORTANT: Smartphones are not appropriate for school work. Students can bring phones to school but they must be switched off and out of sight during the school day
    • Headphones – ideally not expensive ones, for example here
    • Pencil case including: pens, pencils, ruler, eraser and pencil sharpener


What are the timings of the school day? How do students get to school?

Our school opens at 8.00am each morning. Between 8.00am and 8.25am students can socialise outside or come into the building to do some productive activities.

We are proud that so many of our students travel to school by bus, walking or cycling and of course some are dropped off too. Because we take students from the whole of Gateshead there are not any school transport services, however our parents’ facebook group is a great place to ask about transport to school if you are successful in securing a place at XP. Every year our parents are so helpful in supporting new families with bus routes, walking/cycling buddies or car sharing.

Students must be on site for 8.25am for the call to Crew.

The end of formal academic sessions is at 3.15pm. All students remain in school until 3.15pm.

Part of our design means that we are flexible with our timetable, so we will often create bespoke timings for the day to accommodate fieldwork, or working with experts for example. We would always provide notice in good time to students when a timetable change was to be made.

Typical timings for the school of the day are as follows:

8.30am – 9.15am: CREW

9.15am – 10.15am: SESSION 1

10.15am – 10.30am: MORNING BREAK

10.30am – 11.30am: SESSION 2

11.30am – 12.30pm: SESSION 3

12.30pm – 13.15pm: LUNCH

13.15pm – 14.15pm: SESSION 4

14.15pm – 15.15pm: SESSION 5


From 15.15pm to 16.30pm the school remains open. The school day ends at 16.30pm.

This allows for extra-curricular activities and extended study. Extended study is open to all students, and can be used to complete homework. We will also ask students to attend extended study where we identify that they need additional support and/or challenge.

What are your holiday patterns?

Our holidays can be found on our trust website here.

They are aligned to other schools in our trust and are similar to the holiday patterns in Gateshead Local Authority with three roughly 12-week terms.

The two key differences are the two-week break in October, and importantly the staff days during the middle of each half-term.

We have more staff days than most schools to allow us to collaborate across the trust on our curriculum and professional development for our staff.

What is XP Gateshead’s dress code

At XP we believe that:

  • Children need to learn to express themselves responsibly.
  • Children are not all the same, so they should not be forced to look the same.
  • Families would rather spend their money on clothes that their children can wear inside and outside school.
  • Our strong community and positive culture will not tolerate any kind of bullying or teasing.

As such we do not have a school uniform however we do have a dress code which is simple and requires students to dress appropriately and modestly.

More details can be found by clicking here.

What are the arrangements for homework?

At XP Gateshead we have a regular pattern for setting what we call ‘Extended Study’. On Monday-Thursday after school, as well as our sports and clubs there is an extended study session until 4.30pm where students can work on this, so it does not just have to be done at home.

If students struggle to get organised and miss the deadlines for Extended Study regularly, we will direct them to attend these extended study sessions so that we can support them to get into good habits around completing work outside of lessons.

You can see how we are setting extended study for our current students, click here.

What are the arrangements for lunchtimes?

We provide hot lunches for students, priced at £2.50 per day including a main, drink and desert. Payment is taken through the ParentPay scheme.

For new parents, we will set you up with a new ParentPay account. You will be given details of how to login to your account in a letter. This letter is handed out in the second week of school after your child has returned from Ullswater.

There is a three week rolling menu with a range of delicious, nutritious meals. Every day there is a hot main, vegetarian option or jacket potato with a choice of fillings. You do not need to book meals in advance. Children choose each morning what they are going to eat, including packed lunch although we encourage all families to use our school meal service.


Monday: Tomato and cheese pizza with wedges – fruity cake/fruit/yoghurt.

Tuesday: Pork/quorn sausages, mash and vegetables – ginger biscuit snap/fruit/yoghurt.

Wednesday: Roast chicken/cheese pastry parcel, roast potatoes and vegetables – lemon drizzle/fruit/yoghurt.

Thursday: Beef bolognese pasta/tomato pasta, garlic bread and mixed salad – ice cream and fruit salad/fruit/yoghurt.

Friday: Fish fingers/quiche with potato twists and peas – strawberry tray bake/fruit/yoghurt.


Monday: Pasta twists in tomato sauce, garlic bread and mixed salad – sticky toffee and apple cake/fruit/yoghurt.

Tuesday: Beef/veggie burger in a bun, wedges and salad – fruit smoothie/fruit/yoghurt.

Wednesday: Roast pork/quorn fillet, roast potatoes and vegetables – shortbread biscuit/fruit/yoghurt.

Thursday: Katsu chicken/vegetables, steamed rice, naan and mixed veg – carrot and orange muffin/fruit/yoghurt.

Friday: Fish fillet/omelette with chips and peas – waffle with cream and peaches/fruit/yoghurt.


Monday: Tomato and cheese pizza with tomato pasta and sweetcorn – pineapple upside down cake/fruit/yoghurt.

Tuesday: Sausage/cheese roll with new potatoes and veg – mini pavlova and chocolate mouse/fruit/yoghurt.

Wednesday: Beef/qourn mince and diumplings with creamed potato and veg – jelly and fruit salad/fruit/yoghurt.

Thursday: Sweety chilli chicken/quorn strips in a wrap with mixed salad and Mexican rice – brownie/fruit/yoghurt.

Friday: Fish/cheese cakes with wedges, beans and mixed salad – cook’s choice biscuit/fruit/yoghurt.


After eating students can attend clubs such as book club, robotics, or Minecraft clubs, or can go and play in our outdoor areas. We also provide spaces for students to work or read if they choose to do that at lunchtime too.

What is Crew?

Think of this as like a tutor group in a more conventional school, however it has as much more fundamental importance at XP. At XP schools, each student is placed into a crew of 12-13 students who will be their school family throughout their time with us.

The tradition of Crew is both a culture and a structure. The term “crew” comes from educator Kurt Hahn, the founder of Outward Bound. Hahn’s said “We are crew, not passengers, strengthened by acts of consequential service to others”.

Crew is a place where character, adventure, and a sense of family are developed in a deliberate fashion. 

Crew fosters a sense of belonging in students, and is a place where students learn to be the best version of themselves, whilst helping all students achieve in their common mission of being university-bound.

We Are Crew *super-cut* from Relational Schools on Vimeo.