Our Curriculum

It is important to note that the curriculum at XP Gateshead focuses on character growth, beautiful work and academic success.

The crew curriculum is a driver for fostering strong habits of work and learning in order to develop scholarship, but also as a way to help students to develop their character as part of their crew community.

Students produce beautiful work, beyond what they thought possible, that makes a difference to the community.

The academic curriculum at XP Gateshead is standards-based and teacher-led. We use the National Curriculum at Key Stage 3 and 4 to guide us as to which standards we cover deeply


Our approach is to teach this knowledge and skills-based content through cross-subject learning expeditions. Each expedition is rigorously mapped against the National Curriculum standards to ensure coverage and depth.

You can see how we do this by looking more deeply at the current expeditions for Year 7. Expeditions that follow this will be mapped to the curriculum so that important concepts and ideas are sequenced to develop understanding over time.

Year 7 Expeditions

From the ground up

In the Autumn term of 2021 students at XP Gateshead studied an expedition called ‘From the ground up’ exploring all three curriculum strands of diversity and belonging, social justice and the climate emergency. The guiding question for the expedition was:

‘What do the communities of the North-East of England owe to the miners?

Students learned about the links between coal and the industrial revolution and the development of workers’ rights in the following centuries. They learned about how settlements grew around pits and how the mineral resources of the UK contributed to us becoming a global superpower. Students carried out a case study looking at Whitburn Colliery on the coast, doing fieldwork at Marsden Bay to support their study of geology and to carry out a historical enquiry about the former pit village on the cliff tops.

They then studied the 1984 miners’ strike, interviewing experts that with lived experience of the strike and studied the impact of pit closures on the communities that grew around them. 

The anchor text for the expedition was Kit’s Wilderness, by local author David Almond, which served as a metaphor for the need to tell the stories of our shared cultural heritage in the region.

Students brought all of this learning together in a book with historical accounts of the mines, the strike and the geological processes that led to the formation of the coal measures. This book was published and made available to the public in local book stores. To celebrate their learning, students presented excerpts from the book to their experts along with music inspired by Gresford the miners’ hymn. By December of their very first term in school, all children in Year 7 were authors, speakers and performers.

Food Glorious Food  

In the Autumn term of 2021, Year 7 students from XP Gateshead a STEAM expedition which answered the Guiding Question: 

“How can food bring our community together?”

Students used ‘Eat up’ by Ruby Tandoh to build background knowledge on how food is grown, distributed and disposed of in the UK.

Students explored what food meant to them, how it brought people together and the importance of food to our health and wellbeing. We used data on the scale of food waste, from our own homes to national data. 

Students then looked into food waste at our school, where they weighed the food waste after lunches and campaigned to reduce this.

Parents/guardians and the local community were then invited to a pay-as-you-feel pop up cafe event using food that would have gone to waste. Students worked either in the kitchen helping prepare food with experts or welcoming guests and helping clear up. Students presented what they have learned about inequality and altruism, backing up their ideas with data.