Our 2019 Focus Areas for Big Change

1 April 2019

Big Change have hit a very exciting milestone!

Our quest for new proposals for funding has begun for 2019. Thanks to dedicated donors who gave generously and creatively, and to 200+ Strivers who hiked, biked, kayaked and climbed out of their comfort zones in September last year, we’re officially on the hunt for up to 10 new project partners.

We not only appreciate the big heartedness of all our supporters but also their patience while we have embarked on a research process to determine our 2019 cohort focus areas. These are three areas of emergent opportunity that we’ll direct donations into multi-year support relationships.

Our research involved a combination of:

-Insights from our work with existing projects driving change

-Insights from a network of global pioneers around system change, identified through our wider Reimagining Education Together work (stay tuned for the 3rd of April to find out more about this!)

-Insights from independent analysis of the opportunities and needs in the UK system

The process resulted in Big Change confirming the following new focus areas:

  • EARLY DEVELOPMENT – Engaging parents and communities to play an active role in early childhood development and education.
  • INCLUSION AS STRENGTH – Ensuring that all young people are supported and set up to thrive.
  • TEACHER AND LEADER AGENCY – Enabling the support, agency and development for teachers and leaders to be powerful agents of change.
Big Change 2015 Project Partner, Generation Change

If you feel a slight sense of déjà vu at first glance, you’re not alone. Yes, we’re pleased to say that our 2019 focus areas are not a far departure from those of our 2017 cohort, but crucially they have been adapted to reflect what we have learned along the way. This is good news for us as it confirms that our instincts were on the right track in choosing areas that will really benefit from change now.

There are some key alterations in our focus that develop the previous Early Years, Exclusions, and Teachers Thriving into Early Development, Inclusion as Strength, and Teacher and Leader Agency:

Early Development:  

There is overwhelming evidence that early development, both in and outside of school, is a key factor in setting young people up to thrive – over 85% of our brains are developed before we’re five years old. A quality early years environment also plays a role in narrowing some of the educational outcome gaps between children from different socioeconomic backgrounds – this is why we’re looking to help parents and communities engage in early development and give all children the best possible chance in life, no matter what their background is.

Inclusion as Strength: 

Big Change believe that we need a learning ecosystem that is working together to ensure that all young people thrive in a world of constant change – and we truly mean all young people. Formal school exclusion prevention is a crucial part of this – and so are interventions that prevent young people from feeling excluded from their wider learning ecosystems. This is why we’ve widened the net on inclusion to allow for a greater diversity of approaches to tackling this opportunity for systemic change.

Teacher and Leader Agency:  

We believe that teachers and school leaders are often the agents of change that our learning ecosystem need. However, their working environments are often not conducive to using their experience and passion to create the change that is needed to set young people up to thrive in life – this is why we have decided to focus specifically on teacher and leader agency in this funding round.