A New Education Story: an insight series

29 September 2020

Introducing our NEW global partnership report

We are excited to round off the year with the launch of new global research led by Big Change that brings together the wisdom of global contributors (including OECD, RewirED, HundrED, Teach for All) to share A New Education Story: Three drivers to transform education systems. Read the full digital report or download the summary report.

At this moment, when education leaders, policymakers, and funders in every context are making decisions about how to restore learning and education, we want to offer a provocation. To say that it is simply not enough to “go back”. That to set up every young person to thrive – to prepare them well for their futures – the old ways will not do. More reform that leaves the existing narrow goals and purpose of education untouched will not get us there.

Our new education story must be one of transformation.


In September 2020 we launched this insight series. As a whole new set of people and organisations were being forced to think about education and learning in new ways, we believed the time was right to create a new education story. The global insight series brought together a diverse and brilliant group of thinkers and leaders from around the world to discuss the possibilities of this period of global disruption to trigger big change in education.

In December we published the final instalment in the series, which as it stands has reached over 2 million people and engaged 120k. We will know more about the full reach and impact later on in January 2021. 

You can follow the conversation by using the #NewEducationStory hashtag. Do read the articles and contribute your thoughts on TwitterInstagramLinkedIn and Facebook. Feel free to add it to your own articles or posts so we can widen the conversation. 

Holly Branson

A Transformative year for education

And that’s a wrap! (For now…) The brilliant Holly Branson rounds up our #NewEducationStory Insight Series by reflecting on the year; sharing insights and learnings from our project partners, teachers and young people.

“Now is the time to give young people the agency and opportunity to lead”

Holly Branson, Chair of Virgin Unite and founder of Big Change

Sara Blakely & Jack Harris

The importance of teaching mindset in schools

Sara Blakely and Jack Harris share their thoughts on the importance of mindset to develop open-minded thinkers and how we can empower young people to learn and dream beyond their limitations. They share their findings from The Mindset Series, demonstrating how this shift can have a positive impact on teachers and students.

“When we tap into the potential of ALL students and empower them to learn and dream beyond their limitations… the world will be a better, brighter and more innovative place. And it’s our job to give them the tools to get there.”

Sara Blakely, Founder, Spanx

Valerie Hannon

Everything starts with the story we tell about ourselves

We published an excerpt from Valerie Hannon and Amelia Peterson’s book Thrive: The Purpose of Schools in a Changing World as part of our insight series, exploring what it would it really take to thrive in this world.

“For change to become systemic, we need a new narrative about education’s purpose which is authentic, based on evidence of our predicament, and is in tune with our deepest values.”

Valerie Hannon, Board Director and Co-Founder, Innovation Unit

Pasi Sahlberg & saku tuominen

Learning Uncertainty

Pasi Sahlberg & Saku Tuominen discuss learning uncertainty and how 2020 has seen the biggest ever social experiment in education. They explore how we can use this challenging crisis as a unique learning opportunity

“School is a complex social system and one of the key features of complex systems is uncertainty. Whether we like it or not, nothing is certain.”

Pasi Sahlberg, UNSW Sydney & Saku Tuominen, HundrED

Vishal Talreja

#WhatIf we write a #NewEducationStory?

Vishal shared his thoughts on the impact of the pandemic on young people and their learning, asking us to reimagine education and its infinite possibilities while considering compassion and kindness as key factors.

“As the impact of the pandemic has heightened, it is becoming abundantly clear that traditional education models have ill-equipped our children to respond to the current crisis.”

Vishal Talreja, Co-founder, Dream a Dream

Caireen Goddard

How do we build a movement for big change in education? Be youth-led, be courageous, collaborate with humility

Big Change had the pleasure of joining a global conversation at People for Education’s Summit, with our colleague Eloise Haylor contributing to a session called ‘Change Makers: What Canada Can Learn from Around the Globe.’ Our Director of Network and Systems Change shared her views and takeaways from their exceptional panel

“Each panelist shared examples and insights from the large-scale change initiatives they are leading, advocating for increased social and emotional learning, and for the active engagement of young people, parents and caregivers in the change process.”

Caireen Goddard, Big Change

Molly McMahon, Santiago Rincon-Gallardo, & Vicky Colbert

The future of learning depends on this one fundamental building block

Molly, Santiago and Vicky discussed transformative relationships, beginning with a question: Do you remember a teacher who made you believe in yourself? 

They share their thoughts on how these relationships can transform education.In order to write a new education story, you first have to look at what’s at stake for the main characters.Molly McMahon, IDEO, Santiago Rincon-Gallardo, Michael Fullan Enterprises and Vicky Colbert, Escuela Nueva

Molly McMahon, IDEO, Santiago Rincon-Gallardo, Michael Fullan Enterprises and Vicky Colbert, Escuela Nueva

Molly McMahon, IDEO, Santiago Rincon-Gallardo, Michael Fullan Enterprises and Vicky Colbert, Escuela Nueva

Prof. Dame Alison Peacock & Richard Culatta

Professor Dame Alison Peacock: Connection is Everything

Richard Culatta: Rethinking our Relationship with Technology in a Post-COVID World

Richard and Alison share their thoughts on the importance of connections and how we can use the pandemic as an opportunity to rethink our relationship with technology.

“If we are to move beyond the current system that condemns a third of our youngsters to failure, we have much to gain by recognising the potential of technology.”

Prof. Dame Alison Peacock, CEO, Chartered College of Teaching

Rebecca and Gregg share their thoughts on the role of parents and carers in children’s learning.

“[During the Covid-19 lockdown], parents and caregivers got a firsthand glimpse at digital-age teaching, with all its difficulties and joys. Teachers, meanwhile, peered into kitchens and living rooms and saw, more clearly than ever, what matters to families at home. What if this up-close clarity were permanent?”

Rebecca Winthrop, Senior Fellow and Co-Director, Centre for Universal Education, The Brookings Institution & Gregg Behr, Founder and Co-Chair of Remake Learning

Simon Sinek & George the Poet

Why education is an infinite game, but school is not

George and Simon reflect on their own education stories, why education is an infinite game and where a thirst for learning comes from.

“Do people change their games, or do they change the way they play?”

George the Poet, spoken-word artist, poet, rapper, and podcast host

Adam Grant & Otto Scharmer

Adam Grant: It’s Time to Teach Collaboration

Otto Scharmer: School for Transformation: Democratize Access to Transformation Literacy

Adam and Otto talk about the need for collaboration over individual learning.

“Most of our current educational models fail in two significant ways; they focus on the head (instead of head, heart and hand); and they focus on individual performance instead of capacity for collaborative action.”

Otto Scharmer, Senior Lecturer, MIT and Founding Chair, Presencing Institute

Tom fletcher & andreas schleicher

The “whole-society” education conversation this moment needs

Tom and Andreas shared their views on a whole-society approach to education, and reasons to be hopeful about the future.

“Without this crisis, the exams would have been in place in the same form for another 20 years. Now, you can see, well, why don’t we incorporate teachers’ judgment into this, and students’ experiences, portfolios, or school marks? Suddenly you can see a whole discussion opening up.”

Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills, OECD

Holly Branson & Stephen Tierney

A new education story – what’s the purpose of it all?

Holly and Stephen spoke about purpose of education, ask questions about what we need to measure in schools and how we use this moment of global disruption to bring about long-term change.

“Things that genuinely matter are no longer considered important simply because they are not measured. Currently, standardised testing tells us more about a school’s intake than its effectiveness. For schools serving the more disadvantaged communities, this is doing more harm than good.”

Stephen Tierney, Chair of Headteachers’ Roundtable & Author

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please join the discussions on the links above!