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Welcome to Open Futures

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Open Futures • linking learning and life

Welcome to Open Futures It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Open Futures, a skills and enquiry-based curriculum development programme, linking learning and life. My Trust, our dedicated staff, and our professional partners have been developing Open Futures since 2005 in collaboration with 64 Pilot and Partnership schools situated in different parts of the country, each with unique needs and in diverse contexts. I am very grateful for all of their hard work, innovation and inspiration, which have helped to shape Open Futures into the fast-growing and relevant programme that it is today.

share their experiences and insights about how to make the most of Open Futures and the results they have seen, will be helpful as you consider joining the programme and the Open Futures network.

Just as learning is an ongoing process, Open Futures will continue to evolve as more schools bring their experiences and expertise to the initiative. I am confident that this programme will continue to contribute to and enhance the very valuable work that you do.

With all my best wishes

Together we will be building on the successful work of the growing number of schools across the country, who are already part of the Open Futures initiative and I hope you will find that being able to


Above all, what has been confirmed since 2005, is that Open Futures can be a catalyst for positive change within schools. I wish you every success and hope that you will find Open Futures to be the same catalyst for change that our pilot schools have found it to be.

Lady Hamlyn Chair of Trustees, The Helen Hamlyn Trust

Our vision We want to nurture positive, independent individuals who are going to be able to make a valuable contribution to society. Our vision is that, by 2020, primary school children who have taken part in Open Futures, will be progressing through the education system with a greater knowledge and understanding of the world around them, a love of learning and the skills, aspirations, confidence and values to make the most of their adult lives.

“What we are aiming to do is to find the spark that lights the desire to learn in each child. Since introducing Open Futures there is a purpose behind everything they do, which is the key thing.� Mary Pavard, Headteacher, Tangmere Primary School


Philosophy and practice How does Open Futures support learning?

Open Futures allows primary school children to learn practical skills, discover personal interests and develop values that make them excited about learning and what they can achieve in the future, benefitting their adult relationships and working lives. Open Futures interacts with key government priorities including priorities for children’s health and well-being, enhancing and extending the way they can be applied in primary schools. In particular, Open Futures is: • Involving and supporting parents in strategies to promote healthy eating, including encouraging young children to grow their own vegetables and fruit and then prepare and cook food for themselves;

“There is a ‘Ripple Effect’ – children are taking ideas from the project home, there are more children cooking at home with parents.” Evaluation report 2009 – Leeds Headteacher, 3rd year Open Futures


• Ensuring that children have the appropriate skills, attitudes and confidence to become active, enthusiastic and, more importantly, independent learners; • Helping children to make a positive contribution to society and to understand and appreciate the value of cultural diversity; • Increasing motivation and interest in learning, and thereby improving attendance and behaviour; • Supporting the raising of attainment levels at key stages 1 and 2 in literacy, numeracy, science and ICT in the context of a broad, rich and enjoyable curriculum for pupils of all abilities; • Helping to develop inclusive and enterprising schools, in particular, the extent to which they are able to forge stronger teaching and learning links with their local communities.

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The four strands

How do they support children’s learning? Central to Open Futures strands is the extent to which the four strands overlap and interact. askit provides the skills of dialogue and questioning which result in enhancing the experiences offered by growit, cookit and filmit. Children are better equipped as independent thinkers and learners to ask questions, discuss options, make decisions as a team and try things out. askit enables children and teachers to experience an approach to teaching and learning called Philosophy for Children (P4C), that is both motivating and challenging. It has developed over 30 years and is practised in 60 countries, P4C engages children with their learning and develops invaluable life skills. It offers children the chance to explore important concepts, improve their thinking, appreciate others points of view, make more sense of their world, better understand others and themselves and judge what is reasonable to believe and value.


growit equips teachers and children with the skills, confidence and techniques to create and maintain a productive, edible garden and to garden sustainably. Teachers and children are taught by expert trainers from the Royal Horticultural Society about seasonality, how to select and use appropriate tools, how to sow, grow and tend to their own produce and to appreciate the wonderful flavour of fresh produce harvested in its natural season.

