Out of Kilter: How to rebalance our school system to work for people, economy and society

22 September 2023

Since 2020, Big Change has been listening to the public, and especially young people, to understand the big changes they want to see in education. Through hundreds of Big Education Conversations we have heard that young people, parents, teachers and employers all agree that now is the time to rethink the purpose of education and to change things for the better. There is growing consensus that we need a broader set of goals for education. Every group agrees that learning should be for life, not just exams. These views are included in a new report launched today from IPPR, Out of Kilter: How to rebalance our school system to work for people, economy and society, which builds upon significant insight and research undertaken to shape the policy agenda on education and learning over the next decade.

Foreword by Saeed Atcha MBE DL, Founder and chief executive, Youth Leads UK and former UK government social mobility commissioner

Young people make up nearly a quarter of our population – but 100 per cent of our future. This is why I am so proud to have been a part of this important and timely work which sets out to make sure we prepare young people for life and not just exams.

Aged 15, I set up Youth Leads UK to support young people across Greater Manchester to develop their skills, take on challenges and influence society for the better. Over the decade since then, we have become an award-winning charity successfully ensuring the voices of young people are heard and acted upon. It is in this capacity that I have been working with Big Change and IPPR as they have sought to set a new direction for education and learning in England. This work has focussed on understanding and elevating the public appetite for long term, significant changes. It included a large-scale and in-depth national listening exercise across 2020 and 2021 to capture the views of the public (young people, parents, educators, employers) and assess the post-pandemic demand for change as well as support for Big Education Conversations across the country.

Shaped by that work, this report proposes the first steps on a journey to a school system that ensures every young person is able to thrive in school, work and life. This work has embraced young people as experts in shaping these proposals. The ideas that have emerged from this, including the proposal for votes at 16, present a rallying call to government and wider society: we must listen to and act with young people to support their ideas and ambitions, and break down the barriers they face in fulfilling their potential.

Having grown up in care, I know only too well that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds can be held back from shaping their future. It’s time for change – we need a school system that works for young people and wider society, and this paper is the blueprint for making that happen.

Read the full report


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