The UK's Innovative 21st Century Schools

School 21, London
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Hartsholme Academy, Lincoln
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XP. School, Doncaster
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In March, 2016 I went to the UK today for two weeks. Besides working with Armold Lodge, a small independent school in Warwickshire, I visited three outstanding UK 21st century innovative secondary schools, identified for me by colleagues at the Innovation Unit. Here are small profiles of these outstanding schools, School 21 in Stratford, East London, Hartsholme Academy in Lincoln, East Midlands, and XP. School in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. - Bob


School 21 is a new state-funded, inclusive years 4-18 school. The school opened in 2012 to help students succeed in the 21st century through a pedagogy of wellbeing, oracy (speaking skills), and project-based learning. See the excellent Case Study of School 21 from the edutopia Schools that Work program published in September, 2016.



Case Study of School 21

The edutopia Schools that Work Case Study of School 21 was published in September, 2016.

edutopia videos:

edutopia articles/blogs:


Hartsholme Academy's Immersive Learning Environments

Hartsholme Academy currently serves students pre-school through Year 6 (ages 4-11) and is currently in a formal consultation period for the proposal to expand Hartsholme Academy to include Key Stage Three (Years 7-9) from September 2017.

This school is pure magic! From the outside Hartsholme Academy in Lincolnshire looks like many other schools in the UK, but from the moment you step inside, you realise it is like no other school. But Hartsholme Academy is not magical by accident, the magic doesn't come from a special budget/demographic/admissions policy/it's ok for you' type-of way… it's magical because of the people inside and what they stand and strive for.

In 2009 Hartsholme Academy was in special measures, it was not a great place to be for teachers or children, indeed it was at risk of closure when Carl Jarvis became Head Teacher. Within two hard but exciting years, Carl and his team of magicians (for that read children, staff and parents) thought differently about learning! They asked simple questions like 'why do we do..' 'what if…' and 'what's stopping us' and then they DID the magic… they placed the child at the center of everything!

The school went from special measures to outstanding in two years and recently has been claimed as 'beyond outstanding.' Using a 'reverse learning' approach the starting point to any learning identifies what interests and motivates the children and how they want to learn. Relevant and engaging experiences are then designed, in collaboration with the children, offering rigorous learning opportunities that have authentic have real world outcomes.

As time marches on the 'thinking' and doing' differently continues with a significant emphasis now being placed on ensuring the project outcomes leave a legacy outside the school walls and discovering ways to ensure the children have an even greater say in their own learning. This journey of discovery and redesign applies to all members of the school community. Carl and his team are also developing protocols to ensure enhanced wellbeing and work-life balance for teachers as well as sharing their experiences with hundreds of schools nationally and internationally under the name EOS Education. And so the journey continues for this inspirational school as it continues to rethink, research and refine the magic within. Visit Hartsholme Academy or contact EOS education for more information.

Hartsholme Academy's Immersive Learning Environments from bobpearlman


  • Hartsholme Academy, Lincoln, East Midlands, East of Manchester and Sheffield
  • Carl Jarvis, Headteacher. Twitter: @carljarvis_eos
  • 2016 Class Blogs
  • The New Dawn Trust is a new multi academy educational trust made up from Hartsholme Academy, EOS Teaching School Alliance, St. Giles Academy, Woodlands Academy and East of England Teacher Training Centre.
  • Eos Education - Eos Education work with schools, organisations and partners across the UK and the world whoseek to approach education in a different – and better – way.
  • Twitter: @hartsholmeacad




XP is an 11-19 mainstream secondary school in Doncaster, UK and is part of the XP Multi-Academy Trust. XP opened in September 2014 and is heavily influenced by the extremely successful practices of High Tech High and EL Education (Expeditionary Learning) schools, USA. XP's strategic vision is defined by its Design Principles. XP is a deliberately small and personalised school of 350 students in total from ages 11-19, with 25 students in each class and two classes per year group. The school will roll out over seven years, starting with Year 7 in 2014, achieving full capacity in 2020.



Expeditionary Learning (EL) Model. Cross-subject expeditions.
Andy Sprakes, Headteacher


[Note: The Innovation Unit's education team is the group in the UK that promotes PBL and new school designs. - Bob]

Innovation Unit on Education -We know that all young people can be successful in the 21st century, but only if we radically change how children learn, how their learning is assessed and how schools are organised.

We have launched School Design Lab which helps to design schools committed to delivering education that has purpose at its core, and encourages young people to embrace their passions. Read more

5. Other Innovative UK Schools: