Small school, big picture

I’m currently on a train from Doncaster to London for a New Year’s Eve party and trying to work out how to timetable a kind-of-timetable-less school. Suffice to say, there are bits of paper everywhere. Fun game – try it!

A week today Jeffrey Boakye and my new project Big Picture Doncaster will open (a sort of soft launch, if you will). It is an amazing project to be part of: both tiny and massive in one breath.

Tiny: a sixty-student alternative provision in Bentley, just north of Doncaster, which will be grown out of its community and shaped around each individual child who joins us, ‘one child at a time’. In many ways it’s going to be really introspective, small, slow and careful. Intentionality is everything.

Massive: the first of its kind in the UK, and a chance to do things differently, with hopefully more of its kind growing out of our parent trust. Each student’s curriculum shaped out of their interests and passions, long term purposeful internships, no bells, no ‘timetables’ (though some seriously tight scheduling!), qualifications as and when wanted/needed.

What we have:

  • 8 founding students
  • 4 founding staff
  • Bentley/Doncaster
  • 6 chairs, one table
  • A nearly-finished modular building
  • A pig shed and a giraffe shed (watch this space)
  • A supportive trust and council
  • 3 draft values, a draft curriculum, a draft year, a draft 5 years….a lot of drafts. You get the picture.

So in a week, our founding staff team of 4 will meet and begin work. In around 3 weeks, our full founding team, with our starting 8 students will launch a draft of our school. And then, iterating, redrafting, critiquing and shaping, across 2019 we will grow to our full sixty. Lots to do.