Opening Worlds is a knowledge-rich humanities programme for teaching history, geography and religion in Years 3 to 6. We provide curriculum resources together with training, support and ongoing programme-related professional development for primary school teachers. Because of its rapidly discernible effects on literacy and highly inclusive approach, Opening Worlds quickly gained appeal in schools tackling under-achievement in areas of social disadvantage.
The Opening Worlds programme was first launched in 2019 by Christine Counsell and Steve Mastin, in association with Haringey Education Partnership (HEP). Over 60 primary schools took it up in Haringey and subsequently in neighbouring Enfield. A new company Opening Worlds Ltd was then founded and, in partnership with HEP, began to work with cohesive groups of twelve or more primary schools (eg LA partnerships, MATs and other school groups with established community leadership) in other settings. In this way, over 120 primary schools beyond Haringey and Enfield have now adopted the programme through Opening Worlds communities established in Birmingham, Brent, Cambridgeshire, Lancashire, Liverpool, Peterborough and Surrey, together with some MAT communities serving multiple locations.
The programme meets and substantially exceeds the demand of the National Curriculum for history and geography. The religion programme is compatible with the objectives of most SACRE locally agreed syllabuses in RE but substantially exceeds the knowledge-base and the resourcing that such local RE syllabuses offer. The programme is characterised by strong vertical sequencing within subjects (so that pupils gain security in a rich, broad vocabulary through systematic introduction, sustained practice and deliberate revisiting) and by intricate horizontal and diagonal connections, thus creating a curriculum whose effects are far greater than the sum of their parts.
Opening Worlds only offers the above as a complete package. The one exception to this is where some schools with a religious character choose to teach the history and geography strands only, retaining their own RE programme. The history and geography strands will work very well without the religion strand. That said, even some faith schools in Haringey and Enfield have chosen to adopt the Opening Worlds religion strand because of its unusual thoroughness in teaching each religion’s stories and texts, and its careful sensitivity to each religious context.
Opening Worlds does not sell resources separately. The resources are offered to communities of schools who wish to take up the full package of required training and ongoing support.
Opening Worlds is offered on an annual subscription basis, as follows
Opening Worlds is offered on an annual subscription basis, as follows:
£1000 per 1 form entry
£1500 per 2 form entry
£2000 per 3 form entry
Communities of schools adopting the programme all enjoy a preliminary ‘Implementation Plan’ which can take place in any term. Implementation is a period of training, extra support and practice for teachers. It lasts for one term. During the implementation period, all Year 3 teachers and SLT undergo two half-days of (remote) training from Christine Counsell and Steve Mastin, phased release of resources, time to practise using the resources with current pupils (enabling feedback and questions to Christine and Steve), further support through twilight surgeries and additional partnership meetings for project leaders.
Because the success of the programme relies on sequencing, our new partners always begin with the Year 3 programme only. Where schools have wanted more year groups to benefit more quickly, they have successfully taught the Year 3 programme to Year 4 and Year 5.
Level of difficulty is determined by prior knowledge and is therefore not intrinsic to year group or age. If pupils undertake the programme in the right order, then prior knowledge gives access to later material and text. In other words, the whole programme works on the assumption that the curriculum itself is the progression model.
To find out more about Opening Worlds or to arrange a meeting with Christine Counsell, Steve Mastin and our HEP partners, with a view to prospective adoption, please email ChristineCounsell@openingworlds.uk and SteveMastin@openingworlds.uk or firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be delighted to help.