food people grow, cook and eat in different parts of the world, looking at the ethics of food production; history and geography – where plants are located and why, effects of weather and climate; English; listening to instructions, keeping journals and records, expanding their vocabulary as they plan their gardens and recipes … growing and cooking can involve the whole curriculum.

cookit engages children with the hands-on experience of preparing their produce for the table, thereby developing a positive food culture and providing a good culinary understanding of how the food they grow in school relates to their own physical development and well-being. As pupils grow and cook, their new skills and knowledge will support and enhance their future choices. These hands-on processes also provide opportunities to enhance other forms of learning such as mathematics – measuring, weighing and problem solving; science – understanding habitats, lifecycles and seasons, investigating what makes plants grow and why; health – making simple choices that improve health and well-being; global citizenship – recognising differences and similarities between the

filmit is an internet-video system that helps children document and share ongoing project work. Children and teachers use video cameras to record events, activities, drama; whatever captures their imagination. They then edit and upload the films on to the shared community website, where they are watched by and attract comments from the other participating schools. By combining video production with internet sharing, filmit is innovative, exciting and relevant for children. For teachers it offers a way to work creatively with new technologies; to explore alternative forms of literacy and fresh ways to document their pupils work.


“We have an educational context which is target driven. As a head I am responsible for the results achieved here… Open Futures, and the ethos of educating the whole child, helps to mitigate this context, to keep us in touch with our philosophy of education.” Evaluation Report 2009 – Wakefield Headteacher, 3rd year Open Futures

Open Futures offers senior leaders a strategic framework to achieve their vision. Involvement in the programme gives ‘permission’ and lots of support to adopt the Open Futures approach to learning and teaching, which connects with deeply held values amongst teachers and school leaders. Open Futures sits at the heart of curriculum development, underpinning it both in ethos and in practice. In engaging with the four strands of Open Futures, schools can involve pupils in fresh, motivating, highly practical learning experiences which: • f ulfil the aims of the new Primary Curriculum – successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens; • fully support its essentials for learning and life – literacy, numeracy and ICT, skills and attitudes, personal development; • offer exciting ways of developing all six of the six areas of learning with an increased emphasis on first-hand experiences or ‘learning by doing’ and ‘learning through making’ – mathematical understanding, scientific and technological


understanding, understanding English, communication and languages, human, social and environmental understanding, understanding the arts and design, understanding physical health and well-being; • deliver the outcomes of Every Child Matters – be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution, achieve economic well-being; • help to develop partnerships between schools and their communities, drawing in skilled adults to work alongside teachers in providing and delivering the curriculum. Open Futures encourages community involvement in young peoples learning and thus supports community cohesion. Links with schools in India supports and promotes community cohesion in an international context. The Pilot schools have shown how involvement in Open Futures has helped them to improve attainment, behaviour, attendance and physical and emotional well-being.


Who is involved The Open Futures Partners

Open Futures is directed and funded by the Helen Hamlyn Trust. The programme responds to the Trust’s concerns about children’s health and well-being and the need to engage children at the earliest stages of their education in developing skills and values for life and learning.


For Open Futures the Trust has brought together a number of highly respected organisations and individuals to work in partnership with schools to establish and develop the skills and enquiry-based learning programme. • SAPERE, the UK charity for Philosophy for Children (P4C) manages the askit Strand; • The Royal Horticultural Society manages the growit strand; • T he RSA-founded Focus on Food Campaign manages the cookit strand; • The filmit team is managed by the Executive Director of Fabrica and Benetton online and an Independent interaction designer. • The Research Centre for Learning and Teaching at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne advises on enquiry within the curriculum;


How it works

The four Steps to becoming and staying an Open Futures School “One of the most valuable resources of Open Futures is the interest, knowledge and motivation that specialists bring with them. It gives strong authenticity to proceedings.” Professor David Leat, Evaluator, CFLT, Newcastle University

Open Futures consists of a set of powerful tools, proven resources support and training for teachers to enable schools to develop their curriculum in a way that is tailored to their needs and ambitions. The Open Futures website also provides easy access to ongoing expert advice and support. Open Futures is best developed, extended, embedded and sustained when groups of six or seven schools work together in supportive ‘networks’.


