RSA Opening Minds


Opening Minds Redesign

Opening Minds has been undergoing an exciting phase of redesign over the summer and we are now ready to unveil our plans for how we hope to engage a greater number of schools in real curriculum innovation.

A 2012 literature review carried out by the RSA provided evidence of the worldwide demand for a rigorous, competency-based education. Additionally, recent DfE announcements and hints about the future of the national curriculum from 2014 (and the space to develop a ‘whole curriculum’ outside the national curriculum) are predicted to be a key moment of opportunity for RSA Opening Minds to influence practice.

With these in mind, we have been looking at ways that we can reach ever more schools on a variety of levels. Our new approach will consist of three key areas of support available to schools; a toolkit resource, a range of Opening Minds training centred within a single training school, and a national programme of continued professional development for teachers and senior leaders around innovative curriculum design, incorporating a range of models including Opening Minds.

1. An RSA Opening Minds Training Centre, based at RSA Academy Tipton, and led in partnership with other OM Training Schools. This Training Centre would act as a consultancy and CPD hub for schools who wish to implement OM across their school, and as an emerging ‘community of practice’ for schools wishing to innovate collaboratively to take OM practice further. Please contact Lesley James at RSA Academy Tipton with any queries and your interest to engage



2. ‘Grand Curriculum Designs’ a pioneering new CPD programme for schools and teachers who wish to engage in broader curriculum design processes. This is delivered as a partnership between the RSA and the Institute of Education, with funding from the NAHT, OCR and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. OM will be a key feature in this programme, although participating teachers will be exposed to a number of different approaches, and would not necessarily implement OM in their schools…

Register your interest - We are now seeking ambitious educators who would like to sign up for our upcoming national Grand Curriculum Designs programme starting in September 2013. To register your interest, please email


3. and the OM online toolkit, will be used to support both programmes, but also available to schools and teachers who wish to understand OM fully, and may wish to ‘go it alone’ in developing OM in their schools. This will be developed through a partnership between OM training schools and a consultant and will be available at the end of June 2013. Contact us if you are interested in learning more about the toolkit.


In light of these changes we have decided to close the accreditation scheme to new schools but are continuing to support those who are still on their accreditation journey whom we hope will also continue to engage with use through our new programmes.

If you would like further information on any of these new developments please contact

New report published

RSA Opening Minds commissioned the University of Sussex to conduct a literature
review. The aim of the review was to collate an evidence base with regards the
effectiveness of competence based curricula in secondary schools both generally
and with specific reference to the RSA Opening Minds competence framework. 

The review is required to provide an evidence base to answer three key questions.

  •  What is the evidence base to support a competencebased approach to education generally – including the impacts on both outcomes and pedagogy?
  • What is the evidence base for the competences as defined by Opening Minds and how do these compare to other competences as utilised by other approaches?
  •  How could the outcomes and impacts of OM be measured and evaluated?

The full report which include a set of recommendations can be accessed here:



New Videos

RSA Opening Minds Conference on Subjects and Skills: how can we best support young people for the challenges ahead?  brought together educationalists,teachers and students to share and celebrate innovative ways of thinking about teaching and learning. School heads such as Dr Patrick Hazelwood, Head Teacher of St John’s School talk about the impact of implementing RSA Opening Minds.

Opening Minds Conference 2012: Dr Patrick Hazelwood

Opening Minds Conference 2012: Dr Patrick Hazelwood from The RSA on Vimeo.

Opening Minds Conference 2012: Christine Lenihan

Opening Minds Conference 2012: Christine Lenihan from The RSA on Vimeo.

Opening Minds Conference 2012: Kathryn Nolan

Opening Minds Conference 2012: Kathryn Nolan from The RSA on Vimeo.

RSA Opening Minds Award

If you have applied to become an RSA Opening Minds school and are using Opening Minds within your Key Stage 3 curriculum you might be interested in the RSA Opening Minds Award. This is an Award, developed in collaboration with ASDAN, which is competence based. It is a series of challenges which should enable and encourage your students to demonstrate their development of the Opening Minds competences. The challenges are grouped into the 5 competence domains:  Citizenship, Learning, Information, People and Situations.

