Launching the Big Education Challenge

15 November 2022

Our Head of Impact, Caitlin Ross, shares the Big Education Challenge – Big Change’s new £1m prize fund to support and reward bold ideas with the potential to transform education and learning in the UK.

Over the past 10 years, we have backed over 40 leaders and projects that show a new way is possible in how the next generation is supported to learn and thrive. Collectively, they are impacting the lives of nearly 8 million young people across the UK.

Our recent research* shows that:

  • 65% of people think the education system is not preparing young people for their futures
  • Three-quarters of people (76%) say that ideas about improving education need to come from grassroots communities including teachers, parents and students
  • Three-quarters (75%) believe our country needs a bold, long-term vision for education that all parts of society have contributed to
  • Eight in ten (77%) people said that teachers should be given time, resources and support to introduce new learning approaches

“We need to create and support a group of young people who are inspired, willing and ready to create change. And support them through every aspect of that. It’s about empowering young people who have been silenced for far too long to stand up and speak out, rather than speaking for them.”

Jaiden Corfield, Big Education Challenge Champion

In the next decade we want to achieve more impact with our funding and support. We intend for the Big Education Challenge to catalyse and accelerate change from the bottom up, helping reach more diverse people and bold ideas. 

What is the Big Education Challenge?

We’re so proud to launch the Big Education Challenge – a £1 million prize fund that will support and reward bold ideas with the potential to transform education and learning in the UK. Designed with prize experts and our Youth Advisory Group, sector allies and project partners past and present, the Challenge has two prizes:

  • The Groundbreaker Prize (up to £300,000) for young people aged 18-25 with a bold idea or new project.
    • Up to 10 finalists will receive grants of up to £10,000 to further develop and test their ideas. 
    • One of these finalists will go on to win £50,000 to fully pilot their idea, with up to two runners up each receiving up to £25,000.
  • The Gamechanger Prize (up to £700,000) for individuals with a track record of leading innovative projects or approaches with tangible social impact.
    • Up to five finalists will receive grants of up to £50,000 to further develop and test their ideas.
    • One of these finalists will go on to win up to £200,000 to fully pilot their idea, with up to two runners up receiving up to £150,000 and £50,000. 

The prize fund includes £150,000 of non-financial support, e.g. coaching, skills development, expert advice, for up to 15 finalists to further develop and test their ideas prior to final judging in the autumn of 2023, when up to 6 winners will be selected to fully pilot their ideas. The deadline to submit ideas is 8th February 2023.

Why a Challenge Prize?

“Change needs to come from the people that engage with schools – children, teachers, school leaders, communities with families, the parents and the grandparents. There is a disconnect between what the curriculum teaches and what most of society wants from education and schooling and we hope to see some of these issues addressed in the solutions that come from The Big Education Challenge.” 

James Pope, Founder, HeadsUp4HTs

Challenge prizes have been shown to incentivise new thinking and reward the best solutions, wherever they come from, however they work. They go beyond the usual suspects and reach innovators that other funding mechanisms miss. We are excited to find and back a new cohort of leaders through the Challenge – including young people with bold ideas for change. While young people have always been at the heart of what we do, this marks a shift towards purposefully seeking and directly supporting them and their ideas. 

The Challenge is one way that Big Change is bringing to life its global research into the three drivers to transforming education systems. We are looking for people and ideas that are thinking differently about the purpose of education – the goals and outcomes being achieved, that are shifting power by focusing on the agency of young people, teachers, educators and communities, and change practice by finding and backing innovative approaches.

What next?

As we pilot this new way of funding and supporting people and ideas, we’re excited to take submissions from across the country and from people who have never accessed our funding before. If you meet the eligibility criteria below, please find out more about the Challenge and register your interest. Deadline for submissions is 8th February 2023. 

We can’t wait to hear from you.

Big Love,

Big Change x

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* Big Change and Seven Communications commissioned polling of a representative group of 2000 people on 3rd November 2022.

Eligibility and Submission Information

Groundbreaker Prize

  1. You are a young person aged between 18 and 25 years old. 
    • You must be within the age range on the final submission date of 8th February 2023.
    • You must live and have the right to work in the UK. 
    • Groups of people can apply, but one young person aged 18-25 must be named as the lead applicant. 
    • Applicants may or may not be affiliated to an organisation. 
  2. You have a bold idea or new project that could transform learning and education for young people in the UK.
    • Ideas must be at the development stage and shouldn’t have been delivered in any way before entering the challenge.
  3. You register and complete the groundbreaker submission form by the final submission date (including an optional video) to explain your idea or new project. 
  4. Leaders of projects previously funded by Big Change are not eligible for this round of the Prize.

Gamechanger Prize 

  1. You are an individual with a track-record of leading innovative projects or approaches with tangible social impact
    • You will have experience of developing and delivering innovative approaches that have created tangible social impact. This does not need to have been in education, learning or with young people. 
    • You must be aged 18 or over and live and have the right to work in the UK. 
    • Groups of people can apply, but one person must be named as the lead applicant.
    • Applicants may or may not be affiliated to an organisation. 
  2. You have a bold idea or new project that could transform learning and education for young people in the UK.
    • You have a well developed but early stage idea or prototype. While not required, some research and testing to validate a proof of concept is acceptable, but you have not started delivery to users or clients before entering the challenge. 
  3. You register and complete the Gamechanger submission form by the final submission date (including an optional video) explaining your idea or new project. 
  4. Leaders of  projects previously funded by Big Change are not eligible for this round of the Prize.

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