Integrating Open Futures into the curriculum is planned personally with each participating headteacher and then teacher training is delivered by specialists from each of the strands. It is recommended that schools who are in the early stages of developing a skills and enquiry-based curriculum and are new to Open Futures consider planning their training in phases or steps.

Step 1 Introductory Membership of Open Futures This consists of four training experiences:


An Open Futures Curriculum Specialist will visit your school to discuss the skills and enquiry based learning programme in the context of your own development plans. The specialist will provide information about the philosophical and pedagogical underpinnings of Open Futures and its four strands.


You will be invited to spend a day with five other headteachers on a visit to an Existing Open Futures School. You will be able to observe Open Futures lessons and learn more about the management of the learning programme directly from an experienced headteacher.


You will be registered as an introductory member of the Open Futures Online Learning Community. This provides ongoing consultation with your curriculum specialist and other expert advice, as well as access to the filmit website.


Two places will be reserved for your school at a one day Open Futures Conference. This will provide you and another member of your staff with the opportunity to meet Open Futures professional trainers from the four strands, representatives from other participating schools and to experience a number of valuable core training activities.


Step 2 askit and enquiry

Step 3 growit, cookit and filmit

It is recommended that training in managing enquiry across the curriculum and delivering the askit strand precedes training in the other three skill-based strands.

It is recommended that training in each of the three strands of Open Futures takes place simultaneously during one school year. However some schools may wish to spread the training programme over two or three years, focusing each year on implementing a single strand.

Step 2 consists of four interlinked activities:


askit level 1 training for the whole staff. This is a two-day course validated and facilitated by Sapere trainers experienced in delivering askit (the specially adapted version of Philosophy for Children or P4C);


Following the training teachers and pupils can maintain a dialogue on-line and seek ongoing advice from our askit experts who are there to help. There will also be the opportunity for schools to share P4C related teaching ideas and stimulus materials and seek advice from each other;


Personal support from the schools own Open Futures Curriculum Specialist continues with a visit each term to support the embedding of askit within your school and to advise the senior management team in developing the enquiry curriculum. The curriculum specialist will also be able to provide online support;


Each school will be invited to send two representatives to an Open Futures national conference delivered by experienced headteachers and other ‘experts’. The focus will be on developing enquiry across the curriculum and the four strands.


Training in each strand consists of three days of on-site support provided by each of the Open Futures Partners – nine days in all. The trainers are accredited by the RHS, Focus on Food, and the filmit Team. Schools subscribing to Step 3 are also provided with the full support service available from the Open Futures online community. This includes continued dialogue with the schools own Open Futures Curriculum Specialist and experts from each strand. All schools have two places reserved at an annual national Open Futures conference. Its focus will be on embedding strand training and planning for the ongoing development and sustainability of the Open Futures programme in your school.

Step 4 Joining the Open Futures network Once schools have implemented Open Futures we recommend that they join the Open Futures network to continue to extend and embed the programme. By joining the Open Futures network they get ongoing access to:

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Advanced training – workshops, seminars, conferences;

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Make use of and participate in filmit; Regular e-newsletters;


The national Open Futures conferences.

The Open Futures online learning community and associated services;

Information on events, competitions, new resources, courses, funding opportunities, new partnerships;

“Open Futures has had such a positive impact on everyone involved – pupils, staff and the wider community. Everyone is planning and working together and there’s a great sense of sharing and empathy, a real community spirit.” Colleen Gibson, Head Teacher, St James’ CE (VC) Junior & Infant School.


To find out more go to Meet the team at Register for Step 1 online at

Open Futures 7200 The Quorum Oxford Business Park North Oxford OX4 2JZ Telephone 01865 481 402

The Helen Hamlyn Trust


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