IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Open Futures Learning Programme

Free access to the teaching resources developed through the Open Futures learning programme - by the Helen Hamlyn Trust.

Green leafed plant. Photo by Nikoline Arns on Unsplash

The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Pedagogy (0-11 years) (HHCP) is funded by the Helen Hamlyn Trust to conduct research and other activities that improve young children’s learning. The Trust has published a website giving free access to the teaching resources developed through its Open Futures learning programme.
Open Futures’ resources are a brilliant tool to encourage and develop children’s agency in education, a key research area for the HHCP. 


The Open Futures programme was an education initiative that ran from 2005-2017 working with over 80,000 pupils across 164 schools throughout England.

As well as providing free teaching resources, the Open Futures website tells the story of Open Futures and how it developed with participating schools. By the time of its closure in 2017 the Open Futures approach was being used in primary schools nationally as well as other settings including nurseries, special schools and in further education. 

Open Futures no longer delivers its full training programme but continues in schools where it has been adopted as a central tenet of the school’s approach to learning and teaching across the curriculum - links to training organisations are provided on the website.

The Open Futures enquiry and skills-based learning and teaching approach has led to the initiation of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Pedagogy (0-11 years) at the UCL Institute of Education, where the trusts focus on engaging children at the earliest stages of their education continues.


The resources combine enquiry and skills-based learning for Key Stages 1 and 2, based around the key themes of philosophy (P4C), growing and cooking food, and video production.

The resources were developed with our expert partners including the Royal Horticultural Society, Focus on Food, and SAPERE, whose ‘Philosophy 4 Children’ (P4C) programme formed the basis for the enquiry-led learning approach taken by Open Futures.


Lady Helen Hamlyn, Chair of the Helen Hamlyn Trust, said: 

“Education is the thread that connects every area of my trust’s activities. Encouraging children’s individual abilities at a young age was our goal with the Open Futures programme. This website makes the programme available to all, enabling others to use its resources and share some of the experiences and insights of the schools nationally who helped shape the programme. I hope you will find the website helpful to enhance work that you are already doing or as a useful framework to introduce a more creative curriculum.”

Dame Alison Peacock, Chief Executive, Chartered College of Teaching:

“With the website, I encourage colleagues to take the opportunity to reflect on what may be possible within their own setting. Children deserve to experience the full breadth of the curriculum in an inclusive and enabling environment. The Open Futures approach introduces a collective purpose that transcends more traditional approaches to the school curriculum.”

Lucy O’Rorke, Projects and Research Director at the Helen Hamlyn Trust, commented: 

“Open Futures developed from a small pilot scheme into a national programme impacting thousands of children. This website makes available the many teaching resources developed through the programme, publications, case studies and evaluation reports, which we hope will be of value to school leaders, teachers and researchers alike. Parents too!”