Ings Primary School is a primary academy in Hull. The school began working with Open Futures in 2013, and in 2017 became an Open Futures flagship school, having embedded the programme into the school curriculum and across school life.
Ings is part of the Yorkshire and the Humber Co-operative Learning Trust (YHCLT), a group of five schools that pursue the values of the worldwide cooperative movement - self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. Its teaching is driven by a wish ‘to prepare children to take every advantage of their future education and discover their place in the world’. Open Futures has become a key tool for staff at the school in achieving this objective.
The school curriculum takes as its starting point what it calls an ‘Active 3D Education’, with three dimensions of ‘active minds’, ‘active bodies’ and ‘active souls’. It delivers this mission through delivery of the national curriculum and Statutory Framework for Early Years Foundation Stage, augmented by the four strands of Open Futures.
Aspects of Open Futures learning fit well within the three dimensions of the Ings curriculum. For example, ‘active minds’, which commits to developing pupils’ intellectual abilities by encouraging pupils to be inquisitive and use reasoning, correlates strongly with the Open Futures Askit strand and its basis in enquiry-based learning. Likewise the second dimension, of active and healthy bodies, provides opportunities for participation in sport, competition, growing activities, cooking and making things - aspects of which are clearly supported by the Growit, Cookit and Filmit strands of Open Futures.
This support for the curriculum takes place in a number of practical ways. For example, part of the school’s commitment to active minds - and an aspect of its promotion of British values - is to visit Parliament in Key Stage 2 and to hold regular debates in school, with each class taking part in two Askit sessions per term. Parents and governors are also invited to attend these sessions.
Teaching and learning
The depth of this use of Open Futures teaching approaches has had great impact on teaching and learning at Ings.
“Since the introduction of the Open Futures approach, results in reading, writing and mathematics have been at their best and in some areas above national average standards,” writes deputy head teacher Sharon Chadburn.
“The Open Futures approach has made learning more fun and meaningful, developing new interests along the way. Children are learning skills that are meaningful and relevant to their lives. Teachers are able to structure learning that is more inclusive; providing opportunities that are creative, aspiration and enterprising.”
Children’s own feedback tells a similar story. A survey of Key Stage 2 pupils found that every pupil enjoyed the Open Futures approach. Pupils recognise they are leaning new skills that will help them in their future lives. Some comments on the programme recorded from pupils include:
- “Helps me with my confidence.”
- “It’s fun and we learn lots.”
- “You can create what you want using your imagination. I love Ask It because it’s interesting to hear what other people have to say.”
- “Cook It has taught me how to make healthy food instead of eating high fat ready meals”
- “Grow It is fun and possibly tastier.”
- “Both my grandparents like gardening so I help them and enjoy it.”
- “I do Film It at home by doing make-up videos.”
- “I cook and make little buns and we grow tomatoes and strawberries. I’ve made 48 home videos so far.”
The success of Open Futures at Ings owes much to the commitment of the school’s leadership and teaching staff to the programme. Four members of staff have trained as leads for the four Open Futures strands, and all members of staff have received at least Stage 1 training in Askit. Further training in Growit and Filmit is timetabled into staff training plans. The programme has also inspired investment in the school. In 2014 a classroom was refurbished to provide a cookery room, enabling daily Cookit teaching.
As a flagship school, with Open Futures embedded within the curriculum, Ings plans to work to share its knowledge and facilities more widely with other schools and communities. The school provides a venue for Open Futures Growit training courses, and will offer its own training to other schools.