Introducing our Emergent Needs Fund pioneers

1 October 2020

Acting CEO Noah Devereux introduces our 10 Emergent Needs and Opportunities Fund projects; 10 pioneering projects working to support those young people who need it the most and laying foundations for long-term change.

I don’t think anyone needs to be convinced of 2020 being a particularly trying year for young people, teachers, parents and carers. Evidence is showing that young people are under increasing pressure and reports have revealed that the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their wealthier classmates has widened by 46%

At the end of March we adapted our project support to ensure we were responding effectively to the needs of young people, parents, teachers and communities caused or exacerbated by the pandemic. Through our Emergent Needs and Opportunities Fund we also prioritised projects that have a clear opportunity for impact now,  but could also influence the ‘next normal’ in education. 

We know you’ve met some of our projects already, but we wanted to take this moment to introduce you to the 10 extraordinary projects and leaders we are partnering with this year. Each one aligns to one or more of our 10 Hopes for Change in Education. This is merely a snapshot, so if you’d like to find out more don’t hesitate to get in touch


A community engagement model providing at-risk young people with key life skills

Pioneering leader: Joanna Kempston, Founding Director, Wellspring Academy Trust

Even before Covid-19, 11% of all young people aged 16-24 in the UK were not continuing in education, employment or training (NEET) between Jan – March this year. Communicolour is a new kind of support for young people transitioning from Pupil Referral Units and Alternative Provision to college or work-based training. 

Based on a successful programme in the US, Communicolour will prevent at-risk young people from falling through the cracks by engaging them in real world work, providing career training, work readiness, key life skills and mentorship from a local role-model. 

Read more about Communicolour


A digital service putting young people at the heart of their school 

Pioneering leaders: Co-founders George Metcalfe and Aaron John

Due to isolation and school closures, both schools and young people are increasingly challenged to support wellbeing and mental health. 

The Tranquiliti platform has been co-designed with young people to help schools understand and improve the mental wellbeing of their students. Students answer a set of questions, designed in partnership with The Children’s Society, on how they’re feeling and are signposted to trusted advice and relevant support. The co-founders are piloting the service and working with partners to achieve their bold ambition for supporting schools and young people nationwide.

Read more about Tranquiliti


Transforming the way we guide and rehabilitate youth offenders

Pioneering Leaders: Sophie Humphreys and Josh MacAlister, Co-Founders

More than two-thirds of children released from custody in 2018 went on to reoffend. WIT aims to break the destructive cycle of offending behaviours in vulnerable children, by transforming the way we collectively guide, educate and rehabilitate to reduce reoffending and unnecessary public spending.

This model will provide a blueprint for supporting at-risk children on a national scale; breaking the entrenched, destructive and often multi-generational cycle of offending. 

Read more about Whatever It Takes


A national network to support, coach and nurture headteachers to drive change

Pioneering Leader: James Pope, Founder

Recent research highlighted that 23% of Headteachers say they are likely to leave the profession in the next two years, citing stress levels during the pandemic. 

InspirEDucate’s HeadsUp programme will build a large national network of headteachers and leaders and enable them to question and challenge the current education system. Initially, HeadsUp aims to build a network of 1000 members, rapidly scaling up to 10,000 in the next two years. 

HeadsUp members will coach each other, while being supported to think differently about how they educate young people in their communities. 

Read more about HeadsUp


A research project to learn from students, teachers, leaders and parents about their lockdown experiences

Pioneering Leaders: Peter Hyman and Liz Robinson

Covid-19 has forced a huge experiment in distance learning and created a unique opportunity for change, to unlock entrenched assumptions in our approach to learning that would otherwise have taken decades. 

Big Education will use insights from students, educators and parents to inform school leaders and teachers, ensuring that we learn from our lockdown experiences and use this moment to make real change to how young people can make the most of learning at school and at home.

The team will work with its wide network of educators and education sector leaders to generate case studies highlighting best practices, insight papers and learning sessions giving practical advice that schools can use.

Read more about Learning From Lockdown


A question-based platform to engage and empower parents 

Pioneering leaders: Co-founders Laura McInerney, Becky Allen, Alex Weatherall, Karen Wespieser

More is being asked of parents than ever before, but their needs are not systematically being heard or actively included in shaping the education agenda.

Parent Ping will ask daily questions relating to all areas of parenting, often focusing on views about their child’s education, to help empower parents and carers. The team will also use this insight to impact policy, support parents and bring them into the education conversation.

Read more about Parent Ping 


A collaborative learning hub for educators 

Pioneering leader: CEO, Chartered College of Teaching, Professor Dame Alison Peacock

The coronavirus has brought new challenges and pressures to teachers and schools like never before as they quickly adapt to supporting home and/or blended learning. 

The Education Exchange will provide rapid short-term insight and support based on current challenges but will also offer teachers  a chance to connect, reflect and join a wider discussion about practical learning and how to adapt to what matters in education.

The Chartered College of Teaching’s digital hub will feature expert commissioned content, professionally edited user-submitted case studies, curated sign-posting to international resources, and real collaboration between teachers, school leaders and education researchers across the globe. This digestible, relevant and timely content and support will then count towards teachers CPD (continuing professional development) aiming to demonstrate a new adaptive model for ongoing learning in changing times. 

Read more about The Education Exchange


A new collective approach to transforming lives through communities

Pioneering Leader(s): Graeme Duncan, Chief Executive.

Children living in poverty in the UK begin school four months behind their peers. By the time these children leave secondary school they are nearly two years behind their classmates.  

Solving complex social issues requires a coordinated approach. Working in areas where high numbers of children are living in poverty, Right to Succeed will transform lives by  ensuring a collective approach within communities.For example, helping education providers, from early years through to college, to work together to understand and overcome issues their children and young people are facing


Games and resources to help children’s development

Pioneering leader: Founder Jen Lexmond

Disadvantaged parents face significant pressures and challenges to support home learning, particularly in the early years.

We first funded EasyPeasy in 2018, and saw clearly the difference further developments could make during this time of crisis. The award-winning EasyPeasy platform is supporting families and practitioners as they discover their new home and distant-learning roles.

The team rapidly responded to the crisis by developing the model to make available support for the most disadvantaged families at this time. They’re now working with sector partners to provide timely content, rethinking and redeveloping their resources to be relevant to the new challenges emerging in the crisis and engaging more families through new user-led content.

Read more about EasyPeasy

The Relationships Foundation

A qualitative research model to explore the hidden dynamics of the school system 

Pioneering leader: Ben Gibbs, Head of Programmes

The pandemic has dramatically changed the landscape of school education and the nature of the relationships that underpin it.

Through listening to their experiences of teaching and learning during lockdown, the Relationships Foundation will build a thorough understanding of how young people, parents and teachers relate to the education system; developing insights that can inform a public conversation about the need for change.

Read more about the Relationships Foundation

We are so proud to be supporting these pioneering leaders and projects that are responding to the needs of this moment, and laying foundations for long term change.

As ever, big thanks to all our supporters, funders and big changers, we couldn’t do this without you. Please get in touch if you’d like any more information.