The challenges are not curriculum specific therefore should be appropriate for any school using Opening Minds e.g. within the Managing Information section students could opt to: use a variety of websites or newspapers to compare different stories on the same topic; select the information you need to write your own article on the topic. Or, from Managing Situations: Choose a natural disaster, research it appropriately and then produce a news bulletin on the causes, effects and long-term consequences of the event.

There is a wide menu of choice within each section and schools can use the Award over a year or could choose to use it at the end of the year for example. It can be completed as homework assignments or done in class. The choice is yours.  If you are an ASDAN centre you will be able to draw down a certificate of completion for each student. The work is internally assessed and last year we organised a review meeting which was attended by all the schools trialling the Award so that we could informally moderate work across all the schools. This is not a requirement but it proved to be a very useful exercise.

The cost of the Award booklet is in line with all ASDAN qualifications, it costs £6 per student. Copies can be ordered direct from the RSA Academy.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Award or would like to order copies, please contact Lesley James at the RSA Academy:



Conference 2012 – keynote speakers confirmed

We are delighted that Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group and Dame Ellen MacArthur, round the world sailor and founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation are confirmed as keynote speakers at the RSA Opening Minds second annual conference.

The conference will be chaired by Matthew Taylor, CEO of the RSA.

The conference will be held at the Institute of Education, March 2nd, 2012.

For a full conference brochure please contact

Booking will be available through the events page of this website from January 4th.



First school is accreditated

We are delighted that Lea Manor High School in Luton is the first school to become an accredited RSA Opening Minds school. Their practice of Opening Minds is of the very highest quality in terms of both its development and delivery.

Robert Hill, Chair of Opening Minds will be visiting Lea Manor on June 6th to present a certificate of accreditation.

Study day 2011

On May 13-14th the RSA Opening Minds Training Schools met for a study day.

The event had three main objectives – to:

  • Explore and discuss the research related to Opening Minds which schools are currently engaged;
  • To consider, discuss and agree a practical action research approach to underpin Opening Minds. The resultant learning community will be used to inform classroom practice.
  • Assess different approaches to assessment of the competences, seeing how far there is commonality, whether there should be links to National Curriculum assessments, and whether it is possible to develop approaches that are robust enough to make comparisons across schools.

As a result of the event action research projects will be set-up around development of an Opening Minds framework for primary schools, what excellent Opening Minds practice looks like, and how we can most effectively assess the development of the competences.

As the research progresses updates will be available through the website.

The lively discussions continued over dinner.

Events Summer 2011

Following the successful annual conference in March we have had many requests from schools to find out more about RSA Opening Minds. We will be holding a number of exciting events at Opening Minds Training Schools across the country this term. 

 The aim of the meetings will be for schools to:

  • observe RSA Opening Minds in action in the classroom
  • discuss experiences and the benefits of developing an Opening Minds curriculum with practitioners
  • hear about the new developments in terms of accreditation and the development of Opening Minds qualifications

 We do hope that you’ll be able to join us at one of these exciting events. Venues and dates are below. Each session will list for three hours.  

  • Whitley Abbey College, Coventry – 14th June
  •  Kingsbridge Community College, Devon – 15th June
  • RSA Academy, West Midlands – 16th June – (a morning and an afternoon  session will be available)
  • St Johns School, Marlborough – 21st June
  • Cardinal Heenan School, Liverpool – 24th June
  • Capital City Academy, Brent,  London   – June 27th

 In addition to the events above we will also be holding a national event for head teachers.

  • RSA Academy – July 14th

 This will be held at the RSA Academy in Tipton, in the West Midlands on July 14tt.

If you would like to attend please email with the following information.

- Location and date of event you wish to attend

- Name of attendee(s)

- Name of school

- Contact details- email and phone

Conference keynotes available

Films of the keynote speeches from this years annual conference – competences and the new curriculum: using RSA Opening Minds to develop students with 21st century skills can now be found on a dedicated page in the events section of the website.

Keynotes included: Sir Ken RobinsonRod Bristow, President of Pearson UK, David Aaronovitch, writer, broadcaster and journalist and Robert Hill, Chair of RSA Opening Minds.