Humanities: Opening Worlds

Year R and Key Stage 1
Children in Reception follow the Early Years curriculum.  This includes practical, story-based learning about the world around us.
In Year 1 and for the first 5 terms of Year 2, we plan based on the the National Curriculum, using the agreed ELAN MAT progression documents (in the column to the right).  Whilst we have mixed year group classes, for History and Geography, children in Year 1 and Year 2 are grouped together as a single group.  We use a rolling progression to ensure that all children participate in all elements of the curriculum.
Key Stage 2
From September 2023, classes in the final term of Year 2 and in Key Stage 2 have adopted the Opening Worlds curriculum.  This is a scheme originating in the London Borough of Haringey that uses knowledge rich texts and high quality storytelling to embed learning.
Based on Rosenshine's principles, the scheme cleverly weaves together teaching across History, Geography and RE to build knowledge and ensures considerable frequent recall and application of new learning.
Opening Worlds
Opening Worlds curriculum and its associated teaching approaches will secure the highest possible quality of education for pupils. This is because the curriculum ensures that the subjects reflect the wide reference and academic practices, outside of school, to which they refer. In addition the material is organised so that pupils use earlier material to access to later material and so that pupils start to see how everything connects within a subject.
Opening Worlds has strongly recommended that the material is taught in sequence because each part makes the next part much more understandable.  Numerous words that are explicitly taught and practised in Year 3 are then taken for granted in lessons in Years 4-6.

All children in Years 3, 4 and 5 have, therefore, started with the Year 3 Opening Worlds curriculum.  As a result of moving from the school’s previous curriculum to Opening Worlds, the school has identified a small number of content gaps.  These have been noted and will be addressed through our choice of books that are used in English and read to children, field trips and acts of collective worship.

Children in Year 6 will be studying the Year 3 RE curriculum from the start of the year.  The choice was made not to include our Year 6 cohort in the other lessons as our existing curriculum included high quality texts and we felt that they needed additional material to make strong progress.  During the course of the year, where termly projects overlap with Year 3 lessons in other subjects (for example the study of Rivers in Geography), the Year 6 children will use the Opening Worlds resources to supplement their learning.  From September 2024, Opening Worlds will be taught across Key Stage 2.

The document above outlines the whole intended Opening Worlds curriculum, term by term for the whole of Key Stage 2.  In 2023/24, all children in Year 3-5 are learning the Year 3 curriculum only.
The importance of field work in Geography
The need for a strong emphasis on field work is a priority within every recent national report on the subject (see the links below).  Building a clearly structured programme of field trips has been a key area of priority for Geography since 2022/23.
Every class from Years 3-6, takes part in a Geography field trip every term.  Each class focuses on rivers (twice), the urban environment (twice) and the countryside (twice).  The field work is intended to ensure that the learning we do in class is less abstract.  To learn about the River Nile and the water cycle, children need to understand how a river flows - that water travels from higher ground towards the sea, and to be able to visualise how rainfall will join the river at its various stages.  This then allows us to approach more abstract concepts as we meet them.  As we explore climate zones, we will set up a weather station and monitor our own local weather, to see that we certainly don't lack rainfall here.
Field trips also provide us with a real life opportunity to use maps of the local area, and for children to draw sketch maps.  In making this part of every field trip, we intend that sketch mapping will become a clearly understood media for our children.
We are really excited at the opportunities that this approach to field work is bringing, and know that the local environment with its moorland, hills, coastline, rivers, woodland and urban areas is a fantastic place to be able to utilise more fully.