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Schools to face scrutiny on Opening Minds work

More than 200 schools are being given two years to show they are implementing a radical, themed curriculum effectively after research uncovered variations in the "quality" of their approaches.

The Opening Minds framework for teaching the national curriculum was introduced by the Royal Society of Arts a decade ago to encourage schools to teach skills or competences such as "managing information" alongside traditional subject knowledge.

It is now used by 211 schools, mainly secondaries but an independent review this year revealed "a wide variation of approaches between schools and within schools". They include the way pupil progress is assessed and tracked, adapting classroom observation and ensuring teachers had sufficient training.

The review recommended changes to ensure the "quality and coherence" of Opening Minds in schools and they will now be required to go through an official accreditation process. Those that apply will be checked and visited by one of seven newly designated Opening Minds training schools.

The process is designed to help all schools reach the required level, rather than giving them a simple passfail test. But those that do not go through it in the next two years will lose the right to call themselves Opening Minds schools.

Robert Hill, chair of a new charitable trust overseeing Opening Minds, said: "We are doing this because we think we will get a better curriculum. Every time we bring practitioners together you can feel the buzz and learning that goes on around the room. But it has been haphazard and sporadic until now and we are trying to move it up another level."

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