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This is an age old question in education and one which we are tackling with Opening Minds. As you probably know Opening Minds is now being used by over 200 secondary schools in England. As an approach it promotes innovative and integrated ways of thinking about education and the curriculum. Teachers design and develop a curriculum for their own schools based on a competence framework.

This is an age old question in education and one which we are tackling with Opening Minds. As you probably know Opening Minds is now being used by over 200 secondary schools in England. As an approach it promotes innovative and integrated ways of thinking about education and the curriculum. Teachers design and develop a curriculum for their own schools based on a competence framework.

This competency led teaching approach offers students a more holistic and coherent way of learning which allows them to make connections and apply knowledge across different subject areas as well as develop the skills they need as 21st century citizens.

Teachers associate Opening Minds with a range of positive benefits including an improvement in academic and independent learning, general and subject specific skills, confidence, behaviour, enjoyment, attendance and relationships.

The past year has been one of rapid change for Opening Minds – much of it triggered by the independent review of Opening Minds activity. The report identified a wide range of good, imaginative and innovative practice in schools that was valued by both teachers and students. However, like any new and creative initiative there had been a wide variation of approaches between schools. A key recommendation to the RSA was that to further strengthen practice in schools a method of quality assurance could be introduced in order to assure quality and strengthen the support available to schools.

In light of this on Friday the RSA announced that seven schools have been designated as RSA Opening Minds Training Schools. All of the schools have been assessed as being ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted and, following a rigorous application and visitation process have been designated as leading practitioners of Opening Minds.

The schools are:

Capital City Academy, Brent

Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School, Liverpool

Kingsbridge Community College, Devon

Oasis Academy, Enfield

The RSA Academy, Tipton

St John’s College, Marlborough

Whitley Abbey Business and Enterprise College, Coventry

The accreditation system will be light-touch and developmental in nature and will be supported by continuing professional development for practitioners. Accreditation will be led by Opening Minds schools for Opening Minds schools. It will also enable teacher-to-teacher and school-to-school support to be properly resourced and organised. This will provide a catalyst for further development, creativity and innovation as every time Opening Minds schools come together it results in the generation of new ideas.

By introducing accreditation we are not looking to provide one single vision or template of the Opening Minds curriculum. We recognise the need to take account of a school’s context and we want to maintain the creativity and innovation that has been at the heart of the initiative. Accreditation is a means of supporting this journey, providing assurance that rigour and quality are at the heart of what Opening Minds offers to young people